By Marley K
For people who don’t know what tokenism is, U.S. House of Representatives Mark Meadows gave the whole world a Tokenism 101 Class yesterday to witness during the public part of the Michael Cohen testimony with the help of a willfully ignorant Black woman on behalf of King Racist Donald Trump. Representative Mark Meadows’ tactic was deeply offensive, and the Black woman allowing someone to use her as the ethnic centerpiece for the table of Whiteness was a disgrace. The woman wasn’t even given the opportunity to speak which seems to be a theme with White GOP men and Women of Color.
In case you missed the horrific racist showcase:
Representative Meadows found a Black woman (Lynne Patton) who worked for Trump to dispel myths about his “selective” racial hatred and animus towards Black people. The Black woman worked for Trump. It wasn’t like she was his Black friend. Why didn’t Meadows go find Trump’s Black friends to attest to his racial character?
He couldn’t because he had none. None that would ruin their Black lives fucking around with the GOP and Trump. And how does a racist defend a racist when both have a track record of being racist? That’s so ignorant.
Black people and many people of color have transactional relationships with Donald Trump and White people (token benefited the racist, then they the token). Trump has a long history of being racist dating back to the ’70s, especially towards Blacks. Yet the Republican Representatives in Congress, some of whom have said racist shit themselves, had the audacity to come to the aid of Trump when Michael Cohen betrayed the trust of White racists by breaking the circle of wagons.
A Jewish man passing as White was keeping company with a racist White dude. A man or color co-signed racism.
Near the end of the day of the hearings, when Meadows was called out by fellow Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib for his bullshit, he and the nerve to be offended and demanded an apology. The Women of Color yet again had to bow to Whiteness because it’s evil when it wants to be, then fragile in the same moment. There is also something more sinister about this moment I’ll unpack later.
Back to racist Meadows’ “He has a Black Friend” tokenism stunt.
The stunt went wrong because tokenism doesn’t get rid of the fact a White space is void of color. In fact, tokenism makes racism more obvious. Tokenism amplifies racism.
Just because someone doesn’t treat one particular Person of Color in a racist manner or allows the token Person of Color to roam in their spaces doesn’t mean that person or group isn’t racist. Sometimes the token is receiving a great joy being the token, the only, the favorite, or the go-to Person of Color in the sea of Whiteness. A White person can have mixed race relatives and still be a racist.
The Person of Color being used is getting something tangible just like the racist, and may not know (or most times they don’t care) they are a prop. Let me give you a personal, and painful example of how tokenism works.
My Personal Experience With Tokenism and White Men
I dated a White guy for nearly a year. He was older (53), tall, handsome, fairly well-to-do, and loved Women of Color. When we met on a dating site. He chose me because he had a fetish of sorts. I met all his criteria and checked all his boxes. I was Black, educated, not too hard on the eyes, could accommodate his a busy schedule, and I wasn’t looking for marriage. Our relationship was casual.
We had deep conversations, a lot about race and politics. He was a Republican, and I was an Independent. He could never grasp his head around the fact I could agree with some GOP philosophies and ideologies good for humanity (there weren’t many). I impressed my White gentleman friend with my comprehension of politics, knowledge of current events, sports, policy, and that I was familiar with Fox News (I watch sometimes so I’ll know what my other evils are thinking and saying). We had fun together. We went boating, fished, rode his motorcycle, dined out, had great sex and enjoyed life. He was proud to have me, his little token gal, on his arm. I was happy to have him in my life as well — for that season.
I could tell it. He got all the looks and head nods when we entered a restaurant like he’d hit the jackpot. He loved that ego stroking shit. I am not saying he didn’t like me or care about me, but I realize the position I was in.
I took note.
I was always the only Black everywhere he went. When we were around his friends (all White), they never changed how they talked around me. They were overtly racist and their conversations often strayed into uncomfortable territory. Since I was a guest in their space, I sat quietly. Observing.
I was the minority token, who was I to disrupt their racist space?
Occasionally, these White men and the guy I was dating would get my input on some questions about race. Interestingly enough, they didn’t have an issue with me (a Black woman), but they have issues with certain kinds of other Black/African people (like Haitians(they were nasty), Black men who dressed and spoke a certain way, and lower-class Black women who dressed and spoke in a certain way). Those types of Blacks turned them off, were subpar, inferior. They made it known there was a difference between me and those “other Blacks” they disliked. On more than one occasion I had to tell them not to judge a book by its cover, to no avail.
