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Black Women: I am, She is, We are

Black Women: I am, She is, We are
The late human rights activist Malcolm X famously said the most disrespected, unprotected, and neglected person is the Black woman.

Despite carrying this society on our backs, black women have been treated as lesser beings. Aggressive, illogical, ill-tempered, overbearing, hostile, confrontational- angry – are some of the recurrent words used to label us.

The late human rights activist Malcolm X famously said the most disrespected, unprotected, and neglected person is the Black woman. No truer words have been spoken: his words resonate with the impertinence Black women face in modern-day society.

The truth is, I am angry and I will continue to be angry, hostile, and confrontational if I have to. Black women are angry because we are placed in the pits of this hierarchical society – and we have had enough.

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Misogynoir – a term derived from misogyny to speak to the sexism and racism Black women face, resulting in intersecting forms of oppression – is something quite rampant in this community.

The Black woman is divided into four stereotypes.

The Jezebel

This trope refers to the hypersexualization of the Black woman, which has been occurring since the beginning of the slavery and colonialism era. White men justified raping Black women by deeming them insatiable. An example is the life of Sara Baartman, who was taken from South Africa to Europe to be exhibited as a sexual curiosity in a freakshow – to be groped, gawked at, and abused because of her Khoikhoi features.
The significance of Sarah Baartman - BBC News

Photo: BBC

The Sassy Black Woman

This stereotype depicts Black women as…well, ghetto. Loud, gum-smacking, neck rolling, ratchet women. You’ve seen this Black woman in about every movie ever. You know damn well what I’m talking about.

The Angry Black Woman

Black women are portrayed as angry and hysterical. This trope leads people to automatically believe the Black woman is scary and intimidating. It also invalidates the very much valid and justified anger felt by Black women. It’s bad enough that we face racism, now add demonization, disrespect, and dehumanization to the list. You’d be angry too.

The Strong Black Woman

Yes, the Black woman can do it all. Cook, clean, nurture and save the world without a single complaint. We’ve seen this woman before, on-screen, or in our daily lives. We get that she is strong, but the idea of her not having feelings is wack. It’s unrealistic, toxic, and unhealthy because that ideal does not exist. This has caused the physical, mental, and emotional exploitation of Black women.

The four stereotypes above imply that Black women are not human. Just puppets who take the brunt of this society’s worst behaviour. It’s disgusting.

The Role of Colourism

There is a need to humble Black women, especially our darker-skinned sisters. For many deep-rooted reasons, Africa has normalized skin bleaching because dark-skinned have periodically been made to feel ugly and small- as if their rich melanated skin is shameful.

Far too many Black folks who aren’t dark-skinned don’t acknowledge that even though we all face racism and other social struggles, darker-skinned women endure far much worse. We are all black, but it’s imperative to acknowledge that we aren’t all received the same way by the world.

Caster Semenya is a Black, lesbian, successful athlete from South Africa. We are all privy to the homophobia on this continent and she rose above that mess…to be demonized in front of the whole world – her human rights completely violated. They hate to see a successful, unapologetic, Black woman.
Caster Semenya case: Women's athletics star is 'biological male ...

Semenya after winning a Commonwealth gold in 2019 Photo: The Times

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The Black Man hates The Black Woman

Women are socialized to accept their inferior status in society and their subordination to men. – Maundeni
They hate to see black women and girls in general. So many young girls and women have lost their lives due to the rampant sense of entitlement Black men have. It’s gender role culture that people refuse to unlearn that leads to men feeling – for lack of a better term – bold enough to be the violent, deplorable creatures they are.
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Uyinene Mrwetyana (19), Amahle Quku (17), and Ansia Kheha (3)…teenagers and a toddler who had barely experienced life; and Tshegofatso Pule (28) who was eight months pregnant. They all had violent deaths, at the hands of men (femicide).

We are not angry because they were someone’s daughter, niece, mother, partner, etc. We are angry because they were people who were brutally murdered in the name of gender-based violence. This is the world Black women live in today in Africa. They live in fear of the one group of people who are meant to have their backs. It’s exhausting.

Yet, we were born tired.

So yes, we are angry, intimidating, hostile, and whatever society chooses to brand us with today. That’s because, despite the efforts to pit us against one another, degrade and dehumanize one another, we will always strive to have each other’s backs.

We may be soft, take days off and treat ourselves…as people do, but the need to protect one another transcends this earthly plane. It’s a primal drive – ancestral – and it ties us together because we are Black women.

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