Tomi Lahren is a terrible person.
Not misunderstood. Or just a conservative. Or capital letter White. Or even very problematic.
No, she is an abjectly awful person. She says abhorrent and hateful things, and has leveraged this abhorrence and hate to give herself a larger platform to infect more people with it and make more money off of it. She is willfully and dangerously ignorant, is either unaware of or unconcerned with historical context, and also seems to have no problem inciting violence against people protesting and brutalized by it. If Heaven exists — and I believe it does — and what we believe to be true about Heaven is actually true, if she died today she would not be there tomorrow.
She is also young, petite, and very blonde; characteristics that, in tandem, are considered by very many people to be the three most desirable things a woman can be. If she appeared on screen and the TV happened to be on mute and you happened to not be paying much attention to it, you could easily mistake her for Kristen Bell or Emilia Clarke.
This — her appearance and youth and physical presence — seems to be incongruent with who she actually is. It’s not at all, of course. She is, again, a terrible fucking person. (Do not forget this.) But everything America encourages us to believe about how terrible and dangerous people are supposed to look and sound (not like Tomi Lahren) and the type of people people who look like Tomi Lahren are supposed to be (not terrible and dangerous) suggests otherwise.
This particular strain of socialization also ignores history. Tomi Lahrens are directly responsible for false arrests, beatings, whippings, lynchings, and even executions. If you watch the footage of Ruby Bridges desegregating William Frantz Elementary, or Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed, and Melba Pattillo Beals desegregating Little Rock Central High, you’ll see dozens of Tomi Lahrens on the front lines, clutching signs, hurling stones, and spewing hate; their pretty little blonde fucking faces twisted, evil, and cruel.
But their looks have granted them the privilege of consideration. Sometimes even kindness. (And sometimes even cupcakes.) Because women that young, that blonde, that petite just can’t possibly also be that hateful. It’s unfathomable that they could genuinely be this vile and wicked. So maybe a conversation might sway them. Or an invitation to a show. Or a hug. Or a drink. Or a date even. Or a dick inside of them. Or, shit, maybe even having a kid with them might do it. It never does, of course. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. (If it’s not obvious already, “us” in this context is “Black men.”)
While both history and the present inform us that we should be impervious to whichever charms we believe they possess — that our lives can literally depend on refusing to be seduced by them — we still allow it to happen. We still want to acknowledge and engage them. We still want to be nice to them. Perhaps with the hope that they’ll acknowledge and engage us in return. But all this does is validate them. It gives them credibility for engaging us; which, in the eyes of their friends and fans and followers, is effectively and bravely slumming. It promotes their brands and boosts their platforms. It buys them more airtime and unlimited bleach. It provides them an alibi for their hate. Because Tomi Lahren can’t really be racist if she’s getting drinks with Trevor and mean mugging with Charlamagne. Look how fun she looks!
And when we allow that to happen, we’re not brave. We’re not sober. We’re not attempting to find a common ground. We’re not extending an olive branch. We’re not being the bigger person. We’re not taking one for the team. We’re not even genuine. We’re just the help.