Only white allies can defeat white enemies.
"It was only another white woman who could beat her at her own game." - Ira Madison III
Not until events between Kim Kardashian-West and Taylor Swift unfolded on Sunday night did I truly understand that only the actions of white allies are able to usurp and dismantle the harm done by white enemies who use even the most implicit forms of anti-blackness. Click here for a blow by blow description of what the Kimye/Swift feud actually is and what transpired.
“White allies” are people with “anti racist goals” who are “members of the dominant cultures.” As a white woman, in exposing Swift’s lie that “Kanye did not call for approval” Kardashian-West has become a white ally, an accidental one, but a white ally nonetheless, cos let’s not pretend Kim and her kinfolk aren’t problematic af when it comes to blackness and cultural misappropriation. Is it fair then to say that Taylor Swift also happened upon her status as a white enemy by accident? Is it fair to assess that she didn’t mean to feed into society’s irrational fear of black men by pretending that she had ‘cautioned him about “releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message”’. Yes. If Kim is an accidental white ally, Taylor is without a doubt an accidental white enemy. Follow me into the kitchen for some tea. Let me explain.
In allowing the world to believe that Kanye West lied when he said he called for an hour long conversation with her about the controversial Famous lyric, Taylor Swift performed an act (however unconsciously) that was upheld by the structural racism surrounding black men and their behaviour. Since the infamous 2009 “I’ma let you finish” incident Kanye West took his L like a champ and went on a Taylor Apology Tour. He was almost forced to because of the intense backlash he faced, even POTUS called West “a jackass” for storming the stage.
While there were no lies detected in what Kanye said that fateful night (I mean, Single Ladies is timeless and You Belong With Me was, is and will remain mediocre) it was the way in which he shared his views that contributed to his "unsafe black man" narrative. There is a case that says misogyny played a part in what West did. Would he have felt that impetus to take the microphone from a man? Well yes, he would have. Kanye West was outspoken long before the VMAs. Remember when he stood before the world and told everyone that then President Bush didn't care about black people? Kanye West is not a man who cares much for respectability. But I digress, after the VMA’s West worked tirelessly and apologised to Swift endlessly in order to be granted reprieve from the onslaught he received due to his actions.
It appears Kanye West had an understanding of the framing of black men in relation to negativity- a construct he knew he had to dismantle if he was to continue his career without the spectre of the “aggressive black man” depiction burdening him. It could be argued that marrying Kim Kardashian was a tactic he used to make himself seem more palatable to a society who had written him off as “unstable.” This idea would have us believe Kim’s whiteness somehow helped Kanye’s career and meant he stopped making controversial comments when in fact the opposite is true. And don't misunderstand me, Kanye is not innocent; a black man simply at the mercies of societal injustice. He has also had a hand in doling out the same treatment he is a recipient of, remember when he perpetuated misogynoir against Amber Rose? There was no Apology Tour for her, the 30 showers he took to cleanse himself of her denied her any sympathy from him for his actions or from society as a whole.
While he has been involved in egregious acts of self sabotage, Taylor Swift's actions this past February were different. Very Smart Brothas go as far as saying "Taylor Swift is the most dangerous type of white woman." Their reading of Swift's Grammy acceptance speech as "white female performative faux melodrama — where status is cultivated and maintained through a state of perpetual exaggerated victimhood" calls attention to her decision to lean on what this study describes as "public perceptions and attitudes toward black males (that) not only help to create barriers to advancement within this society, but also make that position seem natural or inevitable"
I stand by my early assertion that Taylor Swift did not intentionally mean to compound negative "portrayals of black men in the media that lead to racist narratives..." Alas the road to hell is paved with Swift intentions, it would seem (she throws people under the bus a lot). She might not have meant to have a hand in upholding anti-blackness but that's exactly what happened and in doing so she became a white enemy who Ira Madison III described as the "face of millennial white feminism... perpetuating the same thing your foresisters did to get white women to demand suffrage in the South — playing up the fear of blackness." To absolve Swift of all culpability in this situation plays into her narrative that she is a victim but a part of me wonders how ignorant about race she actually is?
Black people have long called attention to the injustices committed against us both petty and serious alike but even when we present our proof we are not afforded the same benefit of the doubt as our white counterparts. What changes things is when other white people come out in our defence. I read the events of Sunday evening as a political act on Kim Kardashian's part. Why? While she might have done it to defend the man she loves, her actions as a white woman have made other white people question Taylor Swift and effectively waged a counterargument against the insidious anti-blackness of Swift's lies.
Look, Taylor Swift played a game with Kim -the master of media manipulation- Kardashian and now has the white women's bible, Cosmopolitan magazine, declaring she needs to "stop playing the victim." It saddens me deeply that even having been caught out red handed, Swift's fans started a hashtag #istandbytaylor because they bought into the idea she was experiencing "character assasination" at the hands of Kanye and Kim. However justice prevailed because while Taylor was thinking of suing the couple, further casting Kanye in a criminal, scary black man light as she believed it to be illegal to record conversations in California without "two party consent" NME earlier today reported that to be false. The "law does not apply if the conversation “may be overheard” – and the full conversation between West and Swift sees other parties, including leading producer Rick Rubin join the couple’s discussions."
Kim Kardashian is far from my favourite person but she did what all those wronged by Swift could not; tame her wild ego by providing irrefutable evidence that she lied. In doing so she proved once and for all the only thing in the fight against anti-blackness more powerful than white enemies are white allies with receipts.
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