Leslie Jones And The Perception Of “Strong” Black Women

Imagine being a female comic with a calling to spread laughter and joy only to be called an ape, nigger and coon via the Internet by trolls and crazed people. You could probably never dream of wanting to stand in front of a crowd and make them laugh, but that’s a dream for a person who entertains. That is me, I am a young comic. There is a mutual understanding between rookies and veterans that the job of a comedian is to be fearless, not hollow or inhuman. Unless of course, it’s funny.

Comedy is an art. There is no training in the world of art that could possibly prepare anyone for sexual harassment from a plethora of hateful memes and photographs. To effortlessly be the subject of someone’s sickness is one thing but to be expected to brush it all off as the victim in the equation is another. 

Internet trolls and cyber cowards have always been the norm within social media especially towards public figures, but the attacks earlier this week on Leslie Jones’s twitter page deeply affected me and here’s why. 

If it hadn’t been for Leslie’s instinct to expose the hate being hurled at her on Twitter, would we be able to believe that a black female comedian can feel pain, even though her comedy stylistically is bold and brash? Are we conditioned to believe that a black woman in general can’t feel devalued, forgotten and misunderstood just because she’s greatly respected from the people within her industry?

This is the perception of the black woman; it is the idea that we’re not human. The thought that when we are successful, we’re strong and solid on the inside and so the average insult can’t penetrate or destroy any part of us. To think of black women in this way contributes to why we’re often casually forgotten. My fear is that Leslie’s decision to retweet her most hateful haters will never be seen as courageous, but unexpectedly docile and unnecessary. “Giving her haters a voice” they say, the people who claim to support her.

Although it is more popular to enjoy the fruits of your labor and not acknowledge your haters whatsoever, it is not the only way to live it is just the easiest. Leslie choosing to expose her hateful trolls gave everyone some insight on how black women can be treated. It showed men and other races of women the struggles we face within the guidelines of race and gender. We as black women get accused of being loud but it doesn’t really matter because  we feel nobody is listening. We need EVIDENCE! What Leslie gave us was the grimy nasty evidence that reminded everybody, including white feminists, that a black woman’s fight is unique and should be valued as such. 

Now…don’t get me wrong, there are many people supporting Leslie Jones at this time and using the hash tag “#loveforlesliejones” and I think it’s cute. But when this hash tag disappears and Amy Schumer is still the spokes person for feminism in America, black women’s specific issues will get swept back underneath the carpet and forgotten systematically like always. 

If nothing else I hope Leslie continues to be brave and stand up for herself in any way she sees fit. By her choosing to reveal the hate it lets me understand that not only is she needed, but I am also needed. She showed me that strength is not just tolerating abuse and pretending it didn’t happen but being vulnerable and human, recognizing injustice and calling it out.

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