When A Black Woman Smiles

“If the Black woman wasn’t born, she would have to be invented.” -Nikki Giovanni

There is a power to Black women.  I say that with ten toes down, and eyes faced forward. There is a power to us that is unmatched by no woman, but mimicked by every woman. For that reason, I am happy to be both a woman and Black. 

I get sorely offended when I hear the phrase “Angry Black Woman”. Or “Bitter Black Woman”. I get mad when I hear that Black women are the last to be wed, or are ‘too’ much of something, but not enough of something else. But there is something about calling a Black woman bitter that adds a layer of stank on this experience known as Black Womanhood.

I hate that. I really, truly, very much hate that! When you call a Black woman beitter you are being dismissive! You are devaluing us! You are devaluing any experience which made her like she is! And that experience made her mad! She has the right to be mad and stay mad! But when are we going to let a Black woman be able to be both mad and woman or even happy as a woman?

There is a poem that has the same title as this piece:  When A Black Woman Smiles. This piece of poetry I think displays just what it feels like to be a Black woman in this world right now! With all the pain and hurt we endure, with all of the microaggressions, do you know how hard it is to be a Black woman? To be a whole Black woman every single day?  I don’t think y’all do.

Olivia Pope’s Daddy, Papa Pope, told her exactly what she was up against doing the work she was doing. He told her she would have to be twice as good to achieve just half of the results! How do you think a regular Black woman moving in the world feels? But you wanna call us bitter? My question really is, Is she bitter? Should she be bitter? What about this experience known as Black womanhood makes people think that we handle everything with nothing ever affecting us? Why is it that we are so scorned by the world? How did we get to be the superhero and no superhero is one for us!

I mean I have some forreal questions!

And I know these questions don’t have any easy answers! But, they still need to be asked! We gotta change how we relate to Black women! Even how Black women relate to one another–who can cut a Black woman down faster than another Black woman?

Indeed, to have a Black woman smile—it is a beautiful thing. It is almost a rebellious act for us as Black women to smile in the midst of craziness! It almost sometimes seems so hard to find something to smile about! And when Black women don’t find anything to smile about that is when the bitterness comes in! How can we stop Black women from being so bitter? 

I don’t know. I don’t smile enough to answer that. 


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