Yesterday, I was posed with a question about why I would repost a meme elevating Black women as the “Top Women”. A sweet friend of mine felt she could not get on board with the idea, and that it was a further way to divide women….that “all women were top women.” I assured her it was in no way meant to detract from that truth, divide women, or to de-elevate non-Black women. I meant to intentionally give praise during this time, and going forward, for all that my life is and has been because of the beautiful Black and Brown women in my life. After sleeping on the conversation, I feel moved to expand on it a bit more, since Black/Brown women have been taking a back seat to the whole world–specifically to white women–since like say, forever maybe. And that time is over, as far as I am concerned.
White women have been the most “protected” and celebrated of women among the human families for over 400 years since colonialism decimated lands, people, and resources. Racism convinced white people that Black and Brown men, “savages” they were called, were going to ravage and take white women. That they were going to destroy white supremacy and taint the “superior” white “race”.
Guess what group of women were actually ravaged and taken as the white man saw fit?? Guess what group of women still statically experience more violence and sexual harassment, higher rates of imprisonment, and silencing? What group of women gets paid the least on a dollar? Whose wombs were sterilized in massive numbers to prevent pro-creation? What women have the highest number of infant mortality rates and pregnancy complications, or marked disparities in access to healthcare? Who cleaned your ancestors’ homes and raised their white children all day; only to go home and tend their own homes and families? What women tilled your ancestors’ fields while having their backs scarred by day, and their wombs made non-consenting vessels for their enslavers’ bastard children by night?
Who had their children stolen and sold off to the highest bidding enslaver for child labor and exploitation? Who still have their families disproportionately ripped apart by a racist carceral state? Please tell me exactly what group of women still experiences daily discriminations, real and un-imagined, over 400 years later, simply because of the color of their skin? Why is there now a law signed into effect against “No Knock” warrants as a result of Breonna Taylor’s murder by a police officer, yet that officer has yet to face charges? This Black woman lie asleep in her own bed, after serving the community as an EMT all day, and her body was riddled with EIGHT deadly bullet wounds. How does this happen? Do you think it would have happened to a white woman? Has it ever?? I’m waiting…Anyone?
So you see why it is imperative, now more than ever, that white women not only take a seat and listen, but that we collectively work to elevate Black/Brown sistars to their rightful positions along side us. And yes for a while, a long while, that may feel uncomfortable to many. De-centering whiteness in general may even feel traumatic to some, given many are just now awakening to how their own whiteness is and has been, the axis upon which every other “race” revolves around, systemically speaking.
Many feel “all” women matter, or that all women share a common experience. We don’t and we never have. This has been the historical problem among white feminists and the women’s movement. The disconnect eventually resulted in Black and Brown sistars pulling away and creating a space for themselves outside of white feminist camps/agendas—Womanism.
Yes all women matter. All women are queens, sistars; givers and protectors of life. But right now, we are talking about Black and Brown women. Women’s voices and experiences that have disproportionately been erased and silenced for centuries. And we must keep talking about them; alongside them, with them. Until everywhere is free.
Starting with my daughter, and to all the beautiful melanated queens in my world—thank you for the many ways you have each personally and profoundly shaped my life’s journey, or at minimal, deeply inspired me at some point. I am every bit of who I am today because of you. There are so many more not pictured here—voices, names, and pictures that will go unheard, unknown, and unseen. I see and remember you all. I know you have carried the world on your backs for my ancestors and I to live a privileged life. I can never claim to imagine what that must feel like. And maybe I wouldn’t have chosen that for you, your ancestors, or myself. But I stand with you in awareness, now and always, acknowledging your accumulated trauma and pain. I will keep fighting alongside you. I do not pretend to have the answers, and I certainly won’t always get it right. But I openly ask what more I/we can do to be of service? It is my highest duty and honor. Truly.