Dear America last time my gynecologist checked I am a woman. Black women exist.
A few days ago I had a discussion online about the EEOC and companies reporting information on job applicants. Most of the commenters who are White said it was unnecessary because we are all Americans. White privilege. Smh! I said it was necessary because we do not live in a color-blind society. I pointed the fact that studies have shown that White male felons have an equal chance of landing a job as a Black male with a degree and without criminal record. Of course they didn’t believe me because America is oh so color blind, but it is true (Study: Black man and white felon – same chances for hire).
Well, a White female Human Resources professional stepped in the conversation. She said that her experience as an HR professional had shown that women are discriminated against at higher rates because of kids, pay, old myths and other things. I acknowledged her perspective. Of course, this was anecdotal but still it was her experience. But what she meant by women was White women. When I asked her if she was referring to White women, she did not refute it. I told her that women of color do exist, and she acknowledged it. She then went on to say for administrative jobs they don’t hire women (as in white women) but minorities as if Black women are not women.
But this instance isn’t the only time this has happened.
“All women are White and all Blacks are men.”
The nonrecognition of Black womanhood has gone on in America for centuries. The defeminizing and dehumanizing of Black women through savage acts of rape, antebellum stereotypes (Sapphire, Mammy, Jezebel) and the exhalation of white true womanhood were used to justify the inhumanity of slavery against Black women. Sadly, these beliefs, myths, and the continued demonization of Black female permeate in the mainstream psyche today.
One manifestation of old antebellum myths, beliefs, etc. is the Ronald Reagan administration mythical Black welfare queen. She is a leech on the “system.” She is a single mom, Black, uneducated, Sapphire, and promiscuous Jezebel that pops out babies who are destined for failure like a Hollywood starlet pop pills. Statistics show that over 60% of the households on welfare are White and the average Black family has 3.4 family members. The average Black household as 2.68 people. (U.S Census table S0201)
Another manifestation is the high numbers crimes committed against Black women and the continued silence among those who contribute to the public narrative called the media. For example, Black women have the second highest rate of rape and highest rate of sexual abuse, physical abuse and chances of being a murdered, but we still want to focus on why successful Black women are destined to be spinsters. If these rates were attributed to White women or Black men folks would be marching on the streets, wearing ribbons and Nancy Grace would be running a 20 part special. What does this mean for Black women? It means we are unprotected.
Black Women are expected to be seen and not heard.
Whether we play the best friend aka the modern mammy or we sit in the pews on Sundays, we are expected to be silent. Just look at the mistreatment faced by the mothers of the civil rights movement by our civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King Jr, Julian Bond, and others. Black women are and were expected to be work horses. But those who stood and up and said pay attention to Black women’s issues were and are instantly called angry and bitter bitches another term for ole Sapphire. Religious texts were used against them. (Sounds familiar). They were told they are divide and conquering, That in turnbforced Black women into submitting to silence or being shunned.
So now that we know the score, and you are asking how we play the game? It’s simple. Do not automatically align yourself with Black male and White female orientated causes until they recognize our womanhood. Create own our own social, political and economic infrastructure instead of begging to join someone else’s. Meaning, do you boo!
Mother Sojourner Truth
Almost two hundred years to the exact date Mother Sojourner Truth said “Ar’nt I a woman?” and I am telling you I am.
University of Dayton: Common Stereotypes of African American Women