Lessons learned from that man who was on the Breakfast Club

Note: Before you read this post, I highly encourage you to read the responses from a few wonderful Black trans women. Their words are amazing, and their narratives are important.

Janet Mock’s piece in Allure: Dear Men of “The Breakfast Club”: Trans Women Aren’t a Prop, Ploy, or Sexual Predators 

L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith’s piece in For Harriet: Black Men, Don’t Make Trans Women Pay for Your Fragile Masculinity


The time has come to stop treating Black trans women like punchlines. Nope, actually, it’s been done time. 13 Black trans women (15 trans women of color) have been murdered since Jan 1, 2017. This shouldn’t be happening, it shouldn’t have happened.

Unfortunately, these hate crimes do not happen out of thin air, and many folks do their best to contribute to an extremely violent and transphobic society.

On Friday, the Breakfast Club hosted an interview with Lil Dvual, a comedian who I had no idea he existed until last night. Honestly, the devil is at work this year even more than usual lately is typically one to “speak his mind.” During the show, one of the ways he spoke his mind was by declaring if “one did that to me” (i.e. if a trans woman had sex with him/dated him) and “didn’t tell me”* (i.e. decided for their safety that they did not want to come out) he’d “probably going to want to kill them” (adding to the 15 trans women–all trans women of color, mind you– that have been murdered this year). And then said “put that book down” when looking at Janet Mock’s** newest book, and proceeded to misgender Janet.

If you care to listen to that part of the interview, it can’t be found here. Cw for some transphobic behavior.

Also: he refuses to be apologetic over his statements, if his twitter is any indication.

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Lil, how the actual fuck dare you. How dare you say that trans woman deserve to die, when there have been so many trans women of color murdered for just living their truth, when trans women of color are, as writer Mey Rude says, “exist[ing] at one of the most dangerous intersections in America,” when trans women are HUMAN and aren’t jokes for your little routines. To misgender a trans woman multiple times on purpose on a popular radio show is violent and bad enough. To say that you want to kill a trans women is honestly the worst. And implying that trans women are dangerous tricksters who try to deceive poor cis men into sleeping with them, while ignoring the fact this very idea, along with toxic masculinity, is what’s murdering trans women? Oh my God, you trash-ass human. Grow up.

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I would also like to point out that Lil was not the only person in the room. The hosts of the Breakfast Club (Charlamagne tha god, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy) were present, and did little to stop. It’s interesting to note that the men in the room egged Lil on. Angela defended Janet Mock’s beauty***, although she was laughing as well and tried to change the subject early on.

It’s easy to point fingers at Lil’s ignorant ass and Charlamagne and Co.s willful ignorance (so, so easy). And it’s also a good reminder to constantly check ourselves and make sure we’re not bystanders toward fucked up attitudes. Because if we:

  • laugh or ignore our friends’ transphobic jokes
  • create spaces for women of color and exclude trans women/ allow space for trans women but not their lived experiences.
  • forget to listen to trans women of color and cite, respect, and pay them for their work
  • only hype up trans women who look like our idea of “feminine” (i.e. cis-passing)
  • say things like “he doesn’t have to accept them, he just shouldn’t threaten them,” implying that we shouldn’t “accept” trans woman because something is wrong with them.
  • don’t challenge the transphobic comments we hear about Black trans women, or any trans woman
  • [this is not an exclusive list, I’m sure we could come up with at least 20 other points]

We’re complicit in transphobia. Myself definitely included.

I’m not trying to imply all cis folks are on the same level of Lil. And this list is not to excuse his actions or get his fool-ass off the hook. However, it’s to serve as a reminder that we benefit from cis privilege, and we need to step up and do better. We need to check people like Lil, and make sure we hold actions that stand in solidarity with trans women.

As a cis Black woman, I’ve been long silent, thinking that a couple of outraged Facebook posts and donations could be enough. And definitely not to knock social media action, or donating to organizations that support trans women of color. Both are important. And I need to also call out trans violence on the daily, on the internet and within my family. I need to make sure when I scream #BlackGirlMagic, I include Black trans women. I want us to say this, and mean this:

And to get here, we’ve got some fucking work to do.


