Sex & Gender

op-ed: feel the fire – black women are not too hard to love

May 18, 2016
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I’ve heard the talk about Black women and how unloveable we are. How we got “too much attitude” and “too much drama.” Somehow, our attitudes are personal flaws instead of responses to systematic issues. I’ve heard people refuse to love Black women because of how we respond to our oppression. Black women’s bodies and access to the love that supports their bodies are targeted. We refuse to love Black women because we refuse to be reminded of the hatred that exist in our society.

You cannot deal with white supremacy without dealing with a Black woman’s pain. Her pain is deep and varied, systematic and interpersonal. Black women’s existence is rebellion. Our smiles are protest. When we live so can another generation. Our trauma is only inconvenient if you want to remain ignorant. Our attitude is apart of the movement. Denying us love because of our pain fuels misunderstanding. Loving Black women through their pain is social justice work.

By Fire Angelou, AFROPUNK contributor

White supremacy does not care about a Black woman’s feelings. Black women are not granted the space to feel, to snap our necks or serve tea and side eye. Our identity and emotions are demanded to be one-dimensional. We are expected to appropriately response to an inappropriate system. But, we are human. No, we are not always happy. Some of us do yoga or reiki to get balance. Some of us pray to Osun, Jesus or Allah. Some of us just wyle the fuck out. All of which are reasonable responses to racism and sexism.

We cannot forget to love Black women and their pain. Black women are the microcosm into the american consciousness. Our love is informed by historical trauma, our pleasure by pain, our joy by despair. Black women know what it is to love because we’ve known the depths of hatred. Our love is resilient. When we wake up and survive the day, the month, the year, the world — we are worthy of life. We are worthy to be loved.

Photo edit credit: Pierre Jean Louis

There are problematic behaviors that an oppressed person can have. However, we cannot immediately blame Black women for their response to white supremacy instead, we should join the fight. If you are not actively working to stop a Black woman’s pain, don’t complain about how we respond to it. This is not to say that our pain cannot be counseled, but it should not be policed. What accountability measures do we hold for Black women? How can we dare tell Black women how they should respond to hate, when we are too afraid to show them love? If the pain of a Black woman scares you from loving her, imagine what the source of the pain looks like.

Perhaps, I would love and live differently if my nappy hair didn’t get me rejected at job interviews. If “woman” was not the alternative word for weak. If I wasn’t constantly reprogramming anti-blackness and anti-womanness. We are worthy of compassion and forgiveness. We are out here trying to save our children, our friends and ourselves. We cannot do this alone. Black women need love.

Photo credit: Tamika Tait

Lately, I’ve been apologizing for being a Black woman. For being too full of war and womanhood. For being too aware of my sociopolitical status. By the time I make it through cops and catcalling, I am tired. My feet are traveled. My eyes are saturated. My body is heavy. If I make it through the day, full of sexism and racism, I summon a smile from what’s left of me. I’m not perfect, but I am working. No one wears chaos more beautifully than a Black woman.

I’ve been doing the work of unlearning self-hatred and unhealthy behavior. It is not easy. When Black women fight for ourselves, we are left with scars. They are not pretty. They are not what people always want to see. Don’t say that you can’t date, marry or love a black woman because of (insert response to white supremacy here). Do not look at our scars and say “I can’t deal with that.”

Look at our scars and say…nothing. Just kiss them.

* Fire Angelou is a truth-teller who flips fear into strength. She celebrates blackness, uses the personal as political and ain’t got time for enablers of white supremacy. She enjoys drumming, twerking and making black people smile. Follow her daily slaying @fireangelou or visit her blog at