Thoughtful, well-meaning people (of all colors) think they’re Team Respect Black Women until a black woman’s boundaries rub against their timing.
It’s easy to say that we should respect, honor, pay black women when someone’s calling a black woman a nigger bitch, or when it’s undeniable that her intellectual property is being ripped off, or her emotional labor is being taken advantage of.
Where the rubber meets the road is when her “no,” or her “no, more” startles us out of autopilot.
That’s when rhetoric is tested.
When what a black woman is unwilling to accept upsets the pace that we set for our self-improvement, trusting and listening to black women becomes harder—even when we ourselves have urged other people to.
When we have to examine the effects of how we take up space, and atone for infringing on a black woman’s space, or existence: that’s where our prose often fails to match our practice.
In rushing to espouse that we should respect black women, before scrutinizing ourselves, we’ve often failed to consider and hold space for the difficulty of interrupting our own bullshit.
In that rush, we’ve failed the black women we purport to support—and ourselves.
Before we rush to rubber stamp what we intellectually know to be true, just ‘cause we think we owe it to black women, let’s first make sure we feel it. Let’s then ensure we have an embodied practice of doing it.
Otherwise, share the sentiment with the necessary caveats.