Monday, April 12, 2010

The Black Girl's Manifesto: The Basic Rights of Femininity.

1. Black women and girls have the basic right, clearly accessible/demanded by other women to feel safe in the neighborhood they live in by the immediate removal of criminals and other delinquents who greatly decrease the likelihood of safety for black women in particular.

2. Black women and girls have the basic right to be feminine, to appear feminine, and to dress feminine without being considered a threat to white women's "feminine supremacy", or being brutally harassed to remind us that we "are not like other women", and that we should be treated/have access to less than, because of our skin color.

3. Black women and girls have the right to exercise the same standards other women in society exercise without being called "sellouts" for not subjecting themselves to financial/and or sexual exploitation.

4. Black women and girls have the right to say whatever needs to be said until conditions in their communities and direct vicinity improve, including being honest about the circumstances and attitudes within them without fear of being called "traitors" for their honesty.

5. Black women and girls have the right to expose the belief that it is their responsibility to protect, defend, provide for, and uphold the honor of men who go through great lengths to make sure that black women are NOT protected, that they are NOT defended, that they ARE NOT considered worthy of honor, and that they SHOULD NOT be provided for. Black women and girls have the right to acknowledge that this role reversal that exists in black communities has not been acceptable in any other society on the planet regardless of these societies racial and class based circumstances.

6. Black women and girls have the right to love, to be loved, to be treated as human beings effortlessly.

7. Black women and girls have the right to expose the hypocrisy that only includes them in "diversity" if they are used as props to make others feel superior and are an immediate threat when they are not.

8. Black women and girls have the right to expose the hypocrisy that liberal and progressives take on to be starch racists against black women because they think it's harder for black women to prove it.

9. Black women have the right to expose the sabotage of racist white women who view them as a threat through manipulation, cattiness, and other behaviors camouflaged in a sugary sweet fake persona, particularly in the workforce.

10. Black women and girls have the basic right to expose the lie that black female bodies are inherently for being devalued, and therefore, says our bodies are too "trashy" and "demanding attention" when we dress in the typical way other women are allowed to dress.

11. Black women and girls have the right to expose the lie that hip hop speaks about "the experiences and reality" of black neighborhoods, when it is actually about preserving hegemonic masculinity by showing that black women aren't worthy of empathy from outsiders for having to deal with the consequences of hegemonic masculinity.

12. Black women have the basic right to point out that black neighborhoods are not only unsafe because they are in them, but that criminals TARGET neighborhoods that are majority black women and children as most criminals seek out and exploit vulnerable populations and isolated women.

13. Black women and girls have the basic right to prioritize their safety and comfort over race, same as all other women.

14. Black women have the right to adequate Hollywood representation that is not stereotypical and involve "Strong" characters. Black women have the right to see attractive female leads who grapple with their complex identities and fall in love, same as other women.

15. Black women and girls have the right to sexual freedom and identity. Like straight black women, GLBT black women have the RIGHT to demand fairness and marriage over the stereotypes that prevent it.

16. Black women have the right to social and cultural freedom and identity. Like black men, black women have the RIGHT to talk about their experiences SOLELY in society without the contexts of black men and to demand their issues be addressed over the stereotypes that prevent it.

17. Black women and girls have the right to education without worrying that it makes "it might make the men look bad", "it might result in no one wanting you", and "it might mean that you should give the money from your hard work back to your community", the same as all other women.

18. Black women and girls have the right to experience identity crisis's, existential angst, and to toil with inner turmoil like all other human beings.

19. Black women and girls have the right to point out that sexual exploitation by black men, that music and opinions of black women is due to the fact that since black men are most likely to have no resources, that sexual capital is the only thing they can control. That since they cannot control their own image, they can control the image of black women. That since they own nothing, that they should be allowed to "own" the streets, and own "their" women without intrusion.

20. Black women and girls have the basic right to all social norms such as dating, marriage, commitment, flirting, singles parties, and picking mates they deem compatible like all other women.

