The Real Anti-Blackness of Comedy
Tiffany Haddish has had quite a year. From her breakout role in the film Girls Trip to landing her own comedy special on Netflix, Haddish has become quite the household name. Recently, she had the opportunity to be the first black comedienne to host Saturday Night Live in the show’s 42-year run. While much of the response to her hosting was positive, several people on social media noted that they had issues with Haddish and her overall persona.
Some have referred to Haddish as being crass, loud and overtly vulgar. Others have commented that she is not a great representation of black women and that much of what she has said and done is overtly problematic.
Hearing this, and knowing that there are so many other marginalized female celebrities who have created brands around what I’ve heard referred to as “hood feminism,” I suggest that those who celebrate Cardi B and judge Tiffany Haddish only do so because of anti-blackness and respectability politics.
Hear me out.
For those of you who might be asking, “How can my love for Cardi B and my disdain for Tiffany Haddish make me anti-black,” I would challenge you to think about what you have been taught regarding black women.
As a society, black women are forever held to a higher standard. Black women are forever reminded that these standards always mean making others comfortable because as black women they should always be positive representations of the entire black community.
Even in moments when black women don’t opt to be representatives of the black community, there is always an unwritten expectation that they should be vying to be the next Michelle Obama.
Yes, positive representation of black women is essential in a time when the entire black community is under attack, but we have to truly ask why it seems we celebrate one woman’s success and demean another’s.
While the intent of this article is not to throw Cardi B under the bus and shade her for all that she has done for the Afro-Latinx community, the challenge in this article is to interrogate why it seems that black women, specifically black comediennes, always catch more heat for the things they do and say while other nonblack female entertainers are celebrated as the blueprint.
We have to acknowledge that the game of respectability politics is more at play when discussing why we dance to Cardi B singing about not having to strip anymore to make a living, but shame Haddish for screaming that she made it out the hood.
In moments like these when we police what black women say and do, we are ultimately doing exactly what the system of oppression wants us to do. Anti-blackness and respectability politics benefit the oppressor in moments like these because we are, in fact, upholding standards of whiteness and what whiteness expects black women to be in mainstream media.
The greater challenge is asking ourselves why black women must always make us comfortable, even in moments when they are speaking from a place of truth. Black women don’t owe anyone anything and should always be celebrated when they are able to break through the glass ceiling.
The struggle will always be real, and we should forever celebrate any woman who is able to capitalize off of said struggle.
Remember, not everything or everyone is for us, and just because Haddish doesn’t make you laugh doesn’t mean she’s not funny.