#BlackLivesMatter Internalized Oppression Masculinity Race Social Justice

Are Black Women Too Independent, Angry to Have a Man? Let’s Talk About It.

Meme shared on Facebook that inspired Aleidra to write this piece.
This meme (left) really bothers me. It bothers me because it perpetuates the stereotypes of black women being too independent, angry, having a bad attitude, undesirable, less than, etc. These stereotypes continue to be perpetuated by white and black people (the meme was brought to my attention from being shared by black men), and  I am frustrated to specifically see black men degrade black women in this way.

It frustrates me because people who perpetuate these stereotypes give little consideration to what could make black women be perceived as “angry,” or lead them to take on this “strong and independent” mentality. They do not consider how black female slaves often had their husbands and children torn from them (sometimes an enslaved man or woman pleaded with an owner to purchase his or her spouse to avoid separation), forcing a level of independence and emotional impact. They do not consider how to this day, black men are incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white men and serve exponentially longer sentences, again forcing a level of independence and emotional impact. They do not consider how in America, black women have a net worth of $100, having an unemployment rate that unlike most other demographic groups, continues to rise, and a wage gap that even a college education cannot bridge. They do not consider how society continues to remind people that black women are not beautiful, setting beauty standards and norms that are the exact opposite of black women’s natural being (light skin better than dark, straight hair better than curly, thin body better than curves…and when curves are accepted, they are sexualized as if that is all a curvaceous woman is good for). They do not consider how common attributes of black women’s personalities and culture are often deemed as “unladylike” and wrong (expressing your opinion, being “loud”), leading some men to actually believe that black women are indeed undesirable. Hopefully you can see that many aspects of our society have contributed to this perception of black women as angry, too independent, and too opinionated.
It’s unbelievable that if a black woman falls short of overcoming all of these societal obstacles that she faces, if she so happens to fall victim to this oppression, then she is blamed for being angry, having a bad attitude, and not knowing how to accept having a man. It’s so ironic that black women are expected to be strong enough to thrive in a society where they are disadvantaged all around, but are then chastised for being “strong and independent.”

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Comment left on Facebook post of meme.
Is this meme supposed to “help” black women stop having an attitude and stop being (too) strong and independent? If so,
it’s counterproductive because all it does is make black women actually angry, and rightfully so. If black women see black men share this meme openly, all it does is make black women defensive, and possibly feel the need to be more independent, because we are being generalized, our character is being attacked, and we are being portrayed as less than women of other races.

How are we as black women supposed to take this? This meme lets us know that we can add (some) black men to our list of obstacles because instead of advocating for us against these stereotypes and ideas of black women, instead of fighting against the systems and oppression that contribute to these stereotypes and ideas of black women, instead of loving us through any emotional or mental impacts and insecurities that we have because of these stereotypes and ideas of black women, black men will now join in on keeping us down.

We are in a movement for black lives right now. We’re trying to make the world believe that black lives really do matter– and not only in regard to police brutality. The movement is about gaining freedom and equality from ALL systems and beliefs that disadvantage, target, omit, and oppress black people, and this is one of them.

Even in this movement, we see black women being disadvantaged and left out. That’s why some have taken additional steps past “black lives matter” to say black WOMEN’S lives matter, and use hashtags like #SayHerName.  It’s so unfortunate to see this omission because many black women are on the front line advocating and fighting for black men against police brutality. It is so sad that black women can’t get that same support from black men, even with something as simple as not spreading social media memes that degrade us.

Another factor of this meme could be society’s definition of masculinity and “being a man.” Our society teaches men, in general, to be tough, stoic, acquisitive, and self-reliant. Psychologists have stated how this can lead to, “aggressive, emotionally stunted males who harm not just themselves but their children, partners and entire communities.” So what we see happening is (black) men trying to live up to this social construct of masculinity. But, in order to reach it, men are (maybe unintentionally) chastising (black) women for being too strong and acquiring their own things, not because it is wrong for (black) women to do, but because it takes away from men’s concept and fulfillment of masculinity.

