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[Video] “I Grew Up Learning How to Protect Men Who Hate Me”: Spoken Word Poets Powerfully Describe Black Misogyny

Avatar • Jul 21, 2015

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NYU students Crystal Valentine and Aaliyah Jihad powerfully and poignantly describe the vein of misogyny against black women that runs, often unchecked, throughout black culture in their piece “To Be Black and Woman and Alive”. The 3‑minute poem was performed for the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam, which NYU won. There’s a lot we could say about this piece, but the words speak for themselves. You can read the transcript or watch the video of the performance below.

I’m just sayin, if she ain’t got a booty I ain’t tryna hit it
You know a nigga’s biggest weakness is a white girl with a fat ass
These black girls need to watch out
Cause white girls is winnin

Naw, like a foreign bitch, you know, that Spanish, that Latin type
Nah, nah, nah, like that Asian type
Yeh, like a Oriental mixed bitch
Daddy from the Philippines, mama from Atlantic, mama from Africa
Mama from sugar cane and segregation, from too much pride and not enough perm
Mama from the gutter, from Section 8
From hood rat black belly
But she don’t look like her mama though
I don’t fuck with black girls

I know four brands of hydrocortisone by heart
I have a Pinterest board dedicated to lemon juice recipes for lightening skin
Know too dark is the answer to a question I’ve given up asking
Puerto Rican, Italian, Bajan, Thai
I know they want me to be everything I’m not.

I need a girl who knows her place
I don’t like that black power shit
That nappy afro shit
That ‘walk out your house like your mama ain’t teach you how to look presentable’ shit

To be woman and black is to be born knowing your beauty does not belong to you
Is to be the first and last person to love yourself
Is to know you’re not desirable to your own kind
I grew up learning how to protect men who hate me
Learned how to be the silencer to their pistol
Learned how to be the revolution spit shining their spines
Behind every great man is the woman who taught him how to load the ammunition
Behind every great man is the woman who pulled the trigger
Behind every great man is a chorus of voices buried behind the gunfire

I want an educated woman
I’m not talking book smart, I’m talking sheet smart
A woman who understand the actual purpose of her mouth

In college a boy said he didn’t date black girls
Like his momma wasn’t a black girl
Like his sister wasn’t a black girl
Like he ain’t drink milk and fat from a black nipple
Like he wasn’t birthed from a black womb
Like a black woman’s body ain’t bend for him
Ain’t spill herself to make room for him
Like exiting a black woman’s body ain’t a blessing disguised as a shadow
Like black ain’t beautiful unless it’s mixed

To be woman and black is to be magic
Is to be the witch that wouldn’t burn
is to survive the white man with their needles and nooses
And the black men with their hearts in their knuckles
To be black and woman and alive is to be resilient
My very existence is defiance

But they want a good woman
A silk-skinned woman soft enough to break
A woman whose vein is blue enough to get into the club
Who knows her way around the inside of a washing machine
Who’s the color of happily ever after
A woman who knows how to burn off her skin without screaming
Without making a sound

Wow. Ladies, what are your thoughts?

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Patrice Russell
Patrice Russell
5 years ago

Wow this is really powerful, she voiced a lot of ugly embarrassing truth about the reality of being a black woman…as a dark skinned sister i can def relate smh

SKEEWEE
SKEEWEE
5 years ago

Powerful prose!!! I didn’t understand the last stanza, though…a woman who knows the inside of a washing machine???

Mukisa Kibaya
5 years ago

This is the absolute truth. The negative comments I see and hear from Black men about Black women is unfortunately validated and feeds into the patriarchy that is an undercurrent for the struggle against inequality world wide. The Black community cannot be built up comprehensively and holistically if the bricks of it are made of the hearts and spirits of those who are Black that are denigrated (pun intended) and torn down. Freedom for all is true freedom. Freedom for some is privilege.

Nikita L.
Nikita L.
5 years ago

Hydroquinone (lightens dark spots on skin) not hydrocortisone ( a steroid cream for inflammation). Love the poem & will be sharing!

Cheri
Cheri
5 years ago
Reply to  Nikita L.

I read that line a few times because I kept wondering what the hydrocortisone was for. I’m glad I’m not the only one who caught that

Sabrina black
Sabrina black
5 years ago

I am surprised that they would actually read this in front of an Audience. This is bravery. I’m really seeing social consciousness. More women are talking about what they feel. I love poetry. Go to Wwww.Tributetoblackwomen.com.

