feature image via Instagram
I want to be very intentional about this piece.
It’s about the black community and my struggles within it, particularly with straight and cis black people. Though I’ve definitely got many opinions about my community, these are the precise moments that it’s most difficult to talk about them publicly, especially in non-black spaces.
Last month, rapper and person I really just want to fucking fight right now Kodak Black left a comment on an Instagram of masc lesbian rapper Young M.A and Nicki Minaj saying “Both Of Y’all a Get It.” Black’s harassment of M.A has continued on for weeks, hitting an even lower low on his latest single, “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy.” He raps, “I be pullin straps on these fuck niggas/I go Young M.A on these dumb bitches/like a dyke man, you niggas can’t fuck with me/I’m fucking Young M.A long as she got a coochie.”
On Monday, Young M.A responded on her Instagram Live, calling Black’s obsession with her “weird.” Then, he escalated the harassment up some more in an Instagram video of his own (which I won’t link to), saying “I’m talkin’ about how are you a girl but you don’t want your pussy penetrated?” He repeats throughout the video, “Don’t be mad cause I want you.” He says this shit as if cis men’s wants, regardless of others’ lack of consent – we see you, rape culture – hasn’t been a root of violence against marginalized people since we’ve been on this goshforsaken planet.
Young M.A then responded in another live video that fans online had blown everything out of proportion. She implied she just wanted it all to end. Now, I could be projecting, but M.A seemed sad and tired as shit here. Every time I think of Young M.A, I think of a funny, cocky and confident black stud with word play that makes the greatest artists in the game right now pale in comparison. To see her differently, especially after a month of open and direct sexual harassment from some ain’t no shit nigga, is disheartening to say the least.
Young MA is being sexually harassed pic.twitter.com/5m6oZDb08Y
— P R O P (@HoodxBuddha) March 18, 2019
This afternoon, Kodak Black tried to walk back some of his comments. But what really has gotten to me is the responses all week on social media. There’s a common belief within our community that humor is one of the ways that black people can survive anything. But too often we use that as an excuse to punch down on those most marginalized among us. The only kind of humor that helps black people survive is the kind that brings us together in solidarity. The shit I’ve been seeing has been divisive and ugly and honestly terrifying. I’m not seeing jokes. All I’m seeing is people reminding me that they will justify violence against our black queer bodies, even though we don’t deserve it.
There are men out there making Kodak Black seem like the victim. They pity him, saying that he’s revealed himself as a homosexual by wanting Young M.A because “she’s basically a dude anyway” and if there’s one thing straight black men fear and abhor, it’s black gay men. Then there are women who’ve argued that Young M.A somehow she deserves violent language hurled at her because of the way she talks about women in her songs and music videos (to be clear, Young M.A has a lot of toxic masculinity that does need to be addressed. But while she’s being harassed isn’t the time to do it). Plenty of cis and straight people have been saying online that Young M.A acts like too much of “a man” to be hurt or affected, or that this harassment is a rude reminder that she’s not really a man anyway. It’s the same language that we always hear when a woman is being harassed: that she was asking for it, that she brought this upon herself, what else could she possibly expect.
There’s still another layer to it though, because Young M.A is a black stud lesbian. It’s like Roya Marsh wrote last year in FlyPaper Magazine: “Some folks just can’t fathom any hetero-predator wanting a girl like me. Some folks can’t fathom a woman like me having sex appeal to a man eager to conquer…. Most days my femininity is catcalled into existence. They consider me woman enough to fuck back into a woman the world can accept.”
Masculine-identified & presenting queer and trans folks are sexually harassed ALL. THE. TIME.
Kodak’s harassment of Young MA happens everyday to other studs, AG’s, transmasculine folks, nonbinary/ genderqueer folks, etc. Destroy one-dimensional narratives of gender violence.
— Hunter Shackelford (@huntythelion) March 18, 2019
This is not easy to write because, as black people, there’s already enough against us. Every time I hear about another black man murdered, I stay quiet. It always feels like we’ve got more important things to worry about than how black lesbian and queer people, especially gender non-conforming, masc, or stud folks, are being treated. But right now, I wanna believe that we’re important enough to talk about too. There has to be room to talk about black butches when we talk about violence in black communities. Maybe Zamara Perri puts it best: “Just by living in their truth black butch women (black studs, black doms, black tomobois, black masculine of center women or whatever label you want to use) risk being victimized by some insecure heterosexist male asshole who sees her as a threat to his own masculinity.”
After headline grabbing violent tragedies, there are those posts that go around where people ask, How can we stop things like this from happening? How can we keep this from escalating? Unfortunately, time and time again, so many people show they don’t really mean it. Because those big headline tragedies start with “little” things like this. They start with gender non-conforming people being harassed in the street, being harassed online. And if you don’t take the little things seriously, why should we trust you’ll show up when the much more dangerous things come for us?
When black people with cis or straight privilege make someone more marginalized than them the butt of a joke and others laugh, that’s allowing this shit happen. When the internet laughs at an accused rapist like Kodak Black, someone who is intent on making someone else uncomfortable and constantly ignoring their boundaries and giving no fucks at all about consent, that’s part of the problem. When straight black women tell their friends about how they’d love to get with Young M.A, but don’t celebrate the black butches already in their life – instead turning up their nose at them or only interested in fetishizing them – that’s adding to the culture that makes this harassment excusable to others. Yes, maybe it seems small, but it’s no less dangerous.
I was going to tell you stories about the men that corner me and “shoot their shot” even though my walk, my face, my hair, my clothes, my everything make it obvious they shouldn’t even be on my court. I was going to tell you about the men that have followed me after I’ve said no, who wait for me to turn “no” into a “maybe” just so I can make it home alive. But I don’t feel like putting that here. I don’t want to see how it will be turned around inside out and sideways, slashed through so that the blame will belong only to me. I don’t want to see how people will find humor in my fears. Jokes that make violence appear innocuous is how we get dead.
But we know this. If people are not gonna answer me when I ask for help with the man stalking me on the train, why would they answer me when he’s stealing my breath from me?