A lot of black women have a problem in accepting that they are weak. For many black women their lives are a struggle to be the race and gender saviors, even to the cost of themselves. I think a post of ForHarriet.com http://www.forharriet.com/2012/11/on-dl-hughley-and-others-my-official.html explained this phenomenon best.
“I grew up, like so many Black children of upwardly mobile parents, precariously situated between two worlds. Both Black and white women raised me. They were generous and loving, kind and brilliant. But as a kid, I sensed something different about the Black women in my life. They carried — what I can only describe as — a heaviness. The load wasn’t self-pitying sadness but steely resolve. I admired it, even if I didn’t completely understand its usefulness.
As a woman myself, I now recognize that heaviness. It has ensured our survival. That strength in spirit led Ida B. Wells-Barnett to risk life and limb in her crusade against Southern lynching. It directed Angela Davis to combat the prison industrial complex. It has guided innumerable Black women in their own communities to organize, work, and nurture simultaneously. Unfortunately that resolve often gets misread as needless anger even by those who should know better.
That is frustrating, and I’m struggling not to become hardened toward half of Black America. Many Black women have defined ourselves in relation to the men in our communities. As their mothers, wives, sisters, cousins, and friends, we were their keepers. We protected them when they could not protect themselves. All while trying to manage our own lives and livelihoods. Note that I’m using “we” and “us.” I, personally, have done my best to refrain, but I’ve seen self-sacrifice in service of Black manhood too many times to count. I am beginning to wonder where that has left Black women”
I think black women today have taken the need to save their race and gender to the extreme, sacrificing themselves, sometimes in life threatening ways that in 2012 are not necessary and actually works against the success black women want to achieve. Because of this black women have become, fools and buffoons, peddling an age old idea of strength but because of meme of strength that has yet to be broken down it is actually the one thing that keeps black women down.
Let me explain, black women are always on the forefront of most social injustice issues. Despite the fact that their collective voices are ignored in the feminist community and the black community these black women are never far from the furor, voting for Barak Obama, shelling out their money to certain people because they want to support their fellow black citizens, or pushing to defend black men or feminists. Meanwhile accepting things like poor health/care, single parenthood, violence, bad image in the media in relation to other groups etc.
Amongst it all these collective women accept the role gladly and tout it as a way of displaying strength. It is a badge of honor. But what has happened now is that this badge has become a straightjacket locking black women into a place they don’t want to end up. Because of “strength” these women are foisted into the role of “baby mama”/ jump off. Because of “Strength” black women are cast as the “fat and jolly friend’ instead of the sexy desirable leading lady all under the feminist guise of “loving yourself.” Because of “strength” black women collectively have become the victims of violence out of misguided guilt to save to the black community and not turning in a “brotha” instead of calling the cops and demanding better treatment.
In other words black women have snared themselves in an escapable rope. The only way to get themselves out of this hole is to admit that you yourself are not capable of saving a race by yourself. The only way out of this hole is to admit that you aren’t going to be able to “save” you gender. To get out of this hole black women need to realize that even if they had the inclination to save either, or, or both of these groups, the intersection of both of these, renders this hope impossible. Once black women accept that they are we are our most vulnerable because of race and gender, we can finally make decisions that actually help us individually.
For example if black women stopped accepting the feminist idea of anti femininity and actually admitted that for black women being a feminine woman was actually a good thing for black women to strive to be (considering how bad our image is ) black women would once and for all pull themselves out of the hole that defending feminism has put them in.
If black women stopped attempting to be the defenders/ keepers of black men and accepted the fact that communities cannot be ( in this society at least) pulled together by women, they would feel no obligation to let the black communities deviant behavior go unpunished and would thus feel free to call the cops instead of coddling the criminals who are harming them.
“Strength” can only work if you are in the right position. Otherwise being labeled as “strong” can actually make you weak. Imagine if someone who made twenty thousand dollars a year wrote on their income tax that they actually made two hundred thousand a year. They would be expected to pay more than they actually can afford instead of paying taxes relative to their income. This is what black women have done to themselves. They have signed up to be the race/ gender carriers, and are now expected to “pay” into those group, with their time energy and resources, even though other members have a higher income. But because black women cannot actually pay up, this has left them in the the role of mammy’s, mules, and fools.
Black women need to accept that they cannot afford NOT to be feminine women, that they cannot afford to vote for Barack Obama simply because he is black, they cannot afford to advocate single parenthood because this puts black women at a direct disadvantage, they cannot advocate casual sex because it detrimental to their health (considering the high rate of STD’s in the black community). Simply put they can NOT afford to save the agendas of the black community or of the feminist community because intersection dictates that this goes directly against black women’s BEST interest. We can NOT pretend to be in the position of having the strength to carry these communities.
In other words, black women just don’t have the income or resources to sustain this. Instead this issues can be left to groups who have more “money” than black women. (Feminists or black men who may or may not find their issues worth fighting for.) Black women can rest assured that if these issues are important to these groups, they WILL make sure they are heard. With or without our help.
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