Indulge me. Watch this video and tell me what’s your first reaction.
If your first reaction to this video was “Girl, get a job!”, whether you’re a woman or man of any color or stature, you’re enacting on sexist behavior. Yes, I got this from rapradar.com and also saw it on another website. While I thought Rap Radar did an effective job of just putting this in the fore, the other sites I’ve seen it on already turned their heads on Eliza Rios, who doesn’t even sound remotely desperate. Yet, the minute people saw the screen shot of a dark Puerto Rican lady with twists in her hair and a Bronx-tinted accent living in a shelter, they’re already willing to tell her she’s no good.
That, my friends, is sexist.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in my formative years reading a little bell hooks and Audre Lorde (frankly, not enough), but I understand the intersectionality of the -isms we place upon people, and how quickly we’re willing to turn on people who we consider ourselves a part of if they don’t fit the criteria in another group we’re a part of. For instance, let’s say we have a group of middle-t0-upper class women all in the room sharing in these activities, but one happens to be Black. Regardless of her esteemed attributes and her acceptance into the group because of her stature and sex, her race makes even things like her cooking unacceptable to the other members in that group.
In the same way, I found many of the commenters who probably live in her same neighborhood, drink the same things she drinks, goes to the same clubs, grew up around or in the same situation she did, and loved the same man she did for years on end (for completely different reasons) extremely critical of Ms. Rios, maybe even BECAUSE Big Pun admittedly physically abused her. For many of the people I read, that in and of itself was a non-issue, a sure indication that they don’t think physical abuse of the mother of one’s children is relevant to why she feels in the slightest way entitled to whatever he said he’d provide for her and their children. In other words, sexist.
I can already smell some of you saying, “Why doesn’t she get a job? She looks lazy, slovenly, like she can’t do for self. She could use an education.” People really have a hard time differentiating between seeing people on their screen doing a TV interview and what actually do day-to-day. Secondly, she said, even with the six-figure sum she was paid when he died, the bills accumulated higher because the man couldn’t provide at that point. I don’t believe that the woman always has to be the caretaker in a marriage; that’d be sexist of me. However, I believe that’s the role she chose; Big Pun’s talents were the bread, the butter, and the whole table setting (check his record). She no more could have predicted his sudden death than any of us.
A large part of me feels like it’s because Big Pun was a phenomenal MC and not just a regular dude in the hood that she’s being maligned or disregarded as such. Then again, even on The Maury Povich show, people more often than not pull for the guy to not be the father just to see him dance than the child to have a father and at least have him be financially responsible for what he helped produce. In no way am I saying that women shouldn’t also feel some sort of responsibility. Not-so-big secret: I too was raised mostly in a single-parent home for all intents and purposes, and my mother helped make something out of me. But statistically, I’m an exception. Statistically, I beat the rather ominous odds, and so did all these other bougie fools typing their comments from their Sidekicks trying to hate on Ms. Rios.
In the last part of the video, it’s easy to see that she’s not looking for someone to come in and swoop her from her situation. She fully understands what’s going on, and frankly, was too conservative about the way Fat Joe and everyone else who’d fed off her husband’s gifts (mis)treated her along the way. I guess if we can’t put the women in a g-string on top of a car or showering them with money, then they get relegated to the squalor of home, never to be seen or heard from until something tragic happens.
Yet, something tells me everyone who already wanted to oppress her made their judgments before they played the video. Sexism feels comfortable for those who need to elevate themselves as such.
Jose, who can’t wait for what you might have to say …