I will never forget the conversation. A little more than a decade later and I’m still not sure if I was offended or dumbfounded. Perhaps I took the weight of the comment far too seriously. As a thinker, I often assess and evaluate things that probably do not require a full first thought – never mind a second one. During my last job in radio, part of my responsibilities was to co-host the morning drive talk show (as needed). When conversation lulled or when good radio required a contrasting point of view, I was the agitator. And – I was GOOD at it!
During a commercial break, the host and one of the show’s producers (both men) were teasing about my very skilled ability to debate, raise contrasting thoughts, and challenge a person’s thinking patterns or lack thereof. In fact, the host mused that he felt sorry for my future husband because he was doomed to marry a woman who had a brain and the capacity to express herself. The guys quipped that no man wants a woman that is going to make him think. I proclaimed – boldly and proudly – then clearly that type of man and neither of you are the man for me.
Black. Intelligent. Woman. Separately that are culturally, socially and spiritually significant things to be. I have experienced the intrinsic power of each independently and collectively. Yet, I noticed some things in the collective habitation of the three things in one individual – it is intimidating as hell! Combined they make us – intentionally or not – do unintelligent things. I’ll make my points in some things that I do not like because they are disrespectful, and yeah – dammit (I’m cursing, so that’s a good indication that this is serious for me) they are insulting.
- No man wants a woman that is going to make him think. The statement implies that you likely believe I am better off dumbing down in order to attract romance and intimacy. The problem with that is I will attract what I give off. The other problem is you have not only disrespected my natural intelligence and years of absorbing knowledge, you have just told there are no men that appreciate that in a woman.
- You’re so pretty and smart, all that ___and you’re smart, oh, I never knew you knew all that – and other idiotic statements. My intelligence as a Black woman is not predicated on whether or not the mirror applauds my appearance, or my rear end awakens your desire. Look past the exterior and deal with my mind. I think you’ll find mental stimulation wonderfully arousing.
- Oh, I didn’t know you all think like that – (breathe). Those comments usually rattle me for a few seconds. I’m never quite sure if the you all is Black people or Black women; nor am I sure what the like that is. Here’s the thing, as a Black Intelligent Woman, I have taken the time to form opinions on various subjects and those opinions may not always tow the Black line, the female line or whatever line you think my thoughts should follow. Intelligence says research, dissect and formulate – I can – think like that.
- You talk like you white – I speak English. I sat in grammar classes and English classes right next to you. We were both taught proper verb usage, how to conjugate verbs and other tools to write and speak correctly. I practice what I learned so that I am able to communicate effectively and clearly.
My list could get rather lengthy, but I think the biggest pet peeve for me, as a woman who is intelligent and black, is that far too many of us have in fact dumbed down. We have forgotten that Queen Vashti took back and power refusing to dance for the king and boys, and be paraded like a harlot for their pleasure. Sure she was cast out, but she stood in her power. We have forgotten the woman in Nikki Giovanni’s epic poem EGO TRIPPING. The woman who is “so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission.” We have forgotten the woman within who could stand at the forefront of revolution – fully dressed, bearing only our truth, strength, intellect and boldness – and charge a movement. We have forgotten that we were created to give birth to nations and create what those nations need to thrive and progress. We have using our intellectual acumen akin to a pimp, negotiating deals for what our bodies and 15 seconds of fame can bring, no matter or wretched and ratchet we must appear.
If you’re there and you read this. My name is Emily Claudette Freeman. I’m Black. Intelligent. Woman. And I’m proud of it. It is a pleasure to meet you. When does our support group meet?