Caught Between Worlds

 

As an African-American,  I often feel caught between worlds. I grew up in a mostly white neighborhood, attended a predominately white school and earned my undergraduate degree from a Predominately White Institution. As a child, I always felt like an outsider or an other. Part of me longed to be around people who looked like me, to be accepted as normal, to have a support network to go to. I often felt ugly being one of the few Black girls in my  social group.

I had to socialize, knowing that I would always be seen as an outsider, I knew I wouldn’t get asked to dance or asked to join exclusive clubs. The turning point came when I went to apply for a summer job and was told by the (white) manager that they weren’t currently hiring, only to later be told by my white friend, that the manager “kept hiring all these graduating seniors.” I realized that it didn’t matter that I went a nice, prep school, it didn’t matter that I did well in school, it didn’t matter how “articulate,” I was…to some people, all they saw when they looked at me was my skin color and all of the negative stereotypes associated with it.

I longed for a safe space where I could be more than just  a stereotype, where I could be seen for who I was.  This brings me to my tough choice.

I am planning to begin my graduate studies soon. I applied to a Historically Black College University (HBCU) and I also applied to a predominately white institution (PWI). I got accepted into the PWI first. My mother wanted me to attend the PWI because she feels that it is a renowned institution, that offers a great program, which will allow me to obtain “prestigious,” and gainful employment after I complete the program.

Although I like what the program has to offer, going into another PWI is not my ideal.

By the time that I got the acceptance letter from the HBCU, I had already accepted the offer from the PWI. While the program at the HBCU is excellent as well, it’s not as closely aligned with my career goals and it’s also a longer program, whereas the program at PWI is a fast track program, which appeals to me. However, the PWI will not offer me the same experience as the HBCU, I will again be relegated to being “other” a “minority,” and always feeling like people aren’t seeing me for me.

Now, I feel caught between two worlds. I want so badly to go to the HBCU and for once be amongst people who see me for who I am as an individual. I don’t want to be looked at as an other, I want to be seen as an equal.

I also feel guilt because I believe that the only way Black people can have equal opportunities is to have our own sustainable, independent Black communities. A large part of building a community entails supporting the institutions, supporting the businesses and educating youth in that community. So, I want to support an institution that will bring business into the Black community.

I feel that I had to make an unfair choice.

Why can’t Black people have our own safe, sustainable and independent community where we can be represented fairly, where we don’t have  to deal with job discrimination and unfair policing, poor schools and wealth disparity? Where we don’t have to feel caught between two worlds?…

 

Caught Between Worlds

The Media LOVES Aggressive Black Women

 

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Social media is cruel to Black women. Not only do we have to deal with demeaning videos from our own race of men, but there is a slew of videos that portray Black women in a very negative manner.

We have people who post videos of a Black woman fighting or basically being confrontational and the video will get a lot of hits and trend on social media. I am referring to the video of the Black woman in San Francisco, who touched a white student’s hair and arm because he was wearing dreadlocks. She accused him of appropriating and felt entitled to touch him because of that. This video has been making the rounds and some people are using it as evidence that Black women are just well…masculine, confrontational and too damn difficult. People are also saying the video is an example of “reverse racism.”

My position is this, the Black woman in the video was wrong period. You don’t put your hands on someone just because you disagree with what they’re wearing or what their hair looks like. I don’t care if you think it’s appropriation or not. She crossed the line.

But, when someone posts a video of a Black woman that is negative, why is there a double standard? See, a Black woman being confrontational will get a lot of hits because it conforms to the “sapphire stereotype,” but when we have videos of asian women being aggressive or white women being aggressive, they barely get any hits and seldom will they trend or go viral on social media. Why is that?

By the way…Bet you never even heard this story huh? 

You can have 50 Black women who are dignified, respectful and minding their business and one Black woman who is being confrontational and the one confrontational black woman will be upheld as a representation of Black women, while the 50 other Black women are ignored. Why? Because of confirmation bias and stereotypes.

People love to portray Black women as emasculating, violent and they love to attack our womanhood. Even though Black women have a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds, we are portrayed as all being the same, all unworthy of respect and protection because we’re all supposed to be angry, aggressive, sapphires.

