The first episode of the Black Girl Dangerous podcast is here! Listen to Black Girl Dangerous herself—Mia McKenzie—and guest co-host Shaadi Devereaux talk Nicki/Taylor/Miley, Ashley Madison, chasing wild turkeys, Idris Elba, Black Lives Matter and more! (full transcript below)
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MM: Hey everybody, I’m Mia McKenzie and this is the Black Girl Dangerous podcast. Welcome. This is our first pod cast and joining me for this debut pod cast is the amazing, hilarious, brilliant, Shaadi, formerly @tgirlinterrupted and now, @twitterhoney [laughs]. So she is joining me and we are gonna talk about some things that are on our minds today, some interesting news items. Some stuff that we are just dying to weigh in on and so on and so forth. So, hey Shaadi!
MM: How are you doing?
SD: I’m good. How are you?
MM: We just had some technical difficulties of epic proportions [laughs]. So the last hour we have been like, “Why can’t I see you?” [laughs]. So glad this is figured out and now we can see each other. A bit about me and what’s going on in my life at the moment. I live in the woods, I newly live in the woods, and um… there’s a lot of critters about. There’s hella… it’s the woods, so you would think. But it’s a lot. There’s spiders, lots of daddy long legs, frogs, but the thing that’s really bothering me lately is the turkeys. There’s wild turkeys. And the wild turkeys, they come and they get in the yard, a flock of them and they get turkey shit everywhere, and they are really weird and I don’t like them. And I read this thing that said if you want to get rid of wild turkeys, they have this pecking order, and so you basically have to establish yourself as the dominant animal. You have run them off, you have to run after them and flail your arms and like, “gaw gaw!”, I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m an Aries, but what I take this to mean is that you have to be really mean to the turkeys. So I’ll chase the turkeys and be like, “Get the fuck out of here you ugly dirty stupid turkey, with your stupid ugly face.” Like, really loudly.
SD: You’re like the queen bitch turkey now, basically.
MM: Right. I’m the queen bitch turkey. We’ve had a couple of incidents where I had to run them off. But now I have super soaker [ laughs]. Sometimes when I run them off, they leave the hard, but they will fly off into the trees, and I can like hear them, making their like [makes gobble noises] turkey gobble sounds, “gobble, gobble, gobble”. So now I am going to get a super soaker, so when they fly into the trees I can just squirt them. I actually read – I am not being cruel to animals – like I read on the SPCA website, this is what they say to do. So [laughs]
SD: But the turkeys, you colonizing where the turkeys live. Because the turkeys are like, “who is this bitch, like, coming up in here?”
MM: Yeah, that’s accurate.
MM: [laughs] But that’s ok because they are weird so I feel like it’s alright. So that’s basically what’s going on in my domestic life at the moment. Do you have any domestic life stories that you would like to share?
MM: [laughs] I see you. Alright so let’s get to some of our news items and the things that are going on. So today, I know you heard cuz I saw you on twitter talking about it and I also woke up to the news that the dude who wrote the James Bond books said that he didn’t think that Idris Elba would make a good James Bond because he’s “too street”. So what do you think about that? Idris Elba is too street to play James Bond? [laughs]
SD: Right, I mean, ok so what’s the dude’s name, like, Daniel Craig – was that the last Bond movie? Or maybe the one before that? I don’t know. He’s so hood. But like, white. He looks a little rough. Like he looks like a semi truck ran over his face, like, he eats nails for breakfast.
MM: [laughs] Right. He looks like somebody put spikes on the tires of a bike and just like backed it up
SD: In a hot way. Like somebody said he drunk like a Heineken in the last movie. Like we already passed the meter for James Bond being hood.
SD: We’re already there. But like Idris is an actor so he can audition for the part. Like, he’s not gonna go up there and act like he’s from… I don’t know what are the hood neighborhoods in London? I don’t know, whatever those are, he’s not gonna go up in there doing that, like Idris is trying to get his money, so like, he’s gonna play whatever you want him to play. Because that’s what actors do, they act. Right. So, I don’t know, I was kind of just like breaking down on twitter, basically it’s not about where Idris is from, it’s about the fact that the whole James Bond franchsie is basically built on this white male colonial fantasy, this white settler fantasy, where you can travel the world, you are saving the world, you have sexual access to every woman that you come across, you can move across any border that you want to and basically you having sex with every girl that you coming in contact with, moving across every border, is the only thing that’s keeping the world from complete chaos, keeping the world together. James Bond is this white male fantasy that everyone has. He’s carrying out these goals of the Brisith empire and he’s making it look sexy and classy. When you really want to get into it. A real agent will probably look more like James Curic, I forgot his name, will probably look more like him. Si this really isn’t about whether Idris is whatever, it’s about what they are ruining. Idris ruining this white male wet dream fantasy.
MM: It’s funny because they guy was like, it’s not about color, he’s too street. And I guess they asked him about a black actor that he thought would be a good James Bond, and I already forgot his name. It’s so funny, I guess this is the way of saying that it’s not about color because I think this other black actor would be good
SD: But they still wouldn’t hire him…
MM: Exactly. And I don’t even remember the dude’s name. Most people have never heard of him and there’s no buzz around him possibly being James Bond so it’s very easy to say, “Oh yeah I mean I know this other black guy” who you know is never gonna be up for it. I mean like, “my mail man, he’s suave enough and also he’s black and he could do it.” But nobody’s trying to hire your mailman, dude. It’s too easy to just name a black dude who you know would never get the part because no one has every heard of him.
