To Clarify Re: “An Open Letter to @awkwardblkgrl”

Hey World-

Moya here. I, along with some other folks who watched the last episode of the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, my favorite web show, were jarred with the use of a particular slur that’s generally directed at trans women. We wrote an open letter voicing our concerns and I posted it to the CFC tumblr. Since then some folks thought, my bad, that the CFC wrote this letter together. No, just me, forever letter writer, and instigator.

You’d think that previous experience would teach me that my critiques of pop culture are often misread and that I should expect a clap back. I honestly thought this would be different because the letter writers were coming from a place of love and appreciation. We were/are fans. Since the  first episode we’ve been saying “You get me!” And I think that’s why we were hopeful that a letter like ours, with a non-demonizing tone, might be a welcome invitation to consider how folks are taking in some of the comedic material.

I totally believe in free speech in folks saying whatever they feel. Folks have the right always to create what they want to and use whatever language works for them. But doesn’t that mean I/we have the right to respond? I’m not trying to create a world where people have to speak a certain way, where language is policed. But doesn’t creative license necessarily generate feedback and reception? In the Brilliant word of CF Crunktastic, “When did love ever mean the absence of critique?”

I signed my name because I want to be accountable for the impact of my words on others. I’m only asking that others be open to hearing when that impact happens.

So much love,

Moya
#teamCeCeforever

P.S. For more context and discussion please check the tumblr and the CFC facebook page.

moyazb

moyabailey.com

42 thoughts on “To Clarify Re: “An Open Letter to @awkwardblkgrl”

  1. Swag swag!! I too find some of the language/perspectives of ABG, Childish Gambino, politicians, parents…cashier at Whole Foods problematic, however, I (we) still support (except for Whole Foods) because the larger picture is more important. Critique is not synonymous with dislike. A critique means I care. No critique is worse.

    Ditto Ms. Bailey.

  2. Hey there-Can other people sign on as well? If so, how? I dont have a facebook acount, though.

  3. Just dropping by to offer love to Moya and CFC. Working on writing a supportive post, but it’s exhausting, so I am trying to imagine how exhausting it is/has been for y’all. Your letter was nuanced, but people’s responses are callow, especially attacks that make it personal. That you could come with such love and be met by vitriol just really depresses me. At the same time, it makes me even happier that you spoke up because it’s clear that this is a conversation that needs to be happening. Keep it up.

  4. As a viewer who loves both the social and political satire presented within the cleverly crafted ABG episodes I can say that I truly appreciated the open letter and the care that was placed into crafting that letter. I found the open letter to be a thoughtful and respectful critique of a web show that the writer(s) truly enjoy(ed). As our beloved Audre Lorde said “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.”

    Just know that both the thoughtfulness and intent has been understood by some. A discussion has been started and that open letter is the catalyst. ABG has/had to engage it, respond to it, and face it the impact that these terms may not directly affect the communities that they belong to but it may have a harmful impact on that of their viewers. The open letters is truly appreciated and I admire the strength it took to post.

  5. Pingback: ELIXHER » ‘Awkward Black Girl’ Called Out For Using Anti-Transgender Slur

  6. As an ABG fan, I feel as if you read too much into the episode. ABG has used humor all the way through and just that. As someone who has re-watched episodes daily, I find that nothing is offensive and everything is in a humorous manner.

    If you’re going to write an open letter about one thing, you might as well pick apart the whole show, or don’t watch it.

    • The fact that you don’t find anything offensive in ABG doesn’t mean no one else can or should, either. Nor is anyone obligated to complain about everything that is potentially offensive to someone to raise a point about a point that is offensive to them or people they care about.

      Honestly, these are the same responses white people make when people of color try to talk about racism in entertainment. I guess I’m not shocked, but it is disappointing as hell to see ABG fans turn around and use those same arguments against trans people.

      • The fact that you DO find something offensive in ABG doesn’t mean everyone else should or will. Even if they’re black (frankly, I’m sick to death of the idea that black people shouldn’t have opinions of their own, usually about gay people, because we’ve historically been oppressed. We are not mindless drones to be used in whatever anti-discrimination campaign that comes to the attention of society. All inequality was not created equal).

    • No one is telling you what you should be offended about. The letter is about what trans people and people who are in solidarity with them find offensive – because words like that case harm to trans people.

      Also, some black people are trans. Some black people are gay or queer. This isn’t about black vs. LGBT.

      • All inequality was not created equal?

        Amber, really?

        Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

        I’m very much black and very much queer and very much in support of the end of oppression for ALL people.

      • Similarly, no one told *you* not to be offended by whatever. However, you simply cannot expect everyone to be up in arms or agree with your outrage. The original CFC letter called for a change in behavior/the way the show is run, that implies an expectation that others would hear AND embrace their defensiveness.

        And let’s be real. *You* made “this” about “black vs. LGBT” when you mentioned colored people. You also made it about hispanics, asians etc. But considering the LGBT tendency to “call out” black people when they don’t support their cause and my own race (black)–I honed in on the black segment of colored folks.

      • And Moya…

        It’s admirable that you’re against oppression for all. I wish you’d made that clear in the first letter. It would have spared much confusion about apparent hypocrisy.

        And truly, I believe all inequality is not equal. To say otherwise is to depersonalize the discrimination and bigotry that different groups face.The bigotry black people face, for instance, has unique history and origins and creates different effects than other discrimination faced by other groups.

        To deny that and lump everyone all together can only do more harm than good. My point has nothing at all to do with the MLK line you posted.

      • You seem to have the mistaken impression that I’m LGBT but not black? Untrue. I’m black and queer.

        And the fact is, people who are black and LGBT face racism AND homophobia and/or transphobia. And if we’re going to compare oppressions, frankly, given that trans people have as high as a 25% murder rate, unemployment rates several times that of black people in general, etc, *especially* if they are trans women of color…, I’m going to say that’s at least as severe an oppression as anti-black racism. If we’re going to compare notes, which honestly, I don’t really think should be necessary. If a marginalized group that one is not a part of says a word is part of violence and discrimination against them, then if we don’t belong to that group, the respectful thing to do is not to use that word.

      • I had not considered whether you were black, white, gay, straight…My responses to your posts have nothing to do with your identity, they have to do with my beliefs and my reactions to your words. Now that I know we’re keeping track, let me state for the record that I’m bisexual and black. I do hope that knowledge doesn’t change how you see *my* words.

        I’m not going to play statistics wars or oppression olympics with you. I think that’s counterproductive and I find your willingness to do so rather beneath this discussion. We should be able to acknowledge differences between peoples and their histories without starting a competition.

  7. First, I came across this letter via Bitch Magazine; they wrote a short blog post about (and got a lot of crap in the comments section, too.)

    I am still very torn about this, primarily because I like ABG so much, that I don’t want anyone to critique it. I know, I know, it’s not realistic or fair, but I have to admit that my immediate reaction to reading your open letter was “No! You must be wrong, because I like ABG!”

    Anything that is worth anything deserves to be critiqued. And you managed to frame this critique in a constructive, positive and helpful manner, which I think deserves praise all by itself. I will be really interested to see how Issa Rae responds to this.

  8. Your “critique” sounds like something a freshman straight out of feminist theory 101 would espouse. I am sure your version of Awkward Black Girl would be some womyn praising, transgendered, postgendered crock of hot mess that no one would watch. Good comedy is supposed to make you squirm in your seat, make you uncomfortable, make you question your preconceived notions – so why the hell are you complaining that this show is actually doing its job?

    • Well, given that we’ve been supporting ABG on this site since Episode THREE, that we linked to (and financially supported) its kickstarter campaign months ago, and that we’ve never one time asked for it to espouse our feminist agenda, to rail against patriarchy, or do anything other than represent for ABG’s everywhere, perhaps you need to go back out the door and come in again. Clearly, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and we’re so thankful that folks over at ABG heard the critique and didn’t respond in the ignorant and offensive, transphobic, anti-feminist way in which you have chosen to.

    • I agree about your point about good comedy, which ABG does do often, but the use of that word wasn’t it. Making a certain group of already uncomfortable and marginalized people feel even more uncomfortable isn’t really challenging any preconcieved notions.

  9. I agree with you COMPLETELY about voicing your concerns. While I disagree with your position, I don’t think you’re wrong. Because that is someone’s truth right? And trying to meld all of our truths together to make meaning out it all is the hard work of well, life. So thanks for joining in on that hard work. Your reminder that the world is an ugly nasty place that makes fun of folks who have sex-change operations is timely since we have kinda stopped talking about it.

  10. I am just glad that both parties chose to address each other publicly and respectfully even though there were times when ABG fans failed to show that respect for one another.

  11. From what I understand some of the people who were critical to moyabz letter don’t understand why there wasn’t the same concern when Issa used N**** and B****, I also read claims that CFC supports male rappers who are misogynist?

