Leslie Jones Embodies The Least Protected Blackness Of All
This essay originally published on The Establishment on August 25, 2016. This was the week that she was viciously and relentlessly attacked by racists on Twitter. It was so cruel and dehumanizing, yet unsurprising because white men on the internet seem to relish being bottom feeders.
This was my response.
It all started with the idea to remake a classic and beloved movie—Ghostbusters.
And, as it’s 2016, why not make the cast all women? Shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Women are equal—we can vote, have jobs, own property . . . it really shouldn’t have mattered. But it did. It mattered so much that sexists led a charge to tank the movie, simply for starring women.
After its release, the movie got middle of the road reviews and did okay financially. But that wasn’t enough for all the anti-Ghostbuster trolls. Nope. They needed to punish someone for the film being made. And the target they chose was Leslie Jones.
They called her names, went on a now-infamous racist and sexist insult-spree that temporarily drove her from Twitter, and yesterday we found out that someone hacked her account and leaked nude photos of her (I refuse to link to any of that).
Do you know why they keep attacking Leslie? They keep attacking her because she’s a Black woman and think this makes her a “safe” target. I mean, why wouldn’t they think that? Historically, Black women have been cruelly and viciously attacked by white people. We have been victimized, brutalized, and vehemently attacked by men of every race. We have been belittled, ridiculed, and mocked at every turn.
And historically, we haven’t been defended, protected, or appreciated. These attacks happen and the only people who demand justice are Black women. Not Black men, not white anyone. Not any other group. We stand up for ourselves and are consumed and regurgitated as stereotypes in the process: Angry Black woman. Belligerent Black woman. Loud Black woman. Sassy Black woman. Strong Black woman. Invulnerable Black woman. Tired Black woman.
This angry, belligerent, loud, sassy, strong, invulnerable, tired Black woman faces constant and consistent misogynoir. Like my peers, we are always fighting against physical and emotional abuse dealt to us by a culture that tells us that we are nothing.That we are not privy to the rights of white people or men. That we are not loved. That we are not equal. That the only protection we have is in the community we build for ourselves.
And even within that community there is internalized racism in the form of colorism. There is this idea that only the lightest of us deserve humanity and empathy. The darkest of us are treated as an embarrassment, as someone who shouldn’t be seen. The darkest of us are treated as an embarrassment, as people who shouldn’t be seen. Even when Black people are front and center, we are the ones who remain hidden.
Leslie, in all her beauty and strength, embodies the least protected Blackness of all.
Her pain is our pain when our nudes are leaked and people pretend it’s a fucking compliment that anyone wants to see us naked.
It is our pain when we are physically assaulted and raped and people assume we invited it either with our aggressive personalities or hypersexual bodies.
It is our pain when we are taught that calling the police on a Black male abuser is a bigger sin than being abused.
It is our pain that survives in a world designed to beat us down—and it is our resilience that demands that we still rise.
We are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs and are earning degrees at a higher rate than any other group in the United States. We are beacons of style and innovation. From our hairstyles, to our bodies, from our original content to our political movements, white people revisit their colonialist roots by appropriating every fucking thing we do and then trying to destroy us when we fight back.
And still we fight. And still we shine. Black Girl Magic is real.
This shit that’s happening to Leslie Jones is yet another manifestation of white supremacy and its utter disregard and disrespect for Black women. It is a travesty of the highest order.
If I could say anything to Leslie Jones, it would be this:
I’m sorry that you are experiencing this. I am enraged on your behalf. All you did was your job and as a result, you are facing outrageous and illegal attacks upon your person, your privacy, and your wellbeing. I’m not going to bullshit you by saying that this is going to be easy. It’s not. It’s fucking horrendous and I hope you are able to find these criminals and fuck their lives up. This will not make you stronger. It will make you acutely aware of just how vulnerable you are, but your vulnerability is not the problem. The problem is these entitled fucks who feel like they have the right to abuse anyone they choose. I hope they pay with everything they are because they have revoked their humanity.
You did not deserve this and they deserve to suffer.
Let me know how I can help.