I have been home (Little Rock, Arkansas) for about a week now. I keep getting, metaphorically, slapped with genderism and sexism daily. In meetings with former mentors or with family, when introduced, the suggestions and potential job opportunities presented to me are limited to my gender. And the most frustrating part has been my conversations with black men about the “black agenda” with little or no regard for the “female agenda.” Both are equally important to me – why am I being asked to choose black > female? Does any other double- or triple- minority struggle with this challenge?
As a Black woman, it’s troubling to be boxed in such a way. Historically, during both the Civil Rights Movement and with the Black Panther Party, we’ve been asked to support the black agenda behind, mostly subordinate roles to Black men. In 2008, during the Democratic elections (Hillary Clinton vs Barack Obama), there was a lot of media and press around which candidate, the collective Black Woman, would support.
What I have found in this predominately “white boys’ culture” is that white women, and women generally, are more relatable than black men (and other men of color). Keep in mind, this is just my experience and it’s limited to my hometown. From my experience, I deduce that women are discriminated against more than blacks in professional settings (this is my focus, as I look for post-MBA job opportunities).
Other than being annoyed with these series of events, I urge black men to think more about their agendas and how they differ from that of black women. The agenda isn’t the same and a mere acknowledgement is not sufficient. It’s the equivalent of white men (and some white women) who understand that being black has disadvantages but validate their unwillingness to actually do anything to improve the situation because affirmative action is doing something, we have a “black” President now, or it’s just not their damn problem. This is the perspective that some black men have on black women.
This is not a black man bashing session. I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s a rant, but holds significant weight for double- and triple- minorities across the board. I’m sure other women of color and queer POCs also share similar sentiments in being boxed in one minority agenda over another. Open your eyes and ears to the surroundings. Look for ways to be a strong ally to other minority groups. Don’t assume that your agenda is the most important and the only agenda.