Classy Black Women


Angry complaints about not being included in white media, culture or conversations doesn't help. Taking affirmative action does.

This post might ruffle a few feathers, but hey, what positive change ever happens without that? 

I continue to quietly observe trends in black woman world. Why? Simple, because I love black women, and I really want us to enjoy the success and respect that we deserve as a dynamic group of women.

One thing that I have noticed after a while is that a lot of the young black feminist and womanist voices seem to be stuck on constantly comparing or weighing our black woman experience with that of white women.

The current war cry seems to be "it's just not fair!"

But is this the right way to go about dealing with the constant slights that black women obviously experience in the media and in every day life?

Some Examples
For instance, there was a Miley Cyrus twerking "scandal." Black women were upset that this young white girl was the one who suddenly made twerking mainstream, when black women have been doing it in clubs probably for decades.


I can't count how many times I've seen a story about this girl Miley in Black social media conversations and on sites designed for black women since the MTV awards. What's ironic is that we're giving her more relevance while white media is pretty much disgusted by her behavior and really just wants her to go away. Never mind that the girl pretty much made an absolute fool of herself on stage, playing into stereotypes of oversexualized women.


But some of us still want to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that black women were the ones who created an overtly sexual dance emulating the act of bouncing up and down on... well you know what it is.

Then there was the recent twitter hashtag #SmartBlackWomenofTwitter

The concept is much needed. The basis of the hashtag is questionable. When I found out that the hashtag was simply a response to a white publication leaving black women out of their list of smart women I was a little disturbed by that.

Then there was that whole thing with the TV show Girls. The producers decided that only white girl transplants to Brooklyn would be represented in their show (hello, Sex and the City was pretty much the same concept, and we all still watch it to this day) and some sisters had a problem with that. Why? There are a number of black web series starring mostly black people that we could watch and support instead if that really bothers us.

Another case was the #SolidarityIsforWhiteWomen hashtag. Yes, we all know that it is true, but do you really think that white feminists give a damn? And if they did, what can they do about it other than patronizingly pat us on our heads and then continue to enjoy their current privileges in society?

Sorry guys, but this is all starting to sound a whole lot like certain black voices are still begging to be a part of the "popular" kids club when we really should be concentrating on creating our OWN exclusive and extensive club of cool kids. Come on now, we are the originators of cool, so why do we want to be in someone else's club so badly in the first place?

What's the End Game?
Let me be clear. I don't disagree with raising a ruckus when black women are missing from the conversation. What I disagree with is the ultimate goal of the conversation AND to whom we are directing our grievances.

Instead of complaining to WHITE publications, producers and movies about not including us in their stuff we should be voicing these concerns to EACH OTHER. We should be directing our grievances and ideas to other black women who are in a position of influence -- women who can help bring more of our positive, inspirational and interesting stories to light. That includes powerful women like Mara Brock Akil,
Amy DuBois Barnett (the editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine, heck, even Oprah, as well as influential black film makers and the countless black woman bloggers that reach millions of black readers across the world every month.

We also should be talking about pooling our resources and talents to create more black production companies and media outlets that address our specific needs. Can you say Kickstarter? Look at what Spike Lee just did. 


To get what you want, you put your money and resources into what you believe in rather than expending all your energy complaining about what you don't want.

One thing is for sure, simply complaining about an issue isn't going to help anything. There needs to be a meaningful goal and affirmative action behind the complaint in order to make a positive change.


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This is a simple call to action. Dragging Russell Simmons on Twitter isn't enough. He doesn't get away with disrespecting Harriet Tubman's image and legacy.



In the past I've been vocal on Twitter whenever Russell Simmons tweets something that I believe is completely hypocritical, considering his affiliations and his legacy. He pretends to be some kind of civil rights leader when he is partly responsible for the ignorance that is rampant in the black community and hip hop culture. In fact, he still profits off of the ignorance. 

Russell Simmons is certainly no Malcolm X. Malcolm X did dirt in his youth, but he admitted his wrongs and overcame them for the good of the community.

 

Russell Simmons is also NO Harriet Tubman. That's for sure. Harriet put her very life on the line time after time to save black people.

I took a few days to process the Harriet Tubman video release and subsequent outrage. I like to take a little while to observe before blogging on an issue like this. The video depicted one of my sheros, Harriet Tubman, in one of the most despicable ways you can ever depict a woman.


And Russell Simmons really thought it was hilarious! If this is how he feels about a black woman ICON, imagine how he feels about your average black woman walking the streets.

He found the video hilarious, just like many black men found the video of a young black woman being beaten and kicked by one of his proteges, Lil Reese, hilarious. 

