“She pointed my way, her extended arm all I could see other than the diamonds glinting in her ears. This wasn’t over yet. ‘‘That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?’’ she asked. ‘‘Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask?’’ she continued. ‘‘To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’ She called me ‘‘rude’’ and ‘‘a troublemaker,’’ said ‘‘Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way’’ and, at last, declared, ‘‘I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’”
The raw silence spoken of by Tina Mbachu in this article rings back to my vision of small enclaves peppered with frightened aged African Americans in America. She points to white feminists’ singular focus on their backyard and their circus. Similarly, the last few years of heightened African Americans murdered and elder malaise leaves one to gasp with each news flash, each video of gunfire spurting from a sea of blue.
“This coming Black History month plagues me the most, as I look back over my social media posts. We have become numb to those sepia and black and white photos of the sixties. They dramatize the void between then and now. They ceased to represent hope so long ago that our Black politicians forgot what they truly represented and are to represent. And so, this paraphernalia becomes an addition to our term papers, articles, festivals, and blogs. We market them to the forlorn instead of justice. We pull them out to wipe our brows after we have sold the community to feed our bellies.
“We are fighting the same issues, yet our children are forming new ideas — new means of protest,” one social media poster said. And I grunt. Another prided the police’s traffic control prowess during our local march. I am still stunned from the vision of a young man shot to death by police just a few years ago on our streets that ended in silence; and her politicizing the mother’s grief. I digress because the she is a woman, a mother, and Black; and the message she sent is “No mother. Your son’s death is not important here. Our borrowed crinoline skirts must remain intact.””
So Tina Mbachu’s indictment against white feminist can be broadened to include a hubris and selfish protest adopted by all of us for too long. The selfish protest our children are now rejecting. The protest that used them as blame, shields, and sacrifices to what we labeled Black Progress. I hear Mbachu clearly when she states:
Traumatic transmission across generation is the leftover pain, the unbearable weight of it on our mothers, our fathers. This grief is transferred to us across multiple vectors. The transferring of trauma is also a transferring of tasks. Once solidarity is created in the process, the new generation must now find ways to deal with the pain. We must find new ways to represent our pains, to discuss them, and to heal.
As a feminist, whether a white liberal or radical feminist, you are absolutely wrong to question how I express this pain.
From the moment Dr. Welbon introduced feminism to me, I was against the concept. It seemed ridiculous to me because I was raised in a generation where women are perceived as equal. Though I appreciated the struggles of the suffrage movement, I was never denied basic rights and access to the American Dream based on gender. Race? Yes. Female? Not so much. I loved “A League of their Own” and “Mona Lisa Smile,” two movies which focused on untraditional women who made an impact, even if it was minor – but I still did not see how I could be a feminist in a world where the leader of Liberia is a woman.
It is timely. First we have to make women aware of how they perpetuate dumbing-down womanism in the church. When jealous, insecure women compete with other women for attention, place, and space in any environment they are damaging womanhood. Creating a hostile environment for women of force is a man’s best weapon against womanhood. First lesson of feminist doctrine. It starts with us. It is not enough to visualize women in prestigious positions in the church. The African American community has lost many battles using this model. Females must break our anti-womanhood patterns, leave the lost little girl habits behind and grow up. Appreciate ourselves and therefore become able to appreciate others in their entirety. Becoming less in our binge to overpower other women and become more self-empowered.
I don’t take this lightly. I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously. Our eschatological hope is that the church will be one, and that we will all be united in belief, practice, and love.
But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.