âI Guess You Really Ainât Sh*t, Questloveâ

‘I Guess You Really Ain’t Sh*t, Questlove’

White feminist Kim Foster challenges the musician's tale of racial profiling and personal pain. Our feminist Jamilah Lemieux claps back

Jamilah Lemieux

by Jamilah Lemieux, July 26, 2013

âI Guess You Really Ainât Sh*t, Questloveâ

From left, Delicate Flower of White Womanhood, Big Scary Black Questlove

Almost two weeks ago, Questlove penned a haunting, soul-bearing Facebook post in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin (I don’t care if six women in the Hate State of Florida don’t call it “murder,” I will call it “murder” so long as I have teeth, lips, tongue, fingers to do so) and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. It was adapted for New York. It is fantastic and if you have not read it yet, you should. In “Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Sh*t,” the musician/arbiter of cool discusses the trials of occupying a large, Black male body in a world that sees even the smaller, dead Black male body of the Florida teenager as a threat. His words:

I'm in scenarios all the time in which primitive, exotic-looking me — six-foot-two, 300 pounds, uncivilized Afro, for starters — finds himself in places where people who look like me aren't normally found. I mean, what can I do? I have to be somewhere on Earth, correct? In the beginning — let's say 2002, when the gates of "Hey, Ahmir, would you like to come to [swanky elitist place]?" opened — I'd say "no," mostly because it's been hammered in my DNA to not "rock the boat," which means not making "certain people" feel uncomfortable.

I mean, that is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people's safety and comfort first, before your own. You're programmed and taught that from the gate. It's like the opposite of entitlement.

The piece was widely circulated and lauded. Brothers and even sisters of varying sizes and backgrounds said “Amen!” and “Tell it.” Great writing about an all-too-common feeling? The people will feel it. 

But the funny thing about White privilege is that it knows no bounds. It will infiltrate and occupy every space on the planet because who’s gonna stop it? White privilege sees your bodega, your church, your school, your plate, your experiences and inserts/asserts itself as it sees fit, with little or no regard for, well, you.

Such is the case with a response to Questo’s piece by Kim Foster, mother, writer and Harlem resident. Foster rode in on her waaaaaambulance (I could feel the White Girl Tears through my computer screen) and Whitesplained away much of the funky drummer’s experiences, frustrations, reality. And spent over 2,000 words doing it. Oh, and while I know that editors usually choose pictures...LOOK AT THE PICTURE, DAWG. [Note: the image of the young White girl, seen here, that originally accompanied Foster's article has since been removed.] 

First, Foster sets the tone with 444 words explaining how tragic Martin’s death is, how unfortunate it is that Questlove “Bigger” Thompson—multi-platinum, Grammy-winning, Jimmy Fallon­-nightly-performing, book-writing, world-traveling virtuoso, who just happens to be Large and Black and Black and Blaaaaaack—has to walk the world being sensitive to the fact that his existence makes people like her uncomfortable. Because she’s not a racist. And she wants you to know that she cares about the little Black boys in her childrens’ school who “will be stopped and frisked by the police and considered dangerous by passersby. They’ll have to think twice when they do something as simple as put the hoodie up on their sweatshirt. Or, God forbid, maybe one of them will be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the next Zimmerman is feeling paranoid while carrying a loaded gun.” (Kim Foster cares, if don’t nobody else care.)

The mother of two appreciated Questlove’s piece and his connection to Martin. However, at the center of his article, there is an anecdote about the time he rode an elevator in his swank apartment building with a presumably-White woman that he found to be attractive. Though he does not verbalize his interest, he is demonstratively chivalrous and offers to key in her floor on the magical rich-people elevator system—an offer which she declines, forcing Questlove to realize that she saw him (famous and paid enough to be in this building and by all accounts, a very nice, gentle giant of a man) as a threat to her safety.

Foster’s sympathy for the Philly native ends here. Though the article “made everyone think," she warns that "it is a disturbing piece for women.” Her words:

"I imagine a young woman reading the exchange that happened between Questlove and the woman in the elevator, taking it in and, not wanting to be racist, shifting how she reacts to men in public. Maybe she smiles more, acts less freaked out when alone in an elevator with a strange man, maybe she walks down that dark isolated street and doesn’t worry that someone is walking behind her, or lets down her guard and tries to let the man know she isn’t intimidated, that she doesn’t find him scary. Maybe she lets concern for othersoffending that

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