Is rejection and trauma the Black Manosphere and Toxic Femininity villain origin story?! In today’s episode we’re joined by soon-to-be PhD Candidate Anuli Akanegbu to discuss patriarchy, the know-your-place aggression towards Black women online, and what draws people to these spaces on the internet.
What’s The Word? Patriarchy. This term is used to describe a society that organizes itself around the idea that cis men are superior to and should dominate over… everybody else. This structure imposes the gender binary and influences the way we’re socialized. We also discuss the spiritual side of the divine feminine, which looks nothing like what we see on YouTube.
What We’re Reading. Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace. The chapter we discuss asserts that the men in the Black Power movements were relying on Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro” and the Moynihan Report to shape what Black manhood and a revolutionary should look like.
What in the World?! We speak with Anuli Akanegbu about the outgrowth of the Black Manosphere from Hotep Twitter, the “applesauce” that helps some folks swallow the red pill, Steve Harvey, capitalizing on tearing down Black women, the aesthetics of these spaces, being “high-value” as an afterlife of slavery, the way all of this is tied to capitalism, and what it means to feel welcome in your own body.
Zora’s Daughters Podcast: Season Two, Episode 12
Co-Hosts: Brendane Tynes and Alyssa James
Guest: Anuli Akanegbu
Title: Villain Origin Story
Total Length: 01:46:14
[00:00:00] Music Plays
[00:00:26] Music descends
[00:00:26] AJ: Hey everyone! Welcome back to Zora’s Daughters, the podcast where we share Black feminist perspectives and close read pop culture and other social topics that affect Black folx. I’m Alyssa and I use she/her/hers pronouns.
[00:00:41] BT: Hey y’all, I’m Brendane and my pronouns are also she/her/hers. Today we will be talking about patriarchy, the Black macho, the problems with the Black Manosphere and the toxic, sometimes misnamed, Divine Femininity. We’ll also have our first guest of the semester, Anuli Akanegbu [pronounced A-ka-nay-boo] who will join us for the final segment, What in the World?!
[00:01:07] AJ: Yes, and we actually did things a little differently in this episode. So, we recorded the interview first and it was actually really good! I think we got to the heart of some of the Black manosphere stuff. And the heart is that it was basically their rejection by a Black girl or woman they felt entitled to be with, you know. That’s the villain origin story. They were rejected [pause] or cheated on [laughter], which we talked about [laughter] after we finished recording. Too bad it wasn’t still recording. But before we give it all away, we have to thank the people who support us and our podcast – we couldn’t do this with you. Shout out to our newest patrons who have joined the ZD community! And speaking of Patreon, we have announced two things—first, our discussion section with patrons will take place on April 11th at 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. And we can’t wait to meet with you, to chat with you, shoot the shit—you know how we do. Our last discussion section was really fun, so you know, if you’re not a patron yet, get on it, get on it. Second, our Book of the Semester is Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake. We discussed their interview in our eighth episode of this season, and those will start shipping in June to patrons in the Novelists tier and above. And so, you have to be a patron for at least three months to receive the book, so there’s still time if you join today. Which you can do at patreon.com/zorasdaughters.
[00:02:42] BT: It’s going to be a fun time.
[00:02:43] AJ: It’s gon be lit! It’s gonna be litty!
[00:02:46] BT: It’s gonna be lit. We had like a little playlist going, we had a little moment of revelation about each other. So, please hop on Patreon, come join us. We also love non-monetary support, so please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts—I was gonna say “Aw-pull”—Apple Podcast and follow us at zorasdaughters on Instagram or zoras_daughters on Twitter. Notably, most people learn about our podcast through word of mouth so please share our episode on social media, send it to your friends, your family, or make sure it’s on one of those Women’s History Month “Must Listen” lists that your company loves to send out!
[00:03:28] AJ: Oh, you did that so good. It was like, a little tongue twister—Women’s History Month “Must Listen” [laughter] wow. Why’d I write it like that, I’m sorry [laughter]. But you smashed it.
[00:03:41] BT: It was fine.
[00:03:42] AJ: You crushed it. That’s great. Exactly. Anyways, let’s get into this episode, Brendane, what’s the word?
[00:03:49] [Music Plays]
[00:03:50] BT: The word for today is [sigh] patriarchy. You know we had to do it to y’all. So, in the most concrete terms, patriarchy means “rule of the father.” And so, this term was initially used by anthropologists to describe a family structure or social system of which the male, typically the oldest, was the head of the household. Thanks to feminist work—which we gotta thank the feminists out here doing the damn thing, right—this term has been expanded to mean the domination of men, particularly through the oppression of women and children in society. In patriarchal societies, cis[gendered] men are privileged as a result of the ideology that there are innate differences between the sexes. These differences are hierarchized in a way that justifies cis men’s dominance over everybody else. As an example, right, there is this idea that cis men are innately stronger than everyone else, therefore they should dominate or be in power.
[00:04:54] AJ: Patriarchy reinforces the gender binary and teaches girls to be docile, to serve, to be submissive—and if you watch talks of femininity YouTube and the Black Manosphere, submission, they’re all about it [crosstalk] they want us to submit—anyways, to caretake, to nurture and reject all things that are labeled as masculine. Boys are taught that they are to be served, to provide, to be strong, and reject all things that are labeled as feminine. Like showing emotion. Girls are valued for being gentle and silent; and boys for being stoic and aggressive.
[00:05:33] BT: So, you’re already starting to see the problem here, right. Girls are gentle and silent; boys are stoic and aggressive. The only emotion that is appropriate is anger which can lead to violence. So, in that system, patriarchy, and particularly—and I’m going to throw out this term here y’all, “cis”—as in cisgender—heterosexual patriarchy. Cisheteropatriarchy reduces an individual’s usefulness to the viability of their genitals. Coupled with capitalism—which places value on what individuals have, consume, and how and when they reproduce—the reproductive difference that is assigned to sex becomes the reason why birthing people face oppression. So, people who are labelled as “woman,” and even those who have womanly or feminine attributes, if they give birth, raise children, they are inherently nurturing and communitarian. And they also are seen as people who lack the dominance and aggression to lead.
[00:06:39] AJ: These ideas were then supported by “scientific” evidence like biology and psychology, much of which consisted of self-serving research interpreted to justify the dominance of cis men and the oppression of, as Brendane said, everybody else. Though many of these patriarchal ideologies that bolster patriarchy have been contested, they continue to circulate and are accepted as legitimate reasons for the power cis men hold in society. In The Will to Change, the late bell hooks writes that patriarchy is “a political-system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain this dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.” One of the critiques of bell hooks was often that she was often that she was a male apologist. Those were other people’s critiques—I’m not saying that. Though spoke a lot about patriarchy she asserted that patriarchy harmed men as much as it did women. I think a lot of feminists expected her to say that men who are not actively trying to dismantle patriarchy are complicit.
[00:07:55] BT: Yeah, which, you know—. I think the issue a lot of people took was with the “as much as it harms women.” There are some extreme feminists who believe that men cannot be harmed by patriarchy, in a similar way that they believe that racism doesn’t harm white people. hooks opens up that chapter by saying that patriarchy is the single most violent disease afflicting the male body and spirit. It’s important to keep in mind that there are different kinds of patriarchy. bell hooks is primarily focusing on white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy in The Will to Change, which produces a certain kind of hypermasculine, hyperviolent, property-owning individual as the ultimate symbol of power. This person is the “ideal” man under that system of patriarchy, so everyone else then kind of does not fit into that definition of what it means to be the ideal man. That is the kind of patriarchy that most radical “mainstream” feminist work aims to destruct.
[00:09:09] AJ: Now this would not be an episode of Zora’s Daughters if we didn’t blow this apart and talk about the contributions of Black feminists. And so actually, one of the things that I would actually like to do because we did this so well after we stopped recording. Which is explain the divine feminine and what that means in spiritual circles versus the toxic femininity of YouTube circles. But we’ll come back to that. I just wanna wrap up our point of where we were getting at with bell hooks, so while the ideologies of patriarchy set gender roles for white women of the bourgeoisie, this was not the case for Black women. For white women, the justification for their domination was protection under white supremacy.
For Black women, we experienced something completely different. And if you’re like, “What are you talking about?” Just check out our episode “Ain’t I A Woman?”—it’s in our first season and we discuss un-gendering and Hortense Spillers’ “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.” Not all non-men—non-cis men—are affected by patriarchy in the same way, which the white “mainstream” feminists would have us believe. Which again is another way that they do to avoid talking about race. Anything, they’ll do anything to avoid talking about it. They’ll be out there on TikTok and Twitter fighting, fighting for their lives, talking about “As a woman, I know what it’s like to be oppressed.” Girl, bye! [Laughter] Girl, bye! “As a woman I know what it’s like to be a Black person.” [Laughter]
[00:10:50] BT: Alright, Susie. What do they say? Women are the niggers of the world. Alright, girl. So, yeah. To get back to what you said about the divine feminine—I’m trying to remember what I said. So, I want to be very careful to demarcate divine femininity because what we’re seeing now, especially on social media, is people kind of bastardizing it, taking it and translating it to something else. But in certain spiritual communities there are practitioners who believe in the idea of balance, or this binary kind of masculine and feminine energy, or giving and receiving energy. And so that is like a part of a spiritual practice, a holy practice in which you see in each individual person—possibly, right—everyone has masculine and feminine or giving and receiving energies. What the violence of capitalism and white supremacy does is then take this idea of masculine and feminine and map it onto certain bodies, right, and say that this is a masculine body, this is a feminine body. And it disconnects people from the balance that is inherent in the earth right, where most of us are from.