21. It is not black women's responsibilities to take on the burdens of their community, anymore than any other women, because of their skin color.

22. Black women are allowed their own destinies and fulfillment and to pursue these things without being met with hatred for not prioritizing the fulfillment of others who do not have any particular interest/resources to do so the same for them.

23. Black women and girls have the right to demand fairness without being labeled "bitches" without being attacked and/or guilted into doing any of the above out of a false sense of solidarity.

24. Black women have the right to expose the lie that states that because of "their culture" (stereotypes and music) that they have signed, endorsed, or are "naturally equipped" to handle hatred, sexual degradation and humiliation from the powerless and overcompensating men around them.

25. Black women are allowed to discuss being groped, fondled, harassed or called debasing names from the time they are children simply for being black women without fear of retaliation.

26. Black girls and teens have the right to experiment with their socialized femininity and/or have the right to live harassment free because they "developed early" without being seen as "easy" and deserving of child molestation, like blond white girls and teens.

27. Black girls and teens have the right to live in a two parent household, and to demand that the psychological impact of not being raised in such homes at an 80% rate be studied by therapists and analyzed.

28. Black women have the right to question those who say they have "thick skin" by nature to deal with how they are treated in society; that they are not vulnerable or worthy of protection like white women, or to justify racial segregation and white privilege.

29. Black women must have the right to be hurt by the lie that we are less feminine, less vulnerable, less desirable and less hated than other women.

30. Black women have the right to reject white feminism, black male nationalism, liberalism, anarchism, and so forth because it does not apply to their particular circumstances. They are allowed to do so without fear of alienating potential ally's. Such groups have never really considered their particular struggles to begin with.

31. Black women and girls have the right to exist.

- I have the right to recognize that I have the right to safety, to not be sexually terrorized, to be safe in public, to not be treated like I can "handle" violence and sexual aggression because of my skin color.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I have my own personality, my own identity, and that I am treated with suspicion because I am a complex human being and not a stereotype of a black female.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I am treated with racism from white women in particular because of how I look, because I pose a threat to their feminine supremacy. And that each racist white woman I've who has tried to sabotage me believed that an effective form of manipulation is to project super sweet and innocent behavior so that if ever I got angry about their direct sabotage, I'd appear to be a stereotype.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I am treated with sexism because I am tall and I therefore pose a threat to male physical dominance. That people have treated me as though I should be "embarrass" for being tall. Or that I should feel ashamed for being tall.

- I have the right to acknowledge that my body is viewed as deviant because I am shapely, and that I must want attention for something I was biologically predetermined to have, and that I should accept that I deserve everything from leering stares to sexual exploitation.

- I have the right to acknowledge that people have acted with surprise for being attracted to me because I do not fit the beauty ideal, because I am not thin, not blond, and I am not the status quo.

- I have the right to acknowledge that my struggle has very little in common with white women, with black men, and with white men. And that I have no particular beef with white men just for the purpose of wanting the power they have. I am anti-hierarchy in all forms because I am a black female.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I have faced insecurity. That I was not "confident", "strong", or "equipped to handle insecurity" as society feels black women. I am like all other women who feel inadequate because of the Ad Industry.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I am terrified of men and sometimes have social anxiety around men from dealing with chronic Street Harassment, being stalked and followed and death threats from not responding to sexual advances.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I DO fit the beauty ideal more than many other women. And that I've never felt that men do not find me attractive.

- I have the right to acknowledge that I am shy, and often uncomfortable which has been assumed "black bitch" and "unapproachable", simply because I am black female.

- I have the right to change who I am, to experience personal growth, to go through "phases", and to grapple with my identity, to grow up and to change my political views with age because I am human, like other black females.

- I have the right to sexual liberation if I so choose to, AND the right to not partake in it for personal reasons. I have the right to acknowledge that I have had far less partners than most in my age group.

- I have the right to point out the hypocrisy in liberal, feminist, progressive and anti-racist circles who excuse their apathy of black women's circumstances because of pathologies such as white guilt that only apply to black men, and to prioritize how they are victimized in society.

