By Nikita Haynie
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” -Malcolm X
Let me give my full disclaimer: I love black men. I think black men are some of the most beautiful human beings walking the earth, and in the same breath, I believe some of the most problematic humans specifically towards black women. Black women constantly provide support and encouragement to black men. Black women will go to war for black men and yet the same gumption is often not reciprocated. This is not a ‘call-out’ to black men but a ‘call- in,’ if you will. Black women are tired, and we need our brothers to step up! Therefore, because of my adoration, I hope my abrasiveness resonates and is received in love.
The respect for black women is scarce. Too many black men lack respect toward black women. It’s sometimes subtle but blatant in other instances. If a black woman challenges your perception of masculinity and other perspectives, she is often labeled as “doing too much.” I’ve noticed this trend specifically in the workplace. When a black woman presents an idea or concept, some black men often “feel some kind of way” because it didn’t come from them (insert male ego and misogynistic perspective). When a black woman addresses an issue, black men often speak over her without allowing her to finish her full thought. Dear black men, it doesn’t make you inferior to acknowledge there are black women in your life who are just as smart, if not smarter, than you. I’ve also observed that some black men tend to operate in mediocrity and complacency but then expect recognition and acknowledgment. Black women work themselves into the ground and don’t mind allowing black men to shine, but when the opportunity arises for black men to reciprocate, it’s a problem. A question for your consideration: Why is it hard to be open to the idea that black women may know more than you? It’s okay to LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN.
Although black women exist in your life, it doesn’t mean you love, accept and appreciate us in our fullness. What do I mean? Black men will use black women as therapists and emotional punching bags to project their own traumas and challenges instead of doing their own internal work to heal. These same men will then turn around and utter: “I love black women,” “I respect black women.” Examples of this problematic behavior include the following:
- Allowing other black men or yourself to degrade black women with derogatory language publicly and privately
- Labeling black women “difficult” for challenging your ideals or perspectives for the sake of protecting your ego and insecurities
- Belittling black women who are sexually liberated but allowing yourself or any other black men in your proximity to engage in unhealthy sexual ethics because “that’s what men do”
- Disregarding insight or knowledge from a black woman because it challenges you
Pivotal aspects of allegiance in loving black women are accountability and holding yourself and the other black men in your life to a standard of ensuring the safety and PROTECTION OF BLACK WOMEN. That protection includes doing your own self work to unpack your experiences and interactions with black women. Beside every black man is a tribe of phenomenal black women who have your back but also deserve your reciprocity in respect, protection, and love.
RESPECT BLACK WOMEN.
LISTEN TO BLACK WOMEN.
PROTECT BLACK WOMEN.
LOVE BLACK WOMEN.
The bottom line: BLACK WOMEN AREN’T YOUR ENEMY.
Nikita Haynie is an Assistant Editor for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Nikita is a writer, author, and educator. She is a creative that writes content intersecting faith, black womanhood, and culture. Proud optimist. Follow her on Instagram: @thenikitahaynie. Check her out at NikitaHaynie.com