When I went to high school, I had somewhat of a culture shock. My elementary school and middle school was predominantly black, and my high school was predominantly white.
I’m a friendly person so I easily made friends quickly either way, but it was always slightly shocking for me when my white friends couldn’t understand my trepidation/acceptance on certain things. Things like accepting the fact that I would go shopping with them and I would be the only one that was followed, or not wanting to go to certain neighborhoods where I knew that people like me were targeted. For my white friends, there was a bit of teaching involved, something that I liked to call “8th period.” It’s something that most blacks have been taught since the moment they began to comprehend external information.
They learned that as a black person there was a level of accountability that we had. We carried the burden of responsibility. The I had to check the desire to be loud, boisterous, or even occasionally disagreeable if my teenaged angst acted up, because I knew that no matter what I was seen as a representative of my entire race. My actions either gave fuel to people who wanted to believe in completely unfair stereotypes or made me to look like “one of the good ones” (which still pretty much implied that most blacken people acted out.)
As I got older there was an understanding that there should be a removal of this responsibility, however it only became more complicated. It wasn’t just “you people,” it was “you women/girls/hoes/b*tches.” If any Black woman did anything that wasn’t highly respected it was as if it made us all look bad.
Due to living in a man’s world women’s needs tend to be ignored, and when things go wrong it’s easy to put us as a fall person (“women are too emotional, irrational, catty”) and the heat only increases when you’re a minority woman at that.
Black women became the blame of single parent households, running men away, the reason for being abused (well, what did you do to him to make him hit you), for being hoes, and letting “hoes outshine” us.
So for some, there’s been a stifling effect of it all. If you’re in a bad marriage, you stay in so you won’t be seen as one of those irresponsible single mothers who not only can’t keep a man, but will undoubtedly be named the blame if the child fails in life. You can be blamed for being too strong when you make a man feels like you don’t need him, emasculating him, and making him hit you because you made him feel less than.
In all of this, to me, the problem isn’t necessarily just the woman. The problem is that the other party is missing in sharing in the blame. Take this whole Mimi-tape debacle. While everyone is criticizing her, she wasn’t in the film alone. Through that, the comments on different media outlets were focused on her being a “hoe” “thotpocket,” and “slut,” but no one really mentioned Nikko. Within these comments came the “what is wrong with women now-a-days?” “Why are women such slores?” So Mimi’s discretion is blanketed on all women now?
I know that some of these comments might come from her portrayal on reality television, but because I haven’t seen LHHATL, I don’t know how she’s normally portrayed, but I do know that her co-star was just as thirsty for attention as she was, while he was lifting her up on that shower rod. I also know that what she does doesn’t reflect on me. Her behavior is individualized, so is the man who decided to lie with a woman and not commit to her. So is the man that beats his women, so is the woman that targets men as cash registers. These people are only a minority of an entire population, women and of people of color. We shouldn’t have to fight for the right to be seen as individuals, especially women.
I don’t know the answer to all of these issues, but I know that it’s tiring for most people to have to watch everything that they do. Indeed another session of “8th period” needs to be in session, but in order for the information to be retained there needs to be an open minds to receive it. All I can hope is just that we can get to a point where we can stop living for other people and live for ourselves.