- I have the right to speak about my experiences as a black female aside from white women, black men, etc., without being considered "divisive" for not prioritizing theirs.

- I have the right to discuss my experiences in a public forum regardless of those who benefit from them being "uncomfortable" with the subject matter.

I have the right to question science/debate sociologists as an art history major, to question religion as an agnostic, to point out black male privilege as an anti-racist, to correctly categorize white female privilege as a feminist, and to love men as a womanist.

I have the right to exist.

If you have others to add, please feel free.



Shermy said...

That was AMAZING! Thank you so much for spelling it all out, WOW!!!!!

Ion said...

Thank you Shermy! <3

Park Avenue said...

Absolutely beautiful! I read it...and I'm getting ready to re-read it!

Ion said...

Thanks Park Avenue! I am still editing and adding to it, and will continue to do so. Please feel free to pass it along!

Sandra77 said...

Absolutely fantastic! I heard about your blog from Halima's blog. Please keep doing what you're doing - your voice is needed and appreciated. That is an incredible contribution you just made - a BW's manifesto!

Ion said...

Wow thank you so much Sandra! I remember seeing you around (posting on various blogs over the years). I'm going to Halima's now!

be.the.change said...

This is a great post!!! I agree with all the posts.

16. Black women have the right to social and cultural freedom and identity. Like black men, black women have the RIGHT to talk about their experiences SOLELY in society without the contexts of black men and to demand their issues be addressed over the stereotypes that prevent it.

This is poignant. Often when Black issues are spoken of Black = Black Men. Gendered hardships are rarely addressed. The experiences of Black Women are silenced when the perpertrators are Black Men -- Street harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, etc. Also the crushing oppression of the white supremacist beauty standard in America is justified as a "dating preferences".

13. Black women and girls have the basic right to prioritize their safety and comfort over race, same as all other women.

31. Black women and girls have the right to exist.

Indeed! :D

Anonymous said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!
from the Bottom of My Heart! It was thrilling to read your words of Truth and completely identify with them. Especially the one about us having positive images of our femininity and being able to fall in love in Hollywood movies and be as vulnerable as all other women on the planet Are!!! We are no better or different, We are Women!! May the Universe Bless You Abundantly in every way. Merci Ma Soeur Merci!

Tulip said...

Nice article.

Bellydancer said...

" I have the right to point out the hypocrisy in liberal, feminist, progressive and anti-racist circles who excuse their apathy of black women's circumstances because of pathologies such as white guilt that only apply to black men, and to prioritize how they are victimized in society."

Thank you for pointing that out as a feminist of color I agree that sometimes white women see things differently when dealing with black men vs black women. Phylis Chessler a white, jewish feminist from the 70's has also pointed this out repeatedly especially since most feminist today also overlook the danger of male chauvanism in islamic countries by stating oh it is their culture which alllows them to not hold these men responsible while blaming western civilization for the downfall of everything. Those same women are also anti-semitic and blame Israel for islamic extremism.

B said...

Reading your manifesto brought me to tears because it encapsulates so many of feelings I've had as a young black woman, and I've never seen them expressed so thoroughly or clearly.

All of the harassment from both the black community (in particular the violent hatred, black female specific misogyny and demeaning sexually aggressive behavior)and the overarching societal stereotypes and debasement that have left me feeling less than human and ashamed because I was black & female. The double jeopardy of it all.

Black women deserve to be treated with dignity and we deserve the right to pursue our lives for our own enjoyment and betterment. Thank God! When are the T-shirts coming out because I want one? :)

foreverloyal said...

*scarf flutter salute*

Anonymous said...

Bravo Bravo!! Words and statments to live by. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Right on!!!!


Anonymous said...

I think that this should be printed on a T shirt and worn. You could make a good profit.

Perry88 said...

@26 - Be assured that blond girls do not live free of harassment or molestation.

Ion said...

