Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

To be a Black woman!

20th February 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

So often we Black women see ourselves left out of America’s daily conversation or denigrated if and when we are mentioned. This being Black History Month, finally with a concentration on our history and culture, the Washington Post and the Kaiser Foundation decided to write about us! We’ve finally arrived. We are found to have strengths—something we already knew, but didn’t see in the news. We’ve always known that we often bear a heavy responsibility for family and friends. Yet, we thank the study’s researchers for doing a story where we are doing something positive.

We’ve always known the true meaning of family values, and we didn’t deviate from them just because the economy went bad and our resources became more limited. That’s really nothing new for Black women. We’ve always had to take the little we had and make it go a long, long way. Struggle is not new or foreign to us.

Too many of us are still dying from breast cancer. My doctor says more of us should do self breast examinations, and a good way to remember to do it is to examine our breasts on the day we pay our bills. In other words, associate the examination with something else we do every month.

Too many of us are infected with HIV—no longer most common from injection drug use as was true 20 years ago, but through heterosexual contact. We must persist when it comes to requiring protected sex in order to avoid this alarming growth and being the reported fastest-growing victims of HIV.

Domestic violence hits us hardest—especially young women in the 20-24 age groups. No excuse is good enough for being a punching bag, so we must stop being embarrassed to reach out for help when needed.

Far too many of us have been hit harder than others by the economic downturn since we are often the only bread winners in our families; yet, recent months of the slowly but surely upturn give us reason to be hopeful.

I could go on with our challenges, but I want to go back to the good stuff. Despite our challenges in life, we’re still caring, generous and helpful to our families and our friends. Not just while we are celebrating Black History or Women’s History Month, we must remember that is who we are. It’s in our DNA. Let us always look for the good in our sisters and praise them for it. Let us be there to give each other a helping hand.

Let us remember with pride the gift of First Lady Michelle Obama who is one of the greatest roles models for our daughters, granddaughters, and sisters we could ever hope for. During these two special months dedicated to us (Black History and Women’s History), let us lift her up and be grateful for her service to our country. Her job might sound glamorous to many, but it carries special challenges for her every day. In my book, she is passing the test with flying colors!

It is true that many of us have had to put our own dreams on hold in order to help a niece, a nephew, an elderly parent—but let us be grateful that God has given us the ability to handle the situation!

My friend, Dick Gregory, rarely speaks without proclaiming that the two most important forces in the world are the Black woman and the Black church. Let us internalize that message in all that we do, and it won’t matter so much that we are so often left out of history and the important role we have always played in our communities.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is Chair of the National Congress of Black Women and a Presidential Scholars Commissioner. Website:; 202-678-6788.

This article originally published in the February 20, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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