Cheri
Cheri
5 years ago
Reply to  Sabrina black

Doesn’t it seem black women are the ones leading the Black conscious revolution? Seems black men, generally speaking, only speak up when there is police brutality against another black man. Other than that, silence…

Sabrina black
Sabrina black
5 years ago
Reply to  Cheri

Hi, Cheri. Well I’m 19 and I really can’t give you the logistics on where the misogyny stems from. It is quintessential(most typical) in the community. I do think that it feels and seems that way. Like I said, Women are the backbone of the community but the men are suppose to be the soldiers. The women can’t teach the men because we’ve never been men and the men can’t teach the women because they never been women. That is why it takes two to build each other up. I don’t usually go on or talk about the feminism and… Read more »

lis
lis
5 years ago
Reply to  Cheri

Because MOST black males do not care about Black women and girls…they only care about themselves…and you black women know this.…which is why I don’t understand ‘black women leading the blackconsciousrevolution’…Y?…When Black women can just walk away.…

Muslim Bushido…Google it.

Tiffany Williams
Tiffany Williams
5 years ago

This is absolutely true. Black men display the same racism they hate whites to display, to black women.

StraightShooter
StraightShooter
5 years ago

Yes, to everything this is about. I haven’t seen to much backlash over this, which is really surprising. I’m glad more Black women are being honest about our experiences.

lumen
5 years ago

I’m so glad a young black woman is standing up for us and taking a stand against this taboo subject among our community. I am saddened multiple times a day, everyday on how black “men” continue to conduct themselves and blame everyone for them not getting it together. Newsflash, we can’t keep using the it’s the man card. Everyone is in control of their lives, including us. What makes me even more upset is the fact that black women themselves refuse to put black men in check and use excuses like, “oh , he’s a man. Men do that…” WTF?!… Read more »

Patricia Baldwin-Dennis
Patricia Baldwin-Dennis
5 years ago

This poem just says everything I have ever thought and felt about being a black woman and the way we are treated by our black men. So beautiful and painful all at the same time.

Guest
Guest
5 years ago

Very powerful indeed, but this is not all black men. Just wish those types of black men would speak out more.

$7275329
$7275329
5 years ago
Reply to  Guest

They only seem to speak out to say what you just said, that’s it’s not all black men. Then they scurry back into the shadows.

edecoeur
edecoeur
5 years ago
Reply to  Guest

I think what we need are more stories that inspire comments like this old post about President Obama trying to do his little one’s hair while her mother was away:

http://bglh-marketplace.com/2012/04/president-obama-talks-styling-malias-hair/

The love expressed in those comments for the fathers of all those women is just delightful.

edecoeur
edecoeur
5 years ago

I think this ties in very nicely with the earlier article, “How Far… Black Love?” In very simple, yet poignant terms, these two young women have expressed so well why I find it offensive when black women are told they need to “lift up the black man,” to be “the revolution spit shining their spines.” Unfortunately, I believe these are the expectations in a number of non-white cultures. From discussions I have had with Indian, Asian and Hispanic friends, there are similar patterns of colourism and misogyny. Aside from the obvious answer, harkening back to colonization, where do problems like this… Read more »

lis
lis
5 years ago

Hmmmmm.….are more Black women finally waking up?…we will see.

Kitkat
Kitkat
5 years ago

this is powerful. black women have been scientifically proven to be the last link to godliness. we can bear any child of any race/ethnicity and we were the first people on earth. this is why they use our own men to destroy us since that is the source to our connected power — but its not working. they get black men to gas up white girls in a way that not even white men do, and love their manufactured bodies that mimic ours minus the black skin. and even when white men approach us, most of us decline — hence… Read more »

#TRUTH
#TRUTH
5 years ago

too many men on this planet that will treat a BLACK woman right…care for her, spoil her and love her

Leah James
Leah James
5 years ago

I can definitely relate . I went through this with my own brothers and guys who I liked who are black . These black men need to hear this and listen to Tupac Keep your head up .

Aliya
Aliya
5 years ago

BEAUTIFUL!!!!! This puts everything that I have been feeling and thinking as a Black American woman into words. Eloquent words at that. They are so strong to speak out our realities in such a public format. This is something that is rarely discussed in conversations on the black experience. I hope the topic stays on the table so those of us who need it can receive healing and encouragement. Even if it only comes from within ourselves and flows to each other. Woman to woman, sister to sister, friend to friend.