*Hi, friends. Trans folks do not “trick people;” they’re just out here trying to live their lives. There is a STRONG difference between saying “I don’t want to sleep with someone,” and basically saying, “I’m going to perpetuate the narrative that trans women are trying tricky and are trying to sleep with cis men without their consent to justify my transphobia, even though it’s reported that 50% of trans people experience sexual assault in their lifetime.” Lil was not championing for consent. He was championing for violence.

**ALSO, I would like to state that Janet Mock is a goddess and a smart angel and how dare you. No trans woman deserves to be treated with the disrespect Lil showed, and I’m not outraged because he specifically pointed to Janet. However, I do love Janet Mock, and I am not pleased. She is the sun and the stars and she doesn’t need me to defend her because she has got her shit on lock and clapped-back in her amazing way, but still. Leave Janet alone.

***I don’t know Angela, but here’s hoping she would have defended another trans woman that might not have had Janet’s “pretty privilege.”

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Dear Sandra,

This is the fourth time I’ve tried to write this letter, since I started the first draft in 2015. Even now, it will be an imperfect version. It is not in my usual tone. There will be no witty sentences or swear-filled rants. This feels sad, and unorganized, and jumbled. But it’s time to write.

Whenever a Black person, particularly a Black woman dies, I struggle to articulate my sorrow. I want to honor the family. I don’t want  to make it about me. The problem, however, is that it is about me. And her, and her, and other Black women who see the news and wonder, “could I be the next one?” When I see a Black girl murdered, my brain goes into overdrive for the next 48 hours worrying what will happen to me and other Black women I love, because in the eyes of everyone except ourselves. we are less than human. Because I am a Black woman, I see that similarity with other Black women who are killed, whether I want to or not.

And in you, I see more similarities with myself than ever.

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Photo credit: Taken from The Nation article; original from Sandra Bland’s Facebook page

Of course, we are not exactly the same. This year, you would have been thirty years old, and I just entered into the last year of my mid-twenties. You left Illinois for college, whereas I stayed in the state for the first 22 years of my life. During the summer of 2015, you were heading South for your new job, while I headed West for mine. You were part of the Black Lives Movement in Chicago, probably around the same time I just started to wake up. I did not know you, and I strongly doubt you knew me.

And yet. We were both born in Naperville, Illinois.  Your old church is close to my house, so close, that when my dad pointed this out, I clenched my palms to keep from sobbing in front of my family. We both started our new jobs around the same time– student-centered higher education careers, jobs that, I believe, we believed could change the world. Depression is a label we knew well, along with Black, and woman, and beautiful.

Our birthdays are only one day apart.

This letter will be one of the shortest blog posts I write, not because I want to dishonor you, but because today, even two years out from your death, it still hurts to think about you. It hurts to think about how you were stopped for failing to use a turn signal (because, of course, driving while Black). It hurts me to see the courts drop the perjury charges against the state trooper who brought you to your death. It hurts me to read how the court system failed you way before, countless times. It hurts me that we didn’t have a nuanced discussion about Black women’s relationship with depression and mental health and suicide when we talked about your death. It hurts me that they killed you, and it hurts me that, even two years after your death, people will still say that the judicial system is fine, that police systems aren’t rooted in White Supremacy, that Black women deserve to be forced into the prison system. It hurts that, as the years go by, we (except for Black women) say your name less and less.

It hurts to think we could have been in the same place, at the same time. This is selfish and self-serving and doesn’t help anyone. And to me, it’s also real.

I don’t yet have the heart to watch your Sandy Speaks videos, but I want to, soon. I want to set the world on fire and challenge the system and love Black women even harder and do better. I want to be better, to take care of myself. I want to scream. I hate the phrase “die in vain,” and I refuse to use it to you, because you did not ask to die. And I won’t forget you, both your life and your death. Because it is one more name reminding me I need to do more, to do everything in my body to speak up and say we need to be treated better. And for me, it’s an important name.

Rest in power, Sandy.

Things that bring me joy: Get out (leave! Right now)

Since the Orange Tangerine and his merry band of Hateful Nonsense™ has been added to the already daily dose of constant isms I face as a female member of team Black n’ Gay, the list of topics I’ve wanted to write about has gone through the roof. In an attempt to clear out my draft list, I created a rule for myself: I wouldn’t write new things unless I finished a few old posts.

