“We can’t start a revolution off a thesis.”
What would you do if you woke up one morning and had twenty thousand new followers on Instagram after posting a very uncensored video you made about your crappy day at work? What would you do if that post was heavy in your truths about racial inequalities, social hierarchy, and identifying the blatant disregard that others have for you & your culture? Correction: How White people treat your culture?* Would you pipe up or back down when the world puts the spotlight on you? @Jillisblack is here for it. With no eagerness to become a social icon, she has found that her words may still help stimulate a few very overdue conversations in the realm of real change, confronting the Black & White issue that is at the core of our communal positioning. CopyWrite sat down with Jill for a quick chat before her lecture, “Are You An Ally Or Is It a Lie?” at Company Brewing in Milwaukee, last Saturday, to see why her methods may be the controversial but needed stepping stone for ALL of our social liberations.
*Warning Jill’s delivery is not for the faint of heart. If you are uncomfortable with any commentary in this article, do understand, that is the point.
Jill: “I was really just posting like comedic, shady a** critics of inter-community hierarchy. I had a bad day at my job, at a major nonprofit that will go on named...[it was] lots of like White women passive aggressive sh*t... I was pretty angry in it and pretty upset... I woke up the next morning and had twenty thousand more followers. That’s how it really got started. It happened on a Friday so I took the weekend and I thought about what my responsibility was being in the public sphere, if even for a second, and thought about how I wanted to do this. I’m a writer and I have a performance background so I knew I could create something that worked. Now we are here two years later.”
Jill has been popping up in different cities challenging not only people of color but white counterparts to move the narrative past the tiptoeing nature of social critic and confronting things for exactly what’s they are: Bullsh*t. Jill calls it, Revolutionary Honesty.
CW: “Can you describe Revolutionary Honesty?”
Jill: “Yea. Black people aren’t being honest. White people don’t know how to be. There is a way we talk about White people in our intimate spaces. When we are at home when we are with other Black people, when we are with our families... Then we do this performative version for Black spaces. Rather that be a training for White people, a space like this tonight, or some article, now you are performing how you are explaining racism to White people. That’s not doing any good. I want to go out and have the freedom to say to White people exactly what I would say to a Black person about them. And if I can’t do that then what I’m getting off on is my ability to explain something that is my reality, not my ability to change something that is my reality.”
As a member of the Black community, Jill has also ventured into many White spaces. She clearly admits and accepts her past, that included what is defined as self-hate, straying away from her Black culture and submerging herself in “White culture”. (Please note the word culture is being used loosely. There is no true definition of “White culture.” Its connotative use can be interchanged with “American Culture” and suggest that it is a sample of POP extremity and other learned/absorbed practices.) *Shrugs*
CW: “Can you explain what a White space is for someone who is a novice?”
Jill: With a chuckle, she replied, “I’m a good old fashion Oreo.* There is no mystery to it at all. I have been what people would say is a White lovin’ person. I think if you have been a person who has embraced White space enthusiastically, then it is your responsibility to talk about what you learned in that space. I think the mistake we are making is saying that you can never come back from that and rectify that sort of betrayal. And let me be clear it is a betrayal. So I consider myself to be like a spy. Like White people, I f*ckin know you. You can’t run game on me because I had to learn you in ways that other Black people did not.”
*OREO: Not the cookie. Defined by Urban Dictionary, Oreo is “a stereotype created by Blacks to be used against other Blacks, who are ‘Black on the outside, White on the inside’ so though a person may have Black features they display characteristics of a White person, therefore betraying their Black roots.”
She notes that if more Black people who have been obsessed with White space took what information they knew and used it in the right way, the community would have so much more than is what currently being offered. But the clincher is that it only works if people are willing, to be honest.
But let’s face it, how most people of color are living,
there are several shapes of honesty. Especially the shape that comes in the form of navigating a White dominated society for survival. We call it, Code Switching.
CW: “With that being said, how do you feel about code-switching?”
Jill: “Code Switching? Hahahaah! What does that even mean these days ya’ know. I do it. I’m sure I do it. I think what was important to me is to present a pro-Black message without feeling like I had to put on anything. So a lot of the times people would be confused by hearing the message from someone who sounds like me. We don’t get that a lot so it is important [for people to know] this is my authentic self, whether it was going to be like that or not, it’s here now. So I’m not going to code switch into my Blackness. You are either going to trust me based on what I am saying or not. But we are too far into the bullsh*t of society to think Black people are not walking around able to do a little bit of both.”
Identifying Jill as a social media face for Black thought (rather she likes it or not) is way easier for a White person to accept, than a Black person if you check the obvious. Jill is of a very fair complexion (she’s “Light skinned”), her voice inflection is very sharp and matter of fact (that could mean several things but she “sounds like a White person”), and her garb is very reminiscent of young hipsters via their preppy stage (she self-proclaimed to dress like a White man). Lol, the irony right? But either way regardless of the perception, her knowledge, and courage to be vocal about it could be risky. But isn’t every day a risk being Black?
Jill: “I haven’t been trolled in such a long time... The last white person who trolled me was a couple months ago and it was a White power person. We had a two-hour conversation. I had some questions I wanted answered from him and he had some questions he wanted answered from me. So that was the last time. In the first few months I definitely did, but these days I get more White liberals with the ‘Yea, we get it’. I don’t quite know what that means because I’m a very easy Black person for a White person to get into.”
