Unlearning Misogynoir: A Guide By a Black Woman
Sometimes I hate myself. I think my voice is too loud and I take up too much space. I think my thoughts are too opinionated and my eyes too fierce. I think I occupy space that I don’t deserve, like a mansion in the middle of a trailer park.
Then I look at my sister, wonder why she asks so many question, talks to so many people. I want her to be quiet in the presence of others, to speak only when spoken to.
Next I move to my mom, wondering why she thinks she has the right to disagree with people in public, why she doesn’t shy away from confrontation. Why she won’t just bend to the will of the world.
Then I pull my attention to my aunts, I want to know why they laugh so loudly. Why do they believe they have the right to invade this space with their joy? Who gave them permission to throw their heads back and laugh as if they don’t have a care in the world?
I scroll down my feed and like pictures of big, beautiful black hair, but I wonder about their practicality. Who would allow us to be so glamorous on a daily basis? What’s the point of flaunting our hair when we should just maintain it? Who wants to look at that?
I think and wonder and ponder all of these things and I feel disgusting, like there’s a thin film of self-hatred seeping into my skin. I feel like I’m a hypocrite and a fake. How can I preach self-love and advocate for black girl magic if I have thoughts like this? If I don’t love myself and other black women?
Then I realize, these are not my thoughts. These are the thoughts of the world.
These thoughts are not my own, they are years of brainwashing. Years of being told that black women cannot occupy the same space as everyone else, that we are not worthy. Years of being told inside and outside of our community that we are here to serve other people. Being seen as a stable fixture, a right. Never praised nor acknowledge for our accomplishments.
To think that these are just thoughts, nothing palpable, is ignorant. Seeing the impact of these thoughts is easy if you look in the right places. I shrink away in public spaces, I hold my tongue, I try to make myself smaller. I try and I try and I try, but it’s not working.
It’s not working because black women have too much power to be contained. For years we have sat silent, watched as the world degraded and devalued us. We let men take credit for our work and raised white children before our own. For centuries we did this and now we are incapable, the natural power of black women is tired of being contained.
We are owning everything now. Our successes, our mistakes, and everything in between. Black women are no longer to be themselves, to own themselves. We are in charge of ourselves and we know our self worth.
The world better watch out because we’re ushering in a whole new era of black women.
We will no longer apologize for being loud or having opinions. We will not move out of the way and shrink to make room for others. We will not be mistreated by society or each other. We will not lie down and accept the hand the world has dealt us.
We will know ourselves, we will accept ourselves, and we will love ourselves. Unworthy is no longer a synonym for black women, it’s not even in our vocabulary.