“African American women are confronted with an impossible task. If she is rescued from the myth of the negro, the myth of the woman traps her. If she escapes the myth of the women, the myth of the negro still ensnares her.”
– Deborah Gray White
Being Black in America is a struggle, but being a Black woman in America is ten times harder. Double Consciousness is a term that depicts the reality Black women have to face. W. E. B. DuBois coined this term to encompass the essence of being African-American. DuBois focused on the constant struggle between the multi-faceted conception of self – identifying with African culture while living in white America. Double Consciousness just as easily applies to having to be a Black woman in society.
In a historical context, being born a woman would automatically classify you as being a second-class citizen in America. Being born Black in America didn’t even qualify you as human. Now imagine being born a Black woman, two different cultures comprising one identity. Now try to imagine the struggle that comes with that. It is no secret that black women are the most disrespected, unprotected, and neglected people in America. During the Civil Rights Movement, many African American women were at the forefront fighting for change and equality but still weren’t regarded as a priority. Many decided to join the Women’s Rights Movement in hopes that it would end gender inequality. While it helped to make strides for white women, Black women got the short end of the stick. Their hard efforts, dedication, and priorities were all disregarded. This left Black women in America feeling as if they had to choose between supporting their black men (who still disrespected them) or supporting racist white women in their fight for gender equality. Even though this is centered in a historical context, nothing has changed. Many individuals still carry those ideals of the past but just aren’t as vocal and discrimination is just disguised well within different institutions in society.
Black women are footstools in America. They are the backbone and support for so many things, yet are left to fend for themselves when they want to support or help to bring awareness to issues dear to them. There are so many societal norms and gender expectations for how a woman should act – be nice, smart, respectful, show emotion but not too much, cook, clean, provide and be a caretaker. Then there are conflicting stereotypes of a Black woman – uneducated baby-mommas, ratchet, aggressive, loud, and angry.
The double consciousness that a Black woman deals with can take a huge toll on her mental health. Constantly looking at herself through the eyes of another to fit into a category of what is deemed acceptable, but then trying to embody her carefree spirit without stereotypical labels being plastered on to her. Being marginalized in public because of race and gender takes a toll onto the emotional well being of a person. It can lead to self-doubt or even self-hate. Black women constantly have to wonder if they are good enough and even question what they doing wrong.
Dear Black Women,
Always live in your truth and continue to be strong-minded and carefree.