Alien
Alien
5 years ago

Is this true? Are there men who act like this? They must be a minority? Perhaps something went wrong with their upbringing.

Cheri
Cheri
5 years ago

I actually did respond, but for some reason my response did not show up here. I’m rather disappointed because I agree with the writers of this poem. I didn’t respond using profanity, or troll like language. My response was very positive. But happens to me a lot on this site. Sometimes my comments post, sometimes not.

Alien
Alien
5 years ago

Such powerful poetry. Is it true? Are there men who act like this? Please tell me they are a minority? Why would any man think such a thing!

melissa
melissa
5 years ago

I love spoken word poetry. Fire Fire Fire. This poem is sad yet powerful. I love it.

BkLeR
5 years ago

Powerful Poem ! I admire Crystal & Aaliyah for their performance and their courage.

Insecure Men cannot acknowledge nor appreciate the value of a Woman, because they are blind to their own value.

Truth be told :
Real Black Men LOVE Black Women !

Vanessa Zacheary
Vanessa Zacheary
5 years ago

I really feel and connect with this poem. when I was in the 12th grade a young man probably about two shades darker than me told me, “your not hot because your dark skin.” I believe that I was in such a shock by his comment, that I could not say anything…I felt so bad for his state of mind. It’s probably why he hates himself enough to join a gang. Also my current boyfriend; when tring to make a point that someone is better than me he always starts off by saying ” she’s lighter than you.” And he… Read more »

King Ariicha V
King Ariicha V
4 years ago

I hope that guy is not still your boyfriend…

SKEEWEE
SKEEWEE
5 years ago

If this is you on the profile pic, you’re not even dark lol! I just don’t understand why ALL shades of browness/blackness can’t be appreciated! No one shade is more beautiful than they other. I’m so happy you didn’t let those hateful words affect you, because Black is powerful, and Black truly is beautiful 🙂 as you are!

Nessa
Nessa
3 years ago

Why are you going out with a man like this?

SKEEWEE
SKEEWEE
5 years ago

Actually, in many cultures with ppl of color, folks with darker shades of skin or shunned. This happens in Indian culture and Latin communities, as well. There was a joke in the Indian American community regarding Miss America 2013, I believe, who was the first Indian American to win the title. They were saying that had she participated in the pageant in India, she would not have been chosen as the winner bc of her dark skin; they prefer fair skin.

jazinegrrrl
jazinegrrrl
5 years ago

I hope ya’ll know this is not new. You are not the first generation to feel this. You aren’t special. Many black women generations before you did similar public outcries to black men and it got them nowhere. It’s quite obvious that it got them nowhere because you have this generation of women going through the same thing. So, publicly, stating your misery and telling the world that you are feeling unloved clearly isn’t helping you heal. Black men do not care about your pain and anger. They haven’t for at least 50 years. Stop begging and trying to shame… Read more »

SufferinSuccOtash
SufferinSuccOtash
5 years ago
Reply to  jazinegrrrl

Are you simple?? If we can’t rely on our own men, we definitely can’t rely on another race’s men. Other races actually like and prefer their own women; if they dated us they would only be fulfilling their sick fetishes/fantasies. Get that white d*ck out of your mouth.

Torie Amza
Torie Amza
5 years ago

Actually, I’ve been able to rely on my WHITE man more than I have any man from other races. Unfortunately, I have been stung by all Black men that I have had in my life, including my brother and father, and especially by the Black men that I’ve dated. I was once that Black girl that “had” to marry Black and “keep the race pure” but like lis says, that ship has long sailed, lol! I’m so happy to see that more Black women are opening their hearts to men of other races. I’ve never felt like a queen before… Read more »

lis
lis
5 years ago

It’s 2015…what sick fetishes and fantasies are still around about black women… that ship has sailed…you all are not the only ‘exotic’ones anymore and so what?…Black women can still live and win!.…call me naive but some of you are crazy scared women with too many hangups and insecurities that you want to scare other black women with.….and what is this ‘our men’ business. Smh.

P.s Black women interracial relationship numbers are increasing…so much for sick fetishes and fantasies.

lis
lis
5 years ago
Reply to  jazinegrrrl

Boom!

EJ
EJ
3 years ago
Reply to  jazinegrrrl

Amen!

