Recently I had a social media encounter with a high school classmate that caused me to pause and take notice. I posted a quote from one of my favorite writers, Maya Angelou, on my page. Here’s the quote:
“There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.”
Apparently this was offensive to my classmate who is a white female living in Oregon with a degree from Duke University. Though she usually displays an open mind, this quote caused her to react defensively. She wanted me to know that she knows plenty of white women who are strong. This raised my cockles a little and I took a deep breath before responding. Hey, I didn’t need to come off as ‘The Angry Black Woman’ in this instance. Once I breathed the appropriate response came to me:
‘I am sure you do, as do I. It is not a competition.’
I felt really good about this response and was happy I did not elicit an emotional response.(I’ve been working on that) The reply seemed to neutralize the situation, but I felt the need to expound a little to ensure my friend understood where I am coming from when I post such quotes.
First and foremost I need you to get out of your feelings. When I post something positive about black people it is not a critique of you or your life. I am simply posting something positive about black people.
Why do you have to specify ‘black people’ you may ask? Well it is a huge part of who I am for one. Additionally the reason it is necessary to use quotes and hashtags to uplift people of color is because of the world we live in. Have you ever turned on the TV and simply paid attention to the representation of black people there? Well I have and let me tell you the days of seeing positive role models on the airwaves are long gone. Growing up I could watch such gems as Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Beah Richards to name a few. All of these women were poised and classy ladies. They were a source of pride and reflected positivity for little black girls and boys to emulate. Today we are regulated to watching reality TV with video vixens and baby mamas at the helm. Unfortunately, little black boys and girls see them as the norm and try to emulate them the same way my generation did our heroes. Even the so called educated black female characters on popular scripted shows, though entertaining, are reduced to adulteresses and conniving schemers. I know we should not look to TV for references of positive role models, but who are we kidding? That is exactly where today’s youth looks for inspiration on how to live their lives. It may not be right, but it is reality.
The next point I want you all to understand is that a positive, uplifting message about a black person is not meant to be compared to any other race. It is a statement with no other agenda except to uplift the person being referred to. It can be very taxing to go through life seeing images of people who look like you more times than not depicted as a stereotype. It feels good to read a positive quote or see a post on social media that is meant to make you feel better about yourself. Why is that so hard for others of different races and cultures to understand? You have positive images of people who look like you everywhere. In fact it is the ‘standard’ by which everyone else is judged. Me being positive to myself and my fellow black people has no reflection on you. It is simply something that is sorely needed in this world. And before you argue the fact that if you went around saying ‘white girl magic’ or any other chants, remember you don’t have to. All you need to do is turn on the TV, open a magazine or walk outside to know that you have positive influences that look like you. The moniker is unnecessary for you.
Ok, I am done with my rant. All I ask is the next time you see#blackgirlsrock, #blackgirlmagic or any other saying in reference to a certain group of people, please stay out of your feelings and put yourself in their shoes. Remember, everything is not about you and it is not a competition!
Now back to my long weekend. Peace and blessings to you all and remember…