Pour a Glass of Lemonade…

The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.

                                                                                                -Malcolm X

On May 2nd, 1962 Malcolm X uttered these words during his speech in Los Angeles. X was speaking on the lack of protection that black men were offering black woman, and the dire need to change that. Fast forward 54 years later, this excerpt was used in one of Beyonce’s new songs first heard through a HBO Special. The song is a part of her visual album entitled Lemonade, and takes its audience on a tour of the emotional strife and eventual resurrection the black woman must go through on a daily basis. Her resurrection is not always by choice, but because she has always had the burden of caring for and creating a nation, all out of lemons.

Now America’s history with those who bore their fruit has always been sketchy, but there is a special love/hate relationship when it comes to the black woman. The love of her sexual prowess, child-bearing capabilities, and physical being are enamored. But her voice, her ability to choose and think for herself is shunned. It’s like forcing someone to stand straight, with a smile of course, and ask them to carry you on their back – all while chipping away at their spine.

The black woman has no ownership over her own sexuality. She does not dictate how she wants to express her sexuality and she does not dictate how she is sexualized. The black woman has no ownership over her intellectualism. She is either too smart, not smart enough, always working ten times as hard to prove herself. The black woman is thus forced into a dichotomy where she only has the choice, the space for one type of being that she can be in order to survive. Either she will take ownership of her sexuality and face its burdens or she will take ownership of her intellectualism and face its burdens. Never both and never none. For if she doesn’t choose, the choice will be made for her.

One day, I went on my Twitter account, and I found men, black men, praising Ayesha Curry for being the last real example of what a woman should be, all because she said she preferred to dress moderately in one of her tweets. Men, black men, were saying she was a smart woman for her choice and that’s why she had a husband. Those who disagreed with her or saw holes in her statement, were deemed whores, sluts, and obviously single.

About a month ago, I read an article on how video vixen turned author Karrine Steffans was dragged through the mud for calling Oprah a hoe? However, what was actually said was,

 

 

 

 

Although what she actually said and what articles interpreted that she said are completely different, it’s important to note that Ms. Steffans was called out for a “hoe” calling a prominent woman something so “less than” of her.

Again, either the black woman will take ownership of her sexuality and face its burdens or she will take ownership of her intellectualism and face its burdens. Never both and never none. For if she doesn’t choose, the choice will be made for her.

Recently however, a social phenomenon has taken place. Maybe tired that the words of women before them like Collins and Crenshaw were not being listened to or maybe because social media has a way of giving voice to the voiceless, black women began to break against the dichotomy placed upon them through years of oppression, supremacy, and black respectability politics. 

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The hashtag #ICanBeBoth highlighted black women who aspired to be boardroom executives and found it appropriate to “twerk” on the weekends with friends. The hashtag showed black women having fun and being serious. The hashtag show black women how to support those with degrees and those who were sex workers. The hashtag let black women embrace and dictate their full being.

A long time ago, a boundary was placed between the black woman and her own sexuality, the black woman and her body, the black woman and her voice. What the #ICanBeBoth movement allowed for, was for her to reclaim it. It gave her to choice to choose whether she would engage or disengage with her sexuality, but above all it did not shame her for her choice. When the black women is rightfully allotted the opportunity to reclaim her very being, she is allowed to break away from the identities that pigeonhole her and cause her to conform to binaries that are painstakingly damaging to one’s soul.

Can you imagine the possibilities from a woman, a black woman, whose freed from her chain and allowed to be herself. Look at all she has done with a broken spine and the world on her back.

 

-Bodeline Kella Dautruche

 

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