Truth be told, Azealia Banks told no lies in her recent rant on black men who don't protect her, white men who use her and some things in between. That is the reality faced by most American black women, though most of us don't want to admit it out loud for fear of "offending" *them*.
In a world where everyone is so quick to write someone off for making contrary remarks on a social networking site, I still maintain clarity. I also have little to no concern for potentially "offending" someone when they are posing a threat to the well-being of women.
I just read a story about a young black girl named Marcie Gerald who was violently sexually assaulted by a black man on the street in Chicago and eventually killed herself due to the trauma. It made me cry. She took pills and then laid down next to her mother to die. The animal who attacked her got eight years, whereas drug charges often get 10-20 or more.
The reality of the situation is that about 3 out of 5 black girls are sexually molested before they become adults and black women are much more likely to be sexually assaulted, abused or killed by the men they date (mostly black men) than other women. There is some major PTSD happening among black women and girls -- not just in America, but also in African countries like Nigeria. So Azealia is right about black women and girls not being properly protected.
How many years would that perpetrator have gotten if he attacked a 14 year old white girl?
I'm surprised at the number of black women who have dismissed Azealia despite the fact that many of them have probably gone through the same types of life challenges. Growing up without a father, probably a disturbed childhood that was likely rife with abuse. It must be Stockholm Syndrome -- they have been so conditioned to protect black men that they can't advocate for themselves. We write people like Azealia off as "crazy" when it's obvious to anyone with good sense that she's lashing out publicly due to something that happened to her.
She was vilified by both black men and black women on Twitter recently for having an argument with rapper Wale. But SHE didn't go out and seek him -- HE initially challenged her after she made a few valid comments about black men not being protectors of black women. He patronized her, saying that "all women" need to be put on a pedestal. He told her that black men don't defend black women because they're somehow afraid of black women, confirming her point. If he really cared about her and talking things out, he would have called her on the phone instead of making a display on social media. Yet, as is the case with many arguments, the woman comes out looking like the only "crazy" one with problems.
I don't excuse Azealia's harsh words and approach (calling people the n- word is unacceptable), because clearly she has some serious issues that she must address with a professional or loved one. I sincerely hope she talks to someone who really cares about her and those issues. But I do understand where she's coming from. I get it. Black women are often caught in a tough spot where they feel abused, unprotected and unloved on one end, while being villainized, misunderstood and used on the other end. And it's very frustrating. And it can cause you to lash out in weird ways.
More understanding is needed here instead of attacks and snap judgments.
Black women, please take care of yourselves. Put yourself first.
Being a fan of someone is normal, but there is something dangerous when we elevate a mere mortal to the status of a "God."
It happens every few years or so, sometimes more frequently. Beyonce releases a song or video and black women collectively lose their minds. It's quite a sight to witness as someone who's a casual listener of her music.
I think that Beyonce is very talented at singing and dancing, but no more so than any other major entertainer of the 20th or 21st century. But for some reason, black women seem hell bent on elevating her to the status of a God; an untouchable.
These black women, and to a much lesser degree black men, are now officially worshipping this woman and holding her to a God-like status. They don't even talk about and defend GOD this much. It's a disturbing sight to behold -- am I the only one who notices the dysfunction in this? I get low self-esteem vibes when anyone spends more time uplifting a celebrity than they do focusing on themselves.
And it's not just the fringes of black women who are doing this. It is women that we're supposed to look up to, including Michelle Obama (who made a point to mention in an interview that she hopes Beyonce likes what she's wearing) and well-read cultural critics who work for black magazines. These are people who we are SUPPOSED to respect, look up to and look to for answers, acting like pimply-faced teenaged fans.
It's gotten to the point where you can't even make a contrary remark about this woman (yes, she's still just a WOMAN who happens to have a talent for singing and dancing) without someone trying to jump down your throat.
