Earlier this year, NBC Nightly News aired a series called "African American Women: Where They Stand". The series was touted as in depth, but it was anything but. The response was overwhelmingly disappointing. So I put out a call to WAOD readers and asked them to tell us where Black women REALLY stand. Our first entry was from Tami in a post called “The Black Women I Know”. The second was from Black Feminist Nationalist in a post called “Holding the Reigns of Our Lives”. Here is the final entry by WAOD reader A Thompson in a post called “It's Time to Stand Up for Black Women and Girls ”. I had to break this one up because it covered so much material, but I will definitely be posting portions in the future. This exercise has also convinced me to move forward with the anthology I mentioned on the podcast a looong time ago.
Moi will be coming off of vacation with a vengeance tomorrow. Just because I went on vacation doesn't mean that FOOLISHNESS did. I got an email box full of tips to wade through and I'll be doing a post called “Old Year's Resolutions.” But aren't y'all proud of me, I only did ONE post in the past seven days, I haven't taken this much time off from the blog since... well never. I'll tell you what I have been doing during the down time. Let' just say we're bringing WAOD to the WORLD! *Hillary Clinton cackle* Stay tuned!
IT’S TIME TO STAND UP FOR BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS
By: A. Thompson
It’s hard to be a Black woman or girl when everything and everyone around you is telling you that you are less than; you are not as good as; you’re not enough. In an increasingly multicultural America, the tools of exclusion, ridicule, and degradation are being used as a means to control our rise and success. Black women’s strength and personality are now being used by many to falsely accuse us of not being supportive of our men and our communities, as being too aggressive, as being unfeminine. In order to control us and keep us - the other half of the race - in degraded positions, to never rise up to be the cream of the crop that we and all other humans were put on this earth to be and to keep us quiet, we are being excluded from all other women and being made to feel less than, told that we are ugly, or whores or hos. These attacks on Black women and girls are coming from several aspects, including in the music being made by certain Black people, especially a segment of Black men in popular music, white and Black men in popular media, the internet, Hollywood movies and films, and most other public means of communication.
To all Black women and girls: You have GOT to hold on. You have GOT to keep your pride. You have GOT to remain true to who you are, true to your self no matter what it said. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Remembering Who We Really Are – When We Were Queens
As Black women in America, we have the absolute RIGHT to be recognized for who we REALLY are and for what we have done. It is not in the tradition of Black American women to be unquestioning and passive. Our fiery, vivacious, survivor personality is what got us through the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow, and helped the civil rights movements to succeed. It was Harriet Tubman, a Black woman called Moses for good reason, who suffered unspeakable torture, rape, and brutal hardships to save the lives of not only Black women, but even more Black men and children. It was a Black woman, Mrs. Rosa Parks, that stood up for all Black people and to the end of segregation everywhere, it was the strong willed, hard working single Black women all over America that have served to keep what little family structure still exists in Black America today. And it was my Black-Indian great grandmother who paid hard earned money to her former enslaver to free her beloved husband from the further horrors of slavery.
We are killing our girls esteem for the sake of our boys and men’s egos. We are the only race in America that publicly castigates our women to the whole world, who pretend that the problems that exist between men and women and in relationships are somehow uniquely only the fault of Black women, not typical of relations of men and women world wide. When in a bad relationship, the response is to blame all Black women (usually in a public forum), instead of focusing on maybe that one woman with whom you happen to have bad relations. Instead of recognizing this, fuel has been added to the fire so that now everybody from anywhere can take potshots at Black girls and women and there is no outcry or support. There will never be an outcry for a hated group of people, especially when your own are the acceptors and purveyors of the majority of the hate. This is terrible and the worst crime ever committed in our community. Black girls are being raped, killed, and assaulted in record numbers because of the unfettered HATRED that exists towards us, mostly by some of our own men – ignorant and self-loathing, who want to see themselves solely represented as “the Black man”, but who want their children to look less and less Black. They choose to ignore the fact that to birth a Black man like themselves, they need a Black woman. Many Black girls and women are now getting naked onscreen and engaging in sex acts at too-young ages in real life to try to prove that they too are beautiful and sexy – the result being disease and teen pregnancy, and ruined esteem early on in life.
Where are Our Defenders?
Black women and girls are being systematically excluded from first class citizenship and no one is speaking out. Black women and girls images are being degraded and there are many in the Black community who are accepting of this – I reject this.
