How did black women get their attitude?
The origins of snappiness come from slave life in America. Black women were brought and sold right beside the male slaves. Many slaves were naked as they were auctioned; their body parts appraised and audited shamming them in front of crowds.
The black female body was a commodity. The white female body was considered pure and feminine and worthy of protection. Black female slaves had no right to claim femininity, thus they warranted no protection. Black women were property and did not own their bodies which meant that anyone could do anything they wanted to a black female and not face any punishment at all.
If the slave master wanted to have sexual relations with a black female slave he did it without question or protest from anyone. And as historical legacies go, a subculture that included the sexually ferocious black female was born.
Black women were considered uncivilized workers with vagina’s. Anyone who wanted to quell their human urge for sexual pleasure could take up a slave girl who didn’t have a say in her own life.
As time passed the Constitution was updated, slaves were freed, civil rights were heard, and progress towards equality in America started to take shape. All the while black women were still being objectified. Black feminist issues were not dropped in the American bucket of issues. Our stories did not change much from slavery. Black female issues still take back seat to racial profiling and other issues that deal with black males. Even in modern times, black women and children are still being raped, touched, groped and fondled secretly in their homes and at their gathering facilities.
No one is paying attention.
Many black females will tell stories of their childhoods where they were repeatedly molested and taken advantage of by both strangers and family members. Not to suggest that every black girlhood includes sexual exploitation and degradation.
Many black females have healthy molestation free childhoods. But many people will look at these women and assume that they have lived a horrid life comparable to Sapphire’s “Precious” character. But one thing most black woman can identify with is being tied to a stereotype of having an “attitude”.
This attitude was formed out of necessity to protect oneself.
Linking our ancestry back to slavery times we see that we had no recourse. No one shielded black woman from the force of brutality and labor. Black woman worked hard and maybe even harder than the male slaves in the cotton fields.
Since no one took us in, we took ourselves in. We internalized our struggles and use the pain to fuel our verbal and physical attacks.
We still think that no one loves us and we have to “look out for our own”.
Today black woman are still viciously combating their attackers with tough language that makes even a manly man fall back. We’ve learned that a “don’t mess with me” attitude aids in deterring unwanted people from our presence. But there is a down side.
This use of power has expanded to any and every one. We’ve turned on each other. Girl fights in clubs and jealous rages have become the norm in black girl world.
I’ve spoken with many black women who said “I don’t let nobody disrespect me.” I truly understand this.
But we must be careful to remember that Respect is earned.
The horror of slavery has shaped our ancestors thinking and behavior, thus shaping our grandmothers, and then our mothers. Now us…
I can see and feel the change in the American air. Some say we are in a post-racial society, with the black President, black first lady, black kids in the white house, and self-actualized black women all around the country. I’m not sure if we are in a post-racial society or not but what I do know is that the fragile black female is a beautiful relevant member of American society and she can be herself without an attitude.
I am not against sass. I am against unresolved anger. We should extinguish our anger and move forward.