After my first semester of teaching I was invited to meet with the department chair, a frumpy, middle aged- white woman who treated me like white retailers have my entire life–as if my presence depreciated the value of the company. She arrived over thirty minutes late for my meeting, a fact she would casually disregard when pushing me out of her office not even ten minutes later. Her actions stated that I did not belong, despite the fake and almost nervous smile worn as an effort to melt my stoic expression. In those ten minutes she’d gloat about what she considered “bad” student reviews— an attempt to break me down into a negro in need of a fictive white brilliance to step into the role of woman. This was the same woman who failed to provide me with the room number for my class and made it so that I received my first check shortly before midterms. I was invisible until something seemingly negative surfaced, then my black female body became a canvass for white shame, a means to bludgeon me until my posture slouched in defeat. For white functionality is solely rooted in black inferiority, no matter how hard the white body must work to make their fictive superiority a reality.
The contemporary black female body exists in the shadow of her ancestors, only seen in instances of negativity, because to acknowledge her in her beauty and brilliance is to threaten the false esteem of her oppressors. Sadly, the same is true for the melanated individuals referenced interchangeably with those black in body and mind. In conversations or simply in the presence of melanated folk, the black woman is ignored if not overtly deficient in one way or another.
In Black Looks, scholar and cultural critic bell hooks says the following of black female visibility:
Objectified in a manner similar to the block female slaves who stood on auction blocks while owners and overseers described their important, salable parts, the black woman whose naked bodies were displayed for whites out social function had no presence. They were reduced to mere spectacles. Their body parts were offered as evidence to support racist notions that black people were more a kin to animals than other humans (hooks 62).
Just like the Saartje Baartmans of the past, the black female body remains a dismembered presence that only becomes visible to prove white superiority. The black woman is commonly shoved, reached over and ignored in quotidian activities from riding the train to grocery shopping. However, if wearing a garment where her protruding backside is visible, or her breasts or legs are exposed, she assumes the hyper visibility of her ancestors cast along the auction block, dismembered by the white male gaze and itemized for white male consumption.
I write this post in hopes of enlightening the black female and even black males to embedded expectations that subconsciously recruit us as soldiers of white supremacy. Namely, many blacks have also grown comfortable with caricatures blackness and downcast their own for failing to embody the necessary imperfection to seem normal in our western setting. This imperfection is commonly conceptualized in labeling the black female body a “bitch” or “whore.”
The Black “Bitch”
A student called me a bitch for the first time this semester. I’m actually pretty sure I, like my sisters throughout the diaspora, have been called worse, but this was the first time a student had rendered an expletive to my face. Following hurling the expletive my way, the student proceeded to talk over me until storming out the classroom and reporting to the dean.
The cause of the altercation you ask? I simply asked the student a question.
Like clockwork the dean shows up a few minutes later asking to see me. An act that festered the very authority challenged by my student. After dismissing my class I went to visit this middle-aged white women with a foreign accent, short haircut and slightly abrasive attitude. She asked me what happens and becomes overtly agitated when I disclose that the student called me a bitch. She then rolls her eyes, sighs and asks me to prepare a written statement. Although I had been disrespected twice that morning, once by the student and again when the director came to remove me from the class like a misbehaved student, it was me who had burdened her. In producing a response to the query she asked me, I cast this poor woman as the victim because she would now have to draft some paperwork.
“You have to be very careful how you address these students.”
I nodded indifferently.
“Be careful.” she said, with her eyes locking intensely with mine, embedding a slew of words she wished to say but could not.
The exchange was a vindictive display of power by a being disinterested in both my and my student’s well being. All the director saw was money. So instead of engaging my comfort in returning a student who blatantly disrespected me, my other students, and most importantly herself, it was without discussion that she would return to the class.To the director I was salt thrown in the would of a battered ego. I, like countless other black bodies cast throughout the diaspora, had become too visible in a space solely desiring my invisibility. To lure students into an invidious state, is to insult the white bodies who wish to be the sole source to evoke green from a black a gaze.
This is an unexpected example of black females being asked to be less of themselves to not fester insecurity in their counterparts, who must remain subjugated for whites domination.
Similar are the conversations that surround the black female body and romance. The black female body is commonly compartmentalized as “intimidating” if failing to exist as the a caricature, or controlling image like the mammy, jezebel, sapphire or tragic mulatto.
The strong black Woman is too independent to appease the male ego. The angry black Women too abrasive for the masculine pride. The beautiful woman is too high maintenance and too tenable, the educated woman too intellectually elevated to have her feet planted firmly on the ground. The black woman can seemingly not win when it comes to possessing attributes that extinguish a caricatured identity and propel her into a state of hyper-visibility.
Just as the directors sought to admonish with the words “be careful” the black woman is often issued a similar warning in being told to re evaluate how she carries herself. She is to exist to make others seem bigger in comparison to her smallness. To other blacks she is to encourage them to aim low and garner some attribute of a subjugated being.
The black body, if not dwarfed by the ax of white supremacy is nurtured to bend in order to fit through doorways–rather than build their own structure to which she can strut through in her prodigious state. The only thing the black Women is, is too stereotyped. If too pretty, too smart or too successful the white and other persons of colors typically aim to discount blackness with other races or ethnicities to eschew diversifying their perspective on black people.
Seemingly a lifetime ago I worked as a customer service representative. I worked alongside a beautiful sun kissed woman, labeled difficult and unprofessional. She was helpful in teaching me the ropes and aiding me with difficult customers. The issue was not that she was difficult, or unprofessional, but that she refused to be invisible in instances of overt racism. I recall an incident where a white “businessman” yelled at us to complete his task because “he had things to do.” He had dropped his item and demanded that I get on my knees in a dress to obtain his item. My coworker came to my defense and we were both reprimanded in consequence. To our oppressors were were not wronged, but in the wrong for refusing the demands of an oppressor. Where oppressors see green, the conscious gaze sees racism.
The black female that escapes being labeled the bitch (or in addition to this label), is often compartmentalizes as a sexualized object. This is not to say that the black female body fully escapes the negative connotation as a difficult being, but that the white gaze conceptualizes her sexually. This may sound complimentary to those who falsely equate a sexual gaze to an appreciation of beauty. A sexualized gaze means black female bodies are seen in correspondence to sex, i.e. concubines or asexual beans. Beyonce, Rihanna, etc, are black women who maintain relevancy because they are seen as sexualized objects. All the hype surrounding Beyonce’s fertility, or Rihanna’a latest partner, both reflect a fascination with black female genitalia. This fascination also functions in the reverse. Black female bodies lacking conventional attributes that would deem them overtly sexual, become demonized. Examples are Serena Williams, Wendy Williams, Gabourey Sidibie, etc, women who because of unconventional features are deemed beasts by the true beasts of the western world. Whether hyper sexual, de-sexualized or a bitch, the black female body continues to surface as a female subjugate by her white male oppressors.
As a female subjugate, the western gaze validates not only murdering or incarcerating the black female body, but resigning her to invisibility by default. By subjugating the black female body to a womanless being, the western gaze seeks to dim the light on a ethereal presence who shines in her sun kissed state– a state withheld from the white experience.
The dark girl is continually required to dim her light to ensure the comfort of the world around her. If the dark girl fails to bow her head in the face of racism she is a “bitch” and “difficult,” If the dark girl’s sensuality proves impossible to ignore in the western terrain, or she bears multiple children in the face of white female infertility she’s a whore, or welfare mother who’s untamable sexuality bills the white collar world. She is not to shine her light too brightly. We are the stage, not the performer, the words not the song, the pedestal not the recipient.
To shrink to western expectation is to forfeit the “stand out” quality that is the black woman. White supremacy is quite similar to how the western world has been nurtured to conceptualize the moonlight– whiteness that illuminates along darkness. Without the dark sky the moon and the stars do not glow. Rather than be a beacon for those who glow against our background, it’s time that the black collective become entranced by our own glow.
Dark women are the true light of the western world. We are the moon, the sun, and the stars. Moreover, we need not look out the window to see the glow of the moon, we must simply look within.
Don’t dim your light black girl. Shine.
Black Power. ❤
Article by CC Saunders
I remember years ago I heard two white men discussing beautiful women. It was at a former job and they were talking about the prettiest women in Hollywood. One of them said actress Scarlett Johansson was the hottest. The other one said he thought actress Megan Fox or Charlize Theron were the prettiest. And they went back and forth naming actresses like Jennifer Lawrence,Liv Tyler and Natalie Portman. They never mentioned any black women in their discussion. And why should they? They’re white men so they are discussing what they find attractive. It’s only natural for a man to find his own more attractive than other races. But I do find it interesting that many times in Hollywood they will give a white woman attention for physical attributes usually associated with black women. When they talk about women with the most beautiful lips they bring up women like Brigitte Bardot,Sophia Loren or Angelina Jolie. I don’t get what all the hype is about. There are countless black women that have beautiful full lips. I see black women on the street everyday that have better lips than Angelina Jolie. This is one of the reasons you have white women getting lip injections so much today. They want lips that are pouty and full. The kind of lips you want to kiss. These white people know deep down that full lips are more attractive than thin lips. The white media always wants to uplift the beauty of white women at every turn. That’s one of the reasons I think their beauty is very overrated.
The media also loves to praise non-black women for having nice butts. This has always been a fascinating phenomenon to me. We all know that white women are known for having flat asses. When I was high school it was rare to see a white woman with some curvaceous thighs and nice butt. But ever since actress/singer Jennifer Lopez became big back in 2000..it’s all they talk about. Jennifer Lopez and rapper Iggy Azalea even did a song called Booty a few years ago. How can you have a song about booty without black women??? It’s obvious they want to promote any non-black woman with black women attributes. That’s why even though Lopez is Puerto Rican she’s still not a black woman. I doubt that Iggy’s butt is real. And she’s already admitted to breast augmentation. Iggy is a plastic rapping bimbo. And not a very good rapper at that. And Armenian no-talent socialite Kim Kardashian has also been praised for having a big butt. I personally don’t think the her butt is real. Kardashian and her fame whore sisters are the reason many white women are getting butt implants and Brazilian butt lifts. The big butt craze has gotten so out of hand even some black women are getting them. Which I never understood. Many black women already have nice butts. But this shows how powerful the media has become. It’s sad when black women feel they need to compete with something that most of them have naturally.
European beauty has always seemed manufactured to me. It seems like white women have always copied black beauty but denigrate it at the same time. Back in 1870 there was the Victorian Bustle dress era(pic above). This dress was very popular with white women. They say it was popular at ballrooms because of the expensive laces and multitude of fabrics. But the real reason was because the dresses made it look like they had a huge back side. It made them look more like a woman that had some curves. And keep this in mind that this was dress popular during slavery. Most likely their white slave owning husbands were lusting after their African female slaves. Many of these white women were jealous because their men were sneaking into the slave quarters at night. So they were resentful of African women and their naturally superior bodies.
When I did a google search for “most beautiful women”,I kept seeing the same handful of names. Names like Blake Lively,Jennifer Aniston,Nicole Kidman,Charlize Theron,Megan Fox,Kate Upton,Naomi Watts,Scarlett Johansson and Kim Kardashian. I was quite surprised that as I researched these “beautiful” women I realized so many of them have had plastic surgery. There are not too many natural beauties in Hollywood or the music industry. The pic(above) is of actress Megan Fox and it’s obvious she’s had quite a bit of work done to her face.
What about the “classic beauties” like Marilyn Monroe? Monroe is an iconic film star. Many regard her as the symbol of white female perfection. It has been well documented that Monroe had surgery done to her chin and a nose job as well. Well I guess no one is perfect right?
This is actress Nicole Kidman. I never found this woman attractive at all. Her sickly pale skin never turned me on. She wasn’t even attractive when she was young. And it looks like she got some lip injections too. Is she going for that “full lips” look like a black woman has?
This is film actress Jennifer Aniston. I never got the hype about this hideous looking creature. She clearly ahs gotten a nose job. And she is not aging well at all.
This is film actress Blake Lively. I’ve heard a lot of white boys say she is the hottest thing since sliced bread. Which is a good analogy because she is plain as a piece of white bread. She does nothing for me. She looks rather plain to me. Wouldn’t look twice at her on the street.
This is actress Scarlett Johansson. She is mentioned a lot in fashion magazines. They fawn over her all the time. Some have even compared her to Marilyn Monroe. They act like she’s the epitome of white beauty. But as you can see a “natural beauty” she is not.
Now if we’re discussing fake plastic women..you can’t leave out Kim Kardashian right? I know a lot brain dead black men like this no-talent whore but I’m not one of them. They like her because she sleeps with a lot of black men. It’s amazing that a woman can do a sex tape and make the cover of high fashion magazines. Only a non-black woman could pull that off. But Kim has a fake ass as you can see from this picture. And most likely fake breasts as well. She’s just a high class whore. Real men who have standards and taste know this.
But all this cultural appropriation is nothing new. It’s been gong on for many years. Even back in the day actress Bo Derek(above) was in the film 10(1979). In the film she wore braids with beads in her hair. She’s given a lot of credit for popularizing what we all know is known African hair style.
And just a few years ago socialite/model/television personality Kylie Jenner caused an uproar on social media when she posted a selfie wearing cornrows. Jenner is not much different than her older attention whore sister Kim Kardashian. They all seem to love stealing from black culture and have created a $450 million net worth from being wannabe black women. I have news for these no-talent media women. Just because you have sex with black men and date them exclusively does NOT make you honorary black women.
To put it bluntly…I think white women are seriously overrated. There are black women that are overweight but so are white women. When a black woman eats healthy and stays fit…no other race can touch her. Black women age ten times better than white women and other races as well. That’s due tot he benefit of melanin. I’ve even had white women tell me personally that they wished they aged as well as black women. They are secretly envious of the black woman’s body,hair and beautiful skin tone. The only reason white women are held as the standard is because we live in a white dominated society. Using whiteness as the standard of beauty is just another manifestation of white supremacy. When white women are elevated to the superior position all other races that deviate from that standard and are considered unappealing or unattractive. Black women should embrace their natural hair and complexion. There is no need to try to look like European women. They are too busy trying to imitate black women anyway. A sad imitation at that. Sistas have an unique beauty all their own. I leave you with a poem from Jennifer Asiedu. It’s titled About My Black.
“My black is flawless
I’ve never been this proud before
My skin never felt so good
Was I not used to it?
I can’t remember when I loved this shade so much
My color is dark and lovely.
It sings with a rhythmic melody of beauty.
My black is loud
It yelled at this pale-faced lady the other day
She tried to demean my black
And just as quickly as she did
My black screamed back.
My skin roared with elegance
Reminding you it is not afraid anymore
My black is loved
I rubbed it down tenderly today
Making sure to touch every inch.
Ever so gently it glistened and radiated
My black shimmers and still catches attention.
It’s been kissed and hugged
Yet still selfishly wants more
My black is hopeful
I’ve had a freedom that was honestly free
I’ve lived in a time when my black was OK.”
Check out these leggings! I think this is pretty gross! They are period stained leggings. These leggings are meant to celebrate a woman’s menstrual cycle. The leggings were being advertised by the American apparel company Poprageous. But you can rest easy. Upon doing more research it was apparently an April Fools day prank by the company. Well in my opinion,prank or not it’s still pretty disgusting. And what type of demented mind what create such a thing. If you assumed it was an European..you would be correct.
