I work in an inner school system and I see everyday the lost innocence of young black girls. They are believing what they hear from society about what type of future they will have. I want to give the young black girls in today’s society a new avenue to explore. If they learn about other black women who have made it, hopefully they will believe they too can achieve their goals.
For a lifetime black women have felt as if they are not in total control of their lives. They are caged by the chains of society. Imagine not being in total control of your life, having someone else tell you what you can and can not do. To have the feeling of being a prisoner in a world that does not want to set you free and allow you to advance to your full potential. Black women have to live in world that does not see them or treat them as equals. They have to work ten times harder then anyone else, and then they only break the surface. How is it that black women still remain at the bottom of the totem pole, and how can they make strides toward equality?
In my paper I will explore how black women in the past have struggled to make small advances that the black women of today enjoy, and how the struggles of today’s black women are breaking down the barriers of society for the betterment of tomorrow’s black women. I will explore what obstacles they have faced and overcome and what obstacles they still have to overcome. In choosing this topic I hope to educate myself and others about a part of history we do not learn about in our school system. In growing up and attending a mostly white school system I never learned about the history of black Americans, let alone the history of black women. I feel I have been cheated out of a part of myself, and now I have the opportunity to fill a gap. In order for the black female of any age to realize her full potential, she must first understand and be thankful of the struggles her sisters have made for her in the past.
I will complete a two page summary of three different books that I feel will provide a view of the many different stages of the black women. I will provide one lesson to go along with each book. I have chosen to deal with four different grade level of books, because I feel that knowledge of black women should start at an early age and progress through adulthood.
Addy: An American Girl, Flyy Girl
by Omar Tyree, and
Waiting to Exhale
by Terry McMillan. These books chronicle different aspects of black women’s struggle from a slave girl who has escaped to freedom and what she hopes will be a better life, to a teenager trying to grow up too soon and too fast. Tracy tries to fill the void left her by her father by playing the game of how many boys she can catch. Finally the third about book about four women who thought they were settled in their lives and happy, only to find out the still have a lot of maturing to do. They have to realize their lives do not revolve around a man.
I will compare the three books’ likenesses and differences. I will provide a survey for the students to fill out, regarding their opinions of the books and any items they felt should have been addressed in the lessons. The books may seem a bit adult for middle and high school, but I felt the books I have chosen are related to the situations students face in today’s society. In the books the female characters realize the path they are taking is not a path that is going to benefit their life. If young women and men can see there is a better way to live their lives, maybe they too will decide to change their path.
Society thinks more of black men then they do of black women. A prime example of this is during the fifties and the sixties it was the black women who once again had to hold the family together. The black man was feeling down on himself,because of his situation, not being able to get a good job and support his family like he thinks he should. It is left up to the black women to get employment as maids and laundress, because in some instances it was easier for a black women to obtain a service job.
Most young black girls did not have the companionship of their mothers. These black women held jobs as cooks or picking cotton for about four dollars a day. Sometimes they had to bring their children with them, but it was never expected for a black man to carry a child with him to work. If they had a babysitter, which was often a relative they did not get to spend a lot of time with their children.
The television show I’ll Fly Away was a good example of the struggle the black women had t go through to make a living. The main character was a black women named Lily. Lily was maid for a white family. Every day she would report to her white children and get them ready for school. She fixes breakfast and pack lunches and makes sure they are prepared to go to school on time. While at Lily’s house she has to rely on her father to get her daughter ready for school.
Lily cleans the house and prepares the evening meal while the children are at school. Lily spends more time with her “white” children then she does with her own daughter. At the end of the day Lily goes home to once again do the chores of the house, but this time it is her own house. When she arrives it is dark and she is tired, but she knows her work is not done. Lily gets her house in order and spends time with her daughter before it is time for her to go to bed. Finishing up with the housework she goes to bed knowing she will have to do the same thing in the morning.
Lily, like many black women in the fifties and sixties, is making a living by working in service oriented jobs to take care of the family. Black women were not educated like some black men and had very limited skills.
Just as in today’s society with families who have both parents working it is still seen as the women job to take care of the children and the house. The role of the black women is very similar to the role of the past. Just as the black women in the past have overcome obstacles, they black women of the present are overcoming the obstacles placed in her way.
In this time there are many examples of how black women are overshadowed by black men. It was not only black men that organized the civil rights movement, countless black women also suffered and sacrificed.
When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the front of bus, she was put in jail. Her refusing to give up her seat, would have made news, but it a black male figure who was respected to gather forces and make it even bigger news. It took Dr. King to create an organization to start the civil rights movement, to where it was a t national attention. Black women even had to take a back seat in the movement, because society barely listened to the black men involved. In fact although the men received the credit for starting the movement it was the unsung black women who played a major role in starting the movement. Looking back in the past at Harriet Tubmen, she set things in motion by risking her life to free slaves, and for a long time it was thought she was man, because a women was not smart enough to pull it off,especially a black women. Barbara Jordan no one thought she would become a senator. Black women were not thought to be smart enough to know anything about politics and how to run a state. She proved all wrong, and went on to have a very successful career.
In today’s society black women are portrayed as welfare mothers who have a lot of children out of wed lock. They are portrayed as lazy, man loving, young mothers, who do not care about themselves as much as they care about the men in their lives. In fact if society took a good look they would realize that most of what they see is propaganda that benefits the ruling class of America. In fact black women are very successful in their own right. They are true professionals with high self-esteem and the will to survive. Studies show a increasing number of black women are attending higher learning institute, and obtaining degrees. Black women today are entering the work force at a higher number then black men in most states. They are becoming better educated then black men, and being employed in top positions.
They are overcoming the stereotypes which have been placed upon them, by starting their own businesses and getting positions in top level management with top level companies. They are no longer satisfied with the minimum wage jobs and having to rely on the black man to support her as they had done so many years in the past. They now are the bread winners in the family. Having to face the reality of being a single working mother, the black women has taken on the challenge and is beating the odds. Black women are trying to break the cycle of settling for whatever they are offered. They do not want their daughters to go through the pain and struggle they had to face. The pain of having to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet, or of having to suffer through the many years of abuse handed out by men.
Black women are becoming a force to reckon with, they are they standing up and demanding to be respected and treated with dignity. In the future it is thought that black women will surpass black men in all areas of society, including education, professional, and financially.