This is a follow-up to last week’s post about apologies, kind of. Instead of looking at how white people tend to accept apologies for marginalized groups, we’re looking at apologies between marginalized groups – with a little added anti-Blackness and nuance, because..life.
Anybody shop at Savage x Fenty(SxF)? SxF is Rihanna’s wildly popular lingerie line. Her line is much more inclusive (size-wise) than a lot of other retailers and I do believe it is one of the reasons why Victoria’s Secret has seemingly lost its appeal. It shook up that industry with its focus on catering to many different body types and aesthetics. Issa whole vibe.
Much like Victoria’s Secret used to do, SxF puts on a fashion show, to give people a first look at new items. Unlike Vickys, it is as much of a fashion show as it is a concert. There’s music, dancing and looks for dayysss. It’s Rihanna, y’all, so the dancing and music are focused on Black and brown communities/culture. Also unlike Vickys, the dancers and models are incredibly diverse. There are a plethora of races and skin tones, yes, skin tone representation is important too! Every body type is displayed, from 00 to 5x, and everyone gets a chance to shine and revel in their sex appeal.
Both men and women, to include the trans community, are spotlighted. Genderfluid folks are there, too, holding it down. Able-bodied people and those who happen to be differently-abled are represented. Those of different sexualities are celebrated and given the floor. It is a dope ass show of diversity and just an all-around amazing show.
That being said, there was some controversy, in the most recent show. One of the featured models, came out to a song that samples the Hadith, an Islamic scripture. Neither the model, Rihanna, or apparently the creator of the song, were aware that including the Hadith in this way was offensive. The Muslim community quickly made it known that this was unacceptable and Rihanna, the model, and the singer, all issued apologies.
The Muslim community was/is upset by the lack of care and research that went into the song choice for the fashion show, and they have every right to be. Here’s where it gets a little iffy, there were a lot of folks (non-muslim but POC)who hit the Muslim community with a “she said sorry and y’all should accept it” and an “I accept her apology,” which crosses a line that need not ever be crossed. That just isn’t our place to accept on their behalf, y’all. It just isn’t.
There was talk about how this is the kind of information not really known outside of the Muslim community and I understand that. I did not realize that the song sampled the Hadith, when I watched the show, and wasn’t aware of the offensiveness until this happened, but again, the apology is theirs and only theirs to accept.
Here’s where it gets even.. iffier. In voicing their valid concerns, some Muslims displayed anti-Blackness, to get their point across. I’m obviously referring to non-Black Muslims here, but also, I’m highlighting how groups can have inter-communal problems. The non-Black Muslims, seemed to lose all knowledge that there are Black Muslims, who would be offended, when they called Rihanna and the other Black people in the show apes. They didn’t consider the implications when they made fun of their nappy hair or big lips. They obviously felt it was cool to come for their “lower intelligence.”
Ironically, some of the same people who did not like being told to accept Rihanna’s apology, were now accepting apologies, on behalf of Black folks, given by the non-Black Muslims engaging in derogatory commentary. Did you get all that? That was a mouthful, I know.
If you’ve learned anything from me, it’s that anti-Blackness and/or colorism is global. In most places, the darker you are, the more you’re looked at as less than. It happens in Asian communities, Latinx, with Black people across the diaspora, with Aboriginal people, etc. And because of that(and other things), there are nuances, that aren’t quite so white and Black (pun intended).
While, It’s a no-brainer, that if a white person says/does something offensive, having other white people continue to support said person, is deemed equally as bad – having the same thing happen between marginalized groups, “can* play out differently.
In this particular instance, Black people aren’t canceling Rihanna. Because so few of us make the kind of impact that she has, because she makes it a focus to support a variety of cultures, because they feel like it was an honest mistake, because there are Black Muslims who acknowledged the offense but also acknowledged it as a genuine lack of knowledge that they believe she corrected, and because of, well, social structures, and history, and issues between(and in) communities and..a whole lotta nuance.
I try not to talk too much (in this forum)about intra-communal and inter-communal issues, as not everything is for everyone’s eyes, especially considering that those not a part of those communities, typically don’t have the range to have those conversations. But I did want to briefly touch on how there can be a .. rule, I suppose, that *can* be applied differently between cultures, communities or whathaveyou.
I know that can be confusing, possibly look hypocritical, even. But, when the playing field is unequivocally unequal, the “rules” are applied firmly. When the playing field is on a more equal footing, not completely equal, but closer to being so, with intersection flags being thrown down on the play, the “rules” are sometimes applied inconsistently or not at all.
It gets messy(complicated?), when it’s between communities, y’all.
When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.