Between the two polarized platforms showcasing Black-Woman-Strength that we’ve been hit with this month in the forms of the Televised Black Girls Rock Awards and Tyler Perry‘s Film adaptation of For Colored Girls…There lies much room for Epiphany.
I recently had one in light of these two events- because make no mistake, they are just that; EVENTS…regardless of them just being programs and movies.
Herein lies an unprecedented season for the world at large to see the dynamism of Black women from two unprecedented places and from totally different angles, if not opposing. The praise that Beverly Bond‘s Charity project turned ceremonious mantra and gala had received after airing on November 7th was almost unanimous. The professionalism and flow of it was unseen for an African -American award show – let alone one on BET. And although last year’s Precious had everyone talking, I think just the sheer quantity of talent and beauty and power presented by the stars of this month’s For Colored Girls makes it a film event like nothing before it. The fact that it was helmed by the most powerful, yet acclaimed and reviled Black man in hollywood just adds that much more depth to it.
Those things aside, what I think we can take from the two most importantly (and I say “we” meaning primarily those of us who are NOT Black women) is that the reason why they have made so much of an impact and garnered so much attention and chatter is because there is not enough of a sense of recognition that goes on in real life day -to-day.
On one side of things you have this incredible story that tells the tales of some of the most gruesome, dark, tragic instances of female vulnerability, angst and failure that perhaps can be universal but resonate so much more with women of color because of the setting. On the other, you have this glorious non-pretentious, effortless and ego-less show of solidarity in the form of an award show that finds female African -American entrepreneurs being lauded in the same breath as entertainers in a spectrum that ranged from adolescents to septegenarians. Yet somehow, both were mediums to exhibit the amazing resilience Black women possess.
The recognition of this, however, seems to get lost in the endless real-life shuffle that ensues between Black women and the rest of the world…Particularly with their Black Male counterparts. It seems that that very word gets broken into a compound one, and the focus is always more on the counter than the parts. Perhaps if we spent more time thinking about how we are parts of a whole whether it be a man-woman composite or Black whole, or just a HUMAN emotional whole, we would learn alot more and respect ourselves and our roles as 1 half of the other.
This was my realization…Or at least the reinforcement of one that I had a while ago.
I turned from the award show feeling proud and invigorated. I left the movie feeling an overwhelming urge to never cause hurt to another Black woman or see any Black woman who I know get hurt. I wanted to start my own version of an award show that promotes and celebrates Black men making strides. I wanted to rally every Black male I knew, in a call to step up their efforts to let their Black Women know how much they are appreciated. This is what I wanted to do…In my mind…
I feel it’s probably a simpler start to express it in this blog post.
For all of that strength. All of that undeniable ability and power. All of the passion, the myths the fallacies and the bark and the bite…at the end of the day, they are still very much still women. There’s an emotional nature buried under however many layers each individual Black female comes with or has built up. There’s a core that is similar to them all and a fragility that’s not hard to find. The history of Black women in America particularly is a torrid one; full of road blocks, let downs, adjustments and evolution. Black men have done alot to offset and augment the identity of Black women over the last 80 years or so. There’s been a void caused by lack of responsibility mostly, and now what is ever-so-prominent is this constant invisible power struggle between the 2 genders. As the gap widens between education and economic status, and Black men find new ways of letting their women down, the outcome is smarter, more self-sufficient women, who are more guarded and less appreciated.
I hope this award show and this movie has the same effect on other men as it has on me. I hope its the catalyst to spark conversation as it has been so far, and pushes further convo into action that makes us want to see happier, gentler, successful, enterprising Black Women who are NOT looking at relationships as one big Waiting to Exhale scenario. I just wish men, of every color – but especially Black, from this point on will make a better effort to start to undo some of that damage that’s been done by saying the kindest thing you can to the next Black woman you see. I hope you open the door for her. Tell her she looks great without trying to holler at her. Tell her what an outstanding mother she is. Advise her if you see her going into a pitfall instead of saying “I don’t save them”. See your daughters when you see them. Commend her for an accomplishment. Support a dream of hers. Think before you have that one night with another chic behind her back. Call your Grandmother or your Aunt (I say that because I just called mine). Teach her a new skill without being domineering. It sounds idealist. It also sounds lofty and preachy and you’re probably wondering how hypocritical this is for me and when’s the last time I did all of these things.
I know it’s easier said than done. Black women make it extremely difficult to be nice to them sometimes. But once you understand and accept that a large reason behind them being that way is from mistakes that we and our fathers and their fathers before them may have made, then you realize how cyclical it is. It really isn’t about being perfect. Nor is it about the quantity of these random acts of kindness as it is the quality. Healing is a slow process. And no matter how solid the average Black Woman believes herself to be, the sum of our parts is much greater than any fraction of it. True enough, their fractional strength is enough to run the world, but wouldn’t having the world run for you be even better? It only takes one step at a time. I’ve seen each and every and one too many of those somber scenarios from For Colored Girls play out in my life growing up around Black women to want to bear witness to another that I could have aided in avoiding in someway. Even if it was with a smile.
Profundity comes from the damnest of places, and Raven Symone of all people left the Black Girls Rock awards stage after accepting her award prompting Black men to do a better job of respecting our women in a way that only a Black girl could. It’s our turn. The power is yours homie.