There is no doubt that the conversation about race is everywhere in the world in which we live. It is literally getting to the point were we cannot go any place, get on any social media platform or read any piece of news without some kind of racial reference being made.
Growing up I didn’t encounter racism, well not that I can remember. I spent my teen years in Tennessee, a place that you would think is crawling with racial tensions. Those years were spent in a military town with people from all over the world living around me. Even looking back as an adult I still can’t think of one instance that I can now label as a situation in which the color of my skin made someone else act with hatred, indifference or superiority towards me. I’m not saying that there wasn’t racism present, I’m just saying that for me, I didn’t see the world in black and white.
As an adult covering news stories and just living, and this is something that I am very sad to say, I cannot help but see things from the aspect of racial differences and division. The part of race relations that sticks out to me the most is the obliviousness of non-women of color to the struggles of black and brown women.
I call it “white girl wonderful.” When non-women of color don’t understand the privilege that they experience because of the lack of melanin in their skin. They don’t mean to act in ways that communicate to their brown and black sisters that they don’t really get it, but because they don’t realize how keenly aware we are of the truth that white girl wonderful exists, they just go on about their lives… as they should.
The best recent example of this is the “Twitter beef” that happened between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift this summer, which was over until Miley Cyrus gave her opinion (because she was asked) during a New York Times interview about what took place between the two.
“If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement…But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it … What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite.”
Nicki’s response to the former Disney star has now become an infamous moment at this year’s MTV VMA’s. The thing about the whole situation comes down to a lack of understanding by non-women of color when it comes to the things that black women and brown women experience. We are alike on many levels but we are still, on so many more levels, different.
If a black woman expresses her frustration with not being recognized in a certain way for her work, she is not experiencing “angry black woman” syndrome. And for non-women of color to not understand where she is coming from, is a slap in the face. Things are not personal unless a non-woman of color is directly involved in the discrimination.
Miley clearly showed her ignorance in saying what she said about Nicki. The rapper’s consternation definitely comes from an open heart, and that’s why it was so intense. To really get to it, the fact that Miley said what she said showed that SHE herself was not coming with an open heart if we are keeping it real, because a person of love would understand exactly what Nicki was feeling because it was not an attack on an individual woman but more so a jab at a system that continues to put all women in a box. Naturally, there are compartments within that box that further divide.
But the unawareness that non-women of color have to the world around them concerning race prevents them from approaching such situations with that kind of cognition.
There are some non-women of color that I believe are very aware of what they say and how it will affect minorities; Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a prime example of that. Her recent interview in which she asked a black conservative if the Black Lives Matters movement should be labeled as a hate group was laced with malicious intent, despite what she claims. She is white girl wonderful to the max and knows exactly what her racial position affords her.
Please hear me out with this because this is not an attack on white women or meant to be a racially charged piece. I want people to stop getting so damn hype, on both sides, and take what I’m saying into consideration. No one is telling you to alter your life or drastically change how you live. I am asking you to pay attention, realize when it happens and show empathetic support.
Some of my very closest friends are non-women of color and I never want to offend them, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t have these conversations with them in the hopes that they don’t look at me differently.
Women have this amazing ability to tune into an innate gift of care and nurture. Let’s start exercising that more often.