This is my final post about the Miley/Thicke VMA circus. This post is about race and listening. In honor of the fiftieth anniversary yesterday of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, let’s take some time to listen to what is being said in this post I am about to share with you.
This is something you may need to bookmark for later because it is an important read, and if you are distracted by kids or work you will not be able to take it all in.
Since writing my post Tuesday titled “Miley, Robin, Race, Raunch and Kids” on how to talk about the VMA performance with your kids, I have been called racist for talking about the cultural appropriation and history of twerking and ratchet culture. Talking about race does not make one racist. Not everyone saw the racist component to Miley’s individual performance. I’m not going to retort to be called a racist, except to say that the reason that focus was in my piece is everything this post is about.
Playing the desirability of black female bodies as a “wink-wink” joke is a way of lifting up our deviant sexuality without lifting up black women as equally desirable to white women. Cyrus did not just have black women gyrating behind her. She had particularly rotund black women. She gleefully slaps the ass of one dancer like she intends to eat it on a cracker. She is playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact. It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially. -Tressie McMillan Cottom
Please continue to read Tressie’s post in its entirety here:
There is a movement on twitter right now called #solidarityisforwhitewomen, essentially asking white feminists to listen to what their browned skinned sisters are saying and feeling. The work we do here has a lot of intersectionality with feminism and race, and because we are a thoughtful community committed to breaking down stereotypes I ask that you give this post some time to settle in.
It is okay if you don’t know what to say, if some of it leaves you speechless or angers you. It should anger you, actually, but you might not have the words to express that anger. And the point is, you don’t need to have the words, because this time, it is okay to be silent.
This time, it is okay to respond with “I’m listening and learning.”