Socio-cultural critiques from the perspective of a millennial southern, black feminist.
On Silent Black Men: What Have You Done For Us Lately?
I grew up knowing —not believing— Grandma Nan could do anything. She could stoically kill a snake in her yard with an ax and resume tending to her collards in the garden — wearing a chiffon floral house dress. She’d tell my grandfather about it later, probably as they chatted over her homemade veggie soup and Mountain Dew. Sure, Grandma needed Grandfather Walter, but only because she wanted to. He built her house and later on, the garage. He drove the trash to the landfills on trash day (we’re country folks) and fixed every leak. Still, Grandma Nan was The Queen. As were the other women in my family.
My Grandma Nan
My Grandma Nan
Men existed in their worlds but didn’t make them go ’round and I felt the strength of women all around me. After all, being strong is the one thing the world will tip their hats off to black women for — sometimes to our detriment.
So you’ve got to forgive me if I don’t understand a world where women — especially the ones of color— are treated as inanimate objects to be victimized, shamed, blamed and discarded when it meets the fancy of men. Vaginas, only. Voiceless, always. Unless, of course, we’re echoing men’s praises.
Today, This Photo Hit My Facebook Feed:
The caption below it said this:
This picture won’t be shared a billion times because it’s not negative. But I don’t know any of these men and I’m so proud.. CONGRATS DOCTORS!!
I saw it and promptly shared it but I felt a sadness drip over me because I don’t remember the last time I saw a black man share a photo of a group of black women lifting up their successes or praising their beauty. Still, I shared the photo to show you sleep brothers out there that once again, black women have your back. Once again, we’re circulating your lovely photos and praising you for your accomplishments. Happy to see you doing well and looking forward to a brighter future for you. Once again, a black woman (black FEMINIST at that) is pleased on the inside at positive representation of you as an upstanding, well-rounded citizen.
The last time I saw a black man share a photo of black women, it was this:
(via ashy ass Facebook)
(Photo Credit: Tumblr)
I live in a world where black women matter the least to the world—even to some of our black men who should know better. I hear black women speaking up for black men as much, if not more, as I hear us speaking up for ourselves. But what I don’t hear is black men.
Sure, I bang Lupe’s “Bitch Bad”, grateful for the tune. But it is one of few hip-hop songs in my iPod that show some honor to black women and urge them to honor themselves. The other song is Tupac’s Dear Mama. Even my baby J.Cole who I often laud as a pretty conscious brother, will release a heartfelt song in honor of a dead Mike Brown one week, lobbying for freedom and justice in the United Snakes and the next week? He’ll verbally slap women in the face with a track titled “Thotty” featuring Chance the Rapper.
(Photo Credit: Tumblr)
I live in a world where black women will go toe-to-toe with anyone for their black sons, black fathers, and black cousins but get deemed a hoe by other black sons, black fathers and black cousins when we come forward about abuse from a rich and famous boxing champion. Sorry Ms. Jackson.
I live in a world where black men term us “thots” and misguided black women jump on the bandwagon. The term sits on a lengthy list of demonizing terms black men keep in their arsenal for us. Must we forever be your targets? We weep and march when police make you theirs.
(Photo Credit: Wiki)
Black women have visibly stood in solidarity with black men for years. Rosa parked herself on that bus during the Civil Rights Movement. Coretta walked with Martin, raised his children and overlooked his infidelities. Mahalia Jackson walked and sang along in the same fight when she could have safely tucked herself away in some juke joint and stacked as much bread as they’d allow women to make back then. Billie Holiday mourned black bodies in “Strange Fruit”. We have picketed, marched, posted up, boycotted, cried, argued and interceded on your behalf. We worry about our husbands, sons, boy cousins and homeboys from college. Your deficient safety disturbs us in our sleep. We rub our temples at home when you go play ball with the boys and tell you to be careful as the screen door slams shut. We hope like hell you come back unharmed. We overlook our own struggle sometimes, for worrying about yours all of the time. There isn’t a moment in history where black men suffered that black women cannot be seen in the background toiling as well. Praying. Standing in solidarity.
(Photo Credit: Socially Urban)
Black feminists started the #BlackLivesMatter movement, despite every effort many black men make to shut down our black feminist one. Considered the weaker sex, we still show up for you. Every single time. In droves. With t-shirts. And signs. And chants. And candles.
When will you show up for us? When will we graduate from ‘thots’ in your thoughts to valuable human beings? I’m tired of being mad about dead black boys while being dubbed a “bitch” and a “hoe” by the live ones.
Black men, I urge you. If you’re down for the struggle, then be down entirely. That means not shutting us up when our chants must lift up the names of slain black women. That means not excommunicating black women with your misogynoir. During slavery, black men couldn’t exactly speak up for black women. I imagine they heard the door creak in the slave quarters and saw the shadow and heard the weeping and saw the blood but remained in survivor’s silence. Today, circumstances are different though the silence remains about the same. And when you do finally get a voice, we hear it bouncing over a cool beat as you chant about “hoes not being loyal” and “fuck that bitch”. I didn’t grow up around thots and bitches and hoes and sluts and broads and females. I grew up around real women who love you and struggle right next to you. Your victim-blaming. Your sexist language. Your silence. It all has a deafening sound.
As my sensitivity to the plight of women everywhere grows, my tolerance level for how black women always seem to get the short end of the stick shrinks exponentially. We’ve been hurt enough. Like you. With you. If we’re going to fight the world for our rights, we don’t want you to always have to be on the receiving end of our blows.
Men who do represent? I thank you. For those who don’t, I think I can speak for many women when I ask, “What have you done for us lately?”