Cancelling Brunch: A Black Woman’s Perspective

To say these past two weeks have been “challenging” would be an understatement. We watched as results sluggishly came in and contemplated the harmful effects if Donald Trump were to be reelected. 

However, on Saturday, there was a shift. In the early morning hours, Biden would progress to two hundred and eighty-three votes (which would expand later). This outcome led to Biden surpassing the requirement that in order for a presidential candidate to win an election, they must have two hundred and seventy electoral votes. But, we know this. More importantly, many celebrated Biden’s impending victory and the return back to normalcy which many yearned for. That’s the issue. 

The “normal” for marginalized communities were (and are) murdering us, providing us with an unequal distribution of resources (if any) and the usages by political sectors for their own gain, all for them to receive dehumanization and degradation in return. If you believe that returning back to “normal” represents getting back to a place where your privilege went unchecked, where Black Lives Matter was simply a hashtag to you or you did not consider Trans* people to be deserving of human rights then your normalcy is rooted in our oppression. The democracy you have so much love for only provides and sustains the livelihoods of those like you. Marginalized communities are left behind with the job of dismantling systems and institutions of oppression they did not create amidst being the only ones fighting for their liberation. As we are approaching a new tide, there are uncomfortable truths we must confront and I refuse to hold my tongue. Buckle up.

crowd of protesters on a bridge Photo by Life Matters from Pexels

Complacency and Gaslighting

Many of you may be activists who engage in some form of political and social work or push for change in your own avenues. No one is telling you to refrain from letting out a sigh of relief that there is a high chance of Donald Trump being removed from office. There is a general understanding of the tyranny that’s been caused by him and his administration. Take the time to breathe and heal. However, we are not done. The amount of gaslighting I have seen towards people being concerned about the future is unacceptable. At the end of the day, acknowledge that there is still work to be done. The idea of complacency is to push others to be as joyous as you are when that is not everyone's journey. Understand that you as an individual have to extend the same compassion (if not more) to marginalized communities as you would expect from others. The privilege jumps out when you believe that you can dictate to others in marginalized communities how they should feel. You do not have my experience. You do not live in my body. You do not know my truth or my concerns. Under no circumstance are you to dictate to me how I should navigate these times. That goes for every person you encounter. Respect, empathy and consideration are principles grounded in human decency. These things are not hard to comply with. 

When you believe that you can resume your life as normal or live under the false pretense that it is “over,” what message are you sending? What exactly is over? Last time I checked, cops are still murdering Black people, mass incarceration continues to impact Black and Brown people and the very facets of oppression that became “hot topics” over the summer are still prevalent and will persist. Explain to me exactly what “over” means. Even in the example of Trump being removed from office, let us discuss the number of policies and actions in his tyrannical legacy that would have to be reversed or eradicated. So, you do not get to go back to Brunch. You do not get to pick and choose when you would like to show up and play white savior.

Related: Different Levels of Racism and White Supremacy

greyscale image of a BLM protest Photo Redrecords from Pexels

Black Womxn v. The United States of America (1619-Present) 

As 1619 is significant in regards to the history of Black people and the original and current sins of the United States, this is where we will center Black womxn in this conversation. I constantly hear the saying, “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party.” The definition of the word “backbone” by Oxford Languages is, “the chief support of a system or organization; the mainstay.” The Democratic Party would not have been able to thrive as much as it has without Black womxn. Here is an article for a well-defined and no-nonsense breakdown. The idea that Black womxn owe this country anything is a lie. Where are our reparations? What about policies and the abolition of systems that are murdering us? There is virtually no excuse as to why there is a constant push for Black womxn to “save” a country that takes great pleasure in our murders and oppression. You do not support Black womxn. You support the sick, twisted, demented and racist ideology made up about us. The same organizations that released lengthy statements have yet to open up and support spaces for Black womxn, let alone even knowing their Black peers or colleagues. You want us to be supportive, present, and as the motivating Black friend and peer, the Black colleague who takes out time to educate you as if you are a child and the Black token to speak for your racism or to embarrassingly recall their own trauma for your benefit. There has been a four-century long issue of Black womxn being disrespected in every avenue, including by other marginalized communities. Believing that you are somehow entitled to Black womxn showing up for you yet you reach out when it’s convenient is a notion that stops here. We are not a monolith. You do not get to control our narratives or attempt to steal our joy, our accomplishments and our greatness. You will respect us. 