So, I think that it’s important when we talk about these things, you might see something that says “divine feminine” that doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is espousing a toxic form of misogynoir or misogyny, it might actually be connected to a legitimate spiritual practice. But what we’re seeing is attached to capitalism, people actually taking that and making it into a product to be sold. You can approach femininity through buying certain things or being certain types or acting and living certain ways. So, the divine feminine, for me, is embracing that I don’t have to work all the time, like capitalism tells me, right. It’s embracing rest, it’s embracing fullness, its embracing loving myself, it’s embracing receiving gifts, receiving things, and it might look different for other people. But along with there being different kinds of feminisms, different kinds of femininities, within different racial and ethnic communities, there are different kinds of patriarchies. And so, what we’re reading today is one text that examines a particularly virulent form of Black patriarchy, so let’s get to What We’re Reading! Alyssa, what are we reading today?
[00:13:29] [Music Plays]
[00:13:31] AJ: Today we’re reading Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman by Michele Wallace published in 1979. Michele Wallace is a Black feminist author and cultural clitic [pause]. Did I just say “clitic” [laughter]?
[00:13:49] BT: You know—
[00:13:49] AJ: [In Jamaican accent] That’s a good one you know, that’s a good one fi dem, for the feminists.
[00:13:53] BT: That’s a new clit—no, what did you say? You said “dough-tep and clitic” [crosstalk]? You might need to write this down [laughter].
[00:14:03] AJ: That’s for the true feminists. I am a cultural clitic. I like it. Anyways [laughter]. Michele Wallace is a Black feminist author and cultural critic. She is the daughter of world-renowned artist Faith Ringgold. Wallace’s writings on literature, art, film, and popular culture have been widely published and have made her a leader of African American intellectuals. She is a Professor of English at the City College of New York and CUNY [City University of New York] Graduate Center. She was also bornin Harlem y’all, which I think is pretty cool, grew up in Harlem. She’s also a January Capricorn, which makes the clarity of her writing make a lot of sense actually.
[00:14:42] BT: It does, like, you know, Wallace has a way of saying the thing that only Capricorns can do. If you got a Capricorn in your life, or someone with a Capricorn placement, you know what I’m talking about. There were multiple times while reading where I was just like, “She said what she said!” And lowkey can I say it too [laughter].
[00:15:07] AJ: [Crosstalk] I know exactly the one that you’re talking about.
[00:15:09] BT: [Laughter] Now, we did not read this entire book for today’s episode. We’re not going to review the entire book for today’s episode. We mainly focused our reading on the Introduction and second chapter of the first section “Black Macho.” In the introduction for the 2015 edition, Wallace gives us a glimpse into her life before penning “Black Macho.” We learn that her insights directly stem from her personal experiences with Black men in addition to just living her life as a Black woman. She’s observing the media, she’s observing Black Power Movement language and writings, journalism, and other popular culture sources. So back in the 1970’s she was heavily criticized for her views following the publication of this book, which you said, right. Most of the criticisms alleged that her work continued the work of white supremacy by perpetuating negative stereotypes about Black men. They also said it wasn’t “scholarly” enough because she didn’t include enough historical sources and things like that, primary sources. So, she faced a lot of backlash within Black Studies and History, but I really felt like her work was really prescient. Like who—today, these days—who is not combining memoir with pop culture and throw in some little, some sprinkling of some theoretical analysis on top? Isn’t that basically how books are written today?
[00:16:37] AJ: Exactly. She’s another one in our ZD canon who was just ahead of her time. Her, Zora, you know. Being avantgarde like that sometimes doesn’t always work out but people come around eventually and accept and recognize that what they wrote was valuable. As we are doing right now. So, while critics mainly focused on Wallace’s assertions about what the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements did for Black men, they failed to note that Wallace was making a significant intervention in understanding the Black family, gendered Black affect, and Black political movements. In the second chapter, her analysis of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement leads her to this thesis, “The driving force behind the movement had really very little to do with bread-and-butter needs. The motive was revenge. It was not equality that was primarily being pursued but a kind of superiority—Black manhood, Black macho—which would combine the ghetto cunning, cool, and unrestrained sexuality of Black survival with the unchecked authority, control, and wealth of white power.” Whew, okay
[00:17:55] BT: Right out the gate, that’s what she says.
[00:17:57] AJ: Right out the gate. And speaking of prescient, we were literally about to talk about this in our next segment.
[00:18:05] BT: Right.
[00:18:06] AJ: Which we’re not getting to yet—
[00:18:06] BT: Literally.
[00:18:07] AJ: —but when we do [laughter], keep that in mind.
[00:18:10] BT: Keep it in mind. Which is why I felt like this was the perfect pairing to talk about the Black manosphere. And she uses the writing and public lives of Black and white men to justify this thesis and this claim. She begins with an examination of Norman Mailer’s essay “The White Negro,” which was published in 1957. So Norman Mailer is a white man. He says a lot of wild things in this essay and particularly he’s talking about the white people who are—I’m going to use the word fortunate enough to interact with Black people during that time period, which was the 50s, and they seemed to have good relationships with them. He labels them the white negro and talks about the conditions to make that possible. So, he says a host of wild things that, again, I’m not gonna repeat, but his views of Black “life,” which is really his faulty insight on the impact of Black men’s perceived sexuality. It influences the teachings and politics of major Civil Rights and Black Power male leaders. Which is really—that was eye opening for me right, to think about these Black men who actually really were relying on the Monahee Report and other anti-Black white writings to kind of determine who they were and how they would show up within the Black Power movement. So, Black men’s virulence, their power, their brawn, and their brutality would come to mark a successful Black revolutionary.
[00:19:52] AJ: It’s always so interesting to me the way that white people are so obsessed with Black peoples’ sexuality and policing it. It’s always like Black women are these jezebels and they’re the welfare mothers, the welfare queens with all of these children. And Black men are these Mandingoes [laughter] I guess is the more politically correct way of saying it. But you know, I just find it really interesting, and I would like to know why. What is the ancestral trauma that is causing you all to be so interested in our genitals and how we practice sexuality?
In any case, the male figures that Wallace focuses on in the chapter each frame a particular kind of Black patriarch. She calls on the popular representations of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, and other figures in Black movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Interestingly, she describes Martin Luther King as “an almost feminine man” and Malcolm X as the “supreme Black patriarch.” I found this juxtaposition particularly interesting because she suggests that his assassination is kind of what radicalized Black men into this Norman Maileran—if I can even to do that—into this Mailerian form of patriarchy. What she says is that Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, it snuffed out any possibility of them valuing softness. Instead, they were hardened, and they were looking towards Malcolm X. But then when he was assassinated—of course, interestingly, by two Black men—this model also died.
[00:21:44] BT: [Sigh] And yes, there are lots of truths and theories about the deaths of both men but again this book was penned in 1979. So, all the information about COINTELPRO was not out. She does address that in the introduction. But this is really just her astute observations coming to light and one of the things that I thought was also interesting is that she argues that most Black men were not Malcolm’s patriarch, right. They’re actually following Mailer’s vision. So, these kind of Black male leaders are looking to what this white man believes Black men are. According to Mailer, the Black Negro was the primitive man and unencumbered by civilization’s rules. So like he’s unencumbered by whiteness because he is this primitive negro who is so poor and destitute that he can’t possibly be influenced by whiteness. And so, he has the ability to act upon his fleshly and violent desires.
Mailer actually characterizes the Black Negro as a “psychopath,” which he defined as “a rebel without a cause,” and the psychopath’s goal is to satisfy his own wants and needs no matter what is at stake. This essentially becomes the definition for how cis men under patriarchy, but I won’t get into that today because I’m not a psycho analyst nor am I a psychologist [laughter]. But one could look at that and say, “Hmm, this is kind of how cis men act under patriarchy,” but you know, cool. Anyway, the Malcolm X patriarch however, is a Black man who would’ve considered the needs of his community, at least thought of Black women and children, but this not the primary patriarch of the Black Power Movement. Instead, we have these Black leaders who move like Mailer’s psychopath, they move like colonizers, they move like white men, they’re emboldened and entitled simply because they have a penis. They are leaders simply because they have this appendage. The Black Power movement then becomes this movement to actually pursue Black manhood and we see this through the imagery, we see this through the popular culture, we see this through how it’s represented. And as she says, “One could say, in fact, that the black man risked everything–all the traditional goals of revolution: money, security, the overthrow of the government–in pursuit of an immediate sense of his own power.”
[00:24:32] AJ: So, what Wallace is explaining here is that this image of the Black man created by Mailer was simultaneously self-serving. He had an image to uphold as—and I’m talking about Mailer here—he was this prophet, this perspicacious person who knew about Black people and at the same time the image served white people. She writes: “Mailer, as do most white men who write about black men, insisted that the major function of blacks was to produce a better white America, to humanize white men. Malcolm insisted that the black man’s function was to produce a better black America. And the twain, I’m afraid, shall never meet, as long as a better black America means an America in which the black man maintains a right to preserve and perpetuate his uniqueness, his own culture, something the belligerence of white America will not allow.”
[00:25:28] BT: Purr.
[00:25:29] AJ: And so, in creating this whole idea of the psychopath, of the rebel without a cause, he’s now doing this thing where he’s serving white people, he’s serving the way that they are in the world and allowing them to continue doing that while making basically an enemy of Black men.
[00:25:50] BT: Right, that is exactly what you’re saying. Labelling Black male—or it’s like not even really observing their sexuality, perceived sexuality, projected sexuality, as something that is pathological when they actually have ancestral evidence that that is in fact how the world came to be. And how their ancestors made the world come to be, right.
[00:26:16] AJ: Yeah. So now basically the Black man is the violent dangerous person whereas it’s like that’s what y’all do, that’s what y’all did, that’s how we all got here [laughter].
[00:26:28] BT: Purr. Period. Like literally how we got here. But then the problem [crosstalk]—
[00:26:33] AJ: No. Go ahead.
[00:26:35] BT: No, I was gonna say the problem becomes Black men take that up
[00:26:39] AJ: Yes, of course, right. So, leaders of the Black Power movement or those in pursuit of an “independent” Black masculinity were actually producing the conditions for the prosperity of white America, and also for the oppression of Black women.
[00:26:56] BT: Yo, you hate to see it [laughter].
