Friday, August 29, 2014

What Is The Black Woman's Privilege?

During my 8th grade year I switched schools. I didn't just switch though. I switched two months into the new school year. I was surrounded by new classmates and had to make mostly new friends. I knew a couple of the other students from various places like church and summer programs. So I was in a brand a new school with brand new teachers. I had to learn them as they learned how to deal with me. That same school year also happened to be my first school year where my body was going through new experiences.

See even though it was middle school and this was the most comment time for little girl's body to start experiencing womanly things, the school rules did not help the transition flow. Like clockwork my period would start each month and each month I'd hate my body a little more. I needed pills for the pain and enough pads to get my through the school day. I also needed as many bathroom breaks as possible. I was a clean freak and uncontrollable blood  leaking doesn't go well with that mentality.

One day I asked to go to the restroom during one of my classes. It was Algebra. I remember that white teacher's face as she said no. I explained to her that I was on my period. This is something every woman understands, right? I thought every woman understood up until that point. Strange things were happening to make my body very uncomfortable and she didn't give a damn. She would not let me out that classroom. I should have left anyway and handled my business, but I was trying to be a good student. By the time that bell rang and I took off to the restroom it was too late. Some blood had trickled down to my underwear. This was my first experience of learning that becoming a woman was hard. Years before I had learned that becoming a Black woman in a white-washed society would be the hardest experience ever. Books taught me that.

There is an article on titled Michael Brown's Death Reopened My Eyes to My Privileges As A Black Woman. I've read it more than once trying to find the privileges she is trying to say we have.

The army has changed hair policies a couple of times over the last year. At one point they said no one joining could have natural hair. They were referring to the kinky stuff that grows of the heads of us proud Black women. They were referring to dreadlocks, Afros, braids, and any other form of natural styles you can think of. Those certain hairstyles were restricted simply because the people making the rules did not think of those looks as professional. Black women raised so much Hell that the restrictions have been taken off. However, where is the privilege in knowing you may be denied the job of protecting the country just because you have braids or an Afro?

Or let's even look at the Save Our Sons initiative. It's positive and for bettering the lives of our back men. It's for saving the lives of our black men. It's for standing up for the lives our black men. However, Black women don't get the same treatment. Over the summer rape photos of a 16 year old Black girl hit the internet. When articles started going up in support of her, they were all written by Black women. Black men didn't want to touch the story. They may have tweeted about it, but outside of that they felt no responsibility. This is excluding the political leaders of course. This is a huge pattern. Black women get mistreated or murdered and most people turn their backs. Black men get mistreated or even killed and everyone wants everyone else to become an activist. We did just have some luck in the Renisha McBride case. The man who shot and killed her was found guilty and will be spending a long time in prison. However, we can't fight to bring justice to one black woman and ignore others. There is no privilege in that.

I get that the author was saying black men have to be more cautious in society, but don't we have to be just as cautious? We're judged by how sexual we are. We're judged by how our hair looks. We're constantly told to smile when we never asked for the stranger's input. White women do stuff and are seen as cool, but we as black women do the same things and are seen as ratchet.