Written by Penelope Farthing
As black women navigating life, we have to cope with a lot of negative stereotypes that make our journey to greatness a little more difficult compared to other races of women. One stereotype in particular, especially amongst our sistren blessed with darker skin, is that we are stronger and more masculine. We are constantly painted as the aggressive warrior, itching for, or engaged in some sort of conflict.
Just in case you didn’t know, let me clear up any misconceptions for you.
BLACK WOMEN, ESPECIALLY DARK SKINNED BLACK WOMEN ARE NOT MORE MASCULINE. Point blank period.
Cue today’s story, which features Karine Jean-Pierre, a dark skinned, natural haired, beautiful black woman, in the picture of femininity in her pink dress and heels, who jumped to the defense of presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, when an animal rights protestor rushed the stage. Fight or flight is a hell of a thing, and since I try to give black women the benefit of the doubt, if you’re always set to “fight” mode, it may take a long time to reprogram yourself that “flight” is more in line with self-preservation, the first law of nature. “Fight” was the road Karine took though, so here we are.
Uh, are you serious? YOU DO! YOU need security!!! I was mad before, but that dumb caption fueled the fire some more. Karine jumped in to action first, but who did the actual securing? Who, while slow, were the ones to get the man off stage? The men! The series of images above, paired with that insane caption that diminishes the severity of this situation, is not a good look, at all, fan page or not. Kamala sat back and let Karine step in to be the sacrifice. The belief that black women are members of the real life Dora Milaje militia is damaging our collective image in so many ways!
If things went the other way and Ms. Jean-Pierre got assaulted, if instead of reaching for the mic, the protestor had a weapon, what would be the discourse surrounding that? “Well, that’s what she gets for going up against a male!/Black women need to know when to sit down!”. Black women get praise for being a warrior, or get mocked for being “weak”, except, that “weakness” is what any other race of woman would do if in the same situation. It’s insanity.
What’s worse, is that there have been a stream of tweets and Facebook posts commending this behavior, saying things like she was “bloody heroic”, and “ready for whatever”, all while acknowledging that she is a “petite, fierce, woman” (accompanied by #BlackGirlMagic, which I will discuss further shortly). Behavior like this would only be commendable if the majority of events that featured black women in the news was as dainty, feminine women, rather than attack dogs rearing to go.
It’s just anatomy/biology. We are smaller, weaker, and less muscular than men. So quit the knuck if you buck, square up attitudes in fights with males…you’ll almost certainly lose! Why are we the only race of women that need to be told not to involve ourselves in fights with grown-ass men?!
I’ve mentioned in other blogs that black women have no first line of defense. But, really, we are partially to blame for that because at every turn, we don’t let the men be men and do the defending, and we never let ourselves play the damsels in distress. If being the damsel in distress doesn’t feel right to you, and there are other people around, you can practice by pretending your nails are drying, counting to 100, anything to prevent putting yourself right smack dab in the line of fire. If we all collectively started to drop the image of perpetual pugilist, then eventually we could be seen as worthy of, and needing to be, protected.
The black woman superhero stereotype is so ingrained in the collective psyche that had Karine stayed in her seat and looked on in horror, like the other women on stage who did just that, no doubt a fair share of critics would come out saying “why didn’t she do something?” While I appreciate the sentiment, events like this is why I have a problem with #BlackGirlMagic. We are human just like everybody else, and if you maim us, we will bleed just like everybody else. To call us magic just makes it look like we are incapable of being put in harm’s way, when in fact, we are more likely to face danger.
It’s crazy how we black women are struggling to save ourselves (from obesity, from domestic violence, from abuse, from STD infections, from predators of our children etc.), yet jump in at a moment’s notice with our capes, starched, pressed, and smelling fresh, to save everyone else.
Kamala has been criticized for her inaction in this whole debacle. But I’d say that she did what she was supposed to, let herself be defended. Why break a nail or worse when other people are willing to defend you, without a moment’s hesitation? But what will happen of Karine after this? Will she be able to continue her line of work in peace before this happened, or will she go down in infamy, having her face symbolized as Kamala’s Protector and Impromptu Security Detail?
So, black women, PLEASE STOP DOING THIS. I implore you, if you have ever boarded the Fight Club Train, surrender your ticket and ride the Carefree Express. It’s a way better ride.