There are a lot of misconceptions out there about black women (some of them funnier than others). The problem with stereotypes is not so much that they exist, since stereotypes are inevitable, but that they sway the beliefs and behaviors of even the people being stereotyped.
Stereotypes about black women often prevent us from living our best lives, travelling, dating outside of our race and other things that could add to our quality of life. It’s important that we are constantly re-evaluating our beliefs and opening our minds about what a black woman is and what a black woman can be.
1. Black People Don’t Like Animals.
Listen. I’ve met a lot of black people who struggle to cohabitate with animals on this planet. My sister, for one, once shattered a glass door while running from a dog. But I’ve also met plenty of black people who coo and aww after my dogs when I pass them by in the streets.
I am living proof that black people can get along with animals. Also, I encountered plenty of other black people while working at my local doggy daycare. If you’re ever feeling down or lonely, volunteering at an animal shelter or even adopting a pet could give you so much love, satisfaction and a renewed appreciation for life.
2. Black People Can’t Swim.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve taken years of swimming lessons and still can’t stay afloat in a body of water. The same goes for my sister. And my other sisters. And my black friends. However, there’s got to be some black swimmers out there! The problem is not that black people are inherently poor swimmers, it’s that we’re not being taught how to swim from young ages.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fatal drowning rate of black children between ages 5-14 is three times that of white children. When surveyed, just under 70% of African-American children revealed they could not swim. This means that if you’re a black parent, it’s a priority that you allow them to swim and encourage your kids to take lessons.
3. “Once You Go Black You Never Go Back!”
Black people are not better inherently better at sex than other races of people. This degrading stereotype exists to dehumanize and objectify black people (black women, especially) by reducing us to objects and sex symbols whose only value is to bring sexual pleasure to others. It also encourages other races of people to fetishize us and makes it more difficult for black people to vet out potential romantic partners and decipher between whether our features are genuinely being appreciated or whether we are being fetishized and stereotyped.
History will show that it never ends well for a group of people who are objectified and demeaned—even if the stereotypes about them seem to work in their favor. Instead, viewing black people as valuable humans (not mere tokens of diversity) is an important step for our society to take.
4. Black Women Aren’t Submissive.
I’m just going to say it like I see it—both partners should regularly be submitting to EACH OTHER in a relationship. That’s why it’s called a partnership. To the legions of black men who complain about black women being hard-headed, stubborn and matriarchal, it’s time to reconsider whether you’ve created a safe space for the black women in your life to be vulnerable and submissive.
If a woman’s spouse is not consistently creating a safe space for the woman to submit (and submitting to her as well), the woman will likely not feel comfortable submitting and adhering to her husband. And again, for the people in the back, submission is not only a woman’s responsibility. Relationships require compromise, which means both people must regularly submit and adhere to each other’s needs and desires.
5. Black Women Don’t Travel/Aren’t Accepted In Other Countries
Step out of your North American bubble, my friends. The world is great and beautiful, and there are plenty of people to meet and adventures to be had. There’s no reason for black women to stay cooped up in the United States, when it’s been proven time and time again that travel benefits the immune system, as well as your mental and physical health. Black women are accepted and valued in other countries. Although it’s not on a collective level, you’ll find that there are places where your skin tone and coily natural hair are appreciated.
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.