Black Womb-man and Man, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the European Oppressor shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation: be thou faithful (to your nation, your roots, , your Mother and Father, your Aunt and Uncle, your Sister and Brother, your Cousin, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, your Queens and their Families which is your Family , your Daughter’s and Son’shall I go on, yes, Be Faithful to Mother Afrika , Afrika, the true Afrikan Womb-man in Spirit and in flesh will give thee a crown of life.
If “all” women are great, and Black women are women, then Black women are great. Pretend like this is math or something then; set theory, or something. So any statement of “Black women are great” does not infer that White women (or any non-Black women as some non-Black women of colour also are anti-Black and get angry by Black women’s self-esteem) are not great. Obviously this has to be said since some White women cannot function unless always the center of womanhood and the “default” “woman” while pretending that this center and White supremacy themselves do not exist. Unless I specifically say that a White woman is a self-centered, White privilege unaware or flaunting, arrogant, petulant, cruel, anti-intersectional, entitled, derailing, trolling, plagiarizing, unethical, culturally appropriating, manipulative person, then I am only saying that “Black women are great” when I say that “Black women are great.” Dassit.
And considering that this is in fact life, not a “formula” to determine greatness and that this life includes a history of the utter and complete dehumanization–not just oppression, but complete dehumanization–of Black women into objects for power, profit, and pleasure, then I would think that saying “Black women are great” or any statement similar on a personal blog on a free platform–that is not the mainstream media, that does not alter what a Google search for “beauty” looks like or alters most magazine covers, television shows or films, and any space where “women” are, where “women” usually means “White” (hi Bechdel Test, or like, feminism itself)–would not be so devastating to White women that they pile into my and other Black women’s blog comments sections, DMs, Twitter mentions, emails, and reblog notes (and not even to mention the hell offline) arguing as if beauty and self-esteem are a zero sum game where if Black women have even a modicum of happiness, White women’s lives end. I would think that all of the power ascribed toWhiteness would be sufficient since they cannot even dare to claim (though they often do) that they face sexism alone since Black women are women as well, even if we experience sexism differently because of intersectionality.
This came to mind to me as @thepbg mentioned that her “Black Girls Are Magic” t-shirt (I bought one but haven’t worn mine yet) is being read as “but White girls aren’t.” This came to mind when earlier today @Karnythia sent tweets under the tag #BlackGirlGauntlet when she tweeted “can we talk about what Black girls who succeed go through to get there? Can we talk about the gauntlet Black women run?” This comes to mind to me daily as any whiff of positivity from Black women is attacked, primarily by White women/Black men, but honestly can be by anyone not a Black woman, and even by other Black women who haven’t tried to unlearn the hatred that we are supposed to–even demanded to–feel for ourselves.
Even if I stated that “Black women are perfect” (which I don’t; i.e. I mean something really specific when I write “perfection” on a photograph, which is immediate defiance of the notion that we are ugly) instead of “Black women are great” the privilege ascribed upon White women would still exist. Some of them can easily go to a mainstream media outlet and degrade Black women and then engage in White Tears™ while obscuring their structural power and then call Black women “toxic.” Or they could ignore me altogether since every major space focuses on their existence, not mine. And sure, that existence is very focused where class privilege, education, being cis, thinness and being a citizen is even more privileged. But White privilege does not require any of that to still exist. None of it.
So yeah, here on Gradient Lair, on my blog, and in my life, Black women are great. They are my sisters. My friends. My blog readers. People who have my back offline and online. They held my hand and stroked my hair when my mother died. My mother was one. They are the best teachers that I had in my school days. They are beautiful, diverse, vulnerable, courageous, kind, funny as hell and make me laugh like nobody else, creative, strategic, gifted, special…GREAT. And, I don’t have to personally and individually like or befriend every individual Black woman in order for any of this to be true. That’s what it is ‘round here. Doesn’t mean that I don’t critique us or myself but I completely and utterly reject the notion that I have to dehumanize and degrade fellow Black women in order to be a “truth teller” and “introspective.” Misogynoir ain’t wisdom or insight.
Further, I refuse to tap dance in the Black male gaze and degrade Black women in hopes of attention from men that I don’t necessarily want and who don’t always love me and will even state that they hate me. I refuse to center Black men when amidst Blackness, they are already centered even as we all (yep, all of us Black people, not just Black men) face racism. I refuse to tolerate their misogynoir and from any Black men, not just cishet ones. It’s not okay from any Black men.
I would never, ever go into a White woman’s or Black man’s space where they were speaking positively about White women or Black men, respectively, (assuming that they are not degrading Black women in order to be “positive” about themselves; often they use Black women as their stepping stool to hopes of White male power) and demand that they view themselves as inferior. Why? Because the privilege ascribed upon both of their identities (White and male, respectively) means that I, not them, would be attacked for doing so. And mostly because the idea of doing so is dreadful and cruel. Yet, my existence as a Black woman is so offensive to people that they rail when I discuss oppression that Black women (and other people; I do discuss oppression over a larger spectrum much of the time, even as I center Black women as a womanist) face and they rail when my discussions are too “happy.”
Or I post 3 photographs in a row of Black women where they are beautiful and happy and that’s deemed a problem. (I’ve actually tracked the 3 photograph phenomenon for a year.) Or I am smiling in public. That’s a problem. (Obviously not smiling is deemed a problem too; street harassment.) Confident about appearance? Problem. Confident about intelligence? Problem. The lower your social location is deemed, the more “humility” is demanded. Whomever is oppressed in regards to any facet of identity then the corresponding privileged people demand “humility.” People are so committed to misogynoir that they cannot think clearly. They’re so committed to dehumanizing Black women that they cannot stand that some Black women feel good about ourselves despite living incredibly difficult lives. That’s what’s great about us; the “despite.” This doesn’t make me that dehumanizing stereotype of the “Strong Black Woman” because I do feel; I have feelings. It’s simply what makes me alive and human and real and a full person and I just don’t care how angry this makes people, though I care about what harm they will inflict based on that anger.
I regularly think of the very end of Celie standing up for herself in the film The Color Purple when she says “but I’m here” after she listed every flaw thrown in her face. Knowing that people simply do not want me to exist makes me not only want to exist but truly live.
“They’ll destroy themselves trying to destroy us.” –