Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Black Woman's Burden

I was catching up on my You Tube subscriptions this weekend and came across this video by one of my favorite vloggers, Tonya TKO. One of the things that I appreciate about Tonya is her raw honesty. She's not afraid to put it all out there. At the end of a really busy and stressful week...at the end of a really stressful Democratic primary season that often made me wonder if women like me were completely invisible and unimportant...this monologue nearly made me cry.

Yesterday, when I read Linda Hirshman's offensive WaPo essay about how feminism has lost its way by bothering to consider the needs of women of color (Not only are our extraneous needs dragging down the women's movement, but we also helped Clarence Thomas get elected.), I thought about Tonya's video and the idea that black women's needs always seem to be inconvenient...how black women always seem to be inconvenient and undesirable wherever we go...how we are always left alone to handle things ourselves. There are so few safe spaces for us...so few places where we can lay our burdens down. Is there no relief from the twin burdens of racism and sexism?

Note: At one point, Tonya speaks about the black woman's place in the desire hierarchy of Western culture. I just wanted to point out that I do understand that the sexism and stereotype that exalts white women, exoticizes Asian and Latina women, and denigrates black women, damages ALL women. Nevertheless, it is painful to be on the downside of the hierarchy and I think it is honest to say that women on the upside of the hierarchy benefit from the way things are, even as they are simultaneously hurt by it.

P.S. Thank God Black Amazon is back with a powerful rant about the aftermath of the Clinton campaign.


rikyrah said...

You gave great links, and I appreciate them. I'm not feeling the ' unity' thing. Sorry, not feeling it, because of all the racist bullshit that has gone down.

Hillpatine pimped the White Woman Victim card from DAY ONE. Period. She pimped it whenever she could, and all I've seen is these White women pimping it, and I'm not having it.

Maybe you're in the mood for unity, but I've heard too much Geraldine Ferraro and ' inadequate Black man' for me to be wanting unity with these racist heifers.

Not feeling it at all. Don't care for it one bit.

I know what Obama has to do, because he wants to win, and because he didn't do JACK to offend Miss Anne, but don't expect me to shin and grin to them. Uh Uh.

And especially because I know, in my bones, to my very core, that WHEN Michelle is ATTACKED. WHEN Malia and Sasha are ATTACKED, they'll be nowhere to be found....

Ain't feeling no fake ass ' unity', for them being mad that Black women went with what they knew instinctively, but was proven in spades (pun intended) by this campaign:

'Sisterhood' is a one-way street, and when push comes to shove, Miss Anne is not and has never been 'studdin' 'bout yo Black behind'.

Tami said...


This Democratic primary season has convinced what many black women had been telling me for a long time. The feminist movement as a whole does not embrace women of color, nor really want them involved unless we are willing to check our racial identities at the door. Through maliciousness or cluelessness--nto sure which--some feminists don't seem to understand that we cannot peal away our racial identity, because the racism we face coincides with the sexism. Hirshman's article makes that clear.

Some self-described feminists, like Geraldine Ferraro, who despite her achievements as a woman is clearly racist, can't even deign to pretend women like me matter.

I am not interested in partnering with unrepentant racists and people who use their privilege as a cudgel while proclaiming victimhood.

BUT there are many, many white feminists who have been out-shouted by the Ferraros and Hirshmans--mostly because there was a concerted effort by the Clinton campaign to leverage sexism v. racism as a talking point. These women "get it" and are allies. I was happy to see that at mainstream, third wave blogs like Feministe, the majority of commenters seemed to vehemently disagree with Hirshman and Ferraro.

I AM concerned with maintaining unity with the women of all colors who have proven to be my friend when the chips are down. Those women don't deserve to be lumped in with Geraldine Ferraro and her ilk.

P.S. You know, I've thought often about the "Miss Anne" thing during this campaign--they way my father said when he was growing up in the Jim Crow South, white people of all ages were to be called by an honorific ("Mr." or "Miss") by black people of all ages. Black people were to be properly deferential at all times. I have sensed that same entitlement in a lot of the outcry that Obama was not suitably respectful of Hillary Clinton.

GoldenAh said...

I respect the legal and civil achievements of feminism. It is great to be a woman, esp. a bw. Yay! I am free.

This fallout between white and black (and other) feminists seems to occur every generation. I think of Alice Walker and Sojourner Truth.

Linda H. article was amusing to me. She admitted that for all the power white feminists have they sometimes can't get much done w/out riding bw. BW's vote is integral to Obama and Dem. legislators.

The racial tension in this movement maybe due to how ww can't help themselves when it comes to race. As they grow older (cause the young ones are still on your side), they become resentful of the progress and power of bw. WW may see it as being at their expense, like how some bm resent bw. What follows then is that feminism must be all about (white) women to the exclusion of race, poverty, etc.

We matter, people just like to pretend we don't.

heartsandflowers said...

Great post Tami,

Thanks for introducing me to Tonya TKO as well. Black Amazon AND La Chola are back. YEAH!!! Cosigning on the lovely commentary here. I think the most hatred is coming primarily from certain white women of a certain age. And it's a vocal amount but a small amount. The ones that get it never cosigned the stunts and a lot of younger women were not supporting Hillpatine from the get go. I am very glad the Clintons revealed their true selves this campaign. I shudder to imagine if Barack had not run we would have voted for Hillary [me un-excitedly] and some of our activism fervor and outrage would have not been ignited. Ignorance is not bliss. Clinton would have been a horrible President - if she had won. See, I just never thought she was going to win. We really dodged a bullet.

sevenofnine said...

Tanya TKO is superb!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Blackamazon said...

Thank you so much Tami


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