Over-looked and still thriving: Black feminist thought

Maahfio Ochtere

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are the new international “it” couple this year, and this is due to their unusual family histories. Markle is a biracial woman and Prince Harry is of Western European decent. Their story has been receiving a great deal of coverage, and most of the coverage has demonstrated disapproval of the relationship. Markle has unfortunately been harassed about her race and gender. Many of the comments have been racially charged, and Prince Harry released a letter from Kensington Palace addressing the nation asking people to discontinue racially and sexually criticizing her. Markle has shaken up not only the U.K., but also the world. It was never a thought, to most, that the Royal Family would branch out to date someone outside of their race. This animosity towards the relationship has something to do with Markle not having the “right” beauty or the “white” beauty that is desired. Black women are characterized as the other and as not possessing the ability to look worthy. It is taboo for a black woman to date outside of her race, and many do not date black women because of the misconception and distortion of the general black female.

There is a certain way of acting when you are a male or female from the black race. These two groups, although of the same race, have different standards on not only how to interact with one another, but also how to act towards the white race. For example, it is more acceptable for a black man to date outside of his race. However, when it comes to a black woman, she is expected to date within her race. This phenomenon is rampant on social media where black men post about their different-raced partners. This has been inferenced by the thought that having mixed race children is the best thing anyone could do for their child. This means that they would have more opportunities in America to not only survive, but also to thrive and succeed based on the color of their skin. Being mixed race or creole allowed for that person to have a better chance or a head start in a world that hated color. However, I think now it has become a trend for many to date black men and for black men to date and marry outside of their race. My theory is that this influx in interracial dating is due to the accepted and abused idea that black women are not attractive or do not even have a standard of beauty—that black women are rude, hostile and mean. These stereotypes have contributed to the fact that there is a significant decline in the couples ratio of black women to black men.  Black women are held to the account that they should wait for the black man to “be ready” for a relationship. I have heard many black men say that they are just “messing around” with other races and will never bring another race, specifically white in this case, home to meet their family. This type of reasoning is not only detrimental to black women as a whole, but also to all women in general. Black men with this type of ideology are essentially saying that black women have to wait for them to be ready. They are implying that at the moment black women are not good enough. On the other hand they are also saying that all women are expendable and women of races other than black are not worthy of longterm committment.  This makes the black women seem and maybe even feel unworthy of a connection and also may make women of other races feel meaningless.

Black women’s perspectives on racism are rarely introduced into a discussion of race. There is countless information on the black man’s plight in America but not on the black women’s. This may be due to black women not wanting to be seen as complaining, which is a harmful stereotype of black women, because that means that their genuine concerns are not taken seriously. Additionally, black women are not seen as important enough to be given a platform or voice to voice their own struggles. In conversations on racism, most of the focus is on black men, and this does not leave room for black women’s struggles. “Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins explains this emerging idea by highlighting that racism against black women is highly sexualized. Black women are seen as animalistic, and this dehumanizes them. Black women have become highly sexualized. There is a contrast between white women and black women. White women are seen as objects, but still well within the human realm, while black women are debased as animals with no humanity within them. This contrast is important, because it characterizes the white women as pure and whole, while the black women is ravenous and invalid. I think that white women’s identities, based on the perspective of men, have emerged from the characterization of black women by white men and more recently black men. “Black Feminist Thought” continues to speak on the knowledge that black women hold, but are not able to express because of institution domination, by race, class or gender. There is a junction between class, race and gender because each come into play when speaking about one. This is especially apparent in a black woman’s life because she is both black and a woman in a world that deems her unworthy. It is also more of a detriment when this said black women is also financially struggling or not, because even if the woman is well off her skin deems her as impoverished. Collins then speaks on the black women’s independence and how black women, with this independence, need to reject the matrix of domination which is virtually race, class and gender.

There is a relationship between interracial dating and the developing idea of black feminist thought. Black feminist thought is an innovative idea that gives voice to a very pushed aside set of people, but I feel as though this idea, with its immense qualities, contributes to the dilemma within interracial dating. Black feminist thought does this by explaining everything that black women should be and should not be afraid to be, but these are the same things that people do not want black women to be. This makes people not want to hear and learn about what the thought is. So this begs the question “Should black feminist thought be for black women or for those who do not see their worth?” I think that it should be for both. The thought encourages black woman to not seize their personalities for the sake of others and it teaches others to recognize black women as people. Black women dating outside of their race is less acceptable, because black woman should not step out of their given or forced upon character. Many races choose not to be with black women because of their independence, education and strength, all things mentioned in Collins writing as being things to strive towards. These qualities are desirable qualities, but not in a black women because that would be too aggressive and not in relation to the sexual, animalistic, passive beings that they should be.

I think that it is important to study this relation, because it reveals that society does not and never has favored the black women as an individual. There is a clear distinction between recognizing someone as a person or an object and as a non-human identity, and clearly society has favored the latter one.