Monday Musings: Do Black Authors Have A Social Responsibility To Portray Black Women “Positively”?

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All the time? I’m addressing readers specifically, and I ask this question sincerely and earnestly because I have observed in the various FB groups that I’m in as well as reading customer reviews, that we as black women (or black people for that matter), have a serious problem with respectability politics. You know, if a female is a stripper, then she’s a ho, but if she’s a professional escort who serves as arm candy and personal entertainment for a “professional gentleman”, then she’s resourceful and doing what she gotta do…But aren’t these women basically doing the same thing, only one has to work a little harder to get her bread? If a young lady lives in the hood and wears long, blond braids and two-inch acrylics but is going go college full-time so she can get out of the hood, she’s still ratchet, but if the young lady lives with her single mother in the same hood, wears her hair permed, long and flowing and goes to hair school, then she’s motivated and ambitious. GTFOH….

Now the two scenarios I’ve just described, are actual character profiles of books I’ve read, and the preconceptions about these characters are actual words taken from reviews…Why can’t a young, black woman wear long-ass nails and blond braids and not just be “doing her” without her being called ghetto and ratchet? If Vogue magazine can proclaim durags the new fashion accessory (which brothas have been sportin for years), then why can’t Keisha wear purple hair and body piercings and still be a mathematical genius? Aren’t black women multi-faceted and innovative when it comes to style, dress, and culture? Why do black women always have to be “prim and proper”? You know damn well we all are not. That would be so boring. I love reading about sharp businesswomen and attorneys as well as the next chick. But I also love reading about geeky gamers, tattoo artists with multiple piercings and weave technicians with colorful tressess too. I’m just saying, can’t we be from the hood and still be good people at the same time? And whether or not you want to admit it, we all a lil ratchet…