North Texas Daily

The struggle of the black woman in American society

The struggle of the black woman in American society

April 28
04:10 2016

Sidney Johnson | Staff Writer


Being a black woman in America is a balancing act — weighing negative public perceptions with professionalism all the while maintaining a productive household. Often forgotten in the frenzy of black male injustice, their frustrations have largely been ignored. Broadcast senior and UNT National Association of Black Journalists president Victoria Upton sat down to discuss black women and the complexity of their current standing in America.

“We’re now in a day where people don’t say it, but you can see the pattern if you’re conscious of it,” Upton said.

This is due – in part – to the degradation of the strong, positive black woman in American culture – reduced to loud-mouthed “baby-mamas” twerking in the street after a bout with another black woman. Think World Star Hip Hop.

This coupled with ignorant assumptions that black women are inherently angry or are leeching our welfare system dry leads to the root of society’s scorn. These women have, since birth, faced two palpable strikes against them: Being black in a predominantly white society and being a woman in a patriarchal system of oppression.

According to the 2014 American Society of News Editors (ASNE) census, African Americans comprise 4.78 percent of nationwide newsroom employees. Given this imbalance, it is imperative that the few African Americans in these newsrooms ensure blacks are portrayed in context – otherwise you have writers unknowingly peddling half-truths.

“Just [in] getting my degree there are naysayers,” Upton said. “They see me as a pariah to my community because I’m a part of a media they don’t trust.”

Minorities can no longer put stock in the accuracy of their depictions in the news media and this has eroded their trust. Black women in news must tread even murkier waters once they’ve “made it” to the other side of success, being hassled for things as trivial as their hair.

Going natural isn’t new, how could it be? But the stigma it holds in regard to professionalism persists nonetheless.

“As you’re making a place for me there should be a place for my hair,” Upton said.

Furthermore, UNT assistant professor, and natural hair enthusiast Meredith Clark raised a great question: “Why are black women some of the only people whose natural hair is viewed as a political statement in America?”

Feminism in America has changed since the Seneca Falls convention in 1848 – an example being in the creation of black feminism. Spawned out of an effort to accommodate black women who felt they were being racially oppressed in the women’s movement, black feminism added racial strife into the mix of equal rights for all women.

“We have our own sector of feminism,” Upton said. “We have more pride in being our own.”

There are now different articulations of feminism but all work toward the common goal of equality for all people. Upton said she believes there is an intangible divide among the different factions of feminism in America. 

“Only when people acknowledge and listen can we move forward and feminism can become its strongest and most diverse,” she said.

Black women: Remain unbroken and continue to chip away at the stereotypes you’ve been given. You are strong, not angry. You are inquisitive, not overly opinionated. Most importantly, you’ve held down the black home for generations under untold adversity while remaining regal throughout – you are the embodiment of beauty in the struggle.

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1 Comment

  1. Michelle
    Michelle April 28, 11:17

    I really appreciate this article, and to Professor Clark…THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply to this comment

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