Being a Black Woman is a Messy Business

There has been a tremendous amount of news, with regard to my subject matter, over the past 2 weeks. We had booty business, domestic violence business, reproductive rights business, and work/life balance business- just to name a few. Then! As though, there weren't enough thought pieces on BeyoncĂ©, she released a remix to her "fierce and femme" song Flawless, which features some raunchy ass lyrics from Nicki Minaj. Gahhdam! It was a lot.

Now, I could tackle each news bit and try to write an epic thought piece, (which some awesome people already did), or I could tell you about an "old friend" meet up I had last weekend that seems to pull it all together. You see, I'm about to shock and awe. You ready? Black women are whole people. **Boom** You know how a human being has a range of emotions and has different situations and circumstances that can influence their actions and emotions? Yeah, Black women have ALL OF THAT, and it gets complicated because of melanin. Blackness, in the limited mainstream view, means that our emotions are reduced down to about two: anger and lust, our pain is nearly invisible, and our value is tied to our sexuality/sexual prowess. It means that our accomplishments and complexities are often erased.

Being a Black woman is a messy business. How do you assert agency over an ass that historically has not been yours? How do you decide when to speak proper English or drop 'G's? How do you condemn rappers for making music for strippers without shaming strippers or how low-income women get money? How do you celebrate with your White counterparts when some of them refuse to acknowledge your place in the movement? When do you ignore micro-aggressions just to keep the peace? If Black women always seem "angry" it is because we are constantly at odds- with our brothers, with our sisters, with the world, and with ourselves. In a piece for The Root, I talked about the intersectionality of race and class- adding gender makes it harder still.

Ok Erin, we get it, Black women got extra problems what's your point?

- Messy is everything: breakdowns and orgasms.

- Don't ever try to ignore or manslpain a mess,

       which leads me to...

Catching up with my "old friend" in a bar on the upper East side meant that we were the only two Black people in the bar. Common to most "hip" bars though, the music was all the pop, twerk goodness one could dare to dream of (insert tidbits of sarcasm here). A few drinks in, while dancing, my friend felt the need to tell me he wouldn't go home with anyone else (see: any of the White girls in the bar) because I got "dat ass." Pause. I wasn't that drunk. I stopped dancing and I was annoyed. Now did I read a bell hooks essay from memory and tell him to f*ck off? No. He quickly corrected himself about what he "meant," and the DJ started to play some ol' school Michael. See how Jesus fixes things?

Now while my "old friend" may have been trying to say that he loves everything about Black women, including our shape. What he actually said was: I love Black women because of the sexy shape, in spite of all that other crazy you've picked up dealing with nonsense and f*ckery, and if you didn't have that you might not be of any use to me at all. *Sigh. It's problematic at best, but all that crazy though? All that crazy, and all that love, and all that ass, is ALL ME. It's all Nicki, it's all Michelle, it's all Laila, it's all Audre, it's all of us. A whole person. A whole person worth loving. We will not be ignored and we will not go away. The next time you question, judge, or compliment a Black woman, check yourself. Are you seeing their Blackness in the limited sense or in layers? Because in a perfect world I would get a raise to combat my hair struggles (layers), instead a fool asking me if I've had a haircut for the 3rd time that month (limited).

If you know something, say something. Black women are people too. :)

From the Author

If any of this speaks to you let me know! If you think I'm blowing smoke, you can let me know too! Feel free to leave a messy situation in the comments. Personal and work stories welcome.


"Old friend" = That guy you went on a date with once, then hits you up a millinia later to catch up and see how you are. You agree to said catching up because you can't remember if he was whack or not. He usually was, and still is. See what I mean, messy. ;)


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