Why Jordyn Woods situation explains the social phenomenon of being black in a white friend group and my experience.

Although the reality of her situation, as Jordyn explained, isn’t motivated by the reconstruction of the feminist theory to include the intersectional adversity of women of color, it is so evidently apart of the conversation (Hurtado, 1989, p. 839). Class, Race, and gender are all defining elements in our society that group us together or apart (Hurtado, 1989, p.834). However, there is a coming of age experience for every black girl that reveals the true nature of these defining elements, more specifically race, and how it will affect her social phenomenon. 

For years I refused to trust any white woman. I was sixteen years old holding on to the belief that every woman whose skin lacked color, lacked any understanding or love for who I was. In many senses this is still true, however, it is important to note that in today’s society there are many white women with the educational capacity to advance their understanding of women of color. But I have come a long way and to be quite frank from my coming of age experience till today, I am just beginning to mend. 

My childhood was much like. . . let’s see it as a snowy mountain. White with specs of color spread throughout. Orange County, CA has a population of 1.53% African Americans (Census, 2016). So my childhood was filled with forced Juneteenth parade attendances because “you gon learn about your people.” Trips to LA, forty-five minutes up the 405, were teaching moments, and fellow black people spotting in the grocery store was the highlight of family conversations for weeks. My relationship with my people has always been, cold. They often looked me up and down as to think, “you think you cute, huh” before they would say, “you think you cute, huh.?” My choice of friends often illicit remarks to how I identified, as to assume I thought I was white, and to think that “belief” remained even when I turned three shades darker in the summer and my hair would poof after a midday swim (I stole that from an admirable woman who has never stopped being herself despite the rejection of her own people).

“Why do you always wear braids?”

Women whose reality as a young girl, wasn’t surrounded by white people, misunderstand the plight of those who were. The plight of rejecting yourself, being rejected by others, and being rejected by your own. Yet in still, as black women, we need to unite and stop making it a competition about the others fight. 

I need so much healing. Reading the comments under Jordyn Woods’ Red Table Talk appearance from other black women have been traumatic. As black women, it is direly important for us to lift up other black women. . .

I was sixteen years old, the second year of High School, I had found “my people.” We all came from different socioeconomic backgrounds, that proved evident when our hangouts exceeded the common community of our school,  a private Lutheran High School. Becky and Christie came from single divorced moms who continuously let them know they were “poor” (and used that word) while simultaneously keeping them up to date on the latest Lulu Lemons. Christina was rich (and used that word) but her family always seemed to be too put together, almost like they were always on the brink of losing it all. Alex, my best friend, she had it all: the house, the single child syndrome, the black boyfriend, the ex-ethnic mom, and a Land Rover. I don’t know where I fell within the group. I had a credit card in order to establish credit, a single divorced mom who owned a business and walked by faith and not by sight, and I was the only black girl. 

It’s hard for me to remember what conversations were like, I suppose about normal high school girls topics: oral sex, clothes, parties, teachers. We were all apart of the track team where we had obtained the friendship of two other upper class-men girls, the Two Taylors. They both came from hyper-religious mothers who could be the furthest thing from feminist, and they who seemed to always have their legs open to the top baseball player of the week. Yeah, these were my girls. However, regardless of my bitter tone as I recollect such a traumatizing time in my life, they were my friends. At the time, I loved them, celebrated holidays with them, shared advice, shared tears, prayed together, etc. 

On the surface, I thought I fit in. I remember being hated by a particular teacher because of the girls I hung out with, perhaps it reminded her of whatever traumatic experience she faced in High School. One that associated popular girls, with me. I associated her with the white women in my life who treated me as a threatening adult rather than a child. My best friend from kindergarten indirectly lived through this with me. As she recalls, I was popular. I was. But the truth is, “a black girl can never truly be popular among her white peers.” And so I reject her recollection because the status behind the title “popular” was never afforded to me and I was quickly reminded of that. 

I don’t think it needs to be said that the relationships I fostered with these girls, Becky, Christie, Christina Alex, the Two Taylors was always somewhat strained. I mean half the time the Two Taylors were bragging about the width of their legs as if it made them more black than me, and Becky always got attention from the inner city boys that were there on “football scholarship.” And my best friend, well her man was black, and she was suspiciously so very proud of that.

Subconsciously I had had enough. I am just now getting close to the only other black girl who attended my school as we laugh and internally cry about the dynamics of attending an all white, Lutheran school, with black boys on scholarships who reject you, and white frat boys to be fetishizing you, or since I was on the track team, seeing me as their equal (physically). As Sojourner Truth preached, “am I too not woman?” 

