Black Women in the United States

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Neither lengthy research papers containing complex theses nor advanced graduate degrees in rare fields are necessary to understand that the story of Black women in the United States is striking one. Yet, their trials and tribulations have been sparingly noted in the annals of American history. Even as Black women reach greater heights in entertainment, business, government, and potential First Lady-hood, their stories, and the stories of those who came before them, continue to be suppressed. In some cases, they are dismissed entirely. Then there are those who insist that once the chronicles of African Americans and Women are related, a separate analysis of the journey of the Black women is unnecessary because it would be redundant; such an analysis is already included in the two other narratives. That reasoning has always struck me as kindasortamaybe odd.

There are similarities, certainly. A large portion of what Black women have experienced in United States relates strongly to racism and sexism. But Black women have also had experiences that are distinct from those prejudices. Ultimately, they are not Black men. And they are not White women.

There are those in either category who are more than comfortable with playing the "She's with us" card. This is where Black men or White women (historians and political leaders chiefly among them) metaphorically - and conveniently - drop an arm about the shoulder of The Black Woman, and declare, with better conviction than Shakespeare, "She's with us." It is all so... convenient. So provisionary. For, you see, the inclusion of the Black woman is valued, but there is some small print, so to speak.

The Black woman is valued in the collective camps of Black men and White women because she brings diversity as long as that diversity is not touted too much. If she speaks more than she should, she could endanger The Agenda. Opponents, whoever they may be, might snidely portray her as a token "Angry Black Woman" by Opponents, whoever they may be. (Relegation to the role of "Baby Mama" by desperate TV pundits comes as a close second).

This is an attitude that creates an unfortunate situation for everyone. As far as America has come, some Americans continue to believe that "Unity" and "Loyalty" (Oh, Loyalty, timelessly overused and misinterpreted, how I love thee!) depend upon consummate, unshakeable homogeneity. Black women are not, of course, the only group victim to such beliefs. This is because some Americans are still held in the death grip of fear: fear that differences beget, even ensure, animosity, incompatibility, and conflict.

That, of course, is not the Truth. The Truth is that the denial of differences does nothing but blind us further. Denial does not pave the path to harmony. Denial supports only false solidarity. The good news is that with the appropriate application of pressure, that false construct will shatter.

Perhaps the voices of an entire generation, my generation, will be enough to do just that. And there is no doubt in my mind that it will take all of us.





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