When I was younger, I used to love watching Madea plays by Tyler Perry, Martin, and Living Color, to name a few. These were staples in the Black community that we lived and breathed by. To this day, nothing can take away from the greatness that came from these shows and these actors who portrayed characters that we can relate to. In this area of social media, Black men dressing up as stereotypical Black women has continued to be the center of memes and videos that go viral for the entertainment of not only Black people, but everyone. I’m not going to flex, I’ve been one who has laughed and found videos so funny that I began quoting some of the lines from them on a regular basis.
However, as I started understanding Black womanhood and how Black women are scrutinized and ostracized for being authentic, I soon started to become a little annoyed. Black men get to try us on for likes and retweets and become famous off of portraying what they believe is a stereotypical “ghetto Black girl”. They get to mimic and make a mockery of Black womanhood and we sit back and accept it. I mean, think about it. Ask yourself, right now, how many times you’ve fed into the coonery of the misrepresentation of Black women by Black men.
Most of the costumes we see Black men wear are pretty similar. Long and sometimes bright colorful weaves, long nails, big jewelry. We see them rolling their necks, patting their weaves, and smacking between the words that they speak. And we as Black people, think it’s funny. But ask yourself, if you saw an actual Black girl doing this, would you laugh? Would you think she would get the same respect and same viral attention of entertainment for being herself? Or would people automatically label her as “ratchet”, “ghetto”, or “uneducated”. Why have we as a culture allowed Black men to continue this behavior? Are we too scared to speak up about it? I’m unsure the answers to these questions but I do believe there is a need for a change. If Black women can’t be accepted for living their authentic truths, why do Black men get to reap the benefits?
This may be a bit extreme but I visualize these images as a form of Blackface. When white people mimic and dress up as Black people, it’s a problem. People are quick to respond about those blatant acts of discrimination but are silent when it’s happening to Black women by our own brothers who share at least half of our struggle. I also recognize that I am not an aspiring comedian so maybe these men feel that mocking Black women is the only way that can get them fame and a foot in the comedy door. But I think there’s other ways to get your grind on without compromising our sistahs. Dave Chappelle, though people have their own views about him, has been extremely successful by not compromising himself or Black women by dressing up as a woman.
Here are two ways to alternatively support Black women instead of dressing up as one:
Publicly Support Black Women One thing that I’ve commonly heard from other Black women is that they don’t feel supported by Black men. If you see someone degrading Black women, check them. Denounce the negativity they are trying to spill into the culture. This goes for your friends, too. The ones who love to call Black women from low- and mid-socioeconomic backgrounds “ghetto”. Or disrespect them as if they aren’t human-being. The ones who always disrespect Black women by saying things like, “I’ll never date a Black woman” or “I prefer Latina or White women over Black women because they look better”. If you see a Black woman on her grind, shout her out.
Read up on Black Feminist Thought Patricia Hill Collins’ book Black Feminist Thought, outlines the history of how Black women have been socialized and oppressed in America since we were brought to this country. She describes the unique experiences that we go through and how we are oppressed not only because of our race but because of our gender. Intersectionality plays a huge part in how Black women view the world and how the world views us. BFT has been used in many research studies on Black women and it is important to recognize these truths.
See, just because you may identify as a Black man and feel that because you are Black that you can’t oppress Black women, you actually can. You have the privilege of being a man and in a patriarchal society, women are seen as less than. So, use your privilege and fight for us instead of making fun of us.
❤ Queen T