I read that Black women are the footstools of America, figuratively and literally. It was on the backs of the Black women that this country has prospered. We have bred children like cattle to be ripped from our wombs and sold off to the highest bidder. Our breast milk has sustained Massa’s (slave master) own babies. We have plowed fields in the sweltering Southern sun. We have been sexually objectified and misused. Many would even differentiate the Black feminist from the White feminist. The entitlement and privilege that automatically comes with being white dims in comparison to the long- suffering Negro woman. Since our introduction in this country, we have been known as little more than our slave master’s bed wench, his sexual outlet after puberty. Rape, incest, and miseducation have been long standing traditions that were introduced in the Black family and embedded in our people for many generations.
I saw the video of the student being slammed by her school police officer at Spring Valley High School. Reports note that the girl was being disobedient and refused to have her cell phone confiscated by her teacher. The teacher then called the principal, who dispatched the officer to “help.” What happened next was not warranted and totally shocking. The officer slammed this girl’s body like a rag-doll. The girl was not physically combative. All she did was refuse to give her phone. Teens are not always the easiest to deal with. At most, they should have sent her to the office, called her parents, and given her detention. The punishment did not fit the crime.
Why was so much force was used on this young lady? The officer may not be very friendly toward the Blacks in the school, but that does not mean he regards them as people with feelings anywhere near the level at which he’s capable. Think about how some of us walk past the homeless. We disregard beggars or simply try to avoid eye contact with a street person. You do not necessarily hate them, but you have been programmed by your parents, the media, and your experiences to see them as invisible and inferior.
While I am teaching my Black son proper etiquette to survive an encounter with a police officer, I also need to introduce the same kind of conversation to my Black daughter. Our children should be groomed to have respect for authority, but also question it. Because of the color of their skin, they should be equipped with survival tactics. I’d rather my daughter hand over her cell phone than be slammed to the ground by a police officer. I’d rather my daughter leave a pool party than be sat on by a police officer. I’d rather my daughter put out her cigarette than be killed by a police officer. I am not advising that we teach our daughters to become ultra submissive in the face of authority. I am hoping that you teach your baby how to come out of a routine traffic stop with her life!
If you do have a minority daughter or simply a young girl that you care about, it is time to have the hard conversation. Show her the graphic videos if she is of age. The object is not to instill fear, but arm your daughters with knowledge. Eloquently explain how authority figures may perceive her and her Blackness. Allow her to empathize with her ancestors pain so that she may understand that the hatred is not personal on either side. It was taught and many do not realize such visceral emotions against Blacks are lying dormant in them until they are faced to face with a Black person. Teach her how not to be on the receiving end of an explosive authority figure and what to do when she inevitably comes face- to- face with seething hatred. One of my favorite speeches is Soujourner Truth’s Ain’t I A Woman. Though born into slavery, Truth was able to explain the glaring differences she faced as a Black emancipated slave woman from her white female peers.
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
This originally appeared on Naja’s blog, Miss Naja.