RaceSex & Gender

can black women enjoy true solidarity among “woc”?

May 17, 2019
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Minding your business should be the gift that keeps on giving — and considering it’s free, you’d think more people would be on that bandwagon. Unfortunately, the word has not spread to Jordanian author/ journalist Natasha Tynes, who mustered the audacity to call out a Black woman employed by the DC Metro for eating her lunch on the train. Tynes began by harassing the worker, before taking to Twitter to snitch on this Black women to the DC Metro account, threatening the woman’s livelihood.

“When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train,” she wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable.” When accosted by Tynes, the Black woman in question responded, “worry about yourself.”

Immediately after she sent the tweet, Ms. Tynes was subjected to the dragging of all Twitter draggings. If only she had listened, and minded her business, maybe her book, They Called Me Wyatt, would not have been dropped by her publisher and distributor in a mere day, all the while, rumors are circulating that the Black MTA worker was protected by her union, keeping her job secure. It’s pure poetic justice. Tynes, a woman of color who has lamented about the difficulties of existing in the world as such, was affronted by a Black woman essentially telling her where to get off, so she escalated the situation in order to get her fired.

Black women sit at the forefront of solidarity amongst women of color as a consistent and galvanizing presence of resistance. By virtue of the placement of Black women on the socio-economic scale, all work done by Black women to undo the tyranny of white supremacy benefits everyone — especially other women of color. The issue with this dynamic is the tendency for Black women to be treated like mules. Every breakthrough for Black women is usually accompanied by a wave of “what about us,” as if Black woman are foot soldiers of everyone else’s progress. It manifests in people like actress Gina Rodriquez, who cannot help but question the achievements of Black women while failing to acknowledge the strides made by Afro-Latinx actresses.

Unity is a powerful force against tyranny; but what kind of foundation can that unity rest on when Black women face misogynoir from those likely to best understand our reality? What Tynes decided to do instead of empathizing with a fellow women of color, was lean into misogynoir and pledging fealty to whiteness by propagating its tyranny on Black bodies. The comfort non-Black women of color find in talking about the experiences linked to the identity of women of color, while Black women get thrown under the bus on a consistent basis, is white supremacy acting in rooms it does not have to enter.

Tynes’ apology was lackluster at best, and the subsequent internet onslaught has resulted in her making her Twitter account private. She may not represent all women of color but, in the case of #notall, she represents enough of them for Black women and Black people to slowly divest from ‘POC’ identifier, when Black issues always seem to find a way to the bottom of the pile. It is a betrayal we see in places as Black as Africa, where Arab Africans find no problem with the mistreatment of Black people (including Black Arabs) to the point that an entire slave trade emerged in Libya. Black people in general — and Black women, in particular — cannot afford to uphold unity that does not serve us or seek to protect us, because we do not have the luxury of buying into white supremacist attitudes of racial hierarchy. We don’t have the luxury of wondering when they will come for us, when the system relies on us being targeted mercilessly.