One of the beauties of womanhood is having foundation in one’s own culture, nation, and community. When you have crafted and cultivated a story and aesthetics, reflective of your people, and feminine existence-resting in that existence and using it for the well-being, security, continuation, and flourish of one’s people, you are confident in who you are. When women do the work of creating one’s own cultural identity, there is confidence; an embracing of one’s womanhood. Furthermore, being presented as the feminine image within your own culture, allows you to engage in holistic and harmonic relationships with women of other nations and cultures. Having your own grounding (and gardens) gives you the power to trade and have equal bartering and exchange opportunities in the international domain of, woman.
In previous writings, Alice Walker’s famous publication, In Search Of Our Mothers Gardens, Black American women were retold of their natural intimacy, and nurture, to the Earth. Let’s not forget that during the time of US enslavement, violence was perpetuated against Black American women; with the sole objective of trying to remove them from the gentility, sensory, and sensitivity associated with womanhood. Yet, in spite of this herstory, Black America’s foremothers utilized their circumstances for the continuation of culture. It was a strategy for the preservation and ongoing rebirth of Black American people; the recycling, healing, and cleansing of our gardens. Consistently weeding them, so the polishing allows the glittering of their midnight colored magic, we are known for.
As we are examining the state of Black America, one of the things we have to reflect upon, is the perception of Black American women, inside and outside of the community. Has there been a demeaning of our existence within our own communities? In addition, have Black American women been portrayed as unfeminine within our own communities? In a terse amount of words, at what point has our womanhood been painted as less feminine, beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing, in comparison to other women, who are guests in our gardens? Kindly note Ladies and Gentlemen, that such behaviors include comparing Black American women’s femininity African, Afro-Latina, Caribbean, and other non-Black American, Black communities, in addition to non-Black women.
So, where do we begin? Shall we start with colorism, where our dark-skinned, Black American sisters were treated with the level of harshness, associated with masculinity? Shall we begin with television, music videos, and depictions of Black American women, by prominent Black American male entertainers? Shall we move towards conversation and the terms used to devalue and demean our image, name, and very presence. Feeling it in the air, feeling the energies, a staleness and toxic aura is currently painting our existence. Funny. I can’t even use the word, “paint.” Our very Being doesn’t even make the canvas. That’s the closest I can imagine. Through too many eyes, in too many lenses, we are not even seen as worthy of Being “painted.” Those opportunities when we are painted, our imagery is tainted with the masculine. Too often we are depicted as being outside of our gardens. When a culture of women are removed from holistic and nutritious elements in Earth’s spacing, their womanhood is devalued. When a culture of women have not collectively positioned themselves within a particular realm of the Earth’s paradise-one reflecting the culture of womanhood, which portrays the existence of their people-their womanhood becomes devalued. When a culture of women have their image and representation publicly dehumanized and negated by the men, birthed from their existence (on an international platform), their value is rendered meaningless. In a terse amount of words, a woman’s reflection and upstanding within her own culture, among her own people, matters. It truly matters!
Now, we are pressed to examine the raping of Black America’s gardens, through the devalue or long-held invisibility of Black American women-authentic ones. Those birthed from the traditions of that Deep South, Black American presence; the culture, music, culinary, stories, literature, linguistics, and fashion growing from it. Just remember you only own, what you have produced. “Removal” of an authentic, Black American feminine presence, gives the illusion that femininity is void within Black America. Hence, it creates this narrative that Black American communities are hostile and “cultureless” spaces in need of “exotic” or foreign womanhood. Furthermore, there is also an element of mixing the natural feminine element, with a foreign presence, image, or culture not of her own birthing. Supposedly, this is “amplifies” or elevates the value of Black America. In turn, authentic, Black American women become devalued within our own communities; considered “meaningless” and of lower ranking inside our own gardens. All of this is intertwined with politics, economics, and the ability for a woman to have security, protection, and access to the resources, within her own community.
There is also that element, and energy, of women entering into Black America with intentions of thinking they can “replace” the women within the community, or “reproduce” the culture, without Black American women. If we are to venture into the realms of Blackness, there are Black women, from the African Continent, Caribbean, or Afro-Latino/a communities, who believe they are “more feminine,” and aesthetically pleasing forms of Blackness than Black American women. Due to a great deal of self-hatred within Black American communities, such women are able to market themselves as so. Furthermore, there are those who pretend to be Black American because of a father’s lineage, or have married into the community, with the intentions of gaining access to the resources. They dismiss the feminine presence; viewing themselves as being able to “reproduce” Black America, through the men of community. Again, the Deep South, Christian mother image is deemed as “irrelevant.”
