Black Women aint Tryna Save you. Believe that.
One reason I love Black History Month is that of the pure amount of black excellence we see from both the past and the present. It feels like in today’s day and age, it’s easier to see black people doing amazing things. Take Issa Rae, for example, and how she’s slowly starting to dominate HBO with shows made for black people. Black women are showing up consistently in elections, running for office at larger rates, and even here where I live in St. Petersburg Florida we’re seeing black women changing the game by becoming the city’s black first City Administrator, which I talk about in more detail on my last blog.
Black women are changing the world with each and every passing day and it’s something that makes me so proud of being black. However, I’m starting to become a little concerned.
The progress black women are making is not invisible. Everyone, regardless of race, gender, or background, can see us killing it. They see us making huge strides or remaining at the top of our industries. They see us coming up with new innovative brands regardless of what life threw at us in the past, and while I believe that to be a good thing, I think it’s having some negative side effects.
Being a black woman, I feel that people try to compartmentalize us into tropes. Franchesca Ramsey did an amazing video talking about the typical stereotypes black women are pinpointed as. The Jezebel, the sexually promiscuous black women, The Mammy, the black helper who just cares about taking care of those around her, and the HeadStrong Black Woman, which is the “I’m a strong independent black woman who doesn’t need no man” attitude. Then there’s also the sassy black friend, who is all sassy comments and no substantial qualities. These are the tropes that people usually see us in, but I’m going to introduce a new not so new trope that non-black women are pinning us down as.
Introducing: The Savior.
The black woman savior is a new trope where no matter what is happening in a black woman’s personal life, she shows up and saves the day.
Her child has the flu and she’s tired from staying up all night taking care of them, but the next day in the board meeting she comes through with information that saves the meeting. She’s not only taking care of the company, but she’s taking care of her family too.
She is burdened by the weight of injustice in the world, so she dedicates her life to fighting it, not because she has a passion for civil rights but because she knows the only way to get progress is if she commits herself to it, thus risking her safety and freedom by doing so.
She’s a woman who sees issues and problems and takes it upon herself to create change which will then impact all of the people out there who didn’t do anything at all towards positive change.
Maybe this is just another facet of the headstrong black woman trope, but I believe it’s starting to become its own entity. This new trope is drawn out to the point where black women aren’t just being strong for ourselves and our families. Instead, it’s black women being strong for the entire nation. It’s us having to step into political, activist, and leadership roles not because we want to, but because no one else is apparently capable of doing it.
It’s like a switch inside of black women, including myself. There have been many times where I saw some mess going on and I was hoping and praying someone else would say or do what was needed. Someone who was not black and not a woman because honestly, we spend enough energy debunking years of learned and internalized self-hate daily, along with supporting other black women being black women since everyone else has a problem with y’know, black women simply existing.
Yet, time and time again I find myself, and other black women, having to put ourselves on the back burner to stop horrible and harmful things from happening. Elections, movements, injustice, you name it. In a way, it starts to feel like it’s our responsibility and that’s the problem with this trope.
I feel that black women are being pedestalled. When we aren’t seen as lewd, loud, angry, obnoxious beings who are incapable of growing our own head of hair, we’re seen as this magical entity capable of besting anything and everything simply because we are black and we are a woman.
Black women are not here to save you.
We are not here to serve you and your needs.
Our lives do not and should not revolve everyone but ourselves.
The #blackgirlmagic and #carefreeblackgirl movements within the black community feel like they’re being co-opted, and not necessarily in the sense that that non-black women are rewriting the narrative surrounding the movements. Instead, it’s being co-opted in a way that makes black women literal magical entities. We’re goddesses. We’re superheroes. We’re everything but human and that’s the problem.
I believe that black women are out here for black women, but the world sees our messages as messages for everyone, thus it paints this image of the non-human and godlike black women.
People see black women as saviors when in reality we’re not even necessarily thinking of others when we do the right thing or use common sense. We’re thinking of ourselves, which is what we learned we have to do.
I truly believe that black women showing up en masse isn’t done for everyone. It doesn’t when everyone in mind.
If we didn’t go out of our way to save ourselves from the mess around us, no one else would think twice. No one else would care to think about us when bad things happen. So by saving ourselves, apparently we’re saving everybody else.
Black women aren’t goddesses.
Black women aren’t unmovable entities.
Black women are resilient because we’ve had no choice but to be, but that points me to my largest point yet.
Black women are human. We are not your saviors. Stop painting us to be such.