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What Does Black Women’s Empowerment Mean?

July 2, 2012

The freedom for black women and all people to just be themselves and to have their diversity acknowledged and affirmed.  I believe that that is what empowerment is.  The power to be you without being forced to succumb to someone else’s truth.

This topic came to mind because of the debate that emerged when news came out that there would be a film about Barbara Jordan’s life.  Barbara Jordan, a black woman, was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 and in 1972 was the first black woman from the South to join the U.S. House of Representatives. She was a gifted orator and has left an extensive and amazing legacy at the University of Texas.  Why would people be upset about a movie about her you ask? Apparently, some believe that she was unattractive, asexual or a lesbian and that she exemplified the nanny sterotype and they are tired of seeing black women mammies on screen.

I will not get into the merits of these arguments because Ms. Gina of the blog “What About Our Daughters” has already done that.  But I will say this. Who cares if she was unattractive or asexual or a lesbian?  Some black women are not conventionally attractive and some are assexual and some are lesbians.  I whole heartedly understand the desire to see images of beautiful, sexy, smart, glamorous and sexually empowered black women on screen because there seems to be a dirth of such images. But that does not mean that we should silence all other stories.  Our empowerment emerges when we are simply allowed to “be” in all of our magnificent diversity.

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