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OG colorism

Source: VH1 / Viacom

As someone plagued with strong emotions, the type that causes tears to well up in your eyes and your voice to crack when you’re enraged instead of the self-assurance and firmness you would prefer to display in the midst of a disagreement, I know how tears can change the way people see and hear you. It can be frustrating at times when you crying softens people up, rather than your argument. And sometimes, it can be to your benefit, especially if you feel you are the true victim.

I’ve noticed the ways in which tears alter the way the ladies of Basketball Wives hear and see Ogom “OG” Chijindu in comparison to Evelyn Lozada.

Since the season started, Evelyn has cried at just about every mention of her heated beef with OG and the accusations of racism and colorism that have followed her since Season 8. She becomes a sympathetic character when talking about the ways in which she’s been harassed online, felt in fear for her safety and that of her children, and had her reputation irreparably harmed by the allegations. She seems genuinely hurt that people believe, with her “Black kids” and all her years being on the show, that she would be biased toward a cast member because of their appearance. The majority of the women have rallied behind her in that, especially when she begins to cry. They stand up for her character, sure that she is not what the accusations say she is. Evidence is sidestepped to embrace and understand her feelings.

“It really hurt because people really believed that sh-t,” she told Feby in episode one after her co-star embraced her as her tears fell.

“You know how hard it was? That sh-t hurt my soul,” she said in episode three, tearing up as her co-stars nodded and talked about attempts to destroy people’s lives. “My kids are Black, my stepchildren are Black, so for you to sit up there and make this claim because you want 15 minutes is wrong.”

But what does it get you to be composed, tempered in your argument and sure of yourself? To not make conversations about feelings but rather, what you consider to be the exhibited facts? Not much for OG. Even when she’s shared her experiences with her actual friend, co-star Jackie Christie, she’s still not necessarily understood.

“It never came off as racism to me,” Jackie told her in episode one when they spoke about the colorism and racism accusations.

“I’ve known [Evelyn] to be an a–hole at times, but never a racist or a colorist,” Jackie added in a confessional.

And in OG’s conversation with Kristen in episode three, Kristen seemed hopeful that they could connect and speak about their feelings: her feeling that there was no colorism but being open to hearing the ways in which OG felt there was, and OG sharing how the treatment from the ladies made her feel. But OG had none of that to give. She wasn’t interested in tearing up to get her point across or talking about how she felt. In fact, she noted that she’d never spoken about her feelings, but rather, about what she’d observed in the behavior of her castmates.

“Just to be clear, [colorism] is what I experienced. I have not shared my feelings,” she told her. “Feelings on an emotional level, I have not shared. I have expressed my experience. I expressed what I witnessed.”

She went on to speak on the ways in which she felt she was singled out for behavior that wasn’t nearly as intense as her co-stars’ antics. There were moments where her argument was shaky (Kristen calling OG’s receipts concerning Chad Johnson “disturbing” was definitely just favoritism due to her not liking OG), but strong points were still made. They include her being penalized (by being separated) and deemed aggressive by her castmates for threats after aggression was directed her way versus violence, and being called ugly more than once by her fair-skinned counterparts. And no, Jackie being called “crazy” by the group is nowhere near the same type of “calling out” for behavior that OG received.

Still, the conversation went nowhere, and that wasn’t a shock. Kristen did seem to have good intentions, but she was still too focused on feelings in their chat, and mainly her own.

“I cannot feel like I ever made you feel that I was a colorist,” she told OG.

She wanted to connect with OG as Black women in America as opposed to acknowledging her experience first. And all she really needed to say was that she doesn’t necessarily agree with everything she said, but understands where she’s coming from.

And then it didn’t help that she tried to shush Jennifer when she called out the violence of Kristen’s favorite person, Malaysia. And it definitely didn’t help that she went back to other ladies and downplayed what was shared, calling out confusion over featurism, which is similar (colorism, featurism and texturism — in regards to treatment of those with looser curl patterns versus “kinky” — are often spoken about together), helping Malaysia to joke about who can “colorize” who, and giving Shaunie the reassurance that a talk with OG on the matter would be impossible because she doesn’t want to talk about feelings.

But what are feelings versus experiences? If a person points out the way in which they were treated differently from their cast, why do you need to know how they feel about it to do something about it? Why does a person need to cry or get flustered to be acknowledged?

To answer the question in my title though, I don’t think tears from OG would have really made a difference. In all the time that passed between when Season 8’s reunion happened and the filming of Season 9, if the women really wanted an understanding, they could have done some research, listened to the concerns shared by people on social media, or you know, actually contacted OG. But they didn’t and they won’t because they decided to stick with the belief that nothing was done wrong, even when so many were saying, if nothing else, they treated her unreasonably. You can dislike someone without isolating them, when in the history of the show, women who haven’t been on the best terms have still been forced to film together and interact in group settings. But because she hasn’t come off as an endearing, emotional character, crying at the mere mention of conflict but rather, defiantly ready for whomever with her words as opposed to her hands, she doesn’t get the same defense. Perhaps the belief is that she can stand on her own, as she has, because she’s built that way. She probably can, but it doesn’t make it any less unfair.

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