Thriving

Third Rail Topics of Black Womanhood

Written by Penelope Farthing

An interesting post was left on Facebook on my blog about normalizing obesity.

“ I’ve come to realize that certain topics are “3rd rails” among BW. Weight is one of them.”

Thank you, M, for that assessment. Needless to say, I agree with her.

That comment got me thinking, what are some other third rail topics that will trigger black women like nothing else?

Weight

Funnily enough, there was someone in the comments almost defending obesity (or she didn’t read the whole blog and missed the satirical slant I was aiming for). She made false equivalencies and deflected as is common when people get triggered. And you know what? Who am I to stop her?

In fact, maybe she is on to something. Maybe more overweight black women lets those of us who are not, look better by comparison. If the vast majority of us were fit, or on the journey to be fitter, that would obviously be ideal. But, the more black women who do not value or are indifferent to their health, and lets that nonchalance manifest as an extra 137lbs of hanging off them, makes those of us who are doing something to fix the weight or working to maintain it, look better. Chaos is a ladder, as it is said.

In fact, maybe with more black women getting or staying obese, it reduces competition, whether it is for a job, a romantic interest or claims to the world’s oldest woman title decades from now. Out of curiosity I had a look through the list of female supercentenarians (people older than 110), not a single one of them were obese, and only a small number of them were/are black.  The only black/mostly black nations represented were Jamaica, French Guiana, and Brazil, with one supercentenarian each. Japan is heavily represented, and their obesity rate is incredibly low. Obviously, there are other factors at play to reach such ripe old ages, but it’s still an interesting consideration.

Anyway, black women and weight is such a multilayered conversation. Excuses will abound for why a black woman is overweight, and while all of the excuses (racism, stress, bad food, sedentary lifestyle) all have some level merit, there is a distinct lack of accountability. It’s easier to blame everything else than admit that a lot of us eat our sorrows, use food as a coping mechanism, and don’t want to put down that deep fried something with extra helpings of gravy.

Blame it on racism. Orange man bad… 😂 #Racist #StopEating

Posted by Steve Schlafly on Monday, October 7, 2019

This woman blamed the current president for obesity, when black female obesity was a problem long before he took office. Hmmmm…

People will say it is so much more expensive to eat healthier, and yet fruits and veggies are not so astronomically priced as dissenters would have you believe. It is easier to blame others for pretty much anything, but to shift the blame onto something else for something that impacts you specifically is doing yourself a disservice. There is no doubt in my mind that quality has deteriorated, which plays a huge role. The stress many black women endure is also a factor. Racism plays a part to an extent, and while food in the 50s and 60s was better, the racism was miles worse and black women in America at that time still exuded black femininity, beauty, grace and style in spite of it.

Hair

Most black women hate their hair and while there is a shift happening with a type 4 natural hair movement growing from strength to strength and more black owned hair companies offering kinkier textures, there is still much work to be done. I have talked a lot about hair in recent weeks (here, here, and here), so I won’t belabor that point too much. But if you come for a black woman’s hair just know that the comment section will be full of drama.

Parenting

If you criticize a black mother for most things related to parenting you will likely get an earful, like she’s:

  • doing the best she can,
  • didn’t choose to be a single mother, and
  • got beat when she was a kid and she turned out fine.In the West in 2019, single motherhood is a choice, not an inevitability. Don’t @ me, go down to your local clinic and stock up on some condoms. But if you say that, then you will not hear the end of it. Being a baby mama has been culturally normalized, otherwise nearly 80% of black women would have put barriers in place to prevent ending up an unwed mother (pun intended). Parenting would be easier if black women stopped choosing bums and shiftless idiots to father their children, but it’s easier to blame the system instead.

Black Love

While not as much of a third rail topic compared to everything else on this list, it can still trigger black women easily. When the fact that only one half of the equation needed to live in black love blackity ever after is dedicated to it, and that proclaiming how much you love black men when they rarely reciprocate, and if they do, it is not in nearly the same numbers. Interracial dating is an affront to some black women and if you dare to suggest that the dating world is her oyster, you can be met with vitriol and rage. When someone says why they decided to date out, comments will be flooded with “I found my good black man, there must be something wrong with you!”  Kendall St. Charles has talked at length about why this is, one of her theories being that interracial dating and choosing the man of a different tribe is a rejection of what the black womb produces, which is why black women are so angrily vocal about swirling.

Religion

And finally, a black woman will cling to religion harder than pet hair to your favorite black sweater. If you question why something is just not quite right, in say, the black church, like why so many gospel singers are obese when gluttony is one of those pesky deadly sins (a la point 1) or why the women bear the brunt of correction when it comes to the preaching, or why, despite the many black churches that dot so many corners in so many cities, there is not a single black owned faith-based hospital for the parishioners to make use of. And yet, I feel like when black pastors are caught in sins of the flesh they are soooo easily forgiven and back in the pulpit the next week. But let a black woman get pregnant out of wedlock (which I’m not advocating for, just using as an example) and she will have to confess her sins in front of the whole congregation. And the father of that child? Conspicuously absent.

It is far too easy to trigger black women. I asked the question “are you offended?” a few weeks ago. Being hair trigger sensitive just makes it easier for anybody get a rise out of you and use your rage for nothing productive, or for their own gain.

 

You stayed with me this long? Why, thank you! What are some other third rail topics about black womanhood? Share them in the comments.

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