Do you see a trend here? Black women as objects of amusement rather than actual people. That's what women are upset about.

So What Are You Going to DO About It?
I've read a few great articles written by black woman feminists and womanists on the matter, including this one. I've observed the many conversations on Twitter and am glad to see that the overwhelming majority of black people didn't like seeing Harriet Tubman depicted in that light.

But I must ask. What are you going to about it now?


After the trending topics and Twitter draggings fade away, what is really going to happen to Russell Simmons? He's still rich, and that's all that really matters to guys like him, so getting verbally cursed out by an army of women and thoughtful brothers doesn't really phase him.

How long are we going to sit by idly as he and others continue to make money off of the ugliest aspects of black American culture?

A Call to Action

So I've decided to do my part, by using my platform to open up a serious discussion: what can we do to organize effectively against Russell Simmons and those similar to him?

All Rick Ross had to do was utter a few disrespectful lines to get the women's group, Ultraviolet, to step up and get his Reebook stripes snatched.

So what serious actions can black women groups, bloggers, writers, activists take after having Harriet Tubman's legacy sullied?

A few simple ideas I'd propose:
1) Do not purchase or support anything related to the Russell Simmons brand (that includes Def Jam, Def Poetry, Phat Farm, RUSH Cards and especially All Def Digital)


2) Do not click any Global Grind links, even when they're juicy stories (just do a search for the title -- chances are someone else has posted it)


3) Do not listen to or support any music artists that Russell Simmons gets the stamp of approval from.

I think this is a start. What other actions would you suggest?

Ladies, we're smart, innovative and dynamic. I'm sure we can think of something.


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The rates of suicide among black women are the lowest of any group. Why is this so, and why doesn't anyone want to talk about why it is so?


While driving around today, I got to thinking about why it is that despite all of the challenges we face and lack of privileges, black women are the least likely (by leaps and bounds) to give up on life and choose to commit suicide compared to other groups?

White males have the most privileges of all groups in the United States, but they are by far the most likely to sink so deeply into misery that they choose to take their own lives. How can you have so many privileges but still have such a negative viewpoint of life?

The Stats

I've discussed this briefly on my blog in the past, but I feel that it needs to be highlighted again. The stats are amazing, to say the least, and I'm really surprised that the mainstream media doesn't talk about these concerning stats more. At the very least they should be investigating solutions. I guess it's because these statistics, for once, place black women in a positive light, and that doesn't fit with the media's "formula."

Here are the facts:



(Out of 100,000 people)

The rate for white men is 25.96%

The rate for white women is 6.71%
The rate for black men is ~11%
The rate for black women is ~ 2%

Doesn't that extremely high rate for white men concern anyone? Men in general have higher rates than women, so maybe the media should discuss their problems more and investigate these stats in more detail.

(And ironically, despite these statistics women are still called the "weaker sex.")

Seriously, think about this. Being black and a woman in America comes with a number of disadvantages compared to being white and a man in America. Black women are constantly slandered for being what God made us, while white men (and women) sit on a pedestal for the most part. They get the benefit of the doubt for everything from walking into a store to shop, to getting a job, while black women are instantly judged negatively for everything based on what people see in the media.

So how do you explain these suicide rates?

Theories

There are three main theories that can explain this phenomena.

1) With additional societal pressure to be perfect due to the privileges that they enjoy, white males become devastated and can't deal with the disappointment when they don't measure up to their peers.

2) Lack of an upbringing that discourages suicide OR there isn't enough of a belief in what could happen in the Afterlife.

3) Black women are simply stronger and more resilient in the face of life's challenges than other groups.


I believe that all of these theories play a part in why black women have the lowest suicide rates, but I lean toward the third to explain most of these results. Black women are just more resilient in the face of adversity. 


It may be our hard past, the way we were raised, being used to struggle, belief in God or the strong encouragement/legacy of our ancestors pushing us on, but the fact of the matter is that we do what we have to do. We keep going.

Black Women Are Ridiculed for Being Strong, But Is it Just Admiration in Disguise?

Though this important fact is swept under the rug and not publicized as much as stories about "why black women are overweight" or "why black women are single," I think it is a major accomplishment that black women simply do not allow the pressures of life to force them to commit such a sad and final act as suicide.

So the next time someone ridicules black women for being "too strong" or "too independent," I will just look at it as an expression of admiration. Instead of making fun of a black woman, maybe you can learn something from her. 

Maybe it would help to experience the struggles of a black woman to truly appreciate the value of life and also to learn how to rise above the madness.


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