–STRONGLY RECOMMEND FOR ALL WOMEN OF COLOR–
This is a book I wanted to read for a long time and I finally got to read it.
The Conspiracy To Destroy Black Women, (2001) is a 150 pages book by Michael Porter that discusses the many different principles that are destroying African American women. This book is a four part book: part one being Cause, Effect, and Madness, part two is The Women, part three is Agencies and Institutions, and part four is The Wicked, the Mad, and the Spiritual. Porter talks about the roles of African American women, along with what can be viewed as the consequences behind those roles. In one of his most interesting sections, Cause, Effect, and Madness, Porter claims that the inability for African American men to love women and not see them as sexual objects is due to White supremacy.
Through sexual acts and financial dependence, men feel that they can control women; however when women show signs of independence, men turn to physical, as well as sexual abuse as a means of controlling women. Men like the ability to control, so they turn to younger and younger prey, which is the sexual molestation of children.
The exploitation of women in rap music and videos, and how Black women are persuaded to “love and enjoy the exploitation of women without knowing that this is being done to them” is a serious problem. The music and videos that young boys listen to and watch gives them the okay to degrade girls by calling them “bitches” or “hoe.” Positive rap is suggested, but it is a threat to the “White male power structure” that’s bent on keeping the stereotypical views of African American men and women.
As if the exploitation in the music videos wasn’t enough to destroy Black women (externally), a more powerful means of destroying Black women and Black families in general is a disease facilitated by white supremacy, AIDS. “What once was called the gay White man’s disease is now taking the lives of African/African American women in record numbers. Porter list some ways that AIDS spread, with one being through sexual encounters with gay or bisexual men. Another way that the disease is contacted is through the sharing of needles by heroin addicts, since most addicts “can’t keep jobs long, and must resort to selling their bodies” to buy more heroin.
People who “engage in sex as a recreational activity are at high risk of contracting the AIDS virus,” which is an activity, claimed by Porter, to be encouraged by patriarchal White supremacist. Also, the spreading of AIDS comes from racial medical practices, which is the lack of information and treatment, and through the “creating and using [of] deadly viruses” by White male supremacists (p. 1-51).
In Part two, Porter touches on how Black women are persuaded to believe that “their weight or skin color or hair texture or hair length or breast size or eye color or nose and lip size.” However, he notes that Black women must maintain a healthy weight because obesity is more common “among Black women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four.” Black women, “as a result of White supremacist oppression and mis-education,” often compare lighter skin to darker skin, with lighter skin being the prettiest.
In an attempt to look lighter or to resemble white women, Black women use skin bleaching creams, straighten and dye their hair, and wear blue contact lenses. Black women are commonly marketed as sexual objects that “contribute to the destruction of marriages, communities, and eventually nations.” Black men have a share in this form of destruction that was taught to them by the White male power structure. Men are confused, and don’t know whether to love or lust when it comes to relationships with women. Men aid in the destruction of relationships when they believe “in the suppression and exploitation of women (p. 55-83).
In part three of The Conspiracy To Destroy Black Women, Porter discuss the institutions that started to lock up a high number of Black women for either using drugs as a way to escape “emotional and mental pain” and selling drugs as a way to make money. To put Black women and men behind bars, there is a process that white supremacists go through, with the first being the devaluing of Black skin. Second, the creation of “governmental and corporate policies that go against the wellbeing of African Americans” Third, the mis-education through a European curriculum “that discourages self-sufficiency.
Fourth, “psychologically frustrate and incarcerate” Black men, which leaves Black women to raise children alone. Fifth, take away all businesses and hospitals from Black communities and place them far away. And finally, “flood African American communities with crack cocaine and liquor stores. Along with drug use are many other systems and strategies that not only destroys Black women, but the entire Black community. This section also shows how Black women are being “pimped by their men-isters” by having churches, which is predominantly women, give their money to the men-isters, the same ones who persuaded women by telling them that it is a sin for women to be ministers (p. 89-121).
Porter raises a lot of issues and made a lot of claims, but the most important section of his book is in part four, Recommendations. He recommends that all women join together on the issues that affect Black women as well as Latino women. Prisons, or what he calls “the new slave plantations,” are flooded with Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and poor whites. He states that, “instead of trying to change the prisons, women will benefit more from aggressively attacking the social-economic causes behind female incarceration.
