By now most of us have seen the Politico piece declaring 2022 the year we got tired of narcissists, which is nothing more than a faulty framework to attack a biracial woman who had the “audacity” to speak up against the mistreatment and racism she experienced. Still, Meghan Markle found herself smack-dab in the middle of criminals, con-artists, antisemites and racists in Joanna Weiss’ and Politico’s desperate attempt to get a piece of the profit pie that is hating on Meghan Markle. (Important to note: Since the publication, Joanna Weiss has made two attempts to defend her article using a “social science” definition of narcissist, going as far as to claim that there is a spectrum of good and evil when it comes to narcissism and predictably replying to a WOC that really it’s the ad hominem attacks on her as a result of the article that are the issue. Weiss is a Jewish woman, which is important to note for the purpose of this post.)
And while some people were quick to point out the recent changes at Politico – media consolidation, connections between the Royal Family and the original founders of Politico – The Allbrittons – which are certainly worthy of exploration, many online commenters were quick to dismiss Weiss as a “Trump supporter,” “conservative,” “racist.”
While I cannot be 100% sure what lies at the heart of Weiss’ political convictions, I can tell you after hours of combing through her tweets and reading her articles from The Atlantic, WBUR, The Boston Globe, and Politico, that Joanna Weiss is most likely not the alt-right caricature you have in your mind.
Joanna Weiss is your college roommate.
Joanna Weiss is in your book club.
Joanna Weiss is your BFF.
Joanna Weiss is you.
Joanna Weiss is me.
Joanna Weiss is what WOC say when they say that progressive white women are the most dangerous to any movement (and yes I mean progressive white women).
Why is that? Because we (and I’m speaking for fellow progressive white women) tend to center ourselves in movements. There’s proof of that in the suffragette movement and the way affirmative action as we know it has mostly benefitted people who look like us. We really want to be antiracist and equitable. We read White Fragility armed with highlighters and notebooks in hand after George Floyd’s murder. We joined BLM chapters – well, we signed up for the newsletters at least. We changed our profile pictures to black squares. We bought Kendi and hooks and Oluo but, when push comes to shove and we inevitably mess up, show the internalized racism and misogynoir that still exists inside us all, we lash out on the very people we have sworn to fight alongside.
We use our tears. We focus on OUR pain and the attacks WE have received as the result of our actions and not our actions in and of themselves. We shut down. We retreat. We refuse to do the growth we have promised to do as participants in the movement.
And in some ways that makes us even more dangerous to BIPOC. Because at least with people who are adamant that racism no longer exists or white people are being replaced, at least they know where those white folks stand.
Joanna is that white woman who, consciously or not, wrote a hit piece steeped in misogynoir with a WOC as the main course. And predictably, when called on it, she has retreated and hid behind her whiteness and the attacks on her marginalized status (as Jewish woman).
It would be so much easier to group Joanna Weiss in with the majority of white women who voted for Donald Trump and continue to hide under the umbrella of the patriarchy that they wrongly assume will keep them protected by their status adjacent to it. This would be much more comfortable for white women who consider themselves progressive and a part of the movement.
But the truth is, Joanna probably has antiracist books among her collection. A mug with RBG emblazoned on the side. A “in this house we believe” sign on her lawn. Maybe even pronouns in her email signature as she sends off emails defending her piece to WOC trying to explain to her the harm she has caused.
Joanna Weiss is you. Joanna Weiss is me. The question is, will you or I sell out when temptation lays bare to capitalize off a WOC’s trauma? Will you or I see the racism and misogyny before we speak, write, act, etc.? And, more importantly, if we don’t, how we will react when called out on it? Will we receive the feedback with open arms? Continue the necessary work to be a better ally in the future?
Or, will we hide behind or whiteness?