(2) Ok, a white guy said it. So every time a white person says something with the tone of surprise positive about someone with another skin color it is racist? So I can’t give compliments anymore? Because compliments are often with the tone of surprise: “You look beautiful today!”, “What an amazing speech!” or “Her acting was amazing in that film!”. Try to say these things without the tone of surprise. It suddenly sounds sarcastic, doesn’t it?
(3) I think Lupita is very articulate and an amazing actress. I was surprised about that, because I had never heard from her before this film. Sorry for being so racist. I will never give compliments to people of colour again. Oh wait, maybe THAT is racist. Being articulate also has nothing to do with education or speaking multiple languages. I also had a good education and speak 4 languages, but I am not very articulate. Or were you surprised about her education and that she is quadrilingual?
Context matters. It’s not that it is a compliment - it’s that nothing we say, especially as white people, occurs in a vacuum. He didn’t have to say “for a black girl” for that element to be there. There’s a long history of white people expecting black people to speak, behave, and perform their blackness in certain forms, and so by calling a black person “articulate” - particularly if it follows comments about how she is “well-mannered” and has behaved herself in a “classy manner” throughout the awards season, as it did in this case - speaks to a form of unconscious racism. The “compliment” carries a backhanded element of “you’re not like those other black people.”
As white people, we need to interrogate what we do, what we choose to say, and how we say it. Privilege blinds us to the fact that what is a compliment for a white person may turn into racism when aimed at a POC. And we have numerous extant examples of how white actresses are treated differently than WOC - do you think Lupita could have gotten away with flipping off the press pool post Oscars, ala Jennifer Lawrence last year? We know M.I.A. got raked through the coals for doing it at the Superbowl. A lot of how Lupita has been praised and complimented ties down to her going against the perception of how black people are “expected” to behave, even unconsciously.
Interestingly, the only people who have challenged me on this saying “It’s just a compliment!” have been white folks. So. Do with that what you will.
So you’ve probably noticed lately that I’ve only been updating my main website about once a week (though I’m always active on Twitter!). There’s a reason.
When I first got my book deal, I heard little whispers of how time-consuming and relentless the editing process is. Turns out, they weren’t lying.
Who knew, right?
So over these past two months, I’ve been working to deliver the best possible manuscript I can. It has looked a little bit like this:
And a little like this:
And a lot like this:
But the good news is that it’s almost over!
Soon, I’ll be able to resume regular posting for y’all’s reading pleasure. Until then, please bear with!