Seven years ago, if an Amber Rose-ish woman walked into the same room as me, I would be horribly jealous of her and angry with myself. For not looking like her. For not having “typical” black woman features in the waist below. For even thinking I’m inferior to her.
I would cringe when my thicker and/or lighter friends/peers would immediately grab the attention of the brothers that walked by us. I knew it was a long shot to ever get anyone’s attention that found me beautiful. In undergrad I did meet people that found me physically attractive, but I held the constant fear that they’d always go for the thicker or lighter skin or more “exotic” women that popped up; and they almost always did.
So what did I do? I would hide my assertive personality. I would not express my opinion as much. I did all I could to not be “the wrong kind of Black girl”. I suppressed myself and hated myself even more for it. My body was constantly critiqued since high school by black boys and men. “You have no ass”. “You’re just Black”. “I just have a preference [for anyone not “just Black”]”. These words rang in my head for years. So now I’m the wrong kind of “just Black” too. I couldn’t win. I often didn’t share these feelings because it would just throw me deeper into self-loathing. Plus, I didn’t want to let some of my friends know that I had jealous thoughts towards them sometimes too. It was the most embarrassing and dishonorable feelings I ever had.
When men outside my race did approach me, it was mostly led with “I love black women”. So I’m not even particularly chosen for anything besides to be an experiment. They tried to latch on the fact that we aren’t much of anyone’s preference, and tried to exploit that known information into a sexual conquest. I learned quickly that many people will have sex with a “just” Black woman, but will never prefer us for anything beyond that.
Then something happened to me in 2010. I took a step back after another “situationship”. I grew tired of trying to convince Black men around me that I was worthy of their time and beautiful. I got tired of hearing how I had to watch out for “white girls with ass” because “they’re winning”. I was rejected over and over on superficial traits and falsehoods of Black womanhood. I didn’t feel like proving that I am just as valuable as the Latina (“visibly mixed” kind) girl that was being drooled over. I got tired of even seeing other women as competition all together. I much rather have them as friends. So I came to two conclusions:
1. If I wait for a black man or any other man to validate my value & beauty, I will be waiting a long time. So why even care anymore?
I lived life with everything I had that year. I rejected any nonsense that came my way. I traveled with my friends. I met new people. I got counseling. I embraced my nappy ass hair, my still growing body (I have some curves now, the fucking irony), my broad nose, my full lips, my plain deep brown eyes, my browness, my life, my goals. I was even told I looked different. That I “glowed”. I felt my spirit finally coming out and I shook hands and made peace with her.
After that I learned how to identify what I went through via my social justice studies. I came across the term “misogynoir”.
“Misogynoir” is a portmanteau term coined by queer black feminist scholar Moya Bailey. Misogynoir refers to anti-black misogyny, where race and gender together are factors in the hatred of black women. Bailey created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture.
When I was able to identify my demons and looked into what blackness meant to me, everything clicked. I realized there is no such thing in this country as “just black”. Blackness is complex. It has different experiences and cultures. A tied experience of a horrible past and present, but yet we built a beautiful link to each other despite that. I learned that many Black men have internalized racist standards too and will mainly push this burden on to Black women. Since they can placate their feelings with patriarchal conquests of non-Just-Black women. There was one moment where I saw a dark skin brother call his ex a “tar baby”. They are the same complexion, but he benefits off of putting Black women down. This isn’t to say that all Black men truly hate us all. I know a handful of men working against these inner-community troubles and are trying to free themselves. Hell, I’m married to a great Black man. However, If you think these statements I made were divisive but misogynoir isn’t, well I could care less about your feelings then.
Anyway, this piece isn’t about placating men who may be offended by this post. I’ve done enough placating. I just know that I am now happy to be a “just Black” woman. Despite the many more comments I will hear and articles I will see about what’s “wrong with Black women”.
I’d like to have lunch with Amber Rose now. She seems fun.