For years, Black women have had to rise above adversity, exude humility and care for others — all while not appearing tired, hurt or showing the struggle.
Though almost inarguably the most discriminated and oppressed of all people, Black women might be the single-biggest reason to celebrate Black History Month.
“What a Black woman can do seems easy to the naked eye but rarely do others consider what it takes for them to get there — overcoming stereotypes about women, Blacks and who they are in general,” said Terri Broussard Williams, a Cornell University graduate and founder of the Movement Maker Tribe, which aims to inspire others to create change.
Black women are the backbone of the Black family — college-educated and business-oriented individuals, said Jamila Choyce of Choyce Plus Size Models.
“I believe that the media does such an injustice when we are portrayed as the stereotypical, high school dropout, eyes rolling, trash-talking, ass-kicking, loud-talking b—h,” Choyce said. “We voted for our families, communities and for our future. Our legacy is to use our vote as our voice for change.”
Choyce said Black women spearheaded the Women’s March and created the #MeToo movement.
“We watched CNN, CNBC, and even Fox News, and decided #NOMORE, #MeToo, and #TimesUP for racism, disenfranchisement of our community, being raped, sexually assaulted, and being less than white women and all other women,” Choyce said.
As an African-American woman and therapist, Ginger Lavender Wilkerson said she believes Black women play a huge role in African-American history.
They are the storytellers, record-keepers and, in many homes, the matriarch, she said.
“As we have seen with women empowerment movements in general, women are tapping into their voice and their ability to influence through power,” Wilkerson said. “Many African-American women are stepping out of the shadows of their Caucasian counterparts and standing in their own light and power. They are no longer subscribing to the world’s standards of beauty and power.
“In addition, to their own shifting, the world is beginning to recognize and embrace Black women as true equals and acknowledging their contributions to enhance the world of business, politics and leadership,” she said.
Wilkerson said many Black women have begun to look within for validation and are shunning accepted societal standards of beauty and worth.
“There is a sense of collective power which has supported Black women growth,” she said.
In Texas last month, 17 Black women made history when together they were sworn in as judges in the state’s most populated county. It’s widely believed the women are the largest group of Black female judges elected at the same time in the history of Harris County, which includes Houston.
In January, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, a Black woman, announced her candidacy for president on the anniversary of Shirley Chisolm becoming the first Black woman to win a seat in Congress.
Many experts said the blue wave of the November midterms would not have been remotely possible without Black female voters.
And in January, the Congressional Black Caucus welcomed its largest membership ever — a 55-member group that includes a number of Black women such as Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut.
“What a Black woman can do seems easy to the naked eye, but rarely do others consider what it takes for them to get there — overcoming stereotypes about women, Blacks and who they are in general,” Williams said. “So it’s no surprise that we don’t truly honor the phenomenal women that they are. People like Stacey Abrams are bringing the struggle to the forefront and with a narrative that others are beginning to understand.
“Abrams was the more prepared candidate and clearly won an election,” she said. “Because of movements like the Women’s March and #MeToo, society is finally realizing the role that Black women play in shaping our economy, communities and country. This is extremely important, as the success of many in our country was built off their back.”