As you are applauding the great work of Stacey Abrams, also applaud the work of Helen Butler, Nse Ufot, Deborah Scott and Tamieka Atkins. All of these womxn with the help of Black Trans*, Queer and Disabled activists are responsible for your “celebration.” I would strongly recommend following activist Imani Barbarin (@crutches_and_spice) on Instagram. There is a history of erasure set against us and every time a Black womxn simply lives her/their life, others want to impose their Anti-Blackness in order to take praise and celebrate when they did not share in the struggle. So, I am going to say this once. Do not associate yourself with me if you are not willing to acknowledge what happens against us, if you choose to be silent and if you choose to only connect with me or other Black womxn when you want us to engage in an opportunity. I can not and will not be used. And, I suggest as this election comes to a close, many of you reflect on your actions and behaviors. Black womxn have not or will not start putting up with your foolishness. Stop being performative and using Black womxn. Give us the flowers we deserve while we are here. If you only feel the need to reach out to us when you need to feel coddled on your anti-racism journey, save it. Check yourself and recognize that your debt is due. You have a bill. Before you address us, come correct and ready to work.

Privilege and Elitism 

It is easy to ignore what does not impact you. And, you are not above getting checked. It is fairly simple to no longer engage in the work when you feel it does not serve you. Your privilege enables you to believe that when Kamala Harris and Joe Biden take office, the strengths of oppression and fascism will be lifted. Your privilege encourages you to be under the belief that “normalcy” is the intended goal amidst the current climates which call for change, eradication and responsibility. No one is saying that you are a “bad” person because you have privilege. However, it is what you do with your privilege, your acknowledgment of it (or lack thereof) and your actions, all of which show where you stand. Words and sentiments mean nothing. You will not solve anything with your silence or with the repetition of what you have already shared. 

You should recognize where your talents are and use those attributes to persistently support marginalized communities. What lies ahead for the next four years is not just about you. It is about the communities that have been ignored, disrespected, murdered and subjected to trauma. It should center our voices, our perspectives and eradicate the very systems and institutions which are responsible for our oppression. There is no amount of elitism or self-indulgence that will ever uplift allyship, activism, or advocacy. Own the ways that you have been complicit and recognize that you have a chance to figure out how to be of service. Recognize past behaviors that have been harmful and be aware of the social, economic, political and environmental privileges that you are blessed to have.

little girl kissing another little girl on the cheek Photo by KissedByTheGods from Pexels

Checking-In and Showing Up 

You never know what someone is going through. It is disrespectful to say the very least to reach out to marginalized folks and wanting their verbal and emotional labor yet not offering in any way to be present and support them during times of upheaval or simply just to check-in. There is a wave of white women and people who reach out during the times of unrest and when the news considers social justice issues, such as Black Lives Matter to be “trendy” then there’s silence and the same energy is not matched afterward. The silence factor that comes into play and a lack of respect but as long as there is a service or labor to be provided then many can engage in conversations. The idea of showing up is recognizing someone’s humanity and knowing that offering ways to be present can go a long way. We must eradicate expectations that Black womxn and marginalized people are supposed to show up and spoon-feed privileged folks either through conversation or action with nothing being extended for their hard work and time. Reach out to the Black womxn and/or marginalized friends who you claim to care about so much. Center your mental health and make sure that you are understanding that these times are not just hard for you. Here are some questions to consider asking:

  1. “If you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

  2. “Do you need anything?”

  3. “How can I be present to support you?”

  4. “I completely understand and your feelings/concerns are valid.”

  5. “You are doing the best that you can.”

Showing up is not just about going to a protest or donating $10 that one time. It is paying folks for the labor they engage in, finding out intersectional ways to be an activist, advocate or ally. Understanding that as a person wanting to engage in this work, there will be times where you fail, where you are not as present and when you fail to recognize your privilege. It is how you go about correcting those behaviors which symbolize your willingness (or lack thereof) to do the work. Your work should be all-encompassing and something that is going to push for your talents and skills to be utilized in order to support marginalized communities. We all have a sacred power. Use it. 

