By Quenton Horton
“He obeys the government, not because he is inferior to the authorities which conduct it, or that he is less capable than his neighbor of governing himself, but because he acknowledges the utility of an association with his fellow-men, and
because he knows that no such association can exist without a regulating force.” —Alexis de Tocqueville
Exiled from the support of mainstream society to live at the “Bottom” of mainstream concern, exilic1 existence is the trodden road that silence voices that need to sing; cage birds that wish to fly; steal from the sky the colors of a rainbow; sours sweet dreams before words are formed to articulate them. America’s Nurses (Four Women2: Dorothy West The Living is Easy (1948) ; Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) ; Alice Walker In Search of Our Mothers Garden (1983); Toni Cade Bambara The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970)) those mentioned, and the many lost to the past, the labors of Black (ADOS) Women that have nurtured America are often obfuscated in favor of the trope of the Angry Black Woman. I am certain that Ms. Cleo of Dorothy West is not the same Zami of Audre Lorde; in addition, healer/scholar Alice Walker’s Womanism totally embraces the division amongst Black (ADOS) women as her scholarship also highlighted the scholarship of legend Zora Neale Hurston. Boston or Eatonville, the question posed in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman: An Anthology as to who the Black Woman is—was answered with perspectives from contributing artists—that articulate how tropes blight the character of lives lived outside of the concern mainstream; although, that is the very stream they serve: the very effect of serving without being seen is what surveyed here within this Internal Intellectual Soliloquy (I_IS). Subaltern in many ways, which I do not wish to perpetuate; so, this I_IS examines the institutional treatment of Black (ADOS) women.
1 Dr. Cornel West “The Historical Philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois”: https://youtu.be/QZFpMd3xjPw
2 Nina Simone, Wild is the Wind (1966) “Four Women”: https://youtu.be/tfYXxNf0qi0
“If he be a subject in all that concerns the mutual relations of citizens, he is free and responsible to God alone for all that concerns himself. ”
—Alexis de Tocqueville
The lessons of transformation as a necessity for survival is leitmotif of many works that I have read by ADOS/Black Women; the striving to strike a balance between the demands of the world and the demands made of oneself to be recover from the world’s demands is the undertone to the conversations that I am privy to. In these institutions I came to learn that conversation is the art of storytelling as well as listening to stories for embellishments and omissions; however, the frankest conversations are those told with a selective audience, a nearly somber face that hides the trepidations of trusting even those considered trusted; it is those narratives, those stories of experiencing harm and witnessing trauma from a dissociative view that makes my ears hot when I hear the angry black woman trope. The validity of which I question as I examine various scholastic literature.
The Romance of the Planter Class epitomizes the iconography of the Antebellum South; a Gentle class of people that mirrored the stiff Upstairs-Downstairs dynamic of England. On American soil Upstairs were Masters’ capable of owning flesh and Downstairs were their poorer brethren who did not share their class, but did share their caste; thus, they, the Downstairs, were spared the fate of those in the field and by the bed side: “As [W]hite mothers recovered from the effects of childbirth, enslaved women provided nutritive care to their infants”3. Thus, when one hears “Black woman saved the Democrats…” a question arises, for whom and at what cost have Black (ADOS) women served? Furthermore, has Upstairs used Downstairs to resolve the domestic issue of money splitting the family? For it is clear to see that the labors of Black women are used; however, the value of the labor is often treated as a symbolic gesture when the conversation of equity in the success is mentioned.
The domestic labor of the South mentioned in Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers is that of a wet-nurse, nanny, reproductive labor, and maid; with The Philadelphia Negro of 1899 offers a sociological snapshot of domestic labor in the North: at time the study was conducted Dubois observed that 211 women of 289 women (or 73%) of working women worked as a Domestic servants4, all were from the age range of ten (10) to twenty (20). For women between the ages of twenty-one (21) and over thirty-seven percent (37% or 1262) were Domestic servants; even women who were housewives twenty-seven (27% or 937) were day labors5. Outside the overt importance of tracking Black (ADOS) long contribution to households that were adverse to their family these facts contextualize the different ways Black (ADOS) Women and White Women (including White ethnics) were treated; are treated, as pariahs fit for serving at the behest someone other than own ambitions. “The Damnation of Women” (1920) is having to do work others find beneath them while being silenced about the toil the work has on their body. I am not a pious man, nor do I want to virtue signal that I am a Womanist or Feminist; I speak from the point of view of having spent a life amongst women as my life has been that of an intern in the lower rungs of institutions.
