Sh*t Girls Say And How To Handle It
The video Sh*t White Girls Say…To Black Girls is out on YouTube and it is stirring up some serious conversations. Journalist Laina Dawes has done a great job at explaining the video further, both from a social perspective and through sharing various opinions and commentary, including that of the comedian and blogger Franchesca Ramsey who stars in the video.
The conversation it has generated is gold for those of us who have experienced these types of questions from friends, or strangers, because it finally voices out our frustration.
But like most conversations on race, it also has a negative side effect. Some people get defensive, others get self-righteous, and then there are others who get just plain ol’ mad - all of which discourage the conversation about race and among groups of different racial and ethnic groups altogether.
The worse thing that results in these conversations is that the level of discomfort is heightened, further apprehension is built and no one will ask or talk about it at all, leaving them to rely on the generalizations and visuals being fed to them by the media or society because someone has told them “it is not ok” to ask that.
As someone who has heard inappropriate comments and questions being asked on both ends of the color spectrum, I will simply state that the issue isn’t and should not be the question, or the curiosity, but rather the level of sensitivity and the way in which the question is delivered.
This isn’t a matter of race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability; it’s a matter of manners and appropriate social behavior.
For example, it is not ok to touch a person’s hair without their permission; in the same way it is not ok to touch a pregnant woman’s belly without her permission.
Statements such as “He’s kinda cute for a black guy” are based on a generalized, stereotypical opinion in the same way “He’s kinda cute for a white guy…and dances well” is.
The video implies that these questions and conversations take place among girlfriends. I would like to think that regardless of our skin tone differences that the friendships we develop are done so within the circle of comfort and trust good friendships are built upon.
If our girlfriend, white or of color, feels comfortable in expressing herself in a way that is hurtful and insensitive to us, we should trust that friendship enough and respect each other and her enough to share our thoughts and why.
It took a while for some of my girlfriends of color to understand what I saw in my white husband because he is, after all white, and those who thought I was “selling out” in marrying him aren’t my friends anymore. My white girlfriends are given the green light to ask me anything without fear of repercussion or attack, and my best ones have and do when they need to.
There is a certain level of comfort and trust that my girlfriends have in me and in our friendship to express their thoughts and opinions in a way that most would deem insensitive, demeaning and yes, even racist. However, because of it we have been able to have the conversation, many times in-depth about race and love and our different experiences as women.
I don’t think it’s ok for any of us, regardless of the color of our skin, to tolerate any type of relationship where things are said and comments are being made that are hurtful and insensitive. I don’t agree that the “polite” thing to do is let it go. I do, however, think that we should take the opportunities when and if presented to have the conversation, in the same way we would with any friend.
We can’t change everyone’s opinion or overall stance in life. But we can choose our friendships and stand up for ourselves within them without the threat of their falling apart. I don’t agree that “you shouldn’t ask that”, just as much as I don’t agree that we should “just take it and stay quiet”.
What value does a friendship have when it is built on fear and censoring ourselves? There are opportunities to learn from and we shouldn’t miss out. In the meantime, let’s be sensitive to each other, and for goodness sake’s people, learn to laugh a little.