And then, last Tuesday, I went out to see Get Out. A movie is so good, it currently has a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This, coupled with the fact that I have no discipline and I write what I want, is why we’re here.

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I have a sh*tton to say, and there will probably be spoilers. #sorrynotsorry

Before we get started, I want to acknowledge the joy of seeing this movie surrounded by my friends of color, and 50 other Black people in Tacoma. There is no greater bonding experience than a whole theatre full of POCs cheering on a Black man curbstomp a racist dude bro on his way out to survival. Jordan Peele and his incredible brain brought the community together.

Get Out is one of the most brilliant films of this year. There is no way around this fact. I hate horror films, yet I would go see Get Out again. And write a dissertation on it. But maybe not in Naperville, because I can’t go to my childhood hometown anymore. Or many of my friend’s homes. When I say I walked into work the next day suspicious as hell. I love my coworkers, but I’m going to need proof of safety exits and three references from Black women who made it out alive before I can go back to my boss’ house. (Ashleigh’s note: If you go to your boss’s house, TELL ME!)

The beauty of horror films is their ability to add some plausibility to the audience. We are scared not just because certain elements are terrifying, but because somewhere in the back of our mind, we can imagine pieces of the movie happening to us. And one of reasons Get Out is such a great horror film is because it is so stepped in realism: specifically for Black people and people of color, it accurately portrays the spectrum of racism that we experience on a daily basis. Literally the only fake thing was the psychosis+extreme sci-fi mind control. 89-96% of this scary movie is literally Black people’s experiences with White folks.

Example: If you haven’t had the privilege of being the only person of color at a function (while, in your identity development, woke enough to realize the racial tension that comes with being greatly outnumbered by White people), let me break it down for you: it is an uncomfortable feeling. At best, the majority of the White people you’re around are those you trust and somewhat vouch for their ability to engage in allyship, so you can at least enjoy your friends’ company as you stick out like a sore thumb.  At worst, you’re around multiple people you don’t know, and your only coping options are to finish your presentation/sit in the back and pray no one notices you/get so drunk you forget your own name, until you’re able to leave the speech/conference/wedding/shower.

The party scene in Get Out captured all this so eloquently, and brought me back to the times that, either by my own doing or out of my control, I was the only brown person in the room. A note to many of my White friends and exes: you have taken me to spaces like this. Multiple times. And even if you’ve tried to make as comforting as possible, it’s still weird. Especially if there’s 10,000 White eyes on me, and a lot of microaggressional-questions about my body/hair/upbringing/skin/name. I love you. But still.

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Yaaaaaaaay.

I have never had a horror movie speak so accurately into my soul. And that is just ONE SCENE with ONE THEME to unpack. Not to even talk about the prevalence of White woman tears and toxic White women feminism and fakeness.  And their obsession with thinking Black men are/need to be obsessed with them (*eHEM*). Or the analogy of cultural appropriation, and White folks wanting so bad to be us without wanting to be us. Or the assimilation to White culture, and ignoring other Black people.  Or the perfect analogies of the sunken place. Or or or or, or or, or. I haven’t even scratch the surface.

To me, Get Out feels iconic for a few different reasons. I think about the unapologetic way it captures White liberalism. Which is probably why the movie has a few White people mad: it holds the mirror up not only to the explicitly racist Neo-Nazis of our time, but to White moderates who tell you they’ve voted for Obama and drop 2-5 microaggressions in the same breathe. It calls out “well meaning White folks,” and shows that, unchecked, they too, can be racist. We’re at a place where “well meaning White folks” society stresses out about Black millennials voting the right way and then turns around AND VOTES FOR TRUMP. Or where “well meaning White” woman get mad because a women’s march acknowledges intersecting identities and offended when asked if we’ll see them at the next #BlackLivesMatter march (fun fact: apparently “nice White lady” is a slur). To be “well meaning” is not enough. And Get Out stresses this point perfectly.

