What do Martha Jones, Tara Thornton, Guinevere, and Mercedes Jones have in common?
- If you answered that they are major supporting characters in hit TV shows, give yourself 1 point.
- If you answered that they are among the few fictional representations of Black women on major network television shows, give yourself 2 points.
- If you answered that fandom, for some mysterious reason, hates the shit out of them, give yourself 5 points.
- If you answered that fandom’s hatred of these characters are particularly gendered and racialized along stereotypes about Black women, hand yourself the internet.
- The level of hatred spewed at these characters sometimes even manages to spill over onto the actors who portray them. Poor Rutina Wesley can’t do anything right in True Blood fandom. And according to some Merlin fans, Angel Coulby is probably the Antichrist. OK, I exaggerate. But not by much.
What’s so wrong with these characters according to fandom? Hm, let’s see:
- They have an attitude problem.
- They’re lazy.
- They’re mean.
- They’re stupid.
- They’re ungrateful.
- They’re selfish.
- They’re sluts.
- Why do I feel like I need to puke and take a shower every time some of this shit shows up on my Tumblr, my LJ, or some other social media? Oh yeah, because this shit ain’t new, and it makes me sick.
When I see fandom reacting to fictional Black women this way, I wonder what they’re saying about real Black women while our backs are turned.
- If we react angrily to being repeatedly ignored, disrespected, and/or abused, will our White co-workers say we have an attitude problem?
- If we are open about seeking and enjoying sex, will our White friends call us slutty?
- If we demand recognition of our talents and gifts, will our White counterparts say that we’re looking for a handout or are getting too uppity?
- If we achieve better results with less work, will the White people in our lives call us lazy?
- If we speak our truth without apology, will White people call us mean?
- If we take care of ourselves, will we be called selfish?
- If we act, speak, or think without prior White approval, will we always be seen as stepping out of line?
- What about you? When you see fandom talking about Black women characters in certain ways, how does that make you feel? How do you deal with it? What do you say (if anything)? What would you like to see change about this?
(**Funnily enough, this sort of subtle fortitude is something that I only see Black and Brown actresses pull off.)