This shows a need to redefine masculinity (with a new definition that includes a range of human emotion, is more flexible than dichotomous) because men’s quest to fulfill this societal norm is hindering (black) women. So, while I do not agree with the perception of black women that this meme portrays, I am acknowledging the potential roots of the perception, with the hope that if we are aware of these social constructs, we can learn to love each other through them, instead of using them to put each other down.

No doubt, there are probably black women that display some of these stereotypical characteristics, just like there are women of any other race that probably show these traits. But maybe she is showing them for a reason. It’s problematic that some black men are choosing to stereotype black women and write them off as undesirable partners instead of considering why she may act this way, or more importantly, their possible role in why she is acting that way (specifically on a one-on-one basis, in a romantic relationship). I guess it’s a lot easier to criticize the black woman based on the negative perception she’s been given by society than to look at yourself and ask what you may be doing to yield that type of response from her.

There is a thin line between a black women not putting up with a man’s crap and being angry, (too) strong, and (too) independent. Just because a black woman does not say “yes” to everything you want or doing everything your way does not make her “angry.” It just means she expects (and will not settle) to be treated as the queen she is.

#BlackLivesMatter Politics Race Social Justice

The Huffington Post Asks Aleidra Allen What Question She Would Ask Candidates at a Democratic Debate

“Both the Democratic and Republican National Committees have agreed to give their blessing to a presidential town hall set up by activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. But organizers within the network have said that gesture isn’t enough. They want the parties to devote one of their official — and more high-profile — debates to racial justice issues.”

Aleidra, along with 5 other black activists and organizers, posed the questions they would ask candidates at a Democratic debate on racial justice issues. Check out the questions and full article!

Article by Philip Lewis, Fellow, The Huffington Post

#BlackLivesMatter HuffPost Live Politics Race Social Justice St. Louis

Aleidra Allen on HuffPost Live- 10.22.15

Watch Aleidra on HuffPost Live (Aleidra speaks at minutes 6:41, 14:27, and 20:37)

On October 22, 2015, Aleidra Allen was featured on a HuffPost Live segment. She shared perspectives on the discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement during presidential debates, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) promoting a Black Lives Matter town hall meeting, and the recent burning of churches in St. Louis, MO. Check it out below (Aleidra speaks at minutes 6:41, 14:27, and 20:37)!

WATCH: HuffPost Live Segment- DNC Agrees To Promote #BlackLivesMatter Town Hall

From HuffPost Live website: With the Democratic National Committee agreeing to promote a presidential town hall hosted by the Black Lives Matter movement, we discuss how candidates should approach the social justice campaign and how much it will affect the upcoming election.

Hosted by:

Alyona Minkovski


Julia Craven (Washington, DC) HuffPost Politics Reporter

Elle Hearns (New York , NY) Central Region Coordinator, GetEQUAL; Strategic Partner, Black Lives Matter

Aleidra Allen (St. Louis , MO) Student Involvement Center, Saint Louis University

Martese Johnson  (Charlottesville, VA) Activist

#BlackLivesMatter Bernie Sanders HuffPost Live Politics Social Justice

Aleidra Allen on HuffPost Live- 8.11.15

Watch Aleidra on HuffPost Live (Aleidra speaks at minutes 9:50 and 23:23)

On August 11, 2015, Aleidra Allen was a special guest on a HuffPost Live segment. She shared perspectives on what Dr. King described as the “white moderate,” and the role of empathy in the Black Lives Matter movement. Check it out below (Aleidra speaks at minutes 9:50 and 23:23)!

WATCH: HuffPost Live Segment- Black Lives Matters Protesters Shut Down Bernie

From HuffPost Live website: Senator Bernie Sanders left a speech this weekend after Black Lives Matter protesters took over his campaign event. We discuss the criticism that #blacklivesmatter is alienating potential allies and the role of the movement in 2016 politics.

