Sharing Your Story: The Sisterhood Files, Part 2

It seems everyone wants to be portrayed as perfect.  I find this especially true among black women- the need to present themselves flawless amongst other women.  We, as women, have a tendency to go through great lengths to perfect the elaborate details of our outer appearance, not to impress men, but to outshine other women.  It is my belief that most men could care less about, and moreover, don’t even notice the details.  Men have the wonderful ability to assess the overall package without dissecting how that package comes together.  This is very similar to their ability to see the forest without paying attention to the trees, or leaves, or tree trunks, colors and shading, or density like we, as women, have a tendency to do.
So it is no surprise that women go through great lengths to hide any and all flaws both externally and internally.  While the external is superficial and holds no real value, it is the hiding of internal flaws that hinder both the progress of self and of others.  There was once a time long ago when black women would find power and strength in sharing their story, better known as the testimony.  These testimonies would encourage others going through similar situations and serve as a therapeutic release for those giving the testimony.  The black social circles were also a way of passing along pertinent information to help the progress of an entire people.  But now, it is every woman for herself.  You have to find your own way.  I don’t know if it is so much that women don’t want to help as much as they don’t want to tarnish their image in the process of helping.   So as such, many women face the challenges of – abortions, marriages, spirituality, miscarriages, divorce, sexual health, rearing children, owning businesses, education, home ownership, and careers – mostly on their own.  Sure there are usually some small circles available that a woman may or may not feel comfortable sharing but there is no collective mindset or medium to share best practices and lessons learned to aid the progress of black women.
We need some more Harriet Tubmans that are willing to risk it all to go back to show other women the way.  But it seems the more popular sentiment is to say, “Oh, I made it, so good luck to you! You’re on your own.”  And I am fully aware that this problem is not exclusive to black women and can be easily carried over as a black people problem.  But I see more discord among black women than black men in professional arenas so much they will act like they don’t see the only other black woman working in the office in an effort to maintain their position and status. I’ve heard too many instances of black women avoiding having lunch as to not be seen as black women having to be viewed as the two black women that hang out together.  Well, don’t look know, but white people go to lunch together all the time and often get promoted one behind the other.  My point is there is great power in shared experiences and knowledge.  So don’t be so reluctant to share your story focusing on what people may think about you.  After being helped by your story, they will probably be grateful and focus less on the your trees, and more on your forest.

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Black Women are Enablers

I am fully aware of the gross generalizations I make on behalf of black people.  It is done intentionally because it takes too much time to dissect the exceptions.  And everybody wants to be an exception but the majority of us fall in the generalizations hence the dire state of our communities and families.  As a result, I have decided to start a new column entitled “All BLACK Everything.”  Yes, I know I stole the title but it fits the contents.  Without any further ado, let’s get into it…

I would love to meet the first black woman who had a black man and after he cheated took him back.  I would love the meet the pioneer of enabling black men.  I’m sure he said he only loved her, and it was only one time, and he would never do it again.  I would bet he did it again.  In my mind, I imagine him telling his boys and his boys being like “word, son she didn’t kill you?” and he replying “not even, we had make-up sex that night and everything. Crazy, right?”  I imagine her heartbroken and confiding in her girls but only pointing out the good he does as she justifies the reasons to why she kept him.  Maybe she convinced these women it was the right thing to do too.  And when his boys cheated on her girls, these women too forgave those men and from there the sickness of enabling begin to spread.
Cheating is so commonplace nowadays it is almost expected.  Women expect to be cheated on and men expect to be forgiven time and time again. The lying- well, we almost encourage it.  Tell us anything but the truth.  At least that applies to half of black women, the other half prefer the truth.  So all a black man has to determine which woman you are- the one that needs to be lied to or the one that wants to hear the truth about his frequent indiscretions.  So why wouldn’t a man take advantage of this?  He can have both the woman he loves in addition to any others that may catch his eye along the way?  Hell, I would sign up for that myself.  After so much forgiving and loving, for the man it doesn’t even feel wrong after a while, the guilt fades eventually, and wrong becomes the standard.  Anything slightly above wrong is praised by his woman.  “Girl, as long as he knows I am his number one.  He comes home to me.”   Well, isn’t that what he is supposed to do??  And being one out of many is nothing to boast about in terms of a supposedly committed relationship.
What if black women had a standard of having to be the only? What if black men had to emotionally and physically commit to keep their woman?  I expect women would gain power and find strength in realizing their value.  I suppose black men would step up to the challenge because at the end of the day they want to be loved too.  And honestly, it only takes one self-respecting woman that knows her worth to replace the twenty that didn’t.
I can’t help but wonder if the pioneer of enabling had simply cut her losses and kept it moving and left her man alone to wallow in his regret and comprehend the severity of his actions.  I wonder if he would have take the lessons he learned in that failed relationship into his next promising himself to not ever make that mistake again because cheating actually cost him much more than it was worth…

