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I Have to Believe That Nicole Arbour Isn’t a Real Person So That Any of This Can Make Sense

The more ignorance Nicole Arbour spews, whether in her “comedy” or as herself, the more I have to believe that she’s some kind of Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton construction of a personality. Somewhere out there, there’s a real Nicole who’s examining society by putting this troll of a character out into the world, Stephen Colbert-style. That’s the explanation, right? Right?

I already wrote about the tone-deaf “women’s edit” Arbour did of Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” It understandably got a lot of criticism, and that criticism prompted Arbour to tweet the above tweet, which has since been deleted. The internet, however, is forever, and it loves holding onto receipts.

“I’m so sick of people mad at slavery,” she says. “It’s the past, we weren’t there. We didn’t do it. But what we CAN do is fix economic slavery. Focus on the now.”

There are many problems with this, some of which I hope she recognized, having backtracked on the tweet and all. First and foremost, there’s a reason that people are still “mad at slavery.” It being one of this country’s biggest (if not its biggest) injustices aside, the fact is that slavery is a direct cause of the systemic injustice that black Americans face today. The reason why there are so many black people in prison and police officers that need retraining, which she claims to oppose in this tweet:

…is directly related to slavery. What’s frustrating for the people who keep “bringing it up” is that we, as a country, have yet to acknowledge that. And you can’t solve a problem without acknowledging the cause. Rhetoric like Arbour’s would like to skip all the uncomfortable-feeling reckoning that needs to happen and just “get to the solution already.” That’s not how this works. Because while, for example, there’s no legalized slavery in the United States anymore, slavery lives on in our prison system through the 13th amendment. The one that supposedly “abolished” slavery.

Spending all this time trying to “get past” slavery has allowed a new form of it to continue to enslave black people, albeit in different ways. Prison. Economic disadvantage. Voting rights being stripped. Those things are happening right now. Precisely because of attitudes like hers. Too many people not seeing the connection. Seeing slavery as something that is “past” as opposed to something that is very much present.

And that’s the biggest problem with both her video, and her response to criticism. She talks a big game about wanting us to find “common ground,” but the fact is the ground isn’t common. That’s the problem. The things that are “common” to her aren’t “common” for other women.

Intersectional feminism isn’t about “common ground,” finding the places where women “intersect.” The intersections are personal and individual. It’s about understanding that there are places where we, as a group, diverge, and getting comfortable talking about those things, backing each other up even in the places where we’re different.

Arbour posted the following statement on her video:

She’s great at talking. At expressing her point of view, and defending herself. Where she desperately needs improvement is in the listening department. In considering viewpoints other than her own. Especially with such a huge platform. Or, as she puts it, “having such a large voice.”

(via Newsweek, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.