Updated: Mar 8
“Black women have had to develop a larger vision of society than perhaps any other group. They have had to understand white men, white women, and Black men. And they have had to understand themselves. When Black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society.” ~ Angela Davis
This Women’s History Month, especially at the intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, I want to take some time to talk about the Disses amongst women!
By that, I am referring to DIS-respect, DIS-missiveness, DIS-Agreements, DIS-ruption, and DIS-comfort. I want to take you on a journey as I break down the experiences and/or themes that the DISSes have brought and bring.
Anytime Dis (s) is inserted before a word and or phrase it often holds a negative connotation. Today I want to highlight the words DIS-respect and the act of being DIS-missive which I believe holds the most negativity and causes women to become DIS-tracted and DIS-connected. DIS-respect and the act of being DIS-Missive are also the opposite of inclusion. The additional Disses are needed for growth, change, outdated narratives, and thought patterns, and to DISrupt systems. These Disses are needed for inclusion and equality to begin.
With each Diss, there is an experience that occurs. It is imperative to deliberate how different women experience different encounters. There also appears to be a theme of who gets DISSed the most and who uses the DISS-Track to their advantage.
What is just as important to underline are the environments in which the DISSes thrive. The DISS- Tracks are often produced within and throughout high-performing business cultures and environments including sports, tactical, medicine, and music.
As an Educated Black woman who also has a breadth of professional as well as culturally rich lived experiences, I have learned that my intersecting oppressed identities naturally DISrupt systems and narratives due to being an outlier. This is seen on one hand as an excellent representation that is needed to be a safe space for other outliers such as myself. Yet it often poses a threat to those who do not share similar representation. Living as an outlier has taught me, countless Black women, and women with oppressed identities to survive. It has also taught us how to deal with DISrespect all day every day due to the DIScomfort that we bring just by showing up and taking up space.
This puts the play in motion for the DIS-missive cycle of survival.
The word DIS-respect then gets taken out of context and is more often used by women with more privileged identities against Black women and women with more oppressed identities because they are in DIS-Agreement. The DISS-Track is an experience and encounter that occurs to regain control and power when the feeling is really DIS-comfort rather than DIS-respect.
Black women are used as collateral damage and are left feeling Invalidated with no safe space to turn. It then causes Black women and women with intersecting oppressed identities to question the offense, themselves, their worth, their education, and their qualifications. Silence immediately follows.
Malcolm X proclaimed: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
We in turn are not allowed to feel the DISrespect that is brought to us due to having to cater to the Offense. We then OVER-compensate and turn into OVER-achievers because there is no room for us to mess up. In the pursuit of excellence, we are met again with In-Validation and faced with being OVER-qualified, Undermined, and Unregarded!
And so, the DISS-Track repeats.
Janet Jackson declared, “I’m convinced that we Black women possess a special indestructible strength that allows us to not only get down, but to get up, to get through, and to get over!”
This is a call to Remix this DISS-Track.
To the high-performing environments called to hire Black women and women with other oppressed identities due to the need for more representation, you must be just as intentional about creating a safe space for Black women and women with oppressed identities as you are about creating a safe space for your athletes, coaches, administrators, clients, patients, and customers.
To the women with privileged identities. Please check in on yourself before you speak that someone or something is DISrespectful. Ask yourself if the encounter is DIScomfort that you feel due to a DISagreement or challenge. Allow yourself to sit with that DIScomfort through the intro and let the feelings flow. When you pause before the first verse, you stop the Micro-aggression (s) that aid oppression. And by pausing the DISS-Track you are assisting in Remixing and Disrupting the system! That is where the allyship is formed.
To the Black women and women with oppressed identities who felt this. I see you. I am you, and I will continue to support you! Keep bringing DIS-comfort, Keep pressing through, Keep DIS-rupting patterns, and by all means, take care of you. Keep climbing that ladder and keep challenging the flow. Continue to do what is needed for you to grow!
Because YOU, Sis, are so needed and are the DISS-Track this world has been waiting for!