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Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” His words still reign true today as we observe Black women receiving bottom of the barrel treatment from society even though they are the standard of beauty and trendsetters who make mainstream culture.
Since the beginning of time, Black women have never had control over aspects of their identity. In parts of Africa, Black women were -- and still are -- reduced to being babymakers and housemaids. The only way for them to be valued as a “real woman” is the upstanding status of their husband and how many kids they have, especially if they have male children.
Additionally, Black women are barred from sharing their opinions in decisions regarding societal laws and treated inhumanely when tragedy befalls them, like when they are sexually assaulted or if their husband dies prematurely. In some African cultures, the wife is instantly blamed for her husband’s untimely death, causing them to be humiliated and ostracized from the community. Some of the humiliating acts include being forced to drink the water that was used to clean her husband’s corpse or getting her head shaved in front of all of the women in the community.
Once Black women were shipped to America to be slaves, they were sexually assaulted by their white masters and treated as property. In this manner, Black women were seen as sex objects. The white madams of the house also hypersexualized their Black female slaves because they did everything in their power to ensure that they were covered up, from their head to their toes, because they didn’t want their husbands to touch them as they were insecure. They also worked with the men on the plantation to strip them of their African identities and strong spirit.
I could talk about all of the times when Black women have been treated as second-class citizens in America, like during the first-wave of feminism when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony barred Black women from working with them and other white women on suffrage rights, when Joe Biden and the other members of the 1991 Senate Judiciary Committee harshly questioned Anita Hill when she came out about her Clarence Thomas sexual assault experience, or when Megan thee Stallion got shot by Tory Lanez!
Speaking of the Megan thee Stallion situation, instead of getting the support she needed after such a traumatic incident, social media, especially Black men on social media, joked about her misfortune and dragged her to filth once she finally spoke out about her welfare!
We have seen and heard the endless stories of Black women being unprotected and not getting the respect that they deserve. The problem is that, though we know these stories, society still doesn’t learn from history and refuses to treat Black women with respect. Even Black women don’t treat Black women with respect!
Although some subgroups of society refuse to change their old ways regarding treating Black women like the queens they are, others are finally doing the opposite. Due to the recent travesties trending on social media, like a group of Black men tossing a Black woman in the dumpster, Breonna Taylor’s killers not being held accountable, and Tory Lanez not being held accountable for what he did to Megan, a movement has erupted called #ProtectBlackWomen. This movement works to empower our Black women and convey how beautiful, talented, and outstanding they are in various spaces. It also works to ensure that there is a solid community behind Black women whenever they encounter troubling experiences, like rape, assault, and colorism.
With the longstanding history of disrespect toward Black women, hopefully, we can make things right. We can make things right by standing in solidarity with our amazing Black queens and work on protecting them from the atrocities created by the deep-rooted effects of historical events that worked to tear them down in the first place.
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