As a black man, there is no greater time than Black History Month. As a black man who identifies as feminist, the importance of Black History Month (for me) is even more heightened, especially when it comes to specific aspects of our culture.
One thing I value significantly is the mental and somatic fortitude of the black woman. The more I’ve been able to explore who I am in my own sexuality and observe the very visceral ways that “strength” is to be exhibited by gender, the more I’m able to celebrate the many distinct ways that black women persevere.
Twenty years ago, as a young black boy, people like me were almost forced to revere the likes of Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders and Tiger Woods (in all his womanizing glory). However, what made me different from what I observed in the behavior of a lot of my male peers was the overlooking of those athletes’ numerous female counterparts. These women deserved every bit of the same recognition for their achievements.
When we had Michael Jordan, we also had Sheryl Swoopes. When Jesse Owens reigned, we also had Florence Griffith Joyner to look up to. When Arthur Ashe dominated in tennis, we were gifted with not one but TWO Williams sisters! The list can (and does) go on and on.
For a long time in the black community, we were taught that only men could be the warriors of sport. That was the rule: “Boy, go out there and play football like a man!” while in the same breath, “Girl, get in the house and help me with these groceries!” Little black girls become conditioned to believe that their femininity is at risk the very second they engage in any physical sport.
It is only through the feminist movement that, I believe, we’ve been able to move away from these ideas so that we more recently see a rise in black women competitors. So here’s to Black History Month, Feminism, and the athletes of all genders who inspire us! GO TEAM!