“Why is it when White women tell their truth, it’s all over the media?,” asked Venus Opal Reese, Ph.D., creator of the Black Woman Millionaire Tour and author of the best-selling book by the same name. “Based on conversations I have had with hundreds of Black women leaders and entrepreneurs who have attended tour stops nationwide, the word on the street has been that when White women started to speak up about Harvey Weinstein, it was big news. But Black women have been saying the same thing for centuries and it wasn’t a headline.”
They aren’t wrong. Studies have shown that sexual violence affects Black women at higher rates. More than 20 percent of Black women are raped during their lifetimes—a higher percentage than women overall. Professor and journalist Shanita Hubbard believes there is a specific reason why White women are being heard, and Black women are not.
“Black girls and women are both viewed as hypersexual so our stories are ignored,” she said.
Reese, a Stanford University graduate and former tenured professor, is discussing that issue of Black women as a “social non-being” on her current tour. As such, Reese explained, Black women are traditionally “rendered voiceless, disposable, and powerless.”
Reese said this has been the scenario for African American women since the 1600s, when taxes and laws were created to justify the right to black women’s bodies as the labor-producing workforce for the American Dream.
According to Dr. Venus, historically the black female body has been socially positioned in the following ways:
• the workhorse
• the cash cow
• the beast of burden.
“We are still positioned socially to not only work like a slave but to also remain powerless, broke and broken,” Reese continued. “What I have learned from my own experience of living on the streets by the age of 16, eating out of trash cans, and being subject to damn near every sort of violation is this: the way to claim your power is to heal and have your own money. “It’s time for Black women to never have to put up with crap for a paycheck. Or stay in any sort of terrorizing relationship because we need the money. We have access now that our ancestors could never have known to pray for. It’s not only our time, it’s our turn.”