[00:27:00] AJ: We gotta be oppressed so that everybody else can flourish
[00:27:04] BT: Literally. So, what I think Wallace does so well is allow us to actually peel apart the different layers that come into the definition of manhood, masculinity, sexuality, and really gender as a category. I found myself thinking this is such an interesting way to question all of these things simultaneously. And of course, it’s through Blackness, Black gender. So, I feel like folks miss this because of the “controversial nature” of her words. The fact that she’s very blunt about the fact that Black men do harm. And the question that she finds herself answering throughout the chapter is actually one that’s based on Eldridge Cleaver’s assertion that Black men will win their manhood no matter what. And so, he says this after the death of Malcolm X. As part of his eulogy to Malcom X, he proclaims over and over again that Black men will win their manhood, that is the goal of his Black power movement.
So, she’s asking has this actually happened, have Black men actually won their manhood? In her response, as we kind of approach the middle and end of the chapter she kind of gives us a triply conscious understanding of race, gender, and sexuality. She says, “If you accept the definition America force-fed the black man—access to white women sexually and the systematic subjugation and suppression of black women—then the answer is an unequivocal yes. But if we consider America’s actual standard of ‘manhood’—control of the means of production and power; in other words, money—the answer has got to be no.” Right. So, even taking up this definition of manhood that’s been force-fed to them, Black men are still not able to meet the standard of manhood. Which some might say, is afropessimist point but you know I’mma just back up off of that, I’mma back up off it [laughter].
[00:29:12] AJ: We’re not afropessismists ™
[00:29:14] BT: ™ [laughter].
[00:29:17] AJ: No, that’s such a good point.
[00:29:18] BT: Yeah, I think also I like what she does, kind of. I think this marks a turning point in the chapter where she juxtaposes the image of the hypervirulent Black man, who comes to know himself through violence—which is presented in Richard Wright’s Native Son, Eldridge Cleaver’s Souls on Ice, and Amiri Baraka’s writings—with James Baldwin’s characters in his novels. So, she kind of presents to us all these different case studies of thinking through Black patriarchs. And all these men present Black patriarchs in different ways, Wallace claims that Baldwin’s Black male characters actually approach Malcolm X’s Black patriarch—the Black man who at least cares about his community in some way, he might not want equality but at least his community is included in his vision. And this is how he writes about Black men really until his novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Wallace argues that before Beale Street, Baldwin’s characters presented a kind of complexity that was perhaps truer to feminist—or at least less violently patriarchal—vision of Black manhood. He was greatly criticized for that, facing violent homophobia from Baraka and other literary figures of his time.
So, Wallace argues that he “sees the light” in Beale Street by writing a character that embodied the “theoretical premise that made the Black Movement a vehicle for Black Macho: Black males who stressed a traditionally patriarchal responsibility to their women and children, to their communities—to Black people—were to be considered almost sissified. The black man’s sexuality and the physical fact of his penis were the major evidence of his manhood and the purpose of it.” In Beale Street, you see that Black Man who is a center of the family, but he doesn’t really bring—it’s like what are you bringing here. But because he has a penis and because he identifies as a man, he is the hero, essentially, of the novel. So, Wallace says that through their writings, Baraka, Cleaver, and Wright transformed Mailer’s psychopath or sexual outlaw into the actual role model for Black revolutionary. The Black man as robber, as rapist, as murderer, acting as the prototypical and really imagined kind of primordial warrior is actually the revolutionary. He uses a similar form of macho as the English settler, this kind of domineering violent man is the prototype for what it means to be able to live in your fullness as a Black man. Which I feel like is kinda limiting. Black macho is white supremacist patriarchy with a cis-het nigga at the center.
[00:32:30] AJ: It is, I would say [laughter]. I’m like, white souls, Black masks, I don’t know, I’m trying to make a little play on Frantz Fanon—
[00:32:44] BT: Somebody write it, somebody write it [crosstalk]—
[00:32:45] AJ: —as folks love to do.
[00:32:49] BT: Somebody might even include Frantz Fanon in this, in the Black Macho, hmm?
[00:32:57] AJ: Hmm, interesting. I was gonna say, is it a coincidence that If Beale Street Could Talk was turned into a Hollywood film? That’s the one of all of his books, that’s the one they chose.
[00:33:11] BT: I don’t think so.
[00:33:12] AJ: Probably not.
[00:33:13] BT: I don’t think so.
[00:33:15] AJ: But yes, there is just so much in this book—and I say book because I did skim a lot more of it than just the chapter we were reading. I was just so enthralled, like I read the next chapter about the Black superwoman and the myth of the Black superwoman, and all of that stuff. So yes, we cannot even begin to cover or do justice to all of it. You’re just gonna have to read it for yourself and let us know what you think. But I think in order to lead us into our next section, I’m just gonna send you off with this really long quote. Another one of her perfectly phrased and blunt narratives.
[00:33:50] BT: Yo, beautiful.
[00:33:52] AJ: Here we go. “The white man had offered white women privilege and prestige as accompaniments to his power. Black women were offered no such deal, just the same old hard labor, a new silence, and more loneliness. The patriarchal black macho of Malcolm X might have proven functional—black women might have suffered their oppression for years in comparative bliss—but black men were blinded by their resentment of black women, their envy of white men, and their irresistible urge to bring white women down a peg. With patriarchal macho it would have taken black men years to avenge themselves. With the narcissistic macho of the Black Movement, the results were immediate. And when the black man went as far as the adoration of his own genitals could carry him, his revolution stopped. A big Afro, a rifle, and a penis in good working order were not enough to lick the white man’s world after all.”
[00:34:53] BT: I mean—
[00:34:55] AJ: I would add a white woman on his arm but [pause] we ain’t gonna talk about that [laughter].
[00:35:02] BT: Y’all gonna have to read the chapter to see what’s said about that one. Again, she said what she said! With that, let’s move to our next section. Like what [in unison], what in the world [crosstalk] is going on with y’all? What’s wrong with y’all [laughter]? What’s wrong with y’all?
[00:35:29] [Music Plays]
[00:35:31] BT: So, the topic that prompted this episode is of course the always topical subject of the Black manosphere—which, hmm, God help us—and the growing corollary, which is the divine femininity crowd.
[00:35:49] AJ: Femininity YouTube.
[00:35:50] BT: Shout out to y’all in my YouTube suggestions. The growth we have seen, honestly, is thanks to social media, so we really wanted to bring on an expert on that subject. So, we have her with us now and I’m so excited. Anuli Akanegbu is a scholar-practitioner and social media consultant working at the intersection of business, communications, and culture. She is currently pursuing her PhD in sociocultural anthropology at New York University—NYU for those of you who are in the know—where her dissertation project examines how race and desirability factor into the success of Black-identifying social media content creators, or influencers in the creative economy of Atlanta, Georgia. She is also the host and producer of Black in Real Life [BLK IRL], an audio documentary series that explores the business of influencing and the power dynamics at play in the act of cultural exchange. Each episode dissects themes related to race in the influencer economy through research and conversational interviews with predominantly Black content creators, scholars, entrepreneurs, activists, marketing experts, and cultural critics. So welcome Anuli, thank you for being here with us.
[00:37:05] AA: Thank you for having me.
[00:37:06] AJ: Yeah, thank you so much for taking the time out of your exam prep—y’all she’s about to be a candidate, PhD candidate—[crosstalk] so, thank you for taking the time out to speak with us today. I believe that we all met for the first time at the New York City headquarters of a certain tech company that recently changed its name for what was the strangest recruitment event. No idea why we were there [laughter] as graduate students. I know I was there for the free food but that was an interesting night. It was right before the pandemic too, wasn’t it?
[00:37:45] AA: Yes. It was, I think maybe a month or two before the pandemic. I won a raffle that night, so I was pleased—[crosstalk].
[00:37:54] BT: Oh yeah, you did. You won the—[crosstalk].
[00:37:55] AJ: What did you win?
[00:37:56] BT: Virtual reality goggles.
[00:37:59] AA: Yes.
[00:37:59] AJ: Oh yes, how have you been using them?
[00:38:02] AA: You know, it’s funny, I just came home to visit my family and my mom said that she wants to use them tonight because I keep them here. So, we will use them tonight. I don’t use them often; I just use them here [laughter].
[00:38:13] AJ: That’s awesome.
[00:38:14] BT: That night, I mean the food was, it was aight I don’t really remember the food that much.
[00:38:22] AJ: But I do remember the empanadas.
[00:38:23] BT: Oh yes.
[00:38:14] AJ: I remember their empanadas. I told you, I was just there for the food, and they also had some Caribbean food, and I was kind of like hmm.
[00:38:31] AA: I don’t remember the food, but I do remember bonding with the two of you because A—I think we were one of the few PhD students there. Cause they had a lot of master’s undergrad students—
[00:38:45] BT: Yeah, a lot of engineers.
[00:38:46] AA: Yeah, a lot of engineers. But then B—we were talking about Fenty, and I was like PhD students that also like makeup? [Laughter] Cause people try to act like, I don’t know, like it’s bad to like beauty things and also be a scholar. And I was early on in my PhD, so it was kinda cool to talk to people that were just relatable.
[00:39:08] AJ: Yeah, that’s us [crosstalk].
[00:39:08] BT: Yeah, I mean that’s us. Like do I still put the make up on? Jury’s out on that, but it comes out when I need to be outside, I think. But yeah, it was really lovely meeting you.
[00:39:25] AJ: Yeah, it was a good night. But speaking of makeup, we were talking about nails earlier, that can bring us right around to femininity—divine femininity [laughter].
[00:39:36] AA: Okay, segue.
00:39:38] AJ: Of course, leads us to the Black manosphere. So, can you tell us a little about what you introduction to the red pill community or the manosphere and divine feminine spaces were?
[00:39:48] AA: Man, I actively try to avoid those so it’s funny that I’m here to talk about these [laughter] places.
[00:39:56] AJ: How can you avoid it? [Crosstalk] [Laughter] I don’t know, they’re everywhere [laughter].
[00:40:00] BT: Yo, it’s like Best Buy had a sale on mics or something [laughter].