We have worked to specifically defend Black men and boys against racism, where are the groups working to specifically defend Black women and girls? Why are we allowed to be stripped naked and shot and killed in movies by men of all types, the only group of women in America where this is allowed in Hollywood blockbusters? Where are our defenders? Where are the people who write books about the destruction of young, Black girls? What about the conspiracy against Black girls? I have listened to words of low self worth coming out of the mouths of little Black girls. I have seen Black girls who have been put on Ritalin and other drugs to “control” them in the classrooms and who have been “tracked” into failure – highly intelligent, energetic, beautiful Black girls. And I hear no outcry from our so-called leaders, from all of the Black authors who have written great works on Black psychiatry, works on how Black boys are tracked into failure in school, where is the outrage for this in regards to Black girls? The lie has been told that oh so many Black females are in colleges, higher education, and corporations, taking spots from Black males, purposely trying to outstrip Black males, being given an advantage in education over Black males. And for this reason, people have come to falsely believe that Black women and girls are 100% happy success stories, with no problems, being given all the advantages – which is of course false. Women in America, in general, are now outnumbering men in higher education – this is not some Black female phenomenon. Not only that, Black women are still woefully underrepresented in all levels of the educational system in America and in corporate America.
How About Saving Black Women and Girls for a Change
It is time to make specific the campaign to save Black girls. I remember all the sympathy-inducing messages back in the ‘90’s sorrowfully telling us of the impending “extinction of Black men”, the fact that most would die before reaching 25, with a common utterance to this day being “I’m just a Black man living in America”, or that we must “save Black boys”, and we must end the “conspiracy against Black boys”. Attention-grabbing headlines that spurred the development of numerous articles, books, academic texts, discussions, public and private forums, advocacy groups, nonprofit agencies, youth programs and other efforts in the Black community to specifically battle the injustices heaped upon Black men and boys.
But where is all this public outcry in the conspiracy against Black women and girls? Where are all the attention-grabbing headlines pleading for the survival of Black women and girls?? Why is no one outraged by the negative media portrayals/lack of portrayals of Black women? And where are the gut-wrenching headlines about Black female rape and murder victims? Why no nationwide organizational efforts in defense of Black women and girls? Because they were too busy focusing solely on Black men.
And Black women wholeheartedly supported the efforts of these organizations when it came to Black men. And why not? These were our brothers, fathers, uncles, spouses, friends, and boyfriends, our family. But where is the wholehearted support from Black men for programs such as these for Black women and girls? We are your sisters, mothers, aunts, spouses, friends, and girlfriends – family. The time for being quiet is over.We Can No Longer Accept The Destruction of Black Females
We are pushing our women and girls into destructive patterns of depression, suicide, eating disorders, stress-related autoimmune disorders, substance abuse, and violent, envious and jealous behavior because of how we are treating them.
We cannot keep accepting this, we cannot be quiet about this anymore, after all that we have been through, after all of our suffering, and after all that we have contributed towards the race, we cannot allow certain Black men (in the entertainment industry especially) and others to happily buck dance their way to acceptance while using Black woman as scapegoats. We cannot keep allowing our Black girls to be victims of violence and then be afraid to speak out in fear of being labeled as a “feminist” or against Black men. We are women who have suffered at the hands of whites too long to be relegated to the bottom of the barrel for the insecurity of some Black men. We cannot allow Black girls to grow up believing they are to blame for society’s ill, for bad attitudes, for lack of achievement, for drug problems in the community, and every other of society’s ills. We cannot allow our Black girls to believe they are less than everyone else, that they are undeserving, that they should sit back and be quiet, or listen and laugh while being denigrated.
We cannot allow our Black girls to feel that education is not important, that they should hold themselves back, we cannot allow this. Black American women were at the forefront of all American movements to free our people, Black people, and should not take such insults lying down. We cannot accept Black gangster-ism and misogyny to define our communities – they are destroying us! In their words and actions. The idea that Black gangsters are somehow these unrecognized defenders of the race is the worst notion ever developed. Black gangsters are criminals and are wreaking havoc in our community, killing our success stories, drugging young minds, violating our youth, and demoralizing our girls – and boys!