While other women, like white women women, have the privilege of being understood to be individuals, black women are viewed through a lens of stereotypes. The one aggressive white woman will be viewed as an exception, the one aggressive black woman will be viewed as just being a “typical black woman.”

Notice, if a Black woman touches a white man’s hair and arm, it becomes a national trending topic, but if a white man chases a Black woman with a machete, it doesn’t get the same response and the white man will be portrayed as just being a lunatic, a lone wolf. Not the case with Black women.

The Black woman who got shot while holding a fake gun, is receiving less attention on social media, than this story of a black woman merely touching a white man. No collective outrage, no mass protests. But a Black woman touching a white man’s arm and dreadlocks…is a trending topic.

I just don’t get it.

With that being said, I do not believe Black women are any more “masculine,” or “aggressive” than other races. I do believe that because some Black women have little to no support, sometimes we are forced to go into defense mode, which is what we’re seeing with the #Blacklivesmatter protests. We see an overwhelming representation of Black women who are out on the streets trying to defend their sons and brothers… as a side note, unfortunately, sisters and daughters aren’t really mentioned much during these protests.

So this brings me to my final point.

Black women, we need to be careful…

I know that the majority of us are not confrontational, I know that we’re all individuals with different personalites. I know that there is a double standard that upholds the negative stereotypes about us, while white and other non-black women are afforded the dignity of being individuals.

I know that the majority of Black women simply care about the safety of our families and communities and that’s why we’re out there protesting, putting ourselves on the lines and that’s why we’re in self defense mode often. I get it…but just know there are people out here who hate us, they don’t recognize our womanhood, they don’t recognize our individuality and all they see when they look at us is stereotype, after stereotype, after stereotype. You can be peacefully protesting in dignity and because our womanhood is not recognized in the same way that other women’s is. ..some people very well may feel justified in acting aggressively to us…and sometimes they may very well attack and attack and attack and we won’t get the same support that other women will get .

People are inundated with a barrage of angry black women imagery in the media and in social media and this makes them feel justified in degrading and misrepresenting us.

So, I think Black women need to start worrying about ourselves and understanding how dangerous this sapphire stereotype really is.

We must be very careful.

These days, there are people who will not hesitate to hit or attack us. If you’re out at these events and a conflict ensues with a male of another race or even of our own race… I don’t care how tough you think you are, as a female 95% of the time, if that man hits or attacks you, he is going to do more damage to you, than you would be able to do him, just because biological differences favor men when it comes to physical strength.

If you are out at a protests or on the streets and  a conflict ensues with a female (a non-black female), just know that the majority of the time, she’ll be portrayed as the victim and you will be portrayed as the aggressor, even if it was the other way around. All she has to do is cry…and the world will take her side.

So be careful Black women, be careful out here on the streets and before you go out there in the streets and putting yourselves on the line, just ask this question… “who has our backs? Who is supporting us?”

Will people by as sympathetic to us if and WHEN we get assaulted in the streets while protesting and defending ourselves?

 

 

 

 

 

The Media LOVES Aggressive Black Women

Black Women Aren’t Valued Because Black People Are Poor…

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Sometimes, I just get enraged when I think about the way that Black people, especially Black women are mistreated.I’ll be fine and then something will trigger my anger, it can be a news report, a book, a movie, a comment muttered in public, a racial slur…and I’ll become so angry that it feels like I’m burning on the inside. It’s not a pleasant experience at all.

Yesterday, I posted the story about the Black woman who was shot by police, while holding a fake gun and I mentioned the lack of coverage by media outlets and the lack of support from the Black community.

Black people are not valued and Black women are even less valued. I believe the reason Black people are not valued is because Black people do not have any economic infrastructure. We are dependent on white (or asian) people for too much and we give our money away too eagerly.

Black people are a poor group, as a collective we are a poor racial group. We are more likely to be poor and more likely to be in prison. We do not control enough business, we do not control banks, we do not control media and our neighborhoods are colonized. Even middle class Black people spend most of their money outside the Black community. Even the hair care industry is controlled largely by non-black people. Although, since natural hair has made  comeback, more Black small business owners are seeing a boom in business. However, how long will it be before white corporations infiltrate the natural hair care industry and try to peddle us products and drive small black companies out of business.

