How to Talk to Young Black Women About Trayvon Martin


3. You are not safe, little sister. Just as negative stereotypes have led to the perception of 17-year-old Black boys armed with nothing but a bag of Skittles as dangerous criminals, you will have to deal with stereotypes that portray you as immoral, aggressive and hypersexual.

Since coming to this country, your body has been bartered and sold everywhere from slave auctions to popular culture. Even if you grow up to become the First Lady of the United States, people will still have no more qualms discussing your “big butt” than if you were a girl in a rap video. Be on the look out for individuals who seek to emotionally or physically harm you based on what they have “heard” about “girls like you” – i.e. Black girls.

4. Unfortunately for you, you are the daughter of two of our country’s greatest social ills – sexism and racism. You have been raised your entire life in a society that does not see you as the beautiful, intelligent, strong and worthy individual that you are. In our country’s seeming war on women and war on minorities, it is hard not to end up a POW.

Sometimes white women will not understand your loyalty to your Black brothers and sometimes Black men won’t understand the depth of your feminine pain. This is your cross to bear. While I would like to believe that this duality will soften or fade in your lifetime, I refuse to give you false hope. Being Black and a woman will not be easy, but I have faith that you will shoulder this burden with strength and grace, just like those who have come before you.

5. I know this is hard to hear but our justice system is not your knight in shining armor. Historically, African Americans have not been granted the same protection of the law as their white counterparts. Trayvon is one striking example of this. You could be the next.

The Victorian concept of “true womanhood” that characterized white women as unquestionably moral and pure, also labeled African American women as depraved and sinful. Such notions are still alive and well in the minds of many. Under these terms of engagement: no matter how dire your straights, you will never be a “damsel in distress.”