Black women stop begging acceptance: Some are still surprised by Patricia Arquette’s and John Legend’s Oscar speeches.
Last night at the Oscars, Patricia Arquette and John Legend made acceptance speeches that solely focused on their interests. Some Black women are upset. Patricia Arquette focused on equal pay for White women, even though Black women, other women of color and LGBTQ people of color make less than them. John Legend’s speech largely focused on the plight of Black men’s imprisonment, even though Black women are incarcerated at a disproportional rate and suffer from both institutionalized racism and sexism. I understand why some are upset. Both could have used their platforms to highlight the plight of everyone who has suffered from injustice, but they didn’t. This is not new.
During her acceptance speech Arquette said, “To every woman who gave birth. To every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Back stage during a question and answer session with reporters, Arquette later went on to specify that she was specifically talking about White women when she said, “It is time for all the women in America and the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” She was basically saying we gave you people some crumbs. Be grateful! We will ignore that Black women make $.64 for every White man’s dollar and you colored people must help White women, like herself get richer. That’s what I got from it.
During John Legend’s speech he said, “We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.” His statement is correct, but once again we must ask what about Black women because we obviously don’t exist.
While many find these statements problematic, I do not. Years ago we were told, “All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men.” Let me say this one more time for the cheap seats. Years ago we were told, “All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men” and some of us haven’t learned it yet. During every single civil rights movement, Black women’s issues have always ignored by Black men and White women. However, Black women have continued to work on the behalf of these groups and things have not changed.
I can’t blame White women or Black men any more. It is our fault because some of us suffer from inferiority complexes. Some Black women are begging for acknowledgement because they believe we need validation from the beneficiaries of White supremacy and patriarchy. We want acceptance and love. We hold out hope that one day we will be rewarded for our one-sided efforts. The reality is it has been centuries, and Black women still haven’t been accepted. In fact, both groups largely benefit from Black women’s degradation and free labor. They’ve been two of the main groups who have used, mocked, and ignored Black women. These groups are not doing it on purpose, but they are inherently invested in Black women’s failure and preoccupation with their issues. It maintains their social and economic status in our society’s racist and sexist hierarchy while Black women stay at the bottom.
“White females comprised 49% of the prison population compared to 22% black females. However, the imprisonment rate for black females (113 per 100,000) was twice the rate of white females (51 per 100,000).” Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2013
I believe we need to let go of this need for recognition of Black women’s issues by groups who wouldn’t spit on us if we were on fire. If you need to be unified with someone, find like-minded Black men and White women individuals who are willing to reciprocate. If they aren’t, move on! Legend and Arquette are looking out for their own interests. Who can blame them? They are fighting for a seat at the table. Instead, Black women must build our table. We are a force. As the world’s most overused cliché goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Black women, you have marched, fought and some have died for them for centuries and nothing has come of it. Isn’t it time to move on and become self-focused?
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