Stuck: Black Women And The Country That Hates Them
Posted by Kenyetta Whitfield
March 17, 2017
In December, I wrote a 12-page paper for a feminist theory class that analyzed the historically violent and parasitic relationship between black women (and those who identify as women or are perceived as women) and the United States. As I wrote the paper, I asked myself how all the black women before me were able to get through their lives knowing that they would continuously be disrespected and dehumanized by their own country. With each sentence I typed, I felt pain and stress thinking about how America has sucked the humanity from black women and still expects more. By the end I was physically and mentally exhausted.
I am still exhausted.
In the past week, I’ve read countless reports of black girls going missing in D.C. and their disappearances going unnoticed by the mainstream media. At the same time, in my small Appalachian town, I received 3 different Amber Alerts presumably for a missing white child. The juxtaposition of the situations made me sick to my stomach.
I find myself feeling sick to my stomach frequently these days. Each time, the feeling leaves my fingers, my stomach aches, and my breathing is heavy. The stress of living in a country (really a world) that hates me has finally caught up with me.
Since slavery, black women have provided labor to those who have expressed hatred and disgust for them. They’ve cared for their slave-owners white children. They’ve acted as breeding machines pumping out more black bodies that would then be used to uplift the systems that oppress them. The disrespect has continued and continues daily.
They tell us: Black women are no good. They are bad mothers. They are too domineering. They come from broken homes. These are our burdens to bear, and they are heavy and suffocating.
It is debilitating to navigate in a world where you must negotiate all your beliefs, your goals, your emotions in order to serve people and systems that hate you. It is killing us and it is hurting us. There are no spaces where we can fall to our knees and cry because we are overcome with grief. There are no shoulders to lean on and if there were, we’d be chastised for leaning on them.
So what needs to be done?
I call for everyone to finally admit that they are responsible for so many of the black women and girls out there dealing with crippling depression and anxiety. I call for everyone to admit they hate black women, but that they need them. Without us this country would be lost, struggling to find its way.
As for the black women before me and those who will come after me – I see you. I feel your pain and I’ve cried your tears. You don’t have to demand more because you shouldn’t have to. You should be respected, you matter.