Hosted by:

Alyona Minkovski


Jamil Smith (New York, NY) Senior Editor, The New Republic @JamilSmith

Ben Cohen (Washington, DC) Editor and Founder, @thedailybanter

Jamie Utt (Tuscon, AZ) Contributing Writer, Everyday Feminism @utt_jamie

Aleidra Allen (St. Louis, MO) Program Coordinator for the Student Involvement Center, Saint Louis University; Student Involvement Center, St. Louis University @klassy_lei

#BlackLivesMatter Social Justice

The March Continues: One Year since Ferguson

Seems like just yesterday and 10 years ago all at the same time. Regardless of how you feel about the methods, the people of Ferguson (and STL) brought attention to a systematic issue that has been unnecessarily taking lives for decades. I am so thankful for the people of Ferguson/STL, and thankful that 365 days later, the movement still lives, and now all over the country.

What’s most unbelievable is how many hashtags we’ve had to create for unarmed, black people killed by police just over this past year. Unbelievable. But maybe now, a year and so many names (people) later, more people can see and understand the issue.

Today, I’m thinking of #MikeBrown and saying a special prayer for his family, and all families that have lost loved ones to police brutality. I hope they can find some peace in knowing that change will come from their sacrifice.

It’s been a long, challenging year. I never imagined myself being a part of a movement like this….protesting, volunteering, blogging, presenting to staff/students, none of that. But I’m so thankful for living in St. Louis, and for the passion I’ve developed for eliminating oppression.
I hope this movement has taught many empathy, and that it continues to do so. Just because something is not your reality, doesn’t mean it’s not someone’s reality. And just knowing that it’s someone else’s reality, is (should be) enough reason to care.
The march indeed continues.

#BlackLivesMatter #CharlestonShooting Race Social Justice Student Affairs

#GoHomeDeray: The Coexistence of Unity and Protest

On Sunday June 21, 2015, #GoHomeDeray top-trended Twitter nationally for at least 14 hours. The hashtag included tweets directed at Deray McKesson, an activist who became well known after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. You may recognize him from one of his more popular CNN interviews that took place in Baltimore, MD after the death of Freddie Gray. Since last August, Deray has been present in various cities to seek justice in incidents where racism is speculated.  The tweets were largely from Deray derayadversaries who bluntly shared their opposition to his presence in Charleston, SC.

Those participating in the trending topic appear to believe that Deray and/or his views promoted the “riots,” looting, and other unrest that has occurred in response to various incidents across the country. They feel that Charleston is coping with its grief with unity and forgiveness, and that Deray’s presence is not needed or wanted.

This blog is not necessarily to defend Deray, but more so to discuss the repetition of history, disconnect, and irony demonstrated by #GoHomeDeray. It will also discuss how unity and protest can coexist.

image 1Unfortunately, it is not new for black people confronting racism to be told to “go home” by white people who prefer they just leave it alone. Black people were often image 2told to “go home” when they called out racism and injustice, and advocated for their rights during the Civil Rights Movement. Even Dr. Martin  Luther King, Jr. was told to “go home” in the Mason City Globe-Gazette in September 1965. While this is not the first time for this “go home” rhetoric, this may be the first time we’ve seen it done via social media. #GoHomeDeray makes us wonder how far we’ve actually come.

image 4Additionally, #GoHomeDeray demonstrates that there are still people who do not understand black’s people’s plight and the issues being raised. The “riots” and looting that people do not want to see were not caused by Deray. They were caused by feelings of helplessness and pain; feelings that our society perpetuates (and has long perpetuated) through seemingly small and systematic forms of racism. Of course, I am not condoning this behavior. I am not saying that it is the right response. But in theimage 5 words of Deray McKesson, “you don’t have to condone it to understand it.” If we want to see the “riots” and looting stop, let’s address the root of the issue so that people will not feel so helpless, like they have nothing to lose. Instead of telling people to “go home” let’s work to address the actual cause and alleviate the racial bias that yields this unwanted reaction.

