I’ve always felt that Black women are the footstools of America. Both figuratively and literally, it was on the backs of the Black woman that this country has prospered. We have bred children like cattle to be ripped from our womb’s and sold off to the highest bidder, our breast milk has sustained Massa’s (Slave master) own babies, we have plowed fields in the sweltering Southern sun, we have been sexually objectified, abused and misused. Since the Black woman’s introduction into America, she has been dehumanized.
Many would even differentiate the Black feminist from the White feminist. The entitlement and privilege that automatically comes with being White dims in comparison to the long- suffering Negro woman. Since our introduction in this country, we’ve been known as little more than our Slave master’s Bed Wench, often bearing his children immediately or atleast his sexual outlet after puberty. It is a well known fact that many wives of plantation owners overlooked their husbands having sex with his slave girls. Rape, incest and mis-education have been long standing traditions that were introduced in the Black family and embedded in our people for many generations. As you can see, the effects are still running rampart today.
I once watched a video of a female student being slammed by her school police officer. Reports note that the girl was being disobedient and refused to have her cell phone confiscated by her teacher. The teacher then called the principle, who dispatched the officer to “help”. What happened next was not warranted and totally shocking. As you watch this adult man slam this girl’s body like a ragdoll, keep in mind that she was not physically combative and all she did was refuse to give the authorities her phone. Teens (of any race) are not exactly the easiest to deal with. At most, they should have sent her to the office, called her parents and given her detention! The punishment did not fit the crime!
As I consider why SO MUCH FORCE was used on this young lady, I can look at the glaring facts. She is a young Black girl so the officer probably dehumanized her in such a way that his prejudice is glaringly obvious. He may or may not be very friendly toward the Blacks in the school, but that does not mean he regards them as people with feelings anywhere near the level at which he’s capable. Think about how some of us walk past the homeless, we disregard beggars or we simply try to avoid eye contact with a street person. You do not necessarily hate them, but you’ve been programmed by your parents, the media and your experiences to see them as sub-human and inferior.
I now know that while I am teaching my Black son proper etiquette to SURVIVE an encounter with a police officer, I also need to introduce the same kind of conversation to my Black daughter. Our children should be groomed to have respect for authority, but also question it. Because of the color of their skin, they should be equipped with SURVIVAL TACTICS. I’d rather my daughter hand over her cell phone than be slammed to the ground by a full grown man (a police officer), I’d rather my daughter leave a pool party than be sat on by a full grown man (a police officer), I’d rather my daughter simply put out her cigarette than be lawfully killed by a full grown man (a police officer). I am not advising that we teach our daughters to become ultra submissive in the face of authority. I am hoping that you teach your baby how to come out of a routine traffic stop with her LIFE!
If you do have a minority daughter or simply a young girl that you care about, it is time to have the HARD conversation. Show her the graphic videos below if she is of age. The object is not to instill fear, but arm your girls’ with knowledge. Eloquently explain to her how the male (White) authority figures around her may actually perceive her and her Blackness. Allow her to empathize with her ancestors pain so that she may understand that the hatred is not personal on either side. It was taught and simply so deeply ingrained that many do not realize such visceral emotions against Blacks are lying dormant in them until they are faced to face with a Black person.
Teach her how NOT to be on the receiving end of an explosive authority figure and most importantly show her what to do when she inevitably comes face- to- face with seething hatred. One of my favorite pieces on how White America perceived/perceives the Black Woman is Soujourner Truth’s 1852 “Ain’t I A Woman” speech given during the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. Though born into slavery, Truth was able to explain the glaring differences she had faced as a Black Emancipated Slavewoman from her White female peers. I would encourage ALL to read the speech in its entirety here.
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
(June 2017) Georgetown Law published a study that proves that Black girls ages 5-14 are viewed as less innocent and more adult-like that their White peers. See it here.
This article first appeared on Naja Hall’s personal blog, MissNaja.com.
I do hope these tools will get a very necessary conversation started with your daughter. Let’s discuss, what resources will you introduce as teaching tools?
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