"@26 - Be assured that blond girls do not live free of harassment or molestation. "

Did I say that? I didn't say that. However, when we think of pedophiles, we think of white men because they are on average molesting children who could be white. IE little girls who are valuable, and considered innocent. Black girls who make up the vast majority of such cases, and surely many pedophiles prey on them because they know no one cares. THAT'S my point. You're simply not used to molestation of black girls being discussed, because people do not care to discuss it.

I am saying that black girls are ALSO innocent, worthy of protection, valuable, and deserve to live in a society where they are not shaped by child sexual abuse.

Ion said...

Thanks to everyone else for your comments!! Greatly appreciated :-D

Beauty Is Diverse said...

I re-posted this post on my blog :)

Anonymous said...


At this time, that is about all I can say. Will be combing through your other articles.

Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

Hi this is great work. I posted a link on the What About Our Daughters network, and it has been linked by the What About Our Daughter blog.


divalive said...

The most amazing post ever!!!

SilkONe said...

Beautiful....just beautiful. I will be sending links to my sistahfriends all over the world.

Keep up the good work!

Faith said...

It's so nice to read how other women have gotten out of the Matrix and are demanding the same good treatment that other groups of women from protected groups have. BRAVA!!!

meishaSMILES said...

This post made me SMILE so bright! It's nice to reaffirm my rights every now and then. Thank YOU.

Marissa said...

Hi, I realize that I'm very late, to this, but I want to say that this was a great post, and I think a great resource for people trying to grapple with intersectionality.

This is a nit-picky kind of criticism, but in point 9 you refer to "cattiness", which surprised me because it is a sexist word, that diminishes both the woman that it's directed at and what she does. Because it's not just harmless hissing and a few scratches. It's meanness and cruelty. And I think white women have earned the right to have their behaviour described in words that convey its seriousness.

Ion said...

Cattiness should be in quotes there, that is definitely an error.
I guess I constantly struggle with grammatical editing, lol, but I'm workin’ on that. And I used to be a developmental editor! Shame.

With that being said, I strongly dislike when bloggers say "read the rest of the blog" as though most people don't read a million blogs a day, so no pressure, but if you read two or three other posts you simply would not have been able to reach the above conclusion.

I've always urged that some liberal types, some feminists, and some black nationalists cover their "baby ears" or immediately hit the "back" button on their browsers when heading to this blog.
This blog is filled with a plethora of examples to support my argument that "cattiness" and/or white female supremacy are considered less severe because of sexism and white patriarchy benefits white women, historically and presently. In fact, you stated that I used a "sexist word", without acknowledging that the context of how I used cattiness indicates racist behavior, not sexist behavior. The fact of the matter is that "sexism" is merely a real fancy word for "prioritizing the rights/issues of white women".

Ion said...

Also, an example of what I said previously:

"In every country on the planet do to globalism and colonialism, women are chosen based on how much closer they are to white women… This has always been chucked up to catty female competition and "shallow" things such as looks, but we're talking the SURVIVAL of women and their offspring... It is ONLY shallow based on our trivialization of gender, so the "benefit" element is severely lessened...

I've normally considered "Cattiness" internal oppression if between women of the same race, sex, and orientation and/OR racism and so forth when its not. If one group has power over the other it's not self-hatred (IE black men over black women, white women over black women, straight men over gay men, etc). In any event, words like "self hatred", "cattiness", etc., are thrown around to trivialize their severity and lesson the consequences of those who engage in such actions. This is why, in my opinion, white women tend to be more racist, specifically against women of color because we're a threat to their specific supremacy. Black men tend to be more sexually oppressive and racist against black women because they view us as the only thing they can control--from our image to our resources.

Liberals tend to be more racist because apparently one is not racist if they recycle, and because they view racism as being an action (by republicans?...republicans who say the “n” word???). In fact, any honest independent thinker past the age of say, 12, knows that they ARE racist simply from watching T.V. and acknowledges that the brainwashing one has endured throughout a lifetime simply needs to be unlearned, and that they’re a racist in recovery.

