Black Women, White Women, And The Ones In Between

Black-and-white-women-sisters

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We often underestimate racism in the United States and how it translates to several external disputes in several aspects of our lives. Black women have historically and deliberately been stereotyped as angry women, for example, “hoes” who are seen as a piece of ass or ratchet women that are the chronic recipients of welfare and have several children from different men. We don’t nearly see enough of female black lawyers, female black doctors, and powerful, rich businesswomen (because there are a lot of them). As for white women, they find themselves stuck between multiple issues of both ignorance, apathy and hatred: mainly that they are now the target of anger by female minorities for just not getting it and not really caring enough, and the target of anger by white men who are paying attention to the growing strength of feminism and are resisting it left, right, and center. Many white women are wholly ignorant of their privilege, one that they enjoy on a daily basis; from being able to adopt a culture’s hairstyle and making it a “hit”, and by not doing enough to raise awareness of the discrepancies in thought an action that are an undeniable aspect of feminism and its diverse members today.

Yet there is another segment of the female society which is not really mentioned; middle women who are certainly seen but not heard, who exist but are not regarded as allies for change. These are the women that do not fall neatly into one category or the other; women who are seen as extensions of either black or white but never given an identity of their own. What is upsetting is that these are women with their own diverse and colorful backgrounds, women who are chronically placed aside due to their (mostly) quiet state of assimilation and acceptance of their non-role in society. I make no broad generalizations but I also aim to clarify what is not being said: these women are not doing enough to entice change. Women like me, who notice a big difference in people’s attitude, tone and demeanor when they speak to me on the phone or when they speak to me in person. On the phone, I visually unidentifiable with a strange name that isn’t familiar: Hiba. I most likely may not get that job, opportunity, or project based on that fact that I am perceived as different. Not knowing how to categorize me, they probe and prod until I finally spit it out and mention that I am American Lebanese. In person, I’m just another Stacey or Julie – and more likely to be smiled at and treated with a decent amount of respect because of it. This is only because I don’t fit into their stereotype of the typical Arabic woman.

If you are black; know that your fight for equality is a bitter one and undeniably justified, but at least your actions and presence speak enough that you get under the skin of those who aim to oppress you. In that, you are considered a worthy opponent and a force to be reckoned with. If you are white; whether you care to admit it or not, you have the upper hand in virtually every aspect of society. You are employed more often, trusted more often, and more likely than not, you are allowed to shop in peace without a salesperson following you.

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If you’re a middle girl like me, you know that you have to step up to the plate and make your voice heard to garner respect and presence in a world that grudgingly allows you to what it so generously allows men. We are consistently seen as weak victims of men, when in reality we are setting our worlds on fire with our ideas and truly making a difference – albeit very, very slowly. Many of my Hispanic sisters subject to illegal immigrant stereotypes feel the same. This also applies to my Asian sisters from all over the Far East that are all lumped together as “Chinese” because they are still regarded as foreigners. We may not be loud, but we are too placid. I believe that this is so because we have not felt the brunt of what racism has to offer like our back sisters have, or have been treated with the same degree of respect if we are white. No matter what you believe about your role as a woman, you are part of a sisterhood which needs to grow to counter the growing violence in this world against us. We owe it to ourselves to be kind to one another because there is a social system promoting hatred that is deeply ingrained in many of us; almost formulated to deliberately pit us against each other. We should know better – we’re trying to change the world after all.

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8 Responses

  1. I will totally celebrate the day when we can see each other as humans, not categories, realizing that there is a spectrum of beliefs, colors, genders and so many other characteristics and qualities that make us who we are. This is a great post, glad I found it.

    • Hiba Boutari says:

      Thank you Christine! We can do our best by highlighting the ridiculousness of it all, and trying to work against those who do not want us to look beyond race.

  2. Thank you for touching on a topic that needs to be addressed for so many reasons, one for my own daughter, who is mixed white and Latino to one day feel empowered as a woman to do anything she dreams of and more. That is where change happens- in our children from the next generation because of their open mindedness and from women in history like Susan B Anthony who fought for woman’s rights and equality.

    • Hiba Boutari says:

      Rachel, I love your take on women empowerment and that is what I try to convey in my communication with others. Hopefully, your daughter will grow up in a world that embraces her diversity as opposed to look down on her for it.

  3. Julie says:

    Very well written post. I fall in the middle category as well. It’s very true what you said about us fighting harder to have our voices heard. Frankly, I’m getting tired of this whole race issue, I’m not denying it exist but we’re always crying for a more progressive society but yet, the race card is pulled anytime there’s a chance to bring it up. I had a personal incidence where this was done to me. This person’s race has nothing to do with what I said, it’s more about her personal work ethic. I don’t care what shade of skin color you have, respect is respect. You have to earn it.

    • Hiba Boutari says:

      Julie, you are absolutely right. With all the noise and “boy who cried wolf” with the race issue in every single facet of our lives, we need to have a frank discussion about it and try to look past race and start seeing ourselves for who we are on the inside. Your co-worker is just one of many, but by really listening to her concerns, she may find an ally in you.

  4. I wonder if simply celebrating each other as women would bring forth the desire wanted.

    • Hiba Boutari says:

      I do too, but with all the issues you see in this world pertaining to race, and how others still feel about it, it’s obvious that we need to raise awareness as much as we can

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