silenced

A popular belief in discussions about equality and justice is that the suffering and atrocities that people of color face are often silenced. Their feelings are often devalued and their experiences are often minimized. Unfortunately, women of color bear the brunt of this silencing. The “angry black woman” archetype is automatically assigned to a black woman who is headstrong, speaks her mind and tolerates little to no bullshit.

Dear black woman who is being silenced for having standards: this one is for you.

At a young age, you were taught to have high expectations for yourself, for others and for the men in your life. You go out into the world and all of a sudden, this mentality is deemed invalid time and time again. You voice your opinion on your job about things that bother you, and your coworkers label you the problem – excuse you for wanting to comfortable at work just like everyone else. In a group project at school, when you are vocal about unfair group dynamics, you’re considered a nag, all because you want a decent grade reflective of your hard work and diligence. In the dating world, expecting what your mother and father taught you to expect from men becomes an uphill battle, because once your opinions of how you should be treated clash with your suitor, he turns you into the “see, this is why I don’t date black women” or “(any race other than black) women know how to treat a man and black women need to learn from them.”

You know what I’m talking about and you know it all too well.

Dear black woman who is being silenced for having standards: don’t apologize.

If everyone else’s voices are privileged and accepted, yours should be too – and don’t ever let anyone make you believe otherwise. The very moment you doubt yourself, you doubt your self-worth and you yourself are left with nothing. Not a thing.

Dear black woman who is being silenced for having standards: take action.

File a grievance at work. Make it known that you’ve worked hard on your part of the project and if needed, debate the grade with that professor. And if it feels like the man is negating you and what you stand for, consider putting him into the “see, this is why I don’t date men who couldn’t give a damn about me or my expectations” file and letting him go.

Dear black woman who is being silenced for having standards: you are not angry.

You are simply a being of worth. But the moment you dismiss your worth by letting others dismiss it for you, you will truly become angry – at work, at school, at the man and any and everything else testing your worth.

Dear black woman who is being silenced for having standards: you are not alone, because this one is for you and me both.

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