About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings
Are you mad about this title? Keep reading. You’re probably the main one that needs to read this.
It has been an interesting 5 days, since Beyonce dropped her Formation video and broke the internet. People (me included) have not been able to stop talking about it, and it has spurred a gajillion thinkpieces. Most folks love it and have been vocal about it but the critiques have poured in too. Then she performed at the Superbowl, had her dancers dressed as Black Panthers and everyone lost their collective minds.
Beyonce’s unapologetic Blackness has heartened those of us who see ourselves in her, and it has offended some people who don’t think she represents them. There have been oceans of white tears for folks to swim in since it happened.
On the night of the Superbowl, I received an email from a woman who reads my blog. What she thought was her passing on some advice to me was really her being Den Mother of Hurt White Feelings.
Dear Awesomely Luvvie:
I was so excited when I started following your Facebook page a few weeks ago! Many of your posts and blogs are fantastically witty, smart and sassy. You’ve made me laugh and think, and I’ve shared several of your pieces on my own feed.
But after awhile, I sensed an undertone of “us vs. them” that feels like it’s counter-intuitive to promoting love and an honest dialogue about race, and what we can do better as a culture.
Your words have great power, and a lot of people are listening.
I read that and closed it, fed up because for being such historical bullies, white people sure are fragile when they feel remotely threatened.
The next day, as I continued to read critiques from folks who should have employed their Fool STFU Gift Basket, this email stayed on my spirit and I decided to get on Facebook Live and talk it through. 67,000 views later, that video has spurred so many people to send me messages thanking me. It was a 28 minute long rant that folks said I needed to write about, and transcribe, so here I am, with the essay version of what I said on that video. Below is basically a transcript, edited for clarity and length.
If you want to watch the video, it’s here.
About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings
We are not supposed to be in this world just so that people can digest us easier, and the email that was sent to me was telling me that I needed to tone down who I am being. The fact that it was from a white woman, as one of the biggest entertainers in the world was being loudly Black, gave me layers of frustration.
Although I am Formation-ed out, I started this with Beyoncé because the last 5 days has been a lesson in confirmation that some white people can only tolerate Blackness when it’s tame and timid. When it’s an undercurrent, not a roaring wave. People are so used to Beyoncé being “Safe Beyoncé” who’s singing about single ladies and bootyliciousness and crazy in love right. A Beyoncé who’s talking about how Black she is, who’s standing on top of a cop car that’s drowning in New Orleans is a Beyoncé that people will not be able to stomach. It’s a Beyoncé that white people will be uncomfortable about.
So for me to get an email from a white reader telling me that my posts have had an “undertone” of “us vs. them” had me raging. RAGING. Because what I have been doing in my writing (and life) is celebrating my Blackness, my love for Black people and my pride. This isn’t anything new, but it is something that seems continuously threatening to white people who do not understand the purpose and the point.
I am a Black woman and that is a badge of honor for me.
The idea that somehow upholding and affirming my own Blackness, being proud about it, being loud about it, is some type of anti-white statement will never stop blowing my mind. It’s the “All Lives Matter” Syndrome. When we say BLACK LIVES MATTER, it doesn’t mean other lives don’t. If I say I love being Black it don’t mean I hate White.
I write for me, first of all, but most of my audience is black. About half of the people who read my work are Black Women and I honor them. I am a reflection of those women. But that other half is diverse and I honor them too. However, if I stand up and yell about how I love being a Black woman, it is not an insult on the lives of those who are not. I am not coming to your house to turn off your light because I said I love being a Black woman. The idea that my posts have been “us vs. them” because they’ve been ‘super Black’ is bullshit.
You know why we have to constantly affirm Blackness? It’s because the world is telling us that Blackness is a liability. We have to constantly stand up and say we are proud to be Black because we are constantly told that we are somehow less than because we’re Black. People will then argue and say things like, “well why can’t I say White Pride?” Let me tell you why. Because White Pride has killed Black people. “White pride” is what people yelled when they lynched folks and hung them in trees. As people said “white pride” in their white hoods, they dragged Black bodies behind their cars. Never has Black Pride dragged a white child or burned a white church or shot a white boy without consequence. White Pride is not the same as Black Pride because white pride has denigrated us for centuries and has been used as a tool to actively harm us.
It’s like going to the Gay Pride parade and yelling “Straight Pride.” Straight Pride has killed gay, queer and transgender people. Straight pride is the reason why some people still can’t be themselves and love who they love out loud. It has driven some to take their own lives. It is an oppressive statement. I am a functioning straight and I would never ask somebody who’s gay “why can’t I say straight pride?”
We say “Black Pride” because that’s a revolutionary statement. Because the world is telling us Black should not be something to be pride of. So this “us versus them” that someone white might feel from Black people affirming their humanity is ridiculous. It is whiteness trying to center itself in everything, and it is the false equivalence of anti-whiteness.
Let’s say some people do feel like someone who is saying “Black Pride” is being anti-white. Well, anti-whiteness is not a thing because anti-whiteness does nothing to harm you. Anti-whiteness does not kill your children. You do not wake up in the morning and say, “oh my gosh, anti-whiteness is the reason why my child, my son, my brother, my husband might not walk in the house today.” So even if people are being anti-white, anti-white has no systemic consequences. “Oh God, they don’t like white people!” You got your feelings hurt. For us, when people don’t like Black people, our boys are shot down in the streets; our girls are shot down in these streets. Anti-whiteness is not a thing; it is your feelings being hurt by one person, not an entire system that was built to ensure that you stay shackled down.
