“I can’t speak for [Gabrielle] [said Klum.] “I didn’t experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”

And here we go with a white woman [a wealthy celebrity one no less] discounting a black woman’s authority to speak her own truth.

She says she can’t speak for Gabrielle, but…

You’re damn straight Heidi can’t speak for Gabrielle…but she goes ahead and does it anyway, casting doubt on Gabrielle’s truth. Which is what white people do all the time: assume THEY have the authority to discount [directly or passive aggressively] a black woman speaking her truth.

Of course Klum didn’t experience the same thing. Heidi, sweetheart, have you ever noticed that your skin and hair and shape are nothing like Gabrielle’s so of course you wouldn’t experience the same things.

Heidi, your words are a perfect example of a clueless white woman acting as if racism doesn’t exist, or if they do, it “can’t be all that bad” because YOU never see it.

Now, Heidi has since insisted that she didn’t mean to discount Gabrielle’s account, just to say that her own hasn’t been like that.

But Heidi, whether you meant to or not, your words bear the heavy implication that you were, in fact, discounting her. Why not speak to the REASONS why your experience would have been different? You can’t imagine race has anything to do with it. Cuz you don’t see it. And why do you supposed you don’t see it or experience it? Hmmmm?

Now comes another black woman…to Gabrielle’s defense.

“WHAT I LOVE ABOUT WHAT SHE DID IS SHE WAS VERY VULNERABLE. I WASN’T SUPER CLOSE TO IT, BUT I SAW SOME OF HER TWEETS,” BANKS SHARES. “I THOUGHT IT WAS MAYBE BEAUTIFUL… HOW SHE WASN’T SPEAKING IN ANGER, SHE’S SPEAKING IN PAIN LIKE ‘I’M TRYING TO GET THROUGH THIS… AND I’M CRYING.’”

Tears do not connote anger. They connote pain.

But see, when a black woman calls white people out, most of them see anger instead of pain. Because, you know, as medicine believed for so many years, black people don’t feel pain the way white people do.

And oh, my, I read some of the white responses here and I think: Jeeez. Your comments are in fact absolutely typical of white people. Y’all pretty much do the same thing, acting like you have authority to speak about what people of color experience in their daily lives.

I see the same themes everywhere I look. But white people need to train their eyes to see what they’ve ignored or discounted as “not that big of a deal.”

--

--

--

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Georgia NeSmith

Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.

More from Medium

What Everyone Needs to Know About Love

Platonics vs. Lovers

Nuggets for Life

What I’ve learn currently (June 2022) — The Fitnessista