Women of Color: I Celebrate You!
Women of Color: I Celebrate You! Yes, YOU: natural, locked, permed, or weaved, caramel complexion, chocolate, or somewhere in the middle, thin or thick, short or tall, whatever you got: Rock It, Own It, and Love It! Women of Color are some of the most powerful, influential, and breathtaking creatures to grace planet Earth with their presence. Our rich history spans from the ancient days of our proud African heritage, deeply rooted in honoring God and family first, cultivating a sense of self-worth, pride, & love, and a community fostering unity, wisdom, knowledge, and practical living (wasting nothing). Women of Color have made huge sacrifices and endured pain and suffering for many centuries. We have been ridiculed, rejected, raped, beaten, objectified, criticized, and dehumanized for far too long. We are known for turning struggle into survival, trial into triumph, and turning failure into victory. We have gone from Sojourner to Serena, Madame CJ to Michelle, and Gertrude to Maddy and Naya (my grandmother and great nieces). We have come a long mighty way and yet we still have leaps and bounds to go.
Women of color are women of character, substance, class, intelligence, and unspeakable joy. I am appalled by some of the images of women of color being portrayed on the screen in 2016. We have gone from playing the stereotypical “Mammy” to “the Angry Black Woman” wearing a chip on her shoulder. This is based on society teaching us to assimilate to European Standards in order to be successful in life. I’ll just say it and keep it 100. It’s a form of self-hate that most will deny exist…but it does exist. Sadly, these standards (straighter hair, lighter skin, smaller frame are more acceptable) have been embedded in our programming since slavery and many of these principles are accepted as the norm for African Americans. From my own personal experience, I grew up in the South and learned what my mother and grandmother (both had limited education) taught me. I am a product of my environment. I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. I have begun reading and further studying my history and plan to share my knowledge with other women of color. And I’ll admit that I have been both positively and negatively influenced by these standards. Sometimes it has caused things to work in my favor while other times it has caused great pain.
Generally speaking, here are some other ways that women of color have been influenced by European Standards: the way we speak, dress, wear our hair, where we choose to live, what we choose to eat, what we choose to drive, where we choose to go to school, spend our time and money, how we choose our mates, how we raise our children, how we cope, and how we solve problems. I have three suggestions to transform our culture and empower women of color:
- Let’s create more positive and uplifting roles for people of color. I’ll do it myself if I have to.
- Women of Color: let us be the living example of the woman of character and integrity to other younger girls and women (through our speech and actions).
- Women of Color: let us learn to celebrate each other 365 days a year.
Tracy Mitchell (TeeMitchellSpeaks)