The notion of sacrifice in the black community has long been raised on a pedestal. It is even more so for black women, who are constantly relegated to the background. Plus, on the social scale, black women are at the very bottom. So, we grow and evolve in the world with all these flaws, all these feelings that we have internalized and accepted in spite of ourselves.
Being a woman in today’s society is not an easy thing. It is even more difficult when you are a black woman. Whether in our personal or professional lives, we face a lot of obstacles.
Misogyny, sexism, patriarchy are common in our societies. More than that, we learn from our mothers, who learned from theirs, and so on. It is time to break this cycle, to erase these rules that prevent us from taking back our power and asserting ourselves.
- In our families
In our African families, women come in second place. This is mainly due to the influence of religion: the man is the head of the family, the main figure, the woman is his helper. The woman, from an early age, is educated for this purpose, namely to help her man, to accompany him, to serve him.
Unfortunately, her ambitions in life, what she would like to accomplish, are not as important as her marriage and family life.
How many brilliant women have had to abandon their projects, bend to the will of their families ?
- Here is something else: black women and motherhood.
We need to be good mothers, sacrificing our (mental) health, our well being. Our children need to be taken care of. We are doing the most of the caring, the nurturing. Fathers are expected to financially support the family, nothing more. Yes, a good father is a father who bring money. But, what about the mental support ? Emotional maturity ? What about all the invisible work ?
- In our romantic relationships
As I said earlier, from a very young age, we realize that our desires are not so important. Therefore, we grow up with a false self-image, we accept the unacceptable and we endorse all sorts of things. That’s the norm for us, because we don’t know anything else.
In a very predictable way, this is felt in our relationships with others, precisely in our dating relationships. We internalized that misogyny, that idea that as women, we’re not that important. It’s a daily struggle, because trying to think the opposite of what we’re being taught is very difficult.
For example, a very popular subject: infidelity. Under our skies, this one is trivialized. Why ? Where does this idea come from ? We are asked to forgive, to accept, to bear… because “all men are unfaithful”. No, this is false. Know your worth, set boundaries, show that you will not accept the unacceptable.
Similarly, a woman will be asked to stay with a violent man. The reasons given are often the same, namely: you have to stay for the children, marriage is for the better but also the worse, it is not that big of a deal…
We will also be asked, implicitly, to lower our standards. After all, who are we to ask for a handsome, ambitious, feminist man ?
Why not be content with what is within our grasp or why not follow the example of our mothers, the ones who have had unhappy marriages ?
Because we are a new generation, because we accept our imperfections, our failures. We get up every time.
Remember this: in our dating relationships, we must learn to take care of ourselves first! Be happy with yourself, before you want to be happy with someone else. Love yourself, cherish yourself. Take care of yourself, your physical and mental health. Work to achieve your goals, to advance your projects. You can do anything ; your sex, your gender, your skin color will make it a little more difficult for you but inspire yourself with these black women who have never given up !
- In our lives, everyday
Breaches of our integrity are so frequent that we have standardized them. Yet, a clapback can be more than useful sometimes.
For example: the remarks about your clothes, your hairstyles, your makeup ? You won’t let anything go by. Your life choices are your business.
In this era of fiery feminism, more and more women are making their voices heard. Unfortunately, our beloved continent remains… Naturally, black women, African women, still have a long way to go.
Black women need to be leaders, not martyrs. It is our time to be the leaders we want to see for the future, to show our sisters and daughters that we are capable and worthy.
Let me share with you this amazing poem by Maya Angelou.
Most importantly, whenever life comes at me a bit harder, I remember that like dust, like air, I’ll rise.
Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.