So I guess I should start with Oprah.
Oprah received the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award at the recent Golden Globes award show. I don’t know what the award signifies or means, but I know that it is highly prestigious; only a few very distinct people have been given the award, and she was the first African American woman to do so. I didn’t see the Golden Globes, but I heard fanciful tales of her speech, so when I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was grab my phone, which I ashamedly sleep with nowadays, and look it up on YouTube. I would understand someone being highly critical of her speech since the reports afterward equated it to the two tablets given to Moses from God detailing the Ten Commandments, but even still, you would have to admit that it was a pretty riveting speech. Naturally being narcissistic, I would have preferred it to be specific to MY needs or MY demographic, like something about being a starving artist, or broke or overweight or gay or maybe some private battle she had with psoriasis but a las, the core of the speech had to deal with the liberation of women. I was still able to glean some inspiration out of it even though I wasn’t necessarily its core audience.
Just for a timestamp, it should be noted that one of the dozens if not HUNDREDS of weird, unbelievable, and just plain old head-scratching things that have happened since Donald Trump took office is this sudden and massive uprising of women claiming sexual harassment at the hands of just about every White male who has proudly declared their membership in the “Old Boys Clubs” across all forms of business. Frustrated with being an active participant of the games “Old Boys” play and even playing a few hands myself, I recently opted out of the whole scenario, quit my corporate gig, and now find myself smack dab in the middle of a life-sucking, dream eating, psoriasis inducing bout of extreme poverty. So when I first heard of these scenarios of sexual harassment, I equated it to simple evil based business transactions a la “You suck my dick, I give you a shitload of money,” of which in my current state of poverty, morality be damned, I’m totally down for. But these aren’t simple indecent proposals. And the damage done is far beyond a bruised ego and carpal tunnel from giving some old rich guy a handy; it’s about an accepted systematic form of abuse that humiliates, maligns, and corrodes a woman’s dignity, sexuality, and safety, which in turn affects us all. It demeans femininity, which in turn gives a completely false (if not a millennium-long belief) that masculinity is stronger if not “better” and in the process throws the baby of homosexuality out with the bathwater. In short… it fucks over everybody that is not a cis-gendered heterosexual male and not willing to play the game.
And I think this was the core of Oprah’s speech. She was speaking directly to women and to girls, but I think there was definitely this core shaking anger in her presence that conveyed not only #MeToo but #NoMore. Women, LGBT communities, minorities… #NoMore. #NoMore will there be an absence of opportunities that breed and empower powerful predators. #NoMore will we be the elephants chained to a stake by a piece of thread, afraid to move because we’ve been whipped to oblivion every time we tried to in the past. #NoMore will we accept that the way things are is the way things are supposed to be. #NoMore will we be the victim. #NoMore will our afros, our cellulite, or our fists be mocked and desexualized. #NoMore will we accept “mainstream” to be White or worthy of rape simply because that has been the subliminal counter melody of our National Anthem. #NoMore will we passive-aggressively accept that Christopher Columbus discovered a land that already had people on it or that he is not the father of the genocide that happened after. Even deeper, #NoMore will we socially scoff at the idea of an Allah or a Buddha or accept a man born of virginity in the Middle East grew up to be blonde, blue-eyed, and pale-skinned. And I know when she yelled “a new day is on the horizon,” it was distinctly meant for girls, but it definitely felt she was saying to everyone who could hear, “The Emperors have no clothes.” And for a brief moment, we saw exactly how small they all were.
Yeah, it was a powerful speech. It was a jolt of encouragement that I, for one, needed in this my most desperate and pathetic of times.
I wiped my tear and headed to my Twitter timeline, where I saw a tweet from this Sistah that said, “Oprah is lovely, she isn’t qualified to be President though. Can we stop with the cult of personality to politics?”
By this point, the tweet had hundreds of replies, both agreeing and disagreeing with her. She seemed to respond to a vast majority of them with calmness and intelligence, even at the most vulgar of responses. And I will admit that while I initially disagreed with her, reading her responses actually made me pause and think about how bad of an idea it would be for Oprah to actually be President. At the end of the day, and as much as I adore the ground Oprah walks on, no, she has no political experience. So with that, I totally agreed with her. But I was still taken aback by the intention of the post. At this moment in time, when this country is simply gasping for air in the innocuous vacuum that Donald Trump has created, here is this woman giving us all a breath. I just found it curious, as a Black woman, why would you create dialogue aggressively analyzing the things another Black woman CAN’T do at a moment when the majority of people are celebrating the things she has actually DONE. All of which procured my response, “I think we get the point of the post and its validity, just a little bummed that someone is harshing our “Oprah High” right now… and it just so happens to be a Black woman doing it.
Her response, “I have this funny idea that we could put this much energy behind qualified Black women already in office.”
My response, “We could. We could also put our energy into not harshing our “Oprah High.” We’re inspired by her speech. How about putting our energy into that and not into what she CAN’T do?”
Her response, “I didn’t harsh anything. I spoke a fact. You decided that you can’t handle seeing it? Let me help you.”
My response, “???” Or that was going to be my response. Every time I tried to post it, I kept getting an error. That’s when it occurred to me that she had indeed… blocked me from her page and the conversation.
Have you ever seen the film “Kill Bill”? There is a close up then a musical cue similar to a siren when the protagonist, the Bride, is in an uproar and is about to viciously slay whoever she is in front of at the time. Picture your rotund protagonist in bed trying to type question marks only to discover to his dismay that he has indeed been blocked. Cue the close-up. Start the sirens.