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Marriage: Black Women’s Race to the Finish

I almost went a friend’s suggested title: “Black men stop being whores when you have a job, a degree, and you’re a nice guy after you were rejected the first 20 years of your life cause you weren’t a thug and now black women realize they can’t settle down with a thug and are now trying to rush and jump on you.” After several conversations with black men per yesterday’s post, it has brought to my attention that studious and now successful black men at times have felt neglected and rejected by black women.  Their stance is that educated black women literally followed Beyonce’s advice and looked for a soldier and overlooked the men trying to do things the right way.  I must say I was surprised to hear this sentiment from several men.
I am about two sneezes from 30 and unmarried, so I can’t lie and say I have never felt the pressure from others to hustle up a husband.  Therefore, I can easily understand how women as they get older tend to change their standards of their ideal, quixotic marriage with a man they renovated full of passion, lust, love, and intensity and go with a more practical option of respect, trust, and economic stability with the possibility of learning to love that man.  However, this change of perspective by some may be viewed as a sign of maturity, very few stop to think of how the overlooking of  a “good” man has affected him.  Yesterday, I heard everything from “black women don’t want a good man until they can’t have one” to “black women don’t really value education like they claim they do.”  Needless to say, I found myself defending all of black women most of the day.
But after thinking about this notion for some time, I found there is some validity in these claims.  We, as black women, typically chase after the man we know is the least good for us, until we grow tired of being constantly hurt and disappointed.  The time when one grows tired of nonsense varies from woman to woman and some smart women never feel the need to go that route at all.   But as we get older, we begin to reassess our lives, our relationships, and the lessons they have taught us and try to back paddle to rectify the damage done by our own choices.   Our eyes are then open to the gems I spoke of yesterday.  On your mark. Get set. Go. The amazing race to find, fetch, and marry the once overlooked men begins.  All bets are off.  All rules are broken in an effort to not to be the last woman standing or worse left eternally alone to live with your remorse for poor decisions made.
Some black men have told me explicitly that they have taken advantage of this amazing race.  They enjoy seeing the women, once admired but received no love, chase them.  Some of these women, they say, put up with more than a woman should and settle for much less than they deserve all in a futile effort to be called wife.  These good black men are fully aware of the significantly greater advantage they have and some have decided to use it to their benefit.  Sigh.  While that is frustrating and heartbreaking, it is bitterly understood.  Sadly, if this remains the case, everybody loses- both black men and black women.
It is my hope that those gems stay the course that made them the great black men they are today.  It is my desire that black women not allow time or age become the motivating factor for marriage, but that it is based on a solid friendship built on mutual love, respect, and admiration.  It is my wish that black women spend their time while single bettering themselves- professionally, academically, spiritually and financially.   Then you don’t have to race at all.  He will come to you.

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If I See Him with a White Woman

