Culture

Black women stop begging acceptance: Some are still surprised by Patricia Arquette’s and John Legend’s Oscar speeches.

Images via screen shot

Images via screen shot

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.”

http://youtu.be/bgOxjdtRwWY?t=2m12s

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.

Read: Black women and girls killed by the police

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.

Read: Wage Gap Hits African-American, Latina Women Hardest, Report Shows 

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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14 comments

  1. Acara 23 February, 2015 at 14:33 Reply

    Interesting points I hadn’t even considered. I personally didn’t find anything inherently negative about either speech Like you said we just aren’t their radar. But I’m not upset at them for that. Who really expected some Hollywood actress to go there? She knows nothing of our struggle. I think the judgement is misplaced here. The last thing we should be doing is expecting someone else to speak up for us.

    • Lady A 28 February, 2015 at 20:51 Reply

      But you have no problem putting on your worn out sneakers marching and speaking up for black men right? Did you involve yourself in the current movements of police brutality? Because if you did, that means you’re speaking up for someone. You’re the second black woman I’ve encountered who’s basically told black women “To shut up and stop complaining”. Black women like you are toxic to the movement, you guys keep us in a place I’m sick of being at with this “We’re strong, we don’t need no help” mantra. That just proves other black women aren’t even concerned about black women either.

  2. Cherri 23 February, 2015 at 20:12 Reply

    Legend irritated me with that speech. And apparently I’m in good company. But I wouldn’t say its from an inferiority complex as much as it’s justified anger from people basically profiting from your efforts and not giving you some props. I don’t think that means we think low of ourselves. That’s just common courtesy and respect that it seems many of these men are sorely lacking. They think low of us and if we say nothing then we’re cosigning it. But such is life. I’m not sure I’m really surprised but it’s still annoying because these kinds of people insist on speaking rather than staying in their lane. Thankfully, Essence at least holds the Black Women in Hollywood brunch because of crap like this. So that shows that we are securing a spot at the table, even if it’s a separate table far away in a Black Girl Land.

  3. Yolanda 24 February, 2015 at 05:43 Reply

    I didn’t watch or hear the comments but it doesn’t offend or irrirate me. When we think about women’s struggles, we think only of Black women. Naturally, people identify with & are concerned about people who look like them or are who/what they are. I’m concerned about injustice & suffering anywhere by anyone. But I fiest see myself as a Black women & my young daughter as a future Black women, so that’s where my concerns lie primarily.

  4. sheryl 24 February, 2015 at 14:00 Reply

    Nothing to be offended about. Legends comment was amazing. black men are the ones facing the highest prison terms as a whole.

    • ProfMegan 25 February, 2015 at 18:05 Reply

      They are also the ones committing most of crime that impacts the lives of black women. Crimes like domestic violence, rape, and murder. This is why some 60% of black women are sexually assaulted by the time they are 18.

      And what you and John Legend overlooked is that black women are disproportionately impacted by the justice system too as they are incarcerated at equally disturbing rates.

    • Lady A 28 February, 2015 at 20:57 Reply

      It’s amazing how some of you immediately see racism and injustice when it comes to black men or white/non-black women. But the comments under this article totally brushed off the complaint from a black woman highlighting the way black women are erased from the woman’s rights movement and the black right movement.

      THIS IS THE DAMN PROBLEM!!! This is why black women like me exist and many black women are making blogs and movements talking about distancing themselves from you all, YOU DON’T CARE!! And did you not read the part in the article where she said black women are incarcerated at higher rates as well? This is what happens in a patriarchal community, you’re so focused and concerned about black men that you don’t know what the hell is going on with black women and girls. This stuff is pitiful.

  5. deena 24 February, 2015 at 14:57 Reply

    I disagree. Why cant we hold them accountable AND build our own platforms. Its not our fault for being compassionate. Thats what HUMAN BEINGS do. Its their fault for being parasitic.

    Black women cant win. If we dont support other groups, we are selfish $^tches. If we do support other people, we’re dumb /*tches.

    Ladies, do you!