SD: Exactly. I’m just trying to be the next bond girl, but like, I know that sounds contradictory
SD: Like, it’s not necessarily a role that you want. Basically the role of every bond girl is just, to like, to basically have sex with him. Like you have this troubled past, you’re a bond girl, he doesn’t know if he can trust you, but he still puts his dick in you, even though you could like bite it off and the whole movie would be over, but like, you know she has this troubled past and by the end he fucks her so good that she’s like on his side or something, or maybe she always was, I don’t know, whatever. Like, I’m here for the glamour and I just want like that red carpet moment, like, for you to go across there, and then I’m gonna use the platform to like completely shit on everybody, and talk about white people and patriarchy all day.
MM: [laughs] Another pop culture thing that has been going on, there is this like Nicki Minaj, uh Taylor Switft, and now Miley Cyrus is involved and there’s this whole thing going on. So what I know is that last week or the week before Nicki Minaj was tweeting about not getting the props she felt she deserved in terms of VMA nominations right, MTV awards nominations, and she was talking about how if you are white and skinny then you get a lot more respect but not being that, then you don’t, and then Taylor Swift acted like a white girl and was like [in a high pitched voice] “Oh are you talking about me, Nicki?” Whatever, and Nicki was like, “Girl, aint’ nobody talking about you.” Fast forward and Miley Cyrus chimed in and then Nicki, on the VMA awards show, was like…
SD: Yeah, well it’s kind of funny because Miley and Taylor, did the same thing, but one actually had enough sense to do some damage control afterwards. Cuz, basically, Nicki Minaj was saying, “year after year we nominate these girls for these videos, they are always really thin, they are always white. They have the same body type, they have the same hair, whatever, this and that.” And we’re like, “Oh it’s so ground breaking, talk about feminism blah, blah, blah, but we have to represent everyone”, and we snub, like you know, black women’s creative work, and it’s just making these really amazing social commentary about media, music, mtv and like Taylor comes and is like, “Hey, I did so much for you”
MM: Straight up Ms. Millie
SD: Exactly. You know like, she goes through this, like um, you know when you are doing domestic work and the woman whose house you’re cleaning and she gives you like an extra wrapping of salt pork and tells you to take it home to your kids and then when you’re like, “Ms. Millie, you need to pay me more or like, I want freedom”, she’s like, “Look at all that I’ve done for you! Why are you doing this to me? Haven’t I been good to you girl?”
So, she makes it about her, like, “I I really love your work and everything that you do and really makes it about her, like Nicki Minaj is talking about her, which I mean, technically, the only reason that you are there is because of those things, I mean cuz you’re kind of mediocre. But whatever, that’s beside the point. Some people like her, whatever, I won’t call her mediocre. But it’s really not at all about her. And then I think she realizes it. I think Taylor Swift was expecting people to do like the usual white thing, where people see white woman in tears or being attacked, and then are like, “Yo, why would you do that to her?” and rallying around her. But people been on the internet lately. And getting on that other stuff.
SD: So people were like, naw girl, it’s not about you. Go sit down. And she was like, “oh wait, it’s not about me.” She was able to not have a further meltdown and to be like, “Oh, I’m sorry, yeah you guys are right”. I don’t know maybe somebody snatched her aside that she knows in real life. I don’t know. I don’t see her having black friends that would do that.
MM: [laughs] Yeah, I can’t picture Jay-Z being like, “Hey, yo girl, um, that ain’t cool. What you doing on Twitter? Log off.”
SD: Exactly. Like, if she did have black friends I don’t think that they would be the type to tell her to log off. They seem like they would be the colorblind type. But whatever, she realized she looked real extra real extra. And was like, “Oh I’m sorry girl.” Like woopty woo woo, it’s over. And you would think Miley would have learned her lesson. And would have been like, “oh, she got her edges snatched. Like I don’t want my… I don’t want my, you know, Ireland remy, whatever they be wearing, snatched too.
MM: [laughs] IRELAND REMY??!!!!!!
SD: Cuz you know, she be wearing Hannah Montana wigs, so I don’t know, maybe she’s not scared of getting that snatched. But whatever, she wasn’t scared. She was like, “my edges are good. I got them gelled down for they life. I’m not scared.”
MM: [laughs] Right, I mean and just pause. It does seem like, when these things happen, typically, a white girl can never learn from the mistakes of another white girl. Like they can’t see it and be like, “ok, girl I see what happened there. I’ma just… that ain’t gonna be me next week.” But, they just kind of do the same thing.
SD: Cuz that’s what I do. Like, if I see a girl, she gets into a fight, she gets her ass beat, like, this girl straight up drags her, I be like, “Ooh girl I ain’t gonna mess with her.”
SD: And she basically tried to allude that Nicki was also coming for her the year before last completely forgotten about VMA awards when she was like on a chain, like but naked or something, singing about, I don’t know, some shit, whatever the fuck she sings about, like. So basically her old dusty ass award, tries to make it like, Nicki Minaj is suckling her, when like, whatever, it’s like, it’s not about you. And that’s how sub tweets work. Like sub tweets are real dangerous cuz they are casualties and I feel like Miley was a casualty of the subtweet, she was like, taking it like she was talking about her, she does the same thing, and is like, “Well I think that Nicki Minaj shouldn’t make it about herself, and what she should have said was…” So, Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana, Ms. Double Life, is now telling us what black people – black women – need to say on media. She was like, “Well, what I think that you should have done” and makes it about Miley…
MM: “There’s a certain way that you have to talk to people about these things” kind of bull shit.
