Hello all, I know it has been a long time since my last post but your girl was swamped with a hefty progress report which is now done. A lot has been going on for the past few months but today’s blog post is about something that has really been on my heart for the past few weeks. Today, I am here to discuss a few myths and sentiments around the strong black woman narrative.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen attempts online of black men to uplift black women and alarmingly the recurring traits of what black men seem to love about black women is that that we are “strong” and “fearless”. Whilst I’m very sure that the intention of citing these characteristics was to uplift, it can come across as problematic where it seems as if black women are appreciated when we are able to take on the load of the world. The fact that I always see the topic of protecting black women and baffles and astounds me the very few ignorant men are unable to comprehend that you should have respect for women outside of your household. You should not just respect women because you find attractive; simply respect that woman because she is a human being.
As a black woman, this period has been particularly taxing and draining; remember that black women have to deal with both racism and sexism/misogyny. It is deplorable the fact that during this worldwide pandemic, black women have had to deal with the issues surrounding racism and also the issues surrounding gender-based violence against us. I question where is it safe for me as a black woman freely. I question my safety whenever I travel because of racism and the assumption of me being a prostitute (we all know that in some countries, the locals exhibit these archaic views). I question my safety here in the UK because I know that the police are bored and like to trouble black people unprovoked. I know that going to the US is off the cards in case I don’t come back alive. Sadly, I know deep down that I can’t even go back to my homeland Nigeria because misogyny and patriarchy are so engrained in society that it manifests as gender-based violence. Yet with all of this, black women are still expected to be strong and show up as mothers, sisters, cousins, friends, colleagues, teachers and partners. Sometimes it feels as if no one shows up for us only a select few are able to understand the pain that we experience whilst the remainder are deliberately obtuse to reduce it to petty gender wars.
Additionally, I couldn’t do this post about mentioning the basis of medical racism that black women experience due to some stupid people (including qualified professionals) believing that black people, especially black women, have a higher tolerance of pain compared to everyone else. The so-called “father of gynaecology” James Marion Sims perpetuated this notion when he perfected his UNETHICAL surgical techniques between the years of 1845-1849 on enslaved black women without anaesthesia to repair vesicovaginal fistula (a complication after traumatic childbirth prevalent in the 19th century). The sheer fact that Sims has upheld a legacy in the field of gynaecology at the expense of the erasure of the stories of the black women he experimented on is abhorrent (three of his victims have been named Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey). Till this day this negligence with regards to the medical care of black women notion is still upheld by the fact that black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth compare to their white counterparts (in the UK) according to a report conducted by MBRRACE-UK between 2014 to 2016. This also extends to the likelihood of being denied adequate pain relief under the belief that black people experience less pain than their white counterparts due to having thicker skin. Therefore this whole narrative of black women being able to take on everything is flawed we do not have a higher pain threshold compared to other races and subsets, to be honest, the very basis of black people are strong and able to tolerate pain more is not even consolidated with adequate scientific knowledge but it is simply stemmed from racism.
The stereotypes of black women being fierce, sassy and angry is honestly a personal problem which sadly again stems from unconscious bias and racism. The thought of us even defending ourselves against such tirades is even tiring because of the fear of being depicted as aggressive for standing up for ourselves. We get failed because of racism by our white female counterparts that choose to ignore the intersectionality of feminism then we are failed by black men because a lot of them grew up with the understanding that there will be a phase of disrespecting black women as a rite of passage or social experiment. I’m sick of the fact that it is been deemed acceptable that certain problematic individuals who genuinely need to seek therapy have been given a pass to degrade black woman and then we have to “be strong” and deal with the aftermath of such damage and behaviour (sometimes with therapy). This particular trail of thought partially led to me write about why I am sick of women somehow being responsible for the damaging behaviours and actions of men. The fact of the matter is that we are tired of the stereotypes, we are tired of these assumptions that we are going to be around forever to take on the flack of the world that’s just not how it’s going to be. I feel like 2020 is the year that all of these oppressive systems need to be dismantled. Everything must go!
All in all, I don’t know why everyone believes that black women are so strong we have own problems and fears so stop expecting us to be resilient. Pull up and have my back instead of expecting me to accommodate for your shortcomings/irrational fears whilst subjecting me to tomfoolery and abuse. I feel like this is the last generation of black women that the world will be dumping your stuff on because we are tired and we are scared.
Until next time,