During the inauguration, an SNL writer tweeted that Barron Trump “would be the first homeschool shooter.” Expectedly, the outrage was swift and broad. The backlash was so harsh that the writer deactivated her account. She’s since reactivated, but has been suspended indefinitely from SNL.
The message was clear: Kids are off limits. Now either the country has amnesia or there’s an unspoken undercasting about just which kids are off limits. And considering how Malia and Sasha, who were just 7 and 10 when they began their 8 year stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but were the target of vile racism and misogynoir, I’m guessing the implication is that white kids are off limits.
We all know that Black children are never off limits. They are never afforded the protection childhood should ensure. Instead, they are viewed as smaller adults, undeserving of innocence and gentleness. Black children are born into scrutiny, trauma and suspicion. And when they’re hypervisible, the public makes it clear that they are anything but off limits.
Here are ten times Black children weren’t off limits.
1. When the First Daughters weren’t allowed to be typical teens.
“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.” Elizabeth Lauten, a communications director for a GOP rep wrote that message on her Facebook page after the Obama girls were filmed looking less than enthused at the annual turkey pardon. She later resigned, but the fact that she thought it was just fine to insinuate that two teenagers were dressed for the bar (WTF kind of bars does she frequent?) and admonish them for not being excited that Turkey Lurkey wasn’t murked is no doubt because they were Black. Sean Spicer suggested the incident was blown out of proportion saying, “In over 20 years in politics I have never seen 1 of the countless inappropriate comments by Democrats ever covered to a faction [sic] of this.”
2. When a grand jury decided no would pay for the shooting death of a 12-year-old
Barron Trump is just a couple months shy of 11, so if jokes about him are off limits, surely we wouldn’t tolerate a boy just a year and half older than him being shot dead on camera, right? Nah. The cops who pulled up and shot Tamir Rice within seconds, and then handcuffed his hysterical sister, were never even charged. And Twitter has memorialized thousands of adults calling a pre-teen a thug, including the president of a police union.
3. When executive producer Amy Poehler okayed a joke about the sexual assault of a preschooler
Blue Ivy has been a target for cruel jokes since before she could crawl. From the unbelievable petition to have her mother claim her hair to the countless jokes about her looks, that baby has not been protected. But when the lead character on the show Difficult People, executive produced by white feminist fav Amy Poehler, joked that she wondered if then 3-year-old Blue Ivy was old enough for R. Kelly to pee on her, it went to another level. Of course, Poehler is still a Becky fav and collecting checks for the show. I wonder why the sexual assault of a preschooler wasn’t off limits…
4. When Malia’s hard work meant nothing
When even Fox News has to acknowledge something is racist, you know that shit is racist as fuck. After Malia Obama announced she’d be attending Harvard, her daddy’s alma mater, the comments on a Fox article talking about her choice were so vile, Fox shut down the comments section. The idea that Malia could actually have earned admission into Harvard through handwork was unfathomable for the racists who felt nothing about throwing nigger around like it was a Spalding. Did I mention Malia was still a kid at the time? You know one of those supposedly off limits…
5. When a 9-year-old’s confidence was rewarded with misogynoir
I don’t know about anybody else, but when I first saw Quvenzhane` Wallis, I thought she was adorable. Then again, I love talented, confident Black girls. I can’t imagine sitting before cameras and handling interviews like her when I was 9. But as I learned a long time ago, the world is never ready for Black girls who know their value. So proved The Onion with a tweet calling the Beasts of the Southern Wild star a “cunt.” Now The Onion is tasteless as fuck purposely, but you have to be on a different level of ain’t shit to call a little girl a cunt. But then again, she’s a Black girl, so I suppose you’d have to recognize both her humanity and innocence to know what was off limits, and Black girls don’t get those luxuries.
6. When Billboard took its cues from Amy Poehler
— billboard (@billboard) October 30, 2015
Now anybody who knows me knows that I deplore that entire Kardashian Klan, including their surrogate, Kanye West. But even my utter disgust for the queens of cultural appropriation wouldn’t allow me to disrespect a two-year-old. Apparently, Billboard didn’t get the memo, though, because they tweeted a pic of North West eating a lollipop with he headline, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Despite their insistence that they just meant that North was sassy (Who the fuck calls a two-year-old sassy?), we all know what the insinuation was. But hey, I guess it’s never too early to sexualize little Black girls.
7. When a Rudy Giuliani blamed the assault of a 14-year-old girl on a lack of respect for authority
— HA (@Xmukexziamx) June 6, 2015
When I watched Dejarria Becton body slammed to the ground by a cop, I don’t know if I’ve ever been filled with that kind of rage. Apparently a 14-tear-old girl in a bikini is an imminent and critical threat to a grown man armed with a gun. And New York’s former mayor clearly thought that had Becton had respect for authority, the rabid cop who yanked her by her hair and sat on her back while she was sobbed wouldn’t have felt threatened. I guess when your skin is considered a lethal weapon, you’re always a threat.
I’ll end here, though I could give a hundred more examples. But I’ll ask once more, which children are off limits?