I had a powerful Facebook post come across my feed this morning. The nicely written post by a pretty lady named Lakeshia Robinson shared the experience of being on the metro going into DC for the #WomansMarch last Saturday. It centered on her unfortunate encounter with a rude passenger she deemed #BeckyinthePinkHat who was loudly unhappy about having to make room for the author on the crowded train.
Lakeshia never mentions why she determined Becky’s behavior had anything to do with race. She doesn’t describe the race or gender of the other passengers the White Beckys didn’t make room for, so one has to infer from the rest of her post they were not white women, and that white women would have been treated differently.
I’m pretty sure I know a dozen or so White Beckys, based on Lakeshia’s description. They’re easy to spot, being walking, talking stereotypes. They’re loud and rude and seem self-centered and entitled. I hate that this stereotype has power to influence what any stranger might first feel about me, since I’m a white woman, too.
I would not consider myself a feminist. I am not a liberal. I don’t believe there was one “single” agenda representing every person at the marches, despite what some anti-march folks seem to think. I can stand for equality without being pro-abortion. I can feel genuine concern for my gay friends without turning in my Southern Baptist Christian card.
There are a whole lot people capable of being much less shallow than the White Beckys of the world. Those of us who are know that thug gang members don’t represent all black or Latino young men. Or that any single trait, negative or positive, can possibly define an entire race or gender or nationality. The more we try to fit people into simple categories, the harder it is to achieve equality. It kind of feels here that the racist one on the train was the one saying the train was full of White Beckys.
The only way we will all be equal is to finally realize we are all equally different. Even White Becky, once you get to know her. Maybe, like Lakeshia, she’s “guarded” for her own reasons based on her own history and interactions with people. Maybe, similar to someone I know, she is simply a complete narcissistic bitch. But if she is, she’s her own personal, special kind of bitch. Don’t put Becky in a corner.
Full Text by Lakeshia Robinson – I felt conflicted about the #WomensMarch since I heard about it. I’m glad I decided to attend part of it, but I couldn’t make the trip into DC before being reminded of why I purposefully limit my exposure to Whiteness and white women.
The trains into D.C. were crazy this morning. But tbh, living in DC, I’m used to sporting, cultural, and political events clogging our sidewalks, streets, and trains. It’s not a big deal. Try metro’ing out of city after the Independence Day fireworks show. It’s an hour long wait just to enter the metro stop and then an even longer wait for a crammed train car ride back home. God help the tourists who are lost and jam up the slow but smooth process in their confusion. But hey, having access to all DC has to offer means putting up with tourists and the…ehem crowded train cars they bring.
I was pleased to see the platform nearest my house wasn’t as crowded as I expected this morning. The trains seem to come every 2-4 minutes, more often than normal for a Saturday. But even though the platform wasn’t crowded and the trains arrived frequently, in 15 minutes I watched 3 full trains roll by filled with pink hatted white women, none with room enough to accommodate the modest crowds waiting to board. After watching the cycle a few times, I decided to I had to try something different.
I realized most people were traveling in groups and were not boarding unless they could get on together. The folks traveling alone were usually able to squeeze onto a train car when the doors opened. I watched twice as white women traveling alone squeezed their bodies into trains that were by all accounts crammed full. After witnessing this twice, I thought why not. The next train pulls up, the doors open…
I walk up to the door and Becky…Becky in the Pink hat (#BeckyinthePinkHat) puts her arm out as if to block me from entering, which is bold, but nothing to write home about. But what happens next is exactly why being black around lots of white people is dangerous for black flesh. BeckyinthePinkHat places her entire forearm on my abdomen. Her hand is wrapped around the left sleeve of my Jcrew Field Mechanic Jacket (pictured), while the rest of her forearm, elbow include, has been placed against my stomach.
I need to take a break here and just talk about this for a minute.