That email I got, had many undertones itself, and one of them was the ill-assumed sentiment that I am writing for white people. I don’t write for you, white folks. I love the fact that ya’ll read my work, though. I love the fact that anybody reads my work but I’m not here to make people comfortable about my work. However, I’m not here to make anybody uncomfortable about what I write either. The point of what I do is to speak my truth, inspire folks to do the same, and say the things that are uncomfortable to say but need to be said. It is to stand in my power as a creator. When people read what I write and it lands the way it was intended and they find the value in it, I am affirmed as a writer. I love it.
One thing I really love about my work is the fact that it does transcend color and race and gender identity and sexual orientation because I am a humorist. I cover all things. Some days I’m talking about yellow starbursts and then the day after that I may be talking about the Republican Debate, and the day after that I might be talking about police brutality. But please be clear that my writing is not to ostracize anybody but it’s also not to make anybody feel better about themselves. I’m not here to let white folks feel better about themselves.
My posts lately have not been different from my posts in the past. I am a Nigerian woman. I am a Yoruba gal. I am Black. I’m straight. I am able-bodied. I’m middle-class. I know the spaces that I’m in and I will always speak from those spaces. However, don’t get it twisted that I’m somehow here to make you comfortable. Essentially when we talk about “promoting love” when it comes to race a lot of times it’s from cowardly people who don’t want to talk about the uncomfortable stuff. It’s from people who do not want to actually say, “this is a difficult conversation to have.” It’s from people who think love means harmony all the time even when you’ve harmed somebody. The person you’ve harmed is not obligated to make you feel better or to say “I forgive you.”
I will always talk about race. I will always talk about how it’s affected me and how it’s affected my people. I will always talk about the fact that we’re living in a structure of inequality and the people of privilege (white men) do a lot of fucked up shit. But then white women also get a lot of the privilege too because if you’re a white woman, straight, Christian, you have one thing against you: the woman piece. The rest of us are dealing with being a part of other marginalized groupings.
So you don’t get to come to my inbox and tell me I haven’t been promoting love okay. I always operate from a place of love. My name is Luvvie. I operate from love. I do the work I do because I love what I do. So I promote love in that I promote understanding. Let’s have these conversations about race. Let’s have these conversations about privilege so we can all move forward as opposed to sweeping things under the rug. I don’t have time for pink elephants in the room.
I get these types of emails once every couple of months. If you are somebody white, who thought you should be sending me an email telling me “I haven’t been promoting love with my words”, delete that email. In fact, report it as spam and don’t send that shit to me because no.
Back to my initial point on this whole Beyoncé thing people. A lot of white people haven’t been comfortable with this evolved version of Beyoncé. If the only time you’re comfortable with Black people is when they’re making you feel safer about whiteness or they are just creating great dance music, check yourself. When they create something that actually speaks some truth to power or at least something that challenges you, and all of a sudden they offend you, you’re probably a racist douchebag.
On AwesomelyLuvvie.com and on my Facebook fan page, I have an amazing audience, amazing audience: Black, white, all different colors, straight, gay, trans, male, female, gender binary. I welcome everybody. Let’s have some real conversations, but what we’re not gon do is that every time I talk about race people say something like “oh you should be promoting love.” Love is understanding and some of ya’ll need to understand the state of affairs and some of ya’ll need to understand that Black people loving ourselves is a revolutionary act and you need to let us have it. Also it’s fucking Black History Month okay. It’s only day eight in Black History Month, can we live? Is it okay? Can we fucking live? Damb!
Look here. White folks get excluded for something and get up and arms. We’ve been excluded from justice for about 400 years and we’re somehow still standing up straight and functioning. Ya’ll should be giving us props. We exclude you from a BET Award and ya’ll be like “why is there is a BET Award?” Because every award is “White Entertainment Award” gahtdambit. Commes des fackons! We exclude ya’ll from one music video and y’all are like “why were there no white people in Beyoncé’s video?” Damb really?! Y’all have got to share better. Did you miss that week in kindergarten where they taught us about sharing?
I’m feeling super Black and you know what? I’m going to be in all Black this week. Why? Because can’t nobody check me. It’s Black History Month. I don’t even care if it’s not Black History Month, I’m gon’ be super Black in March too, and in April, and May. Who gon’ say something? Nobody. Damn that’s it.
And my white readers, come on. Y’all can ask me questions and LuvvNation is loving you, so come through. But some of your cousins? Lawd. They’re a hot ass mess.
Let me repeat this for the upper decks. You cannot say “white power” or “white pride.” What people will hear are the echoes of people hanging from trees as people chanted, “white power.” No you’re not allowed. History matters and context matters. So for us to build a bridge of love, that bridge needs to also come with some acknowledgement from your side to be like “yes, we have wronged you.” But we can’t build a bridge if you just like “we just need to promote love.” How? HOW, SWAY?
I love my friends who will message me with questions. Like my white friends who will be like, “hey just wanted to see do a temperature check.” Those are people who are wiling to grow and learn and people who have genuinely have Black friends they trust who can be their safe space. Now technically, it’s not our job to explain race and racism to folks because I mean people can Google, but I do think there is power in having people you can learn from. You need people who can check you when you’re not doing what you supposed to be doing.
The friends I have who are white are open to learning. I love them and they can ask me the questions they need to ask because it’s through that that people start to get to a better place of growth. So yeah, it’s really important for us to have these conversations and I will continue to moderate some of these conversations on my page. I delete comments that are counterproductive and hateful and not from a space of learning. I will commit myself to doing that.
We just have to keep standing tall and keep yelling “Black Girl Magic” and “Black Love.” Shout-out to BYP100 for the phrase “Unapologetically Black.”
We can build this bridge. We can promote love WITH understanding.
Black Power all day everyday. Black Pride. Black Power. Black People. I love us.
Thank you so much to Shatoria L. for helping my transcribe my video. You are MUCH appreciated.
If you want to get the Fist Up shirt I had on in the video, it’s now available at my Tees in the Trap store.