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

stranger, appearing racist, or sexistover-ride her instincts to take care of herself."

Sigh. I am aware that there are certain White people who are hypersensitive about how their behavior (which is, at times, actual racism) may be perceived as racism by Black people, even when said Whites don’t see their own racism for themselves. And if we briefly remove the racial element (aka “everything that makes this story a story”) and focus solely on gender, I can attest to having walked a delicate line between protecting myself and profiling men as potential rapists or robbers.

But unlike Foster, I am also aware that there is a time and place to discuss the very real concerns about feminine safety in the presence of strangers and that time, nor place, is hooked to the murder of a Black teen who was killed because someone looked at him and made assumptions. That conversation should not be hooked to the words of someone who looks like every scary Black n*gger fear you can conjure in your heart bearing his soul and saying ‘This is what it feels like to be a problem, even when I know that I’m not a problem at all.’

Kim Foster’s piece is emblematic of the reason that many Black people roll their eyes at me when I say that I’m a feminist. Because to them, “feminist” means “a White woman who sees White women’s problems as the most important problems of all the problems in the world and she’ll use your plight and your movement as a stepping stone to put a spotlight on said problems.” Or something to that affect. This essay is, once again, a reminder how different the intersectional nature of Black feminism—the double-conciousness and need to understand the specific pain of our men—is from the “I, me, my, mine” that many cis-gendred White feminists speak to when talking gender and race. 

Foster’s piece says quite plainly, “No, Questlove, you really ain’t shit.” And I’m appalled. More:

“See, women almost always look out for others. We are taught as girls that we are inherently caretakers, mothers to everyone. We are taught to placate, be nice, share. We don’t want people mad at us.”

Kim, you couldn’t even look out for Dead Trayvon and let us reflect upon how racial profiling, which led to his death, hurts Black men who are still living. Let’s talk more about your problems instead, amirite?

“I have a friend who told me about being in college and having the Chair of her department come on to her, grope her. She said that it never occurred to her to say, ‘f*ck off!’”

This has everything to do with Questlove and the elevator. And by “everything,” I mean “not a single solitary thing.” Please, tell us more about the price of tea in China.

“I was nice to the end, every painful minute of it,” she told me,” and it never occurred to me that I could tell this powerful man to get off me.”

This is just like the time Questlove was on the elevator and tried to hold the door for the lady, except not.

"It is an inherent flaw of our education of girls that we do not encourage and inspire them to ask, demand, negotiate or stand up for what they believe they deserve. And it doesn’t stop at the office. It’s everywhere, at home, in bars. And, yes, in elevators."

Questlove’s neighbor stood her ground, you see.

“This is particularly an issue for us liberal womenwe don’t want to be perceived as racists. [Ed. Note:AND HEEEERE WE GO.] But really, this is one of those times that is truly not all about race, it’s mostly about gender and power. Middle class, middle-aged white men in business suits are just as able to take you by force and f*ck you against your will, as a black teen in a hoodie. And probably more prone to do so.”

This is true. But do you get afraid when you see men who look like George Clooney or Ryan Gosling in an elevator, Kim? Snark aside, I agree that the role of women, like all human beings, should be self-preservation. However, we cannot ignore or dismiss the pain that is caused when so many people hold it to their hearts that Black men are the ones who are out to get you always, everytime. And, again, I find it troubling that this was the narrative that had to be inserted into Thompson’s story about being on the receiving end of racial profiling.

If there is any room for any defense of Foster’s piece, in my opinion, it lies with the fact that women should have the agency to keep it moving and be brisk when in the presence of strange men. No, we don’t owe anyone a smile or a convo if we don’t feel like it. However,

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