We aren’t more than a couple of days into 2020 and already people are talking badly about not just Black women again, but Black girls. The good news is, folks are calling out the self-hate and racism with a quickness.
There is the whole Ari Lennox/Teyana Taylor situation where a Black man said the women have great sex appeal while simultaneously looking like “rottweilers,” and the “Shea Butter Baby” singer slammed him and other ignorant men for their anti-Blackness (based on the disdain for certain Black features).
Now there is the foolishness of a Black male journalist insulting the looks of 7-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, and a white female colleague joining in.
It happened on the very first day of the year, when K Austin Collins, a film critic for Vanity Fair, had one of the few negative responses to a viral image of Blue Ivy, mom Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion:
“I have a feeling the jay z face genes are about to really hit Blue Ivy and I feel so sorry for her,” he wrote on Twitter.
In response, Harper’s Bazaar writer Violet Lucca wrote, “They haven’t already?”
“You’re right. But she’s lucky — if it happens now she’ll definitely grow out of it,” he replied. “Get the ugly duckling phase done early.”
To which Lucca said, “Or she’ll just get plastic surgery at 16 a la Kylie Jenner and we’ll all have to pretend that she always looked that way…I can’t allow myself to feel too sorry for the incredibly rich!”
It didn’t take long for social media to slam Collins for his comments. He has more than 24,000 followers on Twitter, so it wasn’t too hard to come across what he said. A day later, people from all walks, including fellow journalists (shout out to Soledad O’Brien) and notable figures, have admonished both he and Lucca.
Collins deleted the messages and has since apologized for his very mean comments.
Lucca also said sorry, but her apology seemed like an afterthought as she brought up the ways she’d been dragged online. She didn’t really seem all that apologetic:
“Sorry I was cleaning my apartment while this blew up…children of famous ought to be off limits, but time and again they haven’t been. So I said something petty and have been called ugly, old, and a racist.”
“I’m not playing the victim…sorry that I insulted Beyoncé’s daughter by suggesting that she might get plastic surgery some day, like many children of famous people do.”
She added the following:
A hot a– mess.
I blame social media for making people think that this type of banter about the physical features of people, particularly Black women and girls, are up for collective discussion and bashing. Truth be told, no one thinks about how hurtful comments like Collins’ are when they say them, because they’re sure that they can find at least one person who will agree. It’s not until others put their problematic statements on blast do they feel the need to have a change of heart.
But what Collins and Lucca felt so comfortable doing is truly a serious problem today. There are too many people who feel like only certain types of Blackness are attractive, and that to have prominent features, to wear your hair a certain way and texture, and to resemble your father makes you less attractive. Black men especially are bad at this. Some (to be fair, not all) laud women who have features similar to Black women, while simultaneously dragging actual Black women with ease. It wasn’t that long ago that NBA player Patrick Patterson defended marrying a white woman by calling Black women “bulldogs.”
And white women, the ones who quietly morph themselves to have our curves, our hairstyles, our lips or even our skin tone (whether for editorial purposes or for everyday) don’t help when they jump in and take jabs. Both groups feel they can do so because while they are minorities like Black women and can be oppressed, but they also have an advantage in being men, or being white, that we don’t.
It’s good to see though that so many Black women, and even other Black men, are not letting this year get going without calling out this cruel reality, particularly in Twitter threads (it’s a toxic social site, honestly). It’s about time. Blue Ivy may never see it, have to worry about it or be affected by what people think of her Blackness because she can be shielded from the foolishness, but the rest of us who are impacted and tired and bring Black girls into the world who are affected by it need to know and see that somebody else is sick of this sh-t.