Black women are not often afforded a lot of grace.
We are the subject of scorn in our everyday lives as we go about being everyday people.
Given a platform, we are subjected to abuse, ridicule, and harassment when people know our names and our faces. Fame is infamously overrated.
So what happens when you are an ordinary Black woman, minding your ordinary Black woman businesses, and, during the course of constructing one of our most famous looks, you put Gorilla Glue in your hair, later discovering to your horror that no amount of washing it will make the glue come out?
You panic. You aren’t sure what to do next. Maybe someone else has been through this before? Maybe someone else has done it and has a remedy? Maybe someone out there has a solution to help you unglue your hair from your scalp.
So you use your social media platform and tell your story. You demonstrate for people how the glue won’t wash out of your hair.
And then you immediately become the butt of numerous jokes and internet memes, ultimately becoming a parody figure for a Saturday Night Live skit.
You aren’t a politician. You haven’t harmed anyone other than yourself. You are simply a Black woman who made an albeit foolish mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. You aren’t a public figure. Before this happened to you, no one even knew who you were. But now you are the butt of every joke. Someone made an emoji wearing your famously glued-on hairdo. Regina King, Kenan Thompson, and every other Black cast member on Saturday Night Live just did a skit in which they subtly called you dumb and stupid more times than you can count.
You are still in the midst of it. Rumors have started that you plan to sue Gorilla Glue for the mishap even though you yourself have never said that. It doesn’t matter: When a lie gets told on the internet, people run with it without verifying it.
So now everyone is judging you, yelling at you, showing up in your mentions, emailing you, and messaging you any way they can to tell you how stupid they think you are and how wrong you are to want to fault a company for your own mistake.
You launched a GoFundMe to raise money for after-care. You weren’t sure how all of this was going to pan out, so you thought maybe you could buy some wigs or pay someone to style your hair in a way that the glue damage won’t show. You asked for $1,500 but got more than $20,000. Now people are saying you did all of this for clout and money. They are asking what you plan to do next in order to hold on to this modicum of “fame” that is at once horrifying and embarrassing. I mean, who wants to spend the rest of their lives being known as “Gorilla Glue Girl,” especially when they are a 40-year-old woman who runs a business and has other young Black girls looking up to her?
Now the story is everywhere, and it likely won’t leave the news cycle anytime soon. People are silently praying for a downfall you don’t even deserve. You didn’t ask for this. You haven’t done anything wrong. You simply made a mistake, and now you will pay for it for the rest of your life with infamy.
Did Tessica Brown make what most of us would consider a silly mistake? Yes. But the older I get and the more therapy sessions I attend, I am learning that what I consider common sense may not be the same thing for someone else, and a little bit of grace goes a long way.
Many of us had opinions on the entire debacle, but a number of us had the grace to keep those opinions to ourselves (or in the group chat) and not add to the public pile-on that a frightened Black woman was experiencing.
The Saturday Night Live skit was a bridge too far and a classic example of punching down. She didn’t deserve that any more than she deserves the nonstop attacks she has been receiving since she went public with her ordeal.
Please stop attacking Tessica Brown. She deserves a level of grace not often afforded to Black women.