I am a black woman and I am proud. I love the fullness of my lips I love the kink in my hair. I love the color of my skin. I am a black woman and I am proud.
I love my black sisters. I love their sassiness. I love their wisdom. I love their strength. I am a black woman and I am proud.
It has been 45, almost 46 years since I was born this way. I feel as though I have finally earned my right to speak on being a black woman. I have done the work. I have walked the walk and I have talked the talk. I see us. I see us 20/20 strong. I don’t need retrospect to speak to me as though it will clarify anything. I get it.
I work in a place where you can count the number of black women on one hand. This same place doesn’t have a single minority supervisor, manager or team lead male or female. All of the black women that I work with are degreed and experienced in their fields. All of us except for one have applied for promotions and been passed over for less qualified white women. I am not a racist. I am stating the facts. Telling you what I know and not what I heard. Speaking from my own pain.
I see us work three times as hard to get half as much. I see us afraid to speak up because we need the half that we are getting. I see us miserable because we feel like we don’t matter. It is frustrating and it enrages me. I see black women being accused of having an attitude when really they are just tired of being stepped on. We don’t have an attitude. We are one recipe away from a chocolate pie. I see us holding back tears as white priveledge rapes us of opportunity without repercussion. I see us holding our swollen wombs filled with ideas, suggestions, answers that could make a difference in our fields, but we refuse to give it away. We would rather suffocate that baby then to give it away to be claimed by another. I see us.
Why do people think that, “NO” coming from a black woman is any different than, “NO” coming from a white woman? It remains a complete sentence either way. If I say no, I am insubordinate. If my white co-worker says no she is defending the integrity of her work. It is disgusting. It sickens me and I have had to walk away several times in order to keep the peace. I was working between 48 and 52 hours a week with a three hour commute each day. I did it because initially I enjoyed my job. Now I work my 40 and I’m out. I cannot condone the behavior of the company.
We have to work. We don’t have to allow people to mistreat us though and that goes for each other. I used to grin and bare it. I speak up now. I have reported it to human resources, hired an attorney and filed claims with EEOC. I wish that I could tell you that it was easy, but it hasn’t been. I can tell you that the system is filled with bureaucratic red tape. I can also tell you to never expect your company to right their wrongs. If you are looking for an apology or an immediate outcome…don’t!
I also cannot condone the treatment of black women by black women. So, before I go any further I have to point out one other thing that I have seen amongst black women. Jealousy.
Sisters, we have to support each other. We cannot continue to act like crabs in a barrel. We also cannot continue to not reach back. I know the fear of reaching back. I have been there and done that. I will do it again though. I have been stabbed in the back, lied on, disrespected, accused of all sorts of things, but that is ok. To whom much is given, much is expected. It has never stopped me from reaching back. The opportunities are far and few in between, so when one of us gets an opportunity and we reach back to pull another one up we both need to act like we have some sense. Don’t treat each other badly. Please. If we continue to do childish things we will continue to struggle to feed our children. We can do better. I know that we can.
I am passionate about my blackness. I am passionate about being a woman. I am passionate about being a black woman.
Sisters, I see you. When you are tired, take one more step. When you are frustrated, give it one more go. When you are all prayed out, say one more prayer. When you think you are alone in this battle, take a good look at one of your other black sisters and know that you are not alone.
Give a kind word to each other. Say good morning. Hold the door or the elevator. Ask her how she is doing. If she is in the car next to you give her a genuine smile and a nod. We are not kind enough to each other. Support your sisters. Sisters, don’t slack when it comes to us. Don’t give less than your best. You never know who might make the difference in your life. Always give your absolute best.
Sisters, I see you. I see who we were, who we are and who we can be. Keep you head up.
Black Woman by Tupac Shakur
…I want smiles 2 replace the sorrow
that u have encountered in the past
and since it was strength that attracted me 2 u
it will take strength 2 make it last…