Monday, December 7, 2009

When Black Men and White Men Partner in Sexism

There are a multitude of difference between White men and Black men, however; the opportunity to oppress women never fails to bring them together.  April Ryan dared to question the press secretary and he clearly had no problem reducing her in front of a national audience.

Gibbs repeatedly told Ryan to relax and breathe.  He further compared her questions to that of a child, thereby infantilizing her.  Can you even imagine for a moment, a White male reporter getting the same sort of treatment?  We cannot ignore the simple fact that he is White and male and she is Black and female.  Gender and race played a huge role in the way that she was treated.  Had Gibbs felt for one moment that he was engaging with an equal, he would not have attempted to behave in the same manner.

From birth Black women must battle against both sexism and racism to live their lives.  These are two distinct marginalizations that work to construct Black women as other.   Often the rallying cry from Black men, is that we should join them in the fight against racism because it actively effects our lives, however; when sexism raises its ugly head. they see it as unimportant and are quick to invoke their patriarchal privilege.  In the end, Black men want more than freedom from racism, they want the freedom to act with the same sort of privilege that has historically been the preserve of White men.  Equality in this instance, means the ability to oppress.

Since I believe that seeing is believing, I offer into evidence the commentary regarding the heinous behaviour of Gibbs, at the Black male run blog The Intersection of Madness:

Black Women: Learn when to shut the fuck up! Or learn to communicate!!

I'm sorry, and I realized that April Ryan was doing her job as a journalist asking the "appropriate" questions. But it seems to me, from where I'm sitting, she could have been a bit more tactful in her approach. I don't give a shit that she's black and he's white, or the fact that she's a woman and he's a man. The bottom line for me is that, she should have been more tactful, personable, conversation-able, rather than coming off as the wannabe "Super Bitch" cop in an interrogation.

Clearly she attempted to take the "conversation" in a direction Gibbs didn't feel was necessary, and I think he did the right thing telling her to relax and breath. I mean, had he said "Sit'cho ass down and shut tha fuck up bitch!!" Or slapped the shit out of her with his pimp hand, I could understand all the negative talk in favor of April on this one. But in truth, Gibbs was clearly the adult, or the bigger person in this situation.

But let some people tell it, him having a penis and being white he was wrong.
In sales and marketing  there's a theory called Rape vs. Seduction. What April did as far as communicating was RAPE the shit out of Robert Gibbs, or at least tried to. Had she used a "seductive" approach, she may have been able to control the conversation and have her questions answered instead of having to rebut Robert Gibbs and leaving the angry black bitch perception on the table. Yep, especially when she felt the need to "check him" after he attempted to gain control of the conversation from her badgering.

Rippa’s commentary on this incident clearly stems from his desire to protect undeserved male privilege.  The post in question is accompanied by the following image:

image

What does this tell us but that Black women are wild, and unable to present an image of rationality and control?   This is the basis of many of the attacks often faced by Black women and yet Rippa had no problem promoting this to serve his agenda.  In no way did April Ryan display a loss of control, despite the obvious reduction of Gibbs and yet it was easy to imply that her tone, or her language justified his minimization of her.  Had April been addressing the subject of race, the issue of tone would not have arisen from a Black man; it was that she dared to confront a White man about an issue that was deemed unrelated to race, that caused her questions to be vilified by Rippa.

Lecturing a woman about her tone and calling her a bitch is sexist.  There can be no denying this very simple fact and yet Black women are routinely called to task if we do not immediately jump to defence of a Black man. How can this imbalanced relationship possibly be called an equal partnership?  When Black men refuse to acknowledge the sexism of their behaviour, they are supporting the idea that a group can and should be targeted, thus cementing their own marginalization.  You cannot gain freedom by continually employing the masters tools.

Lest anyone confuse this as a personal attack, I wish to make it clear that this kind of sexism in not unique to Rippa and in fact he stands simply as an example of the kind of action that is routinely engaged in by the Black male patriarchy.  Always remember that as bell hooks famously said, A Black man may face racism in the public sector but that does not mean that he does not go home and beat his Black wife.   Until sexism is seen as an issue worth fighting for by Black males, it will continue to divide us as a people, thereby; destroying all efforts in the fight for equality.