Cliff’s Notes and Carbon Copies: Plagiarizing Pain and Banking on Blackness

Once my apartment was burglarized. I received a call from the property manager telling me my place had been ransacked. I raced home, my heart pounding as I tried to simultaneously process the violation of having my home broken into and imagine how bad the damage was. I walked in to find a TV missing. That hurt a little. Then I walked through my place and each time I realized another thing was stolen, my anger swelled. And when I imagined the theives selling for the low what I’d had to earn at full price, I was maddened.

It was a helpless anger, though, layered and gnawing, but helpless because I knew the burgalars didn’t care that they’d destroyed a part of me. And I doubted they’d ever be held accountable. And I didn’t even know what that accountability looked like. And I was certain that no amount of restitution would restore my sense of ownership and control of my own space.

This happened 10 years ago and I still think about it often, but I’ve since become comfortable in my own space again taking for granted that I was safe from this kind of violation. Oddly enough, it took the deceit and treachery of a person thousand of miles away to strip me of that false sense of security once and again, and remind me that nothing is sacred for a black woman.

When I first read about the story of the white woman who posed as a black woman, I just knew it was satire. I looked at the picture and got all my kikis. I didn’t even click the link because I’d had my fill of fuckery for the evening and was not interested in a surplus. But my amusement turned to bewilderment, and then to shock, and then to anger when I relaized this was a real story.

Here was another theif selling for half price what I earned at full price. This woman had ransacked the house of black womanhood making off with what she could profit from. She did not earn the narrative. She did not own the rights. She had damaged black womanhood in her efforts to possess it instantly and had left me and my sisters maddened knowing that she’d never be held accountable.

She scoffed down and regurgitated the stereotypical depiction of black womanhood and made a career of invoking a struggle she did not know. She mimicked (however poorly) and mocked, creating a carbon copy and as is the case with all carbon copies, failed to transfer everything presenting a passable copy only for those who don’t require all the data imprinted on the original. Her twit pics of sweet potato pies and rhetoric of “brothers” abandoning “us” came straight out of “The White Woman’s Guide to One-Dimensional Depictions of Black Womanhood, and Other Incredible Shit Your Ignorant Ass Should Never Do But Will Because You’re White .”

As late of 2004, she was still living as a white woman. I still believe being born a white woman is the closest you‘ll come to invicibility. Of course white women aren’t some superhuman creatures immune to cancer and bullets, but the pedestaled position of white womanhood affords its image and all its embodiments a a virtual suit of armor against the destruction that black women contend with daily.

She could come to work with wet hair because she didn’t have time to dry it and receive a chuckle accompanied by, “I hate when that happens,” instead of rude stares and invasive questions about why her hair was so much shorter today. She could wear a skirt four inches from her knees and still be considered appropriately dressed not having her already fetishized body oggled and whispered about because of the silouhette her hips and thighs created. She took for granted that finding the perfect concealer took just one bottle and a split second, and that she didn’t have to mix like a fucking chemist to get close enough for a passable match to her melanin. She could go out with her child in tow and be complimented on how cute he was without any assumptions made on her quality as a mother, life choices or financial status. She could raise her voice and declare her anger without the cops being called because expressing anger automatically means she’ll get violent. She could tell a story of how she was violated and be heaped in nothing but sympathy and concern without skepticism that making her audience ask what she’d done wrong. And she could crash her car, knock on a stranger’s door for help and not end up blasted in the face with the media wondering why she’d gotten out of her car.

She owns that privilege. And even as a white woman intent on convincing the world that she’s black, she still ironically enjoys the same the protection and sympathy. She adopted our identity and then told us that we don’t have the right to question her. She epitomized white privilege in stealing what she wanted and daring the true owners to challenge her.

And she made a business of it. Blackness is a business. It is to be bought and sold on the melanin marketplace, owned by all but those who it inherently belongs to. She created her marketing plan, used our spaces for research and development ,and sold her brand black womanhood on the open market with her chief client being the NAACP.

And that organization created by people who didn’t look like the people they supposedly served issued a statement saying, “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.” And they’re right, but that’s the entire problem. Ever wonder why drug counselors are most often ex-addicts? It’s because there’s no substitute for living it. There is no way to be black without being black. She can eat the food, wear the braids and talk the talk, but she is not black. She cannot be the public face of an experience she has not had.

But I’m not surprised or disappointed at the coons over at the NAACP. They are going about their business in the melanin marketplace as usual, grabbing PR opportunities, collecting fees and reactively issuing statements about the routine dehumanization, brutalization and extermination of black people. Their endorsement of and failure to distance themselves from this sociopath are no real tragedy.

The real tragedy is the staunch defense of this woman’s schemes by black people. I’m always amazed how easily some of you will start handing out black passes like BOGO coupons to any white person who attends a protest or makes a decent pot of greens. I actually read that we should be happy that a white person embraces our culture and is fighting for us.

Let me just say this: I don’t need white people to do shit for me. Their embrace (read mimicry and mockery) of my people’s traditions, tragedies and existence is inconsequential to me. And since she fought so hard for us, I want you boot-licking, capeing, “Is we ok, massa” sambos to tell me one social justice she’s accomplished for your black ass.

Sambos Be Like

And of course no Super Sambo’s mission to rescue Becky is complete without the arsenal of recycled insults fired at black women. To be clear, black people have defended this woman’s right to space in the sphere of black womanhood by insulting black womanhood. So it’s not ok for black women to be black women but it’s fine for a white woman to be a black woman.

And I haven’t posted her name here purposely. I will not. She’s been rewarded for her burglary with trending and a segment on the Today Show. Meanwhil

e, the black girls and women she supposedly fought for are hashtagged and forgotten. Dejarria Becton, Renisha McBride, Rekia Boyd, Mariam Carey and Aiyanna Stanley had their stories ended for them while this woman continues to plagiarize their pain.

And once again black women are left with the knowledge that Kanekalon 4 and neck rolls are all we are to so many.

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