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It’s been more than 50 years since Malcolm X delivered the notable speech in Los Angeles commonly referred to as “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?” In vocalizing the self-hatred witnessed among Black people, he made the widely reiterated statement: “The most disrespected woman 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.” Bearing witness to the attacks that continue to befall Black women, this remark still resonates in 2020.

Black women’s history of mistreatment in America is long and well documented. In the 19th century, J. Marion Sims, also known as the “father of modern gynecology” performed procedures on slave women without anesthesia to pioneer some of the methods used in medicine today. His justification being the misconception that Black women are able to endure more pain than white women. In this same era, enslaved women could not testify against their masters when they raped them because they’d been deemed inherently promiscuous and therefore incapable of sexual assault –a stigma that still follows us today. Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality conducted a study on the “adultification” of Black girls in 2017, finding Black girls were perceived to be “less innocent, and more adult-like than white girls of the same age, especially in the age range of 5-14.” The study also revealed that adults believe Black girls require less protection, nurturing, and support than white girls and have more knowledge of sex.

Here we are in 2020 with the murder of Breonna Taylor reigniting the fight for justice for her and the hundreds of Black women who have lost their lives at the hands of police officers. Disrespected, unprotected, and neglected only scratch the surface of how many Black women in America feel right now. In this article, we asked 50 Black women to describe their personal experiences and sentiments about living in America in just three words. Here’s what they said.

“Always fighting anyhow” – Troi, B. 24, Springfield, MA

“Hard as hell” – Bridget F. 56, Milford, CT

“Burdensome, oppressive, thought-provoking” – Erin F.C. 30, Harlem, NY

“Indestructible, determined, blessed” – Korey, M. 28, Bronx, NY

“Tough as hell” – Tanya, B. 57, New Haven, CT

“Weary, angry, steadfast” – Andrea, W. 25, Washington, DC

“Unique, empowering, unpredictable” – Taylor, D. 23, Bronx, NY

“Bittersweet, daring, mesmerizing” – Danielle, F. 21, Bridgeport, CT

“Patient, endurance, influential” – Ebony, C. 24, Poughkeepsie, NY

“Frazzled, enlightened, discontented” – Amore P. 24. Greensboro, NC

“Contradictory, hyper-cautious, distrustful” — Paula D. 52. Baltimore, MD

“Enriching, burdensome, an eye-opener” – Adilsa, E, 25, Waterbury, CT

“Traumatic, opportunistic, self-reflecting” – Nathalia T. 23. Mount Vernon, NY

“Disturbed, reflective, hopeful” – Gianna M. 23, Chicago, IL

“Processing, standstill, hopeful” – Ani M. 25, Los Angeles, CA

“Misunderstood, overlooked, resilient” – Patty, T. 31, Stamford, CT

“Minority, valueless, exhausted” – Kirsten H. 23. Baltimore, MD

“Hidden, maintained, blessed” – Rotanya C. 47. Poughkeepsie, NY

“Unseen, hidden, beautiful” – Sapphire P. 16. Bridgeport, CT

“Attitude, exotic, undervalued” – Ruthny D. 20, West Orange, NJ

“Unwanted in America” – Khrystal D. 26, Tallahassee, FL

“Exhausting, honorable, enlightening” – Vania P. 29, Stamford, CT

”Lively, disrespected, motivating” – Lakeya F. 30, Mount Vernon, NY

“Captivating, challenging, remarkable” – Dominique H. 30, Atlanta, GA

“Prayerful, uncertain, frustrated” – Torri, G.C. 25, Bridgeport, CT

“ANGRY?! WE TIRED!” – Jasmin W. 32, Chicago, IL

““Work for yourself” – Miashia H. 24, Los Angeles, CA

“Stressful, beautiful, lonely” – Temma R. 31. Brooklyn, NY

“Wearying, perplex, vulnerable” – Kayla T. 23, Windsor, CT

“Stressful, tiring, never-ending” – Morgan G. 27, Atlanta, GA

“Freedom of speech” – Laetitia K. 57, Tampa, FL

“Sexualized, capitalized, unprotected” – Kenecia G. 25, Stratford, CT

“Challenged, unseen, self-empowering” – Mariah B. 27, Westchester, NY

“It is challenging” – Destini S. 21, Loganville, GA

“Exhausting, overwhelming, unfair” – Dayauna T. 23. Baltimore, MD

“Undermined, fashionable, appropriated” – Hannah H. 24, Bridgeport, CT

“Classified, unconventional, optional” – Elodie D. 26, East Orange, NJ

“I am “eccentric”— Maleika L. 25, Temple Hills, MD

“Ignorant, racist, determination” – Titilayo R. 25. Columbus, OH

“Insecure, sass, hustle” – Malaysia H. 17, Baltimore, MD

“Imitated, underestimated, misunderstood” – Diamond A. 24, Raleigh, NC

“Prejudiced, misconception, unappreciated” – Wendy P. 56. Farmville, NC

“Overworked and underpaid” – Lauren C. 30, Washington, DC

“Frustrated, exhausted, resilient” – Clara H. 26, Tulsa, OK

“Disparaged, hustle, nurturing” – Jasmine, D. 28, Houston, TX

“Fearful, exhausting, educational” – Porsche, H. 25, Washington, DC

“Still I Rise” – Nicole M. 24, Tampa, FL

“Black is beautiful” – London M. 29, Pittsburgh, PA

“Wait and see” – Ashley, F. 23, Philadelphia, PA

“Keep on pushing” – DeShaun J. 29, Chicago, IL

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