I’d be lying if I said that feminism has always been a word I’d use to describe myself. I certainly was not the girl in high school petitioning for girls to be able to play on the football team. To be completely honest, the idea of feminism was exhausting. Why can’t women just sit down, shut up, and get whatever’s handed to them and pray they end up with a good husband?
I know. I know.
Thankfully, I grew up and experienced life and learned how important black feminism is and the place it needs in our society. The truth is that black women are the bottom of society’s totem pole. We are abused, trashed talked, uncared for, stereotyped, and counted out. You can likely ask any black woman in this country if they’ve been discriminated against, in any way, for being a black woman and they will likely respond with a resounding yes. I’ve heard men, black and otherwise, say that they would never want to date a black woman because of [fill in the blank with stereotype]. I’ve heard white woman tell me that I don’t at like a typical black girl because I am not [fill in the blank with stereotype].
Being a black feminist is about demanding the same equality and respect for black women that we demand for everyone else. In traditional feminism, a movement that I also support, black women are lost in the mix. We are still considered a sub-group when it comes to feminism and womanhood. White women can consider themselves feminists and, in the same breath, look at a group of black women and call them ghetto. They can still be the bosses that throw applications away with the “black sounding” names on them.
I don’t ever want my son to look at me and think, my mother is black but she is the exception. Most other black women are [fill in the stereotype]. I want him to actively be a part of the conversation that involves uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring black women. I would have failed him if he does not grow up with the idea that black women are equal citizens in this country to their male counterparts. I want to raise my son to be the guy that, when faced with ignorant comments about black women, doesn’t stand down but stands up for them.
Being a good role model and surrounding him with positive, educated, beautiful black women is honestly not enough. I know plenty of black men that are the sons of well educated, creative, and important black women that will just as quickly get on social media to express how much they loathe black women. If I want my son to grow up to not only respect black women but protect and fight for them, I have to make black feminism a part of his upbringing. There is no room for being passive.