Saturday, December 3, 2016

Like a Lion, I Roar: A Day in the Life of a Black Woman

I'm sure some will read that title and turn away, but I will not be silenced. So much has happened and continues to happen in this country, daily with the most recent election, that puts the reality of my identity as a Black woman in a white, patriarchal society into focus. Consider that Trump's cabinet picks so far have been older white men who all in some way supported extremist organizations like the KKK, sought control over women's rights, and/or denounced other races, sexual orientation, and religions.

As a black woman, I face discrimination in regards to both my gender and my skin color (misogynoir) regularly. Some people feel the need to try and silence, minimize, or deflect away from my concerns and struggles because they don't want to be bothered; or they try to tell me "what's best" because they  unquestioningly benefit from a system that would, more often than not, seek to hold me back. To disagree with the status quo and to stand my ground is often to be labeled as "the angry black woman". I have even been referred to as "racist" by a former friend for supporting Black Lives Matter (as if reverse racism were an actual thing.) Certain "friends" over time claimed to empathize with my, and other peers', plight only to fall silent or turn a blind eye when the time for truly standing in solidarity was at hand. I don't have the privilege to turn a blind eye because the struggles of fellow marginalized groups could very well, if not already, become a struggle for me.

I have many friends and acquaintances who feel disquieted with law enforcement, while I know others who refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of said apprehension. All one needs to do is look at the tragic and fatal story of Sandra Bland. African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated and this is in the back of my mind, and many others, now and when I've been pulled over in the past for a law I was told I looked like I *could have* broken.

Time and time again we see Black professional athletes praised for their successful athleticism, but as soon as they do something like peacefully protest racial injustice or embrace their natural hair in all its splendor, they are viewed as "stepping out of line" or "taking it too far" and simply need to "shut up, conform, and play".

In the past few weeks I've seen people say some of the most vile and reprehensible things about, and to other people because they believe it fits the narrative of "making America great again". While I have been on the receiving end of these types of comments, I will continue to stand up for myself and those around me facing the same type of mistreatment.

I will not be silenced.