I laugh at people that claim that black women aren’t funny. Seriously it makes me fucking lol. In my mind someone that says some lol-centric garbage like that should not be taken seriously. Ever. Things like that- “Women aren’t funny.” “Black women aren’t funny.” Etc. Garbage. Etc. Reeks of laziness and ignorance and of the 1950’s. I am not here for them. I am too grown for that. Comedy is so incredibly subjective it seems so stupid to argue about it.
That being said the recent conversations regarding black women in comedy have been a hot topic for the last 3 months. The statement of one person has sparked a “conversation” or a need to “prove” that “black women are funny” to idiots that don’t need our worth proven to them in the first place.
Now there are so many blog posts and news reports and articles on the internet discussing and analyzing black female comediennes. There are articles along the lines of “Black Female Comediennes That You Just Need to Get Behind!!!!” or a “Women of Color That, Because of their Skin Deserves To Be Known!!!!!” And while I am sure many people mean well, a large part of this conversation seems forced and insincere. That’s kind of the side effect of the media getting a hold of something. Keep in mind that a part of me is grateful to be a female POC that is sometimes considered “funny”. PLEASE understand that. But do you see how this conversation can also be seen as negative? Putting us in a separate category because of the color of our skin? The underlying tone of these articles trying to “prove” that black women are funny? The suddenness of this “conversation” yells “See! Here’s a black girl! Here’s one! See?! See?!” I’m just- I am so tired of it.
And I know that I am black and a woman and a comedienne but often times I just want to be known as a human doing stuff. I am so many things. I want to be known as like, a person. Not as a “trendy” topic of conversation. Put me out there with everyone else. Like- with all of the other humans. Do you get what I am saying?
let the church say amen.
as i sat at my desk today, i could hear crowds start to gather for the MLK Day parade/march/rally.
every year since the mid 80’s - since before it became a national holiday - there has been a parade/march/rally on MLK Day in atlanta. it starts downtown, on peachtree street, with a few marching bands and some black fraternities. as it moves through the city, winding up at the king center, groups & organizations file in from the sidewalk. by the time it gets to its destination, there are a lot of people and it’s kind of crunk - a peaceful crunk, but crunk nonetheless. when i was a tween, my family would go to the final leg of the parade and watch. i learned the word “redbone” at an MLK Day parade; some male spectators were good and drunk by the time a dance team sauntered by and they yelled, “what’s good, redbone?” i looked at my father. “light skinned,” he said with a shrug and a chuckle.
my current office is a block from the start of the parade route, so it doesn’t last very long. it’s still nice to watch though, either from my window on the 22nd floor or from in front of my building. earlier i took a little break and went downstairs to get a snack & check things out. i ended up walking behind two white women, definitely from elsewhere, exiting the trade show at the merchandise mart. they were each pulling oversized purses on wheels and they were getting jostled a bit. suddenly they took in their surroundings; their eyes widened and one leaned in to the other, whispering frantically. i gotta be honest with you - it was pretty funny.
it reminded me of my friends who have relocated. they’ve all told me that when they tell someone that they’re from atlanta, they hear the same thing: “atlanta, huh?…a lot of black people there, huh?”
sure, atlanta is a spot of blue in a big red state, but the racial tension is still pretty high. i will say this for the (white)people of atlanta: they at least see black people. they interact with them every day. it’s damn near impossible not to in this city. i helped a white friend get a job here and while showing him around, i asked him if he was okay being around black people. he was, of course, and he maybe thought that i was crazy, but i told him, “look. there are a lot of black people in atlanta. and you may be okay with that in theory, but i’ve known some people who were not used to it and it freaked them out.” i just don’t want anyone to suddenly look up and find that they’ve wandered into an MLK Day parade and clutch their pearls.
today’s my first MLK Day not spent in atlanta. feels weird.
the idea of writing this post made for uneasy sleep, but it’s something i feel like i have to do.
i returned to our table at the pizza place and kevin said, “so zimmerman was found innocent.”
