What will it take for society to finally realize that Black women aren’t bulletproof? The world constantly undermines the physical and emotional pain we feel. Society mislabels our character as inappropriate and irrational by dismissing our passion as anger when we express our emotions. This unfair characterization isn’t who we are, yet we can’t seem to escape the limiting trope. When others choose to believe that this persona is authentic to our character, they have made a decision that threatens our lives.
Instead of getting the help she needs, when a Black woman comes out desperately asking to be heard, she is ignored, questioned, scrutinized and told she is acting out for attention. When the headline then comes out about the consequences that came with others’ decision to dismiss her pain, regret fills my Twitter timeline, with people expressing the dire need to believe Black women. I naively get my hopes up, believing this will finally be the spark we desperately need for change. But the words posted on Twitter have a baseless meaning, hollow intentions that never leave the timeline. There is no honest effort taken to enact this actual tangible change. Once it is no longer breaking news, the world goes back to ignoring our pain and the crucial need to respect us. I keep saying these words, hoping someone will finally listen, but nothing ever improves. Choosing not to do the simple acts of believing and listening to us when we say we are in pain is a decision that could cost us our lives. How many more Black women have to come out and say we are suffering for people to finally understand and respect us?
Meghan Markle telling the world about how she suffered while living in England as the Duchess of Sussex is a public instance of society failing Black women. She explained how her mental health suffered against the constraints of being a working member of the royal family. She displayed vulnerability in front of the whole world, and people still have the audacity to question her integrity and gaslight her pain. She risked a lot by going against centuries of policies and millions of people who support the royal family wholeheartedly by exposing her experience in a racist and elitist organization. Not only did she suffer this pain and the dismissal of her feelings by those who are supposed to protect her, but she had to relive this experience by bravely telling the world about it, and people are still choosing not to believe her. People are labeling her very real pain as a performance. White men are saying she overexaggerated, and white women are still finding ways to center and victimize themselves in a situation where their only job is to listen. Even after the incredibly hard year we had with conversations on the inequities among humans thrust into the spotlight, people are still actively taking part in oppressive mindsets that keep society so dangerously divided by continuing to possess racist ideologies. They still don’t get it, or they don’t want to at least. Is a Black woman in power so frightening to the public that she has to be subjected to this much hate?
Meghan Markle had access to some of the best resources in the world. She is successful, kind, wealthy and her philanthropy speaks for itself. She held one of the highest titles in the world, and she still had to fight to get some people to listen. If a Black woman who has achieved the highest of highs is still so heavily disrespected and given so much unsolicited hate in 2021, just imagine what Black women who don’t have her platform, resources and ability to escape their suffering are going through. Imagine how many are living through their pain because they are scared of the possible consequences that will come from opening up about their struggles, or are scared their pain won’t be taken seriously. Thankfully Meghan was able to escape before her demons took over entirely. But her cries for help should have never been ignored in the first place. She simply asked that people listen to her, rather than shame her. Will there ever be a point where these simple needs are respected and understood?
MiC Columnist Maria Patton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.