The beauty, power and the achievements of Black women
LOS ANGELES—From tanning salons, to spray on tans, fake afros, and injections to make posteriors larger, women of other colors are breaking their backs and their banks to look like the Black woman. But at the same time, the Black woman remains degraded, mocked, insulted, and assaulted in American society. So why is everyone trying to emulate her?
It is because she is bold and beautiful. Part of her beauty are her contributions, accomplishments and power evidenced in her unwavering strength in the fight for justice and to uplift herself and her people.
“There is no question about Black women’s strength,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther Party leader and author. “It’s not our role. It’s what we do as Black people, as women,” she told The Final Call. Black women have been stalwarts going as far back as Harriet Tubman and then forward with Fannie Lou Hamer and so many others, she said.
“We have and we have to be acknowledged in having the ability to really lead and put in work and those of us who are Black women who have been in this movement, we cannot allow the bourgeois, White model of roles to define us, because we—our men and our women—were equal partners or equally enslaved,” Ms. Brown argued.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, feels it is important to understand Black and African women as leaders and how applied gender roles in the United States are not indigenous to Black people.
The strength of Black women dates back to warriors like Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Nzinga, and others, who ensured African nations were liberated from colonialism, she said.
She highlighted women in anti-slavery struggles like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. She underscored movements that descended from that fight, like the anti-lynching movement with Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell and the civil rights movement with Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark and others.
“God is at the root of the Black woman’s strength, in general, not just in terms of this movement,” said Dr. Ava Muhammad, an attorney, minister, and national spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
“She’s the first creation of God. She is the mother of civilization, literally, as well as spiritually. All life on this planet—human life—comes through the womb of the Black woman, and that strength is emanating from her nearness to the Creator,” Dr. Muhammad explained.
As founder of the Girls Like Me Project, Inc., a Chicago-based not-for-profit that provides programming for inner-city girls of color, LaKeisha Gray-Sewell works to free Black girls from the grip of stereotypes and stigmas that silence them and strip away their power and sense of power.
The Girls Like Me Project will celebrate its fifth anniversary of Chicago Day of the Girl, which is a local commemoration of the United Nation’s International Day of the Girl, and its 4th Pampered Power Talks in honor of Women’s History Month celebrated in March. Power Talks connects grooming and wellness habits of girls 11-16 with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.
“Sixty percent of girls incarcerated in Cook County right now between 13-18 are in for a violent crime, crimes against people or property. As well, there’s a disproportionate number of girls being suspended and disciplined in school for things that if it was their White counterpart, there would be no infraction at all,” Ms. Gray-Sewell said.
She believes the music girls listen to and media images they are subjected to are factors in how they think and limit their ambitions.
“The good thing is there’s a consciousness raising where there are more of us ready to take our girls, sons, daughters, and our community back … What I think is the best news of all is our girls are also on the forefront of the liberation movement happening right now with Black Lives Matter and actions in Chicago, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Boston,” added Ms. Gray-Sewell, who is also a proud mother and wife.
“We are the cradle of our households and our nation … All the gifts God gave us, all the ways he gave us to influence, we can use it all and not just one aspect of ourselves,” she said.