The world we live in provides support, financial gain and appreciation for those who work hard and earn a place at the top. Everyone except Black women, that is.
Although we have carried the beauty, fashion and music industry on our backs for years, Black women are still undermined and seen as less worthy.
Black women across the world have been ridiculed for just about everything under the sun. Mental illness, choosing to become a mother, our hairstyles, our choice of music, our weight and our autonomy have been under attack this year.
We need to defend and stand with Black women in 2020.
2019 opened with a chilling, heinous docuseries about R&B singer R. Kelly sexually abusing Black girls between the ages of 12 and 19. The series “Surviving R. Kelly,” exposed Kelly’s abusive methods and pedophilia ways as victims detailed his crimes dating back more than 20 years.
The docuseries pushed the cases to be reopened and provided enough evidence to arrest Kelly.
Female activist Mikki Kendall stated in the documentary that, “No one cared because we were Black girls.”
This statement couldn’t be more true because Black girls have been hyper-sexualized and seen as “fast” or “promiscuous” since the times of slavery.
R. Kelly would’ve been stopped years ago, had his victims been white.
Meghan Markle, royally known as the Duchess of Sussex, was scrutinized by the British media on multiple occasions. It caused her and her husband, Prince Harry, to take legal action against the tabloids.
The media had headlines making Markle out to be “pushy” and “too American.” They accused her of being mean to her sister-in-law Kate Middleton and attacked her for using jets to travel in the midst of climate change issues.
There was also criticism claiming that she was less classy and regal than Middleton, who is the Duchess of Cambridge. These negative claims further push the stigma that Black girls have bad attitudes, are money hungry and are unfriendly.
Black women are one of the most unique and diverse groups of people — with our hair, our skin range and our curves.
We have learned how to embrace our culture and its differences throughout history, but embracing it still gets us in trouble.
Gabrielle Union was recently fired from her position as a judge on “America’s Got Talent. She complained about a number of issues that occurred behind the scenes, but she claims she was also told that her hairstyles were “too black” for AGT’s audience.
Once again, in 2019 we’re still being policed for an element that’s a huge part of our identity and culture.
Going into the new year, we also need to recognize that while Black women are strong, powerful figures, they are still human beings who are allowed to experience mental illness.
R&B singer Summer Walker recently told the world that she suffers from social anxiety, causing her to have trouble performing in front of large crowds and talking to different people.
Fans quickly became dismissive, claiming that she should have “known what she was getting into” when becoming an artist and questioned how she was able to be an exotic dancer some four years ago with a mental illness, according to The Face.
Dismissing mental health for Black people further pushes the stigma that Black people are physically and mentally invincible, which is rooted in white supremacy ideologies.
Black women have created their own lanes in the music industry and continue to be some of the greatest driving forces for tons of genres. Pop singer and rapper Lizzo made that clear this year after her hit “Truth Hurts” became a viral hit two years after it’s initial release in 2017.
But as she became famous, harsh comments about her weight and claims that she has been pandering to white audiences started filling social media.
Due to the stereotypical boxes people place Black women in, Black critics felt like her music didn’t have enough “soul” and acted as if pop was a genre only for white people.
Whitney Houston faced the same criticism in the late 1980s with her pop hits like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
Lizzo’s situation also spoke to her size with fat-phobic comments like, “Dumpy fat girl spectacle” and “Modern day Mammy.”
Black women deserve the freedom to be who they are. We don’t have to fit inside of your boxes.
Black women face intersectionality as we have to deal with racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. In 2019, at least 22 Black trans women were killed. Trans Black women’s lives matter and they deserve a happy life and safe space.
In order to give Black women what they need, we must unlearn internalized homophobia, misogyny, anti-blackness and the stereotypical stigmas associated with Black women.
From Black women facing racial disparities in health care to Black girls being called “mean,” we deserve to be listened to. We deserve better pay, more credit, more inclusion and more protection in 2020.