Black Women: America’s Punching Bag
Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Brother Malcolm said it best, “The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black Woman. The most un-protected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America, is the Black woman”
But why? And do I agree with that statement with our black men getting killed senselessly in these streets? The fact is, I do believe this. It’s a documented fact that we see time and time again in viral videos and in our daily lives. This isn’t a blog to point blame or play the “who has it worst” game. It’s merely to highlight the many ways that black women are often the go-to and the fall guy at the same time. This is happening even within our own sisterhood, black women tearing down other black women at times. The madness has got to stop but let’s unpack the issue first.
Society doesn’t know whether to loves us or hate us. Dating back to slavery, black women have been the keepers of not only her family but were trusted with others’ children, homes and lives. We have fed kids that weren’t our own but couldn’t use the restrooms in the homes we were providing care in. By fed, let me be more specific, black women would nurse white babies during slavery and it often times caused strain within their own families. Nursed the babies of families they “worked” for but couldn’t eat their food or drink out of the same glasses. Somehow, we are good enough for service yet tainted for simply being black. You’d think times had changed right? That we could be seen through the same prism as our other sisters in womanhood. (I laughed as I typed that… heartily).
Black Women as wives…
Black women get married. Shocking I know (hopefully you felt my sarcasm in that). When one of our husbands cheat, it’s not OUR fault. We didn’t get too fat, we didn’t yell too much, we didn’t twerk on a random guy in a club. Recently Antoine Fuqua, husband of the beautiful Lela Rochon, was caught cheating with Nicole Murphy. Photos emerged and people tried to compare Nicole to Lela. I read comments from men AND women saying that Lela was too fat and because Nicole Murphy has a fit body, that was the reason why he cheated. Somehow the whole incident turned into an attack on Lela. Can you freaking imagine finding out your husband is cheating on social media, with a family friend nonetheless, and THEN you are blamed for being the reason why he cheated?!
We also are able to be submissive! The word on the street is that black women run their homes and their relationships and that’s why they are divorced or single. Yes, we are the backbone of our homes but we know how to let our husbands lead, when they are deserving. Submission is a subject all in itself, especially given the latest social media outrage over Fantasia’s Breakfast Club interview. Submission is a two way street and I, as a black woman, understand that.
The truth of the matter is that we love our husbands just like every other married woman. We are supportive and understanding. Cultural differences from our counterparts, doesn’t make us less qualified to be a good wife. Black love continues to exist!
Black women as mothers…
Ah, it’s such a scary world to have children in these days. We, as black women, are aware of the instant biases our children face simply because of the color of their skin. Let me explain.
My daughter’s teacher accused her of stealing some school bucks that they collect when they do something good or excel in class. Tori called me hysterically saying that she didn’t steal anything, that she had earned all of her bucks. I was immediately at that school (another misnomer, that black mothers are lazy & don’t care about what’s going on at school with their children). I asked that the teacher be brought into the office so I could speak with her. She stated that even though Tori’s desk was on the other side of the classroom she seemed like a likely candidate because she was around her desk that morning and because of how many bucks she had. Excuse me?!? So, because she already had a lot of bucks, it was assumed that she didn’t earn them but rather stole them.
I remained calm. “Does anyone else in the class have more bucks than her?” She replies, “Well yes but I don’t see the point” “Is that girl white, black, brown?” “She’s white but I am not accusing Tori because she is black” “Interesting, I didn’t say you were”
Anyway, you get my point. My child was assumed a criminal simply because of the color of her skin. (Another teacher confirmed that she had given Tori bucks for helping clean up the lunch room after lunch)
Black children are assumed to be “dumber” than their white counterparts because they come from broken homes and mothers who don’t take the time to work with them. Right? WRONG! Black mothers are just as involved in their child’s education as any other race. While there are a number of black women who may have to work multiple jobs to continue to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their family (black women make 39% less than white men with similar qualifications), they are still present and active. We care about our children too!
Black women as women…
For years our hair, our style, our dance moves, our body shapes have been appropriated with little recognition of the originators. (That struck a nerve with some people I’m sure) Let’s talk about it. In the world of Kardashians most of what they represent is what black women have been for years. Nice butts, full lips, versatile hairstyles, epic fashion, great moms, entrepreneurs. Guess what…. BLACK WOMEN are/do ALL OF THAT. The reason why we are underrepresented is because the power of the black woman is feared. Our strength, our resilience our brilliance and our innovative minds will catapult regular into extraordinary. I think they call that “Black Girl Magic”.
It’s also the reason why we are America’s punching bag. If you continue to beat someone down you're trying to break their spirit. The thing that people fear in us, though, is the exact reason why we are unstoppable. Although we have been sexualized for simply being who we were born with curves and melanin, our minds are the things that are often overlooked. Our ability to create and master, to achieve and excel, we are dynamic. As black women, we are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America. The very industries that other cultures try to claim solely for themselves, we have a major presence in – from makeup, hair, health and wellness, fashion and so much more.
The feminist movement …
Don’t shoot the messenger but the feminist movement in its original inception was NOT for black women and historically wasn’t inclusive of black women. If we fast forward today, a lot of the “diversity” driven initiatives are for women, people of color & the LGBTQ community; however out of those groups who is the most likely to benefit? You guessed it, white women. They will receive funding faster, they are more likely to be offered a seat at the table, regardless of the fact their black women counterparts are just as capable if not more capable than they are. We saw that recently in Hollywood where white actresses were paid a considerable amount more than black actresses. My point in all this is, that the feminist movement is nice in theory but again, white women’s interest are on a higher priority list than black and brown women. Fight me about it.
Being a black woman in America is no walk in the park but guess what, it never has been. The place we are today is starting to turn heads and give us the recognition and POSITIVE attention we deserve. The key to us continuing to thrive is the support of one another. In every other culture, they work TOGETHER to continue to grow as a collective. MommiNation is a prime example of smart, degreed, entrepreneurial black women coming together and working towards a common goal.
The change we want to see starts with us. We cannot be jealous of one another, sleeping with each other’s men, downing the next woman simply because we don’t agree. A closed mouth doesn’t make you weak, it makes you confident enough in yourself to know that if we don’t have anything nice to say, we simply don’t have to say anything at all. Let’s be an ally for one another and change the narrative to: “Black Women, America’s Future”.
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” -Viola Davis, 2015 Emmys.
Love & Light,