    • Lady A 28 February, 2015 at 20:55 Reply

      I’m saying!! The comments under this article irritate me, but at the same time are not surprising, this is exactly the tone of society. Throw black women on the back burner while boo hoo’ing with everyone else’s struggle. This is exactly the treatment of the least respected and protected group on the planet, aka the black woman.

      A white woman and black man sat up here and omitted black women from any type of struggle meaning they do not see you as important, and black women still are acting like mammies and mules to them. Shit is infuriating on how black women can see the human in others they don’t see in us. This shit isn’t helping black women, being their mammy mother servant.

      This is exactly why I made my blog, many black women are tired and angry, but people are going to learn and learn the hard way.

  6. Lady A 28 February, 2015 at 20:59 Reply

    I’m sorry Bougieblackgirl if I’m not adhering to the rules, but these dismissive comments made me so angry and just made lose hope in the battle for black girls and women. When you have black women dismissing the cries of black women, you want to just give up. These same two groups that alienate us, and are not concerned for us “Black men and white/non-black women” always expect us to be out there marching and being mammies for them though, isn’t that ironic?

  7. Deborah 6 March, 2015 at 20:49 Reply

    I am so used to black men ignoring us, I didn’t even notice John Legend acting like black women aren’t incarcerated at higher rates too. That’s just so “normal”

    The thing that’s really irritating me right now (the last decade) is that it’s hard to even KNOW things like what percentage of black people killed by police are women. One random woman at another black feminist website did her own research and got 1 in 5.

    ONE IN FIVE. If that’s even CLOSE to true, that’s just shameful for the black community (male AND FEMALE) to ignore them, erase them….just like white people erase black death until the numbers and circumstances are staggering.

    Since President Obama was elected, I’ve seen article after article on black men being killed by white police, articles coming at higher and higher rates of speed – ARTICLES picked up by the MAIN STREAM NEWS. But black female murder victims? I only see them on black female websites ALONG SIDE the reports on black men that were killed.

    Shonda Rhimes’ images are far from perfect. But as she’s become powerful she’s gone from TV shows where white and Asian females were the central characters (Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) to lightish-skinned-straight hair (Scandal) to MULTIPLE dark skinned actresses (How To Get Away With Murder)

    And even SHONDA did a re-enactment of Ferguson in Washington DC on “Scandal” that implied ONLY black men are killed by police. (Pandering to make up for…..?)

    I don’t have a problem with PREDOMINANTLY. But I have a real big problem with ONLY. And I hate it that black women are nearly as bad as black men (or worse) for promoting such an idea.

    I don’t get why black women aren’t AT LEAST as interested in themselves as other groups are. I don’t understand why more aren’t D*MN ANGRY at getting the VERY same erasure-crap from black men that we get from white women.

  8. timmal 17 March, 2015 at 18:36 Reply

    they received awards because they play the game. john legend is a copy cat and isn’t the best writer, singer, or whatever. he looks like a staint compared to teigen and I don’t care what he does. it does shine a light on the fact that everyone thinks that black women don’t need help.
    the woman has a show coming out and wants regular white women to watch it. she is jewish and jewish women have historically made more then white and black women. so .

  9. Rockette 22 March, 2015 at 09:09 Reply

    John Legend’s speech didn’t upset me. Bot then again I don’t see the plight of the black man and the plight of the black woman as separate plights. Black women give birth to those black men, you know? Seeing our brothers, sons, and uncles suffering through injustice is suffering in itself. And although he did not specifically say anything about black women being incarcerated, I counted women in the mix as well. He is a male, it does not offend me when he uses masculine pronouns.

    • Michelle 26 April, 2015 at 07:31 Reply

      I can’t stand how black women’s issues are always put in familial relations. White men don’t make accomplishments because they say crap like. “I am a father”. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Thomas Edison, didn’t accomplish what they did because of some silly sentimental reasons. They did it because they wanted to and because they could. You talk about care for the men in your life but do they live you back? I don’t date black men, I am an only child so have no “brothers”, I am childfree and my uncles are adult men that don’t need to hide behind a woman’s skirts as far as I am concerned.

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