SD: yeah. I think she said something like, “If you want to talk about race there’s a certain way that you should do it.” When actually, the way Nicki said it was perfect and it resonated with so many people who actually live that experience. Fast forward, Miley’s in the VMA’s acting the fool, doing something, I don’t know what she did with black man, said something like, invoked ASAP Rocky’s name, and they cut to him in the audience and he’s either saying, “Why the fuck did she say that or say my name?” or he’s saying, “I don’t know her.” The verdict is still out.
And I don’t even know what she was wearing. Like eggs. Like she was trying to do something. She was trying to be Rihanna, but like, but like she was trying to pull some like TLC with like the egg yolks thing, like I don’t know. Like this bitch was trying to channel every black woman and Madonna, like make a chimera black woman with like a white woman’s spirit. This girl is the devil. So she does this, says all this stuff, and then apparently Kanye made some critique that people are saying was good, I don’t know whatever. I didn’t watch it.
MM: I didn’t watch it either.
SD: Then he leaves the stage and then she comes on the stage and is like, “Oh Kanye, you so cute, you so crazy.” And basically like delegitimizes everything he said, like he’s a kid or something. Like “That Kanye, he’s so crazy”, and that’s how she does all these people who are sitting here talking about institutional racism. And I also heard that MTV had like a drop, like they added a number of broadcasts, like a really large number of broadcasts, but their viewership dropped, also kinda calls into question how relevant will the VMAs be and causing them to think how relevant any media, whether it be award shows, whether it be publications, if they are not speaking to young audiences that are made more aware. Not necessarily chanting Black Lives Matter, but like, to some degree are aware of these things, and if they can’t handle these conversations in like a serious way, rather than like using Miley Cyrus, cuz like why did they have her as the host. Basically it was like a Miley Cyrus variety network, but like, racist.
MM: I mean they basically like, after all the controversy surrounding Miley Cyrus since that last award show when she was doing weird things, and just all the critique from black women about her and about appropriation and all this stuff, like, to make a decision and be like, “Oh we gonna put Miley Cyrus as the host.” I mean it kind of shows the same old same old thing, where they think they can use this controversy and that it’s gonna create more viewership. Rather than what actually happened, which was people being like, uh, no, thank you.
SD: Exactly. And there is even the questions as to whether they were using Miley Cyrus, like they knew she was gonna be a train wreck, in addition to all this controversy that she would stir up around black women. They were like, oh yeah, this is a moneymaker. But apparently that didn’t happen. So it will be interesting to see if media keeps doing the same thing or it changes and kind of adapts – gets more black women in there as writers to help decide what the shows look like, all of that. Cuz, I mean these conversations aren’t going to stop. Like Nicki Minaj is talking. Other people are talking. Like Taylor swift has admitted publicly, like Taylor Swift is like the queen of the white girls, and she has admitted publically that she made a mistake. That it wasn’t about her. Has taken a step back. You know, um, and Nicki has the floor again. I think it will be interesting to see, like in the future… but yeah that was a mess.
MM: Yeah, it was a mess. Basically when Nicki was like, “What’s good, Miley? What’s good?”
MM: Like, Miley tried to pull a, “Huh, what? Me?” type shit.
SD: [laughs] Right.
SD: She pulled the – was that in America’s next top model? – where the girl was like, “I don’t understand”. The girl tried to act like she was speaking a different language? Yeah, right. Girl, you know what that face meant though, cuz I was scared.
MM: Seriously. But yo, I mean, don’t start none and there won’t be none.
SD: Right. And people are looking at it like Nicki being really aggressive. And maybe she was being aggressive, whatever. But there’s a thing where I think Nicki is saying more than just to Miley Cyrus. Like, because every time Nicki talks about her agency or her whatever, her this or her that, some white girl jumps up and makes it about her and just starts talking real reckless, using all this classist language, calling her rude, “oh you know how Nicki is.” I really feel like Nicki was asserting a boundary there.
SD: Right. Nicki was “um, no, this is not going down anymore” and like asserting a boundary like she’s just tired of it. Like, she can’t even talk about the sky being blue without some girl jumping up, making it about her. And it’s kind of funny too that like MC battles with women, that we saw anyway, rap battles are usually between rappers. But Nicki’s battles are between this sect of white feminism that thinks they can tell her what to do, who like own this industry. So, it’s funny like this juxtaposition.
SD: (20:25) That’s the real mafia: don’t watch out for Suge Knight and all of them, girl: forget that. I mean I’m scared of all of them too—but White girls! That’s who you really need to watch out for. They got the industry in their little section online and they’re supported by the White men in the industry who let them—who carve out and let them have their little space or whatever.
And like clearly: whenever she [Nicki Minaj] talks, who’s coming for her? It’s not White men. It’s these women who are in media with her and who are owning media and who are making all these moves in media. That’s who’s coming for her. So yeah.
