It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. ~Maya Angelou "Phenomenal Woman"
On Christmas Eve 2017, it was announced that Erica Garner was in a coma after suffering a heart attack. Garner is the eldest daughter of the late Eric Garner, who was choked to death on July 17, 2014 by NYPD officers for selling cigarettes. Following her father’s murder, Erica demanded justice and challenged those in power including then president Barack Obama. Erica Garner had just given birth to her second child four months before having a heart attack, at age 27. Via a tweet, the world was again reminded of the fragility of Black lives, and the price paid by Black women.
On May 5, 1962, Malcolm X delivered the speech titled “Who Taught You To Hate Yourself” in Los Angeles at the funeral service of Ronald Stokes. Stokes was murdered by LA police officers at a mosque, along with 6 other individuals, a week earlier. Throughout the speech, Malcolm X talked about the impact of white supremacy on how Black Americans viewed themselves and the traps set up along the way that benefit this system. However, it was his insight on Black women that made this speech so legendary. In the speech he stated:
“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”
Though the recent rise in the public adoration of Black women would have one believe otherwise, current statistics across factors suggest these words, uttered 65 years ago, are as true as ever.
In childbirth, Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from complications during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. Within intimate partner relationships, based on Justice Bureau statistics, Black women are 35% more likely than White women to be victims of domestic violence, and make up 50% of domestic violence related homicides. And while according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black women are the most educated group in the United States, the Department of Labor, found Black women only earn 63% on every dollar a White man earns from working the same job. Yet in spite of all the odds against us, Black women have remained the glue that holds families, politics, businesses, and communities together.
With the results of the December 12, 2017 Alabama special election, the nation touted the wisdom of Black women, for the sake of likes and follows. But let’s agree to transmute this fake love into assets, opportunities, health, peace, love, and feelings of accomplishment. As we round out a year many have deemed “The Year of The Black Woman”, it is my hope we transmute this magic from saving the world and movements into self-preservation and self-promotion. The year 2017 was marked by the lifting of the veil, allowing the brilliance of Black women to be reveled and celebrated by people other than ourselves.
It’s time to take it a step further in 2018, transmuting well wishes into tangible resources. And not for the benefit of the Democratic Party or the Black community, but strictly for the benefit of our pleasure, satisfaction, and achievement.
Here’s to 2018.