"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." - Malcom X
This statement is so profound, if for no other reason than the fact that it is evergreen. Black women, while being not only the backbone of this country, but also the reason the country is still intact, are still disrespected, discarded, and dismissed. That is, of course, until we are needed. Until our labor is needed. Until our work is needed. Being a content creator whose work centers around anti-racism and decolonizing work, I see this behavior so often. But I see it in such a way that it's less than obvious to someone not looking for it, or someone who is unfamiliar with how it presents.
When Black women find ourselves in a position of teaching and educating, we also find ourselves in a position of pet to threat. I thank my best friend for that phrase. Simply put, when we are not making people uncomfortable, specifically white people, and even more specifically white women, we are lauded. We're praised, we're put on a pedestal. We are essentially the best thing that's ever happened to people. And this is because we're providing a service, we're providing labor. And we're doing it in a way that makes us palatable and keeps people comfortable. And in those moments, we are so loved. We are brilliant. We're queens. Every type of praise you can think of.
And then we say something that activates big feelings. Then we say something that has them thinking about and reacting to how they have upheld white supremacy and racism in the past. We might say something about how they continue to uphold the patriarchy. We say anything, any one single thing, that removes them from the utopia they created for themselves by saying "I'm an ally!" And in an instant, we are attacking. We are angry, we're divisive, we're condescending. we are everything opposite of what we were just moments before. It is in those moments we see that the complacency of white people staying in their privilege and doing the work in words only is far more comfortable than actually decolonizing. It is in those moments that we see the egos rising to the surface, and from there, that role of pet that Black women were once placed in becomes a threat.
Simply by daring to disrupt the illusion of being active in anti racism work to show the reality that...well, that for some people it sounds good to do it. So they can say they're a "good" person. The reason why this doesn't work is that it comes from a place of feeling morally superior. Being better than "those" people, the ones that blatantly say they have no interest in decolonizing.
The problem with that feeling appearing, that feeling of moral superiority is the white supremacy that's right under the surface. The thing that is activated when feelings of discomfort appear.
And until that is acknowledged, Black women will continue to be the most disrespected person in America.