Good will always be good enough
By Kenya Smith
March is Women’s History Month, where we celebrate the accomplishments that women have made in our society. Therefore, I want to talk about one woman. You have seen her before many times. You probably have seen her on TV and social media, read about her in the news, listened to her on the radio. You have worked with her on your job, studied with her during school, played with her as kids, or even raised her at home. Let me introduce you to the Black woman.
Despite all her contributions to her family, her community, her country, and the world, the Black woman is still the most ignored and disrespected person in the world. The rejection and disrespect that the Black woman faces begins at childhood.
Studies at Georgetown University’s Law Center on Poverty and Equality have shown that people view Black girls as “more mature” and “less innocent” than white girls. Therefore, society concludes that Black girls do not need as much nurturing, comfort and support as white girls. This assumption about Black girls motivates teachers and other adults to hold Black girls to a much higher standard than white girls and to treat them more harshly.
The Black woman is often told that she must be twice as good and work twice as hard to have success. She is expected to be perfect in everything she does and to possess infinite resilience and strength. Consequently, the humanity of the Black woman gets seized, making no room for her to make mistakes, be vulnerable, and to openly express her thoughts, feelings, or experiences. Otherwise, she gets ridiculed, condemned, punished or silenced.
If the Black woman makes one small mistake, there is no such thing as a second chance or some recognition of her humanity. If she gets anything other than first place, she gets criticized by the public. If she does not accomplish goals that most of her peers have already accomplished, she’s labeled as a “late bloomer.” If she stands up for herself, cries or expresses anger, she is accused of being “too sensitive” or having an “attitude.” These attitudes can cause her to experience a lot of stress and can even be fatal to her physical and mental health and her social life because she is forced to “suck it up” and bottle her thoughts, opinions and emotions.
The truth about the Black woman is that I am one of her. I have always accepted the sad reality that I must be twice as good and work twice as hard to make it. I was raised with the principles of hard work and putting in the effort, and I always apply these principles in everything that I do. I have graduated from high school and college, created a job history, learned new skills, did internships, wrote multiple op-eds and articles, served the community, and even won awards for my work. Despite all these things, I have a difficult time obtaining a decent paying job, something that would really help me create the life that I desire. They say to do your best, but I realize that my best will never good enough for some people due to my ethnicity, age and gender.
However, I am tired of bowing down to status quo. I am tired of seeing myself and so many Black women and girls alive on the outside but dead on the inside because they are being silenced, ignored and disrespected by the societies that they helped shape and build. We do not have to be twice as good, for good will always be good enough. We do not have to work twice as hard, for hard will always be hard enough. If society cannot accept our best efforts and hard work, then it’s society that needs to be checked.
Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.