The walls were coated in Aegean blue. The tile floor and the tablecloths where crisp White. Massive pots throughout the open space housed olive trees. The restaurant had the busy buzz of patrons shedding the week’s stress through conversation and wine. Fittingly, my girlfriends and I sat at a table-booth combo near the front of the restaurant and over Tyropitakia, fried chick peas, and eggplant dip discussed our next girls’ trip. My booth partner and I threw out a couple of countries for consideration, when my friend, who was sitting across from us leaned in and suggested, “Maybe we should stay in the states. With all of this ISIS stuff and El Chapo on the lose, I’m scared of being kidnapped.”
I quickly quipped, “Gurl, one of the benefits of being a Black woman is that ain’t no one trying to kidnap us. We are super safe. Any potential kidnappers know that we would be a weak bargaining tool because ain’t no one coming to get us. The U.S. Government won’t be holding any special meetings or press conferences. Girl please, our pictures wouldn’t even make the side of a milk carton or a feature on Dateline.”
My girlfriend chuckled, “damn, that’s probably true. No organized crime members are going to be impressed with my husband’s offer of his next week’s check to try to get me home ‘cause we know he’d be the only one negotiating for me.”
We cracked up laughing.
But really the shit ain’t funny.
It’s not funny because sadly it’s true.
There are 64,000 Black woman missing in the United States. Please name one by name. I’ll wait…..
Yet, I bet you prayed for Natalie Holloway. I still can see her graduation picture: pretty, oval face and long blond, wearing a string of pearls. I’ll also never forget Laci Peterson.
We, Black women, aren’t as valued in America as White women. I’m going to let that sit with you for a minute because it’s a bold proclamation, but America let’s us know our worth everyday.
Let’s just consider this week’s news stories.
A group of women on a plane, two of whom have been confirmed to have been very drunk, play music on their boom box loudly, disturbing other passengers. People complain, but the women turn up the volume and begin waving the boom box in the air. A physical fight ensues with 4-5 White women involved. When the plane lands, the police are there to escort the women off of the plane. NO CHARGES ARE FILED. NONE! These women went to baggage claim like everyone else and proceeded on to their destination. I have zero doubt in my mind that had that been me and my friends, my Black ass would be in jail. We’ve gone to jail for less; hell, we’ve gotten killed for less (and in this case afterwards, the deaths would’ve been justified by saying that we were thugs who were severely intoxicated, violent and fighting with passengers, and risking the safety of all on-board).
Then I watched clips of Erin Andrews during her trial, whose “life was ruined” when a man put holes in the walls of the hotels she was staying at, took pictures, and made the nude pictures public. As a woman who used to travel on business a lot, I wholeheartedly support her case and empathize with her pain. But, I take issue with the disparity between her award and some wrongful death awards (where people’s lives weren’t simply ruined, but taken). Erin Andrews was awarded $55 million. Do you want to know how much money Eric Garner’s family received for losing their father, husband, son? $5.9 million. Actually, I don’t know of one wrongful death settlement of a Black person that got close to $55 million. SHE was ogled. HE was killed. Black lives matter—just not as much I guess.
Lastly, earlier this week when Maria Sharapova confessed that she had been doping, I immediately became more interested in the world’s reaction than in Maria herself. Maria is the American ideal of pretty: blond, thin, with hazel eyes. She is Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the girl next door. Accordingly, American businesses have rewarded her by making her the highest paid female tennis player in the world; although she is the 7th (yes, 7th) ranked player according to the latest World Tennis Association’s rankings. Understand, she makes $10 million more in endorsements than #1 ranked Serena Williams (who has beaten Maria 17 out of 18 times).
The numbers do not lie. Maria is valued more, obviously. What is the justification?
So what happens when the princess eats the apple? What happens when she admits to doping and to not being perfect. Nike, Tag-Heuer, and Porsche suspended Maria’s endorsements; but the racquet maker, Head, is actually expanding their contract with Maria because they are so proud of Maria telling the truth. They congratulated her on her honesty. Get the fuck outta here! Are you kidding me? You are untouchable when you can admit to using drugs and somehow be rewarded for it.
Similarly, I have watched several newscasters attempt to make excuses for Sharapova. The biggest question that was posed in her defense was, “how were these drugs allowed in the U.S. when they are banned in other countries. How did they get to Maria?” In other words, poor, innocent Maria has been victimized. Note to Kat Williams attorney: Please don’t get any ideas and try to use this as a defense for Kat. I have a feeling that it’s not going to work quite as well.
Maria is playing the victim role that was written for her well. She calls the doping crime a mere “oversight.” But her guilt or innocence isn’t really my focus. As a Black woman, I want to be equally valued in the country that I call my home. I would like to think that if Serena made the same admission, that she would be treated with the same kindness as Sharapova. We all know she wouldn’t be. She gets attacked now when she’s done nothing wrong. The world at large has already set her worth.
I remember sitting with my mother, when I was in Elementary and middle school, eating sliced apples as we did my “extra homework.” Sometimes, of course, I would complain about the extra work my mother would make me do. I would whine that my friends didn’t have to do additional math worksheets and keep a journal. My mother would always say, “As a Black girl in this world, you will have to be twice as good to even get half as much.”
Momma was always right.