I’ve had an account on Facebook since 2005.
Back when you had to be in college to sign up. Back when statuses weren’t an option. Back when you could poke people. Back when you could only upload 60 pictures to a photo album. Back when businesses didn’t have pages. Back when seeing ads for something you had recently searched for didn’t exist.
With all the changes, both good and bad, one thing that has remained constant is the presence of groups. On Facebook, groups are created to allow users to connect with others who share a common interest. In short, it’s an online community of like minds. Sometimes.
Fans of certain colleges have groups. High schools have groups. According to an ad I saw on tv recently, there’s even a group for kazoo players.
A couple of years ago, I was invited to join a group that consisted of women from surrounding areas. A lot of the women I’ve interacted with are progressive, open-minded and not afraid to speak up about injustices they see or encounter.
However, recently, in this group, I’ve encountered two exchanges that continue to reinforce how much work still needs to be done for this country to move forward.
Both instances involved black women and white women. Both instances started with a black woman sharing an article that highlighted the frustrations behind some situations we often find ourselves experiencing. Both instances involved a white woman feeling the need to share that she’d had similar experiences. Both instances involved us being quickly reminded that these situations can happen to any woman and not just black women.
Because that’s not what this conversation is about.
This discussion is about OUR experience. This discussion is about what we’ve been SUBJECTED to. This conversation is about what we’re EXPECTED to allow.
And this exchange continues to be a problem. In one conversation when I pointed out this fact, the woman who initially commented readily admitted her mistake and apologized. In the other conversation, I decided to not engage and I simply logged out.
Consistently having what we endure as black women dismissed is exhausting.
Sometimes it feels like we’re having to go the extra mile to prove that our experiences are different. That somehow just because we’re bonded, sometimes, as women that our lives mirror one another.
Here’s the headline: it doesn’t.
If you can admit that racism and sexism exist then you should be able to wrap your mind around the fact that a black woman will be subjected to some of the most vile, evil and horrifying schemes created. Although I embody two of the best blessings: being black and being a woman, society has created a world where the unfair treatment I have to prepare myself to be potentially subjected to is a result of two of my best blessings: being black and being a woman.
As a woman, who isn’t black, to negate these glaring truths is to reject what I and many other women have experienced. To negate these truths, you’re calling us liars. To negate these truths, you’re ignoring the disadvantages. To negate these truths, you’re confirming you are part of the problem.
I know that women across all races and ethnicities have similar experiences in many areas. We can discuss pay gap, upward mobility and workplace harassment. Even within those topics, black women are discriminated against at levels that don’t rival what our counterparts endure.
The facts are the facts. By inserting your experience, microaggressions rise to the top.
Instead of talking, just sit back and listen. You might learn a thing or 10.
Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a freelance writer, a love of food and proponent of living life, authentically.