I’ve been reading a lot about Lily Allen in the last few days, and I’m troubled to say the least.
In case you’re unaware, Lily Allen recently released a “feminist anthem” called “Hard Out Here.” A friend posted it on Facebook with the question, “Is this clever feminist satire or just a recreation of the same racist commodification of the bodies of Women of Color?” A rousing debate ensued.
In this debate, as well as in a few others I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook in the last 24 hours, there was one thing that was pretty obvious: White people were FAR more likely to defend Lily Allen than people of Color, and there wasn’t a whole lot of listening going on from those of identity privilege.
And it’s not just my random White Facebook friends that are having trouble hearing the critiques. Lily Allen herself responded to the criticism defensively, claiming it’s just a “lighthearted satirical video” that “has nothing to do with race, at all.”
When I hear her respond, though, I just want to scream, “Why do you get to decide if it’s not about race?!?”
And therein lies my point. As people of privilege, it is our responsibility to listen and reflect when we are called out for the ways that our privilege impacts oppressed and marginalized people, even if we are oppressed and marginalized in other aspects of our identity.
In short, if we are striving to be “allies” or to fight for social justice, we need to step back and do a better job of listening. In this case, White people – even White women – need to step back and listen to the myriad of voices of Color who are saying that if this video is “feminist,” then they want nothing to do with “feminism.”
So here are a few powerful voices. There are all sorts of others out there, but these are a few criticisms/critiques that helped me to grow. Hopefully they can do the same for you.
Easy Out There For A (White) Bitch: A Few Words On Lily Allen and the Continued Use of Black Women’s Bodies As Props
By Mia Mckenzie of Black Girl Dangerous