The Exclusion of African-American Women and Girls from #BlackLivesMatter, The War on Women and Feminism
African-American women and girls are one of the largest groups supporting current movements for positive change, but we are not the face of the movements. #BlackLivesMatter, The War on Women and Feminist movements are all guilty of excluding African-American women and girls.
This is not the first time that this has happened. Notably, The Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement has done the same. Both are two movements that primarily focus on African-American men. The acknowledged leaders of the movements are men. When people think of those movements, they think of male leaders first. Rosa Parks tends to be the first woman acknowledged, but what about all of the other women that stood at the door of adversity and dared to enter into classrooms, restaurants and places of employment that we weren’t welcomed in? We see there pictures, but don’t know their names.
#BlackLivesMatter’s creation was result of racial profiling by police/authority and overly aggressive (fatal) actions against African-Americans. While African-American women and girls have been documented as victims, supporters and activists of this movement, we are not the face of it. Even our government acknowledges that we are not the face of it.
In February 2014, President Barack Obama unveiled “My Brother’s Keeper,” a White House Initiative to “help more young people stay on track.” Young people and children are the terms commonly used in the article regarding MBK’s mission, but the faces of the initiative are young African-American boys. Our government will provide our sons, nephews and brothers with support, but the mothers, sisters and aunts once again neglected. No one dared to even consider the statistics for children of young mothers.
Statistics are constantly being presented that the outcome for children born to young mothers is drastically worse than other family structures. If this is true, then why not create adequate resources and initiatives for young mothers, so their children are not being raised in unhealthy, low-income communities that are scarce of good paying jobs, adequate health clinics, and schools that have high standards for education. The worse part is that people acknowledge that the communities problem is our problem, but African-American women and girls faces and names are not connected to it.
“Probably the biggest issue in the Black community is racial profiling, and while Black men are the overwhelming victims of this police ill, it is the Black women who are just as affected. Black women make up the mothers, wives and daughters of men who are harassed, beaten, or worse, killed. Black women are the backbone of the community, and when their Black men hurt, so do they…
Ultimately, there are a host of topical points that affect Black women, including the economy, where the unemployment for Black women still hovers over the national rate” (Gaynor,Gerren Keith, 2015).
If this article was about an African-American man or boy, you might see the names of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin. However, it fails to mention 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was fatally shot in her by a Detroit police officer while sleep in her bed. It has to be mentioned that even her article was not solely about her, but then led to focus on the death of a young man. Even the news of Marlene Pinnock, an African-American great-grandmother, who was beaten on the Santa Monica Freeway by a California Highway Patrol Office was short-lived. While she may have found some sort of justice in a settlement, there are many African-American women and girls that don’t.
While Eric Garner’s filmed words were turned into a movement supported by thousands (nationally and internationally), Jada’s (who was unconscious and undressed after a sexual assault) body position was turned into a cruel meme and she not only became a sexual assault victim, but a victim of the technology. Once again though, this article about an African-American female victim was shared with another victim. The media and society has not allowed African-American women and girls to be the sole focus on a topic.
Even the War on Women and Feminism consistently excludes African-American women and girls. Our celebrities are more than welcomed to be the face of these movements, but we are not. Women’s health and reproduction rights are everyone’s problem. Gender inequality is everyone’s problem. Young and unplanned pregnancies are everyone’s problem, or at least it became that way when the mainstream media began putting non-African-American and Latina women has the face of teen pregnancy prevention. Even feminism is exclusive, but it rejects different standards and types of feminists.
Programs and movements to combat against major issues that affect African-American women and girls at disproportionate rates are not specialized. They are generalized in order to assist a greater population, instead of satisfying the needs of African-American women and girls. For these movements to create greater amounts of change, there needs to be an increase in the inclusiveness of African-American women and girls, and women of girls of all colors.