I make a conscious effort to purchase my natural hair products from black owned companies like oyin handmade and Naturalicious, but unfortunately white companies are already starting to take notice of the natural hair tend and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before massive cosmetics companies buy out and overtake small, black businesses. Sheamoisture, recently sold half their company to a white corporation. I wish I could say that Black people would support Black business, but it doesn’t seem so.

I hear so many negative remarks from Black people about black business being “ghetto” or not wanting to support a business that is owned by a Black person. Unfortunately, many Black people aspire to belong in white society. That means living in a white neighborhood, going to white schools, belonging to white clubs and fraternities, marrying white people and often times as soon as Black people earn some money, the first thing we do is move to the white neighborhoods (even though often times we’re not wanted there) send our kids to white schools, join white organizations and now a days some Black people aspire to marry white people not because they’re so madly in love, but because they’re indoctrinated with the belief that anything white is superior. I am sure we can all think of some Black men (and Black women) who have this mentality.

Consequently, Black people are poor because we don’t support black business, generally speaking and we don’t conserve our money and invest in our communities.

So of course when you’re poor, you have less power and influence. SO, Black women aren’t valued because we’re at the bottom of the economic totem pole, so we don’t control our media representation (which is why some people view us as unattractive, asexual and inferior mammies/jezebels), we don’t control the prison system (which is why we’re going to prison at a faster rate than any group), we don’t control the education system (which is why so many black children are failing in school).

As long as we have weak economic infrastructure and as long as we continue to uphold white supremacy, Black women won’t be valued and when we get beaten up by police officers, when we get killed, when we get trafficked, when we go missing, no one will care or very few will.

So what do I as a Black woman do, I deeply resent this system, yet what can I do? If I am not valued as a Black woman, within my own community, if Black men are missing by and large from the community because of the racist prison industrial complex, where does that leave me? Where does it leave other Black women?

Do we keep fighting and marching with little to no support?…or do we live our own lives? This is a deep conflict within me. I feel like there’s so little support for Black women in the black community that…and I feel incredibly guilty for saying this…sometimes I just wonder if it’s worth even trying, why not just settle marry whatever race of man and live in his world, his community and let it all go.

But, for one thing, there is a part of me, that if I married a non-black, namely white man, would feel deeply resentful of his privilege and I know that I would never be fully accepted into his world and I also know that I could never truly disconnect myself from my Black people.

So, what do I do?

Does anyone else feel this way?

 

 

 

 

Black Women Aren’t Valued Because Black People Are Poor…

Mass Outrage in Black Community Over Killing of Black Woman By Police Officer…

 

OR NOT…

In case you missed it, you may not have heard about it, but a Black woman was killed by police, while holding a fake gun. The woman was allegedly in a verbal conflict with another person, when the fake gun was pulled out, when police saw her waving the gun they shot her.

This case seems somewhat similar to Tamir Rice, who was a young Black boy who was shot while playing with a toy gun. I am sure it’s just a matter of time before the Black woman is blamed for this. However, remember when Dylan Roof murdered 9 people, he was safely apprehended and treated to a burger lunch by the police officers… when the Aurora movie theater shooting occurred, the suspect was safely apprehended and brought to trial…when a black woman holds a fake gun, she is shot on the spot.

You may also not have heard about this story. A black woman died in a South Carolina prison, due to dehydration. She was taken from her hospital bed and placed in prison for failure to pay a fine for shoplifting. This Black woman had been suffering from gastroenteritis when she was taken by police from the hospital. If you’ve ever had gastroenteritis, you’ll know that it’s a bitch. I had it in February and I ended up in the Emergency Room because I was so dehydrated. If you’re not careful, you can lose a lot of fluids from this illness and it does kill a certain number of people each year, so…

when this woman was deprived of fluids in prison, she was effectively sentenced to death… for not paying a fine for shoplifting. (Side note: If she was poor does it really make sense to be made to pay a fine for shoplifting?.. Maybe community service would have made more sense. Don’t know)

The death of this woman is far from unique, many Black women die in prisons, unfortunately. Not only that, but Black women are going to prison at double the rate of white women.

