I was 10 in 1991.
I remember my mother and father watching the Judiciary Committee of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas on television. I remember my mother watched it with this interest that I can now identify as sympathy. My favorite show at the time was Designing Women, and I remember there were these shirts Julia Sugarbaker’s cousin wore that said, SHE LIED. Annie Potts’s character had a green shirt on with the letters that read: HE DID IT. Whenever each would be on screen, there would be this swell of applause.
I remember the death of SCOTUS Justice Thurgood Marshall. I remember the only time I have ever heard Clarence Thomas talk about race was when his career was at stake.
I stand on that.
In the honor of memory, I saw how the judiciary committee treated her. How they questioned her. How they tried to make her doubt her own mind, and accusing her of having the express mission to stop the appointment of a black man, only the second to be on the nation’s highest court.
As a 10-year-old girl, I believed her. I didn’t know what that would mean, but I believed her. I believed her because I didn’t why should would lie about something so vicious. And conversely, what is and has been one of the darkest moments of her life!
As a woman, who once was that 10-year-old girl, whom has lived and had my own #MeToo experience? I am shaken on a cellular level. Why is it that black women are never believed? What is it about our existence that makes our trauma dismissive?
“Admirable or ridiculous?” -Maya “Mama” Pope, SCANDAL
And now, once more, yet again and still–26 years after Dr. Anita Hill was not believed–here we are again! Last year, Khandi Alexander gave the monologue that had all the women I knew and may ever know come up and shout with a fury as a Baptist Motherboard at Easter. At the end of her monologue, she posed this question: “Admirable or ridiculous?”
Dr. Anita Hill has written an op-ed to the New York Times detailing how to handle these proceedings in a way that will benefit the accuser of Brett Kavanaugh. She details the strength required and investigation needed. She ignores her own ordeal for a moment, her past history of trauma or humiliation for the ‘greater good’. Yet, black women are some of the most loyal and honorable people on the planet. We are expected to overlook our own pain, whitewash our own histories to do what we always have wind up doing–making it better.
Making it all better.
The caricature of the saged, wizened black mammie is all this nation wants from us.
At the cost of us.
At the risk of us.
America continues to cannibalize black women when it comes to trauma. Especially, as it related to emotional trauma and sexual assault! We are supposed to tie rags on our heads, smooth and straighten our skirts and hum something low and knowing; never betray what our girlhoods demand we observe and should warn against.
We are supposed to told the heartbreak of the world and smile about it!
We are supposed to anchor, nurse, fetish and mule! Dr. Hill has used her trauma to help those in similar situations ( Admirable). The fact that she wasn’t believed in and the firestorm she faced, the accusations assailed to her character? The fact this still haunts her?! (Ridiculous).
The most ringing line of Mama Pope’s monologue gospel is this–“even when we get nothing.”
Even when we get nothing.
I tell you this–to quote another poet–“All the women in me are tired”.
[images screenshot from the Daily Caller and YouTube]