Stop Expecting Us to Teach If You're Not Going to Listen9/08/2015
By Veronica Agard The initial dust may have settled on the unscripted confrontation between Nicki ...
By Veronica Agard
The initial dust may have settled on the unscripted confrontation between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards, but the ongoing conversations on the subject are far from over. Tone policing and the debates on calling out versus calling in are critical and intense conversations to have, and the best examples of this can be found through discussions on #BlackLivesMatter. As the hashtag continues to move from the keyboard to the streets, the frequency of confrontations and debates has increased.
We can try and figure out why the in-real-life troll did what he did and spend a lot of energy on someone who clearly did not want to (re)learn, but that might not be healthy. Conversely, we can utilize this moment as a living example of the policing of Black women by white trolls (both off and online) and the trauma of being repeatedly asked to educate folks. The emotional labor that is a part of the core of being a Black woman is something that is not often discussed both inside and outside of our communities. The levels of trauma inflicted on our minds, bodies and spirits by the system is a part of historical memory that can manifest in health issues throughout our lives.
In this case, Ramsey took a leap of faith and lent her time and energy to attempt a dialogue with this man. However, after watching the video, it is clear that this man was not trying to listen. He, in a space where plenty of Black folks were present, decided to pick a fight. He made a conscious effort to simultaneously enrage those near him and then invalidated their feelings, experiences and knowledge by ignoring them. He became a living example of what happens when someone attempts to tell a person what they already know but aren’t trying to hear. This type of person is probably hanging out with the folks that are upset about the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen discussion. Given the chance, he probably would have given Taylor Swift a tissue for the “white tears” shed over Nicki Minaj calling out the industry for devaluing and eventually appropriating Black music.
This type of mindset doesn’t promote lives beyond the ones that are already protected by this racist system. This is not the kind of ally you want to call into any movement, let alone one who tries to rationalize that Black folks somehow “had it coming.” Yet, we, Black people, are constantly expected to perform this intensive labor and inform folks who have no intentions of listening to us. Or, when presented with the information, miseducated allies will try and tell you what your narrative should be instead of honoring what it actually is. This is just another method in a long line of demoralizing tactics to inhibit Black folks from thriving and challenging this system that never loved us.
Veronica Agard is a regular contributor at For Harriet. Thriving in Harlem, she is a Program Associate at Humanity in Action, a City College of New York graduate and a Transnational Black Feminist with the Sister Circle Collective. She tweets at @veraicon_.