Femme Problems 122: Understanding My Femme Privilege
May 9, 2014
A Night Out with The Trevor Project
May 12, 2014

Opinion: Reacquainting Myself with Unapologetic Black Femme Goofiness

Tiffany Mott-SmithOk grrl. Not gonna lie, I was not amused by the Saturday Night Live jest over forced slave breeding. Now, don’t get me wrong, I stand and deliver for Leslie Jones. She’s hilarious and a self-proclaimed top shelf bitch. I also may or may not have developed a giant crush on her back in the Comic View days. So why now was she not amusing? Why, when I’ve paid at least two pair of peep toe flats worth of my paycheck to see her live, did I not find her words to be gut busting? After remembering the tickled pink face of the white guy sitting across from her as she did her monologue, I realized I’m not uncomfortable with the delivery of the joke so much as the recipients. The irritation wasn’t because of what she said; it was because she didn’t say it to a group of black people. Than line of jest felt, “for us and by us”, and I didn’t like having to share it.

This is akin to someone talking about lesbians dressing terribly in a room full of straight people. Yes, I’m aware the stereotype is based in truth and I have definitely “accidentally” bleached a pair or two of a few boot cut mom jeans. I’ve also “misplaced” one or two pairs of a certain someone’s very sensible cargo pants directly into the garbage in an effort to be a good stud facilitator. However, trust and believe I reserve the right to claw the face off anyone poking fun at my boo’s attire, especially when they don’t understand how hard it is to find affordable dapper boi looks for curvy bodies.

Slavery, to say the least, was not a good time for women like myself. It hurts me to think about what happened to them, just as it hurts me to think about what is happening to black women now. Quite frankly and unfortunately, we go missing by the hundreds and it rarely even makes the national news. When I learned of the 276 girls kidknapped in Nigeria my first thought was, “that is a fraction of the number black women in America who are missing.” It’s heartbreaking and terrifying how abused, misused, and forgotten we have been, it seems, from the moment we were delivered to this place we call home.

I love being an unapologetically loud, proud goofy femme and there’s a special place in my heart for the black female comedian. But I just can’t help but be a little territorial about the “other” laughing at my pain—especially when, on their commute to work, the said “other” doesn’t have to worry the police are going to confuse them with every single black woman who has ever caught a misdemeanor and haul off searching their pocketbook in front of their boss. But at some point I have to acknowledge that if I truly do want more accomplices and less allies as I say I do, I have to let the other in on my jokes. I have to let them laugh with me, and not at me.

So, bear with me while I attempt to have a growing moment: Thank you so much to Leslie Jones, Lawanda Page, Moms Mabley and all the other brave black comediennes who took us out of our comfort zones. Thank you for making us laugh at our pain so we don’t drown in our tears.

Watch the SNL Sketch Below: