When talking about minorities, the world tells me that I, unfortunately, fit into two categories. Not only am I a woman, but I am also biracial. However, the world doesn’t label me as biracial (a cool mixture of white and black), but they label me as black. So I am a black woman in the world’s eyes, not a mixture of cultures as I personally identify myself. Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” So is this true? Have I been dealt the cards that make me the most unprotected, neglected person in America? I would say that I slightly agree. Racism and sexism are still two very real things in this word today, even if people pretend it’s not.
However, there is something slightly empowering about being put in a corner, almost an underdog effect.
I guess I need to begin by proving my first assertions that racism and sexism still exist, and that people choose to ignore the very blatant realities. Personally, growing up in Indiana I have many personal anecdotes of experiencing racism first hand. In fact, during my very first days here at Greencastle, I was walking to Starbucks when a truck full of teenage boys drove by, and instead of honking or saying hi, they greeted me by screaming the N word.
I just wanted coffee. Instead, I got a moment of humiliation.
Another time, I was in Ohio, and people were driving outside the Bob Evan’s I was dining in with their confederate flags flying high. When I walked into the restaurant, I felt like an alien from outer space. People stared, without trying to hide it, as if I walked in with antlers on my head. Now, obviously, I know not everyone is black and not everyone will like me simply because of the color of my skin, but imagine for a second feeling that ostracized because of a feature you have that you can’t change. I cannot control my color, and people hate me even though I'm 50 percent white, because I’m also 50 percent black, and that is something I will never be able to understand or wrap my mind around. Beyond my personal experiences, if a company creates an ad with interracial couples, the number of racist comments in response is actually terrifying and people go as far as to say they will no longer provide them with their business for promoting something so “disgusting.”
Then there are also parts of the United States — such as Alabama — that voted to not remove racist language and laws in their state constitution. These are just a few glimpses of racism in the world today, it would take more than a novel to tell every instance of racism experienced by people in Indiana alone. So racism is clearly a problem, one that should be rightfully addressed.
In terms of my gender, I still feel like it is unacceptable in society to be confident and proud of who you are. Girls are either “too skinny” or “ too fat”, constantly being shamed based off of their bodies and outward appearance. An example is Khloe Kardashian, she was first criticized in the paper for being the fat sister, and now that she is fit and in shape and proud of her body, she is being called too skinny. Society still believes in the ideal that girls are simply nothing but pretty objects. I see it in TV shows and movies, that is just another avenue to display society’s idea of a woman’s place in society. In fact, the other day while watching the television show "House," Dr. House fired a woman he actually hired because he realized he only hired her for her looks. In addition, after firing her, he asked her to dinner, as if that was some sort of trade off. That is only one example of women being treated poorly based off of their physical appearance. You’re either too ugly or too good looking that you can’t possibly have something of substance. A woman is more than her looks, but sadly that is not the general opinion. Even in my personal life, I often find people shocked by the amount I have accomplished. I can’t even count on two hands the number of guys who have said to me, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were that smart,” as if I was supposed to be stupid. Not to mention the guys who tell me I’m “intimidating” because they feel inferior. Guys still feel the need to be superior, and use slut- and appearance-shaming to make themselves feel that way. A girl shuts them down, she is now a “bitch” or “stuck up,” and this thought is encouraged amongst the male community. That, to me, is modern sexism and is another problem that people often choose to ignore.
So, I think I have made it quiet obvious that racism and sexism are still very prominent and troubling part of today’s society. But here is the hard part: I do not foresee any of this behavior changing, nor do I think it can. We have been dealing with these two issues for decades, and each generation has their own modern adaptation of racism and sexism. Yes, we have made strides towards improvement with things like the Civil Rights Movement and the first black president, even the more recent Women’s March that was performed all across the country. While I do think it is important to celebrate these things, I do believe it is also important to look at the backlash that comes along with it. People made jokes about lynching Obama, and the Women’s March was mocked by Trump Supporters and males everywhere on social media. Some people have a progressive mindset, but, unfortunately, every generation will have those who don’t which in turn stunts true growth for everyone.
Black people and women will never be seen the same as a white males, because I believe the stereotypes are too deep rooted to disappear completely. So, am I the most neglected and unprotected person in America as Malcolm X said? Maybe, but I have found empowerment in using that to my advantage in everything I do. I am the underdog, the one no one sees coming. I am attending one of the top private institutions practically for free, I am involved in everything the campus has to offer. This may seem a little like bragging, but I am making a point that I did all that as a black (biracial) woman. Call it revenge maybe, but there is nothing more satisfying than making sexists and racists mad because I make them feel inferior with my accomplishments every day.
And that is true empowerment.