Simply put Jill doesn’t look like a threat to White privilege.
Jill: “There is a little bit of fear realistically when I go into a space like this that are open because White people do the most. But what are we doing if not this work? So I get over it and I get up there.”
Any fear can be subdued by knowing the impact of your actions. Where Jill may be speaking on some hard-hitting topics there are comedic undertones that make her delivery of truth just way easier to grasp, even if you are the persons of critic.
CW: “We have noticed you use a lot of sarcasm, is it comedic relief for you?”
Jill: “Anything that I was going to do was going to have some humor to it because creatively I’m a comedic writer. Does it make it different from what other people do? Yes, I think it makes it more appealing and I think it makes it easier. But that’s not the purpose of it.”
Jill has also been referred to as the Black woke Daria... Ehhh, it will work.
Her lecture, “Are You An Ally Or Is It a Lie?”, revealed many enlightening points. Many of which she polled the White audience members for a show of hands on their contribution to perpetuating the issues of Black & White relations, and general social polarization. Here she spoke words that validated her outlook on sustaining and elevating the Black community considering the current standing of its plight: “Black people don’t believe in progress the way you do!”
Are we really just saving face?
CW: “How do we sustain this cross over into society where Black people are doing better and move away from a racially unequal way of life, when our society is built off of racism, thus everything we are apart of is racist?”
Jill: “We can’t. It’s not going to happen. What Black people would have to admit is that we are scared. We have come up with a group of safe ‘Black sh*t’ and then the thing we are scared of. Which the consequence [if not followed accordingly] we feel like could be death. So when we go to college, and we get on at the company, and we do things like brunch with the girls, we are living in the illusion like we aren’t at risk at every second. Let’s be honest and say it’s for safety. Do we really feel that we are progressing or do we feel like we are f*ckin’ scared and if I sound like this and look like this and I go in and work at your job I feel safer? That’s what I want Black people to be honest about. We are just ‘safe-ER’, we think.”
At this point, the only option is to be the “Other” and those extremities on either end are scrutinized for their stereotypical linkage to what being Black is. And nobody wants to be that low on the totem pole. How we say it over at /CW, “issa rough.”
CW: “If Black people were always there authentic selves what do you think that would look like?”
Jill chuckled at that question as if she didn’t even want to fathom the thought.
Jill: “I can’t even imagine that. We would also have to believe that White people would be being their authentic selves too.”
Now we had to test the waters. For Jill to be so disturbed by White people, their privilege, and destruction to the existence of all other peoples, some might think that it’s a hate for all White individuals. So all we wanted to know is...
CW: “Jill do you have White friends?” *insert the eyeball emoji here lol*
The laugh that followed this question was so heartfelt. Really it is quite hilarious if you think about it.
Jill: “You know what, I took on my first White friendship in years, this year. It’s been challenging in moments... I think, that I say that I took that on without thinking that there is a lack of racism there. You know, so I am expecting this person to be racist. I think it’s when we lie in those relationships and say, ‘No I have found one who is not’. Of course, you did! No, your White person is racist! It’s what you’re willing to spend time on and what you have the energy for, to try and find something beneficial there. But no, there is not a White person in this world who is not racist... We will see where it goes. There have been some blow-ups.”
Combating what for decades has been looked at as simply just the way things are, Jill takes her unexpected popularity seriously. With her social platform in the mix of things, her choices must be strategic. Where she stands but more importantly, how she stands, can change everything:
“No, I don’t want to sell racism for my whole life.”
CW: “You have said you don’t want to be famous, but you are very popular. Do you feel like that takes away from your responsibility to deliver this type of content?”
Jill: “I think I am at a point where I realize that I’m going to have to make some sort of compromise. That was a youthful, naive Jill. What happens is, I’m upset with what I’m seeing, and yet, I won’t enter the world to do anything about it. That’s not going to work long term. What will happen is that there will be people who take [this] content and not mean it or be performative about it. We don’t have room or time for performative authenticity. So If I believe myself, then I need to make sure the message is spread... I think I’m at the point [now] where I’m asking the question, is there an ethical way to be seen in our current society?... and I don’t have an answer for that yet.”
Thorns of truth may pierce but there are some pains that have to be endured for the greater good of all human beings. Though Jill is very vocal in her Black stance, it is not to be misconstrued, the disenfranchisement of any people by the dominating society that has been streamlined by the caucasian persuasion (Bloop!) is in fact included in this need for Revolutionary Honesty. Asking yourself “Are You An Ally Or Is It a Lie?”, is only the first step.
Jill: “Sometimes growth will look like betrayal... and I want people to trust me.”
CW: “THAT’S HARD JILL!”
Jill: “You’re right that’s hard because we are so used to people disappointing us. So I want to say somewhere on the record that I tried a thing, it didn’t work the way I wanted it to. I’m going to try something else and if that doesn’t work and it’s not ethical, I won’t do that thing either. But I want people to know that everything that you are paranoid about in society is real. So some of these doors are just closed to us. We have to find the ones that are open.”
Now, what is your next move?
Lexi for /CW
Check out the digital version of this article here.