Ms. Ann in Harlem: The naked, stopdown racism Of Hollback!’s “Social Justice Warriors”

“It’s a sidewalk, not a red carpet.”
-Paul Elam, A Voice For Men

Although it’s a new year, there is still way too much meat on the bone that the self-anointed anti-“street harassment” organization Hollaback! threw all of us back in late October. Their viral video presentation, “10 Hours Of Woman Walking In NYC” attempts to make the case that “street harassment” is a global pandemic – armies and armies of men catcalling and worse, kinda like a pickup version of World War Z or something.

Yea, that’s the ticket.

Only problem was, that Hollaback! really stepped in it and blew their own foot off with an IED-sized turkey of a “case”.

By now, you all know the facts, but what the heck, let’s do it one mo gin, shall we?

Fledgling actress Shoshona Roberts agrees to be Hollaback!’s guinea pig for their grand social experiment, dreamt up by a Madison Ave.-styled public relations guru, who as it turns out, has quite a colorful – pardon the pun – past in crafting marketing visions for other big-time clients. Although the claim is made that this outing took place over the course of ten hours of hidden camera footage, we get the ultra-condensed version – barely two minutes long – showing all the world to see the damning evidence of boys being boys.

To say the whole thing was anti-climatic, would be a serious understatement.

Aside from two arguably questionable fellows who seem to have other problems than trying to pick up chicks, the rest are everyday guys being polite. It was news to me to hear that merely saying “good morning” was tantamount to committing an act of sexual violence.

To make matters worse, the video deliberately focused on lower-class/working class Black men in Harlem, Black America’s most famous neighborhood, and by their own admission, edited out all of the footage they claim to have of the rest of NYC’s men supposedly acting a fool. Put that together with the lone guinea pig – Ms. Roberts – being a white woman, and one cannot help but harken back to a very dark, sordid and not-too-distant past, where Black men were targeted for daring to “holla” at a white woman.

Emmett Till just turned over in his grave.

Indeed, the entire video gives one the distinct impression that the only people Hollaback! seems to be looking out for, are the interests of white, urban, young, relatively attractive, middle/upper middle class women, against working and lower-class Black and Brown men.

Nor was this little fact lost on the general public – even diehard feminists like Hanna Rosin, couldn’t help but to put the obvious on blast – and the fact that the video itself has been parodied seventy ways to Sunday (even the Dark Knight himself got in on the act) – just goes to show what Americans in their right mind think of the whole thing:

That’s it’s all a bunch of bunk.

No, scratch that: it’s all a bunch of racist, classist, elitist, snobbish, over-entitled-in-only-a-Ms. Ann-white woman-can-be, bunch of bunk.

Not to be outdone, the Black Feminist Brigades, ever-envious of Ms. Ann dontcha know,  pouted and stamped their feet, mewling about how they were left out (forgetting the fact, for like the umpteenth time, that Ms. Ann-type Feminists have made it so abundantly clear that they do NOT want Black women up in their causes). All the usual suspects – Feminista Jones, the Crunk Feminist Collective, and the gals over at For Harriet, hollered about how the Ms. Anns were sucking all the air outta the room and taking the focus off of Women of Color, who also supposedly labor under such odious “street harassment” and to a much higher degree than Rachel, Becky or Marsha do (although, if you notice, no Black Feminist outfit has dared to do their own version of “10 hours of walking in…” – things that make you go, hmm…). Moreover and to really add some spice to the pot, the Black Feminists charge Black men for making the discussion “about race” rather than about all the bad “street harassment” on the part of the Black and Brown men in the video. Of course, they leave out the part that it wasn’t Brothas at large who made the discussion “about race” – Hollaback! did, by presenting their video in the way they did.

Let’s be completely honest about things here:

If you’re a nominally middle class, relatively young and at least passably attractive white woman in American life, you are literally, at the top of the mating market foodchain – that’s not a Brotha from around the way saying that, that’s the findings of umpteen surveys and studies and researches of as many online dating sites and services. saying that. In fact, of all the differing types of American women out there, the only one that poses any real competition for the aforementioned white woman, are Asian women – but we’ll get to that particular topic another day.

Everyone knows that American women such as described above, got it real good. A case in point, which drives it all home, was the disappearance, roughly a decade ago, of one Natalie Holloway – remember that? The Earth had to stop spinning on its axis until she was found. She wasn’t, but everyone was reminded, day and night, that Holloway was missing and that she had to be found. In fact, that same year saw another young lady go missing, and only until the threat of mass protests and marches did the media finally zero in on her as much as Holloway (Latoyia Figueroa, from right here in Philly).

So, when Hollaback! ran with their culturally inappropriate, tone deaf and stompdown racist screed in the form of a YouTube video ran, people were only too quick to mock it for the squealings of entitled Ms. Anns that it was. Nobody was buying it, not even a goodly number of women themselves(!).

But what Hollaback!’s video does highlight, is what I have referred to as Urban Colonialism, also known as Gentrification, where SWPLs and sometimes Bougie Blacks, encroach upon the living spaces of working class communities inhabited by salt of the earth Black folks, and commence to tell them how to live. Oh, how white of you, Hollaback!

You see, unlike people like you Hollaback!, Blue collar Black folks don’t have social mixers for young professionals to troll for potential hookups; they don’t have college campuses that are in truth de facto mating grounds for the better off crowd. They don’t have the church to help them meet and greet the opposite sex, because, as Murray has noted in his excellent work “Coming Apart” the church ceased being a strong force for such things a long time ago. So, you know how people in working class Black America meet?

They meet on the street. Brothas “holla” – and despite all the handwringing all of you supposed social justice warriors do, most of time, it ain’t no big thang. Read your “Promises I Can Keep” for more on this point. In the ‘hood – like Harlem – guys and gals meet at the Papi Store (that’s the Philly slang for what New Yorkers call a bodega), or on the stoop, or just walking down the street.

Now, if you’re really all that concerned about this, what you could be doing is providing better venues for guys to meet ladies – ahh, but you see, that would need you to actually address something real. We can start with these guys having meaningful employment, that sure would help, right?

As we move into 2015, it behooves all of us to keep in mind what Hollaback! is really all about, and what their true face – exemplified by Shoshona Roberts – really looks like:

A sneering, entitled, culturally tone deaf and incorrigibly racist, white chick.

And they need to be constantly reminded of that, unless or until they have shown the appropriate amount of contrition, attended the appropriate amount of culturally sensitivity trainings, and have actually addressed themselves to something that actually matters in this life.

Bang, there it is…


[Ed. note: Image “Harlem Pride” is licensed under Creative Commons Generic 2.0. It is attributed to Jere Keys and originally appeared here. ]

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