“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” I begin with this quote from Black activist Malcolm X’s speech “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself,” because I want to explain how relevant his words are today, 56 years later.
Today, I recognize there has been a shift in attitude towards Black women from our Black men. Black women are viewed as the foundation and support systems of our families and communities, but when we need that same love to be reciprocated, it is non-existent.
Now, I’m not generalizing all Black men, but when you look at our athletes, musicians, actors and even at some of our students on this campus, the level of respect they have for Black women is lacking. For instance, plenty of Black men have said, “I like Black women, but I can’t date them because they are too sexual,” or “Black women are too aggressive for me to handle, so I date white girls.”
Something that I have witnessed even worse than these comments, is the way Black men treat Black women. Black men call us bitches and whores, but how come we are the same people they call when they need a shoulder to cry on? Why are we only good enough for a home cooked meal? Why are Black women still the people Black men depend on and confide in?
The reason is Black women embody a type of strength, beauty and intelligence that a Black man cannot receive from anyone else. Black women have been considered the foundation of our society for centuries, whether it be from the period of slavery to now being the strong matriarchs of their families. The personalities that Black women express relates and appeals to the culture of Black men, but they only recognize this when it is convenient for them. Black men have miraculously used Black women as crutches for their temporary and convenient purposes.
The love we provide in general is unparalleled, which is why our love is so easy to access and abuse. We love our Black men so much that we are willing to sacrifice and put our own well-being aside. It has become apparent that a lot of our Black men have become the cause of our continuous habit to neglect our own self-care in order to help them thrive.
Black womanhood encompasses the pain and achievements of Black women who have often been silenced or not highlighted enough in our society. Ultimately, nobody will understand the pain and struggle a Black man endures like a Black woman, which is why they keep us on the back burner and re-enter our lives when they need something. We must question our self-love as Black women because at the end of the day, our world cannot revolve around our Black men. It is imperative that we take a step back and find what makes us happy, because no one can love us the way we love ourselves.
Meonyez Goodwin, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment MGoodwin18@wooster.edu.