In praise of Black women who don’t hear it enough
13th January 2014 · 0 Comments
By David Dennis Jr.
2012 wasn’t the best year for African-American women. It seemed like every week brought a new article about how they’re the least desirable women in America. How they lead the nation in being single. How they’re the least likely to be hired or to get paid the least in any workplace. Then there were the articles from some choice Black men about why they preferred white women over Black women or how Black women were just too much trouble (yes, these were articles I actually read). Of course, other African-American women piled on the hate, throwing out ideas of what Black women themselves could do to “make themselves more desirable” or “stop being so hard to deal with.”
I think it all came to a head during the 2012 Olympics when Serena Williams was crucified for doing a dance that was linked to a “gang” lifestyle she grew up in as opposed to celebrating the fact she’s the most accomplished American female athlete we may ever see. Then, of course, came the ridiculously fabricated controversy of Gabby Douglas’ hair and the way it tried to overshadow her tremendous story and accomplishments. It just seemed like Black women were the butts of every joke or demeaning opinion possible.
But African-American women are the most resilient people on Earth. And 2013 was a sign that the media couldn’t control how these women were treated or perceived. 2012 ended with Michelle Obama giving one of the most pivotal, inspirational speeches — political or otherwise — at the Democratic National Convention and things only looked up.
Kerry Washington revolutionized television as the most successful Black female lead to a TV show we may have ever seen. Beyoncé became the dominant force over all of the music industry by releasing her album unannounced and changing the way music is released. Michelle Obama is still amazing. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, showed poise and strength through the trial of her son’s murderer.
Just as important was the way everyday, non-celebrity women of color made their voices heard. “Black Twitter,” which is mostly fueled by Black women, affected change in various different arenas. These voices called for Paula Deen’s removal, pushed SNL to cast women of color, and put the kibosh on the Zimmerman juror’s goals of writing a book about the situation.
Black women were treated like nuances and worth neglect all through 2012 (and for, well, forever leading up to the year), so they created ways to make waves in 2013. Black women were the MVPs of the entire year.
But even if there wasn’t a Beyoncé or a Kerry Washington or a Michelle Obama or a Twitter, Black women would still deserve as much praise as we could possibly offer and more. And that’s why this edition of Bounce Back is dedicated to you.
It seems like there’s an entire segment of the Internet dedicated to telling us what’s wrong with our Black women. No matter what Black women do or how they’re in the news for positivity, there’s always an anti-Black woman sentiment in the ether. However, let this be one moment of positivity. One article saying “thank you” for all that you go through and how you keep pressing on.
Kanye West (I know, but stick with me, here) rapped that we should give out flowers while people can still smell them and this is a tiny bouquet that pales in comparison to what you all deserve.
So, whenever my mother or my wife or my sisters or any of you reads one of those stupid articles or hears some statement about how you’re not doing well enough: ignore it. You’re our foundation. The queens. We need you and we all should treat you better.
Let this be an opening salvo. A promise that even if we continue to fail to appreciate you, you’ll have these words and our unending respect and gratitude. So let’s start 2014 off right: Thank you, women of color. The rest of us aren’t anything without you.
This article originally published in the January 13, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.