As a Woc I find myself often being pulled in two different directions. White women often try to play the sisterhood game and remind me why feminism is important. Black men are quick to remind me of the racism that we are subject to, as a reason why I should identify with civil rights movements, and or equity projects. Both white women and black men always seem to approach with their hands out ( in friendship they claim) when actuality they are both looking for something. It is never a neutral request, it is always a demand for solidarity, despite the fact that declaring so may be counter productive to my needs as a WOC.
I started this blog, so that I could finally say my peace. I had been lurking in the blogosphere for a while without commenting. Now when I throw my two cents out there, I find that the response is always the same. Black patriarchy will not own their privilege, and white women will not own their racism. Neither party is willing to shut the hell up and listen for two minutes. Yet they want me to be of use. Yep I can just see myself making copies, coffee, filing, you know the important support staff role without any power or an actual voice. That is exactly the role that black women have been playing in both movements since their inception. Now there have been a few notable black women who have been strong enough, to be forces to be reckoned with. They are the exception, rather than the rule. Most of us just end up juggling identity politics trying desperately not to be swallowed whole.
Hear me when I say that WOC are not divisible. I am not more black, than I am a woman. Both are essential to my identity and as such, expecting me to privilege one over the other for your benefit is selfish, and cruel. The guilt baiting tactics have got to stop. My body does not represent your proving ground. If I choose to speak out about a particular subject, that does not mean that other is somehow less important in my life. Racism may be my issue today, but sexism may take center stage tomorrow.
I love black men most unashamedly. You are my brothers, father, sons, and friends. Do not abuse this love by making sexist comments because we have the same culture. Using words like ‘ho, bitch etc are just plain hurtful. Expecting me to sacrifice myself continually so that you may achieve success does not uplift us a race, it uplifts black men. You cannot refer to black women as ball busting shrews, and expect us to continue following along faithfully like obedient dogs, begging to be kicked, and beat down again. We share a culture, but that gives you no right to exploit my labor, sexuality, body, womanhood or the essence of who I am for your amusement, or to enhance your self pride. There are definite issues in this world when it comes to racism, but they will not be solved by “othering” black women. Creating your own version of patriarchy does not uplift you, it only gives injustice, and bitterness to the ones that bore you.
White women have been my friends, and allies. I have cried with you, and shared many instances of intimacy. We have laughed, and danced in celebration. But our friendship does not give you the right to silence me. I have something to say, something you might even find valuable, if you could take the time out to listen. You do not represent all women despite what the media has told you. When Betty Friedan was writing the Feminine Mystique she certainly did not have black women in mind. You see, we have always had to work outside of the home, and you in particular should know that, as we have been your cooks, housekeepers, and nannies. Even today when you rush off to your womens conferences it is by enlarged women of color that you have employed as domestic workers. It is our labor that provides you with the freedom to pursue your feminist agenda. You want us to rail about injustice when a woman is kidnapped or otherwise abused, but where are you when black girls, and women go missing? Where are your screams for media coverage? Why don’t our assaults seem to carry the same kind of weight? Perhaps Lacie Peterson is the only pregnant woman to be killed by her husband? Have I missed something? Do black pregnant mothers not get assaulted to? We are united, and yet so unequal.
I know that even as I am typing furiously away, it is the equivalent of blowing kisses into the wind. Both sides are too myopic to see themselves as the exploiting soul crushing silencers that they really are. Both are so busy confronting the evils of white male oppression, that they have ignored the ways in which they have become oppressors. Well the milk stand is closed, and mammy is done serving. Don’t tell me that you can identify with me, or understand where I am coming from, because you can’t. Until you spend a day living in the body of a WOC, you have no idea what it is to occupy the bottom rung of the racial, and social hierarchy. Stop playing a tug of war with my body as though I am some possession that can be owned, and trained. I don’t want to be your token representation of diversity. I am not some trump card that can be played at the end of the day. I know your game, I have seen it played, and you will just have to excuse me because I think I would rather get my ball, and go home.