Updated: Aug 5, 2020
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne
Again, thank you all who have continuously read, especially with everything going on. I truly value everyone that takes the time out to read my entries! Every reader is greatly appreciated, and there is more to come! I do want to take the time to acknowledge the fact that this very blog is now on Top 30 Black Woman Entrepreneur Blogs in the 8th spot! I am very grateful to be a part of this list with phenomenal Black women who are creating content for us and BY US!
Initiatives for social changes have been on an extreme high within these recent months of this very interesting year. In some way, I feel like this current climate may mimic my idea of the essence of the LA Riots or maybe even the Civil Rights Movement during the ’60s. Though this current period of time has caused an unexplainable pain to numerous homes, families, communities, and more, this has also caused a movement so large that cannot go on unacknowledged. Our united front as people, no matter the race, has unveiled the very trials and tribulations that have plagued communities for far too long. I am truly honored to live in this time of potentially seeing social changes happening right before my very eyes.
Yet, we cannot have a conversation about liberation movements without acknowledging the essential glue and initiators of most revolutionary movements.
As we are in a patriarchal society if you look at multiple movements throughout history, you will usually find a male as the face of the organization. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? When thinking of the “freeing” of our enslaved ancestors, people think good ole honest Abe (heavy sarcasm btw lol). When thinking of the peaceful protests, people think of our brother Martin Luther King Jr. When thinking of radical ideologies, people think of our brother Malcolm X. If not those, I am sure y’all have heard the many names of our well-known Black brothers: Marcus Garvey, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, John Lewis, W.E.B Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and so on and so forth.
Maybe, just maybe will you find a Black woman in this long extensive list of phenomenal leaders. That one Black woman or those select few often always include Rosa Parks. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate each and every Black public figure that proudly advocates for our people. But, the representation of Black female leadership has been significantly tokenized, underappreciated, underacknowledged. Perfect example, have y’all ever heard of Amy Jacques Garvey?
Yes? No? Lol, it’s okay if that’s a no, I just recently had the opportunity to unpack her vital, but essentially unsung story. The second wife of Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey was a force to be reckoned with within the Universal Negro Improvement Association. In Karen S. Adler’s work, “Always Leading Our Men in Service and Sacrifice”, Adler explains Mrs. Garvey’s crucial role of being “second only to Marcus” or “first alongside Marcus”. Now she did not simply get this position just because she was his wife, but she was named this because of her clear efforts to build the community through the work of the UNIA. She was the “perfect spouse” by deeply aligning herself with the work of her husband. She kept records of writings and speeches within published literary books, wrote portions of her husband’s work, and even stepping in as a crucial member of the UNIA in his absence. Mrs. Garvey soon became a known presence within her own husband’s organization to the point of crowds chanting to hear her speak, yearning for her work. This may have caused a few ruffled feathers because she was always considered a confidant, helpmate, or an aide if you will. Not only was she not necessarily given her proper roses, but she was also denied a proper leadership title within the UNIA during her husband’s imprisonment (He actually was the one that prohibited her to become the official leader during his prison sentence). With Mrs. Garvey’s work, she was able to uncover the exceptional grace and prowess is the essence of Black female leaders. (This is such a short synopsis that I can barely encapsulate her narrative! Please feel free to look at her phenomenal work!)
Now I know there are stories on stories of women just like Amy Jacques Garvey that put their all into Black leadership with little to no genuine acknowledgment. I believe this disregard for my beautiful Black women leaders comes from concepts that I learned within my psychology of discrimination and prejudice course at my university. Like I mentioned earlier, we are in a patriarchal society, so there is an immediate disadvantage regarding the women population. For example, the stereotype fit hypothesis explains that women typically hold fewer executive leadership positions than men is due to associating cultural stereotypes to a specific job. Women are often perceived to be incapable of leadership positions according to society because of being looked at as too emotional, too submissive, or weak outside of the work setting. This can also be acknowledged with the role congruity theory that explains the beliefs that women experience two different types of prejudice within leadership positions. These beliefs and prejudices are either perceiving women as being less successful than men in their leadership role or evaluating behavior that fulfills the prescriptions of a leader role less favorably when it is enacted by a woman (this is basically a long-winded way of saying women are more likely to receive negative evaluations in their leadership position compared to men lol). Last but not least, is the discrimination-affect paradox which is the phenomenon of appreciating women as an entire social group but individually does not allow women to have high-status positions. These are all concepts and terms that generally have the same notion of disregarding the very women that are the bearers of life (literally).
I say all of this to say, there are a lot of unsung Black women that have been the backs of these well-known social movements that invoke change. I know we all love our Rosa Parks, but we are more than the tokens that our society presents. Just imagine how many of our beautiful Black female leaders’ stories like Amy Jacques Garvey that go on unnoticed. I am sure the amount is beyond me, but I do want to hopefully encourage y’all to look into the leaders that haven’t received their proper acknowledgment.
Appreciate your Black women today, tomorrow, and forever. We are the movement.