Ruby is The Black Folks with a Seat at The Table Who Don’t Say Shit...
...but show up to the Black people meetings to complain about what white folks are and are not doing.
You know who I’m talking about. And if you don’t, then it’s probably you.
2020 has been an awakening for us ALL. But I want to focus on the BLACK AWAKENING, specifically. We are paying more attention to racist policies that attempt to destroy our mental, emotional, physical and financial health. And we’re actively working to reform or destroy those policies to make space to build anti-racist structures and systems.
And while it’s valid to paint the creators of racist policies as “white folks,” some of the stewards of those racist policies are Black folks.
It’s easy to immediately visualize Uncle Ruckus from “The Boondocks” or Stephen from “Django: Unchained.” But MOST of these Black stewards upholding racist policies look more like Ruby from HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
Have you ever been asked, “What would you do if you had a seat at the (white folks’) table?”
Ruby woke up one Freaky Friday as a white woman. Initially, she freaked out, but she became enamored – I might even go so far as to say drunk – with her newfound freedom to enter white spaces with no one being suspicious, disgusted, or emboldened enough to be violent toward her.
Every day that she chose to take a blood-colored potion to remain as “Hillary,” she experienced some respect, access to a financial future, and admiration from fellow white women who loved her dance moves.
The newness of experiencing some semblance of humanity for the first time only inspired Ruby to buy ice cream from a “whites only” parlor and land an Assistant Manager job at Marshall Field’s.
Near the end of the ordeal, she entered into a deal with a white woman to do her bidding of setting up some mysterious white police officer; and rectally assaulted her white male boss with a pump for sexually harassing a woman.
She was literally a white woman, and that’s all she did with her potion-induced privilege.
Now, I’m sure there are other smart, deep theories as to why Ruby reached for such low-hanging fruit while she held the keys to various types of freedoms for herself, her family and her Black skinfolk.
I mean, this happened to her in the thick of Jim Crow – 1954. Then again, that year, the Supreme Court solidified its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Therefore, this time period included the energetic Civil Rights Movement with a stronger-every-day infrastructure.
Like, why didn’t she go to an NAACP office, at least on the second day of her white womanhood travels to be like, “Wassssuuup? What y’all need right quick?”
Ruby’s behavior is similar to a lot of our folks with seats at the table. It’s less work to complain about not having a seat at the table than to actually use your power to shake shit up. Is it that at the root of the complaint, it’s just about you being seen and heard instead of the collective?
As a former HBO executive, I witnessed several Black executives shy away from expressing a Black point of view when it was needed in white-led meetings. One in particular has contributed to mental and financial harm of lower-ranked Black employees.
Or have you been in a meeting where white people are wildin’, and instead of saying something, you text your other Black co-worker instead of speaking up?
AND some of the no-speaking-up-Blacks would even be at the Black people meetings to complain about shit.
Now, Kanye might be a lot of things, but he is definitely someone who speaks up and out. As of late, the South Sider is promising to take on record labels for financially exploiting Black artists. His voice is, and has been, a part of the BLACK AWAKENING, for a while.
And yes, if you’re not speaking out in your own lane, then keep the private text messages, secret Black people meetings and numerous venting sessions to yourself. No Rubys allowed at this time. We're doing more than ramming stilettoes up asses.