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.

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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.

Bike locks, hate crimes, and the casualness toward Black bodies

I came across a Washington Post article titled “No hate crime convictions for white San Jose State students who clamped black roommate in bike lock.” If you think I almost flipped over a table before I finished reading, you’d be correct. It’s been a while back, but I’m still in a table-flipping mood. I have two separate thoughts, and the other piece is here: BIKE LOCKS, HATE CRIMES… AND DATING? 

During Fall 2013, Donald Williams Jr, a Black, then-freshman student at San Jose State University, was heavily harassed by his White roommates. And when I say “heavily harassed,” I mean they did things like put his neck in a bike lock. Among other things. Yes. Among other racist things. Including, but not limited to:

  • Williams’ roommate calling him “three-fifths;”
  • Williams’ roommates hanging a Confederate flag in his room;
  • Williams’ roommates mocking him in a letter that was signed “the Beloved Revered Doctor Martin Luther King.”

Recently, the Santa Clara County Jury found the roommates guilty of a misdemeanor, but decided not to find them guilty on a hate crime charge. Because, of course, these nice young men’s actions have nothing to do with race! They’re just friendly pranks!

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People often want to talk about how we’re in a post-racial America, or how “Black privilege” is a thing now. I honestly don’t understand how they can make these arguments when White supremacy is alive and well. And this is White supremacy at its finest. How in the world did three college students think it was okay to chain their Black roommate up in a bike lock, that they could tease him in such a racist and hurtful way, that they could touch him in such a way? Because White supremacy. Because these men, in their privileged mind, thought they could do these things, and laugh it off as a joke. Because they weren’t thinking of Williams’ feelings, or agency, or right to live in his residence hall in peace, because why would they consider those things? Privilege is being able to not think about those things, and not see the historical connection between putting a Black man’s head in a bike lock and chaining Black men together during slavery.

Reading that their lawyers call their hate crimes a “prank war” made me furious, but not surprised. Processing that the jury did not declare their actions a hate crime made me cry.

Misdemeanor battery is obviously nothing to scoff at. The three men who received these charge were already expelled, and will serve 30 days in jail, be on two-years probation, do community service, take a cultural competency course, and pay restitution (this linked article also talks about student protests over the decision and their campus climate, which is awesome). However, it’s important to recognize the jury gave this sentence because of “offensive touching,” a legal term that, while certainly true in this case, does not speak to the fact that the offenses are clearly also a hate crime. It’s also important to recognize the jury acquitted one of the three men.

I would like to take this time to point out that if a group of Black college students put a white man’s head in a lock, all hell would break loose. Not only would this story reach all corners of the United States faster, but all parties involved would probably face more than a month of jail time. Think pieces around reverse racism would skyrocket. The men would be seen as hard criminals, not “dumb prank[sters].”

Which brings me to the point of the casualness toward Black bodies, the treatment of Black individuals as less than human. Putting Williams’ head in a bike lock served a message: Black bodies do not need to be respected, don’t need to be treated with dignity. The use of the Confederate flag, even after Williams expressed issue with it, served a message: Black bodies do not need to be made comfortable. And the jury refusing to charge the three White roommates served a message:  it’s not a hate crime when hate crimes are committed. William’ story and word does not matter. White feelings trump Black bodies.

This casualness is what fuels police brutality against Black people. It’s what allows society to look at Black women as “strong” and “unbreakable” as an excuse to ignore accounts of violence and assault.  It’s what leads to racial disparity among the prison population. It’s what makes me nervous for my brothers’ experiences in college: Will they feel like they belong? Will someone make them feel less than human? Will they be okay?

It’s what allowed three White men to chain a Black man into a bike lock. Among other racist things. And officially, it was still not considered a hate crime.

Bike locks, hate crimes…and dating?

I came across a Washington Post article  titled “No hate crime convictions for white San Jose State students who clamped black roommate in bike lock.” If you think I almost flipped over a table before I finished reading, you’d be correct. It’s been a while since I read the article, but I am still boiling mad, so here you go. Also, I had two separate thoughts, and the other piece is here:  Bike locks, hate crimes, and the casualness towards black bodies.

During Fall 2013, Donald Williams Jr, a Black then-freshman student at San Jose State University, was heavily harassed by his White roommates.And when I say “heavily harassed,” I mean they did things like put his neck in a bike lock. Among other things. Yes. Among other racist things. A few weeks ago, the Santa Clara County Jury found the roommates guilty of a misdemeanor, but not a hate crime. Because, of course, these nice young men’s actions have nothing to do with race! They’re just friendly pranks!

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One of the arguments in the case? One of the roommates, Colin Warren couldn’t be racist, because he was “dating an African American woman and did not want his relationship to end.” Yes, this was an actual sentence in the article, an actual ARGUMENT in the case. Although you, Warren, called your roommate multiple racial slurs and put him in a LOCK, you’re obviously immune to racism because you have a Black girlfriend. Go ahead, Warren! Assume you’re not guilty.

Dear White suitors near and far (and, I guess, attorneys of White suitors): We, your significant others and/or dates of color, are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. Please don’t use us as mere pawns to defend your racism, as excuses to say ridiculous things and be extremely offensive. Just stop.

Dating us will never make it okay to say racist slurs. Being with us does not mean you’ve evolved, that you’ve done all the self work, that you’re now the perfect allies to all people of color. And for God’s sake, being our partners does not mean you’re “basically ____” or “pretty much ____” or “____er than us!” Sleeping with us doesn’t grant you an understanding into our struggles, just as me sleeping with a neurosurgeon does not make me qualified to operate on brains. Your privilege does not disappear. Please own this.

We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance. We are not badges you can wear, not a get-out-of-jail card so people can ignore your prejudice. You cannot do something, such as, I don’t know, LOCK YOUR BLACK ROOMMATE IN A U-LOCK or WRITE THE N-WORD ON HIS WHITEBOARD, and expect not to be held responsible for your hate crimes because you happen to take us out to dinner. No, no no.

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Honestly, the argument Warren’s attorney presented in court is baffling (and upsetting, and just plain dumb), but I’m honestly not surprised the attorney tried to use this. Claiming Warren couldn’t be racist because he had a Black girlfriend has the similar distinct melody of  “I’m not racist, I have Black friends, ” or “How can I be racist when my second-cousin’s best friend’s Asian ex-boyfriend is great and we’ve talked three times and I’m planning on inviting him to my book group I’M A GOOD PERSON.” As if being kind to one person or knowing one person makes you immune to racism towards anyone else. Not only does this make sense, but it also tokenizes your boo/friend/squash partner of color. You’re saying that they are some kind of trump card to distance yourself from the word “racist” without examining the impact of your actions.

But we’re not trump cards. We are human.

We are not your free pass to perpetuate your ignorance.

For an on-point article with a similar topic, please read “F*cking a Black Person Does Not Mean You Fight For Black Lives.” As the title suggests, no. No it does not.