Twitter’s Reaction To A “White Girl Yacht Party” Is About Something Much Bigger Than Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard and 2016 NBA champion Kyrie Irving threw a yacht party — high-end champagne, crisp blue water, bikinis, swim trunks, looped music, dancing.
But, apparently, this wasn’t an ordinary yacht party, or so says the gossip circuit. The chatter there is that this was a “White Girls Only” shindig. And, of course, if you’re even moderately genuinely woke, a party hosted by black men that allegedly enforced a color-line against black women is a big no-no.
Add to this that a video went viral that appeared to confirm the rumor, and we have all the makings of a Twitter-mob ripping up social media — memes, torch, and all.
Pause here. Some context to the Twitter reaction to this allegation is needed.
See, Black raced people, or, I should say, people who are very much self-aware of the fact that they’re raced-as-Black, understand that anti-Black racism is not only a phenomenon that stigmatizes black bodies from without but gnaws away at core of the collective black psyche from within.
Another word for this is internalized racism — when the person or group begins to believe and concede to the stereotypes formed and spread about them by the dominant group. Believe at the marrow its ideals — about intelligence; about health; about spirituality; about art; about femininity; about beauty.
The tragic consequence of internalizing racism — and it must be internalized to be steady and effective — in a society firmly premised on organizing human bodies according to racial categories, is witnessing self-hatred colonize and settle in the black mind, to see anti-Blackness grow, climb, twist around and warp the Black brain like ivy overwhelming a beaten and battered building.
Once internalized, racism primes black bodies to be agents of their own devaluation and destruction, to carry out the work of white social order, to obsess over presumably white values.
Especially, white women.
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In white supremacist patriarchy, white women are premium real estate. Though white slavemasters and Jim Crowers raped Black women with impunity, Black men could be lynched or dismembered for merely eyeing a white woman.
White women were off-limits, trophies. They were looked upon as a superior femininity of a superior race boasting superior character traits. Every man longed for one. Every man pursued one — when he was financially able.
Black men included.
Malcolm X went through his white women-as-goddess phase.
King fell in love with German woman before meeting Coretta.
And, then, there’s O. J. Enough said.
Even if social media jumped the gun and has been ultimately misinformed, when Twitter dragged Kyrie Irving over this allegation — emphasis, again, on allegation, in case that wasn’t clear — that he deliberately banned Black women, and other women of color, from joining in on the festivities at his post-NBA Finals yacht party, it was evoking an aversion to this reality about racialized sex relations.
Whether or not this specific allegation against this specific black athlete is true is irrelevant. What’s clear is that its deeper import spans decades and generations, as issues of racism typically and historically do.
What matters is the lingering belief, embodied in songs like Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and Nate Hill’s so-called satirical “Trophy Scarves,” that success in America is paired with mansions, fine cuisine, tailored clothes, glossy motor vehicles, and white women.
Black women, especially on the dark end of the color spectrum, written off as attitudinal, weave-obsessed and unattractive, are understandably infuriated at the notion.
This is what the Nine Simone fallout was about. This is what Serena Williams twerking in Lemonade to spite Becky’s good hair was all about. This is what #TeamLightSkin versus #TeamDarkSkin was all about. This is what “The Blacker The Berry” was about.
And so long as some white person somewhere draws pleasure from photoshopping a chimpanzee’s face over Michelle Obama’s portrait, and some people, who look like this person, reap amusement and humor from it, accusations of currency of racism and colorism in this period will retain legitimacy.
Comments like “But that’s his preference” fumble in the abstract. They don’t account for Blacks who have bleached their skin. They don’t account for Blacks who fail the paper bag test. They are unmindful of the concrete manifestations of white supremacy.
It’s true that Kyrie Irving’s yacht features other rooms. It’s true that we don’t know what colors were in them. The phone recorder didn’t get that far.
All we can say is, for the sake of racial progress, we hope it was lots and lots of melanin.
Featured Image: Flickr user