By: Vivian Smith
“This Generation will be known for its under appreciation of black women.” A close friend of mine recently tweeted this and it really struck a nerve with me and also created a moment of realization for me and that is one of my main reasons for wanting to write this. Society has put so many negative stereotypes and generalizations on black women and it’s a sad truth that isn’t really anything “new.” Mistreating and discrediting black women has been going on for longer than I can even imagine but, as of recently I’ve noticed more and more that Social Media has evolved into a great way for people to express self-love and love for each other through hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic, #MelaninMonday, #Blackout day, etc.
I’ve seen a lot of diverse ways to highlight the beauty that black women possess and the greatness that can come from us. As small is it may seem it’s really become a platform for black women to have a voice. It’s another way of saying “I love my blackness and yours” which is a quote I often see activist Deray Mckesson use.
While, social media has become a way to show love and appreciation for each other it has also given me a harsh reality check that was absolutely needed. Even though we are learning to love and appreciate each other we still have to deal with negative stereotypes and generalizations from society and sometimes each other. Take this tweet I recently saw come across my timeline.
“Not ALL black girls are rude, stuck up, wear weave, talk loud, are hoes, get pregnant, are dumb, ghetto, or disrespectful.”
Despite popular belief nothing said in this tweet is a compliment. I’ve seen a lot of black men and woman retweet and spread this message across my timeline. What people don’t seem to realize is that when they say this in hopes of defending black women, they are also implying that the negative generalizations are true for majority of black women. These negative perceptions of black women were created by a society that for the most part has done nothing to support a woman who is ‘unapologetically’ black and proud to be so.
Black women are deemed as hoes if they dress in a way that is seen as ‘provocative’, or if they openly embrace their sexuality in the same as a man it is shamed upon which is simply sexist in whole. As long as a woman is being safe and responsible what she does with her body should not be anyone else’s concern and If a child is result of having sex unprotected (or) protected, it shouldn’t matter unplanned pregnancy is something that happens to a lot of people but, it’s shouldn’t be something to bash a young black woman over.
Sex education is important especially for young women and maybe if more young girls weren’t made to be ashamed of having questions about sex they would ask and become more informed about it before actually doing it. While I’ve seen many women judged for embracing their sexuality I’ve also seen that when a black woman is ‘loud’ or wears weave people almost immediately label her as ghetto.
Ghetto doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing and I say that because ghetto, by definition is a place minorities occupy because of economic pressure. Now, whether a person lives in the ghetto or does not cannot be determined by how loud they talk or what type of hairstyles they wear. Society has redefined the word and turned it into something ugly to describe people who they can’t relate to.
Taraji P. Henson was on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Mean Tweets’ and the tweet read “Taraji P. Henson seems extremely ghetto in person lol”. Growing up, Taraji was a common face in my household I’ve seen her play various roles and speak on a lot talk shows. She’s a very well-spoken woman and extremely classy (in my opinion.)
She also is what I would call unapologetically black she doesn’t white wash herself or give out the untrue perception of who she is and to some people that might translate as being ghetto but, that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. You can be from the ghetto and still be an amazing, inspiring, and successful person.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of judgment placed on young black girls without even interacting with them personally. I’ll use my mother for example. She always tells me about her teen years as her being very shy around new people and socially awkward unless she actually knew someone on a personal level, she didn’t really know how to act around new people or didn’t speak much in large crowds.
A lot of people judged her off of this and didn’t even try to get to know her. They assumed she was either stuck up and thought she was better than everyone or just simply rude and didn’t feel like she needed to speak. On another hand I’ve seen some of the smartest and most caring women I know get judged because they talked to much, and loudly. When I was in high school there was a girl who everyone knew of because she was just loud and boisterous no matter what the occasion, we’ll call her Kim.
Kim was top in our class, she got amazing grades and learning seemed to come to her naturally. Kim’s reputation was extremely unfitting for who she actually was and before meeting her I had always heard people speak of her as dumb, ignorant, and so many negative things that she wasn’t. All assumptions made because she was loud, confident and simply had a “in your face” personality but, that doesn’t equate to being unintelligent it just equates to being judged by people that don’t know you.
Through social media, we have developed more ways to highlight the amazing things that black women are doing and have done as well as appreciate their beauty. We still very much live in a society that discredits black women simply based on stereotypes that they created.
So even if a black woman talks loud or barely speaks at all, liberates herself through her sexuality or would rather keep it all to herself, gets pregnant at a young age or is 60 years old with no children; she is still human and deserves to be treated with respect no matter what negative perception society has of her.