A program I attended was the public speech about the Red Lip Theology by Candice Marie Benbow. She herself presented the speech. The Red Lip Theology is about Candice realizing that she needed to get her life together, she realizes that she has been living her life for other people and goes into why this is. Candice emphasizes the importance of self-care and self-love for Black women. By taking the time to care for themselves and express their individuality, Black women can challenge the systemic oppression and marginalization they face and create their own paths to freedom and empowerment. One of her main topics during the speech was about how she grew up very religious in a church that did not want to accept her. She was born of a mother who had her with a man who did not want responsibility or to marry her. However, her church did not allow abortion, nor having sex before marriage, so either way her mother was outcast. The father got to stay in the church. Her mom raised her as a feminist, and she was always noticing how people treated her and her mother differently. She also talks about how she is proud to be in the new generation of people who get to teach faith and the church to youth. She talks about how she found comfort in both believing in Jesus and also her understanding that the church needs to be changed. She says that everyone’s faith should be unique, and not everyone has to act or pray the same way. At the end she discusses how it is difficult for black history to be taught in a way that is educational but also doesn’t re-traumatize black students and avoid being “trauma-porn”. This program is important to our understanding of African American History because it helps u see the result of certain aspects of systematic racism and its affect on black women, some of the most mistreated people in the U.S.
Firstly, it’s very important to be listening to views of black women and their personal views on the world because black women have unique experiences and perspectives on Black history that can be different from what we might read in history books or learn from other sources. Black women have had to navigate multiple layers of marginalization and discrimination, often without receiving the recognition or support they deserve. Historically, the experiences of Black women have been ignored or downplayed in many different areas, from civil rights movements to feminist movements. This is due, in part, to the ways in which our society tends to prioritize the experiences and voices of white, male, and cisgender individuals. As a result, the experiences of Black women are often seen as secondary or less important. By listening to a personal speech, we can gain insight into the lived experiences of Black women throughout history. By listening to a Black woman’s speech, we can develop a greater understanding and empathy for the challenges and struggles faced by black women. A speech about black freedom for a woman is significant to black history because it highlights the contributions and struggles of black women in the fight for liberation. Black women have often been marginalized and overlooked in discussions of civil rights and activism, despite the fact that they have played pivotal roles in these movements. By giving voice to their experiences and perspectives, a speech about black freedom for women acknowledges and celebrates the strength and resilience of black women throughout history. It also serves as a powerful reminder that the struggle for freedom and equality is not limited to one gender or one race but is a collective effort that requires the participation of all people. Personal experiences allow us also to be empathetic. Since one of her main topics during the speech was about how she grew up very religious in a church that did not want to accept her, its important to look to history to see why that is. The book Freedom on My Mind by Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, Waldo E. Martin Jr., is a book that offers valuable insights into the history of the African American struggle for civil rights and social justice, not particularly with regards to the leadership and activism of Black women but the analysis of the intersectionality of race and gender in these struggles is also relevant to understanding the challenges faced by Black women in the ongoing fight for equality. It illuminates the ways in which Black women have always been at the forefront of social justice movements, despite being marginalized and overlooked in mainstream narratives of these struggles. They discuss how religion has been used both to justify slavery and to inspire resistance to it (White).It’s important to examine the role of black churches and religious leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. Black women have used their faith as a source of strength and inspiration, but also the ways in which they have been marginalized and excluded from leadership positions within their churches and communities. The patriarchal structure of many black churches often places men in positions of power and influence, while women are relegated to subordinate roles. This can result in a culture of sexism where women’s voices and perspectives are undervalued or dismissed. The church can often reinforce traditional gender roles, which can limit the opportunities and agency of black women. For example, women may be expected to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers over their own personal and professional aspirations, which is what happened to Benbow’s mother. Candice mentions in her speech that are many sexist sermons, that there are so many about women who sleep around ruining their virginity and sinning by having abortions, but there are never any about men and their “dicks”. In her talk, Candice describes how black women are seen as some of the most religious people, bringing up the common imagined image of “Black Church” and strict religious mothers. She also mentions how despite being some of the most religious, they don’t get any credit for it. Despite their dedication they are treated poorly by those in the church, sexism shows prevalently by bearing down more on the women of the church. Her story about how her mother was treated badly because she had a baby before marriage, but her father was accepted really tore into the sexism driven into the church by white men. Candice grew up hearing that to be better, she had to be less like her mother. She knew that her mother was an amazing woman, and that what happened did not make her. The idea that black women must prove themselves by overachieving is deeply ingrained in our society and is a manifestation of systemic racism. Black individuals are often held to higher standards than their non-black counterparts, even more so with black women, and their achievements are often dismissed. The expectation that black individuals must consistently overachieve in order to be considered equal or worthy is unfair and unsustainable. When addressing the more blatantly racist parts of being a woman in faith Candice discusses how the scariest part about where we are in America and faith is that we have churches and communities where white people are taught their whiteness is endowed by God and gives them power over people. One of the most powerful things she says is, “What you believe for yourself should make room for others to be themselves, if not, how dare we believe it be faith when we share a world with so many”, as someone who isn’t religious mainly because of the way the church decides to treat others, this stuck out to me and summed up my feelings on it. I think it’s very powerful that as a black and sexually positive woman, she is still stable in her faith and participates without allowing harmful believers to reign over others.
Overall, the voices and opinions of every black personal and every view helps us understand black history, because it is always being made. Candice Benbow being the feminist she is shows us that the future has strong black women who don’t need to overachieve and be exceptional in order to be heard.
White, Deborah G., et al. Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents. Vol. 3, Bedford/St. Martins, 2021.