[00:40:05] AA: I would say that my first introduction, I would say early 2010s and more in line with what we, I think at the time, used to call hotep Twitter. Cause I feel like this is all an evolution. The belief systems vary but the foundational values are the same, right. I was introduced to more like hotep Twitter memes and when I say “hotep,” it’s like this interesting semantic change in which like the word hotep just means peace, right. So, it’s a neutral word but it became like this pejorative to be associated with a type of, usually, Black man that on the basis level is really into Afrocentricity. But when you dig deeper it gets into misogynoir, chauvinism so the means—
[00:41:05] AJ: Transphobia.
[00:41:06] BT: Right, transphobia. Everything was about the Ankara caps and dashiki. That’s what the tropes were. I just remember the way we would all make fun of Spoken word poetry in relation to hotep, right. It was always in cadences like “beautiful-Nubian-queen-shea-butter-on-my-pillow,” type of cadence. That’s my introduction and it just kind of evolved, and I think it takes on different forms. And, you know, I’m here today to talk about the newest form of it but I think what we’re talking about is something that’s been happening for over a decade, even before hotep Twitter too. That was my introduction.
[00:41:50] AJ: Right and I think that that’s something that we talked about earlier on is how these kinds of conversations around what masculinity is, and what manhood is, and what the possibilities and impossibilities of Black femininity are, is something that has been going on since Black people came to the new world [laughter]. Is basically where we can bring it back to, but let’s rewind.
[00:42:18] BT: Yeah, I was gonna say we might need to talk about that. Cause I think we’re looking at two different types of spaces that tend to talk to each other and reinforce each other. And then there is a such thing as the divine feminine, which I think can sit outside of this and not be toxic but that’s also a conversation for maybe a different time. The Black manosphere, at least as I conceive of it, is—and we talk about these Black male podcasters, you all might’ve seen the TikToks of people imitating them and also the TikToks of their words actually spreading. And a lot of these are Black cis, presumably, heterosexual men—and I use that language intentionally—who signal their manhood through their conversations about relationships, family, and women. And all of these conversations tend to center their needs, their wants, their physical appendage and what it needs and wants, supposedly. And a lot of these conversations are about how to maintain the holiness of their—for lack of a better word—Black manhood. Alright, so that’s the manosphere. Some people might know it as the involuntarily celibate crowd where they have certain ideas about masculinity and how women or cis women are supposed to fit into that and basically women are here to serve and to appease men. So, that’s the manosphere.
And if we think about these kind of femininity spaces, for the most part—at least how I see them espoused by Black youtubers—it’s really cis sexism perpetuated by cis Black women in which they’re trying to attain a type of womanhood. a type of femininity that’s usually regulated to white woman. And so, they say things like, you know, make sure you always smell good, make sure you don’t have hair on your body, make sure you keep your body a certain size, make sure your hair is always done, make sure your nails are always done, make sure that you don’t wear certain colors after the third Monday on whatever or whatever the fuck. All of these arbitrary rules that will, in their eyes, allow cis Black woman to approach a type of femininity standard that is really based in white supremacy.
[00:44:48] AJ: And of course, that femininity standard is meant to attract men.
[00:44:52] BT: Right. Like the whole idea [crosstalk]—
[00:44:54] AJ: Well, the cis hetero men.
[00:44:55] BT: Right. The idea is that this feminine has a masculine counterpart in which the two of you come together and you create, hopefully, Black sons who will then go forth and do something. Who knows what, exactly, they’re supposed to do but they’re gonna do something great [crosstalk]—
[00:45:00] AJ: They’re gonna be kings.
[00:45:20] BT: They’re gonna be kings and then your gonna raise your daughters to be submissive “feminine” queens. So, clearly lots of things to say in objection to them but that is my quick read down of the manosphere and toxic feminine YouTube [laughter]. Do y’all have anything to add to that? [laughter]
[00:45:44] AA: Where do we begin? [laughter]
[00:45:49] BT: Where do you start with all the critiques you could make, you know?
[00:45:53] AJ: Well, I have a question for you. What do you think draws Black people to these kinds of spaces on the internet?
[00:46:01] AA: You know, one of the main things in my own research, the way I think about the internet is that usually when we talk about the internet it’s like this binary relationship between the physical and the digital world as if they’re like two separate things that don’t interact or coexist in any way. But I argue that we navigate these roles simultaneously and they influence each other. So, the things that draw people to the Black manosphere on the internet or on social media is the same thing’s that’s drawing people to enclaves of the Black manosphere in the physical world. Like respectability politics is always a thing, right? We could go all the way back to W.E.B. DuBois and the talented tenth. This is just like that but in a digital sphere and just like heightened and exaggerated to its worst extent.
But I think this is not necessarily new, right, these are the things that people gravitate towards in the physical world of having to present themselves a certain way, or only seeing value of a certain type of people within what [Penelope Eckert] would call the heterosexual marketplace. So, it’s the same thing but just on the digital spere. But why do people find themselves attracted to it? I think it’s because if I think about the red pill as a metaphor but kind of take it up in a different direction a little bit. You know like how you don’t like to take a vitamin or pill that’s too large, so you put them with applesauce to consume it. I think a lot of applesauce makes it easy to consume this content in a way that you don’t always realize that you’re consuming this content. So, they’re sharing all of their misogynistic ideas through these very seemingly innocuous ways. Like, “Oh, this is just about relationships, oh this is just about dressing—”
[00:48:07] BT: Right or we’re just having a conversation about sex [crosstalk].
[00:48:09] AA: Just sex. You know, just these, “Oh, everyone knows about fashion,” you know, “This is the way to dress,” you know, these are things that—like tips. And in a way, I almost blame partly Steve Harvey [laughter] for the capitalization of it. Because like, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and then people saw you could make money off of this.
[00:48:30] BT: Did you see though, somebody was like Steve Harvey introducing the first non-binary [laughter] the first public non-binary way of life or something with [Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man]? Did you guys see that tweet? I wasn’t [being serious]. It was a joke [crosstalk].
[00:48:49] AJ: Oh, okay.
[00:48:50] BT: But I thought it was so funny. I was like not y’all tryna make Steve be down with the leg booty community, that’s not gonna work.
[00:49:00] AJ: I was gonna say, not him.
[00:49:03] BT: Not Steve.
[00:49:04] AA: You know that book turned into a movie, turned into a lot for him—
[00:49:09] BT: I read it.
[00:49:09] AJ: —kinda popped it off for his career. Got the TV show. So, I think a lot of people saw it and was like okay, relationships, this is what’s going to sell, let’s talk about that. You know, like, so a lot of applesauce is being consumed. So, like a lot of red pills are being consumed. Because just the way this knowledge comes to us is through like these kind of like innocuous Trojan horses. Like oh, you think you’re learning about how to streamline your closet, but you’re really learning about respectability politics and how to dress to, you know, adhere to some type of value in the heterosexual marketplace.
[00:49:41] BT: Yeah, and I think too, I think in some of the videos, you’re right, there’s definitely this kind of—I like this applesauce analogy. But there’s the applesauce. And then there are some people who are like, here is the straight up, you know, Granny Smith apple. Like, this is how you catch a man, or this is how you—. Oh my gosh, all the videos. I used to watch a lot of makeup YouTube, and I guess the algorithms says oh, if you watch makeup YouTube, then you’re definitely interested in this kind of femininity content. And so, a lot of the stuff that comes on my suggestions is stuff on like, how to make sure that your vulva and your pubic mound is a certain color, like how to make sure that your underarms match the rest of your skin, and all these things that are that are really, truly if you think about an anti-Black, right?
Well anti-Black one and kind of pedophilic but people don’t like talking about that. But yeah, like this idea that as a grown woman, you should be hairless. Your skin should all be the same color, you should have long hair. For some femininity girls, they all got long hair, whether they bought it or they grew it. And you know, the nails and things like that. And a lot of these things, in my opinion are very anti-Black, like Black people have different patches, you know, of color of our skin, even on our face, on our bodies. But this idea that this is supposed to be what makes you beautiful in order to catch a Black man. Who most of the time, if we think about how cis het men take care of themselves, or don’t take care of themselves, are not putting that level of effort to maintain.
[00:51:27] AJ: That’s being nice about it.
[00:51:28] BT: You know, the whole—the war is about why do I have to be you know, perfect angel person who never smells bad or never has hair and never burps.
[00:51:39] AA: For a man that doesn’t clean his fingernails.
[00:51:40] BT: He doesn’t clean his face. And you know, clean his fingernails, clean his feet, clean his bathroom, clean his house. He thinks washing his butt is gay, like [laughter].
[00:51:53] AA: The sad thing is that this could kill women too. Because if you think about like, how when the whole Johnson and Johnson baby powder, and how a lot of Black women got cancer through putting the baby powder in their underwear because of your total. That’s how, what you do to be fresh and clean. Like it seems cute at first, but then this can be really dangerous.
[00:52:14] BT: You’re right. And even yeah, like the physical dangers, and then also the emotional danger, the psychological dangers of being in a relationship with someone who thinks that your primary goal and purpose in this life is to serve them. And so, we were talking about these kinds of enclaves of these values. We have to look at what Christianity has done, what Islam has done, to Black communities and kind of bringing these ideas of purity, of chastity, of cleanliness, of submission—right, everybody gets that wrong, right—of how we’re supposed to treat children, and the value of men in households, and how those all kind of come together with a little nigga remix to it and it becomes something violent and dangerous as you were saying.
And I think your work is really interesting because you’re looking at this, like Black content. And part of what you do through Black In Real Life is kind of highlight that influencer as a category is not something that just popped up, right? Black women made that. Black women made influencing, and Black women made this space on the internet for us to be able to even have these conversations. So, I want to know, like, why do you think that these platforms really actually benefit from Black women doing this work, but also like the criticizing of them as they do this work? Like, what do you think about that? Because there’s definitely the Black women make space, but then there’s also a lot of space to then other people come back and bite them, like in their own spaces. So, what do you what do you think about that?
