I am pleased to welcome back Grace Bryant to share her perspective on womanhood. Last month she shared her perspective of her African American experience (The Black Experience – As Told By: Grace Bryant). This month she dives into the intersection of race and gender and shares her perspective of what it means to be a black woman in this society. Bryant’s motivation derives from a desire for fair treatment of people of all backgrounds.
A broken system, within a broken system…
I am not sorry if your white feminist feelings are hurt while reading this. Your white female tears have done enough damage and will continue to do so until society realizes that right or wrong, an emotionally distraught white woman becomes the priority of whatever space she is in.
The truth is, white women, although being a part of a group that is subject to discrimination and unjust treatment, are perpetrators of the same discrimination.
White women’s emotions, particularly their tears, have taken countless lives over the generations. Nothing else brings other white people to a white woman’s defense other than her declaring that she feels hurt, sad, discomforted, or worst of all, unsafe by the words, arguments, or actions of a black person (no matter how reasonable or nonviolent). This defense of the white woman especially applies to white men despite their level of a misogyny. Because of the white woman’s cry, jobs have been lost, innocent people have been wrongfully imprisoned, and lives have been destroyed. A white woman’s tears are not simply a release, they are a tool.
Crying automatically at the hint of discomfort, unease, disagreement, or passion infers to those around you that people of color are the aggressors whilst positioning you as the victim of a hurtful behavior.
Few white women can sit with the emotional discomfort around certain issues such as race, and especially the intersection of feminism and race. When they are confronted or challenged, they take out the one weapon that society has given them. Tears. These tears effectively serve to shut down any constructive conversation in group settings, and instead, the goal shifts to soothing the white woman and taking care of her feelings. This typically occurs at the complete expense of the black person’s feelings.
The unfair advantage of white women has been seen in every public setting in history and reinforces the idea that black people are guilty until proven innocent and white women are innocent until proven innocent until proven innocent.
On the topic of feminism, white women must realize that their appearance is viewed as the default identity of female. Tears pour out from the eyes of the one chosen to be the prototype of womanhood; the woman who has been painted as helpless against the whims of the world. The one who gets the most protection in a world that does a less than average job overall of cherishing women.
White women construct a type of womanhood that viciously negates the fact their bodies still function as agents of white supremacy. They are so gentle with themselves that they simply cannot comprehend that they could be oppressed and yet still be oppressive.
#Allwomenmatter derails the argument that black women’s voices remain silenced in a society that’s only screaming for equality amongst white genders. Black women are most likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment/assault in the work place, both within and outside the black community. It takes more than just awareness of W.O.C. (Women of Color) to see change, it takes action.
Today’s “Feminism” rallies black women as ground troupes, but hardly takes the time to stop and investigate the deep, many layered oppression women of color additionally face.
Black women are at the bottom of the totem pole in almost every societal, relational, or professional setting. So, the idea of feminism, which is inherently ours, is still not created for us.
Let’s talk about two women, Karen and Shanice. Karen and Shanice both graduated top of their class, one from Princeton and the other from Dartmouth. Both Karen and Shanice are applying for the same job in a White male dominated field. They start off with the same fear, “I will have to work twice as hard to prove I’m qualified for this position solely because I am a woman.” Karen packs her resume in her brand-new bag she just purchased over the weekend hoping that the interviewer isn’t too keen on details to spot its obvious flaw, it’s a knock off. Shanice wakes up early to pick out the overpriced suit she purchased specifically for this interview to overcompensate for the one flaw that seems prolong her long streak of unemployment for jobs she knows she is overqualified for, she’s Black. Karen runs her hands through her freshly blown out, highlighted blonde hair, thankful that she was able to squeeze in that last-minute root touch up. Shanice puts her hair in a bun, and places her satin hijab over her head that coincidentally matches her new suit, thankful that this interview is walking distance so that it doesn’t warrant a train ride full with staring, disgusted old ladies, and “random” police bag checks that always last a little longer for her compared with other citizens, she’s Muslim.
Shanice’s life social structure is filled with overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. She faces discrimination and disadvantage for her gender (unequal pay, job opportunities, job responsibilities, sexual assault) for her race (racial bias, unemployment, racial assault, degrading mass media illustration,) for her religion (hate crimes, unequal housing opportunities, unequal educational opportunities, selective prejudice and discrimination in a public setting).
This is what intersectionality is. A recent site I discovered on this topic described it as an opinion only mattering relative to your identity, and where that identity ranks on the hierarchy of intersectionality. However, the actual definition of “intersectionality” was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University. Kimberlé Crenshaw describes intersectionality as her attempt to make feminism, anti-racist activism, and anti-discrimination law highlight the multiple avenues through which racial and gender oppression were experienced.
The site described intersectionality as a form of identity politics in which the value of your opinion depends on how many victim groups you belong to in order to demand unfair advantages that majority citizens don’t have, declare to be victim, or play the race card in times of need. At the bottom of the totem pole is the straight, white male and the top would be a Black, Muslim, Transgender, Disabled, Foreigner along with any other oppression groups you can claim.
The issue with this definition is that it takes away from the real live experiences that real humans face daily. Being Black is much more than something you can claim to have your opinion heard. Being Muslim is much more than a card to pull out in order to win the argument on who is more disadvantaged. However, it should come as no surprise that while one group of people see gender discrimination, racism, and religious discrimination, as a card game, those on the oppressed side of the color line see it as a reality, a burden and a violation.
The intersectional, gender, religious, race card does not exist; racism and sexism does.
The notion that people who call out inequality or prejudice are playing a card game serves as a white privilege narrative about the inability of people of color and women to engage in rational thought and intellectual conversations.
If we are to concede that gender inequality and racism is a card game that is played by the black female world, then we should also concede that the “race/gender card game” was invented by the white world.
This phrase is an effective way to silence people for calling out racism/gender inequality. Instead, let’s strive to recognize and discuss racial/gender injustices rather than dismiss it as a card game.
My view on Feminism is this; Men and Women are not the same. We are not equivalent. God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God formed woman from man’s rib and presented her unto him. We were created different. However, I do not believe that Jesus created one gender inferior to the other. Just as no race is inferior to the other “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
The fight for Black female equality might appear aggressive and or unapologetic but look at the battle it is fighting every day.
Am I angry? Yes, sometimes I get angry when society refuses to hear my voice, or the voices of others who look like me. Yes, sometimes it upsets me when tears of white women can be weaponized causing women of color to lose jobs, black boys be ripped away from a mother’s arms due to false accusations, Black men to be hung or imprisoned for someone else’s inability to control her emotions.
This is not an attack on white woman, this is also not an attack on society’s ‘feminism’. This is the acknowledgement of a broken system, within a broken system, within a broken system. Inside a white dominated male world, stands an underestimated, undervalued, unrewarded group of White women crying for results but fail to see the unrecognized, discriminated, excluded nation of Black women they’re standing on.