Recently, I have had the distinct pleasure of being obsessed over by an unhinged white man. My crime? Explaining to him being an ally means not trying to take over black spaces with your ideology and views. (I even blogged about it in this piece to be perfectly clear.) He didn’t appreciate my concerns with his one track mind, and has apparently been waiting for an apology for months now.
Even though his various obsessions were obvious, and all of our interactions were public, people in my circle were still taken aback when he resurfaced this week. He began antagonizing a group of us while continually demanding an apology from me as if 9 months hadn’t passed since our last interaction. Then, it became clear: instead of letting him quietly go away, someone decided it was in their best interest to extend an invitation to this man who had shown himself to be unreasonable at best, downright unwell at worst.
Ok, that’s fine. I can’t tell people whom they should be friends with, right? In personal spaces, no, I can’t. Let’s look a little deeper, though. This man has shown himself to be more concerned with specific economic institutions than with issues affecting the black community. He has repeatedly sung the song of “we all bleed red,” while attempting to erase the plight of black Americans. He has shown little value to this organization tasked with helping the black community. So why the open door policy?
After the latest onslaught of harassment, I very specifically demanded he stop contacting me personally. I informed him any messages after that would be considered harassment. Guess what? He didn’t stop. The aforementioned circle decided the best course of action would be to discuss the situation in person without him ostensibly to analyze it and move forward.
During the course of this discussion, I made it very clear I do not feel safe around this individual. The actions he has taken and his obsession with me in particular make me nervous about his propensity to snap and cause harm. You would think that would be enough, but you would be wrong.
Apparently, when a black woman tells you someone is crazy and not to be trusted, you must take another 30 minutes to decide if she’s overreacting. When she tells you whomever decided to extend an invitation to him obviously doesn’t give a damn about her, she is being dramatic. You must repeat ad nauseum, “I just never thought” to assuage your lack of attention paying skills. Then, to add insult to injury, when said black woman explains all of these issues to you, you must ask another black woman if she would feel the same way in a similar situation, potentially causing the second black woman pain as she’s forced to relieve the many times she has felt unprotected in much the same way.
This is NOT ok, nor is it acceptable in any way. When you have watched a man antagonize and harass a woman, when you have watched a white man harass a black woman and that woman tells you she doesn’t feel safe, you take her seriously! Women have had to endure all manner of damage in this country and we are generally astute at spotting potential danger. My triggers may be different than others, but I will not allow anyone to attempt to invalidate my concerns. Attempting to invalidate them using another woman’s lived experience is grossly despicable and should never be allowed.
And that’s what I learned about misogynoir and invalidation today.