Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
Black Twitter has been in a fury over the past week after a black woman therapist named Shabree Rawls made controversial and prejudiced statements against black men. In a TikTok video posted on Aug. 13th, Rawls responded to a comment wishing men understood emotional intelligence. In the video, she talks about men needing to expand their emotional vocabulary and refers to them as “dusty bitches” and “sad motherfuckers,” among other things.
“This shit really and truly irks me because when I say you need to expand your emotional vocabulary, it’s so your life can be easier,” she says. “Don’t you want to be able to communicate with your bitch. I think yes, right.” She then goes on to say that 90% of her clientele have been black men and how they don’t know how to express how they feel.
Once her video started going viral, many people did not appreciate how she spoke about the demographic she supposedly catered to the most (black men). “This is such a dangerous pop culture articulation of black male mental health” said Tommy J. Curry, a professor at the philosophy department at the University of Edinburgh. “Pathologizing & speaking down to patients struggling to find words for trauma is not best practice in any literature I have read. This shaming tactic is why many black men don’t pursue therapy.”
Many of the articles written about this story frame her getting fired as a result of her telling “men to get therapy,” but this is a disingenuous take. A deeper dive into her TikTok videos shows a broader story of her contempt for black men and men in general. In one video, she spoke about her personal experiences dating black men, equating it to “struggle love.” In another video, she says that 99.9% of men deserve “hell or jail.”
The way her defenders tell it, she was getting “attacked” for merely giving advice. However, they gloss over the nature, tone, and context of how she came across. She is a licensed therapist speaking authoritatively while disparaging black men based on her generalized experiences. She mixed her professional expertise with her personal encounters, blurring the lines between the two.
In follow up videos, Rawls can’t seem to comprehend or fathom why she got fired. At first she was remorseful, making two TikTok Videos captioned “Ode to the BM: an apology & plea.” In them, she apologized for the language she used and insisted she did not mean harm. However, at the end of the first video she says, “I may have projected some of my personal feelings, but I am only projecting from a place of hurt. Some of the deepest darkest things I have experienced have been perpetrated against me by black men.”
On Aug. 20th, she confirmed she lost her job due to an article written about her video that “spooked” her job and men calling her job to report her. While I do not believe in doxing and wish she had only gotten a reprimand and explanation about why what she was doing is inappropriate, I totally understand black men taking some action on this.
A similar incident happened in September of last year when a black woman attorney based in Dallas, Texas referred to black men as “bullet bags” in a tweet. A Twitter user called on others to call the Texas Bar Association to report the lawyer for how she spoke on black men. Soon after, the attorney’s social media handles were deleted.
This is a part of a wider growing problem regarding misandry and stereotyping toward black men. Thankfully more and more people are speaking up about these types of tropes and pushing back. For far too long, black women have been comfortable talking to black men in a manner which they would never address other races and genders. Black women need to realize black men are not punching bags. You cannot generalize an entire demographic based on stereotypes, especially when you are in a position of power. It has gotten to the point where the things some say about black men sound eerily similar to what white supremacists say about them.
When we presume a select few peoples’ bad actions define everyone, we pathologize them. No one, regardless of sexual orientation, benefits from the sport of demeaning men. Using condescending, shaming, and dehumanizing language against men is not the great equalizing force some women think it is. We should start by leading with compassion and holding space for men to be vulnerable.
As for Rawls, I truly hope that she takes time off TikTok to sit back and reflect on how her own internal prejudices could harm her male clients. I hope that she gets the support and clarity she needs and eventually heals from all of this.
Subscribe to get early access to podcasts, events, and more!