The Unbearable Darkness of Being a Black Woman

I feel completely, utterly, and uniquely alone in this world.

While the media practically salivates over the mistreatment of the black man to bolster it’s ratings and foster a sense of caring about the justice for all, the mistreatment of The Black Woman seems barely a blip on the radar. Not until the case of convicted, serial rapist Daniel Holtzclaw was forced in front of the media’s constantly shifting gaze did we hear about some of the abuses black women face on a daily basis and just how hopeless we feel to stand against it. How many times did you hear public discourse over the targeted killing of black women or women killed by police officers before this case? Why are the horrors perpetrated against me looked at with such apathy?

When I turn on the radio I’m doused with the lyrical gasoline from the men in my community, they have to shout out to the world how they really feel about me; and while they spit fire, I am engulfed in flames. As they skyrocket to fame rapping about the fact they are looking for a woman who has her own– that you don’t have to help a real black woman accomplish anything. I’m left dealing with the stigma from within my own community, that I am a gold digger. My mission is always to see how much money I can get out of the men in my life, despite the statistics that show that I am more likely to be the head of my household–shouldering the burden of all I encounter with a determination that leaves Atlas in awe. Any request for assistance from me is met with these cries that I am a lazy gold digger trapping men with unwanted pregnancies for a check; a stereotype that my country has wholeheartedly adopted about me. I am the Welfare Queen. I don’t recall any cries from any pundits at the time about the president being a race baiter back then, just the silent nod of acceptance that this was a fitting description, this one woman became the mascot of all black women in America.

You might imagine that running my own household would be seen as a strength of character but, alas, those numbers come with a different stigma: the stigma of the dysfunctional family. Even though the research shows that single mother households are on the rise across the nation, the relatively lofty term of “breadwinner mom” download (2)never seems to apply to me with my cocoa skin and broken home. The blame for that broken home is laid squarely at my feet because, in addition to being a gold digger, I am also the overbearing black woman who emasculates men; the succubus who drains the life, determination and will out of men. But can someone tell me, if he isn’t there by chance or by design, when do I have the opportunity?

Alongside all of this, I am the finger-snapping, constantly undulating, indiscriminate hyper-sexual dynamo. My curves, confidence, and habit of speaking my mind are signs of my undeniable promiscuity around the world— a world where the idea of women fearlessly owning their sexuality is still one that generates fear and garners disdain. My fierce independent spirit inspires fear more often than respect for all that I endure.

So, after starting my day berating my poor, beleaguered, n’er-do-well man and bilking him and the government out of their money, fulfilling the sexual needs of the masses, I am off to finish the day as the ceaselessly capable, Strong Black Woman. Did you get whiplash there? I did, I get that whiplash every day and no I can not tell you how these visions of me are reconciled. There is no concern for me and my burdens because I not only carry them with ease, impervious to the perils of the world, I long for the right to do so– so I’m led to believe.

I am the Sistah Girl/Sidekick in every romantic comedy compelling my true-love worthy, white counterpart forward, training her how to be stronger and how to get her man in line, replete with neck twisting, eye rolling, nearly religious choruses of “ummmm hummms” demonstrating how I take no shit and see through it all. My feminine mystique combines with my voodoo acumen gifted to me because of my African bloodline directly from the spirit world to give me a wisdom that can only be tapped into to help solve the problems for the white ingenue. I don’t have deep and enriching relationships and my emotionally crushing unsolvable woes can only be fixed by the white hero/heroine. I am a pillar of strength unfazed by life’s daily grind when doling out sister girl advice, but that well dries up when I’m faced with my own issues and must be saved by the love and kindness of a White knight.

There is no quarter given for the Black Woman. I am subjected to the same abuses and mistreatment that black men face in the struggle for racial equality. I face the same struggle that white women face in the struggle for gender equality– hit nearly twice as hard by poverty. Yet, I am suspiciously absent from the spotlight in the discussions on how to deal with any of these topics but my face will be front and center when it comes time to place the blame. Tell me where is my safe haven? Where is my outlet? Can you even hear my voice now or am I being filtered through your preconceived notions of what I must be and what I must do?

SeriouslyI am invisible, facing my struggles alone while simultaneously shouldering half of the struggle of black men, pushed into the shadows of feminism until there is a need for the powerful image I strike with my fist held in the air with the glory of my Afro emblazoned on “the cause”. But undoubtedly, when some Black Woman is caught, possibly on the worst day of her life, not being sufficiently docile, someone will have the audacity to ask her, “But why are black women so angry?”


Editor’s Note: This article was published before the Progressive Army Editorial Board had formed and has not been reviewed at this time for adherence to current Progressive Army Editorial Standards.


Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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The Unbearable Darkness of Being a Black Woman