[00:54:01] AA: Well, I almost wanna ask you this, because this is literally like the same thing in like the physical world, like in activist spaces that you study about. Black women are doing all this labor, right, and then we reap the least benefit from it. Like we’re saving everybody else, we’re putting everyone else on, and then everyone kind of just like climbs on our backs and goes higher and further and pushes us down in the meantime, right? Unfortunately, as we see across industries, even when you even look at the music industry, like putting down Black women sells and I hate that. And the thing about social media is they always had to feed the beast. And the beast is the algorithm. So, more people consume this content, well the more you’re going to see this content, because on YouTube, it’s about views. And you realize that certain content or certain video streams that you make, get views and you get paid off of that. So, you’re going to do more and more of that content.
Who knows what, if all of these people actually believe the things that they say, or they know that the things that they say are selling. So, there’s also that consider. Because if this is your job, you’re going to do whatever you need to do to make the most coin from it. “Oh, a lot of people gave me attention because I had a podcast episode that like, tore down Black women with Black women in the room? Cool, I’m gonna make more of that because no one heard about me before.” So Timon and Pumbaa, they’re gonna continue doing that type of content, if it’s what’s getting them recognition. I’m not gonna say their names, I’m just gonna call them Timon and Pumbaa. But they’re gonna continue to do that content. That’s what social media is about.
[00:55:29] BT: I love it. Timon and Pumbaa [laughter].
[00:55:35] AJ: Yeah, we’re not calling out any manosphere names today [laughter].
[00:55:40] AA: No free promo. No free promo from me.
[00:55:44] AJ: And also, we just don’t want to attract the vitriol either.
[00:55:46] AA: That’s also the thing, because also that’s the thing, right? The more we talk about it, and the more people say, “Oh, that’s so terrible. Did you hear of this? Did you see it?” it gets shared more. They only profit from the more we talk about them and share their content. It doesn’t matter if you love-share something or you hate-share it. A share’s a share.
[00:56:05] BT: [Crosstalk] A share’s a share.
[00:56:05] AA: It’s a check, right? So rather than share that content, I’m probably jumping the gun, but one of the solutions is to share content you actually like, that you think is positive, rather than share things you don’t like. Because the algorithm views them the same. It’s still engagement. So, you’re gonna see more of it.
[00:56:22] AJ: Yeah, you just reminded me of that website that I don’t think I really see any anymore, but Upworthy. It was kind of the response to BuzzFeed in the 2010s, I guess. And I don’t really hear very much about it anymore. But, you know, they used to share positive content, and that kind of stuff would go viral. And it kind of changed what you would see in your feed. I think going back to the question that Brendane asked. It just I think it comes back to the fact that can’t go anywhere without Black women. Right?
[00:56:53] AA: Yeah.
[00:56:53] AJ: So, if they might climb on our backs is one way of doing it. But on the other hand, they can just tear us down. And people are going to look at that because they want to see it. It’s like it’s similar to the way, I think, that people will share videos and photos of Black people being brutalized. There’s something pleasurable in it, they know that they need us. And that causes some kind of like, trip in their brain where they’re like, we need to see Black women being taken down. And we need to see Black women being aggressed in order to feel better about ourselves and our place in the world.
[00:57:40] AA: Do you remember like—I remember this new cycle some years ago, I think I was in college when it popped off—but it was all this news about Black women are most educated group in America and it was like, yes, and Black women were so successful. But then I felt like I saw a counter news narrative that came that’s like, why aren’t Black women married? Why are there so many single Black women? And it’s like can’t you just accept that we’re educated, we’re doing the damn thing? But you’re single. So, there’s that. It’s always again, always kinda like this equilibrium that kind of tries to keep us in check. Like, “Oh, you guys are great at this. You guys are innovative here. And then here’s the ways that you don’t fit into our heterosexual marketplace, just to keep you all in check a little bit.” I think the cycle always kind of has that, [sigh] yeah, terrible equilibrium. Because again, this, the stuff sells. If everybody always wants somebody to kind of look down on.
So, if these men are like involuntarily celibate, or they’re feeling a way about their own financial status, or whatever, they’re going to try to find something else to say, “Well, at least I’m not that, at least I’m better than this.” You know, everyone’s always trying to find a point of difference to lift themselves up and too often and across too many categories that point of difference is Black women. And I think it’s just, it’s not just misogyny. It’s like, it’s that unique misogynoir, like Moya Bailey was saying. But I think technology is this interesting space to really consider gender. Because I was listening to this other podcast about the creation of Amazon’s Alexa, and how a lot of AI [artificial intelligence] voices are gendered as female, particularly because they’re supposed to be used in the kitchen. So, the engineers associated it with kitchen, domesticity, female. But one of the worst things about it was that early on, they would have these moderators that they would pay to listen in on conversations the owners of Alexa devices were having in their home. This is unethical, obviously, because these people do not know that their conversations are being listened in on.
But I bring this up to say that one of the moderators is interviewed for this podcast, and she was talking about, I would hear sometimes the worst things that people would say to the Alexa device. Like children and men in particular would just spew out all this aggression towards it. And she was saying, it’s probably likely because Alexa is gendered as female. This is their way of getting their aggression out to someone that they—something or someone that they thought was subservient to them. And I think we see these processes of like airing out aggression when it comes to Black women, because people everyone thinks a Black woman, for whatever reason, are subservient to them. So, you’re always going to try to air out your aggression. And instead of your aggression to the systems of oppression that are binding you, you’re going to air it out to someone that didn’t do anything to you, is probably even more oppressed than you. Because it makes you feel better.
[01:01:03] BT: Well, I think I mean, it’s obviously true that a lot of the people who spew this stuff towards Black women are, it’s not like they could point to a single Black woman and be like, “Oh, that’s the one who hurt me and this is why.” Well, actually, I don’t know cuz sometimes, if you talk to men, they’re like, “Yeah, it was that one girl.” I’ll never forget this man who told me that he did not date Black women because he dated a Black girl in high school, and he was in his forties. He dated a Black woman in high school, and “No Scrubs” came out and she called him a scrub and dumped him. And he was fifteen. He never forgot that. And from that point forward, he was like, “I’m never dating none of you Black bitches ever again.” But then he was he was trying to talk to me, but that was—
[01:01:50] AA: I heard those types of stories before and it’s like, “Did you consider?” And also, they’ll be like, “Oh, she likes thugs and didn’t like me because I was a nerd.” I was like, did you ever consider that maybe you’re punching above your class? But there was a girl that was on your level that liked you and you didn’t pay her no attention. So, there was always someone for you. You just chose to—[crosstalk]
[01:02:05] BT: I mean, or have you considered that your hairline might not be it [laughter]. Have you considered that you might not have brushed your teeth this morning and you’re trying to talk to someone? Have you considered that your fingernails are not clean? Have you considered that you have not taken proper care of yourself? No, because it’s all about power. It’s all about being in this position of being able to be this like violent person. But I was like thinking about, in connection to what you said Anuli, this trauma that a lot of like Black cis, presumably heterosexual men bring to these spaces around this mythological—or maybe she’s a real—Black woman that harmed them, right? Whether that person actually be a figure that’s more akin to their mother, their grandmother or some woman or girl that they when they were a child met and then that becomes like the figure that influences their vitriol or their hate. Right. So, there is a woman that did something to me, something wrong to me. And I think for a lot of them like that pain is the source, like that is that is the source.
[01:03:20] AJ: And I think that there’s a corollary to that as well, for the women, for the Divine Feminine women. So, there was, I read on a little bit in the book that we read for this episode. And Michelle Wallace, she opens up one of the chapters, and she says, “By the time I was fifteen, there was nothing I dreaded more than being like the women in my family.” And I thought that was really interesting. I think that there’s a kind of, I think there’s actually two things going on with Black women. One is, we don’t, I don’t want to be the mule. I don’t want to be the mule of the family in my life moving forward, the way that I’ve seen the women in my family be the mule. I think there’s that. And then I think there’s also this fear about not having a spouse, not being married, not being valuable enough to be married, that also sends them towards the divine feminine, femininity YouTube stuff. And I need to be this kind of what is essentially a white patriarchal notion of feminine in order to attract and keep a man who’s going to take care of me in whatever sense it is that they mean. So, I think I think there’s like two kinds of generational traumas going on that bring people to these two spaces.
[01:04:58] BT: Yeah, I agree with that. I think, too, because the pressure to be married, right, is one that you can look at as like, okay, patriarchal societal, white supremacist, Christian, Judeo, whatever, whatever. Like, this idea that we’re all supposed to be partner to one person and forever and ever, Amen. And then that also allows for the familial practices that were necessary during slavery to be considered illegitimate, right, which Hortense Spillers talks about. And I think that also served as justification for the violence that Black men did in the Civil Rights Movement, where the very patriarchal, “We’re going to reclaim our spot in the Black family,”—even though none of them niggas was trying to be home [laughter]—”reclaim my spot in the Black family as head of the Black family because white men are head of their families.” Without recognizing traditional African ways of living that might have recognized that women are the head of their households, right.
And that is not necessarily something that’s wrong. I do think that the more educated we get as Black cis women, like the more educated we get, there seems to be an emphasis on partnership in marriage, even more so. So maybe part of the attraction to divine—I’m gonna take the divine out—the femininity, the toxic femininity spaces, is this appeal to a certain type of class, right. This idea that a two-parent household allows me to have a certain level of living and luxury, like the Black luxury conversation.
[01:06:36] AA: That’s a whole conversation. Bring me back for that one too [laughter]. I will say, unpack a little bit of my own trauma. So, when I graduated from undergrad, I went to Howard, I had a graduation party. Didn’t want a graduation party, but we had a graduation party. And I had—this is an important context—so I got a 4.0 and I was at Howard.
[01:06:59] BT: Purr.