One day, I had decided that my silent suffering had been enough. After practice I recall Alex feeling upset and asking me to remove my sweatshirt because she, “wanted it back.” She had been absent for a week, fucking her black boyfriend, and when she returned she didn’t like the feeling of not being elevated. So she wanted to push me down. In the cold, at 4 o clock, a black woman and white woman faced off. Now, this is orange county, so I have never been afforded the privilege of physical fighting, so we shot words like bullets. 

“GIVE ME MY FUCKING SWEATER.”

“I don’t know what your problem is but you can have it back tomorrow.” 

I knew what her problem was. As a token black woman, even if you are accepted in, you have a place. That night she was telling me, know it. So the next morning I waited at her locker, jacket in hand, power on tongue, “here is your jacket and we are no longer friends.” Her returning words still pierce my mind till this day, “ You better watch what you say Parisia, you can’t take back what you say.” This bitch called me out by my name, no why, no how can I fix it, no trying to salvage what would be lost. No.  She wanted me to know my place. That day, she had met with Becky and cried about how I had hurt her feelings. That day Becky, Christie, Christina, Alex, and the Two Taylors became best friends. The girls I had celebrated holidays with, shared advice to, cried tears and prayed with, were nowhere to be found. I had disappeared.

Black girls disappear. 

I wish it ended there, but remember, they were all on the track team. There are certain survival skills that every black girl must afford before she turns five (Hurtado, 1989, p. 845). And depending on which jungle you live in, there are a different set of rules. For my jungle, when you are the only black girl at your school, and your ex-best friend SPITS at you because you beat her in the 100-meter dash, the RULE IS YOU SAY AND DO NOTHING. Til this day, it is really fucking hard for me to abide by rules set in place to suppress kids of color. 

I have gone on to form meaningful relationships with white women and ones who choose to date black men. As I grow in my own narrative and identity, I am beginning to learn about how to educate them before I point the finger at them. The girls who were my friends in High School, they were ignorant. But I am learning to forgive and not place the same general stereotypes on other women like the ones that are placed on me. 

Personally, I think the Kardashians are ignorant and therefore an opportunity of growth for Jordyn.

Jordyn Woods is about to go through her coming of age experience. The experience that will reveal to her the truth about her place in class, race, and gender topics. The internet is trying to tear her apart and it breaks my heart. There is such a deeper issue here. What about Tristian? Many sociologists pose the question as to, “why black feminist are reluctant to separate from black men while simultaneously acknowledging their gender subordination (Hurtado, 1989, p. 838).” Applying the feminist theory to Jordyn story would fail to understand that the suppression of black women is experienced from their own group, white women, and white men. Jordyn Woods is being attacked by all of the above. When I was crying after every track practice because I had never felt so alone, my coach (a white male) sat me down and told me to stop making problems. What I realized on the day I lost “my people”, what Jordyn is soon due to realize is that we were token black girls. Tokenism is not an invitation to share in equal power and “your inclusion is dependent on complete and constant submission (Hurtado, 1989, p. 845).” The subtle or not so subtle ways Khloe Kardashian is setting herself up as a victim is a huge historical highlight to white women in comparing their plight to being equal to that of a black woman:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, speaking before the New York State Legislature in 1860 stated: “The prejudice against Color, of which we hear so much, is no stronger than that against sex. It is produced by the same cause and manifested very much in the same way. The Negro’s skin and the woman’s sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man. The few social privileges which the man gives the woman, he makes up to the (free) Negro in civil rights.” (Hurtado, 1989, p. 840).

Hurtado, A. (1989). Relating to privilege: Seduction and rejection in the subordination of white women and women of color. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 14(4), 833-855.

Jordyn, you are a beautiful black woman that is worthy of being heard and having a story. Your story can be so beautifully intertwined with that of other little black girls, stories to be written, or that are in the healing stages. As you begin to try to heal and make amends I pray you grant yourself the same amount of grace as you are doing to others in your state of remorse. I stand with you as a black woman, I listened impartially to your story, and I value your honesty. You made a mistake, but it is not deserving of the hate you are receiving from black women and white women alike. What you are going through in regards to the hate is a part of a grander systematical public humiliation of black women. 

Miss Parisia B.

Citations

U.S. Census Bureau (2016). American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates.

Hurtado, A. (1989). Relating to privilege: Seduction and rejection in the subordination of white women and women of color. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society14(4), 833-855.

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