In this age of readily accessible memes and Tumblr pictures about love, beauty and liberation, everyone can be “deep.” We can post pictures of the ocean or pensive selfies and caption them with a quote from BrainyQuote and watch the retweets and likes roll. We know how to snap when we hear peer-friendly buzzwords about oppression and we can offer a “mmmmm” when we hear something we really like.
Everyone can be deep. Or at least, we can pretend to be.
The depth turns shallow when nuance is brought to the conversation and oppression is actually interrogated instead of being used as a blanket term to get snaps. Fake deepness has taken over our campus and our movement.
For the first discussion meeting of the Black Feminist Collective, we viewed the video “Fake Deep,” a poem adapted into a visual film written by Cecile Emeke. The poem is witty, provocative and in-your-face about the misogynoir that Black women endure from “fake deep” Black men.
According to the video, a “fake deep” Black man is “worse that your overtly chauvinistic pig.” He is pro-Black, quasi-conscious and pseudo-intellectual, because he is patriarchal, misogynistic and heterosexist. He ignores systemic and institutional obstacles and “quotes reductionist and overly-spiritualized shit like, stop complaining and just be the light you want to see, sis.”
Fake deep exists; we all know this. But when are we going to start being honest and admit that it’s not just men?
A fake-deep man critiques Black women on their clothing, bodies, cooking and reading habits. His tool of oppression is the binary of gender when he denies femme-identified people the space to just live their truth. He expects women to “work, cook, clean, twerk and raise children independently.” He treats women like pieces of art for his viewing and enforces “respectability politic-laced bullshit.”
Sadly, I could have easily written the paragraph above with a different set of pronouns and it would still be just as true. Women can be guilty of the same sentiments. The heteropatriarchy inflicted by men is real, and it is most definitely valid, but how can any true change happen if we are not pushing ourselves on all fronts to not be fake deep?
Can the cis woman show up for the gender-nonconforming? Can able-bodied individuals care about ableism? Can U.S. citizens acknowledge their privilege?
White-supremacist heteropatriarchy is powerful because it is systemic and adopted by disciples other than those who have access to that embodied identity. This concept of fake deep lives and breathes everywhere, and it brings to mind two questions.
How deep are your ideas about liberation? And if the answer is “not very deep,” are you willing to make adjustments?
The article “DEAR BLACK MEN: You Are Not Pro-Black If You Are Not Pro-Black Women,” by Daniel Johnson, recently gained traction on my social media feed. The article is a callout to Black men who claim to be pro-Black but fall short when it comes to being pro-Black women. The article highlights how Black women always hold it down for Black men, but Black patriarchy prevents reciprocation.
While everyone raved about this piece, my attention was drawn to the last statement of the article: “It is time that pro-Black means pro-Black everybody.” However, the article failed to mention Black queer people, Black trans people or Black gender-norming people.
And I wonder if the people sharing this article read “Black woman” as “Black [respectable] woman.” I wonder if pro-Black still applies to the Black person living in the Section 8 apartment, the Black person with the EBT in their wallet, the Black person doing sex work or the Black person whose degree comes from the University of Life.
We must go deeper.
We can’t have our liberation be everything as is, but painted Black. For the same reason, our Black feminism cannot be White feminism painted Black. We cannot talk about Black men being fake deep without some personal accountability for our own heteropatriarchy. It is an unlearning process that requires active participation and reflection.
But thank God for Black feminism.
Black feminism is a framework that allows for questioning, growing and contradictions in the dismantling of heterosexist, racist, sexist, classist and capitalist structures. It aims for liberation, and it is always centered on love.
To my Black femmes, I love y’all. But some of us are fake deep. That’s okay, but just know we can’t stay there. We must reject all of the norms and systems that have socialized us to think in the language of the oppressor.
Let’s explore our contradictions. Let’s call each other in. Let’s not accept toxic, impossible standards. Let’s kill the binary. Let’s not cheapen ourselves.
This is our liberation.
Let’s go further. Let’s be deep. Then let’s go deeper.
Forreal. No more of that fake deep.
Contact Mysia Anderson at mysia ‘at’ stanford.edu.