The Whitney Museum chooses silence in an effort to displace, downplay, and negate valid public outrage regarding their policies, ethics and leadership. By Jamara Wakefield May 17th marked the start of the 79th Whitney Biennial. The Biennial is a contemporary art exhibition, featuring typically young and lesser-known artists, at the Whitney Museum of American Art […]
Do We Really Believe That Black Girls Rock?
The annual award show honoring the accomplishments of Black women was a highlight of 2017, but who in the hell invited Tyrese?
By McKensie Mack
I’m a comedian. A lot of people think the job of a comedian is to make people laugh. But it isn’t, the job of the comedian is to build a mirror between people and society. All kinds of things happen when we look in mirrors, chile. Sometimes we look in the mirror and we laugh cause we see we look a mess. Other times we look in the mirror and we cry cause we remember we ain’t got no money in our pockets.
That happened to me just yesterday. Last week, I went on Twitter to post a mirror in the form of a skit about the singer and actor Tyrese Gibson that I had made. I had no idea that Tyrese was performing that night on Black Girls Rock. But when I found out I thought: Tyrese? At Black Girls Rock? He betta be there to wash some Black Girls Rock dishes.
But he wasn’t. He was there performing and stood on stage with the ambassador for Black self love and self-acceptance India Arie of all people. Now, why was I so surprised? It’s because Tyrese has made a habit of degrading Black women on TV and the internet. For example here’s an I’m ashy and hateful list of three things Tyrese den did:
- He said that women are sexually assaulted because of the energy they put out into the world.
- He posted photo to Instagram inviting men only to give women advice on relationships.
- He shared a message nobody wanted for ‘promiscuous women’ on national television again, presumably telling Black women, since it was on motherf***** BET, that they needed to stop sleeping with so many men if they really want to find happiness in their lives.
Tyrese is the kind of ashy person who has made hundreds of thousands of dollars off of music about sex with women but then somehow is the self-appointed sheriff of the who black women shouldn’t be f****ing police. So why? If Black Girls Rock is really an annual event dedicated to the love of Black girls and the love Black girls have for themselves, why would Tyrese, an ambassador for Black girls not loving themselves, be invited to perform?
It’s because deep down we don’t really believe that title. Not fully. Because if we did we wouldn’t invite the Tyreses of the world into our living rooms. To bring a person like that, who has continued to show hate towards Black women, to the world’s stage is to say to Black girls and Black women everywhere: ‘hey you know I know this person has degraded you many a time, but I kinda like them so I’m going to put them ahead of your safety. Because you don’t matter.”
That response is what Black girls and Black women deal with every day.
Black women are three times as likely to experience domestic partner violence. 60% of Black women experience sexual assault before the age of 18. For years, Black women had been calling out R.Kelly. People did nothing. It was just a joke because everybody knows sexual assault towards Black women is hilarious af.
As Black women, we are taught to put everyone before ourselves, abusers included. When I was a kid I watched as every woman in my family put an abuser ahead of herself and ahead of her children. And some folks may cringe at the use of the word abuser when we’re talking about the things a Black man has said about Black women, but to degrade the humanity of a human being in word or action is abuse.
Related: DEATH TO “RIDE OR DIE” TROPE: WHY IT’S TIME FOR US TO ABANDON AN UNHEALTHY MODEL OF BLACK LOVE
Saying that a Black woman should have less autonomy over her own damn body can kill the spirit of a person and it does. Maybe they won’t be physically bruised on their faces or on their bodies, but they can and are harmed internally — just like when we, as Black or brown people, experience racism. What some folks call micro-aggressions, what I call white-aggressions, it chips at the identity and the humanity of Black folks every f***ing day. We take them seriously.
But when it comes to Black women, we see them as being so resilient. In our minds, they’re not like white women who deserve help and safety and aid. In our minds, they can handle it themselves. But Black women are only human. We can only do so much as individual people to survive and to find success (however we may define that for ourselves). At the end of the day, it’s a question of values.
If we truly believe that Black girls rock and if we truly believe that Black lives matter, then we will not continue to invite people into our spaces and onto our stages who have shown again and again that they do not believe these things to be true.
Black girls can’t rock if they are not free. And Black lives can’t matter if we do not stand to protect the mental, physical and emotional safety of Black girls and Black women everywhere, whether they sit with us in our living rooms or watch us as we speak on their television sets. It’s time to break the legacy of being Black, girl, and silent. Also, India Arie what in the hell what you were thinking?