    I also heard someone offer selective outrage as the reason why you are more vocal about the transgender slur than maybe a racial of gender one.

    • Please see comments on the facebook page that addressed these concerns.

      Transgender is gender by the way and we talked about it in context of the way women are pitted against each other in society. We also discussed ableism which folks don’t seem to want to talk about.

  12. Just when I thought I couldn’t love the CFC more. This is a wonderful model of a constructive and compassionate critique, how to struggle with each other and build community. I find it so disconcerting that so many ABG fans (of which I am one) could not appreciate and maintain the spirit of this open letter. Standom has never moved a people forward. It takes courage to do this — and that’s sad that it should – i commend you for it.

    • I find the whole “open letter” to be extremely hypocritical.

      The show drops the N word about 200 times an episode.
      It has had countless Mexican/Muslim jokes.
      It has said the words, “B*tches be trippin’” as its theme song for crying out loud…

      And it’s all hilarious.

      But you get your undies in a bunch because they said ‘no lesbo’ and likened Angelina to a ‘tr*nny b*tch in heels.’

      Sounds like you are picking and choosing which things to get offended over and are making a play for attention. Humor is humor. If humor never offended anyone in the slightest it would cease to be funny. Any *thinking* person knows that Issa Rae is not in the same camp as Westboro Baptist Church. She is not trying to advocate for anyone’s rights to be trampled.

      Get over yourself.

      • THANK YOU! Exactly what I was thinking as I read both posts and their respective comments.

      • Seriously? See: a thousand discussions on how these things are not the same.

        A cis, straight, black woman who is offended by ABG’s use of “no lesbo” and “tr*nny”, but not their use of “nigga” and “bitch” for reasons already detailed by people who are smart and don’t need me to parrot their words.

  13. Pingback: This Week I Learned: Not ALL “Awkward Black Girls” Are Created Equal – bluecentric.com

  14. Hm. Ok everyone, why are you so pressed over the term tranny? Do you not watch the show? Do you not hear the words bitch and nigga all the time? Maybe if ABG uses the word enough it will become a word of empowerment and endearment lmao. Why are your expectations so high and why are you picking and choosing? #honestly

    • Go.sit.down.com. We were some of the original fans of the show and promoted it on this blog beginning in May. CF Moya (one of the original letter writers) is in fact the reason that all of us and many of our readers even know about the show. Issa and Tracy of ABG noted that fact when they responded to the letter. They weren’t joking or being polite. That ish is true.

      AND, for a good read on why the issues with the n and b word are not the point, read this from friend of the CFC Summer M: http://www.blackyouthproject.com/2011/12/fightin’-words-on-awkward-black-girl-and-the-cfc/

      • The article you link dismisses cries of hypocrisy (CFC not caring about “N” and “B” bombs) on the grounds that:

        1) ABG ~knows how to employ~ those words. Everyone wouldn’t agree to that…there are plenty of black folks who are EXTRA offended by other blacks (in-group) who throw the n word around. Same issue for women with the b word. So no…J shouldn’t and DOESN’T get some special pass because she’s a black woman. The word can still be offensive.

        2) That the n and b words have somehow been reclaimed by their attached peoples or that everyone “knows” that those words are unPC and that…somehow…makes it okay to use them. Does that even LOOK right typed out? The word n*gga has plenty of stigma and shame and pain attached to it today and no…t*anny is not more *speshul* than it is. And believe it or not being called *bish* still hurts many women’s feelings.

        The article above is a nice try at invalidating the questions of: What the heck? Where was CFC when all the other unPC words were being thrown around? But ultimately, it makes the situation WORSE because it invalidates those who ARE STILL HURT by those words. Those who are hurt just as much (and, I’ll say it, maybe more considering the HISTORY behind the words) as transsexuals are by t*anny.

        This whole brouhaha just comes across as an attempt to mollycoddle and put one oppressed minority on a pedestal above others. It’s incredibly insensitive to insinuate that some slurs are somehow “better” than others when so many people are still hurt by them.

        To sum all this up…I’m not offended by ANY of the slurs used on the show because I recognize it as a non-malicious, genuinely funny show. However, if I was the type to judge comedy along a hurt feelings barometer…I wouldn’t do anyone the disservice of assuming that their feelings were a non-factor.

  15. I don’t have an opinion on the show (haven’t seen it) but I love when this place isn’t an echo chamber and there is a HEALTHY exchange of differing ideas and positions.

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