Tuesday, December 29, 2009

...And Why Are You So Mad?

"Always demand respect; if you carry yourself with respect a bum cursing on the street will honor that. Don't allow anyone to talk to or treat you any kind of way regardless of their status or title." - C. Farmer (mom)

The Past:

Black women for generations have been the backbone of their communities and families. During slavery, when black men were sold off to other plantations or killed, it was the female who was left to look after the family. For years black women were subjected to the dismantling of their families (via internal and external circumstances), suffered abuse and rape; sometimes by their own family members. It is strength and resolve that have aided in the endurance of these situations. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks are women who exemplified strength and went on to become some of the most notable women in history. This in totality is our legacy.

Perception, Perception, Perception:

I've discussed this topic with friends several times and our opinions are typically the same. More recently a male friend, in response to a story I told, said "don’t go ABW on them." I think the heart of the matter is purely about respect. If a black woman feels like her boss, son/daughter, husband, or whoever else is being disrespectful they dish out a tongue lashing. Being a black woman I empathize with, as well as, admonish this response. I also understand that at times demanding respect can be mistaken for anger; other times ignorance and plain nastiness is the culprit. Ensuring that you are heard and standing up for yourself is not a showing of anger. Though, if this is accompanied by the infamous neck roll and teeth sucking, parodied in movies, it will be taken as such. I recognize there are those of us who like to use this ideology as an intimidation tactic...i.e. no one wants to piss off the one black woman in the office. That being said I think most would like to be known as a woman just like any other; who may have her highs and lows. That doesn't mean we haven't inherited a little bit of sass from Big Momma or Auntie, it just means we know when to check it at the door. As I stated before, a lot of how one reacts and deals with issues has more to do with personal experience than race. It is when you feed into the stigma that it becomes a reality.

As always be blessed and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stop Dating Our Men

In discussing this topic, I'm reminded of a scene in the movie Jungle Fever (1991). Queen Latifah, playing a waitress, at the soul food restaurant Sylvia’s completely ignores Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra who are sitting at a table in her station. Wesley asks if they can place their order, at which point she hurls insults saying, "Go parade your white woman around somewhere else." This sentiment has been echoed in other films including; The Brothers and Waiting to Exhale, ironically enough this ideology is often present in those films written or produced by black film makers.

In these instances one might say, I've proved the myth right...but what's really behind it all?

First off let me begin by saying, personally I have no problem with black men dating white women. I do however; have a problem with those men who generalize women and date based on that generalization. For instance, I've heard black men say they only date white women because they are easy or gullible. On the other hand I've had black men tell me that they don't date black women because we have too much attitude or lack class. Both view points I deem to be insulting. Prefacing this statement with, in my experiences, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that "most" black women, especially from the later generations, do not have a problem issue with black men dating white women.

The problem as I see it is this...

Until the latter part of the 20th century most black women were portrayed as or thought to be mammies; the overweight Aunt Jemima type with prominent "African features," deemed unattractive. Only those closer in appearance to their white counterparts (i.e. Lena Horne, Josephine Baker) were revered in society. White women on the other hand, were viewed as pure, perfect and the prototype of beauty. It's with this philosophy that black women have a problem. Black women are frequently portrayed in a misogynistic manner or regarded as over sexed booty shakers. Unfortunately, we seldom see black women consistently depicted in a positive light. Add to that; accusations of Beyonce being airbrushed a lighter complexion on a magazine cover, Lil Kim severely altering her appearance (blue eyes, thin nose), and countless "most beautiful people" lists excluding the likes of Sanaa Lathan and Angela Bassett. All of these issues, in effect, add to the myth.

It would be absurd of me to think that every black woman shares my sentiments on this topic. That being said, society is foolish to believe that most black women don't. This country's history is largely predicated on race; race and the prejudices surrounding it will ALWAYS play a part in how we view ourselves and each other. All women have their strengths and weaknesses. Who we are in life varies not just by race; but our upbringing, demographics and personal experiences. It is wise to keep these things in mind before assigning a blanket stereotype. My synopsis is that until we stop allowing society to dictate our "ranking" this will remain an issue and topic for debate.

As always thank you for giving audience to my post. I hope that you enjoy what I've written and feel moved to comment.

Be Blessed!