Now Is A Confusing Time To Be A Black Woman
Start writing a post

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.

My obsession with country music is easily one of my best personality traits.

I've grown up on country music, and it's always been a huge part of my life. I remember the day that my mom bought me my first country CD. Since that day, I've been hooked. I still watch the Country Music Awards faithfully each year. My fun fact for syllabus week is almost always related to my love of country music.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Definitive List Of 6 Cartoon Animal Men You Can Find Attractive Without Being A Furry

And no, Kovu isn't on this list because "The Lion King II" shouldn't really be a movie.


It's the age-old question: why did they make this cartoon animal so attractive?

OK, so maybe not age-old, but if you claim haven't been attracted to at least one of these characters (and you're attracted to men), you're lying. Each one was given a personality and characterization that makes viewers at home reevaluate their standards. But then comes the follow up: cartoons aside, does this make me a furry? And girls, gays, and theys I am here today to relieve you of that question, because if he is on this list, your answer is simply no, you are not.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. When I'm craving something sweet in the morning, my go-to is Ethan's vegan pancake recipe.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.


My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

8 TV Shows To Binge On Netflix Over Thanksgiving Break

These 8 shows will make your Quarantine-Friendly Thanksgiving break fun!


As assignments are piling up and stress is getting to everyone, thinking of the silver lining of Thanksgiving Break looms in the distance. A time to recharge, eat some good food, and get those Black Friday sales (online of course) is just what we all need right about now. And since the pandemic is spiking again people are going to need to find something to do while not going out. So, since I've watched an unhealthy amount of television I thought I'd compile a list of some of my favorite Netflix shows that you can binge over break!

Keep Reading... Show less

Let's Not Let Black Friday Overlook Thanksgiving

Oftentimes, Thanksgiving gets overpowered by Black Friday sales. This year, let's make an effort to appreciate what we are grateful for.


November 26 is a day dedicated to being grateful for the things in your life that you appreciate. It can be easy to forget the true meaning of holidays since the decorations and events are fun yet distracting nonetheless.

Keep Reading... Show less

77 Questions To Ask The Other Person Before Getting Into A Relationship With Them

Know what you're getting yourself into first. You won't regret it.

Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash

Surprises are great in a relationship. They keep things interesting. For example, when your partner says, "Surprise! There's a warrant out for my arrest," or "My crazy ex sent me a death threat and drained my bank account," or "I wake up at 5 am... every morning. "

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments