Monday, December 29, 2008

A Black Man Or A White Woman

So I've been thinking again...yeah, I know this means trouble.  One of the things this election answered was a question we have been socially been asking for a very long time.  Prior to this historic campaign, we quite frequently asked the question of whether a woman, or a black man would be the first to become president of the United States.  Well the answer of course, as we all know is a black man.

What this question got me thinking about, was the hierarchy that we were  displaying.  When we used the universal term of 'woman' and specified race for male, what we were indeed doing was constructing womanhood of consisting only of white women.   This was an erasure of WOC.

As happy as I am to see Barack in the top job, there is a part of me that as a WOC that wonders when our day will come.  We are marginalized both by feminism and the black civil rights movement.  Our voices are silenced unless they can be put to use to serve our supposed masters.  We are mocked mercilessly regardless of our accomplishments. 

As I begin to think about the ways that we must socially push for change, I cannot help but realize that it is time for WOC to start to dream our own dreams.  We must begin to move away from those that seek to marshal our forces not for the greater good, but for their own selfish reasons.

As I think about the ways in which race was discussed in this campaign what is  glaringly obvious, is that while there were some that were intent on turning this into a debate between black and white, the specific issues of black women were routinely ignored.  Why were we not talking about the high rate of domestic abuse? Why were we not talking about how to help single mothers?  What about the ways in which black women are routinely constructed as  angry, in an attempt to silence us?

Yes, what happens to a black man is important because they are our brothers, fathers, friends and lovers, but we have our own identity that is separate and unique from them.  We have real issues that need to be addressed and not paid lip service to so that black men and white women can claim to be progressive. 

White women are important because we can share bonds of sisterhood,  but their need to achieve equality with white men often means that we are pushed to side.  The ability to play the race card often adds a poisonous venom to our interactions.  They remind us that we are women but conveniently forget the historical racial imbalance that has often placed them on a pedestal, with us licking their boots like mongrel dogs.  Ain't I a woman indeed.

Those that seek to be our allies are often to busy working their own agendas to really make a concerted effort to push for the elevation of black women.  As we stand on the sidelines and watch  black men and white women progress, we are often left picking up their remnants and bottling our collective rage, as once again we are left to play nursemaid.  We are living and breathing teats to the world.

Don't be angry, don't revolt we are told, as they attempt to bind us to the servitude that serves their agenda.  Just enough platitudes are offered to ensure they we show up for the photo-op so that they claim inclusivity.  Look there is our token black woman, of course we care about them.  Lord how you do lie, because your actions speak louder than words.  We need to scream to be heard and even as the muzzle is slipped over our mouths, we struggle on.  We need to fight to be seen and even as our hands are bound, we struggle on.

To be a black woman is not an easy thing, but black men and white women are not interested in our stories.  To focus on us they would have to be honest about the ways in which they daily wrong us in their quest to achieve equality with the white male patriarchy.  To look us in the eye they would have to acknowledge the pain that they have caused by their wilful ignorance and power hungry quest. 

Black men speak about Plymouth Rock landing on us, well it bounced and bounced on black women, damn near rendering our bones to dust.  White women speak of their corseted, highly bound lives, while we stand naked before the world, that sees nothing but a damp, dank hole, available for fucking.  Partnership, family, allies and love they tell us; well give me the time to beat the pain and anger from my chest.  Give me the time to heal and to feel whole. 

It is time to change the conversation.  No more bending our backs under the hot noon day sun so that others may reap the benefits of our labours.  We are black women and we have survived though the world has wished us dead.  We are black women and in us lies the strength of nations.  Yes nations.  We are black women and all the wonders of heaven and earth live and flourish in our soul. 

White women and black men we see you.  You may believe that this game of trading our bodies for gain is something that we will universally submit to; but black womanhood has become tired of crying vinegar tears.  You may call us angry, criticize our femininity, continually seek to assert your social power over us, but we shall not fade away beneath the desert sun. Like the phoenix we shall rise, and rise, and rise.  Today I have found something worthy of my strength and my will - black womanhood.

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