That bothered me and it impacted my relationship with this otherwise nice White guy. He was racist unless it came to his pussy. For his sex and vagina preferences, he clearly had a non-discrimination clause. I knew I was a token to him. My primary service to him was to fulfill his sexual desires and needs. He also loved my Southern roots. He was the man that needed to be catered to. He loved being served — and I love serving. He loved my cooking. I enjoyed his hyper-masculine role of being the protector. He fulfilled companionship and sexual needs for me as well.
But I realized our relationship was transactional. I also knew deep down my companion was racist and he would not change. I was his token. I knew we could never be together long-term.
I realized the longer I stayed with the guy, the more his racism manifested. He was privileged; he was ignorant and happy in that space, and he was sometimes a user. He didn’t just fall for me. He chose me. He chose me because I was Black and fulfilled a particular (sexual) need.
The fact a White man was with me didn’t make him any less of a racist. No matter how much I tried to correct him, he continued to inform me I was wrong — always informing me I was different. My conscience bothered me, and I distanced myself from the guy.
Tokenism Fools No One
Tokenism is real, and it’s up to the token to acknowledge they are being used or at least to share how they benefit being the token or “chosen” one. It’s also important for White people to see tokenism and the harm it causes. Tokenism is scapegoating. Tokenism ignores the lime green elephant in the room — racism. Tokenism only happens in spaces that is Lily White. White people misuse tokenism as a part diversity their ploys to avoid the appearance of being too White and less racist. It fools no one. Tokenism highlights the person’s or organization’s racism, it doesn’t dispel it.
The fact Rep. Meadows paraded a beautiful, accomplished Black woman token before the world to imply Donald Trump isn’t racist doesn’t make him any less racist. What his little ploy did was expose how overtly ignorant and racist many White men are. The little ploy also highlighted how White men with power bully Women of Color after victimizing us when we call them out on their bullshit. Rep. Rashida Tlaib shouldn’t have had to apologize to Mark Meadows for his racism yesterday. She pointed out exactly what he did to the Black woman. She showed the world what White people do to Black people all the time.
They make us their tokens — their little trophies.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib also showed the world why we can’t have conversations about race in America. White racist men like Donald Trump, Rep. Steve King, and Rep. Mark Meadows throw the racist rocks, then cry White tears and hide the evil hands that held the weapons. How can we ever have discussions on race if we can’t tell White people when they’re ignorant and we’re offended? Meadows knew what he was doing yesterday.
He also knew his little bullshit ploy didn’t work which is why he tried to move on quickly. Being the only one isn’t a good thing just like being the first Black in 2019 isn’t a good thing.
It’s time we have real conversations about how White men treat and use Women of Color. We are not tokens. We have value and we can add value when you allow us to. But White people should understand we are not stepping stools, doorsteps, and clean up services for White messes.
We Black people don’t want to just be your “Black Friend,” or the token Person of Color in your life. We have better, more fulfilling this to do than to be pets and pussies for White men.
At the end of the day, this little ploy pulled by Representative Mark Meadows was yet another racist tattoo stamped on his head and another example of how disconnected and privileged many older White men are in America. These racist men, and they are racist, can’t do the offending— then turn around — and be offended.
That’s insanity. That’s petty. And that’s really racist.
If you can dish Southern style racism, then be able to take the label that comes with it. Put your big boy underwear on and take your racist label like a grown man (or woman). If you’re not going to have ears to hear our pain, you’re not willing to be offended by your ignorance, and you’re not willing to change your racist ways — well, just dry your fragile eyes and grab your fragile feelings. I no longer care about your feelings more than I care about mines.
I am somebody.
Black women are not mules, maids, sexual chocolate fantasies and moral compasses for White people. Stop using us.
If we had real equality in America, we wouldn’t need to parade tokens around like show ponies to prove White people aren’t racist. Hoarding power creates the need for a token. And if you need a token, you have real problems!
As for those Black women and men selling their souls to devils, I have no room in my inn for token Blacks or any Person of Color for that matter willing to be used by Whites for their personal gain in spite of my personal pain.
It’s time we address tokenism. Let’s desegregate and work on race relations.
I’m here, and I ain’t going anywhere!