[01:06:59] AA: Thank you. So, everyone’s excited. And everyone’s making speeches about me at my graduation party. Then my aunt gets on the microphone and she’s like, “Oh, yes, thank you, thank you, Anuli,” this is my Nigerian articulation of my name, “Oh, Anuli, you doing so good. In college, you got the 4.0, you got the degree, now you need to get that MRS degree.” I said, I don’t even have a diploma in my hand, you’re already talking about marriage. And it’s really funny too, because it’s like you go through college as a daughter of immigrants and everyone’s like, “focus on your books, don’t talk to no men.” And then you graduate and all of a sudden you supposed to have a husband [laughter].
[01:07:38] BT: The man is not supposed to talk to you. He’s supposed to choose you. You supposed to meet him at the courthouse and it’s a done deal. Talking? That’s not what establishes a holy relationship.
[01:07:52] AJ: It’s funny because that is—that’s actually something that is just so, I don’t know. Maybe it’s immigrant, maybe it’s Black, like Black immigrant, because my family was like, “Oh, you’re not dating until you’re thirty, blah, blah, blah?” And then as soon as I graduated from undergrad, they were like, “So, when are you getting married? When are you gonna have babies, blah, blah, blah?” But my whole life growing up, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to date until a year ago. So, it doesn’t make any sense. And the reason I say maybe this is a Black thing, maybe this is a Black immigrant thing, is because there was just a Twitter thread about the MRS degree, the Mrs. degree. And [laughter] it’s just a long thought about how there were so many people who just are—I mean, white men, white women, particularly from the south—they just go to university in order to find a man who’s going to take care of them. She said, this woman was talking about how she knows tons of people, tons of women who are doctors, they met their husband in medical school. And they don’t practice as doctors because they have a man who’s taking care of them financially. And they just, you know, they spend their days playing tennis, and they live their life in leisure. And you know, I think she was trying to ask, is it really worth it to be aspiring to labor in the way that we do? But it really brought up this interesting conversation about the Mrs. degree.
[01:09:17] BT: Yeah, and some women have choices, right? Some women have the class background where they can come to college and be like, “Oh, yeah, I’m just here to find a man.” Like I think people will give—a lot of people get married in their early twenties, white people, at least from my undergraduate. It was like they came from pretty rich families, and they met their spouse in either high school or in college, and they got married, like, at twenty-two, twenty-three. Which, now at my age, I’m like, Oh, my God, I cannot imagine being married that early. For a lot of like Black families, especially those in the US, you have to build that wealth. College is the first step in order to build any kind of wealth anyway. And that’s what marriage is, it’s an exchange of wealth, it’s a consolidation and hoarding of wealth, on a basic level. And it’s a site of reproduction, but that’s neither here nor there.
So, like, I feel like for Black women in particular, the emphasis on getting married comes after the education, in order to be the kind of respectable politics kind of thing of just like, well, you don’t want to be young and pregnant kind of thing, right? At least in my family, it was very much a—let me not speak for everyone. In my family, because everyone had children in their late teens, early twenties, it was very important for me to go to school and focus on my education, because they didn’t want me to fall into that same generational pattern. And now there’s really not pressure for me to be married, because none of the women in my family are married. And the ones who are married are not happy and they’re very open about that. So, I feel like I—where was I going with that, though? So, I think yeah, that for Black people who aspire to be married early on, especially in like their twenties and early thirties, you kind of have to have the money to do that. And the like ability to say, oh, I can like, be a mother, I can just quit my job and like do this. Like, that takes a lot of like wealth in my mind to do [laughter].
[01:11:27] AA: Which is funny, because all of these things is just like playing Sonic, the Hedgehog and trying to get gold coins. It’s like, okay, you finish school, okay, you’re married. And then once you’re married, there’s expectation, you have a kid, you do this, you do that. So, it’s like another thing, you’re never going to meet expectations, because another, like goalpost will always be put in front of you. But I also think, to talk specifically about like the Black manosphere and then like the whole divine femininity thing, I do want to point out that like, they’re not these like separate worlds. Like, the reason Black manosphere can even grow is in part because Black women also do support it. They are the ones seeking the relationship advice from these men on how to get a man. [Laughter] You know, reading the books and consuming a lot of the content as well. So, they’re consuming the divine femininity content, but they’re also consuming the Black manosphere content because we often find that women are also these enforcers of the respectability politics. Even with the things like the Ku Klux Klan. Like we always talk about all these racist white men, it’s like a lot of them—do you think these men were smart enough to lead all this by themselves? It was a lot of women as a net turning their heads, like their wives are giving them the ideas.
[01:12:49] BT: Literally. Someone got to bake the cookies, you know, whether it’s your Black man or your white wife. I think that’s a really salient point, right. What really drives the Black manosphere, besides their hate for Black women, their professed hate, is that like Black women who then probably have internalized a lot of loathing, who are watching this in hopes that having a man what makes them complete. There are people who practice spirituality that believe in feminine and masculine as two poles or two binary that balances the world and I think that is not what we see in these like femininity YouTube videos or these like Black manosphere videos. So, I do want to make a distinction. Like I don’t want folks to think everything that says divine feminine is evil. There are people who do work that help women—let me resay that—people with uteruses reclaim their bodies and maintain connection with feminine parts of themselves that is actually healing and helpful. And we are like literally talking about the people who say, “Oh, you’re only feminine if you smell like roses from sunup to sundown,” or “if you didn’t put lip gloss on before you go to bed and kiss your man, then are you a real woman?” Right? Like those are like—
[01:14:10] AJ: You can’t wear sweatpants, all of these kinds of things. But I think you’re making a nice segue into our question about aesthetics, right? And what does it mean to, in the toxic femininity circles, what does it mean to be feminine? To look feminine? I think for a lot of a lot of these YouTubers, a lot of these influencers, their ideal is Laurie Harvey. Laurie Harvey. And there’s a really good video. I can’t remember the name of it now. But it talked about how much colorism and fatphobia are ingrained in these kinds of conceptions. Because they say, if you’re a feminine you don’t wear sweatpants. So, this YouTuber was like, “Here’s a video of Laurie Harvey wearing sweatpants, okay, she’s not always this ideal thing.” The reason that she gets to be—and actually she was showing videos of other feminine YouTubers playing her, just being like, this isn’t masculine because of the way that she wears it. But it’s actually because she’s skinny. So, she meets their idea, their conception of what it means to be feminine. And then, of course, you know, there’s the colorism aspect of it. So, there’s a lot of anti-Blackness, I think, involved in the whole femininity, and of course, in the Black manosphere. A lot of their rhetoric. So, I think what’s really significant for them is that they look like a high value woman. That’s one of their terms [laughter].
[01:15:47] BT: Whew, slavery come on back.
[01:15:51] AJ: [Crosstalk] They looked like the high value women, right. So, where does this emerge from, this aesthetic ideal? And could you tell us some of the problems about it?
[01:15:58] AA: Oh gosh, where do you start? Laurie Harvey is such a fascinating case study to me because, like, in addition to her looks, if you ever think about like, have you ever really heard her talk? Like do we really know her personality? It’s also like that thing that men be like “Oh, women should be seen and not heard.” And she’s almost kind of like that because we really don’t know her on a personality level.
[01:16:28] AJ: [Crosstalk] Sorry. It’s also funny that she’s also Steve Harvey’s daughter. She’s Steve Harvey’s daughter, she’s the ideal feminine, Black feminine woman.
[01:16:42] AA: We really need a memoir [crosstalk] because she’s the one that—
[01:16:47] AJ: And I gotta say like she’s acting like a man in a lot of ways, right? Like she plays the field. She was breaking all these hearts back in the day.
AJ: She broke Future’s heart.
[01:17:00] AJ: She was sleeping around. Which is—I don’t have a problem with it, but in the feminine YouTube, in the Black manosphere, you ain’t supposed to be run through.
[01:17:09] AA: Well, I mean, we don’t even know that for sure, though [laughter]. We just know that she was associated.
[01:17:15] AJ: Associated.
[01:17:15] AA: She was associated.
[01:17:16] AJ: But in both spaces, they’re still like oh, she’s the ideal you know, she’s a ten. She’s what all of us should be aspiring to if we want a real man who’s gonna take care of us. A high value man.
[01:17:30] BT: She’s rich though.
[01:17:32] AA: She comes from money. Yeah. And we don’t even know if—like Laurie Harvey is naturally beautiful but we don’t even know the things that she probably does herself to maintain that beauty. Like to kind of lean into more like Eurocentric beauty ideals. Has she got surgery? We don’t know these things. Why does she seem to be like the epitome? Because I think she’s a Black woman that kind of leans towards the Eurocentric ideals.
And, well, I don’t even know where to start with this. I think the things that we see online as far as the types of beauty that are promoted, are the same types of beauty that have always been promoted. Which is why, if you look at Instagram, everybody looks almost—like the most popular influencer type of girls—almost look all racially ambiguous. It’s like different shades of beige. It’s, you know, like, there’s always this, you know, the nose, the cheekbones, the way everyone does their make-up. A lot of people they’re trying to go for the Kardashian look, and the Kardashians are trying to go for a Black woman look. So again, Black women end up being the model, but then at some point, it kind of deviates away from us. It’s—
[01:18:59] BT: Yeah.
[01:18:59] AA: —it’s a lot.
[01:18:59] BT: It’s for sure a lot. I think even terms like “high value” to me, the person who you know–I sit next to some Afro pessimist schools of thoughts and afterlife of slavery schools of thought, right? This idea of evaluation, [crosstalk] in a marketplace, of a person that stems from slavery. Literally, like, I can look at you, I can assess your body parts—particularly for people who were sexed as women and girls, right? It’s like, I’m looking at you, I’m looking at your breasts, I’m looking at your butt, I’m looking at your vagina. I’m trying to assess like, what really truly what value you have, how much money you could bring me as someone who owns enslaved people or trades enslaved people. And so, it’s really interesting to see those parallels right. That then, that kind of white supremacist, that anti-Black thinking, that then maps over into the manosphere and the toxic femininity spaces. That then takes it up as Black way of life. Like that hotep, you were mentioning earlier, where especially now, a lot of hotep-ery is actually white supremacist thinking but coming from a Black mouth. Like a lot of it is very—it’s very interesting to see people say these are original, or traditional “African” ideals. And that’s not really the manosphere. I don’t think they’re trying to move towards the type of like African, what they imagined to be African space. I think a lot of them are just trying to move towards becoming white men. And so, for them, it’s like, well, this is what it means to be a real man. Like, as a real man, I should have a woman who looks like this. And all this I’m describing is actually impossible for a Black woman without money, you know, to look like. So, what makes you a high value woman is actually just not being Black.
