Thought for the Day:
“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected woman in America is the Black woman. The most neglected woman in America is the Black woman.”
Question for the Day:
Will you respect and protect yourself as much as you do others?
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the safety and protection of black women. As the thought for the day suggests, we have historically been the last person America is concerned about rescuing. The culture surrounding black womanhood includes this unspoken expectation that we fulfill the role of “servant” to greater society while still being responsible for the safety and well-being of our men and children.
An enslaved African woman was not afforded the privilege of partnership as her chosen mate could be killed or sold away at any moment. This meant there was no guarantee of protection from a mate. Even if she did have a husband, the slave masters still had the authority to sexually violate her body at will. She was expected to “serve” the master with back breaking labor in the fields and/or attend to the white women and children in the big house. Serving white people was considered the sole role of black women who were supposed to deny their own voices and humanity to ensure that the people who oppressed them were comfortable.
Even after slavery was abolished, the only position a black woman was considered “qualified” to hold, according to larger society, was that of maid and nanny to white children. She would be expected to nurture, support, and cater to white women and their kids thereby strengthening their families, often at the expense of her own. After serving white families all day, she still had to come home and give whatever energy she had left to her own man and children who also depended on her to to be their emotional support. With black men being less likely to secure stable work during the Segregation Era, black women would often need to be the financial support for their families, community organizations, and churches. Though many black men DID (and still) work to support and provide for their families, their survival was not (and still isn’t) guaranteed. Black women could lose their husbands to jail or murder in the blink of an eye, as the culture of American racism breeds domestic terrorism that has always targeted black men first.
So where has this left us as black women? Well, I think, pretty much in the same position of vulnerability we’ve always been in. We are still expected to be of service to everyone else while our protection and security remains uncertain and inadequate. Black women will ride for black men until the wheels fall off because we know their status in the American hierarchy. Even if no one else sees their value, we have always committed to making sure they know their worth. Have enough of them done the same for us?
For the record, I am married to a black man who has rode for me for 19 years, so before you try to insinuate that I don’t believe in the integrity of black men, go ahead and have several seats. However, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed that too many black women are going it alone, struggling to manage families by themselves, and navigating relationships that end up doing more emotional harm than good. Racial injustices touch black women the same as black men. However, where they often have our unfailing support, it has not been returned in equal measure.
Exhibit A: Meg the Stallion
Most of you have heard about a recent incident that transpired between Meg the Stallion and rapper Tory Lanez. Apparently, after spending an evening with him, things turned violent and Meg ended up sustaining a gunshot wound to the foot. I don’t know if he intended to kill her and missed, or was “just” trying to inflict a wound, but either way, it was clear she was in significant danger. However, much like folks gaslighted Rihanna after Chris Brown beat her and R. Kelly accusers who dared come forward, our society’s knee jerk reaction is to blame the black female victim and assume that either she lied or deserved the mistreatment in some way. I Don’t See Nothin’ Wrong: R. Kelly, America’s Blind Eye, and the Fight for Black Girls
Initially, she did not disclose the details of the incident, later claiming that she was attempting to protect his feelings and was worried about the possibility that calling the police could also result in death. She only decided to come forward with the truth about his intent to harm her when he began lying about the incident and attempting to spin the narrative in his favor. Instead of insisting that a man who had intentionally harmed her should be held accountable, as is typical for black women, she opted to consider saving his life and his reputation before she did the same for herself. He was allowed to disregard her life, while she was somehow still responsible for protecting his. Though it seems obviously dysfunctional on paper, sadly, it’s often what comes naturally to black women who have been conditioned to ignore our own pain if it means our men and communities will survive.
Exibit B: Ms. Robbie from Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s
I’m not gonna lie to y’all, this story just annoyed the shiggity out of me! If you’ve never seen the show Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s on OWN, it’s basically a reality show that tells the story of a family business founded by its strong matriarch, Robbie Montgomery. Ms. Robbie was once a back up singer for Ike and Tina Turner, but successfully transitioned from a career in the music industry to becoming a successful restaurateur. She built her thriving soul food business from the ground up while being a single mother to two sons. She had already lost her oldest son to murder in 1996 but assumed responsibility for his newborn son Andre Jr. who was just a baby at the time of her son’s death. Her living son Tim Norman was also entangled in the street life and had served 10 years in prison for armed robbery.
Ms. Robbie’s hard work and business savvy enabled her to build an empire that was large enough to benefit her entire family. She was able to hire her grandson Andre Jr. and her son Tim was able to walk out of prison into a job as a manager and part owner of a successful food business. Especially after landing a television deal with Oprah, Tim Norman was afforded a level of wealth and notoriety that the average man fresh out of prison could only imagine. But instead of appreciating the opportunity he was given, his greed and unbreakable prison mentality led him to take out a hit on his own nephew, Andre Jr., who he had killed for insurance money.
Even though Ms. Robbie did everything she could to save her boys from the streets, her son Tim chose to squander her generosity and repay her for his second chance in life with pain and tears. He is now responsible for killing her grandson and removing himself from her life as well. Who does that?
Well, I wish I could say this is an unusual occurrence in the black community but unfortunately, many mothers and grandmothers have taken blows on behalf of their children. Because we know what the world thinks about our kids, especially our sons, we often enable bad behavior and sacrifice ourselves emotionally and financially to save them from themselves. How many grandmothers do you know who have repeatedly assumed care for their grandchildren when their children neglect their responsibilities? How many mothers have enabled addiction, chronic unemployment, and other dysfunctional behaviors for the sake of holding the family down? Black mothers and grandmothers often accept the role of martyr and continue to deny themselves basic human and American rights such as freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because it’s NEVER about us, and that must change.
To be clear, I am not encouraging Black women to totally abandon their responsibilities to our men, families and greater society. Yet, what I am suggesting is that we have to be more aggressive about our own self preservation. Our safety, security, and stability matter as much as anyone else’s. The emotional lynching that has denied black women the right to feel, need, thrive and hope for fully actualized lives, outside of holding others down, must end along with every other form of oppression. Black women are necessary, period! There is no black community without us, so the time for taking our love, service, support, and dedication for granted is over.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”