FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE COLOR OF DISRESPECT

This article was published last year during the Don Imus brouhaha over his “nappy-headed hos” comments. The author of this article, Salatheia Bryant, speaks to how black women are the most disrespected, degraded and devalued race of women in America. I would also add that because of white men’s hatred against black women, and the white man’s propensity  (as if he is God himself) to decide and decree what woman will be given humanity in his eyes, and what woman will not, that in the eyes of millions of white men, and men of other races as well, black women are not human; black women are not ladies, not demure, not soft, not feminine—-not WOMEN.

White men started the vicious lies against black women, lies that defame black women, lies that negate black women’s womanhood, lies that so many people are so willing to believe against black women.

Black women have fought for generations and centuries against the many venomous lies and myths created against them by white men, lies that so many men of other races are willing to believe against black women.

Here in its entirety is Ms. Bryant’s essay:

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NO JOKE

SHOCK JOCK’S RACIST INSULTS FAMILIAR—AND HURTFUL—TO BLACK WOMEN’S EARS

by SALATHEIA BRYANT

NAPPY-HEADED hos.

It may be a punchline for the likes of Don Imus, but as a black woman who has heard this kind of slur talk before, it’s just another cheap racist insult.

I already know that by calling Imus’s attempted comedic chatter racist I will incur the wrath of those who will defend his klannish remarks as mere entertainment. There will be those who will say, “Can’t you take a joke?”

My answer is no, not at my expense.

For far too long, black women have had to suck it up while others laughed it up when we’ve been characterized as loud, trash-talking, oversexed, hoochie-mamas.

Imus went there on his show.

His loose lips got him a pink slip from CBS as advertisers pulled out and pressure continued to mount against him following remarks he made on air to a national audience about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He’s got no one to blame for his firing—not Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or rappers. He sank his own ship. By now you’ve heard that Imus referred to players on the Rutgers team as “nappy-headed hos.” The majority of players are young black women, whose hair appears well-styled, I may add.

I can’t give Imus a pass on this one. He sounds too much like the growing list of other white male chauvinists who have stepped in it recently—comedian Michael Richards, actor Mel Gibson and to a lesser degree presidential candidate Joseph Biden.

They are reminders that words can hurt just as much as sticks and stones and aid and abet harmful stereotypes that hold certain groups back.

As a black woman, I have been called out by name many times by many folks over the years who, like Imus, figure me an easy target. Why not?

Black women have been dehumanized by white men who have owned us, raped us, fathered illegitimate children by us and then denied the offspring.

DISRESPECT ALMOST UNIVERSAL

I’ve been insulted by many white males who fancy themselves superior creations over those human models who come in the black female version.

They sit at the top of the importance pyramid with no concern of being dethroned. With all due respect to James Brown, more aptly, this is a white man’s world.

One of the most memorable indignities as a black woman came when I was just a few years older than some of the Rutgers basketball players.

As a young reporter at my first newspaper job, I was sent to interview a white man who had his car dealership yanked from him because of some hanky-panky with transactions. His dealings had landed him in big trouble. Several times over the course of covering the story he refused to talk with me. Finally, one day when I showed up at the dealership I was told he would consent to an interview. I was ready to hear his side of the story. But it didn’t go the way I’d planned.

He refused to shake my hand, questioned my college credentials, mocked my intelligence, and then said whatever he may have lost, he would always be a white man and I would still be a little black girl.

Upset, I complained about his behavior to the paper’s editor, also a white man, who told me to basically shake it off. This was the same editor who had once sent a letter to a city official demanding an apology on behalf of a white female reporter who had been rudely treated. Incidentally, she received both a public and written apology after the editor intervened. No one spoke up for me. The white businessman received a pass. The editor gave him a pass.

The car dealer’s comment cut. The editor’s refusal to defend my humanity cut deeper.

The incident came to mind when I heard about Imus.

His radio routine reminds us that despite out societal advances, it is humanity that still remains in the Stone Age when it comes to placing equal worth on different human beings.

How did we, black women, become the universal doormat for men (black men included) to wipe their disrespect on our womanhood?

Do ivory skin, thin lips and unkinky hair make a woman more likely to get respect? Does black skin automatically earn you the “nappy-headed ho” diss?

All humanity should be considered valuable. Period.

But in our society, the CEO with the corner office, expense account and seven-figure salary is exalted above the janitor who empties the trash at night to supplement the low-paying day job.