MM: Yeah. It’s really interesting to see. And this is what—I’m not, I mean, I’ll be—full disclosure: I’m not a Nicki Minaj fan, mostly because I’m old and I don’t listen to “the young folks’ music” [laughs]. I saw the “Anaconda” video; maybe saw some snippets of videos, but I don’t know any of her songs, I don’t know any of this stuff. I don’t know any of Taylor Swift’s songs. I don’t know any of Miley Cyrus’ songs. So there you go.
[21:27] Like Nicki Minaj, what I think is really interesting about her and what I like about her in this whole situation is that when she was—like you said: I think she was definitely putting down a boundary and being like “Ok. Enough of this bullshit. These women, y’know, these White girls keep coming for me and coming for me, and I’m just sick of this shit.”
And I think it’s really interesting that she didn’t—the way that she brought it, the way that she came at Miley, was so not trying to sort of fit into this mold—so not—completely rejecting the whole “Don’t be the Angry Black Girl” thing, or “Don’t be the Scary Black Girl” thing. She was like “[claps hand] Fuck it!”
And that to me, when I watched the video, I was just like “Ooh girl, yes!” Y’know? Like not being like “Ok, now I’m going to play into this game or whatever, because I don’t want people to see me as this image, or think I’m this or that.” But [she] was really like “Fuck it. I’m pissed. And you’re about to see how pissed I am right now.” Which I just, I know, I have to say, I loved.
[22:26] SD: No I loved it too. Especially because she thanked her pastor before. [laughs] I feel like her pastor would’ve been there for it. I feel like her pastor would’ve been like “Girl, c’mon, we gon pray and get you together. Like maybe you shouldn’t have said that, but girl, I understand. You have to handle your business, girl.” Like Pastor [Lydia] or whatever her name was, I feel like she would’ve been like “Handle your business, girl.”
I don’t know. I loved that she did it like back-to-back: “I’m saved but I’m a work in progress. I’m not that saved,” basically.
SD: She’s like “I got a little sense but, like, not that much sense.” [laughter]
MM: I was off of the internets. I was like in transition, I just wasn’t being—doing a whole lot on social media; I was taking a break. And apparently in this time there was this whole—this Ashley Madison thing happened. Right? Where as far as I know, it’s like a website where if you’re married and you looking to get it on with someone you ain’t married to, then you sign up for this and find you somebody to cheat with. And then that thing was hacked and then all these people’s information who were on this site got revealed. So that happened. And then people were talking about—oh this whole thing about privacy, and—
[23:48] SD: The first thing I was kind of thinking about was it in relation to sex work? Like, which may sound weird, because I don’t think Ashley Madison was like a pay [for sex] site. But specifically around a lot of legislation that people are pushing for, where they are pushing against, where they don’t want sex work to be legalized. But here you have—because I think the CEO after this happened, he stepped down. But I started thinking about like Tinder, I started thinking about Ashley Madison, all of these sites that are basically like these corporations that are making a huge amount of money off the relationships and the type of relationships that men want to have, by creating this online presence where you have this market of women who is needing—whether you want to consider it an advertisement or whatever that these men are wanting to meet their needs or whatever. That’s like “Ladies Night”; when you have Ladies Night where at a point, it’s free…
[24:44] So basically I started thinking about this CEO was making this huge amount of money doing this… And I think he stepped down because of the privacy issues. Because if you, y’know, are doing something like that, you need to be protecting the anonymity of the people that you’re offering this service to. And that’s part of having your business model that way: if your clients want that anonymity, then they should be entitled to that. And so you as a provider need to provide that to them. So I think—and I think there are some lawsuits now as well that he—the company is having to face.
[25:27] So y’know I really started to think about desire. Especially being a trans woman and being Black and having these identities, and being Afro-Indigenous—all of these identities that have this really complex and often violent and secret sexual histories. So particularly, even in New Orleans, we had this kind of situation called plaçage. We would have these bars. Men would pay to come to these bars. And there would be multi-racial women who had kind of like, who were idealized as these beautiful women. So these men, these White men, would come, they would have plantations in the north or further south of New Orleans and they would come to the city of New Orleans, to have—to these bars, and they would find a woman and set up shop with her and have this secret little family in the city of New Orleans. And when their plantation season would allow, they would come and spend time with this secret family that they had.
[26:34] So I come from a context of this secret, as being Black women, and being a trans woman, of this economy of desire, where you fall on the outside of it, so you aren’t afforded some of the places that women have who are seen as… the placeholders of real womanhood. But how people operate outside of that desire is something that I think of. So I’m not always like “Oh well, this is simply a cheaters’ situation versus a non-cheaters’ situation,” though that’s definitely the case and these men are clearly—is it only men?—violating the bond that they have with their partners. That’s also true.
But we live in a very complex society. And I think it’s sad that they’re the ones making the choices because obviously they have the most power in the situation. So there’s definitely that angle to it. But we do live in a society where like desire is something that people have to search for these other channels to actually satiate their desires or actually to explore it in a close-to-authentic way. Because if it’s not authentic it ends up resulting in things like fetish and all of these things, but in all of these other sites and avenues like Ashley Madison are people who the script tells them, “This is what I should be attracted to, this is who I need to marry, this is who it is socially acceptable to be with, this is what will advance me career-wise”—whatever, whatever.
And they do this. And they pursue—but desire doesn’t work that way. You can’t box desire into something and contract it the same way you can those other things. So this is how people are seeking desire. And I think that to a certain degree people should be protected—depending on the situation—when they are seeking that desire. It really is depending on the situation and the person.
