These screen captures above from my messages (with the name of sender removed) prove how desperate some people are to speak over Black women, to engage in silencing via generalization and how unaware they are of how this usually involves anti-Blackness. The usual tone policing, false equalization and the "I have a right" to your space nonsense was added in there by this non-Black woman, taken straight from the dudebro manual of entitlement.
In my essay 7 Conversations That I Am No Longer Having With Black Men, which these messages above are in relation to, topics unique to Black women such as our marriage rate, misogynoir intraracially, and disrespect from Black men to Black women based on the myth that we “‘all’ are hetero and desire White men” (which means the history of slavery and Black sexual politics are factor) were alluded to. Even when I mentioned street harassment—which of course many women experience (though not equal in intensity and/or frequency)—there is a different lens there because of how Black men’s bodies are criminalized (and they experience and proliferate patriarchy differently from non-Black men because of how White supremacy, racism, and anti-Blackness impacts their masculinity), which complicates how Black women can respond to Black men’s street harassment and how this is viewed in our community. These are not “universal” experiences (that “all” women experience and for “all” men to “learn”) to be spoken over by some White/White-passing woman who page upon page of her blog (I scrolled through her blog) does not contain a single thing about Black women. Nothing. And mainstream media, which reflects structural power, caters to her existence so my blog being a space for Black women ≠ her blog being all-White. Nothing about Black women was posted there before, yet she felt the need to reblog solely to speak over my post and apply generalizations? And continue to argue before eventually deleting the reblog?
Anytime a Black woman like me confronts someone for their racist, anti-Black or other bigoted/entitled behavior, of course the thing people do is pretend they are “attacked” and "scared" of my tone. Always the anti-Black defense, evoking the controlling image of the Sapphire, the “Angry Black Woman” who is not “reasonable.” None of this would have occurred if like the other 1,000+ people thus far who reblogged the essay in question, she simply reblogged without adding generalizing bullshit, or added a comment that was not about erasing specificities due to race and gender, nuance and intersectionality. This is done on purpose. The more specific my posts are about intersectionality and Black women, the more non-Black people seek to generalize them and erase our experiences, while using my work as their platform. The more personal my posts are about my own life as Trudy, a Black woman, the more Whites/men seek to make it some political essay about “Tumblr social justice" where they get to "debate" my humanity. And of course as this is happening, apologists who regularly speak over me (or worse, plagiarize while Whitesplaining) are ready to yell out "just ignore how people are seeking to erase your experiences and humanity!" in standard victim blaming style.
Let me explain how easy it is not to do this. I read an important article by Chief Elk on Salon. I took the information in. Empathized with the complexities that she spoke of that Native women face and respected that specificity. I did not post a comment "well Black women too, me me me me, all the same, everyone, all women" nor did she suggest that she speaks for “all” women or about “all” women, in the way that mainstream feminism regularly does, while they’re being anti-intersectional. Instead, I shared the post on Twitter. I made sure that the 16K people who follow me saw it. I supported her writing without centering myself and then calling that centering “unity.” I recognized difference. And this occurred even knowing how similar Black and Indigenous women’s struggles can be, and how some Native women are also Black. That’s all it takes.
So why is this hard for other people when it comes to Black women’s writing, ideas, and work? Ah, because they are so terrified that they are not being centered 100% of the time that even derailing free personal blogs on Tumblr—as Gradient Lair is not The New York Times; mainstream media scale matters even as our voices are more amplified than ever via social media—is something that these self-centered, erasure through generalization, entitled, irritant people “must” do as it is “their right?” It is not only White women who do this; some non-Black women of colour do as well; take the work of Black women, erase specificity, reject how anti-Blackness is involved, then label as “women of colour" even when such a grouping does not always apply.
If solidarity requires erasure of Black womanhood, I want no part of it.
This also speaks to “There is difference between allowing a Black woman to entertain you and listening to her story.”