Thursday, January 30, 2014

Xojane, fails again and hard.

Oh XoJane y'all...
So Xojane published one of those it happened to me deals and basically it was full of Nice White Lady Tears.

Let us start with this quote...regarding a fat Black woman in this persons yoga class.

Because I was directly in front of her, I had no choice but to look straight at her every time my head was upside down (roughly once a minute). I’ve seen people freeze or give up in yoga classes many times, and it’s a sad thing, but as a student there’s nothing you can do about it. At that moment, though, I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman. Even when I wasn’t positioned to stare directly at her, I knew she was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body-
Ahem.

Now this poor White Lady did not speak to the person in question. What she probably wasn't thinking about was how maybe her (I imagine horrified) staring might have made the person she was looking at uncomfortable and thus contemptuous.

Let me tell y'all a story.

Once upon a time I was the scary fat Black lady in a dance class full of Nice Thin White Ladies. Among them was one woman who did indeed stare at me the entire fucking class.

At one point she made some crack about ow "natural" it must be for me to be doing the movement.

Yes I turned my fuck you face on her. She backpedaled blablabla, I watched her struggle and then she blurted, "I just meant you're a good dancer because Black people are good dancers."

I magically transformed from a fat girl trying to get her fitness on to an angry Black Lady.

I told her to fuck off.

More politely but still.

Now for the next four weeks i had to hear almost on a daily basis from the instructor that I was making "some" people uncomfortable.

Why? Well I was aggressive, my dancing was suggestive, I was not shuck and jiving for the White ladies,. I honestly didn't speak to one person in that class. I went, I put away how uncomfortable I was with the staring and talking tos and I did my class.

I was good at it. I love to dance. I had been super excited to take the class and frankly Whiteness and White Lady Tears ruined it for me. I have not taken a class since.

My entire life whenever White people, white women especially have been uncomfortable with my presence the onus of creating the safety has been on me. Don't bring up race, don't do this, speak very softly or not at all. 

Now being that this piece of shit article was on XOjane I figured it was just more Xojane white nonsense.

Nope.


Um.

Okay here's what this reason doesn't say.

It does not say why this person felt it was okay and would further racal discource to approve an article that basically shits on women of color in order to what? Were we all supposed to rush and hold the author's hand? Pat her on the back and say it's okay to be so mired in racist stereotypes and objectification if you cried after?

Really?

Publishing that without a counterpoint?

Seriously?

Okay let me tell you how it feels to be the objectified person in situations like this.

It happens to me a lot.

I feel someone staring. 

Frequently this is a White lady.

I squirm. Don't make eye contact. Hope I don't have a booger. 

If I am on the bus I may pull out a book, squirm. Feel more uncomfortable.

Smetmes if I accidentally make eye contact shit happens. What kind of shit?

Let me share.

Strangers trying to touch my hair.
Once a White woman started swinging her hair and warbling I Whip my Hair at me and was angry I didn't sing or dance along.
I have had strange White people tell me in condescending bullshit tones how impressed they ar that I can read. 
People will say, "You're so well spoken"
I have had strangers try to hug me while proclaiming that the space/neighborhood/event I happened to be at, was "lacking in flavor".

Frankly, White people have made so many things uncomfortable for me I just don't do a lot of things anymore. It is emotionally exhausting to feel the need to be wary and so guarded. It is exhausting to dodge people trying to touch my hair or tell me about their Black friend. Or who want to cry on me because they are White and just found out they have privilege.

It is exhausting to be expected to be someone's walking talking anti racist dictionary.

So no, fuck the girl that wrote the article and fuck her tears. She doesn't get cookies because she was being a privileged asshole and making another person uncomfortable.

The fact that this was posted without comment until today and apparently in all seriousness to the cause of racial discourse shows me that frankly XOjane and the editor who approved of and solicited this don't actually give a shit.

The fact that most of the articles related to WOC are from another magazine is very telling to me. If a major publication cannot even in the spirit of wanting to feature and center varying points of view, even unpopular ones, cannot keep or originate more diverse content, that is a problem.

To come back to what the author of the original piece did, honestly people like her set back any quality racial discourse.

It is the height of White Privilege and White tears to put all of her discomfort onto the body of the Fat Black Woman in her class. It is racist as fuck to use another person's presence that way without their consent.

This from the end of the piece says it all doesn't it:


I got home from that class and promptly broke down crying. Yoga, a beloved safe space that has helped me through many dark moments in over six years of practice, suddenly felt deeply suspect. Knowing fully well that one hour of perhaps self-importantly believing myself to be the deserving target of a racially charged anger is nothing, is largely my own psychological projection, is a drop in the bucket, is the tip of the iceberg in American race relations, I was shaken by it all the same.

Her safe space was violated because it was no longer all White and she noticed.

Now what could she have done?

She could have said hello to this person, she could have smiled, she could have not fucking stared at this person until they were uncomfortable, she could have instead of wringing her hands over being seen in her white skinny body, wring her hands over the fact that the very practice of yoga has been colonized by White people.

But no.

What we are left with is:

<blockquote>
And while I recognize that there is an element of spectatorship to my experience in this instance, it is precisely this feeling of not being able to engage, not knowing how to engage, that mitigates the hope for change.


We get that this author is apparently helpless and senseless and without any common sense at all.

It is not being able to engage it is refusing to engage.

It is refusing to understand when one is being an asshole. It is refusing to see when one is dehumanizing people. Objectifying people. If this were an issue of sexism it would have not happened at Xojane.

It is putting the onus of fixing the situation on the person who is in the least powerful position and having absolutely no conscious of that.

Now go read Pia's response also on Xojane.

It is an excellent response and someone at XOjane should have asked for it to run concurrently with the other piece of crap. But no.

What is the lesson?

Xojane like so many other place (ahem the entire fucking world) prioritizes and centers White Lady Tears.

Women of Color are here to gently guide racist and racist leaning Nice White Ladies to the promised land of not being racists.

It is too hard for White people to be at all conscious of their behavior when it comes to people of color because it is all about them.

So thanks Xojane again for making sure us mean old WOC know our place.

Homo Out.

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2 comments:

Pumpkin said...

Thank you for writing this! Reading the original article didn't help my shitty week, but your response made me feel better. I can relate to this in more ways than I can count.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding gushy I wanna just say that I've been reading your blog (all the older stuff too) for the last week and love your feisty self. I also love those vulnerable posts that are so fucking brave and leave me feeling less lonely. This post on white woman hand wringing is fantastic. And as you say, it must get so fucking exhausting being the educator to white angst. I'm glad you say "fuck off". It truly is the only sane response.

I'm so pleased you are out there in the world. Even if it is on the other side from where I come from.

And I have to confess that I have appropriated the word "fancy". Hey, I'm white, whaddya expect? But seriously, I am only just starting to feel Ok at 44 with my fat body, and although nervously I am hoping it lasts and isn't just a "you go gurl" stage, reading your Fuck It You are Awesome stuff seems to be sticking to those parts of me that have been emerging in the last couple of years. Its like a balm to my battered old self hating soul. And I think I am now truly tired of it. Finally!

But enough about ME (sigh, old habits die hard) thanks again for your words, insights, meanderings and musings. You are one fucking AWESOME (yup weird) woman.

Now go write something. Jeez, you busy doing your fabulous nails or something.

take care
Tara

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