[01:20:59] AA: And that part is the product of the social media age, right? So, if like the Hoteps were in the early 2000s iteration on social media context, we’re focused on more like conspiracy—like if you associated them with like more conspiracy theories and stuff—then these alpha males, these high value males, it’s all about capitalism. Right? And that is literally of this day and age where people’s value is deemed—people are deemed valuable by the way they present themselves, how much money they purport themselves to have. So instead of the god being like, the ankh or Mother Africa, now the god is money. And then do you look like you have money? Do you look like you’re rich or high values? Literally, this capitalist ideal, it’s—I hate using this word, because academics love it, but it’s like the hotep for the neoliberal generation [laughter].
[01:22:05] AJ: I mean, Hortense Spillers called it. She was like, this is an American grammar. It’s a part of our language. And of course, what we’ve done now is take it up and start using it ourselves on ourselves.
[01:22:16] BT: Mm hmm. Which yes, this idea Carmen talks about, the internalizing the width. There it is.
[01:22:24] AJ: Yes.
[01:22:24] BT: So, like this, this idea of like, you know, if you really have a good system—colonialism, anti-Blackness, whatever—you don’t always need to be there as an enforcer. White people don’t always need to be around to tell us, right? We then take it up. And a lot of us as Black people, we better enforcers than them. It’s like, you know, you see the police who are Black and they’re “better cops” than them. When I say better cops, meaning more violent cops, then some of their non-Black counterparts.
[01:22:54] AJ: I mean, look at our mayor of New York.
[01:22:55] BT: Whoo hoo, let’s back up off of that [laughter]. Let’s back up off of that [crosstalk] [laughter].
[01:23:04] AA: But that’s an example.
[01:23:05] AJ: All right, well, we are not going to have you on and not talk about reality TV.
[01:23:11] AA: Hello. [Laughter]
[01:23:11] AJ: We have got to because you know, I’m tweeting Married at First Sight. I’m sorry to everyone who follows my personal page [laughter]. I tweet Married at First Sight, I tweet 90 Day Fiancé.
[01:23:24] BT: It’s the only way I know what’s going on.
[01:23:25] AJ: Yeah, we were just talking about Put a Ring on It, which is on the OWN network, Love is Blind, all of these things. So, I think one of the, you know, one of the couples—well, two of the couples on Married at First Sight that I think about demanding that their spouses embody these individual characters—I don’t even know what to call the feminine and the manosphere person. I think there’s Chris and Paige from Season 12.
[01:23:56] BT: Whew child.
[01:23:57] AJ: And in the current season, Olajuwon and Katina. So, Chris and Paige—for those of you who aren’t up on the reality TV—Chris and Paige married. Oh, first of all, Married at First Sight is a show where people literally, it’s in the title, they get married at first sight. They’re set up by these “experts.” Which, actually, that’s something I also want to talk about, which is the experts themselves have this very patriarchal idea of what weddings and marriage are for. And so, they set these people up, bring them together, they get married the same day that they meet, essentially. Chris and Paige, they’re a Black couple, they’re put together, they have deep faith in God, they’re Christians.
[01:24:47] AA: So he says.
[01:24:47] AJ: So he says. Well, he said he was supposed to be a pastor, but that he wasn’t going to make enough money. So, he stopped being a pastor and he became a business owner. So, there we are coming back to the Black capitalism thing too. Now on the first night, Chris is, like, Paige isn’t a trophy wife. Paige is a beautiful woman. She’s dark skinned, she’s very soft spoken, as well. She’s just, you know, I think she’s a real estate agent or something like that.
[01:25:17] AA: She works on finance. She’s educated and she’s stacked. I don’t know what else he wants.
[01:25:20] AJ: Exactly. So, all of these things and he’s like, “Oh, but she’s not a trophy wife. That’s not the kind of woman that I normally would be with. She’s not the kind of woman that I would—”
[01:25:29] AA: Very coded language.
[01:25:29] AJ: Yes. Now, current season, Olajuwon and Katina. They’re the light skinned couple of the season. Married at First Sight does that [laughter] they have two Black couples on each season, one is light skinned, one it’s dark skin. Yeah, Olajuwon and Katina third light skinned couple of the season. Olajuwon is saying, “I want my wife to be someone who cooks. As a wife, she should be cooking, she should be cleaning.” And Katina is like, “I don’t like to cook. And yes, I’m home during the day, but I’m working. I work from home.” And he’s like, “I want a hot breakfast in the morning.” So, all of these things, all of these kinds of things are playing out on reality TV, and then you have these, then you have these “experts” who one, they don’t recognize that coded language. Because as I said, I tweeted this, I said if there was a Black expert, they would have recognized that coded language, right? And been like, nah this guy doesn’t need to be—
[01:26:32] AA: Well, the pastor, Cal, is Black.
01:26:33] AJ: But he’s deeply invested in patriarchal marriage, right?
[01:19:59] AA: It’s a generational thing. [Crosstalk]
[01:26:38] BT: He has to be, he has to be. [Crosstalk]
[01:26:42] AA: They need the coach from Put a Ring on It to be on this show, because she would do a much better job. [Laughter]
[01:26:45] AJ: Nicole, Dr. Nicole.
[01:26:46] AA: Yeah.
[01:26:46] AJ: I agree. I agree. So anyways, I just—[pause] anyway [unclear]. I think all of these things are, you know, moving into the mainstream, that’s the point I’m getting. These ideas are not niche anymore. They’re moving into the mainstream.
[01:27:03] AA: A lot of applesauce.
[01:27:04] AJ: A lot of applesauce. There is a professor, a Black male, tenured professor, who is a manosphere influencer.
[01:27:15] AA: You know, they say that education doesn’t pay as much. So, you got to get the checks, I guess. [Laughter]
[01:27:25] AJ: always comes back to money. But I just think, you know, is this the reason that or is this an example of the way that these niche spaces or the exception moves into the mainstream?
[01:27:38] AA: An example of. It makes it easier when you put it on like national television, and it’s, you know, coated in the applesauce of like finding love, you know. On the premise everyone should want to find love and that partnership, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. But then you start to see. For example, how did these coaches allow a man like Chris to be on the show? For many reasons, but in particular, having been engaged just six months before he applied, you know. Like he had a lot of red flags. And unfortunately, what the show like Married at First Sight does at times, is to put ratings potential ahead of like, real life consequences. At the end of the day, even though we’re watching as a show, this was Paige’s life. You know, she was legally married and is hopefully now legally divorced.
[01:28:32] BT: Please God.
[01:28:33] AA: Right. And they saw that Chris had a lot of red flags. Like, yeah, he works in finance. Do we know that for sure? Or does he sell Forex? I don’t know. He’s like, you know, he kind of is the epitome of a high value man. Like instead of, you know, he’s not a Hotep because he’s not very, like instead of a dashiki, he’s wearing a suit. But like, it’s the similar chauvinistic values—
[01:28:55] AJ: They’re dough-teps. That’s what it is, for money. Dough.
[01:28:58] BT: Money!
[01:28:58] AA: Dough-teps. [Crosstalk] I love that. Trademark that. Dough-teps
[01:29:04] AJ: You heard it here first y’all. He’s a dough-tep.
[01:29:06] BT: Man.
[01:29:08] AA: The man said, I got my baby mama, Mercedes, a Mercedes because her name is Mercedes.
[01:29:14] AJ: Why would I put my king in something, anything less than a chariot? What? Sir? Are you talking about?
[01:29:21] AA: Yes. And he said he wasn’t attracted to Paige, but an issue was that he would have intercourse with Paige multiple times despite saying that he wasn’t attracted to her. He didn’t love her. He was just a toxic being. But a lot of that was predicated on these like ideas he had of success. And I think that’s a new trauma of these alpha men. It’s like a fear of not being “successful” or a fear of being poor. Like if the trauma before was like, “Oh, these women didn’t respect me or they made fun of me,” now that trauma is “I’m not going to be seen as a man if I don’t have X, Y, and Z material thing,” because now we are living in this highly visual world where people judge you based off of the pictures you present of yourself on Instagram.
And I think that plays a lot into this, like current iteration of masculinity and chauvinism is just how visual everything is and how much people think they know about you based off how you present yourself online. And so, people kind of play into that a lot more. And Chris is somebody that to me, embodies that. He’s like, him and Olajuwon are different in that way. Chris is definitely more about I want to present myself as the ideal man and he fooled them. He especially for a Pastor Cal, like, he wears a suit he, he’s tall, he has a job and all these cars. People thought, “Oh, he’s so perfect, he’s so respectful.” But no, wolf in sheep’s clothing. Olajuwon is different. Because I think he had this party boy past that he’s trying to almost overcorrect by being some standard of masculinity that he made up in his head in which like, man goes to work, woman cooks for him. And I think he’s trying to figure out what it means to be a man because he believes he’s done the self-work. But it’s very clear with his interactions with Katina, that he still has a lot more work to do. I encourage all men like him, and Chris to seek help.
[01:31:30] AJ: Absolutely, I truly think that they set the Black woman up a lot of the time on this show.
[01:31:37] AA: Yeah.
[01:31:38] AJ: And I think one of the things that makes Olajuwon, also, also different from Chris is that he’s biracial. And he’s never dated Black women before, which we find out episode eight, which I think says a lot about the pacing of Married at First Sight and how annoying it’s getting. [Sigh] Lifetime. We’ve been complaining about this on Twitter, you need to stop. [Laughter] But anyway.
[01:32:01] AA: Everybody wants to be Woody and Amani and they can’t, I’m sorry.