I saw a post from a black man who took a picture of his young dark-skinned black daughter watching the Beyonce performance. He commented that "this is so important" for her to see. Really? You want your daughter to grow up aspiring to be one of Beyonce's backup singers? Check the imagery in the photo -- here's the one light skinned woman with a long blonde weave leading a "pack" of militant dark skinned woman with Afros. Do you want your daughter to be a follower, a "stan" or a leader? Or do you want your daughter to aspire to look like Beyonce? Because I can guarantee you that no one really cares about the Afro wearing black women in the background in the grand scheme of things -- they are merely props.
She's a Business, Man
I wonder if anyone else with some good sense has noticed that Beyonce is a master at collecting other people's money. She's not in this to support movements (shout out to Black Lives Matter) -- she's in this for two main reasons a) to get ALL the attention like most celebrity narcissists and b) to collect all your coins. She and her people are very strategic about what they do. They've hit the jackpot getting Superbowl attention because it's right around tax time when a lot of people are "hood rich." By May they will be begging and borrowing again after spending all of their money on meaningless things -- including Beyonce concert tickets and Red Lobster meals for their men who are "fucking them right." Beyonce and Jay Z will be many tens of millions of dollars richer, living in their comfy, protected fantasy world that most of their fans will never get to experience.
Do you think that Beyonce would do any of this if it didn't mean she'd be collecting many millions of your dollars? There's nothing wrong with getting money, I definitely encourage it! But when black women are holding this woman up as a cultural ICON, a GOD of black women who is trying to lead us to salvation, a reminder is needed. She is, first and foremost, a BUSINESS woman who is a master of propaganda, imagery and transferring your $$ into her bank account by any means necessary. Her husband as well.
Yes, Some White People Are Annoying But Some of You Are You're Acting Like Them...
It is very annoying to read the predictable commentary from white people who say "why weren't we included in the performance, racism" and "well, Beyonce hates the police." But there is a lesson to learn from them -- these are people who are completely brainwashed in their ideology. Everything is a fight to defend their ideology, the police (no matter what they do) and by default white supremacy. They don't think critically. These are the Trump supporters who hold onto every word he says like it's gospel. I don't know how it happened, but he successfully used propaganda to elevate himself to a God-like status with these brainwashed people. It's almost cult-like.
Don't be like these weird people -- please don't get so caught up in the ideology of "standom" for celebrities that you can't think critically anymore. It's dangerous.
There's an actual psychological diagnosis called Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS) and I think an inordinate number of black women have the mild or moderate form of this disorder when it comes to Beyonce, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. It's an OBSESSIVE ADDICTIVE disorder -- this is real y'all. Psychologists say that it's a replacement for real healthy relationships. Read more about CWS here --- > http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-176598/Do-worship-celebs.html
Can Anybody Hear Me
I stopped posting on this blog because I don't think anyone really "hears me," even though when I check the statistics I actually do have a good number of readers. My last post was supposed to be my last, but I'm posting this today because I feel it REALLY REALLY needs to be said, not by a white critic at a magazine or white feminist, but by someone who understands the struggles and complications of black womanhood. Someone who has been in the trenches, demanding respect and acknowledgement for black women for years. Someone who is concerned for the mental health and future of black women and girls.
I'm posting this because even if no one "hears" me today, at least I spoke up and said something. I think a lot of young black women are going to wake up one day and regret the amount of time and cash they wasted on celebrities, and posting hour after hour on social media.
I've been a black woman for over 30 years, so one thing you definitely won't tell me is who I should look up to, "worship" or regard as a black woman. I don't look up to Beyonce, or any of these modern day narcissistic celebrities that fight for the limelight, and anyone who doesn't like that will have to deal.
On that same note, I clearly don't have the right to tell you how to be a black woman. I would just ask that you think your way critically through life. Love who you want, be a fan of who you like, but please don't get completely brainwashed into becoming a lock stepper who so willingly elevates a HIGHLY FLAWED human being (like you and me) to a God-like status.
