Op/Ed By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) —My good friend, Dick Gregory, often says the strongest two forces in the world are the Black woman and the Black church. He makes that statement in all seriousness. With a bit of humor, he points out just how strong Black women are by saying, “The Black woman is the only one strong enough to cut tires to the rim with a butter knife.” That’s kind of a joke in the Black community when a Black woman asks the man in her life, “Who is Mildred?” and he tries to lie to her, brush her off or pretend he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Well, I must admit, in my experience, Black women are pretty strong. We have to be because we have so much that is negative with which we have to deal (often alone) on a daily basis. Although our challenges go much farther back, let’s start with a few recent cases.
Look at what Sandra Bland had to go through with a white police officer who couldn’t bear the thought of a Black woman exercising her right to remain in her automobile. She asked him a few questions and tried to have a cigarette while doing so. For her having the audacity to do that, she was taken to jail where she died mysteriously. She paid the ultimate price for being strong and challenging unjust treatment.
Let’s look at this past week when three young Black college women from State University of New York at Albany were accosted and disrespected by several white men while riding a city bus in Albany. Put aside how an argument may have started, the students said they were beaten and kicked by a group of white men and had to endure being called nigger by white classmates on the bus. No one helped them. Two of the young women had to seek medical attention at the Albany Medical Center for minor scrapes on their faces. The President of the university has pledged to work with authorities to get to the bottom of the situation. Can you imagine what life on campus is like for these 3 young women not knowing which of their classmates were involved in this melee?
Fast forward to a couple of days later when MSNBC anchor, Melissa Harris-Perry narrowly escaped a hate crime in Iowa. There were many other news people in Iowa for the Presidential Caucuses, but a hateful white man had the audacity to walk up to her, violate her space and proceed to aggressively quiz her about her qualifications for her job! He saw a Black woman minding her own business—and because of his perceived superiority, he felt that he had a right to accost her. Despite the fact that Melissa has been a distinguished professor several places, and is still one at Wake Forrest University, this man took liberties that were not rightly his to take. Realizing he may have been trying to harm her, she moved away. After signaling hotel personnel, the man left and drove away while the hotel failed to pay much attention to her concern. After all, the political caucuses were going on, and a Black woman’s concern surely couldn’t top that in importance!
We Black women get so tired of having our lives minimized, brutalized and trivialized, so we must come together to support each other. I’m a Black woman and I care about the struggles of my sisters. I’m proud of the young women leading the protests in Albany. They’re leaders in the National Congress of Black Women. Keep them in your prayers, as well as Melissa and Sandra’s family. We can get over through prayers and support of each other.