womanist thinking

7

Alice Walker (February 9 1944); author, womanist, activist.

I think writing really helps you heal yourself. I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person. That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame …

We are wishing Miss Alice Walker a very blessed 70th birthday 🎉

Black moms and cishetnormativity

My mom is so annoying when it comes to how I dress. Since I am Autistic and neurodivergent, she used to pick out my clothes until I was about fifteen. So her idea of my presentation was femme. The only problem was that she would dictate how I present myself. Even today at 22, she complains about certain attire I like to wear like flannel, hats/snapbacks and other items she associates as masculine. 

  In our family, we’re very strict on how girls dress. And if you’re “pretty” and light-skinned with long hair, you will “disappoint” family members if you decide to present as masc or announce yourself as queer. I have a teenaged cousin who used to fit the mold of a “pretty” light-skinned girl with long hair and green eyes. She came out as queer and is masc with a dark-skinned femme girlfriend. I heard my mom and female cousins harp on how “pretty” she was and if she would just wear make up, she’d be fine. I feel in the black community, we need to talk about how black girls are also punished for dressing outside of gender norms. Many are psychologically abused and harassed for it. Even physically. I was never physically abused but I dealt with a lot of psychological problems from certain family members.

 If I were to ask for a blue shirt, my mom would get me the same shirt in pink. She’s the reason I had such an aversion for pink as a child. I asked for a gold chain for Christmas. She got me a silver chain. She always tries to be slick and push the “feminine” agenda down my throat. She used to put me in dresses as a young girl and as much as I liked them, it was never about what I liked. It was about what I was SUPPOSED to like because I was a girl. Forcing your daughter to wear pink and frilly clothes is abuse and rejecting that presentation has nothing to do with “internalized misogyny.” It’s internalized misogyny to act as if embracing womanhood/girlhood is about wearing the pinkest, laciest and frilliest clothes. It goes both ways when it comes to how presentation in women are vilified. 

  I believe many black moms believe they’re doing their little girls justice by presenting them as more feminine and delicate. They think they’re preparing their daughters for a “good man” (cishet black male) to love and value them. Thinking if they make their girls more feminine and “submissive” in the eyes of white supremacy and modeling off of white womanhood, we’d be much safer. All you’re doing is preparing them for a world of psychological turmoil, confusion and low self-esteem. My mom thinks I won’t be “desirable” for men because my neurodivergent ass doesn’t know how to cook and yet I refuse to be one of those BET “wifeys” who fix their ain’t-shit men’s burgers. She can be hurtful and ever since I was young, she always tried instilling black Christian ideas of femininity in black women  She got that from my grandma but I just hate how she tries to shame me for following modern womanist ideologies and not thinking I have to be a silly jackass to get a man.

disabledqueerdyke-deactivated20  asked:

I am wondering - as a Black trans woman - about your view of Black men in womanism. Did you write about this already?

I don’t write about Black men often in that context. This is a space for Black women, period. For me that of course includes Black trans women and as a cis Black woman, I try to do my best with being inclusive of Black trans women and trying to center Black trans women and genderfluid people more, though cis privilege means I’m going to perpetually fail at that, but I will keep trying.

However, I find it frustrating that my space is expected to be about Black men. This is a daily question or complaint that I receive and I find myself becoming more and more sad about this. I am hypersensitive to this because all types of Black men (not only cishet ones  either) regularly engage me as a mammy or an enemy and I deal with a great deal of anxiety and other mental health issues because of this. On top of treating me this way, they then are angry that there may not be a Gradient Lair type blog that focuses primarily on them. But that is not my fault though. I do not have a column at The Atlantic, The NationThe Daily Beast etc. like Black men do who get to write on Black men regularly for the public eye. 

I have somewhat addressed Black men and feminism before (i.e. here and here) and I mentioned before that I have no issue with them claiming a womanist label (only them; womanism is not for say White men to claim, hell NO) but I’m more concerned with praxis over labeling for those with privilege. i.e. A White person’s praxis matters more than claiming “ally” or “anti-racism.” A man’s praxis matters more than claiming “feminist” or “womanist.” I think the social location power in those labels matters more for the oppressed person than the privileged one.

Even so, Black men need to create the things they want to see, just as I do for myself and Black women. That’s not my responsibility. My focus is on how Black women engage womanist praxis. Not Black men. And though their engagement matters, it’s not my job to educate them on how to do so to my own detriment. It’s not my focus because it harms my mental health. And then my space no longer feels safe. And though I regularly discuss oppression beyond what just Black women experience but all Black people and all marginalized people in a variety of groups, I’m not going to make how to be a womanist for Black men my focus. I…cannot. I can barely have really basic discussions with them without being attacked. Some discussions I now have a full moratorium on.

Writing on them becomes service and bondage to them. It becomes “you should be helping Black men” versus “how can I help and care for you, Black woman, who is also human and have needs, who is regularly stomped on.” I cannot do it. I’m 34 with a ton of health issues. I’m not 21 and hopeful anymore. 

Even answering this question has raised my anxiety level and I know that’s not your intent so I am not issuing blame, of course, and I appreciate your engagement.

I’m just saying that I find this incredibly stressful–the daily emails about what am I doing for Black men, as if my existence itself isn’t what they’re standing on. Almost daily I receive emails that are “but…but…Black men.” I’m so tired and sad really. I am.