Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
“Ain’t I a Woman?”
Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883)
Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist
I read this excerpt from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”, and I thought of all the trials and tribulations women of color faced and continue to face through their lives. Starting with slavery; moving on to racism; stepping into our battle for women’s liberation during the Civil Rights Movement and of course affirmative action. With all the battles we fought to gain our rights, to gain our freedoms, it’s beautiful to see one of us excel “once again” in our chosen field.
On Sunday night, Lupita Nyong’o won her first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. In addition to her win, she is the first black African (Kenyan) actress to be nominated as well as the first black African actor to win in any category. When you look at her you would never believe that she ever suffered from lack of self-confidence or had an issue with the way she looked. In a piece written by Solomon Jones of the blog The Philadelphia Experiment, Jones stated:
“As a child, Nyong’o, the daughter of a Kenyan senator, believed that there was something ugly about her chocolate-colored skin. She was teased about her complexion, and later recalled in interviews that she would go to bed asking God for lighter skin, only to awaken to the disappointment of unanswered prayers. This brilliant, beautiful woman saw her color as something to overcome.”
I hope that women like those in the Dark Girls documentary and others who don’t see their beauty when they stand before a mirror, or don’t hear that they are beautiful even when someone tells them so, look at Lupita’s win as one more incredible achievement not only for WOC but also for women of color who possess a darker hue.
As black women, we were stripped of respect, stripped of pride, stripped of an appreciation of our beauty. We were led to believe that we needed to look a certain way to fit in to society. Unfortunately some of us still feel this way. Bleaching, perming (no offense sisters) whatever we needed to do; incapable for decades of appreciating our god given beauty, our natural locks, our beautiful shape.
As a woman of a darker complexion, I have never found myself in a situation where I had a problem with my skin color. So it angers me when someone less than worthwhile, uses someone’s weakness, someone’s inability to see their beauty, as a way to crush them underfoot and tell them they are less than nothing.
It does my heart good to know that the Academy continues to improve. Continues to see black actresses for the emotion, intensity and talent they bring to the game and will continue to bring to Hollywood.
Lupita Nyong’o has sojourned to her truth. Her belief that she is beautiful, that she is talented has led her here. Her role as a new actress is temporary. She has now reached a goal that will lead her towards superstardom. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this Kenyan actress.
Mari e laipe!
See you soon!
Thanks for visiting ‘Amachi is Hope.’ If you were inspired or felt a connection with today’s blog (or any of my previous entries) please leave a comment. J