Get Out is also powerful because a Black person defeated the odds and made it out of the house. As we know, often times, that’s not how the story ends. And I’m not even talking about other horror movies. Around the same time Get Out was released, 18-year-old Ben Keita was found hung in the woods near Seattle. 24-year-old Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond was shot multiple times in Chicago and was misgendered in the news. And then, less than a few days later, 31-year-old Chyna Doll Dupree was shot in New Orleans (and misgendered in the news), And then, less than a few days later, 25-year-old Ciara McElveen was stabbed in New Orleans (and misgendered in the news). Get Out is not a tool to forget about these individuals, but gives us a narrative that we as Black folks don’t get to hear often: a Black person, in the presence of several White people that wanted to harm them, ESCAPED. There is power in that statement, a storyline that we don’t hear enough in real life.

Honestly, Get Out is the movie we need and deserve. Beyond the fact that it gave us a lot of material for hilarious tweets (my favorites being the ones that give a shout-out to Rod from TSA), it does a great job of calling out Whiteness and allowing folks to see what it’s like to be the only Black person in a room, all while being witty, smart, and real as hell.

Neither steel nor iron, but flesh and blood

As humans, our beautiful bodies are made up of 70% water. Prick us, and we bleed plasma and cells. And although a few of people hardly get sick (note: this is not me, but I’ve heard of you magical unicorns before), no one body is indestructible. We all need a break from time to time.

I say this to remind everyone: Black women’s bodies are not unbreakable.

Three weeks ago in North Carolina, a Black girl, a middle schooler, was caught fighting. Or she was caught trying to break up the fights. There are different accounts. What I do know, what we all know, after seeing footage, is that a school officer came over, lifted her off the table, and slammed her to the ground. That is not an exaggeration. He slammed her like she was a rag doll, an item in the war against middle school fights. She later suffered a concussion.

It’s been 24 whole days, but I haven’t been able to put that image out of my head. It plays in my brain–this grown man, slamming a child to the ground. It reminds me of the Black women who, a few years ago, was thrown to the floor from her desk by a cop. And it disgusts me to my core. Even if this girl was the most frustrating shit-talker, even if she was leading the modern-day French revolution at her middle school..for what? That man has a good 75 pounds on her at least. Picking her up alone was not okay, but he could have done only that. Why did he feel the need to slam her?

Unfortunately, this isn’t new, and we know this will continue not to be new.

We live in a world where our bodies are disposable, casual objects. When we face police brutality, we may not only be murdered, but others will forget to say our names. If we don’t die, we are chased at pool parties and sat on. If we are sexually assaulted or harassed, we are mere Jezebels, our bodies “asking for it,” especially if the perpetrators are White men. God forbid if the perpetrators are White men. We are kicked in grocery stores, ignored when we need help in public places but shoved when we are “a nuisance.” Our hairs are chia pets, yankable in the eyes of non-Black folk. We are spat on or spat near for wearing a hijab or a dashiki or for speaking our languages. We are grabbed and pushed and pulled up–and this starts in elementary school. Hands are laid on us, and not just in church. And if a woman is Black and trans, we know violence is more likely to happen- 17 reported times in 2016, to be exact.

Often, and always, the breaking moves past our physical bodies: We will speak up against injustice, online or in person, either in the most blunt or passive way, and people will find a way to invalidate our experiences, or call us “irrational” or explain “what is or isn’t a big deal” (in fact, if someone does this with this article, congratulations: you are the annoying prophecy I predicted). We will be told we are untrained, or thieves, or dumb, even if we’re actually doctors (no, really, yes, we are). Or just trying to shop peacefully in Victoria’s Secret. Or demanding to be seen for our brilliance. We will be told we can walk home alone because “Black women are un-rapeable,” we will be called everything but n****r in college (and I do mean everything), our names will be stripped away from its native tongue and butchered and we’ll be told our beautiful string of consonants and vowels are “hard to pronounce” or “too ghetto.” 

And yes, to anyone ready to question–some of this, from the physical threats to the emotional dismissal–includes me. Although I am “soft,” I, by virtue of being Black and being woman, I know what it’s like to be seen and treated as “unbreakable.”

At times, we may be loud, angry, tired, sleepy, strong, sassy, and/or upset, but that doesn’t give others licence to treat our bodies like trash. These are, in fact, human emotions and traits that everyone possesses, demonized in us because it is easy to demonize Black folks and it is easy to demonize women, so naturally, “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.”

