Photo: JESSICA GRIFFIN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
It was Mother’s Day weekend and still, Black women continued to do the only thing they know how to do: go hard for Black men. This past Friday would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday but he was murdered on February 23. Over the past several days, Black women, in particular, have used their voices not to celebrate themselves but protect and uphold Black men. It’s endearing and beautiful but also begs the question of whether Black men have the same, laser focus on upholding and protecting Black women.
Scarcely does a Black woman’s plight universally consume Black men. Black men– Trayvon, Michael Brown and a host of others– and their struggles routinely galvanize the collective but the burdens of Black women simply don’t get the same, predictable play. Black women are over 2 1/2 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. If honest with ourselves and each other, that has not garnered nearly the same collective attention and advocacy that prostate cancer in Black men has. It is well documented that Black children are statistically more likely to live in a household led by a single mom. As breadwinners, far too many Black women are at a disadvantage: on average, Black women are paid 39% less than white men and 21% less than white women. Where is the outrage for our women, who work hard and continue to be systematically excluded?
Black women often have inadequate support systems and that, more than anything, may explain why they disproportionately choose entrepreneurship: it’s risky but so is trying to navigate the racism and sexism of corporate America, for Black women. Given the implications for Black children, why isn’t there a greater emphasis from Black institutions and influencers on advocating for and supporting Black women Founders? That question could (and should) be followed up with many others, there is no shortage to choose from. From disparities in healthcare, the judicial system, to the treatment of Black women, even by Black institutions, Black women are simply ignored far too much. Sadly, Black people as a collective have grown far too well-adjusted, indifferent and unaffected by that reality.
It was Mother’s Day and of all weekends, the celebration of Black women should have been primary. To their enduring credit, however, Black women simply had to speak up for Black men. Those same Black women need Black men to have the same, undeterred, generationally transcendent commitment to them, in return. Such a world is necessary, if Black women are to be whole. When Black men match the dedication and care Black women have for their men, we will witness a generation of Black women at peace, unbroken and able to love fully.