A Word or Two In Defense of Black Women
I don’t know when it happened, but someone declared it open season on black women and shots are being fired with extreme prejudice. I can’t tell you the last day I went without reading or hearing some pathetically unfunny joke about black women, but I can tell you this – I’m sick of it. I am tired of Black women being the butt of jokes that belittle, demean and devalue us. It upsets me most because a lot of those jokes are being made by Black men who, if no one else, should understand the value of Black women. So “brothers,” this is my open letter to you.
Before writing this piece, I was tempted to say that I don`t care about Black men who hate Black women, simply because I feel that if you can`t appreciate me for what I am, beyond what stereotypes or appearances suggest, it’s really your loss. But in the case of the degradation of Black women, this is too widespread to ignore and I feel obligated to care. When Black men bash Black women, they do more damage than they think. In a world where the ideal standard of beauty and perfection is indisputably white and straight-haired, the Black woman is already bombarded with messages of her shortcomings and inadequacies. We are faced with the double disadvantage of being victims of both racism and sexism and have to fight for everything we gain. Then Black men jump on the bandwagon declaring Black women “trash” and “roaches” and “bitches,” and in doing so, invite White, Spanish and women of all other races to cast stones as well.
Now please understand that I am not bitter about your attraction to women of other ethnicities. Attraction is largely a biological and unconscious thing. But your attraction to White, Hispanic, Asian or Indian women does not require you to disrespect black women. Just because you find women with porcelain complexions attractive does not mean you must drag the ebony, caramel and butterscotch coloured women through the dirt. Declaring your hatred for Black women does not increase your chances of attracting a woman of another race – at least not one of good character. (Ironically, a number of the Black men I’ve seen trashing Black women are attracted to White women who have stereotypical Black bodies, declaring it “over for Black women” because some White woman has curves. So Black features are only attractive to you when they come packaged in pale skin? Sounds a lot like self-hatred to me.)
But know and understand this: No amount of curves on a White woman or grits in the pot of an Indian woman will ever render Black women obsolete. That’s where Black men have gone terribly wrong. The value of a Black woman is not in the curve of her ass, her skill in the kitchen or her behaviour in the bedroom. Yes, all those things contribute to the black woman’s beauty. But it is her resilience, her strength and her unwavering devotion to those she loves that gives a Black woman her value. How many Black mothers and girlfriends and wives have spent hours sitting across from Black men in prison visiting rooms? How many Black women have stood by and defended cheating husbands and boyfriends? How many Black mothers have raised children all alone? How many Black women have stood behind the historical figures who fought for your rights and freedoms? How many Black women have fought for those rights themselves? All of this they did, and still do, often without the support of men or women of any race. As Black women, we have been left to fight so many battles alone, and we’ve learned to be hard-headed, and independent and sometimes very jaded in order to protect ourselves when no one else will defend us.
Why isn’t that the image of black woman that is upheld and valued? Instead, many Black men, have chosen to take a negative stereotype of loud-mouthed, bad-behaved, disrespectful, emasculating, rude crass women to be the truth, and have painted every Black woman with that dirty brush. I am not defending the women who fuel those stereotypes, in fact, I’d like to take them by the shoulders and shake them until they understand just how hard they’re making it for Black men and women alike. This is not representative of Black women who take pride in being women of colour. Let that be clear.
The next time you consider speaking ill of Black women, remember two things. First, recall that your mother, sister, cousins, nieces and female friends are Black women, and by disrespecting the group, you disrespect them as well. Secondly, remember that you want us to respect you enough to not write you off as cheating, criminal, good-for-nothing Black men, so it would be wise to extend the same courtesy to us.
Black men and women need to uphold each other, not tear each other down. We are not separate entities, but a race as a whole, dependent on one another for our very existence. I want Black women to respect our male counterparts as much I as I want Black men to respect us, but I write in defense of Black women because we’ve taken the disrespect in silence for too long, building up walls with the bricks of our bitterness. I’d rather we planted gardens with the seeds of our beauty and strength, but we need our Black men to stop trampling our blossoms and blooms. Please, stop tearing us down, and build us up instead.