“What is a Black Woman?”
Written by: Janai Weeks
I was siting at my desk doing homework one evening when a friend entered my room with a puzzled look on her face. I glared closely at her and asked what was on her mind? She told me she had something to ask me. I politely told her “shoot, ask me whatever”, she proceeded to hesitate as the words slipped her mouth. She asked “ What is a Black Woman?”. I pondered that question as it hit the walls of my brain making it harder to answer. Suddenly a light bulb went off and I went on a rant about how Black Women are completely different than any other woman in this world. The struggles that Black Women endure are some of the hardest obstacles that have stemmed originally from slavery and still have effect on us today in all areas of life. She asked for an example of successful Black Women, I named Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles. “ They are too cliche, choose someone else”. I mentioned Michelle Obama, she slightly rolled her eyes. I sat and thought for a little longer then I realized that the Madame C.J. Walker Headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana, our hometown. Madame C.J. Walker was the first self-made female millionaire, NOT black female millionaire but self made FEMALE millionaire. She started her business selling African American hair products and went on the national market making millions of dollars. Most people overlook Madame C.J. Walker and her credibility in history and it is not mentioned in the history books. She is the perfect example of a successful Black Woman who does not get the credit she deserves.
As I continue to explain my thoughts she slowly starts to understand where I am coming from. I tell her I am not being bias but only stating facts. I gave her examples on how Black Women are undermined and put down all the time by everyone around us including black men. The media perceives Black Women to have unique body assets and sex appeal, with that comes cultural appropriation of our bodies. I also explained to her that white women are continuously in competition with us, white men fantasize about us sexually but we are essentially invisible and black men continue to discredit us making us feel incomplete and alone. Black Women are often and always have been subject to mental, emotional and physical abuse from what seems like all of America. I also explained to her statistically that Black Women have the highest college enrollment rate and are some of the most successful people. A Black Woman has mastered the skill of sustaining her dignity all while not letting negative remarks and situations get to her and that is where the most common stereotypes to describe a Black Women resurface. Black Women are too strong and “I don't need a man”.
These stereotypes come from a time in history where a Black Woman’s husband would have to leave because they were risking death by a white man. During these times it was not a crime to murder a black person. Since her husband was killed off or was forced to flee, she had to learn how to do everything on her own. Not only everything domestic but other things that men would usually do in the household. This was a milestone for a Black Woman to be physically and mentally strong. The problem with that is breaking the barrier and becoming vulnerable. I sometimes have a hard time with vulnerability because I have this image that I am suppose to uphold and be everything everyone wants me to be but that is not the case. I feel that other Black Women around me deal with some of the same issues.
In conclusion, I wish more young Black Women would uplift each other, compliment each other more often. I always feel hate from other young Black Women when going out on the weekends and trying to have a good time. They are always good for passing judgement, gossip and glares. I believe that we are more than that and we should show more affection toward each other rather than possessing hateful attitudes. As Black Women we go through the same things and I feel we should make more of a genuine effort to support each other. I believe that we can solve this problem by making our reputation understood and not feeding into the stereotypes of ratchet and uncivil. Black Women should be valued more in American society, we should also feel that we are powerful and be more confident in ourselves even when we are doubted. I feel as a group of double minorities, we can go a long way in life just by practicing these simple gestures. Black Woman, if no one else thinks you are strong, wise, beautiful and subject to excellence then you have the responsibility to have that opinion about yourself and be unapologetically confident because you deserve it!