The media has been obsessed with the lives of black women in the past few years. It isn’t a surprise. The appearance of black woman that defies all the dominant media narrative of black womanhood in the national spotlight, living at the most famous address in America, has sent the establishment media into a frenzy and sent them scrambling for ways to reaffirm their damaging stereotypes and create new ones. And so much of the discussion has taken place without the voices of black women that they have had to create their own media to fight back. Black women have a lot to say and in 2011 they have found many different ways to say it. Here are the major lessons we have learned about black women in 2011:
Black women like to tell their own stories. If we learned anything from the mammoth success of The Help and the subsequent backlash from black women almost everywhere, if you’re going to tell stories about black women you should either get it right or not do it at all. Take note, Tyler Perry.
Black women do not appreciate being called ugly. Santoshi Kanazawa gave us all a lesson in exactly how NOT to approach the subject of beauty with his atrocious article in Psychology Today earlier this year. He argued that, subjectively and scientifically, black women are the least attractive of any group. Yeah, that didn’t go over so well.
Black women take rape seriously. Even though the charges were eventually dropped in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, black women came to the defense of Nafissatou Diallo when she accused the former head of the International Monetary Fund of sexual assault in the hotel in which she worked as a housekeeper. Black women also voiced their support for pop star Rihanna’s rape revenge fantasy video for the song “Man Down” when others would have had the video banned from television altogether. Black women are taking rape seriously and we should all follow their lead.
Black women can decide on their own what to do with their wombs. “The Most Dangerous Place for an African–American is in the Womb” proclaimed a billboard that went up in several major cities earlier this year as a part of an anti-abortion campaign. Combined with the GOP attack on Planned Parenthood, the message has been clear: you shouldn’t have the right to decide what to do with your own body. Black women have boldly fought back to say: stay the hell out of my uterus.
Black women don’t want your relationship advice. It really doesn’t matter who it’s coming from, be it a comedian turned relationship “author” or singer turned relationship “author,” black women would gladly appreciate if you stopped offering up your unsolicited advice on why they’re single and what they need to do to find and keep a man. Immediately.
The sad thing is, we’ll probably have to learn these lessons all over again in 2012.
What were some additional lessons learned about Black women this year?