Jason Lei Howden: How Dare You?
Black Women and Women Of Color Are Always Targets For Fragile Racists
This is jumping at a point where hopefully many of you already have an inkling about what’s going on. But quick recap.
A person, it was discovered, used a racial slur in the past, that and other accusations resulted in their staff quitting en masse. This person was called out for their actions, but also bullied viciously by others and attempted suicide.
Jason Lei Howden, director of “Guns Akimbo” attacked everyone, including the writers for holding said person accountable.
Then he lied and accused ValerieComplex on Twitter of being a party to the bullying as well. She was not.
Seeing this, I jumped in to defend her and call out his simplistic take on the incident and, as my anger at it all grew, wrote a piece detailing the unfairness of being a Black person, person of color, continually asked to remain silent, to not get angry or upset when we are targets of white aggression and marginalization.
Now, let’s begin. I am nonbinary, but due to the fact that Jason targeted me because he sees me as a woman (as do most people who come at me) this will be about my perspective as it relates to Black women, women of color.
The piece ended up garnering a lot of attention, mostly because of the toxic aggression from Jason Lei Howden. His tweets were protected and, as I’m clearly not a follower of his I couldn’t see what he was saying so the next interaction where he responded to me or talked about me, that I knew of, after I tweeted out my piece was when he used the “Guns Akimbo” official movie account to reply.
My initial reaction was to laugh because I was so surprised and nonplussed that someone would tweet out such a blatant lie.
However, here’s what happens when you are raised in a society that clearly demonstrates who they are willing to listen to and who has the power, you run the gamut of a lot of emotions.
Fear: “He tagged the site I write on, which is a valuable source of income for me. What if they believe him? He is a white, male director. Why would he lie?”
Anger: “How fucking dare you lie about me and Valerie? Attempted murderer? How can you think this is okay?!”
These emotions are valid because of where we are on the ladder we are all forced to climb, or just hang listlessly; the ladder of white patriarchal supremacy via capitalism. The worst was yet to come though.
Doubt: “Did I do this? He’s so sure…I mean he tweeted it. I don’t even know the person he’s talking about but…did I?” Then a search online checking my name alongside the person’s to see if I somehow did this and black out (I’m not a drinker).
Pain: “I have people in my family who have committed suicide. I have people in my hand who have attempted. Does he understand how serious it is to lie about something like this?”
Honestly, these emotions are cycled through repeatedly. But the one that stayed was anger. How dare you try to use a lie to attack and hurt me and endanger my welfare and other women who simply put you in check for running your mouth about something you know nothing about.
No, feeling endangered is not an exaggeration. Some of us are not directors and are still part of the huge slice of people surviving paycheck to paycheck. If you think that this is an exaggeration, congrats on “living large” where you don’t have to decide between rent or food.
This tweet I found out about later.
“Oh! So we just spreading lies all over the place? Just willy-nilly? Fine! I hope everyone knows you torture unicorns, you jerk!!”
Some of us deal with anger and pain via comedy.
The anger was the strongest and most constant emotion masked in jokes. But also anger at myself for once again being duped, through years of conditioning, to believe I somehow did something I know I didn’t do. That’s gaslighting!
We, Black women and WoC are silenced and made to believe we are emotional time bombs with no rational capabilities who run around creating drama wherever we go. We question ourselves constantly and suffer from crippling doubt and, no, we are not born this way. We are taught this.
From the parent who, to avoid drama, tells us to shrug off someone’s mistreatment. From the teacher that ignores us, sexualizes us or harasses us. From the partner who belittles us, disregards us they tells us we are “acting crazy”. To the cop when we file a report, asking us “what did you do?”
It’s what we are taught, but I didn’t realize it still had me to that degree.
All I did was stand beside someone I know is a good person who is trying to explain why targeting people for bullying (the writers who quit) is no different from the bullying Jason Lei Howden was ranting against.
Yet, I and others were dragged into something that felt less and less about anti-bullying and more about an excuse to attack Black people and people of color under the guise of standing up to bullying.
I’m tired of people, including a plethora of white people either being silent or supporting a vicious man who feels comfortable enough in his white, male privilege to lie and label people “attempted murderers”.
That is the kind of behavior silence breeds. Not justice. Not humanity. It is merely a breeding ground for the people who believe, thanks to years of others silent complicity or outright abetting, that they are infallible and impervious.
When you lead people to believe they are above accountability and judgement, you have no right to express shock and horror when they are the perpetrators of any form of violence. Remember absolute power corrupts absolutely and making it clear they are above criticism or censure imbues them with this sense of supremacy and superiority.
Let’s also talk about how we are constantly told our anger is wrong, or makes it impossible to sympathize or opens the door to the “both sides” false equivalency. Justifiable anger is never wrong. Full stop.
If you are vapid enough to claim anger that someone lied about you and called you an “attempted murderer” is just as bad as the lie itself you are either extremely confused or looking for any reason for the perpetrator to avoid full accountability. Pick one.
If someone is struck and they get mad at the person who struck them, are both parties equally wrong? Think of racism, misogynoir and horrendous lies directed at you, because you are physically different, as that strike. So miss us all with the “both sides” disguise.
Thanks to some amazing people online, word got out about what he was doing. But did he reflect? Look at his own behavior, as he said we all need to do? Nope. He went to Instagram to continue his tirade.
We can admire people, we can love them but what we cannot do is elevate them to a godlike status. That way leads to corruption, abuses and a world even further fractured.
Still the support online has been tremendous and I’m grateful I’m not alone. But as I said in the previous piece, for everyone we amplify and support there are so many more who suffer alone, in silence, shouting their pain into an echo chamber on social media. Let’s try to hear and uplift those voices.
This moment may turn out to be a victory, where we are completely heard and supported. But it’s likely the next time won’t be. But we are rediscovering our strength, our raw, unfiltered power when our voices rise in unison and in the future that “likely won’t be” victory for people who are racist, misogynoir scum will become a coin toss and…later, a swift defeat. Hope they’re ready.