I was reading topix when I came across a questionnaire. Today's question was which race has the most beautiful women.
Surprise, surprise look who made the top of the list. Even in an anonymous poll black and indigenous women end up finishing last with white women on top. We're colour blind and post-racial right? Is it any wonder that top models featured in magazines are largely white unless there is some sort of ethnic feature (think Italian Vogue) This is the second example of the erasure of our beauty that I have seen this week.
I have constantly said that black women are considered the anti-woman. It is only when men want a quick fuck, or white women want a diversity representative, that our femininity is recognized. If I were to get "angry" about this obvious erasure, that would make me that much more unappealing right. Perhaps I should die like Sara Bartman did.
When I see polls like this I think of Sara and realize that we have not moved far from the pain that she lived with. We are still an oddity to be rejected, demeaned, and downgraded. Our bodies are critiqued, judged and then found lacking. From our nappy hair that will not be tamed, to our curvy figures that are deemed licentious and hyper sexual by nature.
Whiteness cannot see us as beautiful because it would have to acknowledge not only our womanhood, but our humanity. There is not a legacy of tolerance and acceptance for WOC in western countries. We have had our sheroes, but they have risen in spite of and not because of western culture. We have had to find strength when it seemed there was nothing to go on for.
I wonder how many think that Michelle Obama is ugly? They have already referred to her as "full figured", drawn her with an afro and referred to her as angry. Let us not forget the "African queen bust" that was supposedly a tribute to her. During the campaign she was shuttled to the side for fear that she would effect Barracks chances of becoming president, even though most blacks viewed her as an asset to his campaign. Even today as the descendent of slaves becomes first lady the media refers to her as gal.
Look at all of these attacks, and Michelle Obama has class privilege to protect her. What must the life of a poor black woman be like? Reagan let the world know he thought that they were all welfare queens and that social construction has not changed all of these years later. As much as white women may deal with sexism, they have no understanding of how painful and heartbreaking it can be when it is married to racism.
White women are demeaned because they are women, while we are not even understood as women. Our bodies are deemed consumable and disposable. This manifests in high rates of rape, domestic violence, poverty, and unemployment. Globally there is no woman more abused than the black woman. From Harlem to the Congo we are persecuted and when we cry foul and shame upon our abusers we are "playing the race card," or playing the "victim card". To legitmize our pain would be to admit the systemic inequalities of racism and sexism. Our blackness is used as a foil to justify the inhumane treatment that we live with.
White women would like us to join them in sisterhood to fight the onslaught of patriarchy; but they cannot understand that the problems faced by black women extend way beyond sexism. They do not want to see because they are also guilty of oppressing us. White privilege is something many are loathe to admit to. How can we embrace you as our sister when so often you have acted like an enemy to push your own agenda? How can we see you as equal when you have frequently insisted that we shine your pedestals?
White women have their beauty as power, and their racial privilege Each aspect of their privilege comes at the cost of the human dignity of black women. When I look at surveys like the above, I think of every single degradation we must deal with. I think of the media that cannot be bothered to report when we go missing, but is more than happy to call us prostitutes when our bodies are discovered.
Sojourner once asked ain't I a woman, and her daughters know that even today the answer is no. It will be continue to be no until we dismantle all the avenues of privilege. It will continue to be no as long as we chose to determine worth and value by race and gender. Whiteness is not more beautiful; in fact at times it is ugly with fierceness, anger and hatred. The aforementioned are not normally associated with whiteness and yet as black women continue to be erased, raped, marginalized and exploited, how can I use any other descriptors for whiteness?
Whiteness may view us with constructed fear and contempt, but when we see whiteness, we see the sign of the betrayer of humanity, abuser, and thief. Though history is told through the lens of the oppressor, they have not been able to completely eradicate the truth. We do not believe the lies that you have so carefully crafted, for to do so we could not continue to draw breathe on this planet. I know that one day blackness will shine, it must, we are too beautiful, to rich in strength and courage to be eternally denied.
Editors Note: For the purposes of clarification, when I speak of whiteness, I am doing so on an institutional and systemic level rather than on a personal level.