What You’re Not Going To Do…
One week ago, Congresswoman Maxine Waters stood before the House of Representatives and gave a speech denouncing President Trump’s policies. There was nothing atypical about that as Waters has been vocally opposed to the legitimacy of this Presidency from the start.
The following day, FOX’s Bill O’Reilly was a guest on the FOX & Friends program where he was asked to share his thoughts on Waters’ speech.
O’Reilly response was, “I didn’t hear a word she said, I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James Brown, it’s the same wig.”
His comment elicited some laughter from the cast and crew around him. One of the hosts of Fox & Friends, Ainsely Earhardt, was on some level, conscious of the disrespect and broke up the laughter saying, “I have to defend her on that. You can’t go after a woman’s looks. I think she’s very attractive.”
Face palm. Oh Ainsely, I was with you until you said attractive…I guess you tried. While you, too, missed the moment, your minimal effort is more than I can say for your counterparts.
What was poorly masked behind O’Reilly’s “James Brown wig” comment was the fact that he refused to acknowledge Congresswoman Waters’ intellect and defaulted to a misogynist position of silencing her voice by reducing her to her appearance.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Congresswoman Waters stated, “I’m a strong Black woman, and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody. And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere: Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are. Do what you do. And let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country.”
So there you have it. The truth is, O’Reilly and many like him are ill-equipped to have a conversation with powerful and intelligent Black women like Congresswoman Waters who want to talk about the issues. And Waters made it clear that she has no plans to dignify his foolishness beyond that.
Micro-aggressions are nothing new to Black women and the disrespect didn’t end that Tuesday morning. During a media briefing later in the day, veteran reporter April Ryan attempted to ask White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a question. Instead of answering said question, Spicer instead instructed Ryan to “stop shaking her head.” And yes, this is the same veteran reporter that President Trump asked to set up a meeting between him and the Congressional Black Caucus. And no, the press room is not a kindergarten classroom full of children; so chastising a veteran reporter on what she chooses to do with her body certainly won’t fly.
And then there’s Angela Rye. Rye is an attorney and political commentator who at one time interned for Maxine Waters. Not only did she weigh in on the blatant disrespect for Congresswoman Waters. She has been out here combating casual racism left and right and I am so grateful that she is leading the charge. Most recently Rye said plainly during a debate on CNN that she believed radio host Joe Walsh is a bigot. This comes after Walsh tweeted at Rye saying “…And your way wrong on your main point Angela. We LOWERED the bar for Obama. He was held to a lower standard cuz he was black.” Program host Brooke Baldwin looked uncomfortable and attempted to mediate the situation but what folks are quickly learning is what you won’t do, is interrupt Angela Rye when she is making a point. Rye asked Walsh pointedly, “Did you or did you not say that the standard was lower because he was Black?” Walsh said “absolutely”, to which Rye concluded, “That’s what makes you a bigot, Joe.”
I hope that this brief synopsis of the foolishness that Black women put up with, daily, serves as a reminder that WHAT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DO is fix your mouth or Twitter-fingers to disrespect another one of my beautifully brilliant Black sisters and get away with it.