There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
I've tried to ignore their comments; make Excuses for their observations, I've even tried to give contexts for what they were saying but in the end I had to stop and listen to my boys' observations of the black girls in their schools. "Mom the black girls in my school are so ghetto" "mom they have an attitude problem" "mom they're always fighting"...and every time they would share these observations a part of me would grieve. A part of me would start by saying "but..." A part of me would take it personally.
But I think my boys are noticing a phenomenon that is incomprehensible to the naked eye. They are seeing the effects of how we have failed as a society. They are seeing the results of our sins. We as a society have allowed covert racism to form our judgments on black girls/women. We have covertly ignored black girls/women, we have preferred others to them, we have lowered the expectations for them, we have feared them, we’ve denigrated them and judged them without getting to know them or understand them.
Before I even think of explaining away the behaviors my sons are noticing in the black girls of their school, I want to draw your attention to some staggering statistics. Just be aware: when reading statistics, remember that they do not explain the cause behind the facts. And I am not an expert on black womanism, these are just one black woman’s observations.
- Statistics show that black women not only make less than men but also less than white women. For every dollar a man makes, white women make 77 cents where black women make 70 cents.
- Women's health dot gov says "Today, women account for about 1 in 4 new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States. Of these newly infected women, about 2 in 3 are African-American."
- The huffington post writes: "black women held just 1.9 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 compared to 12.7 percent for white women, numbers that The Huffington Post said compounds overall dissatisfaction among black women in corporate jobs."
- The huffington post also reports: In a study conducted by Rosette and Livingston, 228 participants read fictitious news articles about a company’s performance, including permutations in which the leader was black or white, male or female and successful or unsuccessful. What they found was that black women who failed were viewed more critically than their underperforming white or male counterparts -- even those of the same race.
Now we can blame these statistics on lack of personal responsibility. We can blame them on lack of drive and motivation but we need to stop and look within. We have failed black girls and women. Instead of looking at equality horizontally, we have looked at equality vertically and guess who’s on the bottom of that vertical scale? Yes, you’ve guessed it: black girls, black women.
I am not saying personal responsibility does not play a role in the above statistics because it does. At some point of time black girls and black women will have to learn how to take the pain of covert racism and use it as motivation to excel in school, to attend college, to strive for executive positions and to start new businesses. Black girls and women will have to learn the art of being focus in the midst of opposition, oppression and covert racism. Yes, it’s probably one of the most challenging feats in life but it is attainable.
As for us (society), we seriously need to do better to turn these statistics around. We need to invest in black girls. We need to raise the bar and help them succeed. We need to create opportunities that promote horizontal equality. This challenge is to us all; teachers, government employees, recruiters, counselors, social workers, pastors etc… We can no longer pretend that we have reached a true horizontal equality because we have not.
It is time for us to use our influence to demand and create change for black girls. Find a young black girl you can mentor; tell her she’s beautiful, smart and that she’s worth it. Go into the inner city school districts and sit with those girls my sons are complaining about. I guarantee you; your presence will impede many fights. If you’re a business owner, provide a college scholarship fund for young girls who cannot afford to attend college. And support non-profits looking to elevate the plight of young black girls and women.
Don’t just sit on your bums and take sides in these political debates: do something!!
As for my sons: we will continue to have riveting conversations that will challenge them to look deeper and not to simply accept society’s prejudices but to ask the daunting question no one dare ask: why? I pray our conversations will continue to remind them and me that in Christ we’re all horizontally equal; there is neither Jew or Gentile, free or slave, male or female, black or white, rich or poor...
God let us see more than ghetto girls with attitudes. Let us see your beloved daughters in desperate need of love and encouragement. Forgive us for our prejudices, our hand in covert racism and the ultimate oppression of black girls and women. Give us your eyes to see and not accept things as they are. Let us fight for horizontal equality.