I have purposely skirted around this subject only making inferences in The White Man I Would Date and a little more direct in To the Black Men that Love Black Women.  However, it has been requested several times that I tackle it head on, so here we go…
I am not against interracial dating.  I am not against black men being with white women specifically either.  Like I have said before, I love people- all races and ethnicities.  I have been extremely blessed and enlightened by countless people outside of the black Diaspora.  My world is definitely all the better because of my interactions and friendships with these different groups of people.
There is definitely a market for black men that maybe should date white women.  They have grown up in predominantly white neighborhoods, went to predominantly white schools, subsequently their social circle is mostly comprised of white people.  In this case, I would see it only as a natural progression to date white women.  It just makes sense.  In all honesty, his persona may not translate well with most black women anyway unless they grew up in a similar environment.  I wouldn’t be mad, do what you do.
There are also some black men that have grown up in majority black environments, but for one reason or another they have had no success with black women.  They have consistently tried to date black women, but for whatever reason have been vehemently rejected by black women.  I would much rather this man date outside of his race and be happy than continue to become rejected by black women and grow chronically bitter.
However, if you went to Howard a Historically Black College or University, and you date/marry a white woman, my heart will break.  It stings like alcohol on an open wound.   It hurts like the last blow before the count begins and the fight is over.  These men have are fully aware of the dire state of the black community, the lack of a stable black family units, and the scarcity of educated black men, and made a conscious decision to be with a woman outside of his race.  This action says that in a pool of similar educational background, socioeconomic status, values, beliefs, and mores yet beautifully diverse black women not one was good enough for you.  That level of rejection is devastating.
It has been said, in some 75 years we will all be one race.  All cultures and ethnicities would have been blended to create a truly post-racial society.  But what is wrong with race and ethnicity as long as it is not used as a means to oppress?  The problem has not been race for all races bring a unique beauty to this world in which we live and love.  The problem is that race is still used a social construct to systematically inhibit and destroy people.  The black Diaspora is full of a rich and wonderful history and that story needs to be told.  Our communities need to be restructured and revived and black families are the key to social and economic justice.  We are dying and being killed off an alarming rate and can’t afford to wait 75 years to see what may happen.
For these strong black family units to prosper, see the Huxatables, then we as black people, men and women alike, need to stop doing things for show, status, or experimentation… like dating white women.  While all black men that have received a formal education are esteemed, black men that have been formally educated at an HBCU are rare, precious, gems that black women want to hold dear and close to their heart.  They are supposed to understand and sympathize with our plight.   They are supposed to be part of our solution.  So when you asked,” What would you do if I brought a white girlfriend to Howard’s our homecoming?”   This is why I went off and got loud and said “I wish you would.”  It was because we value you, I value you, for the great black man… no, the gem, you are and want to keep you for ourselves.  We, black women, have raised you, sacrificed for you, supported you and now that you have your respective degrees and great jobs we are just looking for a return on our investment because so many others were lost along the way.  But I want you to really understand this, honestly, if we didn’t love you we wouldn’t care.

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Girl I Don’t Want Your Man: The Sisterhood Files, Part 1

Black women are often stigmatized with not being able to get along with each other.  In media, black women are often portrayed as aggressive, conniving, and manipulative- typically over a man.   Like most things, the overly perpetuated ideas streamed through media eventually will begin to hold some varying truth.
It didn’t used to always be this way.   Black women used belong to many social groups and circles compromised of only women that confided in one another.  They laughed together and loved one another.  Of course, they also gossiped, but would also give of themselves if the same person was in need.  Black women made a point to stick together because they understood then the power in their numbers.  They knew together they could bring about change in their communities, schools, and churches.  A few dared to even change the world.
But now you meet women who are constantly bragging that they don’t have any female friends.  According to these women, they prefer to hang with men to avoid the headache of friendships with women.  These headaches are usually associated with the aggressive, conniving, and manipulative behavior typically associated around some prized man.  In essence, the scarcity of the black men has diluted black sisterhood.  However, it should be seen as a weakness if a woman cannot maintain a healthy friendship with other women that are experiencing similar challenges and victories as their own.
Sans the fight for the prized man, it is really easy to enjoy the benefits that come with great female friends.  This sisterhood knows how to pick up the slack without words being exchanged- they simply understand.  These black women, instead of telling you, will automatically fix a loose a strap, or pull back stray strands of hair, or pick a piece of lent off your shirt to make sure you are looking your best.  These friendships are with the most resourceful people you’d ever know to ensure you successfully complete any project, to make sure you never overpay for any product or service, and to hold you accountable to your goals, dreams, and standards.  This sisterhood wants all included to not only look their best but be their best because they understand the power in their bond when everyone is one accord.  So this circle of black female friends took a vow to never fight over a man, they have bigger goals- they have a world to change.

