Black women

women who are of African and Afro-diasporic descent

Black women are women of sub-Saharan African and Afro-diasporic descent, as well as women of Australian Aboriginal and Melanesian descent. The term 'Black' is a racial classification of people, the definition of which has shifted over time and across cultures. As a result, the term 'Black women' describes a wide range of cultural identities with several meanings around the world.

Quotes edit

  • Abortion was an expedient way to frame their campaign to create monopolies on women’s bodies for male doctors. The American Medical Association explicitly contributed to this cause through its exclusion of women and Black people.
    Today, as people debate whether anti-abortion platforms benefit Black women, the clear answer is no. The U.S. leads the developed world in maternal and infant mortality. The U.S. ranks around 50th in the world for maternal safety. Nationally, for Black women, the maternal death rate is nearly four times that of white women, and 10 to 17 times worse in some states.
  • For Black women as well as Black men, it is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others — for their use and to our detriment. The development of self-defined Black women, ready to explore and pursue our power and interests within our communities, is a vital component in the war for Black liberation.
  • As Black women we have the right and responsibility to define ourselves and to seek our allies in common cause: with Black men against racism, and with each other and white women against sexism. But most of all, as Black women we have the right and responsibility to recognize each other without fear and to love where we choose. Both lesbian and heterosexual Black women today share a history of bonding and strength to which our sexual identities and our other differences must not blind us.
  • In this country, Black women traditionally have had compassion for everybody else except ourselves. We have cared for whites because we had to for pay or survival; we have cared for our children and our fathers and our brothers and our lovers. History and popular culture, as well as our personal lives, are full of tales of Black women who had “compassion for misguided black men.” Our scarred, broken, battered and dead daughters and sisters are a mute testament to that reality. We need to learn to have care and compassion for ourselves, also.
  • Black women and our children know the fabric of our lives is stitched with violence and with hatred, that there is no rest. We do not deal with it only on the picket lines, or in dark midnight alleys, or in the places where we dare to verbalize our resistance. For us, increasingly, violence weaves through the daily tissues of our living — in the supermarket, in the classroom, in the elevator, in the clinic and the schoolyard, from the plumber, the baker, the saleswoman, the bus driver, the bank teller, the waitress who does not serve us.
  • The threat of difference has been no less blinding to people of Color. Those of us who are Black must see that the reality of our lives and our struggle does not make us immune to the errors of ignoring and misnaming difference. Within Black communities where racism is a living reality, differences among us often seem dangerous and suspect. The need for unity is often misnamed as a need for homogeneity, and a Black feminist vision mistaken for betrayal of our common interests as a people. Because of the continuous battle against racial erasure that Black women and Black men share, some Black women still refuse to recognize that we are also oppressed as women, and that sexual hostility against Black women is practiced not only by the white racist society, but implemented within our Black communities as well. It is a disease striking the heart of Black nationhood, and silence will not make it disappear. Exacerbated by racism and the pressures of powerlessness, violence against Black women and children often becomes a standard within our communities, one by which manliness can be measured. But these woman-hating acts are rarely discussed as crimes against Black women.
  • We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of Black women for each other.
  • It is clear to see how deeply abortion bans are rooted in white supremacy and patriarchal strongholds when we look at the history of Black women in this country. The tradition of disregarding the humanity of Black people is part of more than 400 years of white supremacist systems in America. Although abortion was legal throughout the country until after the Civil War, there were different rules for enslaved Black women than for white women. Enslaved Black women were valuable property. They didn’t have the freedom to control their bodies, and slave owners prohibited them from having abortions.
    Under the law, white men owned Black women’s bodies. So, enslaved women who had access to emmenagogic herbs — plants used to stimulate menstruation — had to make remedies to induce their own abortions in secret.
    When slavery was abolished in 1865, the societal control over Black women’s bodies remained. Today, our white supremacist culture judges Black women for both having children and for having abortions — besetting them with blame for virtually any decision they make and any form of agency they take about their bodies.

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