As we celebrate the number 💯 for this very day, and very moment, the right for women to vote is illuminated, for the 💯 th time. Reflecting on this very endeavor is an awakening, in itself. For one, this victory is about the ability to receive representation. Being acknowledged is the highlight in affirming the human Spirit. One of the most emotionally stimulating ways of human empowerment is to know that you have a voice within your respective community. It means that you have a say in how things are to play out, and perform, in your culture or nation. An amazing feature, is it not? To be counted. . .having representation-knowing that you have a voice, and that it has power. This is one of the most spectacular components of the voting process. You feel that your voice is powerful. You have a say in your ability to determine the dynamics; in retrospect to the future of your community.
When the voices of women are suppressed within a nation, culture, or demographic, there is nothing more lifeless, than their soulless silence. For women to have no say in the progression and movement of a nation is the beginning of the end to any nation, culture, or community. Of course we can have different conversations pertaining to what are considered suitable roles for women. What roles permit women to present their femininity without feeling, that it must be compromised? Of course that is for a different conversation. When the feminine energy of any community is suppressed, something is inherently wrong. And when wrongs take place, catastrophic things are bound to happen.
Many people have a different taken on the United States suffragists movements. Certain speakers, leaders, and others proclaimed the movements to be in the best serving interests of White American/European women. There is truth to that. For a long time, the faces of women’s liberation and women’s rights in the United States of America have been, White. With a mention of a few exceptions, the participation of Black American women suffragists have been invisible and rarely spoken about. In fact, many people in this country, and around the world, are oblivious to the work of Black American women suffragists and participants in the women’s rights movements, within US borders. That is changing and Black American women are taking their rightful place in the world of women’s rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let us also consider the duel conflict undertaken by Black American women within this country. Evidently, there is a level of psychoticism pertaining to the expectations of our loyalty. The category of race was considered the only priority of Black American womanhood and identity. A level of foolish thinking had been plagued against the conscious of many, where they were told to choose their race over their gender; as if the two could not exist, simultaneously. This notion that femininity is somehow “removed,” from Black American identity is ludicrous . A disgusting dissection of Black American womanhood, that our identity must be “sacrificed” for the greater wellness of the community. Often, that was tied to prominent Black American men leaders, and selfish desires in putting their ideologies, and imagery, on a platform. It came at the expense of their own Black American women. When such leaders did get involved in the support of women’s rights, it was for their support of White American women. In fact, this one-sided narrative often shamed Black American women into the silent attacks and injustices formatted against their existence. Through Black American womanhood, and her experiences within the United States Of America, hypocrisy and contradictions of both movements were obvious for those, who wanted to see. In the book, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave-as Edited By Akasha Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith-readers enter into that world, where such was a literal performance of what it means to be invisible in societal movements, or symbolically stripped of one’s womanhood. Perhaps, we can also argue that the manipulation of Black American women was purposefully conducted to ensure that they would remain loyal, without demanding equal reciprocation. Putting their needs and feminine desires on the back burner for the “sake of the community, so that others get their shine, was very apparent.
The beauty, and vigilance of Black American women suffragists, is affirmation within Blackened gardens of US soiling,of there being femininity. Their very presence, alone, addressed particular issues of gender, within Black America. By affirming their Blackness, inside mainstream women’s movements, reclamation of our femininity, took place. One of the biggest atrocities in slavery, were abusive practices (and attempts) to “remove” auras of femininity from our communities. Psychological game plays in educating Black American communities, that their feminine images are the equivalent to destruction, poverty, and any negatives within society. Auras of being unfeminine, uncivil, “unpretty,” and baring sexuality, considered “animalistic” or deviant in nature, too often plagued the existence of Black. These notions of being “unsuitable for marriage” or for beautiful portrayals of womanhood, within the mainstream gaze, were prevalent during that period of time. And yes, within the first wave of the US feminist movement, these ideologies, existed.
The audacity for Black American women suffragists to claim their womanhood, in parallel with their race, shook the very foundations of the race, gender, and abolitionist movements in the United States of America. They would not stand by silently, and observe the invisibility of their womanhood, and very erasure. Even if they did not get the full rewards of their active participation and work in the women’s movement, their very presence was enough!
The great, and phenomenal Sojourner Truth made it very clear in her famous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech. It was a proclamation of the right to receive the rewards of her femininity. After all, had she not toiled and labored in Earth’s natural soiling? Had not Black American maidens and mothers nourished US landscapes with their very femininity? Planting within these specific Earthly planes, while birthing its magical fruition. All the while, they hoped that some day, their daughters would return to those same soils, and wear the nutrients, that were left behind. “Ain’t we women?”
Like the magical force, gone unseen, Black American women suffragists were a hidden force in the suffragists movement. In their very positioning, they made it clear that other stories of womanhood, in the United States of the America, must be told. This was certain. It was undeniable, and it was without question.
Another contribution of Black American women in the suffragists movement, is their subtle articulation of connecting with Earthly women. Let’s not forget they had worked in the Earth. What was used for their exploitation, they transformed into gold. Womanhood was more than getting voting rights, and achieving the same political power of men or “wanting what the men had.” Through their presence, the movement for women’s rights would not be authentic, if other women’s connection to Earth’s soiling went unacknowledged. Who would be better to know of this than a category of women who worked the land, but were not nourished in it, during their period of enslavement?
Another key reflection of this entire subject of Black American women suffragists is that they present the role of wellness, in alignment with recognition. That is a conversation within culture, community, or nation. Going unacknowledged is a mental wellness issue. Why, should you ask? Acknowledgement connects with the very artistry of existence. If you are unrecognized, you are treated as if you don’t exist. It means being removed from the realm of humanity and love’s devotion. On a deeper translation, it states the following: unless you have found other natural or communal realms of validation, the very Being of your spirit deteriorates. It leads to depression and the pain of viewing life as unworthy of living. If you do not have professional wellness centers in working through such inhumanity, you have to get extremely creative in finding why life is worth living. It may not be a rose garden for that generation of women, but it will be one for those, future blossoms of women. Let’s remember those suffragettes, and the ballot as recognition, for future votes of wellness, yet to come! #19thAmendment