I first skimmed this article while working on two projects, so, admittedly, it didn’t have my full attention. My initial reaction was that it felt like a disconnected attempt for the writer to purge herself of the shame and guilt of having idolized white women for most of her life. I even went as far as to argue with a friend that perhaps it should’ve been left as a journal entry, or a couch session (counseling). However, upon reading it again, giving the article my full attention, I have slightly altered my stance.
I believe it is important for us all to grapple with the hard moments, in private, but even more importantly, in public. The author is not alone in feeling frustrated, slighted, dehumanized, and outraged by the actions of white women, and it is important that these occurrences are acknowledged and not seen as a singular event. For that reason alone, the article is worth reading and discussing.
As stated above, my first reading of the article left me feeling that the writer was seeking repentance for having slept with, adored, and idolized white women. After reading it again, I still have the same feelings. I strongly dislike the ending. I believe my frustration with the ending is that it is a reality that I cannot relate to. I am fortunate to have grown up in a household, community, and environment that were so adamant in my understanding the beauty within myself and my culture, that by the time I was old enough to fully understand that white women were supposed to be my standard I had already seen and read so much of Black beauty that the idea that I should desire to be or date a white woman seemed outlandish to me. This is not to say that upon reflection I cannot see how internalized racism was still present, but the foundation of self-beauty was still cemented. However, my inability to relate to the conclusion does not negate some of the dialogue worthy statements in the article. My favorite quotes are excerpted below:
1. “Sometimes, when we defend ourselves, white women look at us with the utmost fragility. They claim access to emotions such as fear and pain without missing a beat, like they were born to do it, before we can even dare to consider that we may be frightened or hurt, too. Their eyes rattle in their sockets, saying, “Why do you punish me for having such a big heart?””
2. “White women, especially the monied ones, are so dangerous because they are allowed to be so soft. Stroke by stroke, they construct a type of womanhood that viciously negates the fact their bodies still function as agents of white supremacy. They are so gentle with themselves that they simply cannot comprehend that they could be oppressed and yet still oppressive.”
3. “We are taught to walk home with our keys between our fingers for protection from men in the night, but no one tells us how to defend ourselves from the white women who will try to ravage us from the inside out, with a smile, a comment, a betrayal, a vital inaction, a look.”
4. “She suggested this with the kind of half-arsed, sad-eyed, apologetic shrug that white women perform when it is less of a scene to administer psychological warfare against a brown child than it is to challenge your fellow white woman.”
Again, women of color have not had/do not have a monolithic experience of interactions with white women; therefore, some of her experiences were things that I had been warned about, but even a warning does not always fully prepare you for the damage and seething outrage and frustration that these actions can cause.
– Ms. Malcolm Hughes