Nobody said that wasn’t true, but black women have been dealing with a high out-of-wedlock birth rate for many years, now close to 80%. And since it has been many years, we know from experience that it wasn’t sunshine and roses to have single motherhood be the norm, and that it had been a contributing factor in the destruction of our community. So maybe ya’ll ought to listen to us before you try to make it the mainstream norm for all of western culture.
White feminists watch movies with strong, powerful female characters, and cheer, and then don’t understand why black women don’t always cheer along, why we sometimes ask for softer characters. Well, because black women have always been strong, been fighters, out of necessity and it’s tiring and hurtful. While ya’ll have been surrounded since birth by strong males and a society that protects you to the point where it feels overpowering, black women are largely on their own from early childhood– the norm, being born out of wedlock to a tired over-worked mother. We normally have to be fighting tomboys whether we want to or not, and ready to defend ourselves on the fly from other kids, and even adults because nobody is coming to help except maybe another black girl or woman.
There’s a post that went viral in my circles last week. A black woman just happened to be driving past a middle school at dismissal time, stopped at a red light. She sees two little girls, one black, one white Latina, talking heatedly about what she can’t tell. Suddenly the white latina shoves the black girl hard. The black girl yells “leave me alone!” The latina shoves her again and she falls on her butt. Black girl gets up and the Latina shoves her again, only this time the black girl punches her in the face. At that point a large group of adults , Latinas, white moms, even a black man, swarm the girls, hugging the little Latina, screaming at the black girl who stands there wide eyed. None of these people came to help the black girl, but they jump up immediately to scream at her what a horrible girl she is, and comfort the little Latina aggressor. The black woman parked her car and jumped to the girl’s defense, cursing out the other adults who call security and swear the black girl was the aggressor. In the end all adults went inside to see the school security video, which showed the black girl minding her own business when the little Latina came out of nowhere harassing her. The black girl cried that the Latina is a bully who had been bothering her a while. The adults all left, tail between their legs without so much as a apology. And the black women sat with the girl until her mother arrived, ending her post with “black women and girls gotta look out for each other, we all we got.” This is not a isolated event, this is life for average black women and girls, and being strong and needing to fight is tiring, and sometimes we do want to see ourselves being allowed to be soft, gentle, vulnerable, loved, and protected by someone else.
This one, as the mom of a little girl, is very big with me. I remember when The Princess and the Frog was released, black women being absolutely giddy happy. I wasn’t a mom then, but still I saw it the day it released. I worked in a restaurant right next door to a movie theater, and 3 of my black, female coworkers went together to see it after work EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH. That’s how much it meant to them. And then I would get home, get online and see white feminists absolutely FLABBERGASTED. Because it’s really unfeminist to be so emotionally invested in a Disney princess of all things, and why do black women need to have a black Disney princess? Don’t you want your daughters to know they are so much more than a princess waiting to be saved by a prince, and they can be anything? Why not want a cartoon movie about a black woman doctor or lawyer or paleontologist? Why a princess? Don’t you want to be seen as more than a princess???? EXCUSE ME? Black women never had the freaking luxury of being seen as a pretty princess in the first damn place. We had to start off in childhood with how none of the Disney princesses looked like us, and kids telling us to our faces that we couldn’t even pretend to be one with our imaginations because the princess doesn’t look like us. That’s not even getting into all the hair texture and skin tone hierarchies telling us we were not in fact pretty princesses, but inherently ugly. Ya’ll haven’t had to deal with your hair’s natural texture being viewed as straight up nasty, misunderstandings about your necessary grooming habits being called disgusting, your skin tone being viewed as unfeminine and barely human even by your own people, seeing INFANTS that resemble you being mocked as ugly trolls, be raised with the idea that you’ll have children but more than likely you’ll never marry and spend your life alone. So excuse us for wanting to enjoy a movie about a pretty princess who looks like us, in pretty dresses, marrying a handsome prince, and wanting our daughters to see the movie, and hoping there will be another.
What I want from white feminists is just that ya’ll get that black woman as a collective come at womanhood from a entirely different angle, and see certain situations differently. Try to understand where we are coming from. We constantly stretch ourselves to understand your point of view, why certain things are important to you, why you view things the way we do. And often, even if your views are wholly opposite of our reality, we will fight with you to help you get what you view as a need. But white feminists as a whole do not extend the same courtesy. They don’t try to understand where we are coming from, they just set in their minds “feminism is ABC and if you think DEFG then you are an anti-feminist misogynist” or in the words of Handmaid’s Tale fans, “Aunt Lydia.”
But really we are just coming in from an opposite angle, with opposite experiences. We have different needs, but in the end we all want the same thing, for all women to be equal, happy, and able to make their own choices. Black women just have different views that need to be taken into consideration more. Because in the words of Sojourner Truth, “ain’t I a woman?”
(image via Pixabay)