The Lord lifts up the humble and downtrodden; He casts the wicked down to the ground. — Psalm 147:6
African American women are often portrayed by media as pregnant, promiscuous, poverty-stricken, welfare cases, overweight or as prostitutes. There are some shown as successful, but the negative images far outweigh the positive ones. How do we continue to erase some of these hurtful and inaccurate stereotypes to reclaim a connection with their true selves?
How many of us know we are queens? That our strength, courage, persistence and faith has propelled generations of our foremothers into our own world where we have created families based on love, Christian faith, wisdom passed down through the generations, and all virtues that empower us to raise strong families and to have productive careers? We have had to sacrifice our love life, vacations, etc., because we had to stay focused and do those things which make us better, like taking weekend college courses to get degrees that will give us more opportunities for growth at work.
There is a book, “Daughters of Dignity” by LaVerne McCain Gill, you need to read. This book seeks to identify our virtues and trace our roots while presenting biblical and theological foundations to validate the experiences of the African American woman. Gill shares how figures such as historical and contemporary role models such as Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks embody these virtues.
Finally, she gives suggestions for self-evaluation and narratives on contemporary programs to successfully reestablish an ethic of Black womanhood in the community.
How many of you, like me, change the channel when you see television programs or movies that show us in such a negative connotation? Or do you live in communities where you rarely, if ever, see an African American? If so, how can you know our experiences, good or bad?
How many of our men are in prison here in America and shouldn’t be? It is a modern-day Jim Crow era. This leaves so many millions of Black women without spouses. Allow me to share how I felt the day I sat on stage at the Lorton Reformatory, a former prison complex in Virginia, as Les Brown delivered his riveting message to our beautiful Black men.
It was back in the mid-’90s while Les Brown was an on-air personality here in Washington, hosting “The Les Brown Morning Show” on Radio One. Les was my mentor, as I trained with other speakers-in-training. One day Mr. Brown invited me to co-host his morning show (yep, even before I got my own show, I served as co-host with Les Brown several times). When his partner George Wallace quit, it was obvious he could see me as a radio personality in the future.
Great experience! After the show ended, Mr. Brown had a speaking engagement at Lorton. As his Town Car came to pick us up, he invited me to come along. I was excited to ride in the limo with someone as famous as Mr. Brown, one of the world’s top motivational speakers, as we were driven to his speaking engagement. What stood out most for me was when we went inside to the stage, management took me along with Mr. Brown. As l looked out into the audience, l remember seeing wonderful, good-looking African American men. They reminded me of my brothers, my uncles and my father. It was that very moment that I thought to myself, “So this is where all the Black men are!” No wonder 70 percent of African American women are without spouses.
According to a 2017 article in the Huffington Post, “The Black Male Incarceration Problem Is Real and It’s Catastrophic”: “To give a lens for viewing this data India is a country of 1.2 Billion people, the country in total only has around 380,000 prisoners. In fact, there are more African American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.”
Police can lock up our men and throw away the key, yet Black women continue to find ways to care for our children who mostly are from single-headed households as a result. We find these women working two or more jobs, trying to make ends meet. Yet poor African American women are portrayed in such negative light! Wonder what would be said if the TV producers could walk a mile in our shoes!
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.