I cherish every March when the triumphs and contributions of women get a spotlight during Women’s History Month. The brilliance of women of color, particularly women of African descent, desperately struggles to reach its full luminosity under the bourgeoning systems of oppression. A designated month of positivity cannot obscure the disturbing statistics that increasingly engulf Black women.

We are the backbone of the labor force. We are the nurturers of the children. We are the caretakers of our communities. The heavy load that Black women have shouldered for generations is taking its toll as the political climate becomes more anti-Black, anti-women and anti-trans.

There are many reports that track the well-being of Black girls and women including the recently released “Women’s Incarceration: The Whole Pie” by the Prison Policy Initiative. They chart a trajectory of unhealthy futures for Black girls and women.

Ø Black mothers (regardless of their class status) and their babies have the highest mortality rates of any other racial and ethnic background.

Ø Black women participate in the workforce at much higher rates than most other women yet earn less than all other racial or gender groups.

Ø Black women experience higher unemployment and poverty rates than the U.S. average for other women.

Ø Black women are subjected to high levels of racism, sexism, and discrimination at levels not experienced by Black men or White women.

Ø Black women and girls make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population and come up missing or murdered more than any other race or ethnicity.

Ø Black women are two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than their white counterparts.

Ø One out of five Black women will report being raped during their lifetimes - a higher rate than among women overall; many more will never report their sexual assaults.

Ø Black girls account for 32 percent of all girls in juvenile facilities despite making up just 14 percent of girls under 18 years nationwide.

Ø Black women are imprisoned at nearly twice the rate of white women.

Given this reality, it should come as no surprise that our mental health is taking a hit. Suicide rates among Black women and girls have climbed for the last two decades. The stereotype of the strong, resilient Black woman who can survive anything is literally killing us.

This is a situation that calls for serious rethinking and regrouping of our current conditions on both personal and socio-political levels. Black women must rethink our lifestyles and relationships so that we are (re)aligned physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Our intergenerational sisterhood has kept us from drowning in the tumultuous waters of racial capitalism where we are devalued as humans. But we need more support, a different kind of support system. We call on our forward-thinking brothers and other allies to join us in a strategy that affirms healthy men and women who are responsible for raising healthy children and creating healthy and sustainable communities.

Together, we must demand from our government what our tax dollars are supposed to fund and I’m not even talking about reparations yet. The safety net, the housing incentives, the entrepreneur programs and more are designed to keep people from sinking into the abyss of poverty and psychological meltdowns.

Together, our community must draw from our talents and skills to create a world that respects and protects us as a people. This means embracing the important, personal transformative work so that we understand the harmful manifestations of internalized oppression. If we let it, the violence that is escalating in mainstream society will find its way into our homes, our relationships, our parenting.

Black Lives Matter is not just a slogan directed at the white supremacist world order. It is a daily reminder for all of us of African descent to resist the infectious virus of self-loathing and self-destruction spawned and perpetuated by our oppressors.

There is an African proverb that says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” We must remember the work to be done is not sequential with an endpoint, it is overlapping and ongoing. Together.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board

member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers,

founder and Chair Emeritus of the

Organization for Black Struggle in St.

Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and

speaker. She is the author of The Best of

the Way I See It – A Chronicle of

Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers

can be found on her blog

jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers

and BC.

  Bookmark and Share

Bookmark and Share