And I’m really thinking of my safety if a man, let’s say a man, who’s pursuing that desire for—and doesn’t want anyone to know that and is pursuing that desire in another way: if that becomes showcased or broadcast, it often ends up resulting in violence, or further violence, against the actual trans woman. It’s put a spotlight on and how he deals with that is—first of all people start by fetishizing the trans woman, saying like, “That’s the scandal,” the scandal is the trans woman’s body, not anything else… and that he’s “abnormal” for having this desire in the first place—not even necessarily—it’s not even about him betraying the trust of his partner or anything, it’s just that he has this desire in the first place. And often the result of that ends up being this hypervisibility on the trans woman. And how he kind of rectifies that is by doing harm to her in some way, whether that’s killing a trans woman, whether that’s hurting her, whether that’s further ridiculing her. So those are some of the angles that I was coming from when I was thinking about the Ashley Madison thing.
[29:47] SD: So I think it’ll be interesting how corporations that really want to market off of pursuing—off of providing channels for people to pursue desire, or whatever relationships they may want to have. Like Tinder, like Ashley Madison, like these other places: how they’ll develop business models and then how, y’know, we as a society will view those versus actual sex workers and people or just women who wanna… they don’t want that intermediary. They wanna be able to offer whatever services they have from their time and attention and to be able to be compensated for that in some way, whether it’s emotionally or it’s monetarily; whether it’s whatever—and to not be criminalized for that, ‘cause there are certainly markets that are making lots of money.
[30:36] MM: I want to talk about the…Black Lives Matter movement, and y’know it’s so interesting to see how in the last, I guess it’s a little bit over a year, with the killing of Mike Brown and like everything that’s happened after the killing of Mike Brown, in terms of this very—this movement that’s had a lot of press, a lot of attention from media, around police brutality that folks call the Black Lives Matter movement. And just to see how all that has grown, how it’s erupted and just sort of become all of these things that some people don’t really understand what it is or what it isn’t, or who’s connected to it or who’s not, or how people are or how they’re not, and just this kind of—For me it’s an amazing thing to sort of watch just sort of watch it all.
[31:41] Which sounds strange because I don’t necessarily think of myself as—I mean I don’t think of myself as necessarily part of the Black Lives Matter movement. And at the same time I don’t necessarily think of myself as not part of it. I don’t know. It’s just sort of a weird—it’s just sort of strange, and I think part of that strangeness comes the idea of Black Lives Matter as this group of folks who started that hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, who have an organization that’s called Black Lives Matter[.org] that was founded by queer Black women, and then out of that, once things started to get a certain kind of attention and people started to use that hashtag to talk about police brutality and all the things—sort of the hashtag, the organization, sort of became enmeshed with the larger—the larger movement.
And now it’s sort of sometimes hard for people separate out? I don’t know if separating it out is necessarily good or bad but it’s hard for people to separate out the organization from the larger movement. And so that is creating, it seems every week it’s creating confusions and tensions for folks. And recently there was some stuff happening on Twitter around, y’know, who’s part of the movement and who’s not part of the movement; y’know who’s legitimate spokespeople for the movement or not; who’s getting attention and credit and, y’know, press time, and who’s not. And all these sorts of things about who is “Black Lives Matter” and who’s not. And it’s just really fascinating to me. And, y’know, it’s a lot! It’s a lot.
[33:32] So what do you think about any or all of those things. Like what—I know you—I saw you on Twitter talking about stuff like invisibilization of y’know the women who started the movement—in terms of the hashtag, and the organization.
[33:55] So I think—first of all, Black Lives Matter is a couple of things. And whether that was the creators’ intention or not maybe in some ways doesn’t matter and in some ways it does matter. So for instance, the way that social media works, using #BlackLivesMatter—I think it was, yeah I think it was, already an organization when they started using the hashtag—but like using that as a hashtag gives it another life where it operates as a movement as well, so it’s also like a rallying cry, it’s a movement. So it’s all of these different things. And when it came to social media, like things honestly can take on a life of their own unrelated to people’s—you know, just whatever is going on in the landscape of the people that are using like some of the media messaging in the hashtag—whatever. So in some ways I think it just took on a life of its own and I don’t know if that was their intention or not; most likely it was. But so like it is more than an organization and I think at this point too, but there’s this weird thing also that like I hear people like even on C-SPAN or whatever will talk about like “Black Lives Matter activists did this or that” and it’s like very vague and unclear, which is fine but there is also—so there is also like a lack of understanding of who exactly people are talking about. And I don’t mean like y’know credit or anything, but just moreso like who are the actual actors that you’re talking about? Or is this just a catchall kind of phrase for you of Black people who are just doing anything anywhere?
