I was walking around with my boyfriend this past weekend when a random dude came up behind me, put his hands underneath my skirt, and started slapping my bottom repeatedly. Broad daylight. It was the kind of thing that was so shocking that it took a while to even process what the fuck was going on. I turned around and cursed him out while he ran away. My boyfriend suggested that we try to see if we can find him. We couldn’t.
My impulse was to call 911. The cops came a glorious 20 minutes after the incident, and I reluctantly cooperated with them despite their rudeness. This dude is out there, somewhere, and is probably going to do this to some other women this summer. I’m furious about it.
I took my fury to Twitter, trying to explain what happened in 140 characters or less: Man slapped my ass, had the nerve to do it while I was with my boyfriend, men are scum, blah blah blah. Someone with a huge following on Twitter found my Tweet and, instead of offering condolences or mentioning how fucked up it was that a man did this to me, decided to ask what my boyfriend did about it.
Within minutes, my notifications were on fire. People kept asking why my boyfriend didn’t knock the dude out, how could he stand there and do nothing, etc…as if they were here with us when it happened. If they weren’t participating in some machismo dick measuring contest in my mentions, they were asking for details about the size of my butt. Charming.
This harassment progressed to one user actively trying to band some folks together to find my boyfriend’s Twitter account so that they could proceed to harass him, too. Mission accomplished. On top of that, someone decided that it was funny to juxtapose my angry tweet next to a photo of my boyfriend and I and wrote that everything makes sense now.
Get it? Because haha he’s white and wears glasses haha he couldn’t defend me haha lets continue to mock a sexual assault victim.
Much of the harassment I received centered around the question of how I could possibly date someone — especially a white dude — who can’t defend me. Ultimately, these trolls were for offended by the fact that my boyfriend “let” himself get disrespected after someone messed with his property (me). Charming.
I tried to ignore Twitter for a bit and retreated to my personal Tumblr to rant about how stressful social media had been for the past 24 hours. That’s when I got a few darling anonymous messages, likely from the same person:
“People are having a go at you because you claim to be a black activist then date the ugliest whitest man ever. And keep bragging about dating an ugly white man like its an achievement. It’s also well known that white men are pussies which is why people were making fun of him because white people can’t defend themselves or anyone else without relying on the police.”
“You act all high and mighty then jump on the most mediocre white guy ever and act as if you are being super radical by dating an inbred looking white guy. Then cry when he’s gets shown up as a pussy. Which he is because he couldn’t defend you. You need to stop with the faux radicalness…”
If I ignore the machismo bullshit, the superficial jabs, the fact that I’ve written about how fucked up it is for people to fetishize interracial relationships, and the assumption that my boyfriend called the cops when it was actually me, these messages are pretty much insinuating that my blackness is in question because I’m dating a white dude.
I’ve had to deal with people questioning my blackness based on petty shit since I was a kid, but this is next level vile. My activism as a black woman does not hinge upon what kind of man has access to my body, period. And is it just me, or are black women far more susceptible to having their loyalties to The Cause thrown under a microscope when they don’t date black men? That’s not to say that black men dating outside of their race don’t cause controversy or critique from black women, especially since black women face regular derision about how undatable they are compared to non-black women. But at worst, black men who date non-black women are seen as anti-black women, not anti-black in general or self-hating. But black women who date outside of their race? Automatic betrayers against black people period. We’re seen as uppity. And the mere mention of my boyfriend is enough for people to think I’m bragging about how lily white his skin is.
I could get into the weird patriarchal, heterosexist bullshit that is coming into play here, but I already have a headache.
The insinuation that your level of dedication to the plight of black people correlates with how often you’re fucking a black person is ridiculous. Is a black man who treats his black girlfriend like shit still pro-black because he’s dating a black woman? According to this logic, yes. In activist circles — historically and today in the social media sphere — there are plenty of black men who are ready to defend the humanity of their fellow black men, but don’t respect black women. I’ve seen black men on Twitter write eloquent 140 character Tweets about police brutality, and then retweet some slut shaming nonsense 10 minutes later. If one’s passion for black liberation and dedication for black people excludes the care and safety of black women, then that’s some bullshit liberation theory.
Most of the daily harassment I receive the second I leave my apartment is from black men. Most of the misogynoir I’ve experienced has been from black men. The man who sexually assaulted me in public was a black man. Despite all of this, I will always be there for black men. I was raised by a black man. Some of the most influential people in my life are black men. I protest against the state sanctioned murder of black men. My first kiss was with a black man. There is a fifty percent chance that I’m going to give birth to a black boy. I defend black men when there ain’t a soul around to defend them. Part of my activism as a black woman is making sure that black men aren’t subjugated to white supremacist bullshit, from the government, the media, friends, or anyone else.
But none of that matters because I’m making out with a white guy on a regular basis? How is it that a relationship with a white man is more anti-black than the actions of the black people who took to social media to make light of a black woman’s sexual assault for retweets? This isn’t to say that there aren’t black people out there who let anti-blackness guide their dating preferences. But it’s strange to assume that that’s the case for anyone who dates outside of their race.
Is my blackness so fragile that all it takes is a lack of black dick to break it? No. Fuck that, and frankly fuck anyone who subscribes to that.