On December 12, 2017, during the Alabama Senate elections, Roy Moore — who was close to losing — stated on video that “God is always in control,” as he refused to concede. The next day, as the election results determined Doug Jones’ win, we learned that 98% of his voters were black women. J.K. Rowling responded to the video of Moore via Twitter, writing: “Narrator’s Voice: Roy was right. God was in control. What he didn’t realize was, She’s black.”
Many other liberals, or should I say, white liberals, joined Rowling with posts stating how God is a black woman or how black women will apparently be the ones to save us all. As a black woman myself, I want to say that it isn’t our job to save you, and we certainly are not your god — nor do we want to be.
Since the beginning of time, black women have had many stereotypical tropes placed on them, the most prevalent ones being: The Strong/Independent Black Woman, The Angry Black Woman, The Hypersexual Jezebel and lastly, The Mammy, which is most relevant in this case. These themes in media perpetuate a disregard of the suffering black women have endured and the invalidation of our feelings, and continue to reduce us to only these archetypes. A mammy was a female slave whose designated tasks were to care for her masters’ children and do the housekeeping. As the mammy image made its way into the 20th century, she began to be portrayed as an older, overweight, dark-skinned woman, who was loyal to her employers and their children. She’d work long hours and often put her work before herself and even her own family and was happily willing to do so (think of Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird or Mammy in Gone With The Wind). This new portrayal of black women is nothing more than a glorified mammy image. Though we are being portrayed as something that seems to be good and nurturing, this image maintains ignorance of the suffering we go through. From slavery through current years, the mammy image has served to convey the message that black women are nothing more than faithful maternal figures who will continue to put everyone before themselves and take on the responsibilities of their white counterparts.
People use God to alleviate one’s conscience after wrongdoings and sin. Putting black women at the center of this practice continues the lack of accountability of white people and the disregard of what encompasses having a symbol forced on you.
The notion of god(s) being black women has also been the center of many Afrocentric religions and has helped liberate black people – and continues to, beyond the “end” of the institution of slavery. Afrocentric religions were taken away and forcibly replaced by Christianity as a means of control, and now taking that symbol away, again, feels patronizing. The sudden embrace of the black matriarchal figure is a slap in the face to black women and to those who’ve had to evolve from these traumatic histories. It’s also interesting that society refuses to acknowledge Jesus’ blackness, yet is quick to say God is a black woman in the event of black women doing something beneficial. White patriarchy has been the Pontius Pilate in the crucifixion of black women.
Black women have been the pillars of black communities since the beginning of time, and we’re not looking forward to being the rock of yet another community that fails to support and continues to neglect us. Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza are the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, yet you rarely see the deaths of black women go viral. According to the National Crime Information Center, there were 170,899 black children reported missing in 2016. The majority of those were girls, yet there was little to no coverage, few answers and no light shown on these statistics. According to Mic Data, the average annual murder rate for white Americans between 15 and 34 is about one in 12,000, but for black transgender women in the same age group, the rate rises to one in 2,600 — another statistic that no one seems to acknowledge. Also generally unacknowledged: Black women are three times more likely to die during/after childbirth.
White women are quick to exploit the image of black women, but refuse to practice intersectional feminism and refuse to acknowledge the hardships of having to deal not only with misogyny but also with systemic racism and at times, homophobia/transphobia too.
The image of God as a black woman does nothing but tokenize black women for political gain while failing to help them. It accomplishes nothing more than sustainable resistance in this political era. God is a black woman until that black woman is a single mother. Until that black woman is mentally ill or is queer. Or is missing or is homeless. God is only a black woman when she’s helping everyone, but no one’s helping her.
Black women voted for Doug Jones because Roy Moore is an (alleged) rapist. We voted for Jones because we knew that if we didn’t vote ourselves, we couldn’t rely on white women to make the right decision for us or even the right decision for women in general (considering that 53% of white women voted for Trump). We know the only people who look out for us, is us. The truth is we didn’t vote for Jones for anyone but ourselves.