Black writers are a cursed lot.
By its virtue of its origin, suture and function, black writing is
mission conscious and is necessarily a hazardous undertaking.
In turn being a black writer is an enobiling, exigency and black
literature constitutes one of the supreme enrichment’s of black
culture and black life. This has been and is the burden as well
as the heritage and legacy of every black person who takes
up a pen in the United States. ~Calvin C. Hernton
In October and November I spent a lot of time reading looking
for connections between the misogyny in the civil rights movement
and in hip hop.
I hit the nail on the head while reading Calvin Hernton’s book
The Sexual Mountain and Black Women Writers.
Hernton spendsin time analyzing the swift effort to condemn
both Ntozoke after For Colored Girls hit Broadway and
Michelle Wallace after Black Macho came out.
Hernton sum’s it up when he says,
Although we keep looking for the men in The Color Purple to
be white, they are black men, our men, committing deeds
we cannot help but associate with slavery. The analogy
unbearable, the irony is burning. Black men who are themselves
victims of oppression victimizing black women in what looks
like the same oppression? A system of oppression within
another system of oppression. (Can Victims Be Perpetrators came
out of this reading.)
Which brings me to last night. I was at a function and a black man
asked me what I wrote about. I said hip hop and feminism. He then
put up the two fingers and said, “Are you an L?” and I looked at him,
unphased, as I saw it as a teachable moment. Then I said, eye brows
furrowed, “Hunh?” He joked “There is nothing wrong with that as long
as I can watch.” I guess he THOUGHT he was going to humiliate me.
All I could think was my ipod died two weeks ago, my relationship
died three weeks ago and I took the GRE this morning, nothing
really was going to f-ck with me.
I let him speak, he stuttered and stammered and then he noticed
that I was serious. I responded saying “It’s interesting that I say I am a feminist
and you joke about me being a lesbian, I am currently writing a piece
titled a A World Built on Black Pussy.” He raised his eyebrows this time.
It was clear that I was serious. I added, “The rappers talk about it all the
time, but if I do, I am being tacky.” We were then able to have a more
civil conversation that wasn’t based his lesbian fantasies.
In his comment, I was reminded about how normalized it is for men
to be so flip towards women, women who are strangers, about
sex. Yet, as a woman if we have the gall to say something back we risk getting
the Michelle Wallace, Ntozake Shange treatment. Silenced. Dismissed
and told you are being used by The Man against BLACK people.
I am happy I didn’t come at him hella sideways. I mean. What
good could have come of that? Besides I think god puts me
in those situations because I don’t look for victims, or opportunities
to humiliate people who have neanderthal-esque gender politics. I see
it as a chance to be like “eassssy star, lets think about what
you just said and the implications of it.”
Being an M.dot is hard.