Black First, Woman Second: The Struggle of an Identity Crisis

Black First, Woman Second: The Struggle of an Identity Crisis

By Noni G.

   For as long as I can remember my identity was never something I second guessed. It was innate and validated through my experiences and people in my life. It came effortless to explain to people that when and if two black people conceived a baby, before the sex was identified, the race would undoubtedly be black. In addition, my strong sense of pride and interest in my history found ways to seep through my sense of style, particular conversation and even my conventional movements through daily routines. Being black meant that I was immediately considered strong , resilient and all the more interesting. Even in an alphabetical sense the word “black” came before the word “ woman” so it only ever made sense that I basked in my heritage before my gender.

      I have often overlooked the other complexities that lie within claiming my ‘blackhood’ first. It became more detrimental to go about blatantly ignoring that the race by which I prided myself was far from perfect and required much more attention to our issues before attaining the truest form of solidarity amongst ourselves. It was not until recent accounts of loved ones and myself made me question the faith I carried in my identity. My diehard love for my own people began to waiver as I began to hear stories of my sisters being raped, abused, molested, beat and treated with little to no respect by the same men that looked exactly like them. The treatment of a sub-group within the black population, more specifically some black women, displayed a flawed perspective in regards to the distrust present towards black men. In other words, I found that my more recent discoveries uncovered a harsh undeniable truth that remains cyclical throughout our generations. We are living in fear of our black men.

   It is within my own personal findings that some of the abuse and trauma done physically and verbally to black women has come from black men. Whether it was a father figure, relative, friend or even someone in passing , black women have seemingly become the easiest target for the frustration and internal warfare taking place in their hearts and minds. We must not rule out that these particular men were also victims of abuse themselves and are living manifestations of their own pain. However, that only goes to serve as an explanation NOT a justification of their actions. It is a choice to become the ones that caused the hurt so it is far from wrong to hold whomever accountable for their internalized abuse towards others.

    We are not each other’s enemy. There is a healing cycle that needs to occur because if there is any man who can understand the plight of a black woman it is a black man and vice versa. We were made for each other. The fear and disconnect will drive a deeper wedge between the two groups and cause more harm than good. The struggle comes in with identifying with the same men that disrespect, pass judgment or even fetishize black women. It started becoming hard loving myself for who I am  and loving the men that looked just like me even when they proved themselves unworthy. Pro black should not mean anti - women because it never means anti - men.

   It takes on work on both ends to do the healing work but black men and black women should always be on the same team. The ignorance I do encounter has let me to know that there is work to be done. But I will always have an unconditional and unexplainable likeness for the that share the same skin color as me.

*Disclaimer: Photograph belongs to Laetitia Ky*