Black Girl Mixtape is About Seeing Black Women
Source: The Odyssey Online
Did you know that there are often conversations on black culture, even as it pertains specifically to black womanhood – and no black women will be present in the discussion? Did you realize that there is often someone else speaking on our behalf? Really. A black women, Tarana Burke, started the #meToo movement but in December 2017 TIME magazine featured women, who they called, “The Silence Breakers,” on their cover highlighting the #meToo movement and did not have Tarana Burke on the cover. How? And why?
Did you know that there is little to no major funding or solidarity as it pertains to lifting black women as the authority on matters pertaining to blackness and womanhood? When it comes to grants and program funding being allocated to women centered curriculum – black women centered programming is least likely to receive funding. The question most often asked in response to these kinds of applications is, “How can you make this more inclusive?” However, programs – even on a federal level – that are geared towards women, from certain demographics (demographics most likely to have no black women and very few women of color) are least likely to be asked these kinds of “inclusive” questions in response to their applications.
The real problem is the invisibilization of black women.
It stems back to chattel slavery where black women were both producers and laborers. Being consumed as breeders and simultaneously viewed as tools for reproduction put the black woman in a unique position that has marked her existence ever since. The real problem is that in a cis-hetero patriarchal white supremacist society, her blackness and her womanhood, both states of being, historically signifying discrimination and prejudice, have attempted to confine black women to inferior spaces of authority, capacity, and worth. Her blackness is a state of being to be maneuvered. Her woman-ness is a state of being to maneuvered.
She is invisibilized so much - to the point that studies show that black women go both unnoticed and unheard relative to white women and black and white men, respectively. Specifically these studies examined the memory for black women’s faces and speech contributions and found that pictures of black women were least likely to be recognized and statements made by black women were least likely to be correctly attributed compared to black men and white women and men in the same room, participating in the same conversation. (Biernat, Sesko, 2010).
In Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” he says, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me… It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves.”
My own personal invisiblization, in the world, but most specifically in academia, is why I created “Black Girl Mixtape.” The lack of intellectual space for black women was my own personal “wearing on the nerves” that Ellison was referring to - that pushed me into doing this work. I wanted to imagine something like a TED Talk, or a platform of intellectual authority – but specifically for black women. Black Girl Mixtape is a live lecture series amplifying and celebrating the voices of black women as authority on all issues pertaining to blackness and womanhood. On April 15, 2018 we are launching Black Girl Mixtape Houston, our first stop on the Black Girl Mixtape Live 2018 Tour, at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston at 5200 Fannin St in the Museum District of Greater Houston, Texas. There will be two incredible lecturers, great music, a reception afterwards, and a chance to learn more about how this great work is impacting the city and the world. Register at www.blackgirlmixtape.com on the TOUR page. A percentage of all proceeds goes towards a family still recovering from Hurricane Harvey in the Greater Houston area. While the stage is set specifically for black women to be centered as the authority, all are welcome to attend this event.