Last night at a friend’s house we were having a conversation about a certain show on TBS that happened to be written, directed, and produced by a black man.
Sepia: This show is setting us back. Like thousands of years. If this is the definition white people have of black people, we’re in trouble.
Friend1: If a white person, or any other person for that matter, defines an entire race of people based upon one television show, they’re racist! Don’t get me wrong, there’s no more Cosby on tv, but the representation we have isn’t that bad.
Sepia: There are only like three shows on television with a majority black cast. Besides reality television, we have Tracey Morgan (on 30 Rock), Yvette Nicole Brown (on Community), the cast of The Game, and a handful of us on crime/detective shows. No one on tv represents me.
Friend 1: You’re asking for too much, Sepia.
Am I really?
Having studied Sociology in undergrad and always being told I was “pretty for a dark-skinned girl” I’ve been one to pay attention to the representation of my people on television.
I don’t watch tv all too often, but when I do I realize that I’m not represented. In relation to the population, maybe, but overall, there aren’t many black women on television.
With that being said, this makes me wonder about other people’s
races’ definition of what a black woman is.
Today, the first day of Black History Month, brings about a sense of pride for me. I fluffed out my fro extra big today and I’m wearing a kente patterned belt over my dress. Before I start
brainwashing my students with the district-mandated information on FCAT teaching my lesson, I’ll be sure to tell them about a notable Black mathematician.
When my students aren’t paying attention, I’ll jokingly say, “Please look at the black woman in the front of the classroom.”
But what about me defines my blackness?
Is it my skin? My nose? My voice? My hair?
I am a black woman but what’s my own personal definition?
I was raised in Opa-Locka, Florida (or Miami Gardens, or Miami for the out of towners). Not quite the inner city but far from the suburbs.
I stayed inside a lot; escaping in characters in books that took me places far beyond 152nd street.
I could barely relate to the kids in my neighborhood. With the exception of my sister and longtime childhood friend, I barely spoke to anyone.
While we lived in the same neighborhood, my vision always carried me someplace different. Not better; just not as bad. A place where I wasn’t teased for being smart or told I was “acting white” because I did my homework. In this place, I was black, but I was also just [Sepia].
Today, I define myself as black. Not African-American yet because I’ve never been there. I have no ties to Africa. My mother’s family is from Georgia and Florida with traces of Cherokee Indian. Though I didn’t inherit the wavy hair or red clay skin like my mom and older sister, it’s still part of me. My father’s family is from Georgia (dad) and The Bahamas (mom). I’m very much connected to that even though I’ve never been, my grandmother prepared meals that took me there. She told me stories about a place I’ll visit this year on my birthday, Lord willing.
While I identify as a black woman there are so many women I can not relate to. The woman who leaves her house wearing a satin bonnet. The woman who stays at home waiting for a check. The woman who hates black men. The woman who despises every other woman her children’s father has or will ever date. The woman who will tell you you’re not better than her because you went to college. The woman who without a doubt hates you just because you’re black.
See, my definition of being a black woman is simply being me. My mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, mentors are all black women. They embody perfect strength and God’s love. They are the vision of what sacrifice looks like and they walk with pride. They carry their heads high without looking down upon others. They have a quiet confidence and always speak an encouraging word. They are black women.
On today, the first day of Black History Month, I salute the black women in my life and I thank God for making me a powerful, beautiful, intelligent BLACK WOMAN!!!!
How do you define your black woman-ness?