Tuesday, August 23, 2016

AS BLACK WOMEN WE NEED TO MAKE OUR OWN...

The lackluster response to defending an imperfect Korryn Gaines right after we, as Black Lives Matter supporters, just finished defending sexual predator Alton Sterling has me rethinking the familiar black concept

"We, as black people, need to make our own"
You've heard this before, right? Black folks should have heard this many time before.

"We, as black people, need to make our own" is tossed out into the conversational mix by black people who think white people own everything they say they own in this country. I'll even say it sometimes. I say it whenever I get frustrated trying to hang on to (or get back) the pieces of America that I think belong to me and my 13%

An example: When black people were frustrated with Oscars So White I and Oscars So White 2  some black people said "We need to make our own movies" Yes, I agree But I think we have to demand our share of the whole American pie even as we do "make our own"

But now I'm starting to rethink the order of things. 

Maybe "we need to make our own" needs to come first before joining. Maybe we're mostly already done with the "making our own" phase in television and movies. Maybe we're joining the mainstream now with black directors making movies that don't just star black people that JUST attract black audience which is only 13% and not enough to make a movie a blockbuster and a movie director/producer a real power player.

Maybe, in terms of entertainment, we've done "make our own" for a few decades and are moving into making television and movies that are for a diverse audience with diverse characters where the black and brown are leads ("How To Get Away With Murder")

But maybe "We need to make our own"  
also applies to having to black women having a separate space from black men in many areas of life, so we can recover our strength and be more demanding about who we see as suitable allies and partners within the black community.

In other words,
I think black women
need to think of black men
in some of the same ways
that we think of most of the white population

...sometimes.

Just like white people 

are willfully ignorant of their privilege 
and will mow us down 
to protect one of their own,
black men are willfully ignorant of their privilege

and will mow us down 
to protect one of their own   

(R. Kelly, Ray Rice, Chris Brown, 
Bill Cosby, Alton Sterling, 
and lately Nate Parker and Jean Celestin) 

So I've been thinking for a while that "We need to make our own" also applies to black women having a separate space from black men in movies, in television, and in everything....even Black Lives Matter.

For example, instead of trying to re-inject black women into #BlackLivesMatter with #SayHerName, maybe we need to focus on black women victims first, middle, and last. Maybe we need a #BlackWomenMatter social media nexus. In our spare time, we can focus on what's happening to black men.

That's what black men do in regards to us,  isn't it? That's pretty much what white allies do in regards to black people -- spare time focus, right?

The blogger at For Harriet said she was going to start focusing on black women only a few years ago. And I strongly nay-sayed her at the time. But it didn't take but a few months for me to realize I was wrong. I think Rekia Boyd's death was barely a blip on the black social media radar and very tiny protests for her, some black women reporting that no black men showed up.

So now I think I was even wrong-er about For Harriet's approach than I originally supposed.

I'm not necessarily putting black men down. Or maybe I am. I'm sick and tired or being sick and tired of the begging black men for equal consideration while they roar about white people doing the same thing to them (as if we don't suffer racism too.) However, another part of me thinks that black men are just being more "grown up" than black women are.


By black men taking care of themselves first, maybe they are showing us how to take the oxygen mask that drops down from the ceiling of the plane that's about to crash and put your own on first -- then you think about putting on somebody else's mask. You make sure you don't pass out so you can take care of the person next to you.

Maybe we, as black women, need to think about making a break with mother's bad home training, even though she meant well, and learn to put our own oxygen mask on first then teach daughters to do the same. 


If ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER maybe we, as black women, should look at the deaths of black women first, middle, and last and fit the deaths of black men in the left over spaces. I actually have been trying to do that with this blog over the last year. But it's been difficult.

There is sooo much more information on black men
that it's easier to write a post on about a black man 

that was shot hours ago
THAN IT IS TO
find a new story on a black woman
who also died at the hands of police

that died weeks back
in less spectacular way sometimes (in a jail cell) 
where the author that's writing on the black woman's death 
is only published on some obscure website 
that I'm not sure is reliable.

But I have to find a way to do a better search because, again, black female deaths at the hands of police don't happen in the same locations as it does for black men. The high profile cases most of us know have black men being shot in the street. Black women? Not so much. It seems to me, black women are usually being killed when they are mentally ill or severely emotionally distressed  And their deaths seem to happen in jail a lot. When black women DO DIE in a shoot out, it's often because white men in police uniforms were after a black man that's nearby or living with her.

Black Lives Matter is so lackluster in its coverage of black that even with #SayHerName, I often don't hear about a black woman's death in police custody until a week or a month later. The mainstream news trail is cold or fading away toward being nonexistent by the time I find out about a black woman's death.

I don't think that is strictly Black Lives Matters' fault though. I think black social media, which contains each black one of us on twitter etc., don't pass messages about black women in the same numbers as it does black men. The drums just don't beat as fast and as loud for black women in the black community.  For example, there's no way a serial killer could have killed a few hundred black men in a small neighborhood over 2 years much less 20 years and not have the black men not rise up and find out who was doing it. There's no way The Grim Reaper happens to group but a low status group like black women, sex workers and drug addicted or not.

But here's the good news: I think we already have an example how a new approach to uplifting the race, a revised concept of  "AS BLACK WOMEN WE NEED TO MAKE OUR OWN" that has already proven successful. "As Black Women WE Need To Make Our Own" taking root in Hollywood may not seem "important" But the  shows how one black woman focusing on black women multiplies black female success. And what happens in Hollywood is not nothing, it is an image creating factory.


Shonda Rhimes has stories where the black women, some of the dark-skinned, are central. Older black actresses I hadn't seen in decades have starred in her television shows. Ava DuVernay and Debbie Allen have directed episodes of her shows.  Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, actresses in her work, have ALSO produced movies using their new found fame, power, and money.

