When you look at a black woman, do you really see her? Or do you see the clothes she wears, the different hairstyles, or our own unique language we speak? We’re the criticized group, but yet the most invisible because when most people see a black woman, they don’t see us advocating for ourselves. They see us as “loud,” and they don’t see us frustrated with how we’re placed. They see “the angry black woman” or bitter. But only if you knew that within the last two weeks, several black women have experienced attempted abductions in the city of Philadelphia.
Malcolm X said that “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected woman in America is the black woman. The most neglected woman in America is the black woman.” It’s no secret that we must work to elevate female voices and that we embrace and showcase black empowerment.
I talked with senior Junika Hawker to discuss this matter. “It’s draining to think about at times, but it’s important to be heard just as much. Being the most unprotected goes back in history, our culture is often stolen and renamed, but we’re never credited for it.”
Coming to West Chester it’s sometimes hard to truly be yourself here. Hawker mentions, “Even though we have our own community here, we’re still not able to fully express ourselves. Everything we do, say or wear has to be censored to make others comfortable.” For people to understand, or who want to be an advocate, it’s important that you start with Black feminist authors. “Read what they have to say. Most importantly though, never engage in folks who are spewing violence out of self-preservation,” says Hawker.
Junika is also an advocate for Black trans women, a group even more neglected and rarely talked about despite all the homicides, bullying and torment they face.
“I shouldn’t be speaking for black trans women, because they have their own voice that deserves to be heard, but I can say that black trans women are being killed at alarming rates, including the 19th trans women to be killed this year. They’re constantly advocating and protesting for their rights. Cisgenders need to use our privilege to not speak over them, but to be an advocate with them. Especially in the black community, because if you claim you’re ‘pro black’ but don’t advocate for black trans women rights, then you’re not pro black,” said Junika.
There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. All Black women deserve to be heard and protected, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they were born male or female, or any other difference that doesn’t define a person as a whole. A Black woman is a Black woman.
Najah Hendricks is a fourth-year student majoring in social work. NH871270@wcupa.edu