The more classes I take in which race and gender are discussed, the more I’m frustrated by the state of women of color on my white “liberal” campus. Why? Because I’m becoming aware of a new threat.
This threat is even more dangerous and harmful then the old ones I’ve become accustomed to since middle school.
“Black girls are ugly/loud/ghetto/stupid” aka undesirable
I hear a guy say this, and I already know what to expect from him.
This new threat isn’t so blatant.
In fact, it’s disguised as warm and accepting. You meet this guy and you think “Wow! Finally someone who’s figured it out! This guy not only understands our nation’s history and how embedded racism is in our society, but he also recognizes that race is just a construct and has no actual purpose beyond a system of power!”
To summarize: you think this guy can finally see the real you – color, features, vernacular included.
But then you see him toting the very definition of European beauty on his arm.
I call this guy, The Enlightened Brotha.
The Enlightened Brotha is a threat because he can be a man of color or non-color. While the ones of non-color are more numerous on campus, the ones of color are more dangerous because – again – false sense of security and understanding despite our similarities. They both say “Love yourself, black and brown women, because I’m not going to,” but the Enlightened Brothas of color also say “I don’t love myself enough yet to see beauty in you, so I’ll chase after worthiness in whiter areas.”
The Enlightened Brotha wants to be a supportive voice for all people of color, and thus makes a point to stand up and support women of color who get the worst end of racism, colorism, abuse, and erasure. He uplifts women of color, making them feel validated and cared for. The guard that women of color have carried since birth begins to drop as they take this man in. They trust him with their stories and all the pain and tears behind them. He makes them feel worthy and beautiful. Then he asks if her blonde friend is single.
The Enlightened Brotha is actually a threat to all because he affirms a total understanding and acceptance of people of color, but in reality doesn’t fully “get it” because he continues to affirm the idea of white superiority in his words and actions. People flock to him to hear his words of wisdom. They go to him for advice and solutions, and they trust what he says. In reality he doesn’t even follow his own advice, because all he knows is the right answer, not the truth, but his male privilege will guarantee that he will be heard.
Various reasons to dislike and distrust The Enlightened Brotha, but one of my top reasons is born out of bias.
I am a women of color who is surrounded by beautiful, intelligent, diverse, and overall extraordinary women of color. Most of them who identify as heterosexual or seek relationships with men – are single.
Out of the few who aren’t single, most are in complicated relationships where men (yes, still, of color and non-color) constantly chase them and then put them on hold, cheat with women of non-color, and ultimately fool them into thinking they are wanted and then go cold on them and call his once heartfelt promises, her hallucinations. These men go so far as to blame their inconsistent, flaky behavior on these women.
We’re here, in all our different styles, looks, opinions, characteristics, and yet remain clumped in an indistinguishable mound called woman of color, otherwise known as *Other.
*Coincidentally the same box men of color are also clumped in, but – ya know – male privilege.
We can’t be approached.
I still haven’t found an excuse that actually possesses merit.
We’re loud, intimidating, unintelligent, unattractive? But don’t you profess all these things to be gross stereotypes, Enlightened Brotha?
We’re unavailable? But didn’t I introduce you to at least ten different women of color who were available, Enlightened Brotha?
We’re so strong and independent? But aren’t we also human and still in need of the emotional, verbal, and physical love of others in not just platonic, but romantic terms as well, Enlightened Brotha?
The Enlightened Brotha can’t find a grounded reason, so he brings up preferences.
Preference: noun the state of preferring
Prefer: verb to set or hold before or above other people or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than
The Enlightened Brotha is really saying that he holds white women (or all other women who compare more closely to European standards of beauty) over women of color. He likes white and European favorable women better than women of color. He has the option of two different women who both meet his standards, but he chooses the white woman over the woman of color. He doesn’t actually know which woman is “better” for him, but he chooses one by default because he assumes she will be the better.
These assumptions and estimations are all problematic because it is clear where they are rooted: in the overarching general belief that white is right – by people of color and non-color alike.