There are no more excuses for this behavior. As long as we keep making these excuses, the longer the whole community will suffer. We can’t do this anymore. The Black community is suffering and no one will speak up because to see Black people act like animals towards one another is what much of America has come to accept as normal and therefore loves to see. To see Black women falsely labeled as evil, mean-spirited, ugly, lazy, and every other negative adjective in the English language is destructive, especially when so many of us have helped to open doors to other races in America and have worked tirelessly towards the success of the Black community.BLACK WOMEN/GIRLS – FORGOTTEN AND SCAPEGOATED
Many Black nationalists, Black journalists, popular Black psychiatrists and Black doctors have forgotten Black women and girls. The self-serving interests of Black nationalistic movements and other groups told us that Black men and boys were treated worse than Black women and girls throughout American history. They told us that Black women were not victims of lynching. They told us that rape during slavery was a privilege or deny that it happened at all. They told us that Black men and boys were the only “true” victims in a racist society and were therefore the only ones truly deserving of efforts to be saved; the nationalist movements that spread the lie that Black women and girls were purposefully being put in better positions in schools, given better jobs, were outstripping our men and boys in every profession. For these reasons, myriads of book have been written, forums have been held, problems have been addressed in regard to how to save Black men and boys – as they should have been and should still be. However, Black women and girls for the most part were forgotten, left out, or scapegoated as being successful at the expense of Black males.
The 2 Most Destructive Myths In The Black Community Towards Black Women:
There are two major myths circulating throughout the Black community that are being used to breed envy and hatred of Black women by Black men and to convince Black women to accept mediocrity and failure. Many Black women are trying hard to be better, to push for excellence, to succeed, to be professional, and to live up to the empowering, but emotionally limiting idea of the “strong Black women”. But many others are falling through the cracks. Many Black men, in their selfishness, pretend to not understand just how Black women have been affected, had to struggle for what little we have. A common utterance is that Black women are thriving and leaving Black men behind because they have been accepted wholeheartedly, in large numbers, into corporate America, business, higher education, and other professional fields.
The truth is that Black men still make more money than Black women, Black women are not heavily represented in corporate America, are about equal to Black men in attainment of higher degrees, and still profit less as entrepreneurs than Black male entrepreneurs. Plus, many Black women still suffer from racial discrimination, violent crimes, mental and physical health issues, and struggles at home.
Myth One- Black Women Are Accepted Into Corporate America With Open Arms
According to a report from the Executive Leadership Council in Washington, D.C. African Americans hold 8.1 percent of the board seats, or 449 seats, on Fortune 500 companies. George E. Curry, editor of Emerge Magazine, reports that of those 449 seats, Black men hold more than three times as many seats than Black women. Black men hold 344 of the total board seats, or 6.2 percent, and Black women hold only 105, or 1.9 percent.” (1)
- A 1995 report by the federal Glass Ceiling Commission observed that 95 to 97 percent of all senior managers at Fortune 1000, 2000 and 500 companies are white and male. The remaining 5 percent of senior managers is comprised of virtually all white women (1).
The differences between Black women vs. Black men in higher educational attainment is very small, with Black women earning 15% and Black men 13% of bachelors degrees of those 25 and older. (4) The truth is that ALL Black people should be emphasizing education and higher educational opportunities, instead of telling one half of the race to stop accomplishing.
In 2000, there were only 10% more Black women in management occupations than Black men, but still earned almost 15% less than Black men in all occupations. Black women earned only $85 for every $100 earned by Black men and were more likely to live in poverty than Black men. (5)
While Black women drove start-up growth in Black entrepreneurship in 2002 and owned more businesses than ever before, annual revenues lagged far behind businesses owned by Black men, with Black women averaging $39,000 compared to $114,000 for Black men. (7)And both groups profited significantly less than white owned businesses
Myth Two - Black Women Are Thriving In America While Black Men Are Dying
Black women and girls are subjected to double discrimination based upon race AND gender.
Black women are suffering disproportionately from many health issues.
Black women are suffering disproportionately from violent crimes.
It is reported that African American women are nearly twice as likely as African American men to have suffered a bout of major depression. (13.1 percent vs. 7.4 percent). (6)
Family households maintained by Black women with no husband present was nearly 3 times the proportion for all family U.S. households (30 percent)
In reality, none of us, Black women or men, are doing as well as we should. By encouraging Black women to be less, to do even less, is detrimental to the Black community and beneficial to those in power that want to see the entire race fail. For Black women like myself who were taught by our mothers AND fathers that independence, excellence, education, and professionalism were the keys to bettering ourselves and the Black race, who have instead received hatred, jealousy, looks of disdain, called overly-aggressive, and trying to out-compete or be better than our men, we have been betrayed. For the professional and educated Black women, we are being punished for trying hard, for keeping our backs straight, for keeping high standards, for trying to live up to the idea of the “strong Black woman”.