Many of the trending tweets expressed that there is unity and forgiveness in Charleston so they do not need Deray to be there. The unity and forgiveness is indeed positive and necessary. However, it does not negate the need to address the racism that caused this massacre in Charleston. It is amazing and beautiful to see the families of the 9 victims choose forgiveness despite this life changing tragedy. But if we allow that forgiveness to prevent us from addressing the racist root of this crime, we will have let those 9 lives be taken in vain and we are bound to see something like this happen again. For too long, this country has been trying to overcome racism in this polite, politically correct, “kumbaya” way. Well, there is nothing polite, politically correct, or “kumbaya” about racism so until we address this thing directly, and stop being afraid to talk about it, we will be as effective as an umbrella in a hurricane. Policies still need to change. Systems still need to change. Hearts and minds still need to change. So activism is still necessary.

Lastly, #GoHomeDeray is ironic. There is a contradiction in emphasizing unity and forgiveness while also excluding people from being a part of it. Shouldn’t we want to invite people into that unity? What benefit is it to make such a positive experience “invitation only?” It seems like we would want even those who have responded in less favorable ways to be there, so that we could model a more ideal way. Making unity only for a certain group or type of people is actually the opposite of unity– it’s divisive. #GoHomeDeray took away from what seemed to be a first step in coming together and caused people to question the authenticity of the “unity” in Charleston, reiterating the lack of unity in this country.

Both unity and protest (defined as “something said or done that shows disagreement with or disapproval of something,” Merriam-Webster) can happen. We can unite to support the families and Charleston as they grieve an event in our nation’s history that will never be forgotten. And we can protest the racism, culture, and systems that affirm mentalities like that of Dylan Roof. They can coexist, and their coexistence can be beneficial. Just maybe, unity will cause understanding of the experience of Black people in the United States, which causes understanding of the need for change and protest, which motivates people to join the protest, which then brings us back to unity.

IMG_31709 people have been killed. We should be doing everything in our power to ensure that they do not die in vain; that change and progress comes from their sacrifice and that of their families. #GoHomeDeray isn’t doing that.

#BlackLivesMatter Race Social Justice Student Affairs

Interview with: Aleidra Allen, Joshua Jones

ajACPA’s Confronting the Reality of Racism in the Academy

Interview with: Aleidra Allen, Joshua Jones (click link)

Aleidra and Josh were interviewed for ACPA’s Confronting the Reality of Racism in the Academy. They shared their experiences with #OccupySLU, a 6-day protest that occurred on the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU) after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. They also discussed the impact of being in St. Louis and SLU at such a time, the current issues of race in America, and the what colleges and university can do.

#BlackLivesMatter Race Social Justice Student Affairs

#BlackLivesMatters for Dummies

I am terribly frustrated to still see people “correcting” #BlackLivesMatter posts by commenting with “all lives matter.”

The problemIMG_3174 with “all lives matter” is that it is neutral. And Desmond Tutu said it best, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

I like analogies so here’s another one: “All lives matter” is like me bleeding and needing a band aid. So I tell everyone my problem and start the #AleidraNeedsABandAid movement. Well, my friends see my post, and instead of becoming allies of my movement, they start the #EveryoneNeedsABandAid movement, because we should keep things equal and get everyone a band aid, right?

Wrong. #EveryoneNeedsABandAid actually distracts from my problem and makes my movement about everyone, even though everyone is not bleeding and in need of help like me. No, you are not included in my movement but why do you need to be if you are not bleeding? Why does my issue have to be made to include you when I’m the one that is bleeding, not you?

My advocacy for myself is no disrespect to you– I just need help and am trying to fix my problem. Would it make sense for you to be more concerned with advocating for everyone to have band aids (even though everyone is not bleeding) instead of helping me stop my bleeding? Is it appropriate for you to be more concerned with being included in my movement (even though you don’t have my problem) than helping me overcome my problem?  Why focus on getting everyone a band aid when we could use that energy to get band aids for the people who actually need them?

Joining my movement would not mean you are any less important or deserve any less assistance if you ever start bleeding. It would just mean that you are willing to step outside of your privilege of not needing a band aid right now, to help me so I won’t need one, or this movement, anymore.

And there should be no fear in that. Because if and when you ever start bleeding, I’ll be there to help you get a band aid, just like you did for me. But what you should fear is me never getting a band aid because you preferred to advocate for everyone, and never directly said #AleidraNeedsABandAid.

#BlackLivesMatter .