Lisa Durden and the Burden of the False Angry Black Woman Narrative


The black person’s burden of managing white fragility is as old as slavery. Dr. Joy DeGruy speaks of this in her groundbreaking book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. There is a delicate balance between the comfort of maintaining a superior cast system and the guilt of protecting it. And still today, people vastly underestimate the extent to which black lives are filled with a level of racial stress that most white people are not exposed to and simply couldn’t deal with. Lisa Durden, a talk show host, pop-culture commentator, film curator and adjunct professor, went on Fox News to discuss the New York City Black Lives Matter chapter’s Memorial Day party, where they asked that if people did not identify as part of the African Diaspora, that they not attend. Durden went head-to-head with Tucker Carlson to explain why she supported the New York City Black Lives Matter chapter’s decision. Durden argued that as Memorial Day was founded by disenfranchised blacks, and as blacks continue to be disenfranchised in America, she understood the need for the NYC Black Lives Matter chapter to ask for a safe space to celebrate this legacy.

In his book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, Professor David W. Blight made the case for Charleston, South Carolina, as Memorial Day’s birthplace, as that city was the site of a May 1865 event held at a racetrack turned war prison, during which freedmen properly reburied hundreds of Union dead that were found there, and then held a ceremony to commemorate their service and dedicate the cemetery:

“African Americans founded Decoration Day at the graveyard of 257 Union soldiers labeled ‘Martyrs of the Race Course,’ May 1, 1865, Charleston, South Carolina.

The ‘First Decoration Day,’ as this event came to be recognized in some circles in the North, involved an estimated ten thousand people, most of them black former slaves. During April, twenty-eight black men from one of the local churches built a suitable enclosure for the burial ground at the Race Course. In some ten days, they constructed a fence ten feet high, enclosing the burial ground, and landscaped the graves into neat rows. The wooden fence was whitewashed and an archway was built over the gate to the enclosure. On the arch, painted in black letters, the workmen inscribed ‘Martyrs of the Race Course.’

At nine o’clock in the morning on May 1, the procession to this special cemetery began as three thousand black schoolchildren (newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools) marched around the Race Course, each with an armload of roses and singing ‘John Brown’s Body.’ The children were followed by three hundred black women representing the Patriotic Association, a group organized to distribute clothing and other goods among the freedpeople. The women carried baskets of flowers, wreaths, and crosses to the burial ground. The Mutual Aid Society, a benevolent association of black men, next marched in cadence around the track and into the cemetery, followed by large crowds of white and black citizens……….. The official dedication ceremony was conducted by the ministers of all the black churches in Charleston. With prayer, the reading of biblical passages, and the singing of spirituals, black Charlestonians gave birth to an American tradition. In so doing, they declared the meaning of the war in the most public way possible — by their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of roses, lilacs, and marching feet on the old planters’ Race Course.
After the dedication, the crowds gathered at the Race Course grandstand to hear some thirty speeches by Union officers, local black ministers, and abolitionist missionaries. Picnics ensued around the grounds, and in the afternoon, a full brigade of Union infantry, including Colored Troops, marched in double column around the martyrs’ graves and held a drill on the infield of the Race Course. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration.”

My father is a Black Republican (and an angry Black Man), so I have watched Fox News for years and I am very familiar with their tactics. I have watched them bully left leaning guest; over talk them; cut off their mic; race bait; use the last word to try to discredit every point they previously made; and speak ill of their character.

I remember watching a guy discuss his appearance on Fox. He did very well but he had prepared for their tactics. He said that he watched the host Bill O’Reilly and he timed how long it took the host to cut off an opposing guest. He then practiced all of his points so he could blurt them out within the short time allotted him. One time, Bill Nye actually timed the Tucker Carlson and lifted his timer to show the host and the viewers that continuously, it only took about 6 seconds for Tucker Carlson to interrupt him. So when I saw Lisa Durden on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, I was in shock and awe. Her tactic was to speak up, speak out, and keep speaking until she was finished with her point. In spite of the fact that he eventually did cut her mic, she made some very real, controversial points.


