This is a question that I found on Yahoo Answer:
“I feel so undervalued as a black woman…Im not even complaining or fighting/blaming someone I’m just so upset?I’ve generally been down over the last few years about family and friends but what grinds my confidence and esteem down the most is how undervalued I feel as a black woman.
Everyday I try to go out and live life as I want but ever since I can remember I’m always censoring my behaviour i.e. I’m very gregarious sometimes but I reigned myself in because I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable around me. Because I’ve been doing this I realised I don’t even know who I am, I feel like a stranger to myself. I feel broken, I’m half the person I put out so people don’t judge and half the person and things I want to be. I’m not ghetto I’m in college premed…but I feel like all these things I’ve done are never enough. I feel rubbish when I try to start friendships and get overwhelmed with crippling shyness I feel even worse when I finally pluck up the courage and they don’t want to know. I feel do unattractive, people say I’m pretty I’m 5’7 and slim…but I feel if I were to stop straightening my hair and makeup guys would embarrassedly pass me up over and over and over for the brunette, the blonde, the oriental, the Asian and thank their lucky stars they weren’t lumbered with the black girl..
I feel even more dead inside when I see the videos, TV programmes and blogs of why men, all men want me. I feel stripped of the confidence I was born with when I’m made to feel so un womanly and not sensual…like a rabid dog compared to how delicate women of other ethnicities are. I feel sub human…just about a woman, but with no allure or attractiveness that would make someone choose me forever. And when black men justify how they like other women by discrediting me and stripping me of all my dignity. am I not your mother, your sister, your aunt, your niece. Didn’t you realise your 10 minute rant left me with over 10 years of thinking I was not worthy, not beautiful, ten years plus of…the pain of being alive and being the dregs. I feel empty and broken. Like something damaged on the discount shelf ‘saying hey I’m making it easier for you’ but everyone would prefer to take the tough route to prove how much they want other women. It hurts because I know if I asked the same effort I’d be told I was being high maintenance or causing drama.that effort is less likely to be invested in me and it hurts. I don’t wish I was another ethnicity. But I do wish more people were interested in me and my culture too (I’m of west African heritage) and who I am inside rather than looking at me and telling me who I am.
I’m tired of being made out to be second best especially when out with friends of other ethnicities. But I don’t know if its too late to change this feeling. I want someone to see me as a woman and want to protect me, and be nice to me and have kind words the way they do with Asian, white, latina…I want them to care of my opinion of them. I just want this kind of response to take away this numb feeling and remind me I’m alive Based on your question.”
I can just feel this woman’s pain through her words. Even with all the pain that I can feel in her, a couple of the comments that she received told her that she was ranting or that she had low self esteem.
It can be hard to hear such negative stereotypes again and again, no matter how “strong,” Black women are portrayed as, first and foremost we’re human beings and as human beings, we should be free to express the full range of human emotions.
The woman in the question talks about behaving differently in front of others so that she doesn’t conform to the stereotypes that they have of Black women. This is called “dissemblance.” There is an entire culture of dissemblance when it comes to Black women.
I wrote a blog post about dissemblance here.
I’ve had many experiences where I’ve felt compelled to dissemble so that others will not think badly of me or other Black women and I can safely say that dissemblance has done me more harm than good.
Not being able to express your true feelings, not being able to cry when you’re hurt, not being able to be rightfully angry when you’ve been mistreated damages your soul. I think that dissemblance dehumanizes Black women in the same manner that stereotypes do.
I want Black women to understand that we can’t control how people feel about us. If they want to see us a certain way, they will. It doesn’t matter how many positive counter examples of negative stereotypes they see, they’ll only believe what they want to believe. If someone judges us based off of our skin color alone, THEY are the ones who need to change, not us.
Be true to yourself. All we can do in life is live the best we can and “do unto others as we would have done unto us.” That is the cardinal rule that should govern how we treat others.
When I go online and I come across forums bashing Black women and describing how unattractive, unfeminine and unappealing we are…(and yes it does hurt…), I really have to stay grounded and remind myself that if someone doesn’t know me and they’re judging ME based off of stereotypes, then they are the ignorant ones.
Don’t waste your time with people who mistreat you, focus on those who love you. If you fill your heart with negativity (and I know this from experience) then you’re robbing those who love you of positive experiences that they can share with you.
When I get overwhelmed with the negative treatment of Black women, here is what I do.
1. Turn off the negativity. Leave the forum, turn off the television, switch channels, turn off the radio, walk away from the person.
2. Get Your Feelings Out: I go and write down how I feel in my journal or blog about my feelings and release my hurt, pain, anger in a constructive way.
3. Do Something Positive: I go and meditate, pray, walk, jog, read or sing. I do something that helps me cope with the world and enhances my life. When I do these things it reminds me that I know who I am, even if no one else does and no one can judge me.
4. Love your God given beauty. The woman talks about being uncomfortable showing her natural hair, but our natural God-given hair is gorgeous. The reason people don’t appreciate it is because they’re insecure and also because some of us have forgotten how to love our own natural beauty.
The only way to combat the evil words that are thrown at you is through love and forgiveness and when I do what I mentioned above I forgive and love and I pray for others and for myself.
What are your thoughts on this young woman’s post and how do you all cope with the negativity that is leveled at Black women?