NY TIMES writer Teddy Wayne associated twerking with “low income African American women” in an article I read today.
"Twerking is a dance move typically associated with lower-income African-American women that involves the rapid gyration of the hips in a fashion that prominently exhibits the elasticity of the gluteal musculature. [Parents] will reasonably wonder why Miley Cyrus, who is white and wealthy, does it at every opportunity."
This was published on August 31, 2013, just two days ago. My first thought after reading was “I wonder if Melissa Harris-Perry got any sleep that night”.
In Sister Citizen, Harris-Perry explains clearly how shame and stereotypes of Black Women pull us further and further away from political recognition in this country. The belittlement of our issues are a segue to mistreatment and judgement on a much grander scale.
Plainly, black women have very little privacy and get strongly scrutinized based on false generalizations. Its hindering to our progress. These stereotypes are so deeply imbedded most aren’t ever conscious of it. I’m sure when Teddy Wayne of the New York Times associated low income and black with low class behavior, it felt like truth to him. Was it a fact? Not at all.
Views like his are projected into society by the minute setting us up for their failure. So many lies are spread about women in media and through fixed statistics. The power hungry get fed these ideas and further them. All this does is keep everyone politically “in check” so to speak.
And to be inclusive, there are black stereotypes that hinder us, and there are the sexist views that affect all women and their progression as leaders. Put them all together and what do we get? Black women are the most politically oppressed group in America. Some may wonder why I keep referring to politics but politics is more than voting booths, political parties and government. The most important part of politics is human identity. It’s important as citizens to be recognized as viable to get closer to liberation. When we always have to wrestle with derogatory assumptions about our character, it’s hard to get closer to our liberty. It’s a political tactic to keep us on the ground floor of this country.
Back to what sparked my manic disgust; Teddy Wayne. Those who believe generalizations in society with out looking deeper into the circumstances are societal drones. Societal drones would love to equate “low income” with “low class”. Low class and low income are not interchangeable. This is a tool used to make the unsettled feel unworthy. Don’t believe the hype. When I’m low income, I can change my situation, but if I believe I’m low class, I don’t deserve this job, education, opportunity or any self esteem. These were the same tactics used on chattel slaves by their masters and in abusive relationships everyday. Any situation where a person is being used and told to accept unfair treatment is abuse. “Teddy Wayne, why are you perpetuating abuse?” My last thought. Like Harris-Perry, I’m not writing because I have a solution to propagate black women as first class citizens. It’s more so to express how we feel while being in the struggle.
- Aiesha Letman