Related: What is Anti-Racism, Anyway?

Electoralism and Respectability Politics 

The future isn’t Washington. Or big banks or corporate leaders. It is the very people you ignore. The grassroots leaders, community activists, student activists/leaders and those on the ground who have been committed to this work for decades. Electoralism is not the final answer. While getting Trump out of office is the top priority, if he is centered as your only goal or policy issue, that is not activism and it is not built on any compass for getting rid of the systems that support the Donald Trumps of the world: white supremacy, nepotism, racism, capitalism and privilege. If you do not focus on the intersectional issues which continue to come after marginalized communities, you have no plan or basis to fully understand what is on the line. Support grassroots plans, student and community leaders and activists. They are the ones who are not centered in these conversations and without them, the levels of societal catastrophe would be greater. 

We spend too much time solely relying on the power of those in office. Yes, they are supposed to serve us and not the other way around. This is the time where we should continue to apply pressure and hold them accountable for their actions. We have to research who we are putting in office while acknowledging the corrupt foundations on which politics and congressional statues were built on. We have to show up for our activists and know the importance of their work and support them in a way we can. There is an essential responsibility we have to get in the trenches. Extend resources, funds and support to those overlooked.

three women sitting on bench Photo by nappy on Pexels

Action Plans and Resources

As many say that young people are “the future,” such can not be refuted. However, the responsibility should not just rely on us. It is a community, collective and individual accountability aspect. Here are links and IG accounts to follow in order to further educate yourself and brainstorm ways to gauge your fit. Don’t ask or dictate how communities should move “forward” if you have not contributed a single dime or committed to action step(s). Oftentimes, these questions are asked by folks wanting marginalized communities and Black people to do all of the work, when in actuality, it calls for them to recognize their own roles and responsibilities to educate themselves and their communities. The “holier than thou” trope will not work for you, here. 

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/nsmalls 

IG Accounts 

  1. @zoeterakes

  2. @notoriouscree

  3. @alokvmenon

  4. @them

  5. @blackwomenradicals

  6. @seedingsovereignty

  7. @wearyourvoice

  8. @justice4blackgirls

  9. @riseindigenous

  10. @afroleur

  11. @thejefferymarsh

  12. @biffandi

  13. @raquel_willis

  14. @blairimani

  15. @antiracismdaily

  16. @impact

  17. @amandaseales

  18. @no_moresecrets469

  19. @janetmock

  20. @versobooks

greyscale photo of braided hair woman Photo by Ezekixl Akinnewu from Pexels

Personal Perspective and Conclusion 

This is just the beginning and I do not have the answers. I have felt a passionate fire over the past couple of days and I have every right to be frustrated with the current climate. The amount of performative activism and silence in classrooms and on Social Media is conscious of disregard and it is disgusting. However, I want to clarify a couple of things. You have a responsibility to protect and elevate Black and marginalized voices. It is not just my job or the job of someone else. You have that responsibility, too. I am not here to spell out the work for you. Recognize the validity of everyone’s experiences and perspectives. Actively listen and take the time to educate yourself. Because, through personal experiences and observations, many of you have not been elevating those spaces. There is a shutdown component which is activated then encourages you to not fully understand the intent of your actions or words. I am not for everyone and I will make no apologies about who I am and how I carry myself. I am unapologetically Black, thick and I own myself in every way. 

If what I speak is too Black, too Melanin, too strong or too “uncomfortable” for you to listen, by all means, move on and bounce. I unapologetically stand behind supporting my truth and the perspectives and truths of others. Know your role and be aware that you have no right or place to dictate to anyone how they should go about change if they are a part of a marginalized community. You are not exempt from holding yourself accountable and you owe it to every marginalized person and community to listen, to act and to support. There is no need for white saviors or captains but rather people who are ready to engage in this fight. I, like all of us, owe it. I can not and will not allow myself to be complacent or to stop fighting. How will you show up? Does your back get stiff each time someone mentions a criticism or a different perspective to consider? Believe it or not, from so many perspectives, it is clear where you stand. You are in charge of how you will take responsibility.

Own it and grow up.