What Exactly Is Perceived When They See Us?

Photos Courtesy of People Magazine and Netflix

When They See Us and the Dangers of White Feminism  

I usually try to steer clear of films about Black and Brown suffering. Partially because it often gives this sense of “That was back then. These things don’t still happen.” The other reason is because I actually get angry watching such oppression. I made the decision to stray from that rule and watch Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series. When They See Us is the story of the Central Park 5. They are five Black and Brown kids coerced into confessing to a rape, they didn’t commit. From the beginning, we see overzealous prosecutors and detectives take advantage of these children. The detectives quickly became the attack dogs under the foot of one woman. While it is unfortunate that this was allowed to happen at such a large scale, it isn’t unbelievable. In fact, this is only one story out of hundreds of Black men forced into mass incarceration.
The scariest part is that Linda Fairstein was so focused on finding “justice” for her White victim, she ruined the lives of five innocent Black boys. Forcing puzzle pieces to fit in clearly mismatched spaces. Also caught in the crossfire was the victim after Trisha, Lourdes Gonzalez. A WOC who fell victim to the actual rapist who was ignored by the exact same prosecutors. White feminism is toxic femininity at its worst. This is why I cannot and do not stand in solidarity with the pink hats and mass protests they frequent.  Instead of being an ally and giving their platform to WOC to speak on our issues, White feminists often hijack the conversation. As well as perpetuating the stereotype of Black men and boys being super predators. When we do try to bring this to their attention, it becomes #notallwhitefeminists. Even worse, Black women get asked why we aren’t “nicer” or “calmer” when expressing our frustrations.
I think it’s important for White women to watch When They See Us more than any other group. White women are second in hierarchy only to White men. Which means they hold a hell of a lot of privilege while still maintaining a guise of disenfranchisement. They can equally assert White privilege onto POC and be perceived as a victim while doing so. The limited series shows the repercussions of having that much power and the effects it has on everybody when it goes unchecked. At press time, Linda Fairstein published an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal about how she was defamed in When They See Us. Still unapologetic, full of arrogance, and even had the audacity to insinuate that DNA evidence exonerating the 5 men “doesn’t make them innocent.” Fairstein also took the opportunity to attempt to discredit Ava DuVernay, because of course a Black woman cannot be trusted to tell the truth. The undertones WOC experience constantly become more overt when a paycheck is at risk. Linda Fairstein has become a perfect example of White privilege feminism for anyone that thinks it doesn’t exist.

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