Following Trump’s inauguration a series of Women’s Marches occurred throughout North America. The protests erupted to preserve the female liberties seemingly threatened by a “conservative” president who boasted of sexually assaulting women. As a female, I empathize and even support the initiatives that foment this March. However, although a woman, I know that I am inevitably black first. Thus, I can’t help but feel that by supporting the women’s march is to support the very means of my oppression.
On my a tri-weekly journey to a previous job, I recall seeing a number of protestors outside of Planned Parenthood at the wee hours of the morning seeking to shame female patrons. One protestor stood out from the others—an elderly white man surely north of seventy-five. He stood hunched over, holding an oaktag with a message written in ballpoint pen. I did not bother to read the poster, but judging by the stoic expression on his face, he was there to cast the stones of white male privilege onto the female body. Standing at the intersectionality of race and gender, the black woman knows this gaze all to well. While the literal gaze casts itself onto the black female body countless places throughout North America, the figurative gaze consumes black femininity in its entirety. The women’s march solely speaks to the “woman” component of this gaze, eliminating the most defining characteristic of black female identity.
Reproductive rights in general proves controversial to the black female trajectory. A quick glance at history reveals that the black female endured sheer deprivation in terms of reproductive rights—her body used as means for mayoral economic franchisement. White women too encompassed an existence that also regarded them as property, however their fair skin warranted privileges denied to the black female body. These exclusive liberties afforded to white women illustrate the concept of “woman” as a privilege solely applicable to non-male whites. Consider the phrasing “black” woman. The label “Black woman” illustrates that black female intersectionality separates black females from the term’s initial meaning. For any “woman” of another marginalized faction, their race or ethnicity always precedes the term woman—proving their genitals deem them female but their race and ethnicity is first and foremost. Femininity is also a privilege extended exclusively to non-male whites. This exclusivity persists as the black female body only earns femininity when adopting western aesthetics and behavior.
Given the exclusivity of the term “woman,” I find it quite disturbing that white women ( and other oppressed groups) call on the black women for support in their times of distress, yet alienate the black female body when their children, brothers and fathers lay slain on the streets or untagged in the morgue. How many white women “said her name” after Sandra Bland was murdered? How many white women were overtly outraged after the Trayvon Martin verdict was rendered?
To take a trip down memory lane, how many white female feminists supported Tawana Brawley in her 1988 trial? If autonomy over the female body is right every woman deserves- why was their no feminist congregation when this young, black girl was sexually assaulted by a number of white men? The answer is simple. Issues that engage both blackness and femininity become “black” issues instantaneously. This fact reveals that feminism is simply not built to encompass intersectional identities and thereby is not equipped to extinguish black female disenfranchisement.
It seems that former President Barack Obama’s victory disgruntled feminists, who supported this victory as long as it was a symbol of the feminist victory to follow. It seems feminists felt that history would repeat itself. Namely, black male voting privilege preceded white female voting liberties. Thus, feminists deemed Clinton’s victory inevitable following Obama’s 2008 victory. Dr. Angela Davis expressed a similar sentiment in the following excerpt from her book Women, Race and Class,
“The representative women of the nation have done their uttermost for the last thirty years to secure freedom for the negro; and as long as he was lowest in the scale of being, we were willing to press his claims, but now, as the celestial gate to civil rights is sIowly moving on its hinges, it becomes a serious question whether we had better stand aside and see ‘Sambo’ walk into the kingdom first.” (Davis 70)
Now that it seems that the black collective has something that the white female collective does not, the bells of white privilege right loudly under the veil of feminism.
Feminism functions to afford white women the same liberties as white men. The main component of these liberties is racism—deeming black female participation in any feminist activity injurious. Thus, to participate in a woman’s march as a black woman is to march along to the stagnant beat of white supremacy. For the black woman is a queen, but to the western world she will never truly be a woman.
Article written by C.C. Saunders