Aramis Donnell Ayala is a young, beautiful, intelligent, and powerful Black woman who has come under attack from racists, who disagree with a decision she recently made as the State of Florida’s District Attorney in Orange and Osceola Counties. In many ways, Aramis is just the direct opposite of what has, over the last decade, become the media perception of the Black woman. She didn’t spend seventeen years in prison for drug distribution, and then come out as part owner of a music empire. She spent her years in the university pursuing a law degree. She doesn’t sleep with the man who has power so that she can have power, she has power of her own making. Like Michelle Obama, she contradicts the white media’s perception of the Black woman that has a very long history in this country. The Black woman has been less than the stellar representation of grace, beauty, and dignity. That role has been reserved for the white woman.
There is precedent for the media’s distorted myth of the Black woman. It began as far back as the early Nineteenth Century when racist theorists found it necessary to demean the African in order to justify their sick system of slavery. One of those early distortions was the concept of God’s chain of beauty. According to this formula, God had created the white woman as the personification of beauty, and every male regardless of race craved her. According to this theory, at the bottom of this chain was the Black woman and no male actively sought her, not even the black man. So who was left to be with the Black woman? Again, according to this theory, the suitor for the Black woman was the orangutang, and she would be just as happy and satisfied with his company. (Please note I am articulating a sick theory of racism)
Then there was the Thomas Jefferson’s scientific study printed in his book Notes on the State of Virginia, where he claims to have carried out an examination of the nature of the Black man and woman. One of his findings was that the Black race lacked loving compassion, and were more animalistic in their sexual behavior. All these racists theorists claimed that the woman was sexually driven, and constantly seeking the sexual favors from the white man. This was so prevalent that when a white rapist was brought before a white judge in 1900 Alabama for raping a Black woman, the judge dismissed the case because, according to him, all Black women craved the white man so it couldn’t have been rape.
Even though every sane, rational thinking human being, recognized this distorted perception of the Black woman it continued to exist. Fast forward to the contemporary roles that Black women play in many movies and television programs. These roles are not stellar portrayals of her, in many of these shows. And these distortions reached its lowest level of absurdity in the movie Monster Ball, a story that features a Black woman willing to have sex with a racist pig, who I believe was her husband’s executioner in prison. How low can you go?
But Aramis and Michelle negate those false portrayals through real life examples of the modern Black woman. Still the perpetrators of these distortions continue. Michelle was compared to an ape and the legitimacy of her accomplishments were challenged, and she was referred to as the “angry Black woman,” on numerous occasions. And just recently, a racist in Florida suggested that Aramis should be “tarred and feathered” or hung from a tree. In his mind, this is something you can do to a Black woman, but he would never dare suggest that as punishment for somewhat white.
On a personal note, I am so proud of Aramis, who is my cousin’s daughter. I have known this bright young lady all her life as well as her sister Amber, who also is quite accomplished and their only brother Glenn, who is the oldest of the three. Their mother and father are great examples of parents, who worked hard to make sure their children received the best education, understood their ethical and moral responsibility as young Blacks, who often would be judged on the distorted definition of black and not on their own merits. Their grandmother, my Aunt Ellen, also set an illustrious example for them to follow as a strong Black woman, who loved her family and worked very hard to make sure they always had the best she could offer. Aramis, her sister Amber, their mother Natalie, and my Aunt Ellen are strong contradictions to what we often see portrayed on television and in movies about the Black woman. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. Black pride and womanhood runs deep in the Black culture and is the strength on which that culture has been sustained over the centuries. Any other projections of Black womanhood are serious distortions of reality.