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In an America that has demonized and degraded Black women since the birth of this nation, high rates of violence against and death of Black women have become the inevitable result. Does it have to be this way for another generation?

Scientists have long confirmed that the cradle of civilization lies in Africa. Essentially, Black women gave birth to the world.

So, why aren’t we doing more to reverse the data that show they are more likely to die during and after childbirth, more likely be killed and more likely to go missing than any other group of women?

Why do we attach conditions to the care we place (or don’t place) for these melanated mothers, these resilient resisters to tomfoolery? Black women have fought for Black men and the rest of America long before they had a vote to voice. Yet the history of the United States up to the present day shows it’s often been a one-sided relationship.

black women america
In that singular moment, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke for countless Black women who have had to gather all the patience, strength and grace within to answer insinuating questions about their credentials, qualifications and character. (Associated Press)

We can use the past and present injustices, not to stay stuck in grief or haulted in hostility, but instead to learn how we can shape a better future.

(At least) Ten Times America Failed Black Women

  1. Slavery (1619-1865): Black women endured brutal treatment, sexual exploitation, and separation from their families during the era of slavery, with little to no legal protection.
  2. Medical Experimentation (19th Century): Dr. J. Marion Sims, a gynecologist, conducted unethical medical experiments on enslaved Black women without anesthesia, contributing to advances in gynecology but at their expense.
  3. Jim Crow Era (Late 19th to Mid-20th Century): Black women faced segregation, voter suppression, and racial violence under Jim Crow laws, which provided little protection from racial discrimination.
  4. Civil Rights Era (1950s-1960s): Black women played pivotal roles in the civil rights movement but often faced violence and discrimination, such as the violence against the Selma to Montgomery marchers.
  5. Sterilization Abuse (1970s): Some Black women in America were forcibly sterilized or coerced into sterilization procedures as a form of population control, often without their informed consent.
  6. “Welfare Queen” Stereotype (1980s): President Ronald Reagan used racially coded language to stereotype Black women as “welfare queens,” perpetuating negative stereotypes and fueling policy changes that reduced social safety nets.
  7. Crack Epidemic and Mass Incarceration (1980s-1990s): The “War on Drugs” disproportionately targeted Black communities, leading to the mass incarceration of Black men and women in America, often for non-violent offenses, with inadequate legal protection.
  8. Violence Against Black Trans Women (ongoing): Black transgender women face high rates of violence and discrimination, with limited legal protection and societal support.
  9. Maternal Mortality Rates (ongoing): Black women in the United States have significantly higher maternal mortality rates compared to white women, highlighting disparities in healthcare access and support.
  10. Racial Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-2021): Black women, along with other marginalized communities, experienced disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic due to healthcare disparities, limited access to resources, and systemic inequalities.

Where do we go from here?

What do these atrocities mean to you? Is your immediate response to deflect and defend your own personal honor?

Do you want to say “not all men, not all Americans” deserve blame for the second-class status of Black women? Or do you want to live in an America where respect for Black women equals their God-given humanity?

If it’s the former, there’s nothing else to say. But if it’s the latter, then let’s do something about it.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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