4 Min ReadCulture 25 June 2020
It is a fact that women of color are the most violently targeted people in the world. So, what does the #MeToo movement mean to women who have, since the beginning of time, lacked representation, lacked inclusion and had no voice? Women of color, especially Black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced. The message #MeToo sent to a woman of color is, if you are wealthy (influential) and white, people will listen because you matter.
Racism is real, still alive today, and institutionalized, which contributes to why no one was paying attention to a hashtag or a slogan from a young Black woman named Tarana from the Bronx.
When you are white and aggrieved, people will hear you. They will hear your outcries, they will hear your protest, they will share on their social media platforms by the millions and yes — it will go viral. People will shout it from the tallest mountains and up turn every stone because you are white, and you are important enough. The world has no choice but to pay attention, and now get angry, because you are Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Fowler, Ashley Judd, McKayla Maroney, Jennifer Lawrence, or Uma Thurman, and how dare these men treat you that way.
Wasn't it an African-American woman by the name of Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, who founded the #MeToo movement over a decade ago in 2006? She used it for the same exact reason: to raise awareness of sexual abuse, rape and assault on women. Could Tarana have been louder? Possibly, but non-white women are told to be quiet when we feel wronged.
Women of color, especially Black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced.
When actress Ashley Judd stood up against Harvey Weinstein, the cry of #MeToo caught fire. It was a breaking story and in all the headlines. Not to mention the shock, when we hear that good ole Matt Lauer was fired and must go. What was new about this story this time? Most women I've talked to have experienced some level of sexual harassment in the workplace and in society. Time Magazine even went as far as doing a cover called the “Silence Breakers," naming the #MeToo movement as Person of the Year. So now, in 2017, it's okay to be a silence breaker and say to the world, that sexual harassment and rape is not okay… what took so long?! It is a fact that movements are highly successful when combined with power and influence, and the world has always told women of color that they have none. What happens to a culture that has been victimized, shut out, shunned, and silenced? They lose their voice, they feel weak, and they fear speaking up when marginalized, discriminated against, and told to be quiet. The mindset is because you don't look like us, your voice doesn't matter and how dare you question it. For a fact, non-white women do not have a platform and Black voices are discredited.
Being an African-American woman, you are made aware of the challenges and oppositions early. As a child, I traveled four hours a day (two hours each way) for eight years, just to get a quality education. It was evident to me that education, access, opportunities, support, and resources for African Americans are disparate.
Racism is real, still alive today, and institutionalized, which contributes to why no one was paying attention to a hashtag or a slogan from a young Black woman named Tarana from the Bronx. Combine that with the lack of African-American women in decision making roles, power, and access. Awareness and empathy must go hand and hand for change.
Being an African-American woman, you are made aware of the challenges and oppositions early. As a child, I traveled two hours a day (a total of four hours daily) for eight years just to get a quality education. It was evident to me that education, access, opportunities, support and resources for African Americans are disparate. Racism is real, still alive today and institutionalized, so, whose paying attention to a hashtag or a slogan from a young Black woman named Tarana from the Bronx. Combine that with the lack of African American women in decision making roles, power and access. Awareness and empathy must go hand and hand.
This #MeToo movement is no different than most historical feminist movements, which contain active racism, and have typically ignored the needs of non-white women even though women of color are more likely to be targets of sexual harassment. Let's change the benchmark and correct actions of wrong, from not just hearing the voices of privileged white women, but to hearing the voices of Black women. It is by doing this that we will make a mark and the world will win.
The mindset is because you don't look like us, your voice doesn't matter and how dare you question it.
Of course, women of color care about the #MeToo movement (we've always cared) BUT we've never been heard. When there is no power and influence behind the message, who's listening? One thing for sure is that Black women have always advocated for human rights, injustice, and social justice — before it was popular to do so. There would be no #MeToo movement without Black women. Let's hope that society will be willing to listen the next time non-white women speak up the first time.
This article was originally published September 8, 2019.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist