To understand the value, power, and strength of black women of today, you have to understand the value, power, and strength of black women of the past.
You have to acknowledge and know without a doubt, the courage of Sojourner Truth who fought tirelessly for women’s rights and to abolish slavery and remember Harriet Tubman who risked her own life countless times to assist people in escaping slavery. You have to conceptualize the care for the people beyond individualized backyards but also in the political arena that women like Shirley Chisholm had as the first major-party black candidate to run for President in 1972 and for being the first black congresswoman; or Dame Eugenia Charles; for being the Caribbean’s first and longest serving Prime Minister. You have to pay your respects to the minds of inventors like Alice Parker, Mary Kenner, Ruane Jeter, Madame C.J. Walker, and many others who had a vision, stepped outside of the box, and executed on an idea in order to make your everyday life easier to get through today. We have to embrace the educational passion, vision, and determination of Mary McLeod Bethune who understood the importance of education for all people (including black girls). We must embrace entertainers like Josephine Baker for being one of the highest paid entertainers of her time and Hattie McDaniel for being the first black woman to win an Oscar. We must pay our respects to Cathay Williams, who was the first documented African-American woman to be enlisted and serve in the U.S. Army. And, we must never forget civil rights activists and advocates for justice, such as Anna Arnold Hedgeman, Miriam Makeba, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Coretta Scott King, and Madam Efunroye Tinubu, among many others; who were pioneers in their own rights and were mothers, role models, and backbones to movements that have impacted the world. Black women of today are the black women of today, because of the black women before us.
The modern day black woman is no different from the women of her past. We are built to love others, protect our own, love the land that we came from, and build up our people. As we recognize another year of Women’s History Month; we must understand that black women are and have always been more than #hashtags, fads, and fetishes! We not only lead with hearts of gold; but with minds tough as steel, backs as strong as the whips that tore the backs of our ancestors, and hands so nurturing that all we need is a cause—we will have an effect. The strength we possess comes from the accomplishments and struggles of others and ourselves. The passion we act on comes from a place of “what is!”, not “what if?” The courage we take stands with stems from our core, and understanding that we are not part of the solution if we stand silently in the face of any problem.
As women, we are most proud of the moments when we are contributing to a world that is bigger than what our eyes can see, constantly building the path we will leave behind in our legacy. Wearing our pride for our heritage and spirituality with confidence; we are proud to be innovators, change makers, and bearers of life. For we not only see and serve the needs of ourselves, we thrive off adhering to the needs of others; even if we are at risk of not taking care of ourselves. We are resilient, with the ability to be flexible at any point in time; persisting at all costs, due to the bigger picture at hand. Our ability to surround ourselves by fellow women who are constantly empowering us to be our best at all times; fuels us to go deeper, climb higher, think broader, and love harder. We are most proud of being unapologetically sensitive and fierce; which allows us to rise from fires and still demonstrate undeniable depths of compassion, as our vulnerability keeps us grounded. Black women are more than hashtags, fads, and fetishes.
As women, we are most insecure about the insecurities we possess that have yet to become strengths within our realities; for even the most confident of women have moments of doubt. Constantly wondering if we measure up to others; women or men. We too ask ourselves: Are we good enough? Do we really matter? Am I seen because I am respected or am I respected because I am seen? Am I worthy of love? Can I truly give the love that I feel I desire? Am I beautiful enough? Is my skin too dark or too light? What about my eyes? Am I too tall or too short? Am I too overweight or underweight? Are my breasts and buttocks too big or too small? Am I beautiful enough? Is the process and the results of self-grooming causing me more damage than good? Am I able to share my voice and speak publicly about anything; without choking up? Will I ever be in a financially stable situation with the burdens of family? Are my dreams ever going to become reality? Can someone truly rock with me, even when I choose to not rock with myself? Will my insecurities always be a part of me? As black women, we too are insecure but we too, lift as we climb and have lived the days when we are not defined by our insecurities; but blossom in them. For black women prevail even in moments of uncertainty, because we have each other. Black women are more than hashtags, fads, and fetishes.
As women, our physical admiration of self are for us to claim, and for those worthy of our love to have the avenue to appreciate. Physical attributes we are most proud of allow us to feel whole, inside and out! We have learned to love the bodies (our temples) that many have taught us to hate from the days of our childhoods. From the curves, height, and breasts we were blessed with; generation after generation, to the pep in our step and the sway in our hips, as we grace the earth with our movements; we are beautiful. From our defined bone structures and the definition of our lips, to our eyes and our cheek bones; we speak our truths in the ways that we look and how we view the world. From the way we wear our own natural tresses; relaxed, weaved, or braided; to the way we provide other women with tips and tricks to take care of theirs; we embrace our hair’s flexibility. Full of smiles that speak of the stories of the past within our families, the current state of our world, and the direction of our futures; we are also empathetic. Black women are more than hashtags, fads, and fetishes.
As women, what being a woman means to us is priceless; forever changing and empowering. Being a woman means, working hard to not pass judgment on another woman’s definition of what being a woman means to them! It means working harder than everyone else to set a path for young girls. It means standing in one’s power and speaking up for what is right and just; continuously. Being a woman means possessing “undeniable strength to accomplish all that one attains to be, no matter the obstacles.” Being a woman is standing by the side of family, friends, and lovers; providing solutions and options in the face of dead ends. Being a woman is finding every reason to celebrate every moment in life, because not much is taken for granted. Being a woman is wiping away tears, sharing long hugs, giving tough love, and sharing inspiring messages and affirmations because we believe in all people. Being a woman is a powerful love; full of beauty, courage, passion, and life. Being a woman is everything! Black women are more than hashtags, fads, and fetishes.
Black women are more than hashtags, as we are all that is behind the tag associated with the hash; allowing us to see the beauty worldwide in the black women that we are: #BlackGirlMagic #BlackGirlsRock #BlackGirlsLead #BlackMother #BlackDaughter #BlackSister #BlackGirl #BlackWomen #BossLady #BlackQueen #BlackPrincess, and more. Black women are more than fads, as the journey through black womanhood is not about what’s hot in pop culture; we are real people. Every day in these bodies, is our realities, we don’t need a trending event in order to matter-black women always matter. We are more than fetishes, as we are more than what any one person or group of people could ever dream of.
To the women in my circle who proudly volunteered their time to support my vision on this piece: Black Women: More Than Hashtags, Fads, and Fetishes by sharing your thoughts and smiles with me, I salute you with the upmost level of gratitude for your investment, care, vulnerability, and authenticity. As the history of women are acknowledged and celebrated, know that I honor you women and all women from diverse backgrounds who have stories to share and truths to speak on in this journey of life as women. We celebrate the women of our past as they laid foundations for our present day, allowing the women of today to pave the way for the girls and women of tomorrow.
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