One of the pressing issues, which has to be addressed within Black American communities is this image of Black American girls and women, as “less than” women. Even within the confines of Blackness, there is a silent agreement of our image as “less feminine.” The harsh reality is that too many Black American women and girls secretly view themselves as “less feminine,” in comparison to other women. Some act aggressively because that is how nothey have been treated, since childhood. Rough tones, and a slew of other masculine behaviors, have been directed their way. Then, some actually shrink when in the presence of women from other cultures, because they have been taught that other is better; that their cultural image is “not marketable.” Such energies invite foreign femininity into our communities, under the auspices of “bringing femininity” into Black America; this notion that Black American men can only be elevated with non-Black American women. That includes Black women, who are not Black American. There are those entering our communities with a sense of entitlement; as if it is Black America’s responsibility to adhere to subordinate ideologies towards our Being- as if our culture is designed to cater to them, at our own expense. Demanding to be cared for by our resources, without any initial respect for the feminine presence. There are a number of such persons, who carry on the mentalities of being “deserving” to reap the fruits of Black America’s landscapes, simply because they are not us. Again, they view themselves as “adding culture or femininity” to our communities. While such women may appear to be in solidarity with Black American women, a number of them secretly support the debasement against them, as it means more rewards for their foreign representations of Blackness. Unfortunately, not being Black American is viewed as having “easy access” in having status within our communities. This is especially true when it comes to the category of womanhood. A number of such women have used deception, pregnancy entrapment, marriage, and others to gain access into Black American communities. Unfortunately, such women secretly encourage Black American men’s hatred of their own women; wanting to align it with notions of superiority. At times, some may even pretend to be allies, but circumstances and desperation can show you the reality of their heart, minds, intentions and Spirits. This often shows up when resources or opportunities appear scarce, or when they are in distant lands. Ah! This secret has slipped through, hasn’t it? Its why repetitive conversations of white supremacy only tell one side of the story. It only tells one side of hateful attacks against Black America’s garden; avoiding other conversations of animosity and hatred, and especially against her Maiden and Mother imagery.
As we continue to move forward in these conversations, its very significant for such discourse among Black American women and girls to exist-those coming from Black American foremothers and the authentic culture, produced. Forget about being shamed for centering ourselves within our own spaces. No other group of women are demanded to “explain” themselves, and their desire to protect their culture, and the systems benefiting them. Furthermore, no other culture of women are expected to feel guilty about safeguarding their spaces, for the preservation of their people, and continuation of their culture. So, why is the opposite expected for Black American women? Now, that’s an important question to be analyzed. Of course, as usual, that’s for another discussion.
Another imperative aspect pertaining to the safeguarding of Black American women, in our culture, is the re-claiming of ownership of our cultural gardens; these sacred gardens left for us by our foremothers. Women who used foreign spacing, coupled with the healing of the Black American Church, and produced culture, throughout different periods of time. They performed “Black Girl Magic,” before the term was even coined. Our Black American foremothers re-created culture in the midst of impossibilities. Its why they say “we specialize in the wholly impossible.” Preserving it, and passing it down to the current generations of Black American girls and maidens, we have no choice, but to treasure, safeguard and protect our culture. Quite honestly, its the duty of every culture of woman to do so. Black America is no exception to the rule.
There are those who will say that Black America’s protection and safeguarding of our culture is being “divisive.” At this point, such manipulative tactics are irrelevant. Black American women are not allowed to freely enter, benefit, and ignore the women of another culture, when entering their domain. We are not allowed to co-opt another woman’s culture, ignore her presence within it, or rank ourselves higher in value, when entering their cultural gardens. And yet, somehow, Black American women are expected to accept that level of mistreatment, exerted against our Being.
A healing aura is needed for Black America. Waves of restoration are necessary, especially for many of our womenfolk, in re-aligning back with our femininity. Treasuring ourselves to know that we are valuable, within our natural womanhood and the culture and community we have birthed and produced. That alone makes us exotic, feminine, and Beauty. Our culture is valuable because we are the natural women of it. It is feminine because we exist in it. Gone are the days where we are to be silent, and feel ashamed for who we are. Gone are the days when too many of us feel we are not deserving of the rewards from our gardens. This notion of struggling, while those who have raped and deceived their way into our gardens, will come to an end. Black America’s gardens are versatile, diverse, and myriad. Our particular journey, our peculiar stories, are what makes us beautiful. We, daughters, mothers, and maidens of Black American soiling are a unique flower. Growing in impossible circumstances! Its time that we reclaim our images-our authentic images-within our gardens. Celebrating our existence, and resting well in the nourishment of our peculiar gardens. Let us remember the journey! Let us remember what we are valuable, simply because we are the feminine imagery, re-birthing Black American culture, and the perfumes, arising from her soiling. If we are not there, there is no Black America. “Replacing us” to continue culture is a foolish illusion, as we carry the DNA of the foremothers, who laid the seedlings for these cultural gardens. They are beautiful, nourishing, glittery, and comforting. In fact, they have always been our sources of comfort in hostile times. That’s one of the very beauties of our her/historical storybook. So, lay in those gardens. Reclaim yourselves in those gardens. Rest in the passion, calm, and nurture of these gardens. Take back ownership of your gardens, and REAP THE REWARDS, of your garden’s delight.