The Erasure of Black Womanhood: Why Anthony Cumia's Twitter Rant is About More Than Race

BlogHer Original Post

Why? At three in the morning, I am NOT comfortable with a strange man taking pictures of me while I am walking on the street. It is SCARY. Cumia has built a career around being a prankster, and he is notorious for embarrassing people for shits and giggles. This is his schtick. Whether or not the woman was aware of who he was is of no consequence. What is missing from this discussion are the people getting to the point of why HE was outside that late at night. There has been tons of speculation as to why SHE was out there, and most of it has been negative (e.g., “She is a hooker” “She was probably looking for drugs”). I would consider his behavior to be creepy, at best, and definitely predatory. Ironically, Cumia has called her the predator, and made himself out to be victimized prey.

Why didn’t Cumia file a police report against a woman he alleges punched and bashed his head in so badly that he temporarily lost vision? As a White man, surely he knows that his word would likely have been trusted, and he would have received the treatment and care that he needed, yes?

Since he had his camera, why did he not take pictures of himself to support his claim that he was attacked? He took to Twitter within an hour of the attack to type this long tirade, so it wasn’t as if he had been in such poor condition that he could not at least collect evidence.

If this Black woman was such a violent animal who beat him so bad he couldn’t see, why come to Twitter to vent instead of seek help from the police, who are readily available on nearly every corner of Times Square, post-9/11?

Cumia Twitter screenshotScreen shot of Anthony Cumia's Twitter feed

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy his story that he was innocently taking pictures of a construction site at three in the morning, and a woman got so mad after walking into his frame that she beat him. I’m not buying that the five men who came to her assistance were doing so because she was in control of the situation and beating this poor, gun-strapped White man down to the ground. I don’t buy that Cumia did or said nothing wrong to her to provoke an interaction. His personality doesn’t give him any benefit of doubt, and his tirade certainly substantiates his pure hatred for Black people—and, more specifically, Black women.

I also don’t believe Cumia would have interacted the same way had the person been a Black man. For all his talk of “savagery,” I don’t think he would have bothered with a brother. There is an assumption that women are weaker, and are men’s for the taking. Cumia seemed put off by the fact that she even questioned why he was taking pictures of her, and he seemed even more enraged that there were men defending her, both in the moment and, subsequently, online.

I’m hoping that the fact that she is a woman is not erased from this narrative. I appreciate several people, particularly Black men with large social media platforms, who have voiced their opinions on this issue and have made it clear that they will not tolerate the abuse of Black women or the castigation of Black men. Unfortunately, some people focus only on the race issue, erasing the fact that this uncensored hatred is directed at her because she is a woman, even when he denied her humanity by calling her an animal several times. Even more unfortunate are the many, many people who assumed that Cumia—a man known for his racism and pranks—was telling the truth about his encounter, and have weighed in based on these faulty allegations of her “attack.”

For people like Cumia, Black women are not worth defense. And, to be honest, we can tell by his tweets that he didn’t expect anyone would defend her, especially not Black men. His rage seemed to peak in response to the challenges he received about the situation, which he really didn’t seem to expect. In my interactions with the White male trolls, I’ve noticed that they have changed their tone and back-pedaled when any of my male followers have confronted them for attacking me. They are more acquiescing, trying to connect on some unspoken “man code” that makes women inferior in thought, behavior, and worth.


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