Now Is A Confusing Time To Be A Black Woman
Politics and Activism

Now Is A Confusing Time To Be A Black Woman

Are we #winning or taking a fat L?

287
Loulou Batta

So far in 2018, The Black Woman has been taking over the media. It's incredible. From Shonda Rhimes, to the cast of Black Panther, Zendaya and Yara Shahidi, SZA, Rihanna, Tiffany Haddish... the list goes on so long. So while black women are on the cutting edge of pop culture and social media, what are we facing on the ground in the 'real world.'

Is nowhere as glamorous as it appears on T.V.?

The reality is that black women face struggles that intersect the black struggle and women's' issues, but also are entirely unique, faced only by black women.

Black women (BW) are often written out of many narratives, though we are on the front lines of changing history. During the Civil Rights Era, activists like Shirley Chisholm and Fannie Lou Hamer were taught as supplemental to the movement, rather than as a part of the core fabric. Sojourner Truth and Margaretta Forten were pretty much erased from many memories of the Women's' Suffrage movement. This doesn't even begin to draw up the erasure of trans black women in the history of America.


Now to the present. From personal experience, I have faced a lot of sh*t for the way I look and who I happen to be demographically. Though representation of BW doesn't paint us as 'dangerous' like it does for black men, stereotypes against black women tend to reach even inside our own communities.

Often painted as loud, 'ratchet', and disrespectful, this image continues to shut BW out of opportunities and shut us up for speaking our minds. However, it seems no matter what we do, we can't escape that label.

In Western and Central Africa, there's a term used to describe 'ratchet' and 'ghetto' black Americans. The term, Akata, is defended by Africans because it's "not derogatory" when it is, in fact, just that. One of the issues with the word Akata (besides, of course, the fact that it IS a derogatory term) is that it is used disproportionately to describe black women.

The dichotomy of this is interesting, when African women refuse to acknowledge that in the society which they live, they are black women; traits that they identify as being 'intrinsically African' or just something that women in their culture do, will be used against them to perpetuate the same stereotypes that they use to determine who is 'Akata'.


Misogynoir, coined by Moya Bailey, describes this phenomenon perfectly: misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias.

Black women are constantly denied the full access to every emotion that white women are allowed to access. We have to be strong and witty -- or sassy, a word I have grown to hate -- in the workplace and in academics, we are expected to be demure, clean cut and proper. We are expected to wait hand and foot on black men, and if we choose a partner of any other race, we are questioned, and reduced to 'Bed Wench'.

I've had multiple people tell me that they "weren't into black women," but they thought that I was beautiful. What a ridiculous claim! Firstly, how could you expect to never find any black women attractive, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Secondly, why should your attraction to me be a compliment?

When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, everyone acted like black women had finally made it. As if a black woman's worth is based on her attractiveness to a man -- especially a white man. While that was an iconic moment in history -- the breaking down of an empire doused in white supremacy -- it wasn't because black women needed to be validated by the king of the Anglo-Saxons. I and other black women are allowed to have worth that doesn't depend on our attractiveness, and especially not by how close we look to white (but we'll talk about colorism another time.)


I'm not asking that black women be put on a pedestal higher than anyone else. But it confuses me when black female hairstyles are mimicked across the western world, when those people aren't advocating for the success and uplifting of black women. It confuses me to see lingo from black trans femme communities in the mainstream when black trans women still have the highest murder rates, and no one is batting an eye.

The black woman experience is exploited often for the ingenuity of products and ideas that come out of the community and forced to be bystanders in the wake of the movements we've pushed to succeed.

Let black women be themselves. Let them be loud, quiet, brilliant, unattractive, athletic, soft...

Let black women be.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

I was never really big on cocktails. Tequila soda is always a go-to drink for me because of its simplicity and, to be honest, lack of extra calories from mixers chock-full of sugar, chemicals, and other unknown ingredients. I like tequila, and like to be able to really savor it.

This all changed when, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine made me a margarita from scratch — no funky mixers involved — and it tasted incredible. It was light, refreshing, and complemented the tequila without overpowering it.

Keep Reading... Show less

I was blessed with thick, full hair up until my late teens. At the time, I cursed my hairiness — this was before full eyebrows became trendy or cool, and were instead a point of bullying many of my fellow full-browed teens can relate to.

Later in my 20s, hormonal stability was something I was thankful for, though a major side effect ended up being hair loss — on my head, lashes, and brows. I now find my filling in my brows on an almost daily basis. As much as I enjoy toying with and testing out different brow-filling products, it'll never be quite the same as being able to have "I woke up like this" full, Gigi Hadid-esque brows.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month, A Reminder We Need Even More In Quarantine

You're going through something brand new — that's worth talking about.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This isn't new to 2020, but oh man, if we ever needed a reminder about the importance of mental health, now is the time. With different states all over the place in regard to stay-at-home orders, phased reopenings, and a "new normal," we're experiencing conflict, fear, changes, and unknowns that can easily trigger mental struggles we already have or spark feelings we've never had before. Yes, May is always Mental Health Awareness Month, but in quarantine, that need for positive mental health is taken to a whole new level.

Keep Reading... Show less
Netflix

Everyone is LOVING "Outer Banks," as you've probably heard. And if you haven't caught the hype for the show yet, these articles will definitely give you a taste of what you're missing.

If you already have seen and fallen in love with the teen heartthrob crew, you need to get on board with some of these theories for season two!

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 11 Face Masks On Etsy Support Small Businesses While Fighting The Spread Of Coronavirus

We're staying safe as states start lifting lockdown guidelines.

I, like most people who have had the luxury of being able to stay at home during this time, haven't spent much time outdoors at all. But when I do brave the great outdoors for a walk or to get to the grocery store, you won't find me without a mask.

My family and I were lucky enough to have family friends who were sewing some and had extras to give to us, but most of my friends and loved ones outside my immediate family have had to order some (or make a makeshift one out of scarves or bandanas).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

13 Reasons We're Using Quarantine As The Ultimate Excuse For Online Shopping This Month

The one thing we haven't distanced from is our bank account.

Throughout quarantine, I've been FaceTiming most of my friends in a full turtleneck or the go-to cozy sweater I keep wrapped around the chair in my room. Either way, I always have tea in my hands to keep myself warm — till this past week.

For most of the country who hasn't had the luck of quarantining in 90-degree weather on their family's lake house or with a backyard pool, things began to change this month. Our favorite shows came out with summer seasons, the sun came out, and we started spending more time outside.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments