Outed: The Intricacies & Intersections for this Woman of Color
Allow me to start with a disclaimer. I know what you're thinking: "A disclaimer, girl? Really?!?" *Eye roll* I want to make it clear that I love men, and god do I love ya. I love y'all so much I feel no need to tip toe around certain subjects. And that although the actions of a few by no means indict the whole, it is a reflection of society at large and life for someone like me today. So do me a favor, don't get mad when a woman vocalizes her observations. Realize it's not an attack but a way to call out behavior that needs to be reflected on. If someone gets so irate they feel the need to slide into my DMs and emails defending themselves, well that means it resonated with that person and they need to do some reflection, not I. Are we cool? Good... I hope so.
With that being over, lets continue.
Recently, as seen on my Twitter feed, I’ve been reflecting on my experience of being outed. More specifically as how my identity as a woman of color (WOC) may have impacted the way everything went down.
SN: If you haven’t noticed, I’m one of those folks that navigates their way through the situation and then weeks or months later, it all hits me.
The primary proponents of my outing and ousting from my position in my career were Black men, who in turn enlisted the help of Black women. This allowed the news to circulate quickly within certain circles within the black community, to the point where a friend and colleague of mine stated, “Only the folks in the brown people circle know. We’ve tried to keep it contained.” Thank you for the silver lining… I guess. As a multiracial individual with the privilege of a lighter skin tone, I often hear from my Black brothers and sisters a variation of the following: “You’re not really Black but White folks definitely won’t accept you. I guess we’ll have to let you sit with us.” That however, is another topic for another day. So, while I experienced the attacks from my own community, there was a level of protection afforded to me because “we protect our own”. *Another severe eye roll*
Little did they realize that at its foundation, outing me was & is, white folks’ business.
In my previous career, I was the Alpha and the Omega. When it came to my area, the buck started and stopped with me. I was a renegade woman in thought and action. Often opting to buck what tradition dictated I do and moving towards new processes to better our community. Evolution; however, well-intended, comes at a price.
My ideas, thoughts, logic, and authority were normally accepted by my white colleagues, and were often challenged or blatantly disregarded by Black male colleagues. Typically, because the impartial treatment I applied to everyone was in direct contrast with the favorable treatment they received from my predecessor & upper level management (also men of color). I threatened the traditional patriarchal model that crosses all racial lines in regards to the “good ole’ boys club”, men being front and center as leaders, and as the advocates of traditional gender roles. However, my role as as a companion was even more of an affront to this model. Not only was I flipping the script on the patriarchy at work, but also acting as a willing participant of sex work.
When I was outed, the vitriolic condemnation centered around me being a “’thot’ with loose morals”. It allowed me to experience first-hand this strict dichotomy surrounding sex work. Reminding me the world is structured around Christian values & morals that view sexuality and sex as feelings that must be mitigated and controlled. As if the pendulum of sex work swings only between two opposing sides: “victim” and “classless hoe” (their words, not mine). There clearly is no gray area for many male non-sex workers.
For Black women (and Black trans women) this logic that men apply to us, regardless of race, is rooted so deeply in misogynoir, sexism, class, and even religion. As if there is no other reason a woman would seek out this path which can be both empowering and freeing. I imagine this is due to the overwhelming confusion in regards to how to process the notion that a woman, especially a Black woman, can take control of her body in the way it is marketed, consumed, and as seen in sex work, monetized.
What’s interesting is that the motive to displace me, which stemmed from general dislike (especially after gently turning down numerous sexual advances at work) and a way to remove me from power, was trying to be kept within the Black community because again, it’s Black folks' business. Slowly, the scandal was no longer under the power and dominion of the Black community but transferred into that of the white patriarchy. And that’s where shit really hit the fan. In the end, the white patriarchy, in combination with its historical subjugation and ideas of Black women, ranging from our sexuality, our bodies, and our lack of purity compared to our white counterparts, which are often accepted as truth, dealt out my punishment. In the end, I was vilified, and my male counterparts were relatively unscathed. These notions from the mainstream patriarchy insidiously work their way into the Black community, with Black men and sometimes Black Women, following their direction. Reflection, over time, has shown me one thing: this was a moment where the patriarchy, regardless of race, joined forces.
"Why?”, you ask as all these ideas are swirling in your mind.
Because there is nothing worse than a woman, especially a woman of color, giving the bird when she’s unsatisfied with her role, finds a way to empower herself, and commodifies sex and companionship. That level of Queendom and sovereignty is frightening for some. It directly threatens the patriarchy and sends cracks running through the foundation of mainstream society. All for doing something nearly unthinkable, especially for black women: being in total and undeniable control.
Have questions? Maybe some thoughts. Follow me on Twitter and let me know @MeetLondonJames