Being in a position of leadership for many companies where I was employed, led me to find this book very interesting. Although I was the “boss”, there seemed to always be some degree of uncomfortability and I didn’t understand why. Later, realizing I’d been fighting for an upright position in not only the work place, but in society as a whole. Hypothethically speaking, have you ever imagined being somewhere upside down? Perhaps on a roller coaster suspended in mid-air. Various aspects of the times we’re living in are political in some form or another. Institutions such as the CDCR that hold our father’s, brother’s and son’s captive, the NFL as well as “regognition” itself , in my opinion are all forms of politics. Standing up straight in the “crooked room” known as America can be a challenge. “When confronted with race and gender stereotypes, black women are standing in a crooked room, and have to figure out which way is up”; often resulting in a personal form of pain.
Perry’s concept of the “crooked room” states: “bombarded with warped images of their humanity, some black woman tilt and bend themselves to fit the distortion”. One factor as a result of this pain, is in fact recognition. It is vital because everyone wants to be acknowledged and feel as though they belong. The novel, turned movie Women of Brewster’s Place is about the journey’s of a few African American woman who found themselves eventually ending up living in a rundown apartment complex while struggling in the ghetto. Each of the women come fron different backgrounds. There is the lesbian couple who tried to hide their relationship for fear of the neighbors not accepting them and their lifestyle. Then there’s the single mom with too many kids to count, letting them run wild while sitting back collecting welfare. Finally, there’s the bitter elderly woman who’s always in everyone else’s business, stirring up gossip because she is stewing in her own misery. Eventually these woman came to realize that they all share a common bond. They are all fighting in some way, to stand in an upright position. The system has violated recognition for black woman in society. We struggle to be equals and to affirm our own identities; although we live under a system that doesn’t allow nor support us to do so. Citizenship goes hand-in-hand with recognition and as citizens in the land of equality, we should not have to be concerned with what other’s may think of us or how we’re viewed when entering the room, especially before having an opportunity to speak. Pre-judgement comes with the territory of the crooked room as well as the limitations that substantiallly hinder black women.
Consequently, due to recognition being so difficult to obtain we as black women tend to seek privacy with the exception of reality television programs like “Basketball Wives” or “Atlanta Housewives”. Socially, we tend to not be comfortable at times even with other African Americans. Sadly, one reason for this is that we our judged even by our own kind, often finding ourselves in situations where we adjust our attitudes and change the tone in our voices as well as our outward behaviors just to fit in. As black women we are forced to confront race as well as fight for political independence while our resilience allows us to manage an upright position eventhough the effects can take a toll on the psyche. The impact, for example, leads to low self-esteem which is an emotional struggle as we attempt to gain respect in the form of emulating other races by straightening our hair or switching up the way we articulate words. Afraid of staying true to who we are for fear of non-acceptance. Some of us remain hidden like a turtle in it’s shell, while others may give in to the hype. There are those who go as far as miscegenation, some for love certainly, but for other’s it’s safe to assume the reason to be for an upgrade in social status.
Within the “crooked room” are also crooked images from the stereotypes we’re often influenced by. To stand upright in the crooked room requires us to use our brains and not feed into the labels of being over sexed or that sex is our main interest. As if it is not enough, we must deal with the misogynist ways we’re portrayed through hip hop and other avenues. It’s not our fault that we are blessed with natural curves, hefty bosom’s and voluptuios backsides. Some sista’s give in to the stereotypes; nevertheless, I imagine they have their reasons. However, we must consider another important factor is the emotional damage it can cause for young girls as they grow up. There are some little black girls, who as they begin to fill into their bodies, don’t know that it’s ok and that the changes are not only normal, but necessary. Instead they have to be concerned with being teased for developing more rapidly than other girls, resulting in issues with self esteem. The other side to this is because we are stereotyped and depicted in a particular way for our curves, there are women of other races who desire to be like us. One can purchase buttocks pads from the “as seen on T.V.” commercials to give a voluptuious illusion. Some take injections for the illusion of a fuller lip, and then there are the breast implants. Yet they are not struggling with the same personal pain as we are nor are the stereotypes regarding other races dipicted in such a negative way as they have been for African American women.
While women of various backgrounds may have a different or temporary experience of the “crooked room” ; for instance Martha Stewart during her time of legal troubles and incarceration is a great example, but recognition more than likely did not play a role in this particular scenario. Ultimately, some women will learn to align themselves within the crooked room of society; however, unfortunately there are those who will remain at the very least, slightly tilted. As black women of future generations, it is our responsability to uplift and empower one another as well as encourage and motivate other’s to be the best they can be. Resilience along with tenacity are important atributes to aid African American woman in overcomming their struggles which means there is still hope that at some point our youth will will not have to endure the effects of the “crooked room”.