In light of the latest world issues, politics and life in general, I often wonder how to determine where I stand on certain issues. Sadly, that often comes down to my race vs my gender. Am I black first? Or does my womanhood proceed my blackness? I promise this tough spot to be in.
I recently had a discussion about Stephon Clark, a black man slain by Sacramento police officers and his alleged hatred towards black women. We started chatting on our blackness vs our womanhood because in this case he was slain by white officers, but he also had a clear distaste for black women. Now, I’ve had the conversation on black vs woman several times over the years, but this time it was quite different. This time it was my blackness vs my woman blackness. [pay attention to word choice, it will be useful later]
You see, my blackness is the first thing people see when they see me. “The black woman in the grey shirt,” a description of me I once heard while out. What I have learned is that the plight of a black person is unlike anything anyone has ever experienced then you add on being a woman and the struggle grows deeper. It then becomes being the last choice in the workplace and lacking love amongst black men. We are deemed too strong, sassy (my favorite one), opinionated, and difficult at work and at home. We aren’t submissive enough and we don’t allow “the man to be the man”. These terms roll out all because we stand up for ourselves and our families (black men included).
Women have long struggled to receive the same status as men. From jobs, wages to respect. In the black community, we are taught “we have got to work twice as hard to get half as far”. This is doubled for black women. We have to far succeed everyone else in the office, the boardroom or on the sales floor. And we have to do it with a smile no matter the conditions. Then we have to go home to men who compare us to white women or Hispanic women or Asian women. We have to endure the hatred they have towards us all while loving their black mamas.
While Stephon did not deserve to die and what happened to him was wrong on so many levels. I feel indifferent when standing up for him in the way I did for Trayvon, Michael, Oscar or the others (because sadly the list goes on). I’d be standing up for a man who while alive, didn’t stand for me. So while choosing my blackness goes without question any other time, this time I have to choose my black womanhood.
I am a BLACK WOMAN.