IN SUPPORT OF BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS
In the Black community, we have got to start making every effort to support Black girls’ education and emotional well being. For those that won’t help in this matter, move on; there will always be others willing to see a Black girl rise. You don’t have to be the ho or whore to be accepted, you don’t have to worry about being called a bitch or mean for being intelligent, spirited, and independent, you don’t have to worry about being called overly-aggressive just because you are not submissive because of the pride and confidence you’ll have in yourself. You don’t have to dye your hair blonde to try to mimic anyone else, be your beautiful self and dismiss everyone else who wishes to degrade you, including Black men and women who want to denigrate you. The Black men who never had the backbone to stand up and support you in Hollywood or in your communities and other places should not be supported – don’t give money to entertainers, comedians, or movies that either exclude you or cast you in a negative light.
Keep your education, ambition, drive, and love for family at the forefront. Don’t feel the need to postpone your success to wait for a Black man or anyone else to catch up – it just helps to hold us all back. Love your family, love your spouse/boyfriend, but also always keep your dreams and reach for your success at all times. Your success is his success, just as his success is also yours. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are less than or wrong for trying hard to do and be better – emotionally, spiritually, physically, and economically. Don’t ever stop, don’t ever stop, don’t ever stop reaching to be the best. Don’t ever stop, even in the face of violence. Black women have the right to this and deserve this as much as any one else, male or female. Keep your strength, let the “haters hate”, let them castigate you, but don’t change who you are for anyone. Be the bad-ass Black woman you were made to be – quiet or loud, strong or delicate, loving or rough-around-the-edges, conventional or not, neck rolling and finger waving, calm or passionate, studious, ambitious, intelligent, and beautiful!
What We Must All Do Now For Black Girls
* Remind a Black girl that women and girls the world-over are being encouraged to become educated. Black females should be no exception. Education should be priority. Her education is not a hindrance to the Black community.
* Emphasize education and higher education no matter what. Education of Black girls is NOT detrimental to our community; rather it is beneficial and helps to improve her person specifically and to improve the community as a whole.
*Support Mentoring programs for Black girls and Personally mentor Black girls
*Support positive media like Akeelah and The Bee
* If you travel, try to take Black girls with you to another country to see African-descended populations everywhere (when it is economically feasible) and the varied cultures of every continent. If you cannot take her, tell her all about your journeys. This expands the mind, increases exposure to new and different ideologies, and removes limitations.
*Denounce gangs and gangsterism, pimps, and criminals in every way, publicly whenever possible. Gangsters in our community are not “lost Black heroes or warriors”, they are students of the teachings of satan (in all its cultural forms and religious representations), the kkk and white supremacy; misogynistic, ultimately racist against their own, blood thirsty, destroyers of life and soul of the Black community.
*Volunteer and financially support groups that make the success of Black girls as much a priority as everyone else.
*Work with organizations founded and run by Black women like One World that expand the minds of youths of color. The One World Foundation - TheOneWorldFoundation.org
*Write a letter to your representative/congressman/naacp/urban league to take the safety and education of Black girls seriously and make it a number one priority. I am sending this letter, hopefully you will also send yours.
*Write a letter to Blck movie stars to fight for and present more balanced, positive roles for Black actresses.
*Black women-founded organizations going around the world doing good things!
*Make a vow to our girls that we will not allow them to become an invisible group or accept being denigrated from any race, including our own. We are here and are here to stay.
*teach young girls the history of great Black women too when teaching about history
*send your letter of discontent to as many decision makers in network media as possible to end their campaign of hate against Black women. They are purposefully only allowing for the most negative portrayals or the complete elimination of Black women from normal and positive images. (movie producers/companies, network tv, satellite, cable, music industry producers)CONCLUSION
People can say what they want, but I didn’t write this as one who hates Black men or as a “feminist”, but as one who sees the danger in the acceptance of all of this. It is time to check ourselves, because certain highly-visible and violent groups in our communities are worst than the Klan ever was. We should no longer be silent. No more allowing Black gangsters and thugs to slide by on excuses of being poor, lost, Black men that we have to wait patiently for to improve. They are killing us and killing the image and physicality of Black women and girls and Black men too. No more acceptance and support of Black entertainers who are profiting off the backs of Black women. The time is now to speak up and end this.