During my freshman year in high school, there was a substitute teacher for one of my classes. She went off topic from the lesson plan and started discussing her university experiences. She told the class studies showed Black children don’t like to be touched. Yep, she actually said that as her eyes rested on me. She then walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder while looking around at the other students so they could observe my actions. Of course I gave her the look …of death and snatched away from her. She smiled knowingly as if her “let’s look at the modern Negro in her natural habitat” theories were proven but what her whiteness wouldn’t allow her to understand was my disinterest in her touching me had nothing to do with my blackness and everything to do with her anti-blackness, arrogance, attempt to humiliate me, and her disrespect.
I have seen a few videos and articles claiming Charles Blow “lost his mind” and behaved “terribly” when Kayleigh McEnany touched him while simultaneously insulting him during a panel discussion on CNN. The fact he is being described as the monster in this scenario is what is typical about whiteness and its persistence in attempting to force us to perform White-approved blackness. Blow’s demand for McEnany to stop touching him took her aback. I mean, here she is a blonde-haired White woman, so what Black man wouldn’t want her to touch him, right? He’s just a prop placed there to pet, not a person present to pontificate on the subject matter so how dare he decline her touch? In that moment, she heard nothing but her white indignation shouting over his demand she respectfully keep her hands to herself. I guess sometimes privilege is deafening.
Instead of respecting Blow’s words, this woman actually argued and tried to shame him for not being interested in her disrespect and dehumanizing slights. I watched and immediately knew what I was seeing – the attempts to dehumanize us then blame us for those attempts. She took him demanding respect and tried to turn it into him being Un-American, disagreeable, and difficult instead of taking it as an opportunity to consider her own misdeeds steeped in privilege. The unmitigated gall.
Today, I salute Charles Blow for his refusal to be treated like a pet. If nobody else feels you, Charles, I feel you. ©