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Womanhood Essay: The Public Scrutiny of Candace Owens, Amanda Seales, and Angel Reese

Womanhood Essay: (From Left to Right) Candace Owens, Amanda Seales, Angel Reese
Womanhood Essay: (From Left to Right) Candace Owens, Amanda Seales, Angel Reese

A Womanhood Essay:

What does Candace Owens, Amanda Seales, and Angel Reese have in common, and why has this issue sparked such widespread discussion on social media, mainstream media, and news outlets? The issue is central and historical in context, and it is time we address the nemesis within the black community and the onlookers and commentators in the public arena.

These three black women are very different in their public personas but have two things in common: amassing success in their field and maximizing the use of their platforms. In their unique way, they have garnered a following and, in some respects, have drawn criticism from those who are watching their journeys. This positive and negative commentary is to be expected and is not the crux of the issue.

The concern I would like to submit for our discussion is the ossified approach the public has taken to render judgment and harassment on these three women. Whether or not you agree with their persona, their positions, or their platforms, the treatment of harassment, including death threats, racism, sexualization, and public shaming, should not be tolerated. We should not be so desensitized that this public ridicule has become the normality.

American History has demonstrated that a Black woman with an opinion, a voice, intellect, and confidence could land her on the side of criticism instead of compliment. We have seen Black women in this country become ostracized by their demographic community and treated as if they have somehow betrayed the black culture for disrupting the status quo and systemic structures of limitation and oppression. We reprimand Black women for speaking up if it does not "keep the peace" of the mainstream community dynamic. We disassociate ourselves from Black women when their truth being said aloud is too cumbersome to digest.

Why does the black community feel personally tasked with censoring Black women that it disagrees with conceptually? Why does the black community feel it is necessary to request a cease and desist or alienate these women? When and where was this behavior learned? Perhaps we can draw on the ancestral colloquialism that kept our ancestors safe during the period of enslavement, where their keeping quiet kept them alive.

I want to draw attention to this silencing and alienation rhetoric because I, too, find it challenging to convey conceptualization of thought without wondering how it will backfire within my demographic. I applaud these women for having the courage to go for their goals and stand for their beliefs, even if they are, in some way or another, contrary to my own. We must remember that when you silence one of us, you inadvertently silence all of us. At this juncture in our culture and economy, we cannot afford to be silent about the issues we care deeply about.

So, a few concepts I will share here are meant to help the Black Community disagree better and for the onlookers to understand the ramifications of participation in the degradation of another person. In my mind, each of these is axiomatic and will remain as such until I stumble upon new knowledge and new insight:

  1. Black exclusion in the Black community is a form of segregation - Candace Owens is top-of-mind when I think of this concept, as some people in the black community have completely given her over to her harsh vernacular toward the Black American experience, which is their right to do so. However, whether or not you agree with her rhetoric does not change her salient identity in the Black race/ethnicity. You can associate or disassociate from her views, but no one can remove her salient identity. It does not erode simply because much of the community finds fault with her platform. This should be an opportunity to disagree better and dialogue more. Anything less than that displays intolerance of diverse opinions. Essentially, I believe all Black folk are kinfolk because I believe in the variation of black people. We are not homogenous in our thinking, and my disagreement with another person in my race/ethnicity does not mean I have the power to remove their demographic identity.

  2. Displaying confidence should not be grounds for dehumanizationAngel Reese is top-of-mind as I think of this characteristic. As a college basketball player, trash-talk is expected, displaying confidence in playing, dominating, and winning. Angel shared her vulnerability in post-game interviews by revealing all the harassment and backlash she received after winning the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship because she was a confident player, unafraid, and did not back down from her opponents. Angel’s on-court persona translated to the mainstream media as arrogance and aggression. The racist undertones seemed to compare her playing style to that of her counterpart, Caitlyn Clark, a white college basketball player in Iowa. Their historic matchups have brought national and international attention to the college women’s basketball game with record-setting views. Rather than celebrating this milestone, people have chosen to make this a moment to “humble” Angel Reese. This is entirely unnecessary, and I hope this does not diminish her light or confidence as she enters the WNBA draft this season.

  3. The “Angry Black Woman” narrative needs to be retired.Amanda Seales is top-of-mind as I think of this characteristic. Displaying passion is forbidden, according to the critics in the black community and the commentators in the general media landscape. As Serena Williams and Coco Gauff have demonstrated passion on the tennis court, they are called "angry." When First Lady Michelle Obama was on the campaign trail and serving in the White House, she was considered "angry" and "masculine." When Amanda discusses activism topics domestically and abroad, she is considered "angry."

In conclusion, we must all consider the beauty in diverse perspectives and be willing to accept that everyone does not look like you, think like you, or derive from the same lineage as you. Black women significantly contribute to the Black Family, Black Culture, and the American ecosystem. I want to challenge us to open more doors to dialogue and differences rather than isolation and disassociations. Make room at the table for everyone without trying to restructure who they are and how they show up.

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Rebuttals are always welcome,

Jade M. Felder

@felderofficial - X



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