Understanding the Black Woman
Mood Music: Black Orchid by Stevie Wonder
Totally unrelated, but Daylight Saving Time needs to go.
I woke up at four this morning confused about the time and I could never settle down enough to go back to sleep. I spent a few moments staring out at my fan that runs from January to January, then decided to go kill some time on social media until the morning light. Scrolling on Twitter, I clicked on an article from the New York Times entitled, The Closer.
The article was about how Michelle Obama started out as an angry black woman and then evolved into this human being worthy of changing people’s minds about Donald Trump.
I was furious. I usually love the Times, but today I was disgusted about their view of Michelle. To me she has been a pillar of hope to America- an American Sweetheart, if you will.
I lie their reeling and listening to Spotify and started to seriously think about America’s view of the black woman. I found that the view was screwed mostly because we are greatly misunderstood.
I feel like this misunderstanding has greatly shaped how we are portrayed in the media and interacted with from day to day.
I want to use this space to shed some light on who the black/mixed race woman is and why you shouldn’t count her out.
Below is a list of common misconceptions and the truth behind the story.
Misconception: Black Woman aren’t feminine.
Truth: There’s a song by the country trio Lady Antebellum entitled American Honey. It’s all about growing up slowly and well, and how that experience makes a person sweet like American honey.
Many white women have had this experience growing up in a two-parent middle class home structure. There is a certain security in growing up with the love of both parents and enough money, that gives one a longer period to just be a kid then eventually growing up slowly and sweetly. This isn’t always the story of the black woman in America.
Imagine that Dad isn’t in the home and Mom, who may be raising boys, takes on a masculine role to help shape the boys into men. Imagine that you are a young black girl in that home with Mom and brothers. The dominating energy in the home is masculine.
You are watching Mom go to work, Mom pay bills, Mom administer disincline, Mom teaching the boys to tie ties and drive- who do you emulate? That’s right Mom.
Mom, in this case, has little time to be prim and delicate. She’s trying to keep her boys fed, out of gangs, and alive. So little sister takes on some masculine energy by osmosis and this is where the rumor starts.
Black Women are indeed feminine, we like pink, guys, chocolate, and chick flicks, but stereotypical fainting and blushing evades us, because that’s not what many of us grew up around.
Misconception: Black Woman are strong
Truth: Everyone’s strength is engendered by nature and nurture. We all are born with a certain amount of strength, but how we are nurtured helps to fortify that strength.
When Dad runs out on the family, when money is tight, when your son or brother is at risk for being gunned down for just wearing a hoodie, when your wide noise, dark skin, big hips, and hair texture is thought of as ugly and offensive what other choice does an individual have but to be strong?
Yes, black women are strong, but not to the degree you might think. Our strength is a mode of defense.
No one wakes up in the morning and says I am going to be strong today. You just become strong so that you can survive all the hell you are subject to.
Even in the black woman’s strength, there is that core weakness that has the desires of all woman: need of love, understanding, respect, and protection.
In the right situation, the black women will compromise her strength and be as weak as you need and as strong as you need as well.
Misconception: Black woman are angry and mad all the time.
Fact– Black women don’t spend all their waking hours being angry, but some of us have little to be jovial about.
Our daughters are being sexualized, our sons are being killed, we are being discriminated against, and we are far from being appreciated on a national scale. But even in sadness, black women are some of the funniest and most loving people you will ever met.
Sometimes black women are confused for being angry, but as I discussed earlier a lot of woman are playing two roles in the home and they must be a lot tougher than June Cleaver.
Saying,” Son please don’t go out tonight,” isn’t as effective on a teenager as, “You aren’t going anywhere, so don’t even think about it.” Most of the time, Mom isn’t angry she’s just trying to keep her family safe.
Again, black daughters might pick up this pattern of speech just because this is what she’s been exposed to. The words of most people’s mouths aren’t the literal meditation of their hearts.
Sometimes the black woman develops low tolerance for some childish behaviors around her, because she has been hurt enough and doesn’t need reason to hurt more.
Also, culturally, sarcasm is a form of joking. It’s a black and Hispanic thing to make sarcastic jokes and do it with all the love and fun in the world. When other cultures who aren’t familiar with this playful sarcastic behavior and here us speak, allegedly, rudely to each other, it’s often blown out of proportion.
Again, black women aren’t always angry sometimes, it’s just cultural differences that make people uncomfortable with our “abrasive” personalities.
Misconception: Black woman are hyper-sexual, loud, and foul-mouthed.
Fact– This is, of all the misconceptions, is the farthest from the truth and it is a rumor which origins dates back to slavery.
Slave owners wanted to have sexual relations with some of the beautiful black women who were their slaves, but the behavior was frowned on. To make sex with slave women seem more upstanding, slave owners created stories about black women that paralleled with legends about Greek goddesses/Sirens/ Mermaids.
Black women became this exotic temptress who took white slave owners as prey and got them so aroused they couldn’t help but partake of the “Strange Fruit”.
As the centuries went on and television came into being, the mass media had the prefect forum to lie about the black woman’s sexuality and moral fiber. As in any race, there are those who don’t mind being depicted as hyper-sexual, loud and foul-mouthed for fame and pay and this is where you get the cast of Love and Hip Hop and booty shakers in music videos.
These highly sexual, potty-mouthed young women don’t even represent a fourth of the black female population, it is just an exaggeration for TV.
Now you might ask, where does the alleged “baby mama” with more than three babies come from?
Studies show black people are least likely to get abortions and use condoms based on religious principles, but they are not more likely than any other race to participate in sex outside of the marriage bed.
Misconception: Black Women are dumb.
Truth– Black women are nationally recognized as being most likely of any race or gender to go to college and graduate. How dumb is that?
Though there are thousands of misconceptions about who the black woman is, there are many things I know for sure. Black women are loving, beautiful, and kind. We are accepting of certain flaws others are not. We are hardworking, intelligent, and resourceful.
In every field, from art to science to sports there is a black woman who is masterfully dominating their perspective domain. Our love isn’t flighty, it’s lasting and about as close as you can get to unconditional.
We have nurtured a nation and the fruit of our wombs have risen to the occasion in unprecedented ways. There is love and beauty in EVERY woman in the world, but there is something alluring and enchanting about a black woman.
We all might not have flourished slowly and sweetly as American Honey, but nothing is more beautiful than a concrete rose.
A person who has as pushed through the cracks in dark cement and arisen beautifully to face the bright blue day.
I haven’t faced even half the challenges that I have spoken of, but I have unreal respect for those who do.
Keep blossoming rose! Though misunderstood, black women you are the salt of the earth.