There has been an interesting sidetracking of the betterment of AA black women as individuals by divorcing us from seeing ourselves as a separate group in the race vs. gender wars. We should be WOMEN first not “BLACK PEOPLE” who are in often women carrying nearly the entire load of service to ideologies that no longer benefit us. Due to the misdirected coping mechanisms of surviving under systematic racism many of us are reluctant or unable to think critically as free agents. It is a mistake to continue feeding the personal interests of those who benefit from the products of our labor at our expense. I wrote this draft six weeks ago but there are times when you have to let the stew simmer. I was waiting for something else to tie it together as these similar themes continuously emerge.
Some of the most important conversations we can have is about how blacks react to racism – but with a twist. Let me ask, what is your first response when I use the term systematic racism? Does the initial response lend to thoughts related to white hegemony? More people may be familiar with the term white supremacy but white hegemony is worth considering as the more accurate term.
Hegemony is defined as: political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups, regardless of the explicit consent of the latter. The term is often mistakenly used to suggest brute power or dominance, when it is better defined as emphasizing how control is achieved through consensus not force. Wikipedia
I think the distinction is important as we continue to evaluate who and what we place value in. For just as there is white hegemony there is also a strong influence of black male hegemony. We cannot focus solely on one and not see the other because black women are a race, part of distinct ethnicities AND a gender. Which further extrapolates into gender orientation and identity – but as I’m discussing the majority population I will focus on hetero-oriented cis gender women. **Since the consensus is for AA black women to put the needs and wants of AA black males above their own and it’s thought to be the remedy for white hegemony then this is a serious matter worth dismantling.
There have been three key components discussed at the following blogs (listed on my sidebar):
Blog host Halima: In asking us to evaluate our Pavlovian conditioning to take up arms to fight when we perceive any random black male has been slighted by whitesor in excusing bad behavior enacted against us as the result of diminished capacity due to white hegemony. That’s Psych 101 by the way. In fact, a student of psychology should write a dissertation on the behavorism theory that most blacks will defy all logic to rail against white hegemony while ignoring the influence of black male hegemony and not focus on advancing themselves as a collective. Especially those that think they know better but still fall into the pit with eyes wide open.
Blog host Evia: In asking black women to reevaluate how they might gain privileges from being the beneficiaries of hegemony instead of giving away their resources for others to use for a change. Here’s an excerpt from commenter Felicia (the entire post is extensive as well as the comments being worth serious consideration).
Many AA BW have been taught that it’s acceptable to suffer if it’s for a a “noble/right cause”.
Being anti “The System” is promoted by blacks (even though most BM wish and desire to be a part of that very system while expecting BW to rail against it) and liberal good hearted white folks and others. But the thing is, ALL of these other non BW talk a good game but when it comes down to it, NONE of them are willing to give up any perks they personally receive by not being on the bottom.
The only ones actually taking this “lets fight the system” stuff seriously are duped BW.
Most AA BW are taking what they consider to be the moral high ground by not benefitting from WM supremacy yet they continue to get NOTHING from their effort.
They feel guilty benefitting from an unjust/unfair system (white supremacy) because it’s viewed (by fair minded instead of reality based BW) as supporting it.
But the thing is, the system that they’re currently supporting (damaged black male supremacy masquerading as a “community”) has certainly not worked for them. Quite the opposite.
Black women are ALONE in their “fight” (fantasy) and will remain so……
Indeed. Blog host Khadija further shatters that Pavlovian Fighting Chant by urging us to stop doing it pronto! We can certainly have empathy for others, be anti-racism activists, respond to what we think is unjust as long as we have ALL OF OUR NEEDS BEING MET FIRST. I don’t consider our written evaluations and conversations as part of the problem but as solution-oriented dismantling of a status quo that has gone unchecked for too long. Though that is only for those women who follow-through these lessons by their actions securing their futures. No other group of women has our unique set of attributes….or liabilities. Being content and well-cared for should not be an option and is our right as women in a patriarchal society to be provided for and protected. As many of us are able to earn huge salaries, run organizations and buy all the Manolos we desire there’s still a need to consciously make autonomous decisions free from indoctrination.
The first person who should step up to take care of us is whom we see reflected when we look in the mirror. This is part of the behavioral conditioning we must dismantle when we have the urge to do the opposite of what’s in our own best interests as individuals such as fighting for a “cause”, saving the “community”, or limiting our dating choices to prove race loyalty. Forget about anyone else! Not when we’re dying off disproportinately, there’s no “coalition” troops being dispatched to help us fight our battered image and status and there’s no history of or past examples of reciprocity.
The focus of some blacks on the plight of “brown” people who are not black as a response to white hegemony is one such area where AA black women need to evaluate their participation. Why? The assumption that any person with a higher melanin content is oppressed ignores the impact of class and other intangibles. The focus of black males who are dominated by other (white, etc) males didn’t seek to find ways around that situation (by beefing up the black community post-Civil Rights for example) and instead have sought the benefits of hegemony for themselves. This push for tying other groups’ battles into the larger black experience by making it equal to the African-American survival/struggle/oppression meme is not only inaccurate but insulting.
The question we must always ask ourselves is who benefits from our efforts? Are we being respected as blacks by non-blacks? Are we given our props for our contributions as African-Americans by other blacks who’ve come to the US? The Civil Rights organizations are mostly run by black males, some of whom are not married to black women but are sustained wholly by the efforts of AA black women. Their focus is never placed on our uplift but on public outrage against white hegemony and excusing black male criminality. Behind the scenes they are making deals that benefit individuals not the collective. Any stated alliances with non-AAs should also be evaluated for scope and reciprocity. People can say all they wish publicly but the Trickle-Down Theory has long been debunked. As far as I can see the onus is on black women to continue to self-immolate themselves and ask questions later.
Black males take out their “hatred” of themselves and misdirect their chosen submissiveness by annihilating each other and brutalizing/abandoning black women. There’s an equal effort at running towards Rainbow Coalitions and redirecting their assets to non-black women and communities. If blacks were dominant in the Western world would they continually make every effort imaginable to escape their blackness? Would they by word and deed display their honor for black women? Even in societies where there may be a majority black population the annihilation is reserved for a specific segment, along ethnic lines, tribes or religion of blacks by each other. Think Rwanda, Congo, Sudan. Think Crips vs Bloods. Either way the destruction or abandonment is a determined and highly successful effort.
IF the systematic racism, colonialism, neo-colonialism or whatever you want to call hegemony is the source of the poison then what is the remedy? A diagnosis must be made and an antidote prescribed, but the medicine must be taken lest the poison spread to the point of death. Why focus this essay on cowardice? The cowardice comes the lack of honest conversations about how black women and AA women specifically have been targeted, that the community is gone and there are individual alliances that must be forged. Preparation is key and swift action must be taken.
Not speaking truth to power about the following is cowardice:
The African-American women who didn’t say anything during civil rights who were pushed aside or raped.
The African-Americans who didn’t speak out against the misogyny of the black power or black nationalism initiatives.
The black women who didn’t say anything about the denigrating rap (except for C Delores Tucker and a few others).
Black women who don’t say anything about the violence, the apathy, the degradation, the abandonment or even how their own behavior contributes to the downward spiral of the collective.
Feminist is not a dirty word. Now it might not apply to every woman in every situation but historically black women have always made efforts to improve their status no matter what era they lived in.
Talking around these issues, misdirecting conversations, arguing semantics and denial do not add any value and makes it worse. So much so that remedy would be rendered ineffective. Now that gangrene has set in it’s time for drastic measures. It’s time to remove a limb, cut our losses and reassess the current system for what’s in our best interest.
Here’s some further reading:
Whatever has come to pass has gone – BUT WE’RE GONNA CHANGE IT!!!
Take a Stand.
Seek out, evaluate and negotiate who you allign yourself with.
Be open to going in new directions.
If someone comes after you have a baseball bat handy to knock them to their knees.
Coalitions are only as good as the paper they’re written on. Alliances work as well as they can be enforced.
I will never forget my surprise and sense of outrage after attending NetRoots Nation in 2008 and having those in charge tell me to my face they didn’t believe in diversity. I got the message loud and clear. Black women who voluntarily give service to others will be accepted but do NOT expect it will automatically be done in return. There will be no handing over of resources to those outside your group – especially if you are securing a position for yourself. There will be no partnerships, alliances, musketeer-ism without setting terms and conditions. In other words:
Have your own SH*T!!
Don’t expect to be invited to the table if you are in beggar mode.
Be prepared to walk away if there’s any violation.
Don’t think partnering up means you get to do less work.
Remember the collective spending power of black women heads of household in the US is $1.2B – yeah let’s repeat that
$1.2 BILLION– Oprah money ya’ll!
Do you know what we could do with that kind of money….we could have grocery stores, hospitals, tv stations, a couple of gulf stream jets, residency on Dominica, hotels, wait….we could have WHATEVER WE WANTED! Instead that money is going OUT of our pockets, our neighborhoods, there’s no infrastructure in place and we’re making a lot of other people WEALTHY.
Of course people want to “partner” with us. We’re educated, intelligent and resourceful.
Isn’t it time we take care of our own first?
Secure an infrastructure for a) SELF b) FAMILY c) COMMUNITY d) WORLD
We can discuss whether or not it would be appropriate to work with others and how that will manifest itself.
Learn to distinguish ALLIES from OPPORTUNISTS.
Go check out the Black Girl’s Manfesto from Alienated Conclusions.