We have got to do better. I think about the work I need to do, from making it a point to #SayHerName (and be active on Kimberle Crenshaw’s #SayHerName site), to constantly working against my cissexism and remembering trans and non-binary Black women in the fight for honoring our bodies. But I, and other Black women, are not the only ones who have to roll up their sleeves. Beyond recognizing this country is built on the backs of Black women, non-Black folks and Black men need to do the work with us, and give us space to tell our stories. And damn, we need justice for Black girls in schools, girls who are not only seen as problems but are manhandled instead of the humans they are.

Paper Cuts and Fatal Bullets

In my current job, I create and facilitate bystander intervention trainings for student leaders. We focus not only on sexual assault prevention, but other instances where we may need to step in as active bystanders. This year, we’ve added a section around microaggressions, and students have about a million and seven questions about them. Which is fine when the questions are respectful, because students are all in the sessions to learn (and my problematic self didn’t even learn the term until my senior year in college, so I’m one to judge). I’m excited students come in eager to gain knowledge, but whew!

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Besides the basic:

  1. “what is a microaggression” (answer: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color” [Sue, et al., 2007]), and
  2. “are White girls who wear Ugg boots and drink PSLs targets of microaggression? “(answer: no)

a question I’ve heard this year, and have gotten in the past when talking about microaggressions is “why are microaggressions a big deal? They’re like…tiny aggressions. They aren’t a big deal as killing someone, so why are we talking about them?” (This is a mashup of direct quotes from different individuals telling me or other facilitators that microaggressions aren’t a big deal. Most of these are from White folks, p.s.)

If you can’t tell, this particular question bothers me to no end. Hold on to this thought.

Two days ago, I saw a notification on my phone that #TerenceCrutcher was trending on Twitter. At this point, I, like many others, have an unfortunate sixth sense about names that trend as hashtags. I assumed the worst. Today, like other days, I was correct. Terence Crutcher was a Black man murdered by the police in Tulsa, OK last Friday (yes, Oklahoma, the same state where former Oklahoma City Daniel Holtzclaw sexually assaulted 13 Black woman). He was tasered, then fatally shot. The Tulsa Police Department released the video tape of his death was released today, and right before Terence was killed, a police officer said “That looks like a bad dude, too.” I would like to point out: Terence did not have a weapon on him, or in his car. When he stepped out of his vehicle, he had his hands up. The police still killed him. I would also like to point out: he was on the middle of the road because his car broke down.

Yesterday, I learned that Keith Lamont Scott was shot and murdered by the police in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police reported him coming out of his car with a handgun, and said they gave him multiple warnings to drop his gun. His family reported that Scott was disabled, and he was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son to head out to school. The mayor is telling protesters in Charlotte to be “calm, ” and the police wants people to know that what the police are investigating looks different than what’s said on social media. Never mind that many a White terrorist with guns have been taken in alive. Never mind that police can’t confirm if he did indeed point a gun at them.

Last Wednesday, Tyre King was murdered by the police in Columbus, Ohio. He was 13 years old, and was fatally shot three times because he pulled out a handgun out of his waistband. That turned out to be an air pistol. Two things: Tyre was less than 5 feet tall, and weighed less than 100 pounds. It’s reported that any one of the three shots could have killed him. Also, the police were after Tyre King because they said he matched a description of robbery suspects (And as you read up, Keith was also known to be holding a gun when he exited his car). Last time I talked about Alton Sterling on Facebook, a Becky got up in my post about “supporting a criminal.” I don’t have much patience for that nonsense this time around, especially since Tyre was just a baby at 13. So I’m just going to put this here:

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Whew. Okay.

I’ve heard microaggressions described as “death by a 1000 paper cuts” (Nadal et al., 2011, p. 234). When we quote this, we often talk about how racial microaggressions “create a hostile and invalidating climate for people of color, saps their spiritual and psychic energies, and their cumulative nature can result in depression, frustration, anger, rage, loss of self esteem, anxiety, etc” (Sue, 2007). They’re a big deal to individuals who have to go through bullshit upon daily bullshit, so to say microaggressions aren’t a big deal is to completely dismiss the experience of marginalized folks.