This does not mean that you can’t find white and European favoring women attractive, or that you can’t pursue romantic relationships with them. By all means, if you like the girl go talk to her! But by the very definition of preference, you are affirming that white women are above women of color – and that it’s okay to do so!
In fact, your stupid preferences are continuing to pit all women against each other. You spur on and cheer for the race where women constantly try to outdo each other. You even fool white women into believing you love them for the beautiful individual that she is, when in fact you only love the prize that she symbolizes.
For Enlightened Brothas of non-color, she is the tie back to normal and guaranteed acceptance. For Enlightened Brothas of color, she is the hope of something more: more power, more success, more access. She is, after all, the treasure that so many black men were beaten, hung, and burned alive for so much as being capable of touching her. If that’s not power, I don’t know what is.
What I find especially insightful about The Enlightened Brotha and his racial preference defense is how this defense seems to be a favorite of all males.
They can’t help what they are more attracted to. They’ve been conditioned.
How are you so weak now, Enlightened Brotha? How can you help others understand and overcome the effects of European colonialism when you can’t even consider a black body attractive because you’ve been “conditioned”?
If you, reader, have gotten to this point without ripping out your hair, great! Please continue for more strength-testing realness.
If you, reader, are already writing a rebuttal, that’s fair! Maybe you should stop reading now because I plan to lose all sense of restraint and articulation and just go straight into ugly-loud-ghetto-stupid anger. Or keep reading, you know, to gain more talking points in your rebuttal. This might be your gold.
As the few who understand (or claim to understand) the truth of the world and the realness of black and brown conditions, and seek to be an ally and supporter of black and brown people, and want to be looked at and acknowledged by all as a role model – Enlightened Brothas – you are responsible for practicing what you preach.
WOC are the most forgotten? Then acknowledge them!
WOC are the most damaged and hurting? Then heal them!
WOC are beautiful and deserving of love? Then love them!
You have all the answers, but continue to sit on your ass.
Now, I understand that this is easier said than done. Women of color hold a world of hurt, and you’re just one man, Enlightened Brotha. That’s fair.
Then can you just admit that you aren’t worthy of the attention from women of color?
Can you please retire from your reign as savior of the black and brown universe?
Can you stop speaking on behalf of people of color? Especially women of color?
Can you stop perpetuating the image of someone who is living free and clear, when in fact you haven’t left the mud pit that is racism, colorism, abuse, and erasure – you just dragged a few philosophical texts and a copy of Invisible Man in with you?
Despite how much you think your helping, Enlightened Brotha, you’re actually hurting us. You make your mud pit of stupid look like a safe haven, when in reality the space isn’t for us. The space is for you to pat yourself on the back for understanding such complexities, or as bell hooks puts it, add a little spice to your otherwise mayo dish.
Because you more than understand, don’t you? You revel in it. You don’t just love it, you identify with it. You soak up our history, religion, and culture and display it proudly on your person and social media extensions. You fooled us into thinking we were being uplifted, when really we were becoming your room decor.
Are we really so far off in our belief that you, Enlightened Brothas, would be interested in us, women of color?
Are we really so wrong to think that you, Enlightened Brothas, might find us, women of color, desirable?
After being used, rejected, and forgotten so many times, is it so crazy, Enlightened Brothas, that we, women of color on this white “liberal” campus, would see hope in you?
You are a lot of things, Enlightened Brotha.
You are a blind confused idiotic A Tribe Called Quest lyric spittin devil smiling waste of a lie.
I hope that you continue to eat my truth, my culture, my history so much it gives you endless indigestion that all the European standards of beauty can’t cure, and after so much time spent praying for relief you have the most watery, burning, sewage of diarrhea that leaves you a hot stank mess that no shower can clean, so everyone can see you as the walking piece of sh*t you actually are.
This isn’t just anger, Enlightened Brotha. This is disappointment.
(Most Angry Braud at the moment)
P.S. Need more information on Enlightened Brotha? Refer to “Fake Deep”.