Why black women don't feel protected
The recent deaths of black lives matter activist Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau, Breonna Taylor, and countless other black women have created the discussion of whether or not black women are being protected. Many black women, including myself, feel as though we are not being protected. Black women are always at the front line of every movement, working hard to encourage change, create opportunities, and provoke thought. But who is looking out for us?
Racial Bias in Healthcare
Why do black women feel they're not protected? One of the biggest perpetrators is in healthcare. When it comes to concerns affecting our health, we are ignored. Unfortunately, black women are at a higher risk for specific health issues. We are prone to developing heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Heart disease is the number one killer of African American women. Black women between the ages of 45 and 60 have a 50% chance of developing heart disease. Our maternal mortality rate is overtly high. According to the center for disease control, in the U.S., 700 black women die yearly due to pregnancy or delivery issues. 50,000 experience complications. Black women are four times more likely to die while giving birth than white women. Postpartum difficulties are the most common preventable causes of death. Black women are usually overlooked and end up succumbing to the complications.
We've witnessed how atrocious law enforcement has been treating black people. Police wrongfully entered and shot Breonna Taylor in her home while sleeping, without any arrests issued. It makes black women least likely to speak up about crimes committed against them due to fear of becoming a target or the next hashtag.
When black women speak up, their cases are not managed as a priority. A study found that college students perceived a black victim of sexual assault to be less believable and more responsible for her attack than a white victim. 4 in 10 black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime. More than 20% of black women will be raped during their lifetime. 40 to 60% of black women report being forcibly subjected to sexual contact by the age of 18. 40% of confirmed sex trafficking survivors are black women.
Black women experience suggestively higher rates of psychological abuse. "What happens in this house stays in this house." Many black women have been abused by family members or their mothers' boyfriends. They are shamed into keeping it a secret—one of the biggest travesties in the black community. Black women wear the shame and burden of carrying the secret of being violated. Most become overly sexual, turn to drugs, bury the pain, or become unable to trust or love.
Unfair treatment in the workplace
I've read countless stories where a black woman was harassed in the workplace. The complaints were not adequately investigated or taken seriously. Companies worry more about hairstyles and hair texture than protecting black female employees from harassment, discrimination, and assault. Women in the military ostracized for their hair rather than appreciated for their service. Black women in higher positions labeled difficult and not desirable.
Black women are everything. Yet we are constantly being disrespected by everyone, especially our black men. We are criticized for our looks—the texture of our hair, the size of our lips, and the complexion of our skin. We are commonly referred to as ghetto, loud, and angry. We've been compared to the likeness of monkeys. Told we are not beautiful and that we should hide our distinctiveness. When will this stop? We will go to war for everyone else. Who will stand in the trenches for us? Black women are tough. It gets to a point where you get tired of being labeled as strong. In my opinion, being labeled strong is not a compliment. It is difficult for black women to be vulnerable because we need to stay one step ahead or being tough as nails to survive.