But we need to remember with the “death by a 1000 paper cuts” metaphor, microaggressions could actually lead to just that: death. Because police aren’t just killing us out of nowhere. The police officer who claimed Terence was a “bad dude” didn’t just wake up that day thinking Black men look like bad men. The police officers who determined a <100 pound teenager a threat didn’t start believing that Black children could carry a handgun and be monsters five minutes before Trye was killed.  The police officers who shot Keith to death didn’t instantly have a shoot-to-kill bias against Black men. There’s previous, deep-seated bias that led the cops to think Black men/teens=scary=less than human=kill them . And often times, these biases first manifest themselves into microaggressions before they snowball into full-blown aggression. When we ignore racial microaggressions, or say they’re not a big deal, we’re giving permission to these biases. We’re saying that it’s okay to treat folks of color as less than human, or not normal. We’re essentially laying the groundwork.

No, the act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as touching our hair. The act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as mistaking us for another Black person. The act of murdering a Black person isn’t the same as thinking my name isn’t “normal” isn’t the same as ignoring me at the grocery store isn’t the same as dressing in Black face for Halloween. Congratulations for figuring that out. And guess what? I, and others who often experience microaggressions know that too, so don’t patronize us by pointing this out.

But let’s stop pretending this issues are so far removed from each other, spinning in opposite orbits in different planets. We work to stop racial microaggressions to make sure people of color can belong, and so others can stop seeing us as less than human. Because, as we’ve seen today, this week, and time and time again, the consequences for institutions–such as the criminal system–assuming we are less than human  are potentially fatal. The question “microaggressions aren’t important, so why are we even discussing them” is totally ignorant of this fact. And, quote honestly, the “they aren’t as bad as xyz” point/question is one people make usually because they have a tough time letting go of their racist-ass behaviors.

I will entertain all other questions on microaggressions. But don’t you dare try to tell me that they aren’t a big deal. And don’t you dare use the bodies of slain folks of color to make your point.

#StayMad, Commenters

Pacific Lutheran University, my place of employment (Go Lutes!), recently hired Rae Linda Brown as the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. To put it eloquently, Rae Linda Brown is a baddie. She earned both her M.A. in African American Studies and Music and Ph.D. in Musicology from Yale, served extensively in multiple academic affairs positions at different institutions, and is gearing up to do big things at PLU. Every time I see her around campus, I want to tell her how awesome she is. Actually, I do try and tell her that, but it always comes out awkward because I’m awkward, and I think she thinks I’m kinda weird. Also, throughout this article, I will be referring to Rae Linda Brown only as Rae Linda Brown, because not using the full 13 letters seems wrong. Put some respeck on her name, please.

Recently, PLU published an article on Rae Linda Brown’s upcoming strategies for enhancing the school’s academy excellence, specifically, her call to diversify our very white faculty and staff. If you have time, read the whole article here. It has some fantastic gems, including:

“We cannot expect to recruit and retain students of color if the academic climate is not welcoming to them,” [Rae Linda Brown] said in her speech. “We cannot expect to be an institution of excellence if voices are absent from the community.”

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Of course, not everyone is thrilled about this, and when PLU posted the article on its Facebook page, some people were mad. They came ready with their thesis statements on why they thought Rae Linda Brown was full of it. White tears came to play, because obviously we can’t have nice things when White fragility is threatened.

Honestly, it’s upsetting to see people so distraught over the idea of hiring staff and faculty of color, but it’s not new. Whenever institutions, especially institutions of higher education, try and create plans in place to hire more people of color, there are always those who cry “unfair affirmative action.” Instead of coming out right and acknowledging White Supremacy and their own subconscious desire to have a majority White faculty and staff body because they’re the worst its role in creating a lack of educators of color at universities and colleges, they make excuses on why focusing on diversity in hiring practices is awful. There are typically a few of the same arguments* that come out of the woodwork when we talk about any school hiring more diverse staff and faculty, and many of them presented themselves in the comments on Facebook.

*In fact, I’m being generous by calling them “arguments,” because Webster’s Dictionary defines “argument” as “a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion,” and some of these comments are absolutely not that.

Argument 1: It shouldn’t matter what color people are, but only if the faculty are excellent.

