I’m a black, hispanic woman so that means I’m as woke as can be?? Ehh, WRONG!
As a minority, I always assume that I'm educated on topics concerning race, gender, sexuality, and class. But as I go through life, I realize that even as a minority I still have so much to learn. The prejudice I face everyday from being black since that’s the first thing people see when they look at me, is not the same prejudice that a person of the LGBTQ+ community feels, and vice versa. Both marginalized groups face oppression and it’s my duty to understand that.
Colorism is still a battle we’re fighting
Colorism is prejudice against darker skinned individuals in comparison to lighter skin. It’s the preference of lighter skin which is something many people across races face, especially in the black community.
Colorism is enforced throughout the media, the black community, and even within ourselves. It may be subconscious but it comes from the internalized prejudice against black people which in turn favors lighter skin because it looks more white. This is not limited to skin color because it also includes favoring other eurocentric features like straight hair.
The media contributes to this perspective because color stereotypes are often recognized through television. There are many instances that involve a lighter skinned individual being casted over a darker skinned individual. Mind you, the qualifications are the same.
Look at Fresh Prince. One of the infamous moments of the show includes the character, Aunt Viv, being originally casted as a dark skinned woman. Regardless of the reasons for the actress leaving, why do they replace her with a light skinned woman?
Make it make sense please.
The entertainment industry is no stranger to colorism. There’s no denying the talent of Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Whoopie Goldberg, and Angela Bassett (just to name a few). So why do they never get the same acknowledgement as white women or lighter skinned women or even dark skinned men?
Though we champion Denzel Washington, Zendaya, the late Chadwich Bosman, Yara Shahidi, Michael Ealy, Octavia Spencer, and many others (if I didn’t cut it there, whew, I could’ve written a book), we’re just hypocrites. To our own women of color, we don’t ride for them the same way. It’s sad. We’ve internalized Western standards.
Sexism (Toxic Masculinity and Femininity)
Although some claim otherwise, in families of color, gender roles are still apparent. Women have to do this and men have to do that. And god forbid they don’t, it’s chaos. The world is ending. Your whole family’s discussion of the day suddenly includes how you let your room pile up with laundry, instead of being the “clean” woman that’s expected of you.
We can trace this all the way back to the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist movement (I actually did a project on this examining Alice Walker’s “womanist,” very interesting).
Okay, so let me tell you some of my findings.
Black women were put in a position where they had to basically choose sides. Either join other people of color in the Civil Rights Movement to gain freedoms hindered by the color of their skin. OR, participate in a movement that only fights for white, middle class, heterosexual women.
They chose to fight alongside black men since defending the color of their skin was a greater cause at the time. While sacrificing their own liberties, they weren’t even acknowledged by black men. And that is where the black man looked over the black woman. It wasn’t the first time, and definitely not the last.
This plays a role in the most common form of sexism seen in minority communities, at least from my perspective, gender roles placed on women. The woman has to cook, clean, take care of the kids, and on top of that, make her man feel like a man. It’s as if we’re decades back instead of in the 21st century.
He has two hands and feet, why I gotta serve him?
God forbid you don’t serve your man at the cookout or any other family gathering, your family will talk hella shit about you. It’s surprising because it really does happen. Like damn, if I don’t get some griot with a side of mac and cheese and my hands don’t have two plates…it’s that deep? To minority families, it is.
Women are expected to do absolutely everything. When they fail to do the one thing out of the billion tasks they already completed that day, their family won’t hesitate to give them shit for it. Mind you, shorty just cooked for everyone including the dog, cleaned the entire house, worked full time, AND still is walking. The expectations placed on women in minority families is overwhelming, but same with those that involve men.
Men are always supposed to be strong. They cannot, under any circumstances, be weak. If a man starts talking about their feelings or is clearly going through shit, the automatic response is basically, “shut up and deal with it. Be a man.” So to be a man apparently means to suck up feelings in the most unhealthy way possible?
If men talk about their feelings they’re deemed weak and female. Two problems with that: the association between weakness and healthy discussion, and the association between weakness and female. Talking about feelings doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You’re strong because you are taking accountability of your emotions, no shying away from them. This is how I feel, and I won’t apologize for it. Does that seem weak to you? Hell no, that’s empowerment.
So let’s get into this: the association between weakness and female. This concept is enforced throughout minority communities because of the scenario I listed above. If men are going to constantly be told, “Stop acting like a little bitch” maybe the problem isn’t with them. This might seem outrageous, bear with me. It could POSSIBLY, I mean POSSIBLY, have to do with the unhealthy, toxic gender roles placed on men.
The toxicity does not stop there. Rappers’ raps basically degrade women on all fronts which enforces the toxicity. Saying “hoe this, bitch that,” can women ever be referred to as women anymore? Or are we nothing less than derogatory terms in the eyes of black men?
What’s worse is that their raps don't stop there. While degrading women, they also degrade men by even further degrading women. Stay with me here. They’ll call a man a bitch because they’re expressing “female attributes.” So female attributes suddenly mean bitch? Not sure how that one correlates. Not only do they do this, they take it a step up. Now that man who is weak and a bitch is also gay. Completely ignoring the implications that has for the LGBTQ+ community.
Issues of LGBTQ+
Equating weakness and female qualities to being gay is problematic, and nobody realizes it, especially in the minority community. How can you be a member of a marginalized group, but further the oppression other marginalized groups have to confront?
Talking about men being gay because they want to talk about what they’re dealing with, enforces gender roles and the internal prejudice people have towards other minorities. It might not seem that deep, but I’m here to assure you, it is. I won’t lie. I catch myself stopping when the response, “that’s gay” pops into my head. It wasn’t until I started realizing that that little sentence is like saying “that’s ghetto.” It packs a punch and it’s my job to acknowledge that. I can’t sit here and preach about what rights black people deserve while contributing to the issues the LGBTQ+ community faces.
Discussing gay people in a negative way in rap songs is not the only way people of color add to their oppression. I know you’ve seen those tweets on twitter that always call out someone for talking to a trans woman at the club. And it’s not just twitter. It’s everywhere on social media platforms, the movie industry and of course life too. Somehow it’s a problem for people to talk to a woman because regardless of their sexuality they are still women.
Transphobia within the male community is apparent, but it is extremely prevalent within the black community. There are multiple scenes in movies that depict the scenario I spoke about above. A guy will have a great night with a woman but later on he finds out she’s actually trans. Per usual, he either throws up, freaks tf out, or both and usually it’s both. Usually these scenes are added for comedic effect without considering the message it’s sending. To think that adding a transphobic scene would be funny makes zero sense. It goes to show how immersed transphobia is in the entertainment industry and society in general.
It’s time to take accountability.
If you, as a black individual, are not free, you should be doing everything in your power to aid others who are not free. Like, how you gonna act like you side with the white man when he done knocked you down at every step? We all have to do better. We’re being hypocrites and that’s something we despise judging from our own confrontations with oppression as minorities.
Steps need to be taken and the first is acknowledging that we DO contribute to these issues of discrimination and prejusice. Racism, sexism, and queerphobia all intertwine. Every single member who faces these issues is put down and it’s up to each of these marginalized groups along with the majority to stop these issues in its tracks. Recognize them. Combat them.
I hope that my article helps bring these issues to light and you educate yourself the same way I am learning to do so.