“The Black Present and Presence Series: Black Women’s Cultural (In)Visibility” – Evan Eschenburg

​​For this essay, I will be talking about the presentation of Black Women’s Cultural (In)Visibility in the “The Black Present and Presences Series”, presented by V. Dozier and Khalia Ii. This presentation focused on how Black Women as a whole have always been the trendsetters of our society, yet their styles go completely unnoticed, or unappreciated until they are accepted by white society. The perpetual system of white supremacy causes many things that have been created by Black society to become attributed to the first white people to show off and favor that new trend. One example of this today is how Kylie Jenner popularized long, flashy, colorful nails, making them mainstream. This is a great disservice to the black community because for a long time before Kylie Jenner wore them, black women had styled their nails in this fashion, yet they received nothing but negative comments and criticism about them from the rest of society. This is a consistent theme throughout most of American history. Black creators, writers, and innovators are constantly cast aside, left without credit for all of their hard work just for white society to claim their creations as their own. Even in today’s modern society where people have grown more knowledgeable on racial issues in comparison to the past, there is still a racist system in place in this nation that disproportionately affects the black community. This is the main reason why the black community is so close-knit and supportive of one another. The black community is in a constant battle against a society that was set up to bring them down and make them feel inferior. This leads to the next point the speakers brought up in the panel. The conversation about Black Twitter and how in different social media spaces, the black community has had to adapt to combat the systematic racism they experience on a daily basis. The speakers talked about how Black women are cultivators of community, and even in the worst circumstances, they are able to create a loving, caring, and safe environment for their families. This ability to create and cultivate communities is displayed in the Black Twitter community. The Black Twitter community is collaborative and active when it comes to making sure that Black creators and writers are fully credited for their work. Additionally, they are very active and involved when it comes to social justice issues, specifically issues that disproportionately impact them and their community. For example, hashtags are utilized on black Twitter to bring awareness to causes that need attention from the larger Twitter community. Some of these hashtags include: #SayHerName, #ICantBreathe, and #HandsUpDontShoot. If someone in the black community is wronged, American society will try to silence them and disregard their issues and concerns. Therefore, they must have outlets, such as Twitter, where the voices of the silenced minority could be amplified to be heard by the masses.


I believe there are a lot of meaningful connections we could make from this presentation to our main text, “Freedom on my Mind”. The one I thought that was the most relevant to the themes the presentation discussed was the deaths of the four students at the Kent State University Anti-War Protests. These four students were protesting the Vietnam war when their protest was broken up by fully armed police officers. They, sadly, lost their lives at the hands of police officers who were exerting unnecessary force. The primary reason that this tragedy gained so much media attention was that these students were white. Hundreds of black people had been killed by police officers that year during anti-war protests, and for many years before, yet the media never batted an eye. It is very telling of the racial biases that our society possesses that it took police brutality inflicted on white students for anyone to notice that it is a real and recurring problem. These problems are still prevalent today, as we have seen in the past couple of years with the increased amount of documented cases of police brutality against innocent members of the black community. These incidents have caused the protest of their own. The Black Lives Matter movement, which has been around for years, gained a much bigger following of people who were outraged over the deaths of innocent black people like Trayvon Martin and George Floyd. Prior to the death of George Floyd, the white community essentially ignored BLM as a whole. It was only until the video of George Floyd being harassed by police officers went viral on social media that BLM began to gain traction in the white media. Unlike in the Kent State University incident, police brutality against black people was ignored. That was until white people were able to see the savagery of the death of George Floyd. The video of his death circulated on social media and celebrities and other influential white people were discussing it which brought real awareness to the white media. This connects back to the themes discussed earlier how mainstream media essentially ignores any movement created by the black community until it is approved by white society or endorsed by a respected white person. 


Another idea from the presentation that we can find connections to in the book is Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action is a set of laws that seek to put an end to any form of discrimination. This covers discrimination against anyone regardless of their “ race, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and age” (page number). The second speaker, Khalia Ii, focused mainly on how black women style their hair. She talked about growing up and how her unruly, curly hair was deemed as bad hair instead of good or great hair. She grew up feeling her hair wasn’t as pretty as other girls because it wasn’t the stereotypical “beautiful hair” that was straight and long. She mentioned that in her youth she would often use hot combs, or use methods she saw her white friends using, to try to achieve the “ideal” look of pretty hair. These characteristics are often associated with the hair of white women, once again showing the racial biases within our society. This plays into the idea of Affirmative action because for a long time prior to these laws and policies being enacted, black women were discriminated against for how their hair looked. Common hairstyles such as braids and dreadlocks were seen as unclean or unprofessional in the workplace and would often lead to employers not hiring black women. Affirmative action has helped many people of color in securing jobs and get accepted into colleges and universities. It has helped in closing the gap in resource distribution that has historically always favored white people. There is still much work to be done as there is still a significant divide between the opportunities given to white men specifically, over women and people of color. 


In conclusion, the system of white supremacy is still widely prevalent today in our modern society. People are still being discriminated against for how they dress, or how they wear their hair. This is being combated with new laws and movements, such as affirmative action, BLM, and Black Twitter. Black communities continue to build support systems for themselves so that black voices can be heard freely in society. These communities also aim to make sure no little boy or girl is ever insecure because their hair isn’t straight or “perfect” by society’s 

standards. Through these social media movements, more people will be willing to accept the beautiful traits they were born with. Massive change is on the horizon. No longer is police brutality being accepted by mass media and no unlawful action by the militant police force should be allowed to go unpunished. White men have and will continue to profit off the backs of black men and women across the country if they continue to be silenced. But this generation is not willing to accept that narrative, so they will continue to break into new spaces where the white man has been dominant and proceed to take over and claim what is rightfully theirs. 


Works Cited


White, Deborah G., et al. Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents. Bedford/St. Martins, 2021. 

Holzer, Harry, and David Neumark. 2000. “Assessing Affirmative Action.” Journal of Economic Literature, 38 (3): 483-568.