Who’s Vision for Black Women? Jada Pinkett-Smith Re-Opens An Old Debate

ShirleyChisholm-JadaPinkettSmith

Licensing: Photo of Rep. Chisholm is in the Public Domain. Photo of Jada Pinkett-Smith is under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic.

 

On March 18, Jada Pinkett-Smith posted comments on Facebook that have African Americans, and particularly black women, engaged in cultural war of words that range from concurrence to outright vitriol.

The actress envisioned a time when women would unify around shared values, struggles, and opportunities. Pinkett-Smith writes:

 

Will there ever be a day in which women will be able to see each other beyond race, class, and culture?

There is a question I want to ask today. I’m asking this question in the spirit of thinking outside of the box in order to open doors to new possibilities. These possibilities may be realistic or unrealistic. I also want to make it clear that there is no finger pointing here. I pose this question with the hope that it opens a discussion about how we can build a community for women based upon us all taking a deeper interest in one another. An interest where skin color, culture, and social class does not create barriers in sharing the commonality of being… women. With love and respect to all parties involved, my question is this…if we ask our white sisters, who tend to be the guardians of the covers of mainstream magazines, to consider women of color to grace these covers, should we not offer the same consideration to white women to grace our covers? Should women extend their power to other women simply because they are women? To my women of color, I am clear we must have something of our own, but is it possible to share in the spirit in which we ask our white sisters to share with us? I don’t know the answer and would love to hear your thoughts.”  

 

Vision-Black-WomenWithin a matter of 48 hours, the post received nearly 10,400 “Like” responses and attracted nearly 1,900 comments. The post, that featured images of a Cosmopolitan magazine cover and Essence magazine cover, drew a large percentage of responses to the handling of historically black publications and the handling of black women in general publications. The discussion spurred sentiments that cover a number of underlying issues raised by the intersection of ace and gender.
 
Aisha observes, “would love to know if it’s only me that feels like we are constantly liquidating our assets to “merge” for the sake of ‘good’.” 
 
Yvonne reflected back on the social justice direction African American took ala the civil rights movement, “Integration was a mistake MLK later admitted to after his I have a dream, because after selling black folks that, black folks sought nothing else in life but acceptance from white people. Generally I have no issue with white people, none at all. I have issue with black folks looking to white people for permission and acceptance OUTSIDE of intimate relationships.
 
Bigg Joe sternly rejected Pinkett-Smith’s ideas, “Jada Smith is out of her cotton pickin’ mind!! We have so few voices in the media already and here she wants to ‘white wash’ one of the few that we do have?!? I’m sorry but by even asking this question Jada Smith has exposed herself as a shameless, mindless shill for the media elite because unfortunately this ‘question”‘ of hers coincides with this story which is getting very little media attention.”
 
Is Jada right? Should African American women move towards a gender-based politics or one where race is the predominant theme?
 
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