The Huffington Post recently published an article entitled “The Problem with Black Women” authored by journalist Kim Lute. Admittedly I was reluctant to read this article, as the title seems positioned to provoke unhealed racial tension, amongst the black female diaspora.
The title “The Problem with Black Women” disturbingly asserts that there is a universal problem with females of the black diaspora. Now, there is in fact a problem, but this problem is not with black women. This is not to suggest that there are not issues within the black female diaspora-there are. However, the black woman is both a traditional and contemporary shell for white anxiety. Thus, black women do not have any problems that were not conveniently cast upon them by westerners.
The problematically titled piece addresses friendship, or lack their of, between black women. Latte writes, “I often wonder if high-quality black friendships, formed in adulthood, are as easily attainable as our conferred 40 acres and a mule?”
The query is a relative one that rightfully parallels the conflict of reparations with relationships between black women. This analogy marks the intangible and tangible loss endured by Africans in America.
This assertion however, fails to intertwine with Lutte’s argument. Entirely saturated with internalized oppression, Lutte attempts to speak out on an issue, but ends up speaking against herself with a distorted conceptualizing of racial identity.
This deficit in understanding, lures Lutte to conjure an argument that reads like a script written by her oppressors themselves. Nevertheless, I have narrowed down my concerns to four parts of Ms. Lutte’s article.
The article begins with a detailed description of the author’s aesthetic. While the victim credits her looks as the catalyst to her pain, the compartmentalizing of her looks as French Creole and not one of the many varieties of blackness speaks volumes of the exceptionality Lutte sees in her appearance:
“My French Creole features speak to a long history of miscegenation:green eyes, skin the color of a white peach and a sharp Puritan nose to match my thinly drawn Vermillion lips.”
It seems almost right that Lutte paint a picture of herself, as a means to paint a picture of the face that has complicated her platonic attempts. But perhaps more importantly, this statement allows readers to see how Ms. Lutte sees herself. While Lutte does go on to align herself with her blackness later in the essay, her assertions reveal that she sees her look as outside the normality of black women aesthetics.
The article is also flooded with color comparisons such as the following:
“My older sister, who is darker than me…”
“In fact, every time I see a gaggle of darker black girlfriends…”
As a journalist, author and the designated “light girl” in my coterie..”
Lutte’s juxtaposition between herself and browner black women demonstrates the issue to be beyond the dynamic of friendship. Rather, the issue lies in the perpetuation of color as the line of demarcation between females of the black diaspora. Thus, it is this perpetuation that is culpable for the lack of black female camaraderie .
Thus, the implied issue that Lutte suggests browner women have with her are seemingly a reflection of her own color conflicts. Thus, Ms. Lutte’s article acts as testimony to how the color complex manifests on contemporary black women.
2. This article conveniently paints blacks as the perpetuators of racism, ignoring the origin of diasporic conflict.
As a result, Lutte separates herself from black women and aligns herself with white women
It’s not politically correct to question the behavior and negative tendencies of those in your own race, but sometimes it’s necessary for collective forward evolution.
When you juxtapose two diametrically opposite things you normally wouldn’t see coupled together, it should force you to reevaluate each and hopefully create a new appreciation of both, separately and as a whole. This has been the case with my white girlfriends and I hope one day it will be the case with my darker sisters.
In referencing her friendships with white women resulting from the adversity from her chocolate sisters, Lutte depicts a white savior as necessary to save blacks from themselves.
Now I acknowledge that there are issues within the black female dynamic. These issues however, are not cured in pursuing platonic relationships with those outside of our experience. Because of our struggle to navigate through America with the hue of our motherland, blacks have been issued a fractured consciousness which has mentally distanced us from our worth. Thus, Lutte suffers from the same severed consciousness in her pursuit of white friendships as the sun kissed women who reject her.
Lutte makes valid points, but presents her experience as singular-negating the reality of a shared experience amongst black women.
3. The article is most damning because it is written by a black woman about black women
While it is disheartening that this article was written by a black women, my sentiments are not geared towards Ms. Lutte as she is merely performing the white man’s work. The concept of “lightness” and “darkness” is undoubtedly the influence of white supremacy. It is white supremacy that created this fabricated division to divide us so that we remain mentally enslaved. Lutte’s article fails in its attempt to cast her as the victim of her chocolate counterparts as it paints a vivid victim hood of the light skin struggle with the white man’s labeling.
I was advised to begin my rebuttal to Ms. Lutte with a proclamation of love. If you’ve read this far, you see that I failed to implement this suggestion. However, while I declined to begin with a testament of love I opted to end on such sentiment. While Ms. Lutte and I have skin colors as different as our perspectives, we have the same red blood rich in African ancestry running through our veins. For this reason, I hold hands with Ms. Lutte as we are both casualties of oppression.
Forging past the Fickle Bounds of Friendship
This oppression undoubtedly plagues issues of friendship between black women, to the point of extinction. Residing at the intersectionality of both gender and race, black women endure an identity fractured by western dominance.
With that said, Ms. Lutte and I share a bond deeper than the temperate bounds of friendship. So while we may not be friends, Ms. Lutte and I are sisters of the black diaspora. While racism complicates the bonds of friendship between black women in the fabrication of our inferiority, it cannot sever the bonds of sisterhood.
So I write to encourage females of the black diaspora to look beyond the fickle nature of friendship. Rather, I suggest we of the female black diaspora focus on maintaining our irreversible sister status. Liking one another comes secondary to loving one another unconditionally. For if the bounds of sisterhood were firmly placed between Ms. Lutte and myself as sisters of the black diaspora, this article would have possible never been sent to print. I am less concerned with having lunch with my sisters as I am with having their loyalty.
Thus, friendship between black women may be ideal, sisterhood is essential.
As black women, we need to move beyond the fickle bonds of friendship and focus on being sisters. Failed communication can sever friendship, but not even death can shatter the depths of sisterhood. Discussions of friendship are trivial and a distraction to the equity of the black experience.
Thus, the “problem” with black women is that we exist in an identity that was drawn for us. Our image, constructed as a means to imbed an inferiority that never existed.
Articles such as these, perform in this idea of inferiority. Articles such as these take the spotlight off the true faces of racial terrorism. This article demonstrates that freedom of speech is only as free as the individual who speaks. Yes, Ms. Lutte enjoys a degree of freedom depicted in her literacy and her platform. However, the freedom of her body negates the contents of her mind that is the pure product of colonialism.
Ms. Lutte is not alone in the subtle shaping of her subconscious. Racism as an institution, binds us all to its wrath in as many variants as there are minutes in a day. Let Lutte’s article serve as testimony to the miles we must tred for a linear, not circular existence.