I have never felt free enough to touch a white woman. I am scared of white women, if I’m being honest. And for good reason. White women’s tears get people who look like me killed (or best case fired). Can you imagine calling the cops and telling them you were defending yourself against a white woman? Have you seen what happened in Ft Worth when a white grown man laid his hands on a black child? Having been in the reverse of this situation, the boldest I’ve ever felt is to just now attempt to move when a white man/woman tries to push onto a crowded metro train. I have never in my black life, in all my burnt sienna years, extended a member of his sepia toned body to block a white person’s path. I’m not that trill yet, but I hope to be someday.
I looked at Becky in the Pink Hat then I looked down at her arm on my body. Then I looked back at Becky. White Feminist Becky then says, “My baby is squished. There’s no more room.” White Feminism by Tami Lauren still has her hand on me and I’m starring at it and thinking about how it came to rest there on my body. Then I look up at her “baby”, a tallish girl in glasses and purple coast who could not have been any older than 12. While observing the two of them, mom clinging to her “baby” of nearly the same height, the “baby” big as day, big as all getout, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Lysa and Robin Arryn. But thats mean and I didn’t say that. I’m writing it now, but I didn’t say it out loud then. I moved Lysa Arryn in the Pink Cat Hat’s arm off my jacket and pushed, much harder than I otherwise might have into the crowded train car. Magically, space did indeed become available for my almond colored body.
Lysa and the Tully back up singers were not pleased and she continued to complain loudly, in her “I’d Like to Speak with Your Manager” voice, that her 5’1″ baby was being “crushed” and “squished”. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, petty, and a good deal pleased, but mostly I felt angry that safety pins and pink hats didn’t mean I would be treated any differently.
See, I deal with this all the time. This is why my white colleagues say, “you’re so guarded” or “youre so hard to approach”. Yes, snitch, I am. I know that we’re going to walk into this board room or through this vault door and you’re going to tease me over my accent as a passive aggressive way to undermine my request to lead the briefing. I am purposefully hard to approach because from 8 – 5pm, 345 days a year, you only approach me to marvel in bemused befuddlement over how “different” my hair is as a way to bond with the new boss.
F you Becky and all your aggressions, micro and otherwise. And also f your false, misplaced, pseudo concern for baby becky too. Should you ever find it in your heart to be half as interested in Trayvon, Tamir, and Rekia, these marches would instantly be obsolete.
I’m on the train and I just want the doors to close and the train to move so my time near Becky can end as soon as possible. But the doors do not close and the train does not move. For what felt like a half hour but was likely only 15 minutes, we wait on the tracks to clear ahead of us so we could finally move. It is during this time, waiting for my hand to stop shaking and my disappointment and anger to subside that I wrote a bunch of half baked status messages on Facebook. Becky was close enough to read them and I was glad when I found her glaring at my screen over my shoulder. I only wish I’d called her Lysa Arryn sooner.
Eventually, the train doors close and the train moved. Soon after, another white lady, this one not in a pink hat, asked if I was ok. I was not and my answer was a short, clipped – yeah. She asked if I lived in DC, again – yeah. I made more posts on Facebook, time passed. The train rocked back and forth and I laid the full weight of my body into Becky the Older. The other random white lady again spoke up. She didn’t ask me if I was ok this time. She instead told me that she was glad I’d gotten on the train and she was sorry that they had not made room for me. She continued “We should have. You are welcome here. I am sorry.” It is important to note that Becky the Elder had not stopped complaining that whole time and I had started to tremble about 10 minutes into the ride.
I cried for the rest of the train ride. Becky Arryn in the Pink Hat asked if I was claustrophobic. The white lady who wasn’t a walking white feminism meme told her “No. But thank you.” That’s white lady for “Are you forreal?!” Then as I sobbed, mourning all that whiteness and white feminism has wrought on the world, that they are, in fact, the reason we had to have this stupid, pointless march, all the other random Becky’s in Pink Hats who had until then remained silent decided to speak up. They wanted to let it be known what side they were on, pro-making space for me or against. (Really. Y’all Beckys are the most. the.most. My 2017 list of resolutions has to be amended to include an effort to be just as self assured and half as self centered as these pink hat white ladies.)
The non-pink hatted white lady got off outside the march zone. I’m not sure if she attended or not. The rest of the Beckys and I stayed on the train. It got lit the next time those doors opened and they refused to make room for the next person.