Dear Black Woman: The World May Never Know How Amazing You Are

This has been such a painful, but cathartic, time for me. Right now, racism is on the forefront of this nation’s consciousness. On one hand, this is good; because I have been pushing for some acknowledgment, and more importantly change, of the systemically racist society that I live in. One the other hand, it is painful because so many of my peers are voicing very hurtful and misinformed rhetoric and quite honestly, they are spewing out and not interested at all in listening or learning. So I’ve unfriended quite a few people on my social media channels.

Check out this video for a explanation of ‘systemic racism’

Here’s the thing though. I need to also confront my own bias, racism and prejudice. Full stop. I’ve known for a long time that I have self-esteem issues, but I’ve been scared to admit that a big source of that insecurity comes from me being born Black and female. Black women in this country are taught from a very young age that they are physically ugly, that they are to hold themselves and their Black loved ones to low standards.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is young_black_girl_natural_hair-e1568741152380.jpeg

In spite of that, we somehow prevail. How so?

1. Black Women Believe They Are Worthy

When I met my sons’ father, who is White, I was fine with the fact that he was not as educated as I was; that he did not have the income level or positive career trajectory that makes men attractive by default American standards. And ok, people make mistakes. But today, I balk at the silence from my family, and from my own self, when the red flags began to pop up. The disrespect, the shiftlessness, the stress that just oozed from him. Somehow I subconsciously felt that was all I deserved.

But when my son was born, it was like a light turned on. It was a slow illumination, but once it was on, there was no turning back. Statistics scream at us all night and all day that 72% of Black children in the US are born to unwed Black mothers (my own included). But one statistic that isn’t so widely trumpeted is the one that shows that Black women are the least desirable mate among American men today. And guess what? We already know this.

The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.

Malcolm X

So instead of letting reality bog us down and hanging our heads in shame, we rise. I’ve let go of the stigma and shame of being not being marriageable. We’ve stopped drinking the Kool-Aid that we aren’t good enough by ourselves and that we need to be on a man’s arm to have a life worth living.

2. We Still Procreate

I shudder at the fact that today in the US, there is a 1 in 3 chance that a Black American man will be incarcerated at some point in his life. And while most of Americans can view the police as agents of protection, for Black Americans, they are killers. 2 unarmed Black men are killed by the police in the US every week.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 6213178_man-killed-vid-lounge-job-pic-SPLIT-TN-img.jpg
George Floyd was not the first, and sadly not the last unarmed Black man killed by the police

Even in spite of this, we continue to have our babies (this is not irresponsible — it shows how much faith we have that our people will survive this). The birthrate of Black Americans has been declining, but it is still higher than the rate for White women and is also higher than the nation’s overall average.

So you can’t blink us away….we aren’t going anywhere. And as difficult as it is for single Black mothers, we still take on the challenge of raising Black men…many times on our own.

3. Black Women Strive Towards Betterment — Even When the End Results are Lackluster

About 25% of Black women between the ages of 25-35 have attained a 4-year degree. Even though, with a degree, Black families still fail to close the income gap and Black women still only make $0.61 to every $1.00 that White men make.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is female-graduates.jpg

You also have the issue of the type of jobs that Black women find themselves doing. There is a disproportionate number of us who work in essential positions. We didn’t have the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic; we didn’t have help with childcare; if we were laid off we lost whatever employer benefits we had (benefits that provided for our entire families). And yet we chugged along.

Chart provided by Statista

In spite of being kinda poor myself, I am not sorry or bitter about it. I still feel that in spite of putting me six figures in debt, going to college was the best thing that I could have ever done. Being a college graduate gives me a chance at least to play in the game…even if I don’t come out on top.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter what society says, Black women are amazing. We have so much stacked against us and still, we have survived. Not only have we survived, but we’ve kept fighting. Fighting for ourselves…fighting for our children…fighting for our communities.