Dear Bette Midler: Black People Don't Need You To Tell Us How To Think

Dear Divine Ms. M:


I noticed your tweet mocking the Black men sitting in the audience behind Trump at a rally. I follow you on Twitter and I see your constant rage-tweeting and mostly it amuses me. However, this time I think you’ve gone too far…at least for my taste.

You see, one of the biggest stereotypes Black people must face in this country is that we all look alike, live alike, sound alike and think alike. For decades great Black actors and actresses in your own business have fought and scratched for fair representation in film and television. Tired of only being cast to do roles that boiled down to either “The Magic Negro” or “Thug #3”, those men and women made a case to Hollywood that the Black experience was much more diverse than the studios were allowing for. They made the case that they are just regular people like everyone else, and should be seen on film for what they can offer as an artist not as a Black person.

We have fought against the dangerous stereotypes that make police interactions so tense and give us pause when we shop at fancy stores or walk around our affluent neighborhoods.

Mostly, Black men and women across the years have fought to be seen as individuals instead of a monolith – slaves, poor people, ghettofied, thugged out…pick your label. For most of this country’s history it has been a daily struggle to be able to be looked at as a person instead of a label.


Marianne Williamson was recently in hot water for video of a campaign event where she asked the White people in the audience to find the nearest black person and apologize to them for slavery. It was truly the most cringe-tastic I’ve seen in a while. I can think of few things more humiliating than being singled out for how you look and then surrounded by strangers trying to touch you.

This is part of why I left the liberal Left long ago, and why I can’t really bring myself to be a Democrat ever again no matter what the GOP is or is not offering. For all of our talk about tolerance, diversity and how racist those big, bad scary Republicans were, the worst discrimination and stereotyping I ever experienced came from my left-wing brethren. It didn’t take me long to figure out that for many non-Black progressives I was not an individual…I was a box to check on their diversity list.

Ms. Midler, that is what you did with that truly thoughtless tweet – you revealed that you only see Black Americans as quotas while suggesting Trump was paying people to be quotas. Project much?

Having come from the liberal Left myself, I can understand that you’ve been inundated so long with a false narrative of what most conservatives believe that you think anyone who supports the GOP or Donald Trump must be crazy. I get that.


But when you looked at those men standing behind Trump, you didn’t even consider that they might actually have their own stories, their own lives and their own experiences that led them there. It didn’t occur to you that these were real people who laugh and love and bleed when you cut them. To you they were just…BLACK.

The reason you were so shocked to see those BLACK men standing there was because you have your own stereotypes about who Black people are, where we should live and how we should think . You have a box for those BLACK men and they stepped out of it.

Sounds pretty racist to me.

We are more than pawns in a political game that no one ever wins. We are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. The Black American experience ranges from the ghetto to the mansions of Beverly Hills, the coasts to the midwest, the inner city to the suburbs. There is an entire generation of Black children in this country who have grown up in wealth and affluence. No longer is the “Black experience” relegated to the ‘hood. We have spread out.

Maybe you haven’t quite accepted that yet.

Many of us are Democrats, but still many others feel used by Democrats and wealthy White women like yourself – used as shields against racism so you can spew your ignorance or prejudice while saying, “Look, I have Black friends. I’m liberal. I’m the good guy!”. We sometimes feel used as game pieces, moved around the board every election cycle and then put back in the box to be ignored for another 2-4 years.


We have ideas. We have thoughts, and sometimes we think outside that box you’ve been keeping us in.

You could have asked why those men support the GOP. You could have exhibited a modicum of curiosity. You could have at least pretended for a moment that those BLACK men were simply men and you could have treated them accordingly.

Instead  you singled them out, judged them for their race and condemned them for not acting the way you think they should act.

Isn’t that what a White supremacist does?


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