Black + Woman

With approximately 8 followers, 3 tweets, and 1 like – I am proud to announce that yesterday I officially joined Twitter! Well, rejoined. Technically, this is my third Twitter account in 5 years… But my first account is overcrowded with my conservative former classmates (thanks Texas) and my second account follows every celebrity I’ve ever loved (I had a phase). So really, creating this account was a declaration of my existence as a woke, educated, black feminist ready to officially join the world of Black Twitter.

Preparing to be empowered and inspired, I spent the evening researching recommended Twitter accounts for news, music, black feminism, activism, healthcare, black comedians, sports updates, politics, and small puppies (childish, but look how cute he is).

So, this morning I logged on to my twitter to scroll my feed. Ready to be inundated by black women, liberal news sources, and cute puppy memes. I was not disappointed.

Scrolling my feed, one of the first thing that came up was an image of a black man and his daughter. I loved it already! The post was for a start up short film about a black dad and his daughter. I read the reply tweets, which praise this short film for the strides that it takes towards representation, self-pride, hair positivity, visibility of black fathers, etc.

And I am so here for it! In a society that promotes Eurocentric beauty standards and whitewashed mainstream media, many young people of color struggle in their own affirmation. When I was young, I believed that my hair was most beautiful when it was pin-straight. Many black people are working to shift that narrative so that black girls and black boys see real images of themselves in the media. This cartoon is definitely doing that.

But as I watched the video my feelings for the film became a bit more conflicted. The creator of the film explains that “the short film tells the story about a young, African American father who has never done his daughter’s hair before. And he tries to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.” Mind you, the girl looks to be about 5 years old. Now, hold on…

So you mean to tell me, this baby girl has been around for a least 4 years (if I’m being generous) and this is the first time her daddy is touching her hair…

4 years …

 

So, while we are praising this man for finally tending to his child, are we going to talk about the tireless hours that some other parental (presumably female) figure has spent toiling with the daughter’s beautifully managed afro?

The thing is, I am in no way criticizing this film because I think it reflects a very real narrative not only in black household, but in all households. A narrative in which women are responsible for the reproductive labor, the children and the home, and men are held almost entirely unaccountable (so long as they are “bringing home the bacon”). This expectation generally holds true regardless of if the mother has her own career, dreams, goals, aspirations.

This is not a criticism of men and the effort that they do or don’t put into raising their children, but I want to call to attention the subtlety of misogyny in our daily lives that perpetuates and reinforces our existing patriarchal system. If we continue to accept the societal expectation that reproductive labor falls on the backs of women, we will never reach the liberation and equity that we seek.

I wanted to reply to the post on Twitter, but I didn’t because I did not want to offend the creator of this film or any black men with similar experiences. But I am glad that I decided to write this post. This week we discussed intersectionality in Moxie, and this for me epitomizes my intersectionality as a black woman. I will continue to champion and applaud efforts to liberate black people from the oppression of racism, but in doing so I cannot abandon my existence as a woman and my duty to fight against sexism. Approaching social justice from a black feminist framework affirms my identity and existence and condemns not just one but all forms of structural oppression.

And for the record, it is my every intention to see and share this short film when it is released.

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