the demonization of black women
the disregard of black womens lives and labor
The narrative of black women in America paints a violent history of racist, sexist and classist stereotypes upheld by the White Supremacist Capitalist System. When we can look to the media , we witness the public and vitriolic attack against the psyche of women of color.
Janelle Monae sang it best, in her 2010 song, Many Moons.
In the cybernetic chantdown, Janelle Monae reveals the lines in the racial project that demonizes black woman:
Civil rights, civil war
Hood rat, crack whore
Closet drunk, bathtub
Stepchild, freak show
Black girl, bad hair
Broad nose, cold stare
The denigration of black women is absolutely essential to upholding the evils of capitalism. Sara Bartaman, also known as Hottentot Venus, was a black woman from South Africa who travelled in a freak show. She was oogled in a because of her large hips, thick lips, kinky hair, enlarged labia and large bottom. She was a slave in the 1810s, but came to Europe on her own accord in search of fame and riches. She was degraded in European freakshow circus for years, but later died on the streets of London from poverty and disease. Her body was reserved in a museums and was not returned to Africa until the 2006.
This is one example out of many, that is used to justify the violence against black women’s bodies. We are designated as unwanted, exotic, and savage.
Look no further to the little reported case of a 20 year old black woman in Louisanna, Sharmeka Moffitt, who was set on fire by three klansman. The klansman also wrote “nigger” on her car. This occurred in October 2013, but another statement released by the Winnsboro police department alleged that Moffitt lit herself on fire and lied about the attack. According to Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas, Moffitt’s fingerprints were found on the lighter fluid and the lighter found on the scene of Civitan Park , where the attack occurred.
Sharmeka is still in critical condition, but her family released a public statement, saying “While this was not the resolution we had expected, it is a resolution, and we appreciate the thorough investigation by the local and state police as well as federal agencies”.
I absolutely refuse to believe that a woman set herself on fire and lied about the Klan attacking her.
Must we look at the stats to show how prominent anti-black violence is? Do we really believe that they are no more vestiges of a country that has been built over 500 years of white supremacy, genocide of Africans and Native Americans, rape, forced sterilizations and lynchings does not still produce unjust murders of black woman today?
In 2014, klansmen, white supremacists and fascists still exist. For the third year in a row, the American Renaissance (AmRen) plans on holding a national conference of white supremacists in Montgomery Bell Park in Dickson, Tennessee from April 25 to April 27.
There are 939 hate groups in America. The number of hate groups has increased by 56 percent since 2000.
There were 5,790 single-bias hate attacks. Of these, 48.3 percent were motivated by racial bias, 19.6 percent were motivated by sexual-orientation bias, 19.0 percent were motivated by religious bias, and 11.5 percent were motivated by ethnicity/national origin bias.
America refuses to humanize a victim of an obvious crime. The justice system has once again failed black women.
Instead, Americans are fed images of Sharkeisha, a black teen, who was filmed punching another black girl in the face over a boy. Sharkeisha’s verbal and physical assault was shared widely on the internet almost immediately. The viral video quickly showed that America would rather prioritize the narrative of black woman as hoodrats. We face the dual oppression that Alice Walker and Claudia Jones wrote about. Oppressed because of our sex and our race. Forever confronting sexualized racism and racialized sexism. The very essence of ourselves is subject to ridicule and constant violence.
We are deemed second class citizens. We face these opposing contradictions that black women are welfare queens who do not work and just produce offspring, although black women are the primary caretakers and providers for homes and we still make less money than black men. We are seen as matriarchs who are usurping the power of black men, but yet we are not allowed the opportunity to be seen as valuable to the economy. Our reproduction is not valued and instead we are blamed for producing generations of crack babies on welfare.
For too long, black women’s narratives have been written against us. it is time for us to seize the opportunity to reconstruct a radical vision of society where women like Moffiitt’s stories have an ending of justice. For too long long we are demonized as caricatures as mammies, jezebels, hoodrats, and irresponsible mothers.