Note: There is a poetry series coming with topic as well. One poem of this three part series will be posted here. The complete set will be in SEND FOR A POET: Poems for Love, Godliness & Revolution. More information will be given for that next week. -JBHarris
There is a power to Sha’Carri Richardson that I am in love with! There is an undeniability to her that I make known to myself and my own daughters. She knows how talented she is, what she brings, and doesn’t care if you can’t get over her full set, blonde hair blends and tattoos poppin’ on all that melanin.
Sha’Carri is not here for what you think.
What I have paid attention to about this is just how the Black community has either rallied to support her, or demonized her for ‘knowing better’. For those not paying attention, Sha’Carri found out that her biological mother died from reporter. She smoked marijuana to deal and still go run. And still won.
Pause: Black women are not given the privilege to deal with painful emotions (such as grief)! We are expected to deal with painful emotions and soldier on. To not do that is doing what ‘white women do’. Here is the origin of the Black Shero mythos. Black women are human–why are we not allowed to be it?
Yet, this fall out of her smoking (and still winning! Don’t forget that part!), the suspension and now the threat of her not being on the United States’ Olympic Track and Field team?
The fact that some Black folk are cheering that she was put off the team–talking about the ‘rules’?
The fact there are even some Black WOMEN who are saying, ‘she should have known better’?
I don’t get this. She had a whole moment of weakness, coped as best as she could, and still performed. This nation loves to support Black women it can predict, that are non-confrontation, who look and do all the right things–then they are crowned respectable. This word creates the dichotomy of respectable vs. ratchet. As much as I love our Forever FLOTUS, she is an example of a Respectable Black Woman (RBW). Any Black woman whom cannot be seen as a RBW, is then (by default) considered a Ratchet Black Women (rBW). One of the worst things to call a Black woman is ‘ratchet’!
Most Black women are taught (myself included!) that if I have a good speaking voice, education, don’t scare White people, educated, pump my own gas, have children with one man, don’t have/enjoy sex, never question the world, know how to be ‘submissive’, cook, keep house, natural nails, and don’t color my hair, etc…then I will be respectable.
Now, that makes you a Handmaiden. I am not a Handmaiden.
We as a culture have to give Black women breathing room, to stop confining us to these extreme dichotomies! Stop limiting Black women to superhuman, mammies or whores! Black women are unique in our experiences, yes, but we are not immune to them! We are entitled to support, love and compassion, empathy, sympathy without having to die to get it.
Long story short: SUPPORT BLACK WOMEN. FULL STOP.