Sis, Stop it

Sometimes we don’t know when we are gate keeping or when we are being micro aggressive toward each other and sometimes we do. Either way it’s a waste of time and energy so just stop (photo by Aura Shakhar).

We all saw the 1.1 million views that Brandy and Monica got on Verzuz Aug 31. We also know about the conflict that went on between them that we saw nicely addressed during the Verzuz through constant positivity and solidarity being shown during the show, and we casually danced, sang, and tweeted about these two Queens until the conversation went dry. It’s something about seeing two Queens shinning together even in “competition.” A little competitive fun never hurt anyone, right? Until it does.

I hate to be that person to talk about the wrong doings in our community, yet I love to be that person at the same time. I fall victim to and witness micro aggressions from fellow Black women more than I should.

It’s the way the words “sis,” “boo,” “baby girl,” “honey,” etc that are used as a micro aggressions that’s NOT for me. I think sometimes Black women forget about how important it is to either band together or love each other from a distance if the energy isn’t working. If we don’t have each other’s backs, even from a distance, then who will?

I was talking to a well known Black female writer via Twitter a while ago when there was miscommunication between her and me that led to a lot of back and forth messaging via direct message.

The interaction started off by me commenting on a post she made about wanting to help Black women overcome gate keeping. In the comment I expressed that I am an up in coming writer and would love a mentor. She offered to help me with my writing by connecting me with some of the writers that she knew as long as I emailed her some of my work as well as some specific writers that inspire me.

It turns out I was emailing her assistant not her directly, and her assistant had no idea who I was, understandable. However, keep in mind that the email I send to her assistant was about a page long worth of details and consistent of everything this influencer asked me to email her. The influencer direct messages me around the next day and tells me to be specific in my email. In confusion, I ask her how was I not being specific when I did everything she asked me to do.

She proceeds to call me “sis” and “boo” as she tells me that my efforts to seek clarification on her end and on my end were unhelpful. In effort to hold on to what I thought was a good opportunity I persisted in messaging her to ask what more I can do to be specific other than what she previously asked me to do. She continued to call me micro aggressive names while brushing me off and implying that I couldn’t cognitively understand her messages.

As I continued to seek clarification, she continued to call me “sis” and “boo” while stating that me direct messaging her to seek clarification was “getting to be too much” when she hadn’t been specific with me the entire conversation expect by telling me that her assistant gets her emails and that I need to be more specific in my email.

Finally, she expressed to me the reason the email was unclear to her was because she claims she didn’t know who I was despite her remembering me enough to direct message me on Twitter and call me names that weren’t mine as if we knew each other personally, which is why it never occurred to me in the first place that she didn’t know who I was.

Being that we did not know each other personally, I found this interaction inappropriate and a type of mocking or dare I even say bullying. This is not the kind of “help” that Black women need. I already had enough anxiety mustering up the courage to contact someone who is well-known for the same reason that she claimed she wanted to help me–gate keeping!

In no way do I want to discredit this individual by using her as an example. The only reason that I am using her as an example is because micro aggressions like these, especially if you are a Black woman identifying influencer, can be very discouraging to Black women who are up in coming.

With that being said, I highly encourage my fellow Black women to check the way that we engage with each other. There is enough that Black women have to battle. On the other hand, we can also look past mistakes like these when they are genuine mistakes and correct fellow Black women when they are being offensive. There is plenty of room for all of us to be great together, and we are not perfect.

Moreover, approaching a Black woman to let them know that they are being micro aggressive to you doesn’t have to be dramatic, climatic, or press coverage although it can be at times because of relationship dynamics. However, there is no hurt in trying despite the possible drama. The conversation can be as simple as letting them know in that instance that what they are saying to you is inappropriate and that they should re-evaluate their language out of respect for you as an individual.

There is no pain in learning, growing, and shinning together as we all figure out how to create space for Black womanhood.


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