Bill Nye shows Tucker Carlson how long it takes him to interrupt.

Although poised for public encounters, many disenfranchised people carry the sentiment as The Angriest Black Man in America. “Black people in America are coming upon a time when we are tired of playing the political games and operating under the watch of mainstream character assassins. We do not care what the PR spin will be for us expressing ourselves. Conditions are so bad and so blatant that we cannot bother continuously explaining the obvious, especially to right-wing race baiters who only want to trap us into saying the wrong thing. The facts are the facts. The institutions in America still operate under systemic practices influenced and guided by white supremacy and white privilege forces people of color to have to continually prove the obvious. Let’s stop playing games and call a thing a thing (probably never on Fox News).”

So when I watched the interview, my mouth was wide open pretty much as soon as Lisa Durden opened her mouth. I couldn’t believe what I was watching! I understood where she was coming from but I knew she was not going to be well received. Lisa Durden was not polished and proper, fragile and finessed. She was blunt and straightforward - shots with no chaser! I already knew she was going to be saddled with the “angry black woman” stereotype. I knew she was going to be called racists and she was going to be hit with the full weight of force that is used to try to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement; the same force that was used to annihilate the Black Panther Party. I knew she would be labeled before Tucker Carlson labeled her as "demented." I was proud of her for her courage and conviction. I knew she wasn’t demented. I knew she wasn’t an “angry black woman.” I knew she was just yet another black woman trying to save America from itself.


“To be Black and Conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.”
– James Baldwin

Carlson falsely claimed that white people were barred from attending when in fact they were asked to not attend. This ask is not unfamiliar to America. This ask has been asked time and time again from disenfranchised groups that want to organize or celebrate their cause. NYC Black Lives Matter Chapter said that “Being intentional about being around Black People is an act of resistance. This is an exclusively Black space…. So if you do not identify as Black and want to come because you love Black People, please respect the space and do not come.”




According to the blog, The Angriest Black Man in America, “in the new generation of activism “safe spaces” have become a major theme. However, the concept of safe spaces is not a new one. In the 1980’s there were feminist groups that refused to allow men to be members and/or attend their meetings. The notion of safe spaces seems to have its foundations in LGBTQ culture wherein things like “gay bars” or “gay clubs” were considered safe spaces for these individuals to express themselves without judgment or opposition. It was not explicitly stated that heterosexual people could not go to these places but the notion was that they wouldn’t because the environment catered to the LGBTQ population. In contemporary times we now see these gay spaces frequented by heterosexual people but there seems to be an unspoken acknowledgment that if you operate in those spaces you have to go with the flow of what is acceptable there and leave your personal opinions at the door... In the context of Black resistance and activism, there is a history of these groups being infiltrated by insurgents and intel gathered from their openness such as the Black Panther Party."

Many white allies understand this and they have formed their own groups to work alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. A very good example of such camaraderie is the White Noise Collective, a group of white women who collectively investigate and disrupt ways that "white womanhood" serves to perpetuate white supremacy. There are similar groups like Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL). These groups work with Black Lives Matter to show up properly, when appropriate.

So when Tucker Carlson asked Lisa Durden to explain to him why Black Lives Matter was singling out and punishing white people because of their race, her response was epic! “What I say to that is BOO HOO HOO. You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day celebration.”

The Angriest Black Man in America calls privilege a strange creature. “It exists and is felt so strongly throughout our culture; yet, those holding the privilege are so blithely unaware of it that they have difficulty recognizing when it is being exercised. Privilege much like many things in discrimination is so layered an nuanced it takes effort to peel back the layers and reveal and address what is underlying. Mainly because it is nebulous enough to afford the holder plausible deniability of its existence and power. But this is arguably one of the reasons that safe spaces have been created. Underrepresented groups spend much of their time in society debating, fighting, and lobbying for their existence and acknowledgment of the conditions of that existence. It is exhausting. And when it comes to organizing and strategizing resistance privilege often passively presents itself as a distraction from the purpose of the organizing. What has begun happening is these groups are asking for spaces where they can focus on their goals and not have to constantly take tangents to address the ignorance of privilege.”