I can go on forever, rambling but one of the very principles of this blog is that those who face less accountability for their privilege and unlearning that privilege because they are considered victims, because their power is trivial, and/or because they are "well meaning", are the WORST. Ask any women of color or glbt person you encounter if they have ever been as aggressively bashed and harassed by men of color who are "victims" far more frequently, or ask any person of color if they prefer dealing with the blatant racism of guilt-ridden liberals over that of republicans, even though liberals are thought of as anti-racist ally’s.

I've also argued at least a billion times that if "cattiness" was between white and black men, that we would consider it racism. Cattiness, and being threatened by competition is pretty much the mainstream definition of racism when white men do this to black men. So yes, it is severe. This blog in detail analyzes how severe this behavior is.


Ion said...

"(before you censor this, remember: yes-men will never tell you what you really need to hear) "

I deleted your comment Anon. Which I tend to do for Anon's who come here to spew negativity with no solutions...and post as anon while doing it. But please refer to my other comments, clearly proving that I don't censor comments based on what I want to hear (I responded to a comment from Marissa who offered criticism).

I've decided not let in a few comments, mostly because they come from "friendly trolls" who have evolved to offer "friendly suggestions as progressive thinkers" to change the subject of the intended post. "White men don't even have these rights" proves a sort of narcissistic entitlement complex and that everyone should be measured by what we believe white men may have, want to have, or don't have. Go tell maybe white feminists, a black male nationalist or someone else who cares that views the rights of "white men" as something to work towards? I view a thorough investigation into the complex rules of hierarchy as something to work towards.

I'm not saying that every white person is privileged whether one-legged, homeless, etc., This in my opinion, is a piss-poor liberal type analysis: "not every white person is privileged...look at that Vietnam Vet" and other ways to deflect the subject back to themselves. Next you'll bring up that "Oprah has these right shes rich, and she's a black woman" as though observations about deep-rooted structural inequality are not allowed if there are exceptions to the rule, right?

Just for argument sake, I imagine that the life of the average white male is pretty hard. As they do go through all elements of the human condition like birth, death, heartache, love, they also deal with financial crisis, existential angst, depression, self esteem issues, and other products produced by capitalism in MY opinion. Black women have to worry about all these things in addition to the dehumanizing of black women that means we're strong enough to withstand mistreatment and that we deserve exploitation because of our skin color. Which makes everything about life harder. The wealthy also deal with death, heartache, etc., but when you're middle class and also have to deal with these things + foreclosure, unemployment, and frustration about losing health care coverage then yeah, it's much more difficult. So imagine you're going through a foreclosure, and you begin discussing how unfair foreclosure is in this economy, and a wealthy person says "well, I own a billion dollar condo, but don't think my life is easy because I can't buy my way out of heartache" (like, huh?).

If you cannot acknowledge how your sense of entitlement has warped your view of what black women are "allowed" and "not allowed" to demand in terms of basic rights because our very humanity is not considered as relevant, then you really know nothing about your own privilege at all.


Halima said...

i wanted to take up your invitation to add to the list (which i might do in the future), but I want to say, keep doing what you are doing in broadening out social analysis, and adding lattices to the existing framework which is woefully unable to both address and account for the situation of black women.


Nikki said...


So glad I found your blog.

Unknown said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This so moved me, I made a video. I read some of the points that most moved me and added some of my own. ....

Ion said...

YES, Halima, please by all means feel free to add anything I may have left out (others as well), THANK YOU very much for your support! It truly means a lot.

xtraimmot, that is incredible! good work. Thanks for spreading the word and I urge everyone else to feel free to re-post, link, and spread any info here, really.

I truly appreciate all of you (even the people I disagreed with above) for taking the time to comment!

Unknown said...

that was beautifully stated and hard hitting sometimes unwanted truth. Thanks for sharing it with us. I passed it on to my family, friends and even some of my colleagues.

L. VAZQUEZ said...

Hello there!

I rarely venture out into the comment sections of most blogs these days but I wanted to commend you on such a thoughtful and relevant post!

