Lena Dunham, Megan Rapinoe & White Feminism

I mentioned in my last post that I was a big football fan. Well, I’m a HUGE football fan. Like a two-time Fantasy Football champ level football fan. The NY Giants are my team and Odell Beckham Jr. is my man. I drafted him FIRST this year and I had the FIRST pick. Much faith has been placed in his beautiful, magical hands.

So, when Lena Dunham came out her neck talking about him like he was somehow in the wrong for daring to NOT hit on her at the Met Gala this year I was PISSED. It actually kind of shocked me how mad I was. It’s not because I’m a OBJ fan (I’m not down with the ODB nickname because it makes no sense, sorry Wu-Tang), it was because her statements smacked of so much entitlement and the very WORST form of white feminism it was hard for me to even stomach the interview. Here’s what she said word-for-word:

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.” It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.

The vibe was very much like, “Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.” It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, “This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.”

Sigh. There is so much to unpack here. Let’s start with the fact that Beckham Jr. didn’t actually SAY anything to her at all. So basically, here she is, a white, incredibly privileged woman putting words in the mouth of a black man. Secondly, she is basically whining that he didn’t think she was hot enough to look at. Which is so annoying because when she wore that tuxedo to the Met Gala I was like, “FUCK YEAH! Take THAT patriarchy!” And she managed to just undo it all in two seconds by complaining to her friend that a man wouldn’t talk to her because she was wearing a tuxedo. I’m no even going to get into all the over-sexualization of black bodies or the fact that she actually felt like she was OWED a come-on by the wide receiver. Cause, no.

Right when I was kind of, sort of, reveling in all the mean shit Twitter was saying while they savagely dragged Lena (while also feeling bad for her because, damn, the internet is mean) the amazing Megan Rapinoe went and changed the whole convo by kneeling  during the national anthem before the National Women’s Soccer League Seattle Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars match.

Rapinoe stated point blank that she was standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and that she felt like the convo about his protest had been skewed:

“It was very intentional,” Rapinoe told American Soccer Now after the game. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”

And there it is. The difference between intersectional feminism and white feminism in two simple acts. White feminism embraces and gives voice to the struggle of white women, while ignoring their very real place of privilege in our society. For example, 61 years ago (almost to the day), OBJ very well could have been lynched if he had the balls to approach a white woman like Lena Dunham and make any sort of even remotely flirtatious gesture. Just ask Emmet Till’s mom.

Intersectional feminism recognizes the links between all struggles for equality and acknowledges the fact that until we are ALL free, none of us are. Anyone who considers themselves a feminist, which Dunham surely does, should know enough to realize that the women’s rights are related to racial oppression are connected to class and gender policing etc. If you’re going to be a public figure loudly upholding a “feminist” ideal then do your damn homework and think, for just one second, before you say some stupid shit to your friend during an interview or before you tweet out blatantly ridiculous shit like:

It’s not that hard. Rapinoe proved it. Right after she correctly pointed out that the media BS over Kaepernick’s protest was completely misdirected, she also connected it to her own experience. Sure, as a white women, she has privilege in America, but as a GAY white women, she’s facing her own struggles:

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

It’s really not that hard Lena, and no, an apology is not enough. There are only so many times you can say “I’m sorry” before you need to start thinking about what you say BEFORE it comes out of your mouth. Give Megan a call, she can probably teach you at thing or two. If not, just take a moment to really think about this brilliant tweet:

 

Colin Kaepernick is Sitting Down for All the Brown & Black Boys in the U.S.A.

The whole kerfuffle about Colin Kaepernick has got me so confused y’all. I mean, isn’t the WHOLE POINT of freedom of expression to allow each other to hold our own distinct political and religious views without having to worry about what other people may think?

“I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag. I know that I am a black man in a white world.” -Colin Kaepernick

I can’t front, I’m a big football fan (though I’d never allow my son to play) and I’ve never really thought twice about Kap. He never made my Fantasy Football roster and he wasn’t on any team that I have an emotional investment in (NY Giants, natch). But the second he chose to use his platform to start a conversation about the indiscriminate murder of young black and brown people in our country, he became a god damn American hero.

There have been scores of op-eds written, social media posts drawn up, memes created, and tweets furiously typed all because one young man decided that he would not salute a flag that represents a country that has done nothing to protect him.

Lots of racists have made stupid arguments about why he is “wrong” to protest in his chosen fashion, but once you scratch below the surface there all just different versions of the old “Shut up, boy!” narrative people of color are all too familiar with. He’s unpatriotic? Since when did the flag stand ONLY to represent our armed forces? Further more, these men and women are fighting to protect the very same freedoms you are now trying to prevent the 49ers QB from exercising. Don’t believe me? Then hear it first hand from this amazing veteran Jim Wright.

And it’s not just him. The hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick has been trending. The second Kaepernick sat down and then spoke his mind so freely at that press conference, he became an athlete whose jersey I’d proudly let my son rock.

Then there’s the old argument that no black man can complain of being oppressed when he is making 19 million dollars a year. Let’s quickly address this stupid argument with two points. I’ll start with the immortal words of Nas, who was so wise to point out, “You can have all the chips, be poor or rich, still nobody wants a n*gger to have his shit.” Seriously, just ask James Blake, who was assaulted by the cops in NY.

The whole money argument is totally ridiculous for another reason that we never talk about. Kapernick makes millions of dollars a year, he’s an elite athlete who has worked his whole life to get where he is. No one can really argue that. But as Chris Rock says, “See, the black man gotta fly to get to somethin’ the white man can walk to.”

Even if you’re a freaking millionaire and you live in the poshest of neighborhoods, if you’re a black or brown man you will be constantly reminded that while you had to be the BEST of the BEST to get where you are, the white men around you got there by being average. You are in no position of power because YOU HAVE NO POWER. Money can only buy you protection if you have the means to translate it into institutional and systematic change. And money only translates to systematic and institutional change when you have the political, familial and business connections to make it so. I’m going to let you guess how many black and brown families in the U.S. have all those keys, but just FYI that a recent study showed that the average black family would need 228 YEARS to build the wealth of a white family today (and that would just be a start).

I’ll let Mr. Rock drive home this point:

“A black C student can’t be a manager at Burger King, meanwhile a white C student just happens to be the President of the United States.”

The last and most important fact is that every single one of these conservative, rightwing idiots out there, clutching their pearls, burning jerseys and writing post after post about how Kaepernick is ungrateful or disrespectful should try to LISTEN for once to what he is actually saying. We’ve been shouting it from the rooftops, we’ve been screaming it over the graves of our dead sons and daughters: STOP MURDERING US.

It’s really not that hard to understand. There were 1,134 people killed at the hands of the police last year (2015) and black men were nine times more likely to be the victims of these killings than any other group. It doesn’t seem to matter if there is direct eye-witness accounts or irrefutable video of these murders at the hands of those charged to protect and serve, it has been proven time and time again that black lives DON’T matter in this country. And until they do, we should ALL take a seat.