According to the epochal words of Malcolm X’s 1962 “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?” address, Black women are the black sheep of America:
“The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”
Black women tirelessly uttered his exact sentiments in the years following, bearing the economic, social and political scars of Black womanhood experiences on our sleeves both privately and publicly. But, perhaps, I’ll resurrect our reality from a Black man’s mouth 56 years ago for the world to believe it, let alone hear it.
Horrific data compiled by CNN verifying heightened and disproportionate childbirth mortality rates in Black women, providing that we are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy and delivery complications, certainly didn’t turn many heads.
And when it comes to attacks on Black women, even in the presence of her Black female child, becoming infamous via viral status in our beloved internet era, it’s almost always comedy over concern.
But we never really had to look far for evidence of Malcolm’s lecture over half a century later. Just hit the power button on your cellphone, where Miami’s rap token Trick Daddy, singer-songwriter Kevin McCall and R&B-crooner-turned-Grammys griper J. Holiday can be found internalizing self-hate to incarnate Malcolm’s words for you in the flesh.
Admittedly, I’ve been standing by patiently waiting for the opportunity to drag Trick Daddy by his gold grills for the disgraceful, raggedy-mouthed “warning” he subjected Black women to. “Y’all Black h**s better tighten up,” he spewed, right before declaring us “b*****s” who let cosmetic and body modification services chew up our hard-earned cash. How convenient it was for him to overlook the fattening pockets of surgeons profiting from non-Black women who go under the knife to own our Black features for their own bodies.
And since “Spanish” and white women are slowly but surely learning to cook (because God forbid they already knew how to do that, right?) and take on the busty, physical features historically attributed to Black women, according to Trick Daddy’s logic, there’s an evolutionary ticking time bomb just waiting to blow us away. We’ll become “useless,” he so delicately puts it.
So, as Trick Daddy time-machines us back to slavery’s 18th and 19th centuries, let us, Black women, be reminded that there’s only but so far our worth has potential to go in this life — and that’s completely determinate upon our convenience for men’s eyes and stomachs. Otherwise, shoo, Black sheep...I mean, woman…don’t bother me.
Then, there’s the “working Black women are selfish purveyors of white supremacy” argument, better known as the “Black Women Handling Her S**t Rattles My Fragile, ‘Oppressed’ Male Ego Too Much” defense. As a 23-year-old Black woman with no children, this one still hit a particular nerve. Then I realized this fake news PSA that Black women “love work more than they love themselves” and slave over white-owned corporations for an economic come-up while leaving their families in the dust echoes a common myth frequented in the community of single-parent homes led by Black women.
Never mind the ubiquitous presence of Black female entrepreneurs, the most rapidly-growing enterprising group in the country, or the oppressive lack of equal pay and suitable company policies for mothers that affect Black women more than any other group in corporate America.
Let us all collectively shrug a cold shoulder to the Black mothers forced into the sometimes-conflicting roles of caretakers and breadwinners, circumstances that are also brought on by absent, neglectful or jailed fathers. And since this stigmatic subject matter of dad’s gone AWOL is a stereotype of its own and adds an entire new layer to the dichotomy of the Black household, arriving at a crossroads with mass incarceration and institutional racism, we’ll leave that topic alone — for now.
All actual and significant factors aside, Black women and those gosh darn occupations that keep their bills paid and children fed are at fault for the dismantlement of the Black home.
Sure, let’s go with that.
And one of my personal favorites, revived by R&B crooner J. Holiday, is the silencing of Black women’s pain for the convenience, and in this case acknowledgment, of Black men.
The “Bed” crooner peeled back his sheets from a nearly 11-year hiatus to call out Beyoncé, Cardi B and SZA, singing the blues about the strong presence of Black female R&B artists dominating the nominations. Calling the ladies “motherf**kers,” he insisted it unfair that they “use their pain” and experiences for their respective musical crafts to garner attention such as that from the Recording Academy. You know, since personal life experiences in music is apparently totally off limits.
But accusing a man of misogynoir? (*gasps*) Never, considering that he has a Black mother, sister and daughters, which is another baseless foundation some Black men believe will maintain their innocence against misogynoir all the while still heaving stereotypes and vilification against Black women.
It’s becoming tired and honestly embarrassing, Black men, to cloak your misogynoir in such lazy, empty arguments. It’s the same defense used by white people who attempt to shield their racism with assertions of “Black friends.”
But for Holiday, who persistently reminds us that he is a Black man throughout the video, to ever trivialize Black womanhood and denounce the talents of Bey, Cardi and Solana to turn their pain into power worthy of critical acclaim is more telling than ever of his own cowardice.
And if you needed proof that he, like some other Black men, take their personal losses as war against all Black women who dare refuse silence and speak their experiences into artful light, refer to his caption:
“Yes salty I lost to [Mary J. Blige in the Grammy’s Best Contemporary R&B Album category] I’m over it!”
So there you have it, ladies.
If it isn’t our physical appearance, it’s our economic means of survival and trauma that are robbing ourselves and the world totally blind. And when we’re not strapping on our Wonder Woman capes to literally save the nation, as a number of those same men have left out of their arguments against us, expect being spit in the face by the very communities we used our capes to shield from the real and shared dangers of being Black in America.
(Photos from left: Lucianna Faraone Coccia/WireImage, Greg Doherty/Getty Images, Prince Williams/WireImage)