I've recently been exploring and researching more into the idea of Black Woman Identity Development. One theme I've always been bothered by and continues to come up is the tradition of Black women being asked to "protect" the integrity of Black men, for the greater good of the Black race. This is unique because while women in general are often told their issues are less significant, within the Black community there is pressure placed on women to diminish themselves in order to protect an entire race of people. So in a sense, asking Black women to forget that they are women, to uphold the Black community. As I personally begin to understand the significance of my womanhood and its impact on my identity, this becomes more and more problematic for me.
Black women acknowledging issues of gender-related oppression is not "Black man bashing." Bringing attention to Black women and girls should never been seen as a personal attack on Black men. It does not take away from or diminish the love and power apparent within relationship between Black men and women. It is in no way meant to demonize or diminish the character and integrity of Black men. It's simply Black women asking for recognition and protection that should innately be present, because we are human. Neglecting to understand that within the Black community still exists oppressive acts and ideologies based on gender, sexual orientation, ability status, age, SES, religion, nationality, etc. is absurd and something that I hope we can continue to illuminate.
The Black community is not a monolith, and it is possible for us to be unified while at the same time address issues that impact our lives in different ways.
What do you think? Share your thoughts!
Dr. Amber Thornton
Clinical psychologist with a passion for family, community, culture, and diversity.