Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Black Girls Are Magic

From yesterday's post, there are a lot of factors that can move you down in the hierarchy. Not being male is a big one of course, and not being white. There is also a specific force of anti-blackness, which puts other non-white colors over black, and favors lighter hues over darker.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on that. There is a lot of information readily available out there. I have referred to different books and articles in the past, and I will do that again. The point that I really want to get to now is that being a black woman is the bottom rung.

That can be an oversimplification, and we'll hit on that a little more soon. For now, it means that white women can abuse black women and black men can abuse black women, and both can feel free to shush complaints because it's in the service of the greater good. Black women must deal with the combined forces of misogyny and anti-blackness. Moya Bailey coined the term "Misogynoir" for this, so researching that would be a good starting point.

Speaking of oversimplification, if you are not an abuser, then it obviously doesn't mean you. However, if you're first response is to argue whether the abuse even happens, or to assert that you are not personally responsible, that does enable the abuse. It's like correcting Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter. Of course all lives matter, but there are enough people who find that black lives matter less that it needs to be addressed.

If the title "Black Girls Are Magic" offends you, well, tomorrow's title will also, but it is missing the point. They need their chance to shine, and there are so many obstacles against them.

Look, I have my girls that I watch out for, and most of them are white. I don't care more about Jazmine and Grace than the others; I can't imagine ranking any of them. I do know that if we get a world where they are not constantly being pushed down, then we also will have stopped pushing down all of the others. I would be really grateful for that.

Or maybe it won't be the end. Maybe we'll find that we still have a ways to go on how we treat the handicapped, or that we have gotten really good in the US but that England still needs work (a lot of my girls are English). I still believe that if we actively take on two such destructive forces - misogyny and anti-blackness - that affect so many people, we will be doing great good. The fastest route to that will be loving and appreciating black women.

So here's some stats:

From 2014, the homicide rate for black women was 4.54 per 100,000, compared to 1.81 for women overall.

In 2010, black women were incarcerated at nearly three times the rate of white women.

The prison pipeline starts in school when they are disciplined more severely than white girls for similar offenses.

Despite that, black women lead all groups in college enrollment. They keep earning more advanced degrees.

Despite that, black women still have a hard time getting hired. They get paid less when they get the jobs. The get harassed over their hair, and being too friendly, and being too unapproachable. So black women are also the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America, creating their own path.

They do this despite being told that they are ugly, and unfeminine, and being shamed for not hating their bodies enough. If they express emotions they are derided for being "angry black women". If they criticize anything, no matter how deserved, they are "mean". No matter how much information there is about food deserts, stress, and the difficulty of weight loss, they are told they want to be fat.

How much more time have sports writers spent focusing on Serena Williams' physical appearance rather than on what an amazing athlete she is?

A lot was made of the casual racism in Daniel Handler's watermelon joke, and it was ignorant, but there is another trend there. If he is such a good friend of Jacqueline Woodson, why couldn't he just celebrate her award and praise her? Why did he have to knock her down in her moment?

It happens all the time, and so many of them do amazing things anyway, but what would they be able to do if they weren't hampered? And for some of the ones who are just hanging on now, what would they be able to do?

And if we had the kind of society where we didn't impede them, or each other, what would that be like?

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