The Crunk Feminist Collective, an amazing community and blog "where crunk meets conscious and feminism meets cool" (who should promptly be added to your blogroll, RSS reader, Twitter/Tumblr dash, what have you, if they're not already there), recently posted an open letter on their Tumblr page from some of its contributors to the writers of the web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl asking for accountability regarding transmisogyny, ableism, and homophobia that have popped up in recent episodes. (I interviewed the show's creator, Issa Rae, in the latest issue of Bitch).
Here's an excerpt:
We have seen your responsiveness to the fans of ABG and we hope that by raising this concern you will respond accordingly by not using such language in future episodes. There are so many awkward queer, trans, and disabled folks who love the show and it hurts to see and hear our lives used as punchlines. For those of us, the awkward black, queer folks who have lived at the intersections of our awkwardness, our blackness, and our transness, words like "tra**y" erase our lives, and our humanity. Phrases like "No lesbo" and the use of affected speech to imitate hard of hearing people detract from the vision of creating representations for the rest of us who are all too often maligned in mainstream media.
We look forward to many more episodes of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl that are hilarious without the use of marginalized groups as a punchline. We have confidence that you have the creativity to continue to push comedic boundaries in new ways and educate your audience in the process.
Both online and off, I hear various versions of the question, "How do I deal with liking problematic popular culture?" By thoughtfully engaging with the content's creators, and holding them respectfully accountable without full-blown disengagement, hashtag hating, or feminist pearl-clutching, alicia sanchez gill, Claire Nemorin, Moya Bailey, Kimberley Shults, and the other letter contributors have a pretty good answer—and a model more of us should follow for turning pop culture criticism into action and accountability.
Edit: This post has been edited to reflect that certain CFC contributors, not the Collective as a whole, penned the open letter.