Who’s Got The Power?

This weekend I attended a book discussion where a friend of mine along with another author read passages from their books and took questions from the audience. My friend’s book is an anthology on accounts of women of color, mostly African American, who have been abused. Once she finished reading part of her story, the conversation began.

I wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for the audience’s reaction. So many women had their own stories to tell, or knew someone who was abused. And they were angry. Very angry. Some women started bashing all men. It got a tad bit ugly for me.

What is interesting to me is that while a small fraction of female audience members were getting their bash on, the moderator, simultaneously, was trying to sell his position of “women have all the power,” and therefore, it was up to women to pilot the changes in relationships.

Looking back, I wonder if this is how we see each other. Some women think men ain’t shit, while some men think our community is the way it is because women aren’t stepping up to the plate. How do we take the gloves off and truly start communicating with one another?

Here’s a thought: if women are quick to accept praise when men say we really rule the world, shouldn’t we be quick to accept responsibility for the way it is? This reminds me of those working environments where there’s always somebody who wants to be in charge, have the title and the money, but doesn’t want to do the work. If something goes wrong, they don’t want to take the blame. It’s something to think about.

If we did have all the power, then when did we lose it and what generation of women is responsible for dropping the ball? It couldn’t have happened overnight. It must have been gradually chipped off.

It reminds me of how hospital deliveries are now considered the safest, most effective way of giving birth. Even though midwives have been delivering babies for thousands of years, when did it become okay to black ball this ritual? Even when I think of having a child, there’s a part of me that questions it simply because it’s not socially acceptable. Was that part of chipping away at our power? Regulating how we bring life into the world?

I think each gender can argue how their power was taken away. But I don’t think it can come close to how OUR power as a race – of family and collective self-actualization – was stripped from us during slavery.

One thing I will say, I think it takes both sides to rule the world. We just have to recognize our own power. I think the brother who said women have the power thinks that way partially because he’s a black man who feels emasculated in this white patriarchal society. It’s time we get our power back.

I’m dreaming of a day that when a brother showers me with all the praise of power, which I usually accept with a fully-inflated ego. With him I’ll share it and all of its glory as well as the responsibility that comes with it.

Envisioning you with much love, light and fulfillment. See you next week.

Yaminah Ahmad is editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice and contributing editor to Collective Voices, a newspaper published by the non-profit, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. More information on the group can be found at www.sistersong.net. Ahmad can be reached at missyaminah@gmail.com.

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