By: Saizya White
Black women and girls are different from all other people for the simple fact that we face oppression and discrimination from not only the outside world, but also within our own community from both men and women. Everything about us is criticized from the moment we are born, are we light or dark, is our hair “good” or “bad”? Our natural features are often the driving force behind our oppression despite being celebrated on other races of women around the world.
We learn early that this isn’t just a man’s world, it’s a white man’s world and we possess everything that there is to look down upon including the womb that will bear more black children. One major difference that I find between black women and other women (including other women of color) is the expectations of their men.
It is okay for a white woman or Latina woman to expect courtship and marriage that consists of financial security from their husband, however if black women seek these same things she is made to wear a scarlet “g” for being a gold digger and she is scorned by both men and women in our community for not being independent enough.
In that same token once a black women reaches a certain degree of success she is then equally scorned if she is not married because she put her career before a marriage with children. Why are we so different? Why are expectations of black women and girls so high and at the same time so low at the same time?
I can remember being 13 maybe 14 the first time I was verbally assaulted by a grown black man for not having a smile on my face as I walked past him. He told me to smile and when I didn’t he took that as his opportunity to call me a “black bitch” with a bad attitude. For not smiling? I will be the first to admit that I hold black men and boys to higher standard simply because if we don’t as black women no one will.
No one believes that our sons, brothers or fathers can be great because they don’t want them to be great so I do expect them to treat black women with a higher degree of respect. I don’t expect anyone to kiss the ground we walk on but it would be nice not to be called names just because I don’t have a smile on my face that day, or because I decline to give my number out, or I turn down a drink at the bar.
Why don’t we as black women have a say in the kind of behavior we should accept. No other race of women is expected to “ride or die” like the black woman is and even so doing all of that-going to work 40 hours a week, taking care of the children and a man who would rather “make moves” and not work- what does it get us?
Why are we pushed to be independent just so that we can have more means to take care of men who would call us gold diggers if it were the other way around? Don’t get me wrong I love black men, if I had my way I would marry a black man, black men would teach my children in school, my children would work for black men, and they would be the staple of strength in my children’s lives however in the world we live in it is not always the case.
My children will have to be exposed to other races and some of the stereotypes that they have for them. My only hope is that people will stop looking at black women as unsavory, ghetto, loud, and rambunctious, and instead see us as real women not females, who have emotions, and intelligence, and are deserving of love and admiration.
We are women too. We are tired of being left out of the conversation when it comes to black lives mattering. I read one article that stated black girls were suspended in school at 6 times the rate of white girls. I’m sure white girls are misbehaving just as much but the difference I feel is that they are seen as what they are, young girls who need a little guidance and another chance, and we on the other hand are seen as aggressive and argumentative.
What we need from our black man and boys is protection and understanding to the fact that we are up against the same exact hurdles you are and we want to jump over them with you. We need you black men, we need you because we don’t have anyone else. We need you to look past the fetishism that is projected onto us from other races of men. You are the only one who can truly understand what we go through because you are the only one going through it too. Stand by us and we are unstoppable.