In this country if you are a woman then you will undoubtedly experience sexism in your lifetime. You may find yourself faced with sexual abuse, struggle with getting your voice heard, and even have to fight for your freedom of choice. If you are a black woman in America you will feel all of this pressure as well as something separate but equally as debilitating, this being racism.
Racism is a sickness that has plagued the African American population since their forefather’s were brought to this country in chains. The idea that the black people of this country are inferior to the white dominant race, regardless of class, is one that is completely ingrained into American culture. The Civil rights movement brought about great change and granted justice to those who had been victims of discrimination. However, just because you write something on paper and stamp it with an official stamp, doesn’t mean that everyone will change their behavior. Racism is handed down from parent to child and passed around nonchalantly between friends. This is also how sexism works. Negative concepts and stereotypes about women maintain their existence through the individuals who mindlessly pass them on.
So there it is. Black women get hit twice, and possibly the hardest of any race in this country. There are age old stereotypes that are still very much alive today. Stereotypes that continue to affect our judgment and force black women into labeled boxes. among these labels there is Jezebel, which represents the idea that black women are overtly sexual and uninhibited. We can still see this today just by flipping on BET. Next time you watch a popular rap video notice the women who slide up and down the poles, the ones whom they refer to as “video hoes.” These are your modern day Jezebels. Rappers are using sexist images of money hungry scantily clad women which will then influence white society to assume, “Oh this is how all black women must be.” Does that seem fair? No, because it’s not. Often times sexism becomes the starting point for racist ideas. Then there’s Mammy, a woman that represents everyone’s aunt, grandmother, as well as economic depression. Her image can be seen stamped on Aunt Jemima advertisements. The plastic pancake syrup bottle has even been molded to match her full figured body. Today Mammy has become the “big ghetto momma” on the block that no one wants to mess with. Finally, there’s Sapphire. This cliche is portrayed countlessly on Mad TV and SNL skits. She is the woman who will rip out the weave of another and swing it around her head like some sort of battle prize. In other words, she’s a bitch.
These historical labels are ridiculous. By perpetuating any of these stereotypes we are doing a direct injustice to black women. Because these negative ideas have remained such a huge part of our culture for an immense amount of time they can become expectations that women have no choice but to fulfill. We, as women must do everything in our power to support one another. I know we can, because as a collective we are powerful. No one deserves to receive negativity from all sides, to be pushed around and beaten down. If you say that black women and girls are “hard” then why don’t you ask yourself why, or even if they actually are all this way. Black trulyis beautiful, but beyond that we are all beautiful. Regardless of our skin, eyes, size, or the texture of our hair. We have a duty to break our friends and sisters from these steely cages. We must uplift every woman in order to uplift ourselves. In the end, no matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all beautiful because we are women, and being a woman is a great thing.