The "independent black woman" meme reveals a twisted brand of ignorance.
The new fad amongst young white people online is... mocking black women. Surprised? Of course not. Do a search on Twitter or Facebook for one of the following memes:
"I'm an independent black woman who don't need no man!"
"I'm a sassy black woman!"
Of course these memes come as a result of the countless media stories that have been published over the past few years spotlighting single black women. We can all thank the Washington Post and Dateline for helping spread the stereotype.
Also, more recently The Onion posted a mock article where an elderly black woman provides advice to whites by talking in Ebonics / a southern drawl. She's some kind of magical negro, and everyday whites are happy to express how much they love the piece, no matter how stereotypical and racist it is.
This is a special form of racism perpetrated by people who will adamantly say they AREN'T racist because they have one black friend.
Is It Worth Addressing?
Should we wage some kind of war against these proud racist voices? No. I don't think it is important enough for three reasons:
1. Whites who use these memes are lost, confused and secretly idolize black women. They want to be like black women in some way. I believe that deep down they are not happy with their own lives and identity, so they take on another. How would I look as a proud black woman going around calling myself as a dependent white woman who needs a man to survive? Even if said in jest, that would be a sign of a major problem within.
2. They are exposing themselves and don't even know it. They do not realize how making those types of public declarations in jest could affect their careers and livelihoods in the future. An example: Lesley Arfin, writer for the HBO series Girls made a snide remark about not being able to relate to the movie Precious in response to people who complained about the lack of diversity on the show. Immediately, folks went out and looked up her social media history. They found out that she retweeted one of those "I'm an independent black woman" memes. Turns out she is no longer writing for Girls, at least according to the show's creator, Lena Dunham. Now if you do a search for her name, articles about her racially insensitive joke pop up on the first couple of pages.
I call that a win -- one less white woman with stereotypical views about black women writing for a popular TV show. Bottomline, let folks like Lesley Arfin continue to expose their stereotypical beliefs online because karma has its way of finding them. Remember the case of the Greek runner who was banned from the Olympics after posting a racially insensitive tweet?
3. Do you really care what they think about you? I don't think this point needs an explanation, but if you do, why?
When It Invades Your World
Though I don't think it is useful to wage war against these independent black woman types in general, I do believe it is important for black women to take a stand if it enters your personal world. For instance, if you're at work and someone snaps her fingers and says "I'm an independent black woman" I think that you should immediately and firmly say "No, that's not cool. I find that offensive."
Don't go along with the "joke" and laugh because that's like giving that confused white person a pass to do it repeatedly and it will only get worse with time. Same thing for social media -- if one of your white followers RTs that phrase or one of you friends likes it on Facebook, either address them or unfollow them, or both. Be thankful that you now know what kind of white person that "friend" is -- one with racist, stereotypical beliefs and at the very least a racially insensitive personality. You don't need that in your life as you grow and flourish as a classy black lady.
So in summary, we clearly see that mocking "independent black women" and "sassy black women" has become a fad, but there are more important issues for black women to focus on. Look at this as a twisted form of fandom that may come back to bite them (nowadays all Tweets are saved by the Library Congress, even after being deleted). However, don't be afraid to open your mouth if it enters your personal world, or else you become complicit to the ignorance.