People capable of seeing perspectives that are not their own as well as value in people willing to put effort into different ideas; these individuals are those I work with best, thus have a keen interest in seeing their well cared for—it just happens that these individuals tend to be women. Too often a woman’s grievances has been silenced as hysteria, mania, anger, or being irrational as a tool to dismiss their accounts of the truth—truth shall exist with whom and in whom embodies the virtue; yet too true the resilience of the aggrieved is considered indignation. Being a disagreeable person myself I have found allies in those who see that my disagreement is not with the authority figure, but the limited understanding of authoritarian figures. I personally cannot limit my allies to Black American (ADOS) women as I have received support from a great number; however, this is where I fail them as an ally.
How can one protect their mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, and partner from Doctors? Becoming a medical professional does not resolve the problem that Black American women face within their neighborhoods as an individuals, nor does not possess the capabilities of addressing problems with the same resources as an institution:
“This was especially true in the Jim Crow South (where in 1946 only 9.6 percent of [B]lack births took place in a hospital, compared to 69.3 percent of white births), but also in North, where black physicians were denied admitting privileges to historically [W]hite hospital”6.
The Police brutality of the Jim Crow South that took the lives of offspring that Black (ADOS) Americans mothers had to survive the institutional of racism to birth; the racial division of labor to house and feed; along with the stigma of being unfit emotionally and mentally to raise the very children used as political drama in social movements that purport to ebb the problems of Black American women, but do not fulfill such promises. The compound complexity of hurdles that face Black American women cannot be diminished to a single factor of Black American men that reflect that paterfamilias attitude within their family structures. In other words, Black American men are not the single most detrimental factor to the health of Black American women; thus, protecting Black American women means being serious about redressing the legacy of racism in America:
“…segregated [B]lack neighborhoods had two to three times as many fast-food outlets as [W]hite neighborhoods of comparable economic status, and they also had two to three times fewer supermarkets than comparable [W]hite neighborhoods”7.
Thus, this highlights that the perception of Blackness as being an economic risk ignores the history of economic exclusion; in addition, furthers the notion that Black Americans lack the character that fits “mainstream” society in regards to nutrition and culinary abilities. Furthermore, this fact calls forth to the mind that relative poverty in advanced economies require an examination of public infrastructure; Time is essential to a person’s recovery from daily stresses. Time-Poverty is a matter that must be discussed in conjunction with wages: “…women are more prone to time poverty, employed women are more prone to incidence of double-bind of income and time poverty, and women earn less than men”8. This is a key component when discussing “Gendered Racism” effects on Black (ADOS) women that differ from Black (ADOS) men; the level of concern that Black (ADOS) women have for the overall well-being of their social networks contributes to chronic stress, and in-turn chronic disease. If wages are not able to cover living expenses then one has to work more to have a roof over their head, which takes time from recovering from the work-day; adding that nutrition is further away from one’s home means that one has to spend more time to get to health options, which leads less time to prepare meals; deepening the divide between restorative rest and working to survive rather than thrive:
“In order to also promote gender equality, it is imperative to understand how labour force participation (and earned income) interacts with household production responsibilities, as it is already well established that women contribute their time disproportionately to unpaid work, particularly unpaid care activities”9.
The compounded effects of on-going exposure to toxic stress; limited public infrastructure to healthy food options; and the time-constraints of labour participation are the stereotypes of the “underclass” woman, ratchet—welfare queen. In other words, the marketing terms used to address Black (ADOS) women are monikers that conflate (if not outright obfuscate) the complexity of hurdles that Black (ADOS) women face in Anglo-American capitalism. Therefore, terms such as “Sophisticated Ratchet”; “Ratchet”; “Bad & Bougie”; “Bougie” while used in good fun amongst intimate friends have become myopic depictions of Black (ADOS) women advancement under the White Gaze: with any read of Toni Morrison; Toni Cade Bambara; Maya Angelou; Nikki Giovanni; Zora Neale Hurston: Lorraine Hansberry; or Dorothy West complicates the over-simplistic depictions of Black (ADOS) women’s emotional lives. For each of these terms render Black (ADOS) women to a moment of their life, if these terms apply to them at all; but in the public sphere they are applied, which has some correlation to the treatment of Black (ADOS) women.
Within The Protect Black Women campaign there is very little discussion about the duration of time that Black Women have served at the behest of affluent “White” families; nor in popular feminist discourse is the discussion of Womanism and non affluent “White” woman led movements such as Alice Walker and Audre Lorde. The Liberal piety paid to the service of Black American Women in