MM: Right. Right. Right
SD: Which, I mean, maybe, to a certain degree, as Black people if we’re talking about ourselves that’s fine, but it kind of can take on another tone when like White people are doing it? I don’t know if that makes sense. Um—
MM: Totally. Totally. Y’know I’m reading this book right now called This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed—and it’s about the civil rights movement and all the non-violent parts of the civil rights movement. And it’s just a really good reminder of how—it makes me think a lot in terms of the current Black Lives Matter movement, and this idea that—when we think about the civil rights movement, and we think about the most famous people who were involved in the civil rights movement, when we talk about it now, those are the people that we’re thinking about. Those are the people that come [to mind]: Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, are kind of the main center in that nonviolent movement, at the center of that now when we think and talk about the civil rights movement. But then in fact the civil rights movement was this huge thing. There was so much more than the SCLC. And so much more than even the many, many, sort of middle-class, mostly, Black organizations that were really prominent in the movement: there were a lot of other people involved, and those people didn’t necessarily—their tactics and their beliefs around action were not in line with the SCLC and those folks. There were people just so far opposed to each other, all involved in the civil rights movement: they weren’t necessarily all working together or sharing actions and strategies, but they were all part of the civil rights movement. And so thinking of Black Lives Matter now, and when we see this sort of very—and I don’t think that people are—people probably do have a lot of different ideologies and things—but somehow, and this is because, y’know… we aren’t taught the history of the civil rights movement in any sort of real way anymore… and we see this [what’s happening now] as different, as some sort of, as creating these tensions in the Black Lives Matter movement. When really it’s just how movements always are to a certain extent. Right?
SD: Yeah. Well, so the— I think that there had been some stuff happening before that just hadn’t taken off. This most recent thing that made it really take off was the Bernie Sanders wanting to talk to—I guess apparently he had already asked the Black Lives Matter organization to meet with him but they [said ] y’know the timing wasn’t right, and they had specific messaging and wanted specific terms to meet with him with, all of this kind of thing. And then he kind of reached out I guess afterwards to DeRay [McKesson] on this kind of really macho “I’ll talk when you’re ready to talk! Arrggh! You be there, I’ll be there! Arrrggh!” So what I think was an attempt so he could say “Look, I met with these people, I met with the Black Lives Matter, that’s done, I did my job on that” as opposed to actually engaging these Black women in a very real and purposeful way on their own terms. So I feel like that happens a lot. I feel like people latch on to male figures, and in many cases I’ve seen it happen with, y’know, DeRay, and maybe even some others, where they’ll latch on to these kind of male figures instead of dealing with really real and like powerful engagement of Black women who they’re not equipped to really engage in a way because it will kind of reveal how they aren’t prepared for leadership or aren’t prepared for—or their policy is not properly thought out or prepared because y’know, this is very real critique and very nuanced, and the things that Black women online and in different spaces are saying, people don’t really want to engage in meaningful ways and would kind of rather at lot of times latch on to people who occupy certain social positions—whether it’s being a man, whether it’s being this or whether it’s being that—as opposed to some kind of real engagement. I feel like that kind of work is—and not that they don’t engage whoever the person that is occupying that role in real ways too, but they kind of use it to not really engage in some other ways that are very real and necessary.
[40:14] So I think that’s how I was kind of looking at some of it, and which is what makes some of it difficult for me, which is why there’s even a reason that we have to distinguish—if there needs to be a reason; I don’t know, that still remains to be seen, between, y’know, who are the people who have started the—who are the people who have this organization and are doing things behind the name versus who we attach the name to, who fits our whatever better.
So, y’know, I don’t know because another thing that happened was there’s a popular activist who said some classist things about I think mostly DeRay but maybe about Netta [Johnetta Elzie] too maybe—so anyway, these are things that have been going on with other women online before that had been called attention to.
Not only this but other things in relation to some of the things that I’ve seen them go through but women with a lower social position have gone through and have called attention to. But people refuse to engage. Refuse, refuse, refuse, constantly, to engage in many meaningful different ways. There are a number of activists who had done some kind of stuff like this, like been online, like really anti-Black misogynist, like classist, like all these kinds of things from a number of places and organizations. And this is, this has been pointed out but yknow they refuse to engage with Black women, and only when it came to, y’know, these other people, then it became a problem. Then it was like y’know, whatever.
[41:50] So they kind of used those people to kind of gloss over meaningful engagement with certain Black women in different spaces online and off, but then when it came to, y’know, kind of these other people, then all of a sudden it was an issue and it had to be dealt with and like there were these big blow ups. That’s why these things seem like blow ups that really didn’t have to be blow ups—like “Oh my god, where did all this come from?! Oh my god! Everybody’s fighting!” No. These are actually things have been occurring, y’know, dynamics in our movements of not centering women and not centering marginalized women and the most marginalized, and not listening to people’s voices until we felt like we had a megaphone or like a filter that we could accept. So I feel like it’s kind of like a filtered movement. So people—once these messages and certain things are filtered through voices and bodies they can accept, then it’s ok. But real meaningful engagement with some of the original sources and some of the people who are living at the most vulnerable intersections isn’t really happening. And when that doesn’t happen, we’re surprised at these blow-ups because they seem like they’re out of nowhere but actually they’re a result of our movement not engaging certain people. So I think that’s where I am on that. I probably left something out, but yeah.
[43:11] MM: When I think about all of these things and all of the dynamics and all of the tensions, which seems to me to be very normal, but I think people will make it out to be—y’know I think like Wesley Lowrey from I think the Washington Post when some arguing was going on Twitter, he’s tweeting about “Oh, the Black Lives Matter activists are undermining the movement.”
SD: Hell no.
