Who Will Revere The Black Woman?

The Jazz diva's 1966 essay for Negro Digest rings true in the hearts of many Black women today

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“narrow-minded.” In short, a black, ugly, evil you-know what.

As time progresses I’ve learned that this description of my mothers, sisters, and partners in crime is used as the basis for the further shoving, by the Black man of his own head into the sand of oblivion. Hence, the Black mother, housewife, and all-round girl Thursday is called upon to suffer both physically and emotionally every, humiliation a woman can suffer and still function.

Her head is more regularly beaten than any other woman’s, and by her own man; she’s the scapegoat for Mr. Charlie; she is forced to stark realism and chided if caught dreaming; her aspirations for her and hers are, for sanity’s sake, stunted; her physical image has been criminally maligned, assaulted, and negated; she’s the first to be called ugly and never yet beautiful, and as a consequence is forced to see her man (an exact copy of her, emotionally and physically), brainwashed and wallowing in self-loathing, pick for his own the physical antithesis of her (the white woman and incubator of his heretofore arch enemy the white man). Then, to add guilt to insult and injury, she (the Black woman) stands accused as the emasculator of the only thing she has ever cared for, her Black man. She is the scapegoat for what white America has made of the “Negro personality.”

Raped and denied the right to cry out in her pain, she has been named the culprit and called “loose,” “hot-blooded,” “wanton,” “sultry,” and “amoral.” She has been used as the white man’s sexual outhouse, and shamefully encouraged by her own ego-less man to persist in this function. Wanting, too, to be carried away by her “Prince Charming,” she must, in all honesty, admit that he has been robbed of his crown by the very assaulter and assassin who has raped her. Still, she looks upon her man as God’s gift to Black womanhood and is further diminished and humiliated and outraged when the feeling is not mutual.

When a white man “likes colored girls,” his woman (the white woman) is the last one he wants to know about it. Yet, seemingly, when a Negro “likes white girls,” his woman (the Black woman) is the first he wants to know about it. White female rejects and social misfits are flagrantly flaunted in our faces as the ultimate in feminine pulchritude. Our women are encouraged by our own men to strive to look and act as much like the white female image as possible, and only those who approach that “goal” in physical appearance and social behavior are acceptable. At best, we are made to feel that we are poor imitations and excuses for white women.

Evil? Evil, you say? The Black woman is hurt, confused, frustrated, angry, resentful, frightened and evil! Who in this hell dares suggest that she should be otherwise? These attitudes only point up her perception of the situation and her healthy rejection of same.

Maybe if our women get evil enough and angry enough, they’ll be moved to some action that will bring our men to their senses. There is one unalterable fact that too many of our men cannot seem to face. And that is, we “black, evil, ugly” women are a perfect and accurate reflection of you “black, evil, ugly” men. Play hide and seek as long as you can and will, but your every rejection and abandonment of us is only a sorry testament of how thoroughly and carefully you have been blinded and brainwashed. And let it further be understood that when we refer to you we mean, ultimately, us. For you are us, and vice versa.

We are the women who were kidnapped and brought to this continent as slaves. We are the women who were raped, are still being raped, and our bastard children snatched from our breasts and scattered to the winds to be lynched, castrated, de-egoed, robbed, burned, and deceived.

We are the women whose strong and beautiful Black bodies were—and are—still being used as a cheap labor force for Miss Anne’s kitchen and Mr. Charlie’s bed, whose rich, black, and warm milk nurtured—and still nurtures—the heir to the racist and evil slavemaster.

We are the women who dwell in the hell-hole ghettos all over the land. We are the women whose bodies are sacrificed, as living cadavers, to experimental surgery in the white man’s hospitals for the sake of white medicine. We are the women who are invisible on the television and movie screens, on the Broadway stage.  We are the women who are lusted after, sneered at, leered at, hissed at, yelled at, grabbed at, tracked down by white degenerates in our own pitiable, poverty-stricken, and prideless neighborhoods.

We are the women whose hair is compulsively fried, whose skin is bleached, whose nose is “too big,” whose mouth is “too