Race First or Gender? You Don’t Have To Choose

Dear Sista Friend,

People often ask “are you Black first or woman first?”, as if those identities somehow exist in two separate vacuums.  As if when I walk outside each day, I can cover up my Black skin or willingly hide the fact that I am a woman.  I have no desire to do either…I am too proud to even consider the thought. I am who I am because of my Blackness and my womanness.  Women’s History Month has come and gone and I have taken the opportunity to reflect on what it means to hold a multitude of identities and to honor marginalized identities.

I grew up in a community where Blackness was valued and celebrated, yet womanhood and femininity were silenced, so I understand why people think it is easy or normal to magically turn off a piece of their identities.  However, my commitment to intersectionality affirms that I can not parse out any part of who I am.

I think about this a lot when we discuss police brutality, education or prison reform.  Oftentimes these conversations aim to fix various systems for Black men or white people (on the whole), while rarely addressing the needs of Black women. The recent Women’s March, hosted after the Orange Menace‘s inauguration, also reminded me of the importance of understanding intersectionality… 53% of white women voted for he who will not be named and I am sure that some of them were also walking the streets of DC for (white) women’s rights.  I can’t imagine marching next to people who cringe at the thought of me saying #BlackLivesMatter.

My history is built upon the backs of strong women who are often forgotten and overlooked daily.  Women who have worked tirelessly for the right to be seen as both Black and woman.  I have no interest in living in a world that intentionally (or unintentionally) disregards how being Black and woman make up every part of my identity, be it my race, gender or socioeconomic status. As a woman of color, I recognize all of these identities serve as my shield of powerful strength, great legacy and illuminating power. Despite bearing what the world would consider a double handicap, I have come to know and value both of my identities as a Black woman.  Despite society’s constant attempts to diminish our worth, I take great pride in being among women who unabashedly represent who they are. I do not value either of these identities over the other, as my strength comes from both.

Sista Friend, don’t be afraid to embrace any aspect of your identity as every part of your experience exudes the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic.

Your Sista Friend,


*Photo credit: Beatnik24

One Reply to “Race First or Gender? You Don’t Have To Choose”

  1. This post is exceptional sis. Wonderfully worded 🙂

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