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To the Black Men That Love Black Women

I know we live in a supposedly post-racial society.  Yeah… no, I don’t believe that.  I do believe that most relationship issues transcend race and ethnicity.  But there is something to be said about black men that still love black women.
Of course, there is a lot to love.  There are the natural curves that create a flawless silhouette, the wide range of beautiful browns, the full lips & full hips.  Yes, any man can appreciate that from afar.  But it takes a special black man to handle the intricacies that come with loving a black woman.
Black women, to say the least, are opinionated.  Well, all women are opinionated.  However, black women are just a tad more vocal with their opinions.  We speak our opinions just a smidge louder than others.  We often upgrade our opinions to full fledged facts.  We are valiant defenders of our facts, I mean opinions.  We own our opinions/facts until the death; not our death of course, but whoever’s death that doesn’t agree with our opinion (figuratively speaking, of course).
Black women are beautifully animated.  Yes we could just tell you how we feel in a very stoic, docile manner.  We could.  However, we feel like you will get our point a lot better if we point our fingers, roll our necks, and wave our hands in the air.  Black women are natural pantomimists, except we add words.  We can tell any story to our friends and make them feel like they were there when it happened.  It is a gift.  Unless, we are arguing, then maybe it is a curse.  Yes we do curse, I’m assuming more than others, but only for emphasis and sometimes alliteration like an orator.  Black women are orators.
Black women are honest.  Our sharp tongue cuts the fat and goes straight to the point.  There is never a question of where you stand with a black woman- she likes you or she doesn’t.  There is little gray area.  Don’t ask black women any questions if you are not prepared to handle the candid truth.  We are also psychic, often delivering our input prior to you asking.  We are helpful like that knowing you would need it at some point.
Black women love hard.  We love our men, our children, and our various affiliations.  We love so hard as to ensure the intended receiver feels it…even if we are not there.  We give endlessly, selflessly to make sure those we love are taken care of to the best of our ability.  Our love, so strong, creates a bridge between our abilities and our needs.  We take on the needs of the ones we love as our own.  Then we take nothing, add our love, to create more than enough, not for ourselves but for them- our loves.
Black women are loyal.  We cheer the loudest.  We go all out to make sure we properly represent what we are a part of.  This is just to ensure everyone knows what we support because we realize that plays a role in who we are.  We are so loyal we automatically expect loyalty.  It seems like a rational philosophy.  We are loyal to you, so be loyal to us.  Maybe that is our sole flaw.  So we corrected it to maintain our perfection.
Black women hold down black men that love black women down like no other.  To the beautiful black men that understand and accept all of this is our saving grace because he understands that black women will infinitely be part of who he is.

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It’s Just Entertainment

Reality TV has failed black women.  I have always been opposed to watching pseudo-celebrities go about their daily and often mundane life.  However, the wave of women-focused reality shows just makes my heart sink.  The Not- So Real Housewives of Whatever City, Bad Girls Club, The Girls Next Door, so forth and so on, may be a plan to systematically perpetuate the destruction of black women.  Well, maybe that is a stretch, but maybe it is… accurate.
Beyond the obvious child-like drama {staged to keep ratings up}, the shows have no objective or theme.  Usually when a pilot show is presented to a network, the objective and what it contributes to TV have to be apparent and not a complete waste of a time slot.  These shows do, however, have a message – a tragic one.  The emergence of catty women reality shows has desensitized black women’s views on what is acceptable behavior in both public and private.  I am not saying that prior to shows of this variety, black women were never prone to curse each other out, be sneaky and manipulative but there was a clear distinction between what was right and wrong.  The line, systematically, has been blurred.
Reality TV teaches women desperation.  The lack of sisterhood to obtain the fleeting attention of a man is frightening.  I constantly see this perpetuated in society- that a woman’s worth is directly correlated to if she has a man.  A worth that should be sacrificed at all costs to garner a man and/or his status. Furthermore, the relationships between the women are at best strained, at its worst, toxic.  Loyalty, friendship, and sisterhood are concepts targeted to be destroyed.
So let’s recap this leaves black women minus sisterhood, loyalty, friendships, and the gravest of all, self worth.
But hey, I could be wrong. It could be just entertainment…

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