As it turns out, the author of the original tweet is a prodigious writer whose fan base dwarfs mine tenfold. Her moniker is that of a “Hood Feminist,” someone quick to “clap back” and “start shit and end shit.”
Now I just feel a need right now to interject that this is where the story should have ended. This is when I should have just walked away with my tail between my legs and just rolled over and went back to sleep. It was a random tweet from a random twat. But the close-up was right in my face, the sirens too loud, and my ego was just filled to the brim with adrenaline and was out of control. Enraged, I posted the conversation in its entirety (which actually was just those four posts) with a notation calling her everything but a child of God. A friend notified me that she posted a screenshot of my profanity-laced conniption fit with the note that she was looking for intelligent conversation and that it was indeed my extraordinarily sexist and offensive potty mouth that got me blocked, which… was clearly a manipulation of the timeline… the “bitch” came AFTER the block.
I have to say that what followed was a runaway train powered by miscommunication, ego, and just pure rage on everybody’s part. Tweets and screenshots were being volleyed left and right. My friends got involved. Her followers got involved. My brother damn near-threatened physical violence. Her people added my Twitter handle to their public lists of misogynists, idiots, and pigs. I declared myself a feminist while in the same breathe called this grown woman a “little girl” and a “fucking lying coward cunt whore of a bitch.”
Yeah. Things. Got. Out. Of. Hand.
One of my many dissenters commented that I needed to calm down, which actually was the first time since this volley of insults started that someone even remotely seemed to be concerned about my welfare. So far, the dialogue has been “She’s a bitch” and “You’re a pig.” He kind of stopped me in my tracks when he suggested that I calm down and be amazed that the possibility of a Black woman billionaire being President is at the center of this debate. That stopped me cold, the objectivity of it all. Because in all honesty, this was in no form or fashion a “debate.” This… was a flat out fight. This wasn’t about exchanging ideas with an audience getting more information to influence their own point of view. This was two furious people trying to out sass the other on the Twitter playing field. And in that sense, I brought a gun to a knife fight. It’s one thing to be sassy and block somebody from a discussion. It’s whole other, in a conversation about #MeToo and #NoMore and Black women and feminism, to refer to a Black woman as a “fucking lying coward cunt whore of a bitch.”
A little time has passed, the majority of the smoke has cleared, my ego and my gun have been sheathed, and my objectivity is becoming even more evident. I imagine that after a while (a.k.a. maybe a couple of years) I’ll be apologetic. Not just yet. I don’t know if anybody would admit that they were “wounded” by my language, but I can tell you that when I was silenced, that fucking hurt. And everything after that came from that hurt. And that gun filled with language scooped from a raw septic tank and shot over everyone’s nice clean knife fight of a discussion… well, I thought we were “hood”? I thought we were “clapping back”? I thought we were “starting and ending shit”? I thought we was about dat life? In this context, I thought it was fair. But I know, for better or for worse, in certain people’s eyes, I’m the Black Andrew “Dice” Clay, spewing sexist epithets at a Tourette’s speed.
And this article is in no way my “apology tour.” I can’t even say I’m apologetic, or in the very least, like I said, not yet. Maybe later. And it would just be for the language, not the intention which is just as strong, virile, and unyielding as it ever was… “a new day is on the horizon.” That was the impetuous of all of this, with me wanting to spread that gospel and that young woman wanting to make sure it’s author doesn’t do more harm than good to an already embattled America. And ironically enough, despite all the “Pig” and “Pussy” and “Beast” and “Bitch” and “Coon” and “Cunt” that was left on this battlefield, I tend to believe we all agree on BOTH points.
So what is the moral here? What is the takeaway? If I were to be completely objective and look at the whole thing, it would be fair to say that women, particularly women of color, in general, don’t feel safe or heard and that my language in this particular instance in no way, shape or form was meant to empower the voice of the Black woman. Conversely… in this particular instance, that “voice” was insulting, condescending, and instigated a fight. I can’t apologize for accepting that invitation. I harken back to when Solange was smacking the shit out of Jay-Z, and Jay-Z never responded in kind and hit her back. What can I say; I’m no Jay-Z. I’m a proud gay dude that views women as my equal in every way, in work, love, and war. When a woman speaks, I take it as seriously as any man. When a woman loves me, I take it as seriously as any man. And when a woman attacks, I attack back as if she were any man (believe me, if those tweets came from a dude, he still would have been a “cunt ass bitch”). And to me, that’s feminism. It’s not creating spaces where women are immune from antagonism and can haphazardly offend, insult and violate then run back into the bushes of womanhood when things get tough, but creating spaces where we all get a seat at the table, respect is afforded to everyone… as well as reprimand. You don’t get to act like a bitch then play the victim when someone calls you on it… female or male. No. Omarosa does not fit in my view of feminism.
But if there is an olive branch I extend here, it is that despite the aftertaste I’m sure certain factions have in regards to my language, my intention has always been for all of us to see that horizon. My intention is that all of us are afforded the opportunity to be heard and not blocked because we have a difference of opinion. In battle, my intention is to offend and take as many potshots as possible. In life, my intention is to live… and let live. So in a world where unwinnable wars have been fought for millenniums with hurt egos and orgasmic inducing hatreds of our counterparts’ assumed agendas and so much has been accomplished when we show our scars, help each other out and utilize each other’s quirks, faults, and foul ass language to help power real change in our communities, I propose an examination of my original intention; how about we concentrate on what we can do and not on what we shouldn’t.
Special thanx to S.I.R. (Sistahs I Respect) for their support and guidance of writing this piece: Lisa Holly, Jaime Conway and most notably Jamila Gaskins for the extended follow through and critique