#SistaSoldier - Being Black & Being Woman

If there is anything you can tell about me from seeing me, it's that I'm Black and I'm a woman. I'm not one more than the other and both of are equal importance to me. Being Black and being a woman both come with their own perks, but they also come with their own challenges. Black people are fighters and so are women. This means Black women are warriors by nature, Sista Soldiers if you will. I love being equal parts Black and woman, but some days it feels like I'm getting the short end of the race stick and the gender stick. I feel like anybody who isn't a cisgender heterosexual white man (a straight white man who identifies as a man) of a certain financial status gets the short end of a stick at one point or another, but I can't fully speak on an experience that I don't live, so I'm only going to talk about mine.

This country is a hot ass mess. Period. I'm not one of those people that are interested in politics, but with the current state of our country being ignorant is dangerous. It's like something new happens every day. Living in the Deep South with its inherent racism and microaggressions makes it that much worse, and at times scary. Being a Black woman from a red state is NOT the move. When I don’t see something about an injustice being carried out toward a Black man, woman, or child, I'm seeing something about old white men making laws about what I can do with my body. As a Black woman, I recognize that Black women's bodies have been disrespected, hypersexualized, policed, and legislated since we were forcefully brought here. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop, but other times I don’t feel like it will until we get someone in office who actually cares about us. I have a lot of concerns regarding my safety and overall well-being as a woman in this country, but if I talk about all of them we’re gonna be here all day.

This abortion stuff is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. My views on abortion are simple. I don’t believe I'd ever have an abortion, but I also don’t believe it’s my place to tell any other woman what she can do with her body. Not my body, not my business. And it's extremely bothersome to me that there are no exceptions for rape or incest. As someone who has been molested/sexually assaulted, one of my biggest fears is getting raped. I can’t imagine a) being raped and b) having to carry a child someone forcefully impregnated me with. That's scary and I honestly pray for anybody who has to do that. Children are a blessing, but that's one case where women should ABSOLUTELY have the choice to abort the child. It's not like she willingly had sex and got pregnant. She was attacked, and now these lawmakers are forcing her to carry her trauma and have a constant reminder of the attack. People are not going to stop having abortions just because it's illegal. They are just going to go about it in ways that are more dangerous. Medical professionals have said this more than once and they aren't wrong. Another thing I really don’t understand is why legislators make abortion illegal in the first place when the cut the programs and services that help care for the child when they're actually here. They get rid of people's government assistance that help house and feed these children, but they're mandating their being born because "every life is precious". If every life is precious, then start arresting and prosecuting these police officers who kill Black and Brown people for fun and the white people who shoot up schools and places of worship like people's lives are a video game.

Women's health and women's health education is also becoming increasingly necessary. Between people on Instagram spreading false information about our bodies and actual medical doctors admitting to being less likely to believe Black women who come to them for medical care, somebody has to be looking out for us besides us. That's why organizations like Planned Parenthood are so important. (You can access their list of services here). For women (and men) who don't receive the proper health education through their school or home lives, they offer a range of services that teaches and helps people take care of the bodies they were given. This is why they need to continue to be funded. They don’t only offer abortion services even though that's all many people think they do. Flat Tummy Tea and waist training culture is not the wave. Self-care is more than bottomless mimosas with your friends and a face mask on Sunday nights. In addition to taking care of your mind (which I've discussed a bunch of times before, you have to take care of your body as well. Find the proper avenues and educate yourself in the information isn't being given to you. Know better so you can do better.

The last thing I want to talk about is stuff I've heard surrounding sexual assault and various allegations. I can't say this enough: STOP SHAMING VICTIMS. No matter what someone wears, how much she had to drink, or what her sexual history is, it's not her fault. Stop making people feel like they put themselves in a position to be attacked. And PUHLEASE stop using that tired ass "boys will boys" excuse. It's played out. Those boys being boys grow into men like Brock Turner and y'all's president who have no respect for women, their intellect, their bodies, and their "Nos". We've heard the statistics a lot, and if you're in college, you usually have to do the Title IX training every year. We know the numbers of people who get assaulted is high, and we know it's a lot higher because a lot of people don't report their assaults. Do better. Just because someone says one of your homeboys did something, doesn't mean she's lying. Just because the girl you're chillin' with said yes at one point, doesn't mean she wants to say yes again. Consent is not one size fits all. People are allowed to say no and people are allowed to change their minds. Yeah, you might get pissed and have to get your fix elsewhere, but you just have to deal with it. The way so many people (men and women) caped for Robert and Bill Cosby and accused all those women of lying was really disturbing for me. I know that there are plenty of instances of women who have lied on Black men about rape, but if you look up the actual factuals, you'll see that MOST women do not lie about not being assaulted. That's not anything to play with. Famous people need to be held just as accountable as the rest of us. Status shouldn't give anyone a pass. The fact that some people could ignore the things they did just because they love Cliff Huxtable or because they wanna keep steppin' in the name of love at the cookouts is disgusting. You shouldn't have to be told to imagine if your mother, daughter, sister, female friend, or relative being preyed upon for you to understand that wrong is wrong. But it seems like that's the only thing that makes some men understand. The policies surrounding sexual assault and harassment are ever-changing so it's important that as women we educate ourselves so we know our rights (or lack thereof in some cases), but it's also important for everybody to know definitions of terms that can sometimes be hazy.

As a Black woman, I feel like I have a responsibility to stand with and advocate for other Black women. This includes Black queer and trans women for those of y'all who like to forget they are Black women too. Seek to educate yourselves so that you don’t keep crapping on the people who also fight for you. As Black people we have to stop only chanting #BlackLivesMatter when those Black lives are straight people. Black members of the LGBTQIAA+ community matter just as much as the rest of us and they deserve to feel seen too. It's not fair and we need to do better. I will admit that I'm still not as educated as I'd like to be, but I'm working on it. The same way we want the whites to recognize and check their privilege, us straight men and women need to do it too.

Black women, I see you. I love you. I am doing my best to make sure the rest of the world will see it too. Our Black Girl Magic isn't fantasy. It's the byproduct of our work, our dreams, our blood, our sweat, and our tears. We are a force to be reckoned with. We are multi-faceted. We are different and we are the same. The light that radiates from within us cannot be dimmed and it cannot be contained. We are the original. We may always be imitated, but we will never be duplicated. Being Black and being women are blessings, and it is our mission to fight for and uplift one another. There are people out there who need us. WE need us. The power that comes with being a Black woman is to be cultivated and passed down to the little Black girls coming behind us.

Live life. Be great. Flourish.

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