"really?" i asked with a grimace. then i drank some soda.
a few minutes later, kevin expressed his disgust with the verdict. then he looked at me and said, “but you’re not even surprised, are you?”
i shook my head. “no.”
that exchange stuck with me for the rest of the night. when i got home i social media’d, “what i hate the most is how unsurprised i am.”
an internet friend commented, “Not surprised, but not accepting it.”
for some reason that bugged me. not accepting it? but it’s what happened. it truly stinks and no good person should be rejoicing that verdict, but it’s what happened. so i replied, “i accepted it long ago. had no choice.”
she said, “This is an attack on all of us.”
this internet friend then went on a rant about wanting to burn it down (i don’t know what “it” is - the courtroom? the town? florida? society?) and start over. this world is fucked up and she wanted to riot.
the whole thing was a tone deaf response to what i was saying. maybe she read my status and thought she needed to give me a pep talk. so as nicely as i could at four in the morning on a facebook status that many could see, i said, “not trying to argue and i certainly appreciate your fervor. but also acknowledge the weariness that comes with living in this skin, day in and day out.”
i thought this was a decent stopping point. i was respectful of her opinion & i succinctly restated mine. i was even willing to ignore the “all of us” comment (because that’s complete and utter bullshit: “all of us” can’t walk down the street and automatically be considered a criminal. that honor is for a select few). good game, everyone. to the showers.
nope. she continued on, about how even though she’s white, she’s from poor lineage and this really upsets her as someone who teaches at a public school and loves inner-city kids and that this is hard on white “liberal” types (quotes are hers) because it’s attacking all of us and that it sucks that socio-racial constructs keep us from discussing this.
there they are. her credits. she’s cool, everybody - she loves inner-city kids.
this isn’t an inner-city kid problem, internet friend (and it’s telling that you went that way, but hey - you work around that so i’m gonna be a chump and give you the benefit of the doubt). this is A WAY OF LIFE for many people. i’m not from the inner-city at all, but i picked up early on to have my hands where you can see them anytime i walk into a convenience store. hands at ten and two, wallet in my lap whenever i’m pulled over. i laughed loudly when a salesperson swiveled on his heel and followed me around pottery barn. i wanted to tell him that i was raised right and wouldn’t be stealing, but unfortunately lineage isn’t visible when you’re shopping or driving.
i’m not trying to have a sadness-off. and it would be nice to have the conversations. but it’s tough to talk when my simple sentiment of, “this shit is tiring and it weighs on my soul” is shot down with a laundry list of how you’re not one of the bad ones. you’re also not listening. you can’t blame racial barriers on you not hearing what i’m saying. i’m being clear as glass.
i’m sorry that this verdict has upset you so much, internet friend. i wish i was more upset. i wish i lived in a world where i could think, “well, maaaaaybe…” but that’s not the case.
i’m still stressed about writing this, even though it has turned out tamer than the original drafts. I DON’T LIKE GETTING DEEP. CAN WE GO BACK TO TALKING ABOUT PIZZA OR SOMETHING?
i think Kanye’s going through that same realization/crisis/acceptance of knowing that his race will always be used against him by white people to block him out of what they claim are “their” spaces, but that his reaction is just different. It might have to do with Kanye explicitly demanding that he get that respect honestly and explicitly getting angry about not getting it vs. Jay-Z deciding he’s just gonna do what he does and piss off white supremacist structures that way even though he’ll still be denied certain things based on being Black. neither is a better reaction or way to deal, but that’s my theory on the differences in them as people and how that translated into the differences on their albums.
i like this theory. i’d be curious tho to know if this just is kanye’s awakening point and jay went through that much younger in life. kanye didn’t grow up like jay did and jay made his platform and paved the road so people like kanye could have theirs so maybe he’s just now like goin through that same ”naww it aint just about workin hard for me. that’s not how it works for me. fuck. shit” moment. and jay had that a while back.
sorry if that didn’t make sense or if i said the exact same thing.
nah nah, you actually touched on something that i’ve been thinking about that i didn’t bring up, which is that i think their upbringing plays into this difference between them. kanye grew up in a higher socioeconomic status with a more “respectable” upbringing (i.e., his mother having a PhD, being able to travel overseas at a young age, etc.), so there might be an expectation/hope for more honest respect? whereas jay grew up in the projects and sold drugs, so he knows that his past clings to him and people see that no matter what, so it’s kinda like “well, fuck y’all too”. idk, though, this is SERIOUS speculation.
i’m not huge on jay-z musically (i do think he’s hysterical, with his bone-dry wit - check out anytime he’s done panel on letterman) so i haven’t gotten around to listening to his latest offering even though it’s been sitting on my computer for a week. i will probably fix that today, judging by the think pieces and opinions that have been flying around for the past few days. i like this set of theories, though. since i’m much more kanye than hova, this totally makes sense to me.
this (written by a white guy) is one of the most tone deaf responses i’ve seen in a looooooong time. happy saint patrick’s day.