Who Will Revere the Black Woman?” (September 1966) | Abbey Lincoln

As time progresses, I’ve learned that this description of my mothers, sisters, and partners in crime is used as the basis and excuse for the further shoving, by the Black man, of his own head into the sand of oblivion. Hence, the black mother, housewife, and all-round girl Thursday is called upon to suffer both physically and emotionally every humiliation a woman can suffer and still function.

Her head is more regularly beaten than any other woman’s, and by her own man; she’s the scapegoat for Mr. Charlie; she is forced to stark realism and chided if caught dreaming; her aspirations for her and hers are, for sanity’s sake, stunted; her physical image has been criminally maligned, assaulted, and negated; she’s the first to be called ugly and never yet beautiful.

via Who Will Revere the Black Woman?” (September 1966) | Abbey Lincoln.

Just a little reminder.  Promoting the idea that African women are ugly is old news.  They’ve been doing it since before Sarah Baartman, and will continue so long as insecure European women teach their sons to hate and degrade us for fear that our beauty and more masculinity embracing cultures will empower them.

It is the mother, not the father, who teaches her children what a woman is.  It is the mother who teaches her children how to regard women.

It is the mother who teaches the son the difference between a wife and a whore.

It is the mother who teaches the son whether to draw the line according to behavior or according to ethnicity.

The father may threaten to kill the son or his lover, if he breaks the cultural norms and seeks to marry a woman the family disapproves of.  The mother threatens to kill herself.

So, you will have these problems so long as you continue to live in the midst of people who hate you: women who are jealous of you, and men who are trained lapdogs who rationalize conforming to that against every logical cell in their body screaming that different or not, more pretty or less pretty, you are a woman.

You choose to stay there among those people, and give those people more credence than they deserve.

So the, “Rape, rape rape,” bit has been played out since Marcus Garvey.  Africa is a big continent that is not on the Euro.  There are also other places where people are too busy having their own actual culture than to operate on corporate sponsored hatred.  They’ve got ethnic feuds much older than their first contact with Africans.

The least you can do, if you’re going to stay in the U.S. is stop giving a shit.  I thought that’s what, “Black is beautiful,” was all about.

If they think I’m ugly, to hell with them.  If people who happen to be the same color as me agree with me, then to hell with them too.  I can’t do anything for the lost who choose to stay lost.

I live in a place where, like the U.S. the majority think African women are inherently inferior, and if not ugly, worthless somehow else, or easy targets.  I’m here because of one of the few exceptions who doesn’t view me this way.  I choose to stay here, so I bear the costs.  One of those is having to counter efforts by the surrounding culture, to make my daughter believe she is, and ultimately become ugly.

I counter this by bringing her images and examples of African beauty, intelligence, creativity, kindness, AND telling her equal truths about African ugliness, stupidity, apathy, and cruelty.  She gets a well rounded view, so she can see that there are African women who can be excellent examples, and African women who can use their beauty as a weapon…those who can exalt it, those who can waste it, and those who can use it to manipulate others.

For me and for her, African beauty is a fact.  In the western cultural context, it can even sow chaos, as men hate themselves for loving us, or react with a strange mixture of shock, arousal, and awe as we prove to them that we were not born to take their shit.

Oh, and the delicious anger so many of them feel when we tell them, “No.”  That is some good stuff right there…when they take that tone as if we owe them something for existing, and we crush their perception of us and themselves at the same time.

Yes, we endure the worst and still function.  We are stronger than them.

So I get you sister from the 60’s, and I get y’all sisters in the new millennium too…but you don’t fight a psychogenic disease from the outside.  You fight it from the inside.

I know in advance that I won’t be revered, so I learned not to need that.  Sounds a little too Buddhist, I know, but hey, there it is.

I learned to protect myself.

I learned to hold myself.

I learned to revere myself.

I learned to love myself.

…and lo and behold, I found others who stepped up to do that for me, even though I don’t need them to.  Better, I found that those people I am happy to protect, hold, revere, and love.  Awesome folks.

You can’t get everything you need emotionally from yourself, at least I know I can’t and I haven’t seen anyone else manage it perfectly without becoming socially retarded.  You can however, do what you can well enough, and accept the reality of your situation, and adapt.

To do that well enough though, your priorities need to adjust to reality and not relativity.  If people are not trying to kill you, and aren’t standing in your way, you’re good.  Fuck what they think and say about you generally.  Make that money, have kids on time, and eat like an African.


My pronouns are whatever you're comfortable with as long as you speak to me with respect. I'm an Afruikan and Iswa refugee living in Canaan. That's African American expat in Israel in Normalian. I build websites, make art, and assist people in exercising their spirituality. I'm also the king of an ile, Baalat Teva, a group of African spirituality adherents here. Feel free to contact me if you are in need of my services or just want to chat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • You’ve read the article, now get the t-shirt! :-D