Is it because I’m Black or because I’m a Woman?

Girls for Gender Equity
3 min readMar 28, 2023

by: Momy S., YWAC Organizer

LA Johnson/NPR

Would you like me to speak softer? Be less angry? Less violent? Would you like me to stand in the shadow of men to be culturally accepted? Would that make you feel better? You think I look better when I straighten my hair. When I talk less. When I’m less like the stereotype you set for me. The angry Black woman — but all stereotypes do some have truth to them. We have every right to be angry; never credited, overlooked, dehumanized, de-womanized. The blueprint to femininity from our nails to our hair, clothing and lashes but when we wear it it’s ghetto and unprofessional. It’s “unprofessional” when we wear braids but when we don’t our hair is untamed. For generations we have been overlooked not only because of our gender but the melanin and pigment of our skin.

Does our strength frighten you? Is that why you have to make our beauty masculine? Make others think it’s ugly to be a Black woman. In reality, our beauty frightens you and our strength makes you feel powerless. Unable to control a Black woman, outspoken and confident so you try to break us. Make us think our hair that comes in different shapes and styles is ugly or unattractive and needs to be tamed in order to look “presentable.” Then you make us think we can only be attractive if we are a lighter complexion. That’s the only way we can make a man stay is if we are completely submissive and put our “attitude” away.

Camille Jackson. Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research

Black women and Black girls all over the world are raised thinking they aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, or strong enough all due to the pigment of their skin and stereotypes; what they have to say isn’t valid and their achievements under appreciated and go uncredited. Not only facing gender inequity but also racial inequity all at the same time — Black women are 5 times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women. Our lives aren’t valued, we aren’t safe or protected by a system made to protect us. The system that taught us to hate ourselves and our voices and taught us to think of ourselves as aggressive so we silence ourselves. Our hair is deemed messy so we cover it. Our style and nails are seen as too much so we dim it down. We dim down who we are so we don’t fit the stereotype set that you already have about us. But once we raise our voice slightly we suddenly go back to the angry Black women. The aggressive Black women, the violent one, the one who’s heart is full of anger and whose words are filled with hatred; it’s all women standing for each other till it comes to Black women, who only have themselves.

The Black Hair Experience

If only the world could see the beauty and strength of a Black woman’s curls and coils that come in different forms and sizes that can be a beautiful afro one day then cornrows the next. The melanin that glows in the sun radiating off your skin like gold and a mother who can raise four kids on her own is resilience. Only if society didn’t blind you by lies would you really know how strong and beautiful black women really are. After all the discrimination and hate, our look still inspires and our beauty is envied. This is an ode to the Black girls who have yet to find beauty in their hair and skin. You’re beyond beautiful, beyond capable and above the stereotypes. You don’t need to dim down your light for the comfort of others.

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Girls for Gender Equity

Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is an intergenerational organization centering the leadership of cis and trans Black girls and gender-expansive youth of color.