On the matter of the spread of AIDS, Porter feels that there should be a campaign that aims to stop the spread of AIDS, and that condemns “media and artist that encourage the living of destructive lifestyles through their medium and their art.” With these recommendations, along with many more that are mentioned in his book, Porter feels that the destruction of all women will end (p. 131-143).
The Conspiracy To Destroy Black Women exposes the source of the depression, anger, pain, drug abuse, and the physical abuse that Black women experience. The source of all misery in the Black community, as expressed by Porter, is White supremacy. Women are stereotyped as weak, caregivers, housewives, emotional, and not at all cut out for manual labor. It is these characteristics that place women in the inferior position, not their biological makeup.
In his book, Porter talked about how African men did not originally think that they were superior to women until White men introduced it to them (p. 45). Once patriarchy had been taught, African men aided in the oppression of women. In relations to gendered concepts, patriarchy, the oppression that comes along with it, and the internalized oppression that follows, all play a role in the destruction of Black women. Patriarchy, as defined in Porter’s book, “is a cultural philosophy and practice that originated with European men” (p. 43).
Knowing about patriarchy and how it limits all women, specifically Black women since they are among the poorest of other women, is crucial in reducing stereotypes. Specifically, most of the time, “African American households are headed by single women,” and as a single mother they have to take over all of the responsibilities, the nurturing and providing (p. 11). Because of patriarchy, racism, and sexism, Black women are denied equal job opportunities as well as equal pay.
If a Black woman can’t receive equal pay, then she might have to obtain public assistance, which is not really a lot of money. If she stays on welfare too long, she gets called a welfare queen and might take herself off of it. If she takes herself off because of the embarrassment of being called a “welfare queen,” and gets her children taken away because she can’t financially take care of them, then she’s considered trifling.
The saddest part is that it is other Black women who are the main suspects committing the act of internal oppression. Oppression can lead to depression, depression to drug abuse or alcoholism, drug abuse and alcoholism to crimes and mainly prostitution to fund the habit. From crimes and prostitution, to prison. These are the steps in the destruction of Black women, and knowing what they are could persuade all Blacks to stop inflicting the stereotypes on themselves.
Physical appearance is something that many people worry about, but Black women have the most problems with it because they try to become something that they are not. Whoever said that words couldn’t curt must have never experienced true pain because being told continuously that your skin is too dark, or that your hair is too nappy hurts a person emotionally, and being hurt emotionally can lead to an individual inflicting physical pain on themselves. Porter makes a reference of Bell Hooks, author of Black Looks: Race and Representation, as stating that “White supremacy has impacted African Americans so much that we often find it difficult to discuss “Loving Blackness” (p. 75).
Black women hating their appearance comes from a long history of being degraded and devalued by White men. Although “[Black women’s] skin and full figure were historical symbols of beauty,” this beauty is not “standard of beauty in American society” (p. 77). Black women destroy themselves through self-hate. Of course, this isn’t to say that all women are not destroying themselves to obtain American beauty.
But Black women are destroying other Black women as well through the war of dark vs light. White supremacist have misled Black women into believing that white is right, and any shade darker is wrong; “light complexioned African/African American women became ‘pretty’ and dark complexioned sisters became ‘ugly.’ As a result of this programmed mind set, Black women have tried to appear lighter by skin bleaching.
Black women’s kinks and curls became a problem as well in the pursuit of American beauty, so hair straightening product took care of that (p. 80). But the consequences of these products are scary. It is common knowledge, at least in the Black community, that a perm can make a person “pretty,” but it can also take out their hair and permanently damage their scalp.
It is also common knowledge that skin bleaching is dangerous. Despite knowing this, Black women will still do whatever it takes to achieve the American version of beauty. On the outside, a person’s physical appearance may be acceptable in society, but, as a price, their insides could be falling apart; this therefore physically and mentally contributes to the destruction of Black women.
Porter recommends that all women should stop the “destructive and unnecessary dieting, skin bleaching, skin tanning, plastic surgery, silicone injections, and starvation” that’s been programmed into them (p. 81-82). This knowledge contributes to reducing the stereotype that light skin, blue eyes, and straight and long hair, all characteristics of American beauty, are the only forms of beauty. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and if this can be programmed into Black women’s minds, the conspiracy to destroy Black women will cease to exist.
Porter, Michael.The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Women. Chicago: [African American Images], 2001. Print.