I read the poem, To be Black and Woman and Alive, that was created by two African American woman, Valentine and Jihad, who are college students. I was impressed with how these young women were aware of the culture of anti Black misogynoir in society and how many African American men hate them. Even though these young women aren’t much older than myself, I believe there is a time where one must let go and stop seeking validation from those who hate you.
Here is their poem, To be Black and Woman and Alive:
I’m just saying, if she ain’t got a booty I ain’t tryna hit it
You know a nigga’s biggest weakness is a white girl with a fat ass
These black girls need to watch out, cause white girls is winning
Nah, like a foreign bitch, you know, that’s spanish, that latin type
Nah nah, like that Asian type
Yeah, like an Oriana mixed bitch
Daddy from the Philippines, momma from Atlantic, momma from Africa, momma from sugar cane and segregation
From too much pride and not enough perm
Momma from the gutta, from section 8, from hoodrat black belly, but she don’t look like her momma
I don’t fuck with Black girls
I know four brands of hydrocortisone by heart
I have a Pinterest board dedicated to lemon juice recipes for lightening skin
Know too dark is the answer to a question I’ve given up asking
Puerto Rican, Italian, Bajan, Thai
I know they want me to be everything I’m not though
I need a girl who knows her place
I don’t like that Black power shit
That nappy afro shit
That walk out your house like your momma ain’t teach you how to look presentable shit
To be woman and black is to be is to be born knowing your beauty does not belong to you
Is to be the first and last person to love yourself
It’s to know you’re not desirable to your own kind
I grew up learning how to protect men who hate me
Learn how to be the silencer to their pistol
Learned how to be the revolution spit shining their spines
Behind every great man is the woman who taught him how to load the ammunition
Behind every great man is the woman who pulled the trigger
Behind every great man is a chorus of voices buried beneath the gun fire
I want an educated woman
I’m not talking book smart
I’m talking sheet smart
A woman who understands the actual purpose of her mouth
In college, a boy said he didn’t date Black girls
Like his momma wasn’t a Black girl
Like his sister wasn’t a Black girl
Like he ain’t drink milk and fat off a Black nipple
Like he wasn’t birthed from a Black womb
Like a Black woman’s body ain’t bend for him
Ain’t spill herself to make room for him
Like exiting a Black woman’s body ain’t a blessing disguised as a shadow
Like Black ain’t beautiful unless it’s mixed
To be woman and Black is to be magic
Is to be the witch that wouldn’t burn
Is to survive the white man with their needles and nooses
And the Black man with their hearts in their knuckles
To be Black and woman and alive is to be resilient
My very existence is defiance
But they want a good woman
A silk skin woman soft enough to break
A woman who’s vein is blue enough to get into the club, who knows her way around the inside of a washing machine
Who’s the color of happily ever after
A woman who knows how to burn off her skin without screaming, without making a sound”.
Growing up in a Jamaican household and living in a predominately White area, I wasn’t aware of Black men’s hatred of Black women. Most of the men in my family are with Black women and it was the normal for me to see a Black man loving a Black woman. And the non Black men in my area were also with women of their own race and ethnicity groups and seemed to love and uplift them as well. So it was normal for me to see most people in their race preferring their own and loving their own even if the person wasn’t always nice and respectful to each other. However, something happened that changed that narrative on relationships and love.
It wasn’t until I went to high school and interacted with African Americans for the first time that I realized that something was wrong. I noticed the way many young, African American boys bashed Black women and put them down for being ugly, nappy headed and all of these names. I saw and heard of Black men such as Tommy Sotomayor bashing Black women on Youtube channels and rappers such as Lil Wayne saying that dark skin Black women are inferior to light skin Black women. And this behavior isn’t even exclusive to African American men either. Many Black men of Afro Caribbean men living in Canada, Great Britain, France and other European countries are also color struck and put down Black women to justify why they prefer to mate outside of their race. Unfortunately, I see this nonsense with mostly Americanized and Westernized Black men however, I know not all of them behave and think like this but many of them do.
And being dark skin, naturally slim and having natural hair, I felt the burnt of their anger and hatred of Black women. Many Black males in high school called all kinds of names for my dark skin and slim figure. I used to always hear a bunch of boys in high school especially African American boys say that they would never date a Black girl because of the perceived, stereotypical notions about Black women being ugly, masculine, loud, ghetto etc. that they internalized from the media. Yet the few Black people around me told me that I should be stick with the ”brothas” and find a ”good” Black man to be with. All the while, I saw myself and women who looked like myself being put down, degraded and pushed aside for lighter Black women, biracial, White, Hispanic and Asian women by many Black men out there. Worst of all, my self esteem and self worth was damaged and very low but I felt the need to be loyal to the Black collective much to my own expense.
Colorism is a huge problem in Caribbean cultures as well as in Latin American cultures as well. The lighter you are in Jamaica, the more likely you are to be hired to management and government jobs and the more likely you are to even be hired for a job. Lighter skin in women equals beauty and elegance and men value and put biracial and light skin women on a pedestal. Bleaching creams and sells of bleaching creams is very common there as well as reports of people bleaching their skin to look lighter. And many of the men are misogynistic and believe that women are beneath them. In fact, there are even some Dancehall songs that have sexist lyrics against women in them as well. Unfortunately, this is common in Jamaican and other Caribbean cultures even though the men don’t publically bash their women the way many African American men do.
After spending my high school years seeking validation and approval from the Black collective, I spoke to a woman that I trust. She told me to start doing for self and stop seeking validation from the Black collective because I would never seek their respect or approval. It was then that I began to realize that their problem isn’t my problem. The Black man’s problem is with himself. The Black man hates himself, his race, culture and where he comes from. And he hates Black women such as myself because she reflects his own image and reminds him of the struggle and his failures. That is why he can’t affirm his own image because he doesn’t love himself. When I realized this, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I started to stop seeking validation from those who don’t like me whether the person is a Black man or not.
Most of all, their whole poem was well written and poignant and speaks about the depths of which many Black men continually disparage Black woman while many Black woman continue to seek his approval. And this poem speaks to me in a way because it made me realize my own journey in seeking validation in from them as well. I can feel and hear these young women’s pain and relate to it. After realizing where their hatred of Black women stemmed from, I realized that I don’t need to be validated by them any longer.