Photos: Ladies and Laughter Comedy Show
March 12, 2014
W.Y.S.M.: Rosie Hicks
March 13, 2014

Oh, Allies…

Tiffany Mott-SmithFor a while now, I have tried to avoid award show commentary. This year’s Grammy Awards ceremony reminded me of why. In the midst of the focus being on Macklemore’s rap skills (or lacktherof), the couples who chose to hop the broom after an abbreviated decree of sameness, Mary Lambert’s flawless red dress, and the degrees to which Queen Latifah is or is not closeted, I was distracted by a different self-proclaimed ally to the LGBT community.

Dressed in white, favoring her cane and pimp suit, Madonna graced the stage to sing an ode to the celebration of equality. Now, don’t get me wrong, Madonna’s music and creativity is undeniable. The woman has reinvented herself more times than the illuminati. But literally a week prior to this venture to same love land she was on social media using the term “nigga” in reference to one of her children. Madonna’s initial response was less than respectful, and after much criticism she eventually issued an apology.

As the descendent of a black person who had this term screamed at them by a group of white people shortly before being lynched and set ablaze, it was so difficult to imagine a white woman raising black children while using this term so liberally. Then dismissing people to whom she claims to be ally to when they protest her actions.

Being a black femme has allowed me many opportunities to be completely dismissed by anti-racist and pro-femme allies. Be it over talking me at an organizing event, demanding I reassure them they are not racist or phobic, or simply expecting me to separate my black perspective from my femme perspective, it all feels like the opposite of support.

Then, I had a thought: at what point do we consider the fact that maybe; just maybe, it benefits allies to show up for the folks they are ally to? At what point do we acknowledge that because of this vested interest, they may be showing up for selfish reasons? Furthermore, at what point do we acknowledge that caring about a group of people does not mean you will automatically know their needs?

So, for you allies to black femmes: Please don’t stop pushing back against privilege. We are not asking you to be some kind of seamless garment or perfect human. We are asking that you show up for us even when it means educating yourself, stepping out of our way, sharing the mic, acknowledging what awesomeness we bring to your life, and understanding what it means to fight the good fight with us and not for us. We know you love us. We love you too. Let’s do better!