I heard about #SandraBland by chance after seeing her hashtag show up on my timeline. It took days for it to even trend because people were too busy talking about their usual nonsense on Twitter. At the time of this posting, they are still awaiting autopsy reports to find out what really happened to her. After examining the various stories related to this case, there are a few nagging questions that have been on my mind about Sandra Bland -- a sister that needed help and didn't get it at any turn.
1) Where were her friends and family?
I may be wrong, but from reading the many reports of what happened, Sandra didn't seem to have anyone visiting or responding to her while she was in jail for 3 days.
When she called her friend, she got voicemail. When she learned that she had to put up a $500 bond, she only had $100. No one she knew, not a family member, friend or soror could wire her the other $400 she needed to get free from that situation? Why didn't anyone go visit her to see to her condition after she was brutalized by that officer?
2) Why Is the Police Releasing Her Mental History to the Public?
Doesn't that fall under HIPAA? Why is it necessary that the public knows her answers to a mental checkup before they know autopsy reports? Why is it the worlds business that she lost a baby and her godmother recently?
You see, this is why many people, particularly women, and even more particularly black women, don't tell anyone that they are struggling with mental illness. Because if you go through one tragedy or hard time they will just call you CRAZY or suicidal if something goes down. You get written off as if you deserved what happened to you.
3) What If She Was Menstruating?
Women have unique biological issues that men do not. Who's to say that Sandra Bland wasn't menstruating at the time that officer pulled her over? This is purely hypothetical. I thought of this because I have had situations of completely losing my cool at that time of the month. I bring this question up because this is yet another reason why you don't manhandle a woman, berate her like a man or bait her into an argument.
Who's to say this sister didn't have problems with heavy bleeding, fibroids or another issue, already having a bad day, and then this guy tricks her into getting pulled over. Having PMS can affect your mood or reaction to just about anyone or anything that happens to you. Then imagine getting slammed, abused, assaulted and jailed while on or right before your period.
4) What's the Official Charge for "Back Talking" or Questioning a Police Officer?
As citizens we all need clarification about our rights when it comes to questioning a police officer. What can you be charged with if you question an order that doesn't sound right or lawful? Or is this only a problem when black people do it?
There are a number of Youtube videos showing white men "exercising their constitutional rights" by back talking and challenging police officers. One guy had an outstanding arrest warrant and no driver's license--the officer politely gave him a warning, said "have a good day."
5) What Was She Going Through?
The story of Sandra Bland hanging herself doesn't add up, not one bit. She reportedly hung herself using a flimsy garbage bag from a 5' shower rod though she's 6' tall. However, I wouldn't be surprised if she was at the end of the line mentally at that point.
This question doesn't really have so much to do with Sandra's death, but just what many black women go through in general. Being stereotyped, shunned, abandoned, mistreated, abused and neglected in so many ways. You're driving along, alone, minding your lawful business one day, and end up in jail on a ghost charge, probably missing your first day of work after being assaulted and slammed to the ground by a racist cop. Let's be clear, Sandra didn't do anything that wasn't within her rights that day. She spoke her mind, that was her only "crime"--being a vocal black woman.
I think of what may have been going through Sandra's mind. Feeling so alone in that cold jail cell, surrounded by mostly racist officers, who were probably talking down to her and no one was there for moral support? She must have really done some major soul searching.
I am sad about what happened to Sandra Bland, no matter the exact cause of death. I pray that her soul is in a good place flying free. Rest in power sis, your name won't be forgotten.
After this latest mentally draining story, I've decided that it may be time to retire ClassyBlackLady.com . It's because I feel that it's served it's initial purpose--to defend and support black women, who were being unfairly attacked when Mrs. Obama became our First Lady in 2008. I also feel sometimes that I'm writing into the wind, with no one really hearing or appreciating my words, yet I'm putting out a lot of energy. My energy is precious and I have to preserve it more.
From now on if new posts do come through, they will be positive stories and news about black women, or just passing on the word.
If I could give a word of advice to black women, it would be TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Don't let anyone, your family, friends, a man or anyone hold you in chains. Do what you want to do in this life. Because when it comes down to it, you're the only one who really "got you."
