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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Top Five Issues Facing African American Women in the 21st Century

Professor Tracey, WOAD Contributer

After suffering through the NBC Nightly News series on black women and reading several different blog sites responding to the series, I was really struck with how the everyday lives of African American women were misrepresented and misconstrued. I was further taken aback about how little is actually known about African American women as a social group. There is not a social group in America that cannot be portrayed negatively through the usage of statistics, but statistics alone do not reflect the real issues, concerns, and passions of a particular social group.

On a daily basis, I do not worry or care about not having a husband or who the next president maybe. I am secure enough to date who I wish and I don't think its my fault that I have several degrees and some black men don't have one. I want children, but I am currently struggling mightily to take care of myself and my pitbull, Che. I still love rap music and hip hop culture, even though I am extremely aware that hip hop does not currently love me back, hip hop does not control me or how I feel about myself.

I have been thinking about what exact issues affect me as a black woman in American society. Not every black woman in the world, but me. Not that I do not care about other black women, but what exactly are the issues that may affect other black women, but are currently weighing on my mind and soul daily for myself? If I had to FIGHT passionately and vigorously each day and every night for FIVE particular issues what would they be?

1) Health

Black women are dying from PREVENTABLE diseases, social ills, and causes. Heart disease, obesity, hypertension, HIV/Aids, diabetes, and physical violence are all preventable. It is not just about watching your diet and going to the gym, how does a black woman stay healthy in a community that socializes so heavily around food? Black women are suffering from stress, mental exhaustion, spiritual loss, depression, low self-esteem, and self doubt. How does that black woman get help in a society that has the ideal that African American women are indestructible Superwomen, expected to move heaven and earth to solve every problem?

2) Financial Freedom

How many black women regardless of educational and employment status are living paycheck to paycheck? How many black women are overwhelmed with credit card or student loan debt, or both? How many black women own their own home or will even have the opportunity to consider buying a home? How many black women are prepared for retirement? How many black women are in the financial position to care for a sick and aging parent or relative? I am in decent, but not great financial shape, I have an excellent education and strong earning potential, but I worry about taking care of my mother in the future and how will I ever pay off my student loans.

3) Education

African American women are earning college degrees, but there are still way too many black girls and women without high school diplomas. Of the black women earning undergraduate and advanced degrees, too many are in the same field of the humanities: education, history, sociology, or law. We need more sisters earning degrees in science, math, computer science, engineering, or business. Some of my greatest joys and my greatest disappointments have come from my educational experience. I love teaching, I think I was born to do it, but the majority of college campuses are still extremely racist and sexist, a double whammy for a black female professor, administrator, or student. We need more sisters in that academic arena to make real change. I HATE uninformed and oblivious black women. The library is FREE and reading is not a crime for black folks anymore. Black women do not have an excuse NOT to know things.

4) Interpersonal Relationships and Communication

I hate fighting with and about black men. I am so ready to wave the white flag and cut the cord, leaving brothas the hell alone, forever..... I am a single, educated, and self-supporting black woman and my opinion might be, could be, should be, and will be different from yours. Respect that! A difference of opinion or focus does not mean I hate black men or that I am disloyal to the black race. If your stuff is raggedy, I'm calling it out and if your stuff is lovely, I'm proudly applauding it! Don't attack me for being honest, it makes me feel unloved and that my opinion does not have value.

I really hate fighting with and about black women. I believe that most black women love and support one another, but too many of us are letting sistas down. Some of us are not representing other sisters well at all and that is a fact! Ms. Superhead and the ALL the sisters on reality TV shows have just killed the image of black women in mainstream society, by themselves, forget about hip hop! Some sisters are completely hateful and utterly disloyal to black women in general for inexplicable, bizarre, and unfathomable reasons. Since I started commenting and posting on blogs, I have been stunned at the number of black women that are ready, willing, and able to tear down other black women for just wanting to SUPPORT and EMPOWER black women! It strikes me as insanity that any black woman would be mad as hell because there is an actual forum in existence for black women to express themselves about issues near and dear to them! Shame on you!

I don't like being in the middle or on one side or the other of trivial and petty disputes between female family members, friends, sorors, fictive kin, or church members. Enough is enough. We need to start being more understanding and compassionate toward one another, if not for others, but for ourselves personally. Less mess, less stress! I strongly believe that most black women feel alone because they are battling or mediating personal conflicts ALL the time. After all that fighting black women are left with nothing but hurt feelings, hoarse voices, and broken relationships. We can't afford this kind of stuff anymore!!! We have too much work to do and we need to do it together. As the saying goes, if you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!!!!

5) Pro-Black Woman Leadership and Political Representation - Patrick Henry said "No Taxation without Representation....and this here sister feels taxed and unrepresented!!!! I want to see more black females in leadership and political positions! Get out of the way - Al, Michael, Bill, Cornel, Tavis, Russell, Jesse, Spike, TD, and you too Barack - Were my girls at? Oprah can't represent all of us and Juanita ain't the one! If we need to go on a Lord of the Rings mission to find and dust off Sister Souljah, then so be it! How is a certain "benevolent dictator" going to spark off a revolution and then be reluctant about being it's public face? (Talking about youuuuuuuuu, Gina, do we need to call Dr. Weems to remind you?) I personally intend to give brotha Dyson and West something to worry about! Sisters need to run for office and challenge for leadership in some of these established organizations. Start your own organization! Support a sister that is already out there with your time, money, and passion! I want people in power that actually know and care about black women.

I offer this very lengthy post (Sorry Attorney Mom, but Gina, said get over it! Print it out!) as an informal survey. I want to know what you think. What are your top five issues or concerns as a black woman in the 21st century? I don't want critiques or disagreements about my top five, you are not living this particular black woman's life. My issues are my issues. If you can't resist commenting, I will respect your view, but I will not defend my five to anyone! Tell me your own top five and I will tally and post the final results. Maybe we can find some common ground and find a few starting points to improve all our lives.

Brothers, you are welcome to participate, but I will not count you in the final results.