Apparently, the privilege of freedom of speech does not extend to Lisa Durden. She was fired from her position as adjunct professor at Essex County College in New Jersey. Did she yell fire in a crowded theatre? No. Did she promote hate speech? No. Ironically, according to President Anthony Munroe, Durden’s defense of the protection of the NYC Black Lives Matter’s Memorial Day event as a safe-space jeopardized the majority Black college’s safe-space. President Munroe said, "I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students... The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism."

Lisa Durden appeared on Roland Martin and said what we all know to be true.
“I wasn’t there to play games, I was there to take a bite out of crime,” she said of her Fox News interview. “When a black woman’s on television who is direct, who is aggressive, we’re ‘angry.’ Well, when Jeanine Pirro’s on TV pointing and screaming and yelling, she’s ‘intelligent.’ ” And when Nancy Grace is coming on television, she’s ‘intelligent.’ … Why can’t I come on there and be aggressive and talk in the same vein as any expert in the fields of pop culture, politics and social issues.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa while working on the set of the Sistah Talk show. Behind the scenes, she spoke candidly about everything from friendships and marriage, to religion- you name it. My impression of her was very positive. Her personality is very much what was witnessed on the Tucker Carlson Show. She is a very smart woman, and an independent thinker who reasons with openness and honesty. Her opinions were thoughtful and it was obvious that she has spent time focusing attention on self-reflection and self-actualization.

From Left to Right: April Gibson, Production Assistant of Sistah Talk Show, and Lisa Durden

Many of her critics reveled in her being fired for her appearance on Fox News. Some even had the nerve to joke about how she would be marching to the unemployment line. But in typical #BlackGirlMagic fashion, Lisa Durden took her lemons and made sweet lemonade. She marched herself right into the New Jersey Gubernatorial race on the Green Party ticket! That’s right. Lisa Durden is running for Lieutenant Governor and I wish her all the best!

In making the announcement, Kaper-Dale said the following, "We need the lens through which Lisa Durden sees the world... Could you imagine debates this fall, friends, with Seth Kaper-Dale, pastor and activist going up against Goldman Sachs and Christie's Lieutenant Governor?  Could you imagine debates with Lisa Durden going up against anyone the two corporate candidates might choose?"

"We're running for the people, period. We've been doing this. I've been doing this, Seth has been doing this; I've seen it with my eyes...I'm going to ask you a rhetorical question, aren't you sick of politics as usual?" said Durden in her speech.


The Kaper-Dale/Durden ticket is running on the slogan: 
"We're Running for Governor"


The general election will take place on November 7th. Learn More about their platform.



Postscript:


From Left to Right: Ms Irene Renee, Lisa Durden, and Sista Talk Host Dietra Kelsey

Check out R & B Singer Ms Irene Renee's 
"No Justice No Peace" music video featuring Crowned1






Comments

  1. IT IS WHAT IT IS because itzallconnected.

    KNOW THY SELF was carved into stone by the Ancient Egyptians as both a lesson, and a reminder. Sexism, racism, and colorism are pre-programmed, mental, illnesses founded, and grounded, in extremely low self-esteem. Before you fan the wind beneath (y)our wings, learn which way is up. Capitalism is as evil as spelling live backwards. Integrity is what holds (y)our mind, (y)our health, (y)our life, and every kind of community [society] together. Even diabolical genius must be sustainable. In all ways, protecting the credo of [white], male supremacy has been more important than human decency, truth and justice.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Jeh Johnson, April Ryan, & Deep Roots of Diversity at Paul, Weiss Law Firm

Book Review: "The Presidency in Black and White" by April Ryan

How State and Local Governments Impoverish African-American Neighborhoods

Some Year-End Thoughts