Most of the Black women in prison are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. One infamous example is the story of a Black woman whose husband was selling drugs. He gave some money to his wife, which she used to buy groceries and household necessities. The police arrest her husband and sentence him to 15 years (after he plea bargained), they arrest his wife and sentence her to 30 years for conspiracy. All she did was use the money he gave her to buy groceries, but she got more time than her husband did. By the way, the drug laws in the US are inherently racist any way.

This is the world we live in, y’all.

Don’t expect mass outrage or a flood of support from our community nor our black brethren. We have no allies.

It’s bad for Black people, especially Black women now, but depending on who gets elected, it could get worse, so be prepared.

Take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Get a passport, learn another language, have something to protect yourself (mace, pepper spray, legal firearm.) start an emergency savings fund, always keep a first aid kit and get out of dodge bag for every member of your house on hand.

I have all of these things, so I take this very seriously. Protect yourself, no one has our backs.

 

In other news, there was an attack in Brussels today about 186 people were injured and 34 dead.

 

 

Mass Outrage in Black Community Over Killing of Black Woman By Police Officer…

India Kager

Sighs…

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india-kagerIndia Kager (1988-2015), an unarmed Black American woman, mother of two, was gunned down by police in Virginia Beach, Virginia on September 5th 2015. In February 2016 her mother put up a tearful video on Facebook asking for justice:

“I can’t even tell you how bad this hurts …”

The police will not even say who did it.

On September 5th 2015, Kager was driving home her boyfriend, Angelo Perry. In the back seat was her four-month-old baby, Roman. Just before midnight they stopped at a 7-Eleven store at 2093 Lynnhaven Parkway. Police officers appeared. In 15 seconds they fired 30 bullets. The police say Perry shot first. No police officer was injured. She and Perry died in a hail of bullets. Her baby lived.

The police:

“[Angelo Perry] was a person of interest in a homicide case. And we did know that he was armed – we knew that…

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India Kager

Classic Black Beauties, Hollywood & Show Business

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There were many Black beauties throughout the golden era of Hollywood (1930s-1960s), however Hollywood had strict racial codes that restricted opportunities for Black actresses and entertainers. Many Black actresses and entertainers were restricted to stereotypical roles, such as the mammy or Jezebel.

Black actresses, such as Dorothy Dandridge, who starred in Carmen Jones, and Hattie McDaniel, who received an academy award for portraying Mammy in Gone with the Wind, both had limited opportunities in Hollywood.

The limited opportunities led some to write and produce all Black films, such as Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. These films gave opportunities for work to Black actors, but they also adhered to some of the stereotypes that were and continue to be prevalent in Hollywood.

It wouldn’t be until the 1970s that Black people would produce more films, starring Black people. The Blaxpoitation era would usher in a host of opportunities for Black actors.

Classic Black Actresses:

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Dorothy Dandridge
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Lena Horne
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Pearl Bailey

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Louise Franklin
Louise Franklin
Theresa Harris
Theresa Harris
Nina Mae Mckinney
Nina Mae Mckinney

From 1922-1945, Hollywood adhered to Hays Code or the Motion Picture Production code, which provided “moral guidelines,” that films were expected to adhere to. For example, it was forbidden to show race mixing in film, however some films defied these codes, such as the Imitation of Life. The Imitation of Life(1934) tells the story of a light-skinned (mixed-race) Black woman who tries to pass as white. Although Imitation of Life endorses both the tragic mulatto and mammy stereotype, it was considered incredibly progressive for its’ time. The movie was remade in the 1950s.

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Many of these Black actresses and entertainers never had their chance to shine on film because of stereotypes. In the present day, in some ways things have gotten better for Black people in Hollywood, but in many other ways they have not. The mammy, jezebel and sapphire stereotypes are still very prevalent in Hollywood and Black actors still tend to only receive accolades for portraying stereotypes, such as Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball and Denzel Washington in Training Day.

Do you like to watch classic black films? What is your favorite? 

Classic Black Beauties, Hollywood & Show Business