Monday, July 27, 2015

Black Girls

Sandra Bland's funeral was on Saturday.

They closed it to the press.

Voyerism of black girl bodies, even in a white coffin, likely clad in white, would not be fodder for marketers sells pitches on morning news shows making a buck off black pain.

I wanted to bear witness to her life, to stand with her family and her beloved SGRho Sorority sisters. I saw the images of her family members in white, her sorority sisters in white and their signature yellow and blue. The image of her coffin in white with the white roses on top. My place as a black mother of a 28-year-old son wanted to celebrate the life, activism, and bravery of this black 28 year-old-daughter.

Her mother said it meant war.

It has always been war on black girls.

Every since the discovery of Saarjite Baartman and even a couple centuries before through the Law of Maternal Descent, the space and place of black women has always been a place of war for power and control.

"Ain't I A Woman?" has been a refrain and cry and question from the sunkissed sisters for years.

Many joined clubs to teach their daughters that they are just as worthy of frilly dresses and coitillians as the white girls, that their coming out parties were as celebrated and honored. The sororities of the Divine9 all emphasize the agency of black women over their bodies, their intellect, their gifts, and their humanity.

Yet, in one bully moment, one time when a white man felt challenged that a black woman, two years his junior, did not obey his explicit orders to "put out your cigarette" made him feel every bit of the coward he truly was in high school and every bit the racist he is in the Texas police force.

I could not watch the video without thinking of my own daughters and their encounters with the white authority and power and control systems.

My mind raced back to two springs ago when my older daughter was called a racial epithet by a car full of white boys. The freedom they felt to shatter the protected innocence and presence of this little black girl simply walking down the street from school to coffee shop in her quaint little suburb.

School is about to start in three weeks and in thinking of Sandra, I looked over at my youngest daughter who is about to start middle school and I wonder about her encounters in the hallway. Will a white male teacher challenge her intellect and demand obedience of her? What about the other black girls who may have a "mouth" on them that would not comply with silence as they wield their instrument of submission Will they use something similiar and like the officer, threaten to "light her up" if she does not acquiese?

Black girls are suspended at a rate of 10:1 against white girls. This is even greater in some spaces like zero tolerance for-profit private-charter schools and black majority public schools.

White girls have been held as the norm, "nice" and "quiet." They are neither. They have been and can be mean, catty, bullies, and loud in that nasel screech voice of middle school girls blocking the entrance of the school and feeling like they can tell the black librarian they will not leave when asked. It is this centuries of protected bodies that makes them the mean girls that books are written about, the mean bosses that have ruined careers, the so-called feminists that try to tell black women all they have done for them or the elected officials who stand on a stage in front of black people and declare that "all lives matter."

Yet, none of these girls are suspended for their behavior.

None are called out for their sexualized actions in the back of school buses and behind the buildings of middle schools.

They are held as the idealized virginal standard that can do no wrong. Or they are putting on blackness like the latest trend and thinking they should not be called on it, like Rachel Dolezal or the designer who declared the hairstyle of his model a new trend. 

And we all know that is a lie

Perhaps that is what is the problem in the first place.

We know the lie, and so do they. But they keep repeating the lie, making more and more exclusive communities that they know are filled with peanut-butter eating white families sitting on card tables just so they can pretend they are better, just so they can think they will never have to see a young black girl at a pool party.

The lie is crumbling.

Perhaps that is what that officer was feeling. Sandra Bland was only a few weeks after Bree Newsome took down the flag and only that long since black women were the primary victims of the Mother Emanuel massacre  or the face that the Dark End of the Street has always been a dangerous place for black women encontering white men .Black trans women coming up dead in jails or raped repeatedly in male prisons, arrested on vacation in Iowa or turning up dead on streets while people walk on by because they don't matter.

Maybe that is the problem.

They know all along the assured confidence of a black woman to assert her rights of existence is what they really fear.

Black women as the last outcry for rights and life. Black women have born the brunt of the extra policing of their communities, the murder of their children's souls, and the elimination of their men. Black women were the ones who stood up and said Black Lives Matter, all of them - straight, lesbian, queer, educated,  uneducated, employed, unemployed, wealthy, middle class, poor, urban, suburban, street, pearls, light, dark, natural, straight, D9, GDI, trans, loud, quiet, religious, secular, parents, single mothers, boomer, jones, genx, millennial, nextgen, babies - all of them.

Black girls matter.

We will continue to declare it.

Even to our own.

We will keep fighting for black girls.

The memory of so many demand it.

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