My pain is real and the medical system is broken, misogynoir is more pervasive than what is generally perceived, and Black women deserve to been seen.By Jazmine Joyner I was an antisocial 7th grader who wanted nothing more than to read books and watch movies. Being the new kid at my middle school, I had no friends and spent most of my days in the library reading “Fear Street” books. My closest friend was the librarian Mrs. Stanley, a tiny white woman with coke bottle glasses and a blonde pageboy haircut. I would eat lunch with her in that library, talk about books, and what I was learning in class. I felt truly invisible in my school and in an effort to appease my father (who loved sports and thought I should try out for some) and to make some friends, I tried out for the track and field team. Practices would start off with running and conditioning, something I particularly hated. Cardio has never been my strong suit, and back then I struggled to even finish a mile. It was during one of my first practices that I felt a sharp throbbing pain in my lower left abdomen. It felt like I was being burned and stabbed at the same time—it took the breath from my lungs.The pain would often show up as soon as I started running and I would fall to my knees on that dead grass, gasping for air and holding my side. I told my coach about the pain I was experiencing, and she said to me it was just cramps. I had recently started having periods so I had no idea what was right and what was wrong when it came to menstrual pain. So when she said it was cramps I just took her word for it, she had to have been right. Right? Turns out she was so very wrong. The pain just got worse and it wasn’t just when I ran or was physically active, it happened all day, every day. I would stand up to go to my next class and the razor blade like “cramp” would spring to life and send me abruptly back down into my seat. I would walk in between passing periods bent over like a praying mantis, clenching my teeth, sweating like crazy, trying my hardest to get through the day. I went to see my doctor and when I voiced my concerns that the cramps where constant even when I wasn’t on my period, she told me that I was overreacting and that it was normal. So I took Motrin and continued to push through the daily pain. One night I woke up vomiting, the cramps had reached a level I can only describe as full blown labor contractions (which I later learned was very similar, if not worse to the end stages of contractions). I was crying, rocking, and folded like a lawn chair. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was bleeding through every pad and tampon I put on, and I can remember thinking I was dying, that this was it I was going to bleed to death and die. I built up the strength to hobble to my mother's room. It was around 3:00 am, and I was the only one who was awake in the house. I knocked on her door, walked in, and she took one look at me and leapt out of bed.
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European monarchies built and waged their power upon our deaths and our blood. Within this context, how could we possibly expect them to value Blackness?By Nneka M. Okona Some months ago, I was comfy and settled on my couch awaiting that week’s episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta”. I had a glass of wine at my side and as I reached for the first sip, my eyes caught a commercial for a new show aired by Bravo, named “To Rome For Love”. The basic premise of the show: a group of middle-aged Black women crossing the Atlantic to visit Rome, the land of pasta, gelato and the famed coliseum — for love of course. Gina Neely, one half of the famed pair known for their cooking show on the Food Network, was one of the featured women looking for love across an ocean and time zones. I watched the episode of Real Housewives and got my cackles in. My curiosity was piqued after seeing the preview for “To Rome For Love”, but mere minutes later I began to ask myself questions. One of the first things I heard uttered on the show was how, “Black women have trouble finding love in America” and from there a laundry list was rattled off about the numerous ways Black women are perceived to be undesirable romantically; the goal of the show promotes the idea that if Black women dared to relocate across the pond, in London, Paris or Rome, their chances for finding love and being appreciated increases exponentially. That’s where the buck stopped for me and when I changed the channel to something else. Although it’s merely a television show, the fallacy of elsewhere in the world, namely Europe being a fertile ground for Black women to find love and adoration, is prevalent. It’s a commonly believed truth as per conversations I’ve had with other Black women of all ages throughout the years.
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White women are weaponizing their emotions and femininity to assert their power over BIPOC. This isn't new, but it is dangerous.If you've been paying attention to anything in the news lately, then you've seen the onslaught of headlines about racialized violence. Across the country, Black people are facing a continuous waves of anti-Blackness at the hands of white folks calling the police on them, simply for existing in public. While this may read as a new way for white people to assume their racism onto Black people, it actually isn't anything new at all. #ExistingWhileBlack illustrates the history of anti-Blackness that reigns throughout U.S. history and reminds us of the ways that white people — and particularly, white women — are evolving their white fragility to keep anti-Black racism thriving. To call the police on Black people, no matter the reasoning, is violent in and of itself simply because the act cannot be separated from historical context. In the last decade alone, we've seen how police brutality has led to the murders of Black people across all genders and ages throughout the country. We've seen documentation of how systemic and systematic anti-Blackness is, and how it permeates Black communities at all economic levels. Most recently, in Oakland, California, a white woman called the police on a Black family having a cookout in a public park because they weren't in a "grilling approved section" of the park. A Starbucks store manager in Philadelphia called the police on two Black men waiting for a friend. A mother and daughter in Brooklyn were accused of shoplifting at a vintage store in Williamsburg, where they were also handcuffed and searched by police. A group of Black filmmakers (including Bob Marley's granddaughter) had the police were called on her and a group of fellow Black filmmakers checking out of an AirBnB because she didn't smile to a white neighbor who claimed that they were robbers. A Yale student called campus police on another Yale grad student for napping in her common room. The list goes on and on but these seemingly random instances reinforce the assertion of dominance that white people are fighting to keep hold of over Black people.
What happened to Chikesia Clemons shows how dangerous it is to be a Black woman doing anything at all.I haven’t watched the video of two white police officers assaulting 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons at a Waffle House in Alabama; part of my self-care practice is not subjecting myself to images of violence against people who look like me. Let white people who don’t believe in institutional racism watch it and get an education—I don’t need to see it to know it happened. However, the video illustrates the misogynoir that exists in the country and how dangerous it really is to be a Black woman doing anything at all. When Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the outrage was immediate, and the company announced that they would be closing on 29 May for a company-wide racial bias training. When video emerged of Clemons’ attack, Waffle House said they agreed with the police action taken, and that was that. Even with video depicting the violence that she endured, the reaction elicited a pathetic “meh.” There was no justice. No immediate interviews. Just a video of a Black woman being brutalized and circled around the internet for the voyeuristic pleasure of others who consume the brutalization of Black bodies and the abuse of Black women. This is common history though. The bodies and lives of Black women have always been something that was considered up for consumption by any and everyone. From Sarah Baartman, the so-called “Hottentot Venus”, to Aunt Jemima smiling back from boxes of pancake mix, the pain and service of Black female bodies is expected and goes without comment. In the culture of white supremacy, we are seen, automatically, as unruly. We are not women in the same sense that white women are seen as women. We are seen, perhaps better explained, as female, a sexual object at times but more so as a receptacle of white supremacist culture’s fetishes. We exist to receive and serve so when we step outside of that role, as Clemons did, as Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, and Amia Tyae Berryman did, we are brutalized, we are killed. And the problem isn’t just police officers, it’s the society we live in.