Yes, faculty should be great. The goal isn’t to hire terrible faculty. But why is hiring faculty of color mutually exclusive with hiring amazing faculty? Is it so hard to believe there are some fantastic professors and staff who aren’t White?

And I hate to break it to you…but it actually does kind of matter. I want to stress: our staff and faculty are very White. So White, we could have a collection of “So White/How White jokes” devoted to the lack of melanin. I can’t think of any at the moment. But what I can tell you is we have 35% students of color (and 41% are first generation college students), and we miiiiight have 15% staff and faculty of color. Maybe. We know that students of color need faculty and staff of color, both for mentorship opportunities, and for the feeling of belonging that comes from seeing someone who looks like you in a position of educational power. How can we serve students of color when the possibility of them going through PLU without seeing a single faculty of color in the classroom is high?

And p.s., yes, that hyper-underlined sentence in the middle of the previous paragraph contains nine different articles supporting my claim that students of color need faculty of color for support (and there are easily dozens more). I come with my receipts ready to go.

Argument 2: Race is a social construct, we are all #oneloveoneraceoneskinonemind, and by talking about diversity, you are the racist.

Yes, yes, the modern day, scientific “I don’t see color.” Race is a social construct. And guess who made it a social construct? Hint: it wasn’t the black and brown bodies that were colonized, enslaved, murdered, and/or ignored proper medical treatment. I don’t ever want to hear or see the phrase “race is a social construct”, unless it’s followed up by “and because it was a social construct designed by European and White folks, a group of people with structural power, the negative impacts, prejudice, and racism that come with this man-created hierarchy are very real.” Because “racism as a social construct” does not equal “there is no racism, and no need to hire faculty or staff of color.”

Also, I’m perplexed why highlighting diversity automatically means we’re causing a divide, and how “seeing color” is “racism.” Okay. Also, let me not catch you using all your breath to cry “racism” when we’re talking about hiring more folks of color, but then staying silent when people of color are slain by the police. 🐸☕️

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Yes, I have used this gif around 20 times in previous posts. I will never not use this gif. I will be using this gif ’till the day I stop grinding. I don’t even know if it quite makes sense in this placement here, and I don’t care. This little boy is life.

Argument #3: We need to be able to understand our faculty!

As a daughter of immigrant parents, this one especially boils my blood. The argument is that sometimes, when we hire global scholars, they aren’t good teachers because English is their second language, or they don’t speak English in the “correct” way. This is the worst dot com backslash this is ridiculous.

  1. Why don’t we celebrate people’s ability to speak more than one language? Especially if the faculty or staff just came from another country where they had the opportunity to speak in their native tongue. In fact, we should do more than celebrate, we should be in awe. The ability to teach in a language that isn’t your first-learned language is an incredible skill.
  2. The fact that we say “we can’t understand” someone because they don’t speak English they way YOU understand it is so far rooted in US-centrism and Whiteness, it makes me sick. Why is there only one way certain way to speak a language, to pronounce certain words? And why is it that Americans, and often, White folk, get to decide the pronunciation?

A thousand petty prayers upon whoever makes argument.

Argument 4: Random “points” that have nothing to do with ANYTHING.

I.e., in this case, someone took the time to comment how “sad” they were that PLU graduated students who “no longer put their faith in God” but become “atheists.” They took the time, however, to pray that PLU students “return to their Christian roots,” though, so. Thank you for your kindness, I guess.

If three plus seven equals tree, and Kim Kardashian eats peaches, then is there no place for God at PLU? Oh, what? That sentence doesn’t make any sense, nor is it pertinent to my point? Huh. HOW WEIRD. What fight are you even fighting here? I don’t think you read through the prompt, let alone took the time to study for the right quiz (I guess, in my analogy, the quiz being “Let’s Get Mad About Hiring More People of Color”). And why do I get the feeling that even if you were on a relevant track, you’d still be wrong?

The vindictive cousin of Argument #4 is “Attacking the person in the article by using racist statements that have no place anywhere, let alone this comment section” (like for example, oh, getting so mad over a reboot of a movie because your nerd-masculinity is so easily broken, you end up calling a Black woman an ape). Luckily, the comments didn’t veer that way. And you don’t know how mad I am at myself, and society, that I actually typed out that last sentence. Like, “whew. Okay. The comments were terrible, but at least no one called Rae Linda Brown a racial slur publicly on Facebook.” I don’t think I’d expect that from PLU community members; then again, I have been unpleasantly surprised time and time again.

I’m not going to waste any more of my time on those enrolled in the Abigail Fisher School of Being Upset That Someone Wants to Make a Place for People of Color in Higher Education. All I can say is, if you’re mad that a school wants to hire more educators of color, I need you to take a critical look inward and ask yourself why.

And of course, keep embodying #BlackExcellence, Rae Linda Brown.

But could we all vote, though?

Women’s Equality Day is creep creep creeping around the corner, a date I almost forgot until I saw a post on a Facebook page. According to the National Women’s History Project, August 26 is “the date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.”

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That’s cute. First, of all, the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, so I don’t know where this new date comes into play. But besides that, I want to make something very clear:

  1. Women’s Equality does NOT celebrate the right for all women to vote. Let’s get this right. The minute the 19th Amendment was passed might have”legally” been for all women, but it was truly not the same minute, day, year, or decade all women of color could vote in this country. Thanks to some awesome disenfranchisement methods, it is only when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed that more people in our country could vote. Check out this handy dandy U.S. Voting Rights Timeline if you don’t believe me.
  2. Additionally, the suffragettes of lore were hella racist. As in, they were proud White supremacists. Proud White supremacists that forced Black women to march in the back. But of course, depending on where you go to school, educators won’t bring this up when you a baby glimpse of it in Iron Jawed Angels (it’s almost like the U.S. school system is run by White supremacy and privilege or something).

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I say this because I’m sure, like last year, Facebook is going to create a cutesy graphic with women of all races celebrating August 26, without acknowledging that only White women could vote when the 19th Amendment passed. And without fail, some White feminists will add some sort of pro-Women’s Equality Day post, and then get mad when someone calls it out. I can already see the “why are you dividing the movement?” comments, and it makes my blood boil. Girl, I’m not dividing the feminist movement; your refusal to name the exclusivity of the 19th Amendment and voter laws is doing the job!

I also say this because this is yet another blatant reminder of how WhiteFeminism™ refuses to acknowledge any intersectionality in the feminist movement, and SAYS THAT WE’RE THE ONES CAUSING TROUBLE when we critique the “equality for some” notion of feminism. And then refuses to stand up for anyone who, well, isn’t a White woman. For example, I think about the misogynistic hate crimes Leslie Jones is receiving, as her White co-stars sit in radio silence, with nary a mention of solidarity. I’m not saying the ones most responsible are not the racist fuckboys who are sending her hateful tweets and hacking her website (because White masculinity is so fragile, they  can’t handle a reboot of Ghostbusters. It is amazing how quickly racism and sexism comes into play when men feel their “nerd space” is “threatened.”) But I’m also asking… Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon. You self-proclaimed feminists. Where you at?

#sorrynotsorry if you think I’m being hateful. I think it’s hateful when one doesn’t want to admit to the whitewashing of history. And just know that if you can’t stand for all women (women of color, poor women, undocumented women, queer women, trans women, women with disabilities, womyn/womxn, women who fit all and any of these identities and more), and then get mad when we point out the inequalities in your feminist movement, you didn’t really want equity, did you? In a marginalized group, you just wanted to be on top. You just wanted things to be equal for those that look like you.


Shout-out to those who still cannot vote, such as undocumented individuals, those who are convicted of a felony, individuals in U.S. territories, those who do not have access to polling stations, those suppressed by voter ID laws, and more. In the spirit of what I just wrote, if I am forgetting a group please let me know. Also, shout-out to the baddest b, Ida B. Wells, who refused to march in the back during the 1913 suffrage parade and instead slipped into the Illinois delegation after the parade started. For the person who wrote the Wikipedia page for Iron Jawed Angels: I hope you meant the way Wells and Paul had the conversation during the 1913 march is fictionally portrayed in the movie, and not that Ida B. Wells marching into the Illinois delegation is fictional. If you meant the latter, know that Ida B. Wells is giving you side-eye from the grave, and is better than you.