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Dear Kerry Washington, Eva Can “Handle” Her Own Business

Several years ago, I came across a tweet from DjChubbESwagg questioning why Timothy Ann Burnside was curating the Hip Hop section of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I thought his question was valid. As a Black person, I also wanted to know why a White woman was curating a hip hop section in an African American museum. It was Black people that created hip hop. Hip hop starts with us. It is our story. Yet many Black people took offense to him even asking the question. And I was stunned because these are Black people that I follow on Twitter that speak boldly about Black representation, Black people telling our own stories, and Black people owning our history. But the problem arose because they were friends with the White woman, and because of the friendship, they felt this White woman was above being questioned. 

Make That Make Sense. 

So when I saw Kerry Washington’s comments about Eva Longoria on Twitter, I was equally as baffled as I was two years ago. During an MSNBC interview about the historic election of the 46th President, Joe Biden, Eva said, “The Women of Color showed up in big ways. Of course, you saw in Georgia, what Black women have done, but Latina women were the real heroines here, beating men in turnout in every state and voting for Biden-Harris at an average rate close to three-to-one.”

Pause. 

Were Latina women the REAL heroines here?

Let’s look at the numbers. 

It is evident Black people, particularly Black women, picked the United States up, strapped it to our backs, and carried it across the finish line for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

There was no reason for Eva to say, “BUT Latina women are the real heroines here.” She could have said, “Black women are amazing, AND Latina women stood up to join them.” There was no reason to cancel out what is the evident work of Black women. Black people, particularly Black women, told Donald Trump, “You’re fired.” 

The backlash for Eva’s comments was swift. And Kerry Washington, an actress that I enjoy, felt the need to go Twitter and tell us this is what Eva meant. 

We do not need a Black insult translator.

When you are insulted, you know immediately. You may think about it, you may tweet about it, but something in your spirit KNOWS, “this is wrong.” As Black women, we knew.

My issue as a Black woman is that Kerry Washington did not need to step in and try to tell Black people what we heard was not what Eva meant.  I do not care that Kerry feels she knows Eva like a sister. I do not care that they have been in many trenches together.

As Black women we are challenging White women to have difficult conversations with their friends and family. That challenge doesn’t stop for Black women because a White or non-Black person is your friend. The foundation of friendship is truth and honesty.

It is because I am your friend, I am going to challenge you.

It is because I’m your friend, we are going to talk about race.

It is because I am your friend, we are going to address your anti-Blackness. 

It is because  I am your friend, I am going to let you deal with tough conversations, and I will not be there to rescue you. 

And know, as your friend, I am not canceling you, I am challenging you.

That is friendship. Our friendship isn’t friendship if I have to make sure that you are comfortable at all times. As your friend, I am going to say some things that make you uncomfortable. And as your friend, I should be able to tell you, you got this wrong, without fear of our friendship ending. 

I am not going to jump in and save you because I am your Black friend. You do not get a pass because I am your Black friend. And you do not get to hide behind your Black friend and think that is enough. 

I am disappointed in Kerry Washington’s response to us – Black women who were saying this is unacceptable. Kerry Washington didn’t need to handle this for Eva.  Oliva Pope was a fictional character.  And it would have served Eva well, to handle it herself, go through it, and grow.

4 replies »

  1. Long time reader, Ms. Hannah. As I read this, I find myself conflicted with the narrative that black women saved the country in this election. I know black women are the unsung heroes of so many things. I would never belittle women, especially black women, in their struggles and achievements. I have to ask though, where were all of these voters in 2016? Not only black women but all the others? Why didn’t they show up? Black and POC voter numbers were down in 2016 (according to Pew Research), so enter Trump presidency. There were more of them and less of us. So, respectfully, how did black women save the election this year when we are in this situation because the same groups who voted this year didn’t in 2016? If EVERYONE would participate regularly instead of a in crisis, maybe we could avoid the panic and work on the real issues affecting our people. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone for the results that we are all trying desperately to move past. I just find myself frustrated with what feels like pandering and undue pats on the back fueling division.

    Offline this would be a conversation, perhaps a heated one, but it’s all love. I always appreciate your perspective and how I continue to be inspired by your passion. I learn so much from you and your content so please don’t take my comment as disparaging.

  2. Clearly lots of people (mostly white) voted for a racist. However, that gives the implication that black voters aren’t powerful enough to swing an election. Which, obviously, they absolutely can. I hope you’ll up the voting stats and see my point. More people showed up this time on both tickets. If the same voters showed up in 2016, Trump wouldn’t have had a chance. Those that stayed home could have made a big difference in 2016. We’ll compare notes again in four years and see how all of it shakes out. Hopefully we can keep a momentum.

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/12/black-voter-turnout-fell-in-2016-even-as-a-record-number-of-americans-cast-ballots/

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