The Media Vilifies Black Women — Jordyn Woods Was Just The Latest Casualty

Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images.
After two weeks of relative silence, Jordyn Woods opened up Friday on Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk about how she allegedly hooked up with Tristan Thompson, the father of Khloé Kardashian's daughter True. The story was a salacious shocker: Woods, who is best friends with Kardashian's sister Kylie Jenner, went to Thompson's house for a party, where she allegedly made out with the NBA player and then spent the night.
Entertainment and gossip outlets — including Refinery29 — have poured over every detail and update. Through it all, a very clear media narrative emerged: Khloé Kardashian is the victim, and Jordyn Woods is the villain. Just search Twitter for "Jordyn Woods," and you'll see countless tweets calling Jordyn a homewrecker, a slut, a snake, and an idiot for messing up future lucrative business deals with a family as powerful as the Kardashians. TMZ all but said 21-year-old's career in finished now that she has been cut off from the reality TV family.
Woods says the story we all know is not true. She said she has never slept with Thompson, and while she made a mistake for being at the party in the first place (and being drunk), Thompson kissed her as she was leaving — it wasn't some nefarious affair.
We'll never really know what went down, and honestly, that doesn't matter. But what does is how Jordyn Woods, a young Black woman, has been treated by the media. We've seen it before. Woods is being painted as a promiscuous, desperate clout chaser. She told Pinkett Smith her mother can't go to the grocery store, and her siblings can't go to school or work because of the constant harassment since the news broke. Through tears, she said people have said her dad deserved to die. (Woods' father passed away in 2017 from cancer.)
"They're putting their focus on a young Black woman who made a mistake, and not a mistake that's worth public persecution," Woods told Pinkett Smith. "The first few days of this were definitely the hardest. I couldn't eat for days. I would just try to sleep and hope that I could wake up and this wouldn't be true."

Well, you know what they say. Black women can be the most disregarded and disrespected creatures on the Earth.

Jada Pinkett Smith
You don't have to look far from the Kardashians' orbit to find another Black woman who went through a similar public crucifixion (another word Woods used to described her recent experience). Blac Chyna, who has a daughter with Rob Kardashian and was once good friends with Kim Kardashian West, has pretty much been blackballed after a series of public spats with the family, including when Rob posted nude photos of Chyna online.
These situations are messy, and while no one ends up looking good, it's always the Black woman who ends up looking the worst. "Well, you know what they say," Pinckett Smith told Woods, "Black women can be the most disregarded and disrespected creatures on the Earth."
She's right. We are sexualized by society at a young age, seen as less innocent even as children, never given the benefit of the doubt. An extreme example of how Hollywood treats imperfect Black women is Whitney Houston, whose drug addiction was treated as joke and as a shameful character flaw until her death. Houston was never seen as a person who was suffering from a disease, a person who needed compassion and help. Just contrast her treatment by the media to that of Demi Lovato, who has publicly struggled with addiction for years and overdosed last summer.
I can't fully understand what Jordyn is going through, as I am far from a celebrity and have never been embroiled in a public scandal to this degree. But, I empathize with her because I've been there — vilified for a mistake, my Blackness automatically making me be seen as aggressor. I'm guilty myself of getting caught up in this gossip cycle, feverishly clicking on every story that offered up "new details." But, I'm now opting out, because the public dragging of Jordyn Woods, a young Black woman who had a lapse in judgment, shouldn't be entertainment.

More from Pop Culture

R29 Original Series