Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nobody Cares about Black Women Except Black Women

Women don’t play football.
 Women don’t know anything about sports.
 Women don’t drink hard liquor.
 Women don’t drink beer.
 Where did you learn how to throw like that?
 How are you so physically strong?
 You are too aggressive.
 I felt like you were too dominating.
 Could you leave room for others to speak?
 I admire your strength and your ability to put everyone’s needs before yours.
 Give him a chance.
 Men will be men. Boys will be boys.
 Preserve yourself for marriage so that you will be a virtuous woman.
 Don’t worry, you will get married.
 Why would you want to get married? You are beautiful.
 Women don’t run fast.
 So what are you going to do with that hair of yours?
 You are gaining a lot of weight, slow down.
 Shave your legs and armpits, that is unladylike.
 Men don’t like (insert something arbitrary, stupid, and/or oppressive).
 Stop being angry, don’t you want a man?
 Bxtches aint shxt but hoes and tricks.
 Random stranger winks at me.
 Random stranger yells out of his car and tells me he loves my axx.

These are some of the messages that I am bombarded with on the daily. Anxiety becomes high; at times I simply cannot breathe. Said before, but to be black and woman and to be conscious is to be in a constant state of rage. When I sit down and think about how many sexist comments and/or actions I receive daily, it is astonishing. But what is even more astonishing is the normativity of it all. The fact is that  I, as a Black woman, can be on the receiving end of so many harmful things yet be expected to perform and excel no matter what. I am expected to be strong. I am expected to “ be vocal" about my issues. There are so many expectations of me, but so few for society and the community around me.

If I am strong for everyone, who is strong for me?
 If I am the only one vocal about my issues, who uplifts and raises my voice?
Who has our back?
 At what point do black women become human beings?
At what point do you all stop romanticizing the struggle and fetishizing us into this caricature you want us to be?
Why must anyone but us, have an opinion on our life?

When we assert the fact that black women’s lives matter. It is a serious matter. It is necessary.  It is necessary because everything around us tells us that we are not enough. We are inadequate. We are inadequate unless our worth is attached to what society deems feminine or to standards set forth by men. We are not allowed the autonomy to define ourselves, by ourselves, for ourselves.  Our humanity is forever in question. Our beliefs are ridiculed. We are society’s big elephant in the room. Ignored and silenced.

This past week has been difficult for me. I was on the receiving end of multiple attacks by a Black male ally who claimed to “get it”. Yet he was insistent on the fact that my worldview is flawed and that I was “overreacting”. He and his friends were dismissive of multiple Black women expressing pain and neglect. His words were harmful to myself and others and yet nobody but other Black women cared. Many Black women expressed their hurt this past week. No one cared.

No one ever cares.

Black women are the fastest growing prison population . Black trans women are the most likely to experience violence and death at the hands of community members and at the hands of the police . Black women are more likely to be in jail compared to their White women than Black men compared to White men . Black women are more likely to die at the hands of their significant rather than any other cause of death . Black women carry the burden of their community and their family and are still over scrutinized , underpaid, and undervalued . Black women are most likely to be sexually assaulted after Indigenous women . Black women are targets of all. 

This past week, I also watched an triggering documentary about the “Grimm Sleeper”. This is a man who killed over 100 Black women in South Central LA for over 20 years. The community was complicit. The police department was complicit. The local government was complicit.

This is the reality of Black women. 

Our existence does not matter. How over 100 Black women could be killed and not one news source picked it up? How over 100 Black women could be killed and not one community member was put on notice so another Black woman could be saved?

There is a complete lack of empathy and a complete disregard for my life in this world. These constant dehumanizing and ridiculing messages help maintain a status quo that Black women are not human beings. Thus, are not worthy of any type of respect. These oppressive systems force Black women into a permanent and complete self-preservation mode. We are forced to find creative ways to reaffirm our humanity. We literally have to be unapologetic for survival. We have to find ways to fall in love with ourselves everyday because everything around us tells us that we are worthless.

I am someone who has very high self-esteem, but self-esteem does not protect you from the coldness of the world.  I have a strong sense of self. I am very sure of myself. I am very confident. But if these ideals are not reinforced externally by society, you sometimes begin to doubt yourself.

For now, I simply want to exist without interference. I want to be able to define myself for myself. I don’t want the burden or responsibility of being a Black queen or a strong Black woman. Those titles come with too much unwarranted responsibilities that work to reinforce a power structure that leaves your true self in the shadows. I do not want constraints on who I can be as a person. I do not want rules about what makes me a woman. We don’t want any of this.
Many Black women just want to be. 
We want to be free, but are met with hostility within our communities and outside our communities.

There are many Black men who can intellectually discuss racism in depth, but cannot apply the same critical thinking skills to understand sexism. The types of things men say about women so freely flow off their tongue. It's normal. It's okay.  I hope as we move through with this revolution that there is a recognition of all Black lives. We need to re-center the Black lives who are at the farthest margin. Who society has neglected the most.

When people at the margins are speaking up,
Black women
Black lgbtiq
Black disabled
Black poor
shut up and listen.

Because when they get free, we all get free. Until then, we are in a constant state of rage.

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