[01:32:04] AJ: Exactly. They were great. I don’t know.
[01:32:07] AA: They’re the gold standard.
[01:32:11] AJ: Miles and Karen.
[01:32:13] AA: They’re still together.
[01:32:13] AJ: Woody and Amani. I know. But do they really need to be though? Should they have stayed together? Okay, we’re getting off topic.
[01:32:21] AA: Yeah. [Laughter]
[01:32:22] AJ: We could do another episode just on reality TV. Tell us if you would want that, listeners. But one of the things that I wanted to say is that I think that while the Black manosphere has the potential and is also, I’m sure it’s something that’s actually happening right now—[slap]. Sorry, y’all I just killed a mosquito.
[01:32:56] AA: Island Gyal.
[01:32:57] AJ: Yeah, island life [laughter]. Now, what was I saying? Yes, the manosphere, I think, is something that has the potential and is also practicing violence against Black women. I think there’s also something very insidious about the toxic femininity YouTubers, which is that they’re setting Black women up to meet an ideal that we were never supposed to, that we were never supposed to be a part of. Black womanhood, if there even is such a thing in the American grammar and the American conception, is literally defined in opposition to femininity, which is embodied by whiteness, by white womanhood. So, I think that kind of answers what Brendan was saying is like the psychological issues with this way of thinking.
[01:33:57] AA: This way of thinking is also predicated on again, like consumerism, right? Because It’s always about the things that you need to consume in order to become that high value woman.
[01:34:11] BT: Here are the products, [crosstalk] here is a gym membership. Yeah, yeah.
[01:34:17] AA: So, I remember seeing last year—and this is a way of like how the divine feminine, YouTube is becoming consumed on a larger level, or at least beginning to kind of seep out of YouTube and into like other mediums. I saw an article from USA Today, it was Alicia Keys and she was talking about her approach to meditation and how it employs this like divine—it helps her tap into her divine feminine. Like in the caption, it says, how meditation helped me tap into my divine feminine. And I just thought it was interesting, because ultimately, the article was to promote a meditation app that she has with Deepak Chopra. But she uses the words divine feminine in the headline. And I think that’s because SEO. Like that term is becoming popularized. And it’s a way to put like a remarketing of self-care, as like a spiritual act. Which is ultimately what all of this is, just another way to bastardize Audre Lorde’s words once again, but this time even on a more like, “spiritual level.”
So, for this whole article to be about how she tapped into her divine feminine—which on its face doesn’t seem like a bad thing—but ultimately it was to sell this subscription app for meditation, it is shows the way that these languages kind of come out of these social media enclaves into like more mainstream places in these really—I think the word you used earlier, insidious, is perfect—in these very insidious ways. That they just seem very like, you know, safe and unassuming at first, but before you know it, it’s going to—I think that a lot of the major issue with the divine feminine, in particular as it relates to like Black women, is the impact it will have on young Black girls. I used to work in consumer research before I started a PhD. I did marketing and I worked for a very known brand that talks about self-esteem. And I did a research study for them. And it was, you know, girls started ages eight through women ages 54. Like this whole longitudinal study about women, girls, teens, and self-esteem.
And you see at an early age, like girls as young as eight, talking about the ways people judge their bodies, and managing their selves, and their behavior, in order to appease others. Or being highly conscious of the way that they present themselves. And this, a lot of it, starts at home, you know, through little comments made by moms and aunts and, you know, uncles and just family members before they even go to school. But then at school it becomes a thing. So, I bring that up because when you feel unwelcomed in your body, you’re going to want to try to “do something to fix it.” So, you’re going to do what? Turn to the internet. You’re going to search how to do X, Y, and Z. And that’s where this divine feminine content comes in. It’s like, oh, how to have style. You know, it starts off innocuous, like how to have personal style, how to be more feminine, how to tame your hair, and then you start to internalize all of these things as, in order to be accepted, in order to be valued, I have to do all these things. And that’s why this content is so popular because, I think, late at night, people are searching, you know, and they’re putting all their insecurities into the Google algorithm through their search queries.
And a lot of people are typing these things. So, they want to be valued in this heterosexual marketplace. Even if they don’t identify as heterosexual, you still want to be valued in it because that’s just kind of the way the world works. And this content pops up and it becomes more popular because you find out as a content creator, in order to make a living, if this is what you want to do and you want to be your own boss online, then you have to get other people to buy what you’re selling. Which means you have to sell what people want to buy. And that is this type of rhetoric. So, it’s always going to be this like, cycle of the content exists because people need it—or not need it but content exists because people are searching for it. People search for it, so people create the content.
[01:38:59] BT: Yeah.
[01:39:00] AJ: I was gonna say it’s such a vicious cycle because society also creates that demand, right? They create that little seed of doubt, of unwelcomeness in your body. As you said, I like that, not feeling welcome in your body. I think society creates that. The content is created to help the person fix that. And then, you know, the loop just kind of continues because you’re never good enough, you’re never going to reach the ideal, right? That’s why it’s an ideal.
[01:39:29] AA: That’s the marketing industry.
[01:39:30] AJ: Mm hmm. But I wanted to say that SEO, for folks who don’t know, that’s search engine optimization. And again, it comes back to the algorithms. The algorithms. And you’re also now offering us in a sense, the solution, you know, one of the solutions to the spreads of these ideas. Which is, it starts at home. It starts with home. Also, I think, you know, I was listening to an episode with Kimberly Nicole Foster, who is the founder of for Harriet, and she was saying deplatforming works too. Getting these kinds of content off the internet really works, it helps.
[01:40:15] AA: And that is a great solution. Will the platforms do it? Likely not because they don’t have the incentive to do that if it’s making them money. That’s why they we have all these issues on Twitter, for example, with like trolls and hate speech. And on any of these platforms. Facebook is always saying, oh, we can’t do X, Y, and Z. They don’t have the incentive, unfortunately, to deplatform, as many of these people as me like under this whole like, “freedom of speech,” which they choose to regulate, in very unequal ways.
[01:40:49] BT: Right. So, it’s, yeah, the deplatforming happens to the Black trans woman, it happens to the Black cis woman, it happens to the Black feminists, right? But it doesn’t happen necessarily equally, as you were saying. And I do think one, cuz I’m like listening and thinking about what does it mean to be welcomed in your own body and be at home with oneself? And I think starting at home is so important. But the folks at home don’t know what the fuck is going on. They don’t know how to feel good or welcome in their own body. Then home is not the place to be, either. And I’ve, yeah, I was—that’s a lesson that I’ve had to learn for myself. And so, what does it mean to make a home in myself and for myself as a Black cis queer woman? I think it’s understanding that living my life in its fullness and its beauty is going to be in constant contradistinction to the world around me. And accepting that.
By accepting that as the truth and saying that, like if the mainstream is trying to agree with me on my tip, like my barometer for if I’m doing right is yo if a man agrees with me, I might not be going in the right direction. And I say that half-jokingly. But like yeah, the idea of making a home in oneself, especially as a Black person, especially as a Black feminine person, or even someone who might be masculine, right, and embody those energies, is really thinking about or truly understanding and accepting that everything in this world that brings you money, that brings you wealth, that brings you “companionship,” might actually be in contradistinction to what you need to be at home within yourself. But that’s a hard truth. It’s a hard line to toe for sure. It’s much easier to get on a mic and say have you seen those Black women with their ghetto hair and their ghetto nails and their ghetto gum popping in their bonnets? Like how dare they, right? It’s much easier to do that than to say oh actually let me look within and like build a home within myself and with like-minded people. Just my opinion on it [laughter].
[01:43:17] AJ: That was a word.
[01:43:19] BT: So, should we—should we say goodbye? Is this it? Are we hanging up the phone?
[01:43:26] AA: I don’t know how to follow what you just said. That was a beautiful summary.
[01:43:29] AJ: I know.
[01:43:31] BT: [Laughter] Aw, thanks. Thank you Anuli, thank you so much for your insight, your clarity, your beauty. You all be sure to follow Anuli. Anuli please share your social media and information so folks can find you.
[01:43:50] [Music starts]
[01:43:50] AA: Yes, you can follow me @Anuliwashere on all platforms. That’s A-N-U-L-I was here. Also anuliwashere.com and Black in Real Life, B-L-K-I-R-L, dot com and the same B-L-K-I-R-L, on Instagram and Twitter. Thank you so much for having me.
[01:44:13] BT: And on all podcast platforms.
[01:44:14] AA: And oh, yes. And all podcast platforms. Yes.
[01:44:19] AJ: Yeah, this was really a pleasure. I think people are going to really enjoy this episode. Much, much awaited for many.
[01:44:31] BT: For many. I mean, if you ever want to know how I feel about Black men, here you go [laughter] I’m just kidding [laughter]. Let me stop.
[01:44:35] AJ: We didn’t even get to the half of it.
[01:44:40] AA: Thank you, so much. If you wanna talk about reality television, I will be more than happy to come back.
[01:44:45] AJ: Excellent.
[01:44:46] BT: Now maybe we’ll put that on the Patreon [laughter].
[01:44:50] AA: Special edition.
[01:44:51] BT: Special edition, come here and talk about reality TV. Well, that is all we have for y’all today. Thank you for listening. And thank you for joining us, Anuli, again. This episode was produced by Alyssa James and Brendane Tynes and distributed in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. This season of the podcast is generously funded by a grant from the Arts & Science Graduate Council and donations from listeners just like you.
[01:45:20] AJ: Thank you all for your support! If you like this episode, please share it by social media, WhatsApp, e-card, email, it’s all about the E’s today. We would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, so be sure to follow us on Instagram at zorasdaughters and on Twitter at zoras_daughters. For transcripts, syllabi, and information on how to cite us or become a patron, if you really want that reality tv episode, visit our website zorasdaughters.com.
[01:45:55] BT: Last but not least, absolutely, especially in this time, remember that we must take care of ourselves and each other. Bye!
[01:46:01] AJ: Bye.
[01:46:03] AA: Bye.
[End of Recording]