MM: Which—four people arguing on Twitter is undermining the movement? I mean the ways that people look at it are very strange to me. Thinking about it again in terms of the civil rights movement, again, it’s like Martin Luther King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference are in a way at the center of that movement. Does that mean that Malcolm X isn’t part of the civil rights movement? Of course not. That’s preposterous. They share almost none of the same even ideas [or] tactics around movement work, but I mean no one would say, Malcolm X is not really part of the civil rights movement. Or so many other people. Because I think that at least now, and I don’t know what happened at that time in terms of the way people thought about it, but it seems now, that was a really, really, big movement, with a lot of different people involved, with a lot of different ways, with a lot of different tactics, a lot of different strategies. One thing’s going on over here, in Birmingham, and something completely different is going over here in Chicago, and it’s all the same movement. But it’s not—if they’re arguing, nothing’s undermined—it’s a huge thing involving hundreds of thousands of people.
[44:58] But somehow when we look at the Black Lives Matter movement now, and again maybe this is partly because of the name, it’s all meshed in there together and hard to separate out, we seem to not be able to grasp that it’s the same. I mean the movement is made of up hundreds of thousands of people who are doing so many different things in their local communities, and then of course there are certain male figures who are more known, who are seen on Twitter, who are seen on CNN, but [it’s] a larger thing. And I just—it’s very interesting to see the ways that these things play out and the ways that people talk about the Black Lives Matter movement as this one thing involving this one group of people. It’s weird.
[46:00] And that’s not to say—I mean I do think that the people who started the organization and created the hashtag, which has then grown into something else—I think that that and the work that they do—obviously they’re doing a lot of work. But I just think that sometimes we’re not always able to appreciate the ways that, like you’ve said, it’s taken on a life of its own and grown into this larger thing. And the question that I have is, do we need a different name for the movement?
[46:36] SD: I think it’s a really good name. I just think we need to be more conscious of how we engage Black women and the work that they are doing, and, yeah, to be really conscious of how we are interacting with and how we’re allowing others to interact with Black women, especially really marginalized Black women, really different identities or multiple identities. I think that’s the answer. I think the name is a really good name and it speaks for—it speaks on so many levels—metaphysical, like it has so many different meanings and it’s also very matter of fact. So I think the name is great and I think I’m sure the creators of it wouldn’t want the name changed necessarily—or I don’t know; maybe they would! I can’t speak for them. But I think that is the answer: really conscious engagement, I think, is the answer. Until we deal with certain identities in very real ways, like trans women, queer women, disabled women—like all kinds of Black women from different identities, I feel like it doesn’t matter. Those are the roots of it: our classism, our everything.
[47:49] Because part of the thing is the naming why who named it [Black Lives Matter] is so important. It’s not just because “Hey, queer Black women came up with this great name because queer Black women are awesome.” Which is certainly true! But it’s also because this idea of what it needs to be called, this rallying cry came from the experiences of marginalized women who were living lives at the intersections of all of this violence, who were the most vulnerable to it. And that this is born from our experiences, and that’s why it is so great: because it’s born from our experiences and it covers so much. Because it has to cover so much for it to come from our lives and for it to be meaningful to our lives, it has to cover so much.
That’s why it’s important that Black women came up with the name. That’s why it’s important. And that’s what happens when you center the experiences of Black women: you get this major rallying cry, you get this hashtag, you get this movement, this everything that just carries across the world to the point that everyone’s trying to name their everything “[These] Lives Matter.” It’s so powerful because it comes from our lives. And that’s why it’s important to center us because when you center us, when you do engage us in meaningful ways, it’s powerful and it changes the world.
[49:09] And that’s the point of it. It’s not just to all call ourselves Black Lives Matter or whatever because it sounds awesome or something. It’s because it has meaning, because it’s intentional, because it’s the centering.
MM: A movement coming out of that: how does it lead to a more—or does it, or can it, or is there a way—that having that kind of birth, that name come from that kind of a place, how does that lead to a different way of engaging and centering folks in this movement? Theoretically, it should; I mean it came from queer Black women. And still it’s being pulled into this, like you said, still in many cases the people who get the most attention aren’t queer Black women in this movement. And that’s just the fact, right?
SD: To some degree, Black men heard this, and I think there have been conversations that have helped people realize that it’s not the case so there are a lot of Black men who think that these Black women came up with this hashtag #BlackLivesMatter for them [Black men], to say that their lives matter, because that’s just how awesome Black women are, that we do all these awesome things for them and we’re just sitting around thinking of how we can protect all of these Black men everywhere and really make sure just they are ok. “Oh hey you have a great hashtag we can use to protect Black men.” And that we’re talking about their lives when we say “Black Lives Matter.” Singularly. We certainly are, but [they think] singularly.
[50:54] So there was a period which I think has changed now because so many people were online and in different spaces saying “No,” putting our foot down, which maybe was the difference between some of the other periods. But there was definitely a period where they assumed that some awesome Black man came up with this somewhere, or some Black women came up with it but that didn’t really matter, like we can push them to the side, whatever; that doesn’t matter. But there was definitely a period where people were using that to mean “Black men” and there was no or very little consciousness on a large level of what it meant for a Black woman to come up with a hashtag called Black Lives Matter, and that means she’s saying that her life matters.
[51:42] There’s been a lot of engagement, it’s not been a perfect engagement—it’s not been complete, from 0 to 100—but there has been an engagement of exactly what that means. And some people are getting that and some people aren’t getting that, some people are in between. So it’s definitely started conversations; it’s definitely carried forth conversations, things that have already existed. All of these different things—it’s brought momentum to a lot of different conversations in different things that were going on so I think in some ways it’s already started happening. I guess we’ll see how far people are taking it or are willing and are ready to take it will be the question.
