It was a Wednesday night, and I sat in a car outside of a mall with my friends Fumi and Tashika. We were leaving the mall but had stopped in the car to engage in a riveting conversation about race and privilege. Fumi is Nigerian and I was curious to hear his perspective on what it means to be a Black male in today’s social and political climate. His points were interesting and thoughtful, until he said something that caught my attention.
“I know I have it bad, but I feel so bad for you,” he said. I searched his eyes and I could tell that he was conflicted.
“What do you mean?” I replied, genuinely curious. “You have it so bad. Black women are on the bottom of the totem pole. It’s like, not only are you Black, but you’re a woman, too. You’re so disadvantaged because society treats you terribly.”
It took everything in me to not burst out laughing, and I couldn’t hold it in, so I didn’t. “What the f-ck are you talking about?!” I said through cackles. I looked over at my friend Tashika who was equally as dumfounded—and like myself—thought the comment was absolutely hilarious.
“I’m not at the bottom of no damn totem pole. Who the hell told you that?!” Tashika laughed. We doubled over in hysterics as Femi continued to explain to us just how disadvantaged we are, why the bane of our existence has doomed us and why society is so against us.
That was the very first time I heard that narrative, and sadly not the last. But every time I hear it my reaction is the still the same: L.O.L.
To me, that narrative is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, there are countless problems facing Black women today, but I do not believe that those define who we are or our place in the world—at all. The biggest problem that Black women face is that we are told we are a problem: from our hair, to our bodies, to the way we speak or don’t speak. There is a constant rhetoric that tells Black women that their mere existence is somehow a problem in society, and so we should expect to be treated less than for it.
I find the narrative to be so comical because my life consists of exactly the opposite: to me, being Black AND a woman is the upmost privilege.
I always saw the body that I inhabit to be a gift. I understand that the world will try to disadvantage me, but I have never, within my soul, felt that I was born disadvantaged. Any time that ideology was forced onto me, I always felt as though the joke was on them. I never felt guilty about who I was or that my existence was in any way problematic. I was aware of a society that tried to disadvantage me, but I knew the problem was theirs—not mine. I knew that my skin and my gender were no mistake. I knew that it was a great privilege that came with immense power, and that power could be misunderstood and feared. But that is still not my burden to carry.
To be a Black woman is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I thank God that I am hugged by the melanin that graces my skin and hair that grows towards to sun. I am in love with my female body and the sexual power that comes with it. My feminine nature, emotional strength, intelligence, culture and heritage are all a part of the vital fabric that make me Asha.
To be female is to walk with my power every day, even when the world tells me not to. To be Black is to walk with strength, knowing I am filled with the wisdom of my ancestors and all those who came before me. I bare the lineage of an extraordinary Jamaican mother and father. I have had many teachers, aunts and mentors who have all inhibited the same skin that I do. I come from great queens, healers and warriors, and running through my veins is the great alchemy of resilience and power.
I am straight up magic.
Existing as a Black woman is not my greatest problem—but my greatest power.
This article was originally published on February 6, 2018.
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