Black and Brown Bullies: A Reckoning of Unfriendly BIPOC Hotties
TNS contributing writer, Branden Janese, writes about the social dynamics that often turn young Black and Brown women into bullies.
What I’m about to share is triggering, but I want to preface it by saying that Black girls equal magic. We are the influencers, the originators, the Gods that the Gods pray to, the perfect muse, the love in the back of your heart that only comes out in emergencies.
We are the internet, we are the analog, we are the message in a bottle.
However, it’s time to acknowledge something.
If there was some sort of mean girl Olympics Black girls would hold silver, if not gold. When we want to, we can practice an inescapable level of meanness. I’m not mean anymore, however, when I was a teenager I was the Black mean girl who swung so far below the belt my victims had no choice but to go high. When I was 18 I took a creative writing class at a small college in Georgia. After a few weeks of writing, we all submitted our stories to one another to be workshopped. I wrote notes on one of my classmates' pieces that were a few degrees shy from burning a hole in the page. My notes were so critical they would have been too inappropriate for a Comedy Central roast. The professor, who absolutely loved my writing and work as her student, pulled me outside and told me that I had to apologize to the girl for my harsh words. I did and we ended up being cool, and that was the day that I acknowledged selective wickedness.
I know that I’m not the only recovering mean Black girl.
And up until recently, there was no public outcry for a reckoning. Despite the fact that mean Black girl Twitter fingers are equivalent to the fists of a heavyweight boxing champion and should have to be registered as lethal weapons, Black mean girls have always been a subculture that lived and bullied in peace. Now that the bad girls club has expanded from the playground and middle school hallways to the internet, mean Black girls are being exposed.
I wrote overly critical remarks on my white peer’s paper largely because it made me feel witty and clever, however, history proves the reason most Black mean girls bully other girls is rooted in slavery and linked to colorism and pigment hierarchy that our ancestors developed. I remember being a young girl at the local community center and watching other Black girls bully the lighter-skinned Black girls without mercy. I just couldn't get with it because my mom is mixed race and looked just like the girls who oftentimes ended up with no friends. There is this clip of Solange Knowles talking about how when she and Beyonce were growing up girls would bully Beyonce. “Beyonce never had friends.” Her mom Tina says that Beyoncé was so lonely that she used to pray for a friend for her daughter. Solange went on to say, “a lot of times especially with Black girls if you're lighter skin and you have long hair you get a lot of slack for it.”
And there are valid reasons (maybe not morally valid but true reasons) why Black girls bully. We get treated so unfairly by society that out of all the different cultures and communities that call America home, not one person here would trade places with a Black girl. Because it’s well known that from marriage to money, to housing we are always expected to gleefully accept leftovers. It’s like that old phrase, hurt people hurt people. And I think we can all agree that Black girls and women are the most hurt of them all.
And we are so often left in spaces where we are so grossly immature that we bully each other until we are as lonely as a young Beyonce. And the only girl who can out bully the Beyonce bullies is the non-black mixed-race bully.
For example, the Chrissy Teigens of the world. These bitches are no joke.
Chrissy Teigen is the leader of mean girls and now she is experiencing an epic fall from digital grace. Chrissy Teigen and I share a birthday, and we share a past of mean girl behavior, however, I wonder why I grew out of it at 18 yet Chrissy is knee-deep in a mean teen dream drama in her mid-30s. Grown-up bullies carry a distinctive aura that isn’t whimsical like an eccentric painter, nor standoffish like a snooty musician, but more like pitiful desperation that leads them to tearing down people unprovoked just for the sport of it like, King of the grown man bullies, Charlamagne did a few weeks ago to tortured former basketball player Kwame Brown.
Unlike our other problematic faves Azealia Banks or Khia or Wendy Williams, Chrissy is an A-List bully who comes for everyone with a viciousness unmatched. There are a growing number of screenshots stuck online that implicate Chrissy. Tweets and text messages she has sent that include death threats to multiple people. She even came for darling Hollywood child star Quvenzhané Wallis and added fuel to the fire that Black girls need to always hide their greatness to make people like Chrissy comfortable.
And now Chrissy is paying the price. Reports came out that Chrissy has lost multiple deals with retailers that carried her line of home goods. Folks are scrubbing through her Twitter archive with a fine-tooth comb to find other hidden gems. Life must be hell in a handbasket right now for Chrissy and it doesn't seem to be getting any cooler.
On Monday, a former Project Runway dress designer who is known in the fashion industry for famously making dresses for Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “On the Run” tour, exposed the details surrounding a conversation with Chrissy that ended with her wishing him dead.
Is this dragging of Chrissy Teigen the start of a ‘Me Too’ like movement for mean Black and Brown girls? I’m thinking of Amanda Seales (who was also called out for her bullying ways) who was noticeably left out of all the ‘Insecure’ wrap-up photos.
Is it time for us to come to terms with our toxic behavior? We brilliantly call out other folks. BIPOC women are the Queens of calling people out on their shit. Yet, are we teaching everyone else a lesson except ourselves? We spent the past year calling out white women for their weirdo behavior. Are BIPOC women who bully the new Karens?
Chrissy Teigen’s downpour of bad news and backlash all because of her secret life of bullying is a sign of how toxic online outbursts can cause pain and trauma that last for years. Watching Chrissy fall like this reminds me that your quick wit can cost others years of healing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Branden Janese is an artist. Her writing is published in The Wall Street Journal, Complex, Greatest, Flaunt and more. Her research appears in several documentary films and t.v series. She wrote and recorded two seasons of the podcast, Sick Empire. She lives in the Bronx