[52:24] MM: I guess that goes back to what you say about the importance of where it started, because then because it did come from these particular women, and being able to say that, and say that again, and say that again, and hold onto that, to make sure that people know that, is a way that we can keep what it tries to shift away from us. One way that we can—because if it was called something else that wasn’t that, that wasn’t created by queer Black women, then it’d probably be a lot harder to be like “Hold on! Actually, you can’t just take this and go off, because this is where it started, this is who created it.”
[53:03] So I sent you a thing about how Elisabeth—is that her name?—Elisabeth Hasselbeck said “Why aren’t—why hasn’t Black Lives Matter been classified as a hate group?”
SD: Yeah girl.
MM: [sighs] Which—How bitch? How? Like [sings] How???
Like do you ever wonder? Not in like a real way, because oh my god, but in a cartoon way like what goes on in White people’s brains? Like what goes on in their brains when they say things like this, and how—how these words come together and make sense to them?
[53:40] SD: That’s not even a road that I want to even set foot on. And like—in order for me to understand it, I would have to be exposed to it. And I would have to like internalize the logic somehow. And I’m just not here for that.
MM: And I think for me that’s why I say like in a cartoon way, like I think about it in like a—I don’t even want to know because like—ugh—and [vomit sounds]—what am I—what would even have to happen within me for me to understand? More in just a “What?!” kind of way? How did you even—how is saying “Stop killing us. Don’t kill us.” make us the hate group?
SD: But like to White people, that is a hate group. To White people, because they really think that’s their right. Like even they can’t articulate it, verbalize it, or consciously know it, at a really deep level, Black people, indigenous people, all of that, like need to not exist for them to have their full whatever of right. So actually saying that Black people matter and deserve to live is an actual physical threat to White people. So that is exactly where Elisabeth is coming from: she’s like “Wow, that is actually violating my human rights right now and my liberty for you to say that you deserve, that you’re a human being.” And that’s basically what Elisabeth is saying: even if she doesn’t know what she’s saying, we know what she’s saying.
SD: So I guess that’s at the root of it really there.
MM: I feel like you really did get in there.
SD: We really did. Oh my god. I need to take a bath now. This descended into the black hole of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s brain. Thank you
MM: [laughter] That’s what we do here at the Black Girl Dangerous podcast. We go into the most heinous and horrible places. Such as Elisabeth Hasselbuck’s—Hasselbeck’s brain.
Well one of our fans wanted us to talk about what is inspiring us this week. What’s inspiring me this week? Well, I don’t know. I just moved, and I’m sort of—whenever I’m—I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And so for me it’s very hard to not have—limbo is a very hard space for me to be in; I need to be able to control my environment a lot or else I feel very anxious. So we just moved, and we’re not completely—it looks nice in here because I took everything that was against that wall there and moved it round to the front where you can’t see it. But everything is still packed. I mean most things are unpacked, but there’s still a lot of packed things, and still just getting used to this space and making it feel like home. So that just puts in me in a kind of weird mood in general. So I don’t know. I’m inspired right now by home and the idea of creating home and having a peaceful place to kind of do my thing, do my work, that feels peaceful.
[57:12] I think peace is a word that I’m attached to right now in the sense of where I am, it’s very, very quiet. And in my work that I’ve been doing the last few years for Black Girl Dangerous is very stressful. It is incredibly stressful. And it just gets more and more and more stressful. It’s just a weird existence. Having a large platform is a strange—it’s just so fucking weird. All the stresses of it have just gotten really, really tough over time. And so being able to kind of just check out, which is why I haven’t been on Twitter, and you know I switched my personal account out from the BGD account, because of the need to feel more peace in my life and the need to feel more safely. And so I think what’s inspiring me this week is just the idea of peace and safety and that kind of thing.
[58:10] SD: Ok. So I guess what inspired me this week was first of all a centering of self that I’ve been experiencing lately that’s kind of really been healing. And when I say “centering of self” I mean as far as a gaze, as far as… you know who you are, personality acceptance, body acceptance, all of these things, and doing things that really just center your own healing. I guess that’s what I mean more than anything: things that center my own healing, my own vulnerability, and making sure that that you’re ok basically. The second thing that inspired me was recently I just did a month-long trafficking project/program, so I think I’m really connecting with people who are doing that work across the country, across a number of different countries, and hearing victims’ and survivors’ stories, and just victim-centered attempts and anti-trafficking and those different kinds of things. I think really inspired me; it certainly came with its own—we won’t get into all of the things happening in that specific movement, but that was really inspiring, just hearing from people who are doing that work and contributing honestly in my own ways too and connecting with people. I think that was really inspiring.
[59:50] MM: Awesome! Well thanks for coming on to the debut episode!
SD: I’m glad I got to be the first so I could break it in.
MM: Uh huh: pop the Black Girl Dangerous Podcast cherry!
SD: That’s right!
MM: [laughter] I appreciate that and listening to all of your awesome input on all the things.
Thanks everyone for listening to the Black Girl Dangerous Podcast with me and my amazing guest co-host Shaadi. Check her out on Twitter at @TwittaHoney. We will see you on the next podcast. Ok, bye!
The Black Girl Dangerous Podcast is a production of Black Girl Dangerous Media