I would like to link to it on Twitter! You are always welcome to visit my empowerment blog or to follow me on Twitter!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

omi said...

really good, important stuff...i hope to write about it a bit in my space as well.

just the sort of thing we need to be talking about.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I really love this. Can't wait to re-read it after the work week's over and I have my full brain back.

Ion said...

WOw Lisa! What an honor! Twitter away! :-) Write away Sugas Sista!

Thanks much everyone else :-) much love.

Ellie Di said...

This is a spectacular manifesto; thank you for sharing it. I just wanted to say that I feel that nearly all of these points can apply to all women of all races. There are several that should be underscored specifically for black women, to be sure, but so many of the messages are incredible, empowering reminders for all women. Thank you again for writing this.

Tyece said...

I absolutely love how you are able to eloquently elaborate on the issues and feelings of black women. Thank you for articulating the feelings that I have had for so long and not been able to express so clearly. You are one in a million my sister.

Mildred said...

Beautifully stated. A very thoughtful and thought provoking post. I will share and look forward to reading more. Onwards!

Ms Sheeba Ctrl-T said...

I will print this out and post it on my wall. Read it to myself whenever I get the chance.

Anonymous said...

I just want to point out that you need to add a "not" in statement #5, otherwise you're saying quite the opposite of what you meant.
That aside, this is a beautiful, inspired piece. I will do my part to share it.

Anonymous said...

@ Perry88 and, apparently, some trolls...

Don't you find it funny how in this whole post, what sparked your interest was not what she was saying about the black female experience, but whether she was attacking blonde women or white men?

Out of all this, you choose to comment on the poor blonde girls.

I vividly recall reading an article on another website about honor killings in Pakistan. The comment section devolved into a flame war over whether American courts devalue fathers in custody battles. It was SURREAL.

You can't speak about anything to do with women before someone turns it around and makes it about men. Or speak about the human rights of black people before someone makes it all about white people.

Here's a hint: just because someone focuses on one thing does not mean it is the only thing in the world they care about. If I have a blog about the search for an AIDS vaccine, it doesn't mean I am against the search for cancer treatments. You get it?

I am sure this lady does not support stripping men of their rights - she supports giving black women their full human rights. This is not a zero sum game. Women do not gain HUMAN RIGHTS at the expense of men, and men certainly win when entrenched chauvinism is revealed as the pyramid scheme it is.

Likewise, white people do not lose when black people take the reigns of their own lives and be who they are in the fullness of dignity. Every person has a valuable contribution to this world, and almost every person is somewhat oppressed by the power structure that is set up to benefit VERY FEW at the expense of MANY. Some are obviously more oppressed than others, but throwing off the shackles and taking control of our lives, our social status, our economy, can only be beneficial to everyone.

Any power lost by one side when we move towards equilibrium was never meant to be where it was in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hey people! Nice forum!Do you know more good forums or other sites on this topic?

CLARICE said...

Thank you -- Praise Him I had a printed copy of this that I lost and could not find it again online. My prayers were answered when I found this. It is so needed in this time of turmoil and strife I SO WILL MAKE THIS A REGULAR SPOT.

Anonymous said...

As a survivor of child molestation I know how true this is. The man who molested me was a white deacon in our church. When my mom called the police to report it one of the officers stated that no one would ever believe that this man did this to a n$$$$r. So it was never prosecuted. It hurt me that 20 years later I met with ten women who were all molested by this fool. And yes they were all black!

Zeneta Everhart said...

This is absolutely AMAZING!!!!One that I would like to add and I personally think that it should come first in this list is that "Black women have the right to dis-own the notion that we are the Mules of the world" We have the right to carry our own baggage on our shoulders and not everyone else's"

Unknown said...

I love love love this sisSTAR

Unknown said...

I love love love this

Anonymous said...

OH GOD, I can't believe I just found this! so many things I try to express to people. So much more I want to add (but, unfortuneltly, don't have time too) Finding so much good stuff today through pinterest!!!