In Defense Of The Lady Gaga's Of The World, Why Clap Back At An Ally?
My big brother Victor lives by a simple truth: “I don’t know unless I am told.” When he first said this I assumed it was his way of not taking responsibility for his actions, but as I got older I realized the autonomy he employs also placed the onus on others to be expressive about whatever gratitude or gripe they may have with him.
Victor doesn’t know unless you tell him.
Black people and people of color in this country have every right to be angry, hurt, frustrated, over it and if we react out of any of these emotions, then damnit, we’ve earned it. We’re tired. We’re tired of being tired. We’re tired of defending our right to be, and more so tired of having to explain how we choose to be only for it to later be monetized and appropriated by the nearest Kardashian holding a Pepsi. It’s hard being black in America. If we’re not dealing with microaggressions at the office or on the street, we’re the victims of systemic racism.
But you know what? Some white people are tired of it too, and some (believe it or not) even want to help. But like my big brother Victor, they don’t know how to help unless they are told.
Lady Gaga took to Twitter Tuesday (Aug. 15) in the wake of the Charlottesville demonstration angry and hurt about the Tiki-torch bearing white supremacists, neo-nazis, KKK members and the plethora of Chet’s, Biff’s and Jimmy-Ray’s that all gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue on the University of Virginia's campus.
Gaga, like many, wondered if this was 1917 or 2017 and through her frustration tweeted out a question.
For the Black Community, tell us ways the non-racist white community who loves u can do better to help influence the country? #HowWeDoBetter
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) August 15, 2017
The 31-year-old’s question merited several responses. Some assumed the Joanne artist was taking shine away from the true issue at hand, while others believed the singer-songwriter’s intentions were in the right place.
And let me be clear, I get it. It’s a lot to ask an oppressed people to educate others on what they need to do to help. Gaga has access to Wi-Fi and knows how to Google, so yes, I understand why this question rubbed some the wrong way and was deemed as a lazy request and attention grabbing.
But beloveds, how is Gaga supposed to know if she is not told by those living and breathing the very oppression she wants to help dismantle?
The black community is not a monolith; we are nuanced AF. There are still so many things we must un-learn that have been passed down from previous generations and then learn for our own present-day survival. All our black experiences are also not the same. African-Americans with roots in the South may have a different narrative than West Indian/African-Americans like myself or first-generation Africans who immigrate here or Afro-Latinos, which, if we’re being honest is still a concept many black Americans struggle with accepting. So if Gaga wants to ask how she can help such a colorful and vast group, how I choose to interpret her question is, she knows she doesn’t know, so she’s asking those who do know. Why is that an issue?
Besides doing a twitter poll do u truly care? Did it have to take a current rally from the KKK for u to get it? This is our daily reality.
— Ericka Dee (@dee1_ericka) August 15, 2017
Apologize for working with R. Kelly. Be the first megastar to denounce him. https://t.co/4IeDcbFoq3
— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) August 15, 2017
Acknowledge all white ppl have inherited (&benefit from) white supremacy. Then, stop asking Black people to educate you. Do your own work.
— Rachel McKibbens (@RachelMcKibbens) August 15, 2017
This burden of oppression is too much for the black community to bear alone, so if a pop star with 68.5 million Twitter followers inquires how she can assist, and then some in that same marginalized community drag her for asking how she can assist, what message are we sending? Are we saying we don’t want help? Are we saying we don’t want to have to teach you how to help? Are we saying figure it out on your own? Do you really think it’s best to leave white people to their own devices and assume what they come up with will help the black community? You do realize HBO is still green lighting The Confederate, yes? An upcoming show created by two white men about a modern-day world in which slavery still exists. These white men think this show's concept is a good idea. The show isn't about an alternate world where white people were enslaved, or women become presidents. No, this is about modern-day slavery. So again, you want to leave white folks alone and hope the sh*t doesn't hit the fan?
*Jay Z voice* "Okay."
Gaga isn’t Tomi Lahren. Gaga isn’t David Duke and Gaga doesn’t hold a seat inside the Trump administration. She is and can be a valuable ally and if she with all her power, influence and fame is asking humbly for instruction, which will better help with our upliftment, again, what is the problem? There are so many times many of us in the black community say we need to have dialogue and real conversation with those wanting to march alongside us, yet when Gaga or any non-black person initiates conversation this is our response? We allege to not be heard, well Gaga hears us and is inquiring and some of us balk at her?
Maybe Twitter wasn't the space to ask that question. Conversations about race cannot be had in 140 characters, but the exchange needs to begin somewhere.
"She knows she doesn’t know, so she’s asking those who do know. Why is that an issue?"
There are some who believe systemic racism is a myth, that African-Americans are the privileged ones. From Gaga’s tweet, she knows that’s false but what she doesn’t know is how she can better aid in the equality of the black community so she can thus educate her non-racist white friends, or maybe some of her easily influenced Little Monsters.
Gaga and my big brother Victor don't know unless they’re told. The difference between Gaga, Victor and others is that they want to know and want to help.
So again, why the ruckus?
I get it. We’re tired. We’ve been working and fighting and crying and dying and now we’ve gotta teach too? No, we don’t, but if a potential ally wants to learn and wants to learn from you, what would you have that ally do?
If you agree with me, much love bredrin (or sistren). If not, pull up. My mentions are always open to shoot the intellectual fair one.