If young black girls in 2007 who get to wear a Rutgers University jersey, where the student body is majority white, or a young black woman starting her career in a field where she is underrepresented can’t get any respect for their achievements, then the high-school dropout single mother doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s why I’ll pass on giving Imus a pass.

(Salatheia Bryant is a reporter for the Houston Chronicle. This article was published in the Sunday edition paper, on April 15, 2007.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As many people know, Imus is back on the airwaves.

So much for the “respect” that is shown towards black women.

Black women unlike all other racial groups of women in America, have seen the many nasty, hateful faces of men that are found in all races of men. Black women have seen and suffered it all from men of all races. Black women have had to endure much shit from many ethnic groups of men:

White shit.

Black shit.

Brown shit.

Red shit.

Yellow shit.

ALL MEN.

But, I question the so-called manhood of these so-called  people who call themselves men.

A real man does not degrade and insult a woman because of her race. A real man honors, loves, adores, cherishes and respects all women. Not certain specific groups of women.  All women. A real man treats all women as human beings. Not as less than human.

That is what a piece of filth that masquerades as a man would do.

Black women are the only race of women in America who can walk into a room with a group of white, red, yellow and brown women, and we would be the first to have our humanity, our womanhood, disregarded, kicked to the curb—-written off as non-human. That disrespect can come in many forms:  racist/sexist catcalls, blatant pejorative racial insults, hands upon our bodies without our permission, and the proverbial just-stepped-into-something look from many men that so many black women are familiar with.

I lay that blame at the feet of white men who started this sick filth against black women.

But, I also call out on the carpet the men who can be found in all races who join the “White Man’s Club” of hateful sexualized gendered racism.

Black men. Latino men. Asian men. Arab men. Native American men.

Black women have suffered at the hands of many of these men. (In addition to White men, MOC of other races, and Black men, so too, have White women dished out hells to Black women. It is not only the White man who has shit on Black women; White women have had a hand in racializing and brutalizing Black women during slavery, Reconstruction, and Jane Crow segregation. Their hands are no more cleaner than the White man’s as I refuse to give White women a pass on their racist atrocities the way so many tother people are willing to do.)

But, let a man of any race even try to treat a white, brown, red or yellow woman the way many men mistreat and hate on black women, then the men of these races would scream to high heaven about it. But nothing is said much in defense of black women.

Yes, white men started this abominable filth against black women. But, they are not alone in their wanton misogyny against black women.

White men have many allies in their racial/sexist assaults upon the womanhood of black women. MOC can take up the slack where the white man leaves off.

Don’t need a white man to call a black woman a black nigger bitch.

Not when men of various races can do it. Not when some men of your own race will do it.

The true test of a man’s acknowledging the worth and value of how this country treats its women is in how all men treat black women.

Black women are the true test of how far this country has come in its race relations.

Black women are the canary in the coalmine.

Until black women’s humanity and womanhood is acknowledged positively and with total regard for their value as fellow human beings, figure on women of other groups suffering eventually from the same hells that have befallen black women.

As Alex Manley, the black editor of the no longer in existence newspaper, Daily Record, said in 1898, of how white men mistreated black women and how that effect would have dire repercussions, the same holds true today as it did then in Mr. Manley’s prophetic words:

 

“You set yourselves down as a lot of carping hypocrites; in fact, you cry aloud for the virtue of your women, while you seek to destroy the morality of ours. Don’t think ever that your women will remain pure while you are debauching ours. You sow the seed—the harvest will come in good time.”  (4)

White men have sought to destroy black women with their web of lies and stereotypical myths. Some men of other races have willingly bought into the 450 year span of racist hate against black women.

But, just as the womanhood and humanity of black women can be mudslinged at, can be maligned, so too can the womanhood of other women who are not black. And so too can the manhood and humanity  of men can be doubted as well.

A real man has the balls to stand up against any type of disparaging hate that is thrown out against any woman, no matter her  race or color.

The color of  disrespect.

Black women never deserved that dishonor.

Black women are sick and tired of its legacy.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE COLOR OF DISRESPECT

  1. This essay is right on the money!

    Steph

  2. Joy C.

    Fantastic! So true.

  3. The Star Blazer

    Preach my sistah!

  4. Hello Ann,

    Here’s my perspective on the myth of the single Black woman at:

    http://httpjournalsaolcomjenjer6steph.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-small-perspective-on-single-black.html

    That racist hypocritical media is telling Black women to date white men without questioning how racism/sexism of 500+ years have poisoned BF/WM relationships to this day.

    La Reyna

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