Nessa
Nessa
3 years ago
Reply to  jazinegrrrl

I agree with you and black women should look else where to be honest.They are more men of all races that want to date and marry black women. I am one of those dark skin authentic looking black woman with nappy hair. That found another race of man that adores her.

bomb
bomb
5 years ago

Simple solution: date different races of guys. plenty of other types like black women.

bomb
bomb
5 years ago

simple solution: get with a different race guy. plenty of other races like black women the way they are

lis
lis
5 years ago

Thank you.

CocoaGoddess
CocoaGoddess
4 years ago

Black guys hate black girls? Really? Not in my neck of the woods at least

Monii Babes
Monii Babes
3 years ago

Sounds like an angry rant rather than a poem.…black men don’t owe y’all a damn thing. Noose? cmon now thats even your time. Stop trying to relate off a history that isn’t yours.

Nessa
Nessa
3 years ago
Reply to  Monii Babes

Well you can march for your own ass how about that.

$8319184
$8319184
5 years ago

Well, I’ll just sit and see what people have to say. It’s very interesting reading the different takes on different sites.

Reece Wynter
Reece Wynter
5 years ago

Wow!? how nice to acknowledge this. I hope this continues the conversation.

Cheri
Cheri
5 years ago

The poem is powerful, brave, honest, and sad. Sad because no other ethnic group of women has a reason to write and recite this type of poetry. I know not all black men follow the “let’s hate black women” ideology but too many do and they are quite vocal about it. What these men do not realize is that their hate for us further feeds the flames of discrimination for ALL Blacks (in America). No matter how much they hate us, no matter how much they run from us, they will never be able to truly distance themselves from us,… Read more »

lis
lis
5 years ago
Reply to  Cheri

But who cares what ails black males..let them work it out for themselves or not…worry about yourselves for once.…..
Black women must and can save themselves…This is a huge country and world…Black women don’t have to settle for scraps from anyone and sorry to break it to you ‘black love’ women but as long as you all remain BLACK .… most Black males will never protect, respect or love you.…

Muslim Bushido.…Google it.

Cheri
Cheri
5 years ago
Reply to  lis

Right. Which is why I said until black men heal THEMSELVES. We can’t fix them. They don’t want us to. So, let’s continue to make ourselves better and stop worrying about them. Trust me, I agree with you, Lis. We can recite all kinds of poems but that won’t change their mindset. Our lamenting their lack of love for us only makes them angrier and more bitter. Nothing wrong with expressing our feelings through prose such as the one in topic, but at some point in black women’s healing we have to accept that it is what it and keep… Read more »

$8319184
$8319184
5 years ago

I am shocked and disheartened at the fact that this video has been up here for 24 hours and only has 15 comments. Black women are truly alone. When the slavery art post came out, it racked up the comments. Names we hardly ever see were in the thick of it.
Right now, it’s just 15 people commented. There are no new comments popping up as I type.
I know BGLH has more than 16 readers. Where are the voices? No one is disputing but hardly anyone is cosigning these ladies. What does this mean?
This is shameful.

lis
lis
5 years ago
Reply to  $8319184

Yeah .me too especially when there was a hundred or more comments for that article about my white boyfriend helped me to accept etc etc.….I truly wonder about black women sometimes…are they asleep?…forget it.sigh.

Muslim Bushido.…Google it.

Raevaughn
Raevaughn
5 years ago

Beautiful poem, I wish I had been there, to cry my tears there. Black love is having babies that look just like your Great-great-great grandma. I love you great-great grandma Helen.

Fix it
Fix it
5 years ago

This is GREAT…

I will now Reblog this

OVER and
OVER

Until respecting black women is a social norm!

Dee
Dee
5 years ago

A lot of black men nowadays need a SERIOUS wake up call. I don’t know of any other race of men who downgrades their female peers just because she wears her hair natural and has dark skin.

Nessa
Nessa
3 years ago
Reply to  Dee

That is why other race of men are noticing this and they will never get respect when they are disrespect the womb they came from.

Nikkijay52
Nikkijay52
5 years ago

This poem captured all the thoughts and feelings that I have been experiencing. For a very long time I thought that I was the only one feeling this way and this poem made me feel like I am not alone. I have already shared this and will keep sharing this video.

MiMi
MiMi
5 years ago

When did our men lose fall and lose pride?
Their self loath is sad. They don’t hate black women, they hate being black.

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