State of the Woman and Black Folk Address
My fellow Americans:
Listen up, people:
To those of you with vaginas, or others of you who have a fondness of them, continue the good fight in keeping genitals and the reproductive parts attached to them clean, healthy, and working. This is not an easy task. It’s a burden placed upon women unasked for, but accepted (for the most part) nonetheless. There are inward and outward parts, flaps and folds, a wide array of colors and fluids, and even hormones and behaviors women must constantly monitor because of biological makeup. We have no choice but to be the dictators of our own bodies.
With the current and on-going threat of eliminating Planned Parenthood funding, it is now more difficult for women of diverse races and socioeconomic backgrounds to access quality and affordable health care. This is an outrage, and it should not be tolerated. Women should not be penalized for what was born unto them as gatekeepers of humanity.
It is with this clarion call that I then ask you to think about your vagina and work actively to keep yours and/or your partners…nay, all vaginas, safe and protected.
And to my people of color: we have gone through it.
There is no need to go check the dirty laundry list of how Black and Brown folk continue to be treated as second class citizens in a first world of overabundance. Our very presence is a fear to those we encounter. Our words are comic fodder. Our actions are a threat. Yet, we continue to not only exist, but thrive and prosper in a soil that is unkempt for growth.
It is with this preamble that I must diverge the conversation. Upon the completion of President Obama’s last State of the Union, I turned to social media for reactionary responses of those that I hold in high regard, as well as those who forfeit their intelligence for the sake of buffoonery. To my surprise, the outcry from women and people of color were loud.
Why did Barry not speak on #BlackLivesMatter?
Where was the proposal to secure funding for Planned Parenthood?
Why did he only discuss Africa in terms of poverty and disease?
This left me perplexed for a multitude of reasons. On the most superficial of levels, BHO literally had one hour to address a witch’s cauldron of double double toil and trouble. Now, I am no political savant, but even I know that not every important bulleted point on my agenda can be addressed in the course of an hour. I also know that though people see me first as a woman of color, that I am more than that.
It is this I want to address.
I am extremely vocal about the rights of women and people of color. I am also vocal about the downward spiral of public education, religious liberties, and healthcare. In the course of one day–let’s use today for example–I can and have discussed the following: dips as a food group; professionalism; Sydney Leroux joining FC Kansas City; two separate novels; behavior reform in schools; letting go of anger; Fitbit competitions and winning the Powerball. Each of these items were important in the moment they were addressed. Are they the only important issues in my life? No. Do I expect these items to be important to everyone else in my sphere? Absolutely not.
I understand that many look at our nation’s leader to act on our behalf. I’d argue that he has and does, as evidence to discussing affordable healthcare, rigorous teacher training, and gun control measures last night. I do not think it’s his position to act on behalf of MY personal interests at all times. It is unreasonable for any of us to project our own personal agenda on the seat of the president, nor do we want him to do that on behalf of every citizen. Can you imagine what others may expect from him as well?
I was so annoyed with the litany of “I’m so disappointed Barack didn’t…” tweets and Facebook posts. I just knew that this would be the SOTU that satisfied the uneasiness so vocalized of our first black president for seven years. It wasn’t. No one seemed satisfied, and that made me incredibly restless and agitated.
Do you know who has control over that? I do. So I put my phone away.
Essentially, that’s what we all must do–take action when we don’t get what we expect or want.
This isn’t to say that dissension and open critique should ever be censored. Oh no. I’m not for that at all. It’s healthy and definitely a part of the process. But when does that dissension turn into invention? Critique turn to constructiveness? At some point, our first inclination can not be to turn to media outlets and lament. It should be to turn to media outlets with our own proposals for change and ratification.
To be active participants in protecting and taking care of those threatened qualities of us that comprise the very essence of who we are is what we need to do. No longer are the days of passive citizenship enough. Part of this is ensuring we are foot soldiers for representatives to those who share the same political ideologies. The other is to not rely on government to address our every need within a one hour time-frame. (Afterall, my vagina and my blackness deserve more than a few minutes on air time.)
Create those communities, conversations, and solutions. Don’t rely on a State of the Union address to validate what is important to you.