Thank you for this article. It really says all the MeToo-related things I feel and says them well. And in response to it, from my gut and heart, I say:
Sometimes, when a movement is more than a majority would like it to be/mean, that majority sets out to make it less. And sometimes, the lack of thought involved in the raising of voice in an attempt at some sort of solidarity is also a catalyst for diluting and demeaning a movement. The cultural appropriation surround #MeToo is . . . not surprising, all told. But as ever, it’s disheartening. There IS a difference between black MeToo and white MeToo. There is a difference in the history that underpins the biology and existence of MOST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA who have white ancestors — ancestors who owned sex slaves, NOT “had mistresses” — and the non-race-based, non-skin color-based, non-class-based violations that have happened to present-day women. But especially white women.
There is a difference. There are MANY.
For black women, MeToo is HISTORY, as well as HERE AND NOW. This is lineage and lines of descent. This is handed down through generations of dark skin, and the bullshit and terror which get foisted on any who have dark skin. This is ongoing abuse, physical, sexual, psychological, and society-wide. World-wide. This is the ultimate unacknowledged hate-crime on which segments of America and the world are BUILT.
Black women get targeted and assaulted because their skin color means that they aren’t regarded as valuable, or worth protecting and securing. They are MORE LIKELY to be raped because the perpetrators know they’ll get away with it. And they WILL get away with it, because BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER, NOR DO BLACK BODIES. Especially if they’re women’s.
White women are targeted not for their skin color — not nearly as much — but for other reasons. Opportunity. Revenge. What have you. That doesn’t make the rape and/or abuse less horrible, but at least their skin color acts, if anything, as a preventative.
The world CARES when white women are raped and abused. At least, it care more than it does for women of color in the same situation. Honestly, I think that overall, the less-than-half of the world who AREN’T women don’t give six shitting fucks about the abuse of women at all. That fact is simply more apparent and more TRUE when it comes to women of color, arguably the least valuable and least people-like women of all.
Lumping together the MeToo experiences and histories of white women and women of color serves no one — well, maybe it serves the sort of white women who do so enjoy being rallied to for their causes, but have a well-known and well-recorded habit of not extending the same rallying courtesy to women of color, cis and trans — and silences voices that are already underheard and underrepresented. Underknown.
For women of color, rape and abuse aren’t merely “RAPE” and “ABUSE.” They are also, among other things, A TOOL OF SYSTEMIC RACISM. They are centuries of dehumanization, injustice, and wanton evil against HUMAN BODIES, HUMAN FAMILIES, and HUMAN BEINGS.
They remind women and people of color, but especially BLACK WOMEN and people of being less than two centuries beyond a time when people who looked like YOU were PROPERTY. Chattels to be treated however those in power saw fit. And often being treated FAR worse than a prized pet or or a valued beast of burden/work.
And all because of skin color.
White MeToos, take your brand of MeToo and MAKE IT YOUR OWN. BE ABOUT THAT — no one’s saying you shouldn’t. Rape and abuse are evils that happen to PEOPLE regardless of race, gender, sex, class, what-have-you. It deserves to be talked about and acted upon. Striven against. But in your talking, acting, and striving, don’t downplay, co-opt, silence, or talk-over the MeToo of women of color. If you can’t also BE ABOUT US, too, then be apart. Stand with us or, if you choose not to . . . stand apart. It’s really that simple. Because you have NO RIGHT and NO FUCKING IDEA what-all is behind the MeToo of women of color — especially BLACK WOMEN — and how painfully deep the roots of that forest go. And you’ll touch the sky, itself before you EVER touch the canopy.