Guest Writer: Bobby Smith
A white CIS woman and a Black SGL man are leaving a business meeting together. The woman tries to hail a cab for both of them to share; however, a cab is not obtained until the man attempts to hail one.
The woman chalks it up to old school misogyny until she notices the male driver is making flirtatious eyes at her associate. She then smiles and states to the man riding beside her, “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?”
The lives of same gender loving people of color have improved in many ways over recent decades. Multitudes of new doors are open to those of us who openly identify as same gender loving. I sometimes wonder if, in making sure that we are adorned in coats befitting the status of the doors we’re entering, our egos have made us blind to the value of someone pulling our coattails. Are all the fractures that remain in our communities the result of external social elements or do the chasms remain due to limited internal assessment?
I ask this question as someone who has never forgotten the value of a good “read.” Back in the day, you could be “read for filth”* but only if the person reading you was respected and if you were actually slipping in the action(s) being addressed in the reading. I differ reading from the “shade” in today’s terminology because serving shade seems to be solely for the purpose of giving slight to another individual or entity. The response to shade is to throw more shade.
When one is read, there are two options: 1.) Read back based on inaccuracy of the accusation or, 2.) accept the reading and check your behavior so no one else would be able to read you ever again (well, at least not for exactly the same faux pas). People who were known as ones who would read you up and down were community members who served as unofficial auditors in our community life. We didn’t easily fight in the streets and the clubs or leave our “besties” hanging to be the next notch on a non-relationship-material’s bedpost because we knew we would get read.
As throwing shade has evolved, it appears (to me and a few others) that we have developed a narcissistic focus. How dare anyone check us on our etiquette, work performance, civic actions, ethics, or even whether our noses are booger-free! The best of readers are very much aware that they are subject to be read too. A developed ability to throw shade makes one impervious to other’s shade.
Nowadays, certain community presence or status can make one impervious to being read. This impunity stunts the growth of our community. How can we strengthen something while providing a hiding place for faults in the blind spot of our egos?
This is my BitsofBS for this month. I guess it can be classified as an attempt at a slight read. I am open to be read for my statements. I view readings as a gift. Either a valid point will be made and I will be educated (betterment) as a result, or a comment will be so sideways and ignorant that I will have the opportunity to construct a good “clapback” (entertainment).
I just hope at least one peruser of this column is inspired to lend a different ear to the source of reprimand, minding the possibility that whoever is mouthing those words is actually someone who cares enough to attempt bettering a friend by holding them up to a higher standard.
To note: if you are in the dark as to what being “read for filth” is, click here.
Bobby Smith advocates unapologetically, incorporating LGBTQ orientation into one’s total identity (as opposed to the other way around). He lives in Atlanta with his husband. “Mr. BS” has been a social activist/writer in the HIV/AIDS, mental health, and LGBTQ rights arenas for over twenty five years. Catch more glimpses of his focus of thought by liking the Know No Oppressive Thinking Facebook page–https://www.facebook.com/1.KNOT—and by reading some of his prose at https://wordsfromtheb.wordpress.com/. And, you mail email Bobby at: email@example.com