Kerry Washington's movie about Anita Hill showed a whole new generation that Anita Hill changed all American women's lives by putting women into politics  And now Washington and Davis have made deals with ABC for even more black female content.

Mara Brock Akil has made Gabrielle Union famous again in "Being Mary Jane"  Regina King has director credit from directing episodes of this show too.

All of the black women mentioned so far, your president, and his wife are all feminists by the way.


Danai Gurira
Danai Gurira (Actress, The Walking Dead) wrote a play, got Lupita Nyongo to star in it along five or so other black women and had a black female director. I think she even had a black female crew and got herself to Broadway. She made history and I saw her play "Eclipsed" just this past May, which is about a real black female historical figure in Liberia.  (A lot of black and brown women on Broadway this year. The Color Purple, Hamilton, Shuffle Along, a few others I think. The next Tony Awards should be more colorful.)

These women all produced television, plays, and movies where black women are not
1) erased and replaced by white women2) erased and replaced by all light women 3) not playing mammy, sassy, whore-ish, or loud angry black woman

...like they have been in black male productions by Spike Lee, John Singleton, and whoever produced most of the Denzel Washington and Will Smith movies you've ever seen. 




What Ava DuVernay (Queen Sugar coming up soon), Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Danai Gurira, and Kerry Washington and finally Oprah (in conjunction with DuVernay) are showing us in Hollywood is that  "AS BLACK WOMEN WE NEED TO MAKE OUR OWN" works. 

We need to stay joined inside Black America and stay with black men making Black American movies. But we need to make our own too, we need to make our own first, make our own more, and only join in Black American movies (with black men) when they come correct. We need to take the same approach as we take with White America and their movie making.


I think "AS BLACK WOMEN WE NEED TO MAKE OUR OWN" needs to become our motto. We can fight to join with black men to keep Black America whole but only if they reciprocate.

Our main focus, as black women, needs to be on having our own Black Lives Matter movement, our own image creation (movies/TV), and our own beauty standards.


We need to stop begging for inclusion and demand it. And we'll have more power to make demands if we have our own separate thing going on.

We also need to stop begging black men to acknowledge that rapists are rapists and domestic abusers are domestic abusers too and find ways to bury these mofos under the jails ourselves. That's part of black women standing apart and becoming whole before we bond to others.  

Black men protect rich black male rapists, rich black male athletes, and rich black male domestic abusers with a silence that is just as loud as the white screamers crying blue tears to protect white cops.



In order to stand apart, we'd first have to unlearn feeling guilty about saying me-and-mine equals black-women-FIRST.

If we make ourselves stronger, it'll wind up making black men stronger.

Some black men are protecting high profile black predators because they hate black women. Misgynoir is real. But a lot of black men are protecting fake ass heroes because they're scared. They're scared of their own negative image. It's okay if we show them we are NOT scared of OUR negative image first. And once we deal with our issues, it's okay if we lead sometimes. It's okay if the woman is the one closest one to the sword and closest to the door picks the sword up to defend the entire household.




My name is "Deborah" And I was named after a woman in the bible who took up the sword and led when a man didn't want to. She did not make all men look all bad for all time.  She just did what she had to do and saved everybody.  


As a black feminist, I know it's okay for black women to lead the way sometimes. I know black men having shame about this, and this shame about not being out front and the NOT the most important makes them the very thing they are afraid of -- being a hell of a lot less than they should be.  Jesse Williams said black men will do better by us. I hope so. But I'm not holding my breathe. I'm going to work on getting black women to take care of themselves and keep black men off to the side until they start making an sincere attempt to put aside patriarchy and STOP SEEING black women as competition in order to become worthy equal partners with black women.


Proverbs 27:17 says, "
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
 

That means both men and women have to be strong. Women cannot keep bending backward trying to accomdate egos and hoping that by being nicer men will become stronger. It doesn't work that way. Black women have to stand as fully accomplished human beings that are ready to be the partner of another fully accomplished human being. 


The entire race can only be strengthened if black women are strong on their own before they partner. That's the only way a woman can be confident enough in her strength that she won't fall for some fixer upper that winds up beating her verbally, emotionally, or even physically because of he's afraid of his own shortcomings.

Black women don't marry a lot now for a lot of reasons already mentioned. But I wonder if we're doing something good with our alone time?  I wonder if, instead of growing and reaching out and creating things for ourselves, for our sisters, like Shonda, Ava, Mara and now Oprah, Viola, and Kerry have, if some of us aren't instead trying to fold ourselves into shoe boxes trying to accommodate what shouldn't be accommodated. I think we feel sorry to the O J Simpsons and Bill Cosbys and Nate Parkers and actually believe the lie that black men have it worst instead of thinking of our own race problems, sexism problems, and rape problems coming from white people in addition to our rape and domestic violence problems with black men on top of that.

Black women making good use of their alone time should be able to deal with grief of feeling like a "race traitor" for not wanting to stand behind black male predators, get rid of guilt that's been conditioned into us. We, as black women, will have to be the ones that say "NO!" to clasping predators to us just because some of us are desperate for black male heroes.  

We, as black women have to stand apart.  We as black women need to make our own television, movies, decisions, homes, Black Women Matter movement, social networks. And then we need to be very discerning about which men are worthy to join us.

We're making them weaker than they would be on their own by enabling the dumb stuff. Jesse Williams, sounds like a feminist?, should not be an exceptional male. John Legend, a self-declared feminist, should not be an exceptional male. Tony Porter should not be an exceptional male. Men who stand by women should be common not exceptional.

Until this kind of man is common, as black women we need to make our own.