Society Doesn’t Care About Black Women

Social Issues

  • Author Kaila Smith
  • Published October 30, 2022
  • Word count 1,085

Growing up, I always considered myself ugly.

I was told I was ugly so I believed I was ugly. It didn’t matter how many times my parents told

me I was pretty or how many times I tried to tell myself I was pretty, I genuinely believed I was ugly. I went to a school with majority white kids up until the 5th grade and I hated it. Society teaches its kids that dark skin is ugly and black features aren’t pretty enough, and kids like to repeat what they see and hear. Those kids at my school weren’t terrible people or insanely mean, they were just kids who saw Black women get called ugly so many times on the media they started to believe it, the same way I started to believe it when they called me ugly. So, in elementary school I hated myself. I hated myself, but I was too young to understand what those feelings meant so I took it out on my family. I misinterpreted those feelings of hate towards myself and I thought I hated my family. I was a difficult child growing up. I threw tantrums, said insulting things, and repeated what I heard at school to my sisters, but especially my oldest sister. My sister is probably one of the best people in the world, but little me actively took her down with me by calling her ugly and repeating what I heard at school.

Around 5th grade through, things got better. My mother got sick of my tantrums and me insulting and arguing with my sisters, so she enrolled me in a school with mostly black kids. It took a while, but I slowly matured and fixed my relationship with my sisters, and for the first time in my life, I was liked. I had friends at my old school, so when I say I was liked I mean that someone had a crush on me. Me! It took a while to believe because it was the exact opposite of what I’d been told my entire life, but it felt nice. At this school, people considered me pretty and worthy to be liked. It changed the way I viewed myself and how I treated others. I eventually did lose my newfound self-esteem in 6th grade because middle schoolers can be mean, but when I was called ugly I had people to defend me unlike at my old school where my white friends would laugh while I was on the brink of tears. The difference in the way I was treated by White kids and by Black kids is something that stuck with me, and it made me think about how Black girls are treated at white schools, and I hate it.

Black women have always been considered ugly. Longer than we were even considered human. We’re too ugly to be loved but too sexualized not to be deemed an object. Black women, for some reason, have always been overlooked or ignored. Even, feminism skipped over us. Feminism tends to mostly speak on white women’s issues completely overlooking the challenges Black women face. When White women talk about the challenges women face, they don’t talk about how Black women face higher rates of police abuse, including sexual violence, or how we face much higher rates of domestic and sexual abuse from partners than White women. Even the abortion ban will affect Black women disproportionally to White women. Health care already gives Black women lower-quality maternal care which is why Black women in the U.S. are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other race group and experience more miscarriages than White women. Now, will Black women also go to jail after a miscarriage because of health care’s complete lack of regard for their safety?

Reading this, the jump from how Black women have been deemed ugly to how health care overlooks Black women may be weird, but it’s not. This article wasn’t just meant to be how Black women are seen as ugly, it was meant to show how we are mistreated—especially dark-skinned black women. Now, I’m not saying how light-skinned women don’t face challenges, because they do, but I am saying dark-skinned women have different challenges. I am a dark-skinned Black woman and I see how colorism and racism affect us specifically. One example is how research shows that dark-skinned women are less likely to be married than lighter-skinned women, Darker skinned women are given longer prison sentences than light-skinned girls. And this starts young – if you are a dark-skinned girl, like me, you are three times more likely to be suspended from school than your light-skinned peers. So, it is truly so very hard to be a dark-skinned black woman.

Being a Black woman in America has exhausted me. I’m not saying how being black anywhere else would be better, because I understand how racism and colorism in other countries can be just as bad or worse. But I am sick and tired. My reason for writing all of this is that I recently started high school. I went from a school with a majority dark-skinned black kids, to a school with majority white kids, again. I forgot how cruel people can be. I forgot the glares I get for just existing, I forgot how people often ignore me when I talk, I forgot how people think Black women are dumb, and I forgot how it felt to be ugly. There is so much more I want to say, there is so much that needs to change, and so much that needs to be said. But, I’m going to keep saying it until one day the kids at my school, either now or in the future, look at me and understand I am not ugly, I am not an object, and I should not be overlooked. I am 14, and it is 2022 and I have no idea why Black women are still being counted out and why all of this is still being said, especially by someone my age. I want to love myself. I want to be able to look in the mirror and see myself and say “She is so pretty”. I don’t know why I’m being forced to grow up so quickly. I want to be a kid. I want to enjoy being a kid, without all the other stuff.

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