Why we choose to be FULL OF OURSELVES.
Hey DT family, it's been a while since we wrote to y’all and we wanted to change that.
What inspired us to have this discussion was the college basketball discussions between Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark. Angel made a “You cannot see me” gesture at Caitlin when it was pretty much already known her team was going to win. To provide a bit of backstory, we all know how sports can be competitive and Caitlin Clark (who is white) has been known to make gestures at her opponents when her team is in the clear lead. When she usually did it, as expected, she was praised, it was fun, she had a good sports spirit and she kept the game lively. However, when my good sister Angel Reese did it…lawd have mercy.
Theo: This may seem like a small, isolated incident but the remarks and the hatred Angel Reese got for being confident, knowing and owning that she was the best in the game and being proud of herself and her teammates (yes even being a little petty towards Caitlin and returning her gestures) reminded me of great black women like Beyonce and Serena Williams who are always being shat on for having “god complexes”.
It reminded me that femme queer black people are never allowed to thrive or own themselves in the black or gay community. When they do, they are either met with disgust or with a “who do they think they are?” attitude. Black women and femme-presenting queer people are constantly reminded to be “humble”. Society reminds them they should stay in their place.
Watching the response to Angel Reese proudly being FULL OF HERSELF like she SHOULD, was yet another reminder of misogynoir: which I think is mainly for women but can also be applied to queer people. I was too familiar with the negative reaction to Angel Reese, to be honest, and it was triggering.
Toluse: I think people still see black women based on the stereotypes of black women as aggressive and angry, and also the notion that black women are ‘stronger’ than others. It’s why black women are expected to always be humble and calm and are never allowed to be competitive in the same way their white counterparts are.
When a black woman is successful and confident, society questions and prods and places ridiculous standards on her. A black woman’s confidence is almost always translated to being ‘intimidating’ or ‘mean’. Being a black woman means being asked to ‘play the game’ of society. You are expected to comport yourself in a way that is digestible for others, that makes them feel more comfortable and less threatened.
For us black women, this means being smaller, being unable to celebrate wins lest risk being called a sore winner. It means having to think about what your hair says, what your clothes say. It means that as a black woman, you are allowed to be successful as long as you are ‘humble’ and as long as superlatives like ‘best’ and ‘greatest’ are not used. As long as you know your place.
Theo: Applying this to the personal, I think we are victims of this a lot, I know there are several times we’ve had deep conversations because people questioned our page, our thought process, or an article we took time to plan, write, and edit. We then give the end result, without really saying much, and because we do not give much information about our personal lives, it's like “What authority do you have to say this?”. Misogynoir means that when you embrace the ‘feminine’ or embody it, you will always be treated with suspicion. When you talk about your accomplishments, you ‘brag a lot’ and ‘how dare you’. And when you do not, the conversation becomes about your lack of authority.
I think it is why we often have long calls of us bigging up ourselves because in the beautiful words of Kelechi Nekoff, “Who else would I be full of but myself? And perhaps the holy spirit?”. Lmao. That really sent me.
But the honest truth is that I walk around knowing that when it comes to certain things, I know I am one of the best because I have worked hard at it. Even the reluctance to say that is laughable because I have met mediocre white men who say this with no qualms, and personally I will never judge because mehnn everyone deserves to feel like the best. And if they can say it, why can I not say it?
Call it god complex, superiority complex…whatever terminology you want to call it, but I will not reduce myself to make you comfortable. I know my worth, what I have to offer, and my value. Gone are the day's black people occupied spaces and were made to feel “grateful”. Fuck that shit, I walk owning my shit every day, try and check me.
Toluse: Definitely. I think there are everyday consequences/effects of misogynoir. It’s often talked about in the context of black women who have achieved a high and publicised level of success, but it very much affects all black people and how we see ourselves and our losses and wins. Dark-skinned black women know that they’re already at a disadvantage because of their skin colour and tone. They will need to fight harder to receive their flowers and when they demand recognition they will be scrutinised.
The truth is that it has never been about humility or being a gracious winner; it’s about people being uncomfortable with the fact that you are winning. It’s the idea that misogynoir has allowed you to think that black women are only capable of so much. It’s sad that we have to do so much self-work because the world is determined to tear us down. I wonder if white men whose success is never questioned need to wake up and do morning affirmations. I wonder if they have to be intentional in teaching their daughters to love their hair and skin. I wonder if they need to prepare for the fact that their confidence and self-worth would be mistaken for arrogance. It is exhausting constantly being policed.