Well, here we are. People are still in the throes of discussing whether multiple things can be true at the same time. I guess growth is still stunted on thinking critically and not allowing respectability politics to affect our progress.
Being a black woman in America has its difficulties as well as successes. But if we are honest, the notions that we are the “Most Unprotected” and the “Mules of this country” are still true.
As an expectation, we are told to be successful. So, after making our way (mistakes, setbacks, hiccups, and all) we eventually grow and mature and figure it out and make it to this success we were told to chase. Many of us gain incredible educations, acquire successful careers, and make great money. Then once we have arrived at all these successes, we are told (not just by mainstream Americans, either) that we are intimidating because we don’t need a man or that we are aggressive in business (as we should be), and that’s manly. Or we have been told that we should have been building strong black families instead of getting our education and making good money. Why does my professional success have to equal a threat?
But don’t become a mother early, or have mental health issues, or any other perceived mistake or failure. You also can’t falter in trying to find your place in the world. Because if you do any of these things, you get lumped into the trash pile. This pile rarely gets sorted to see who can be helped, developed, or given a hand up so that circumstances can be mitigated, and success carved out of it.
Even in the social justice movements, black women are either ignored or tolerated in discussions regarding racism (by men) and also sexism (by white women). Ever take a look at the leadership rosters of many of the social justice organizations? Even as far as celebrities getting justice for wrongs done to them. Megan the Stallion anyone? Did she shoot herself in the foot? I’m still trying to see what was so funny about that incident that people laughed about it.
We, black women, also seem to give more than we receive. I mean that in the way of protective action, support, assistance, cover, etc.… I mean, we are still demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Why are black women not afforded the same level of protection and respect as everyone else? Why is our pain or discomfort funny? Are we not human? Or when we aren’t striving to be the superwomen that people think we should strive to be, does it take something away from us?
I have personally been told that I am intimidating. However, that is hilarious because I am constantly on the watch to make sure that I am not overbearing or “doing too much”. This is a must in the work environment. But when I get home in the evenings… This is not something I want to have to patrol. I want to be able to be my normal, smart, funny, nerdy self. I also want to not have to suffer for being smart or educated, having a decent job, and being able to take care of my family on my own (not something that I chose in the first place, but here we are).
It feels unfair that we have to run three times faster, jump higher, and out-think everyone we are pitted against. It is also unfair that we get deemed not “feminine” enough because we have had to learn to do things on our own that some women have always had the luxury of watching others do for them. We can’t even celebrate our beauty because there will always be a “what about us” person trying to draw the attention away with their insecurities while we are trying to work on our own.
We are even held responsible for the actions of others. Even when the “others” are grown adults with minds of their own and are in control of all of the mental faculties.
I said all that to say, we have such a long way to go in treating people fairly and appropriately. And it is depressing.