If you want to move to Costa Rica and eat coconuts at the beach, DO IT.
If you want to quit your job and play a guitar in Penn Station, DO IT.
If you want to start your own business selling handmade soaps at fairs around the country, DO IT.
If you feel that you're in financial chains, get free however you can. By any means necessary. Don't worry about what others will think of you because of your choices, get FREE.
If deep down you don't think this country is the best place for you, travel to find a place that is, and make a 3-5 year plan to get out.
Follow your heart and intuition.
I love you!
There are thousands of McKinneys in the United States. Places where a minority population of blacks (who are mostly ignored and disrespected) are living in a community that's overwhelming populated by privileged whites. I grew up in one so I know it all too well.
I remember as a high school teen, my black girlfriends and I were denied entrance to more than one party that we were invited to in white "gated" communities. Our white classmates didn't have a problem getting in, even if they didn't live there.
You can easily see the truth of this reality we faced as youngsters by looking at what transpired in the McKinney video. In the video, the white kids are allowed to stand around unbothered (whether they were residents or not) while every black child in sight was told to leave or detained.
Here are the problems I see with the McKinney communities of the world and how black people in those communities can solve them (if they are serious about true solutions that is; marching brings awareness to an issue, but rarely does it effect real change):
1) Learn, Know and Be Ready to Quote the Law
When black people find themselves in situations like what happened in McKinney, rarely do they know their rights. For example, I don't know of any law that says a person can be arrested for "talking back." Yet this white officer still placed a young black girl under arrest for doing just that.
White people talk back to the police all the time and walk away unharmed. Why? Well, because of white privilege of course. But also because they know their constitutional rights.
One way that black lawyers and judges can help solve the problem of police misconduct in black communities is to offer free courses for parents and their kids to learn and memorize the most applicable laws of their state and town, so that they will know exactly what to say and do when in these situations.
Yelling "you can't do this to me!" is a lot less effective than calmly stating "Officer, according to section ABC of the state law, I have the right to XYZ."
2) Withhold Financial Support from Non-Black Businesses Who Do Not Stand with You
Community members held a protest and march in McKinney to bring attention to police brutality. People from all over the country came together to call for justice.
But I wonder, after the march was over, where did all those protesters eat? Where did they shop? Where did they sleep?
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they went right to McKinney area businesses and gave them some money.
How can we be taken seriously if we continue to financially support people who say they don't want us around? Which brings me to solution #3...
3) Black People Must Start and Support Their Own Businesses in McKinney Communities
There's a saying, "the best revenge is massive success."
The best revenge is NOT to complain and show your outrage.
The best revenge is NOT to fight and argue back and forth with those who hate you (complete waste of time).
The best revenge is NOT to insult racist whites the same way that they do, coming up with creative names like "mayonnaise on wonder bread."
The best revenge is to be SUCCESSFUL on your own. To be independent.
Black people, both young and old, have to finally move out of the mentality of consuming and into the mentality of owning and operating. Communities like McKinney, as well as communities that have a large population of blacks MUST encourage and support black business ownership.
Now I realize that this is easier said than done, but it CAN be done. The pioneers who established Black Wall Streets directly after SLAVERY did it, so why can't we in 2015? With all the resources at our disposal, why is this such a challenge?
This is where black people who have a financial background and small business knowledge can assist, if they really want to help effect change.
Every community should have a black run non-profit organization that has a financial lawyer or an advocate who knows the business/zoning laws and regulations of the town, a small business educator (similar to what is offered at SBDCs), and someone with connections to financial sources, such as CDFIs.
Smart and resourceful black people in those communities should be encouraged to work in connection with this non-profit organization to start up their own convenience stores, food restaurants and other essential businesses.
Black people who own property should grow their own food on that land. That will reduce the need to shop at grocery stores. If the black people in a community don't have land, they can chip in to buy a small communal plot and split the crop or sell it at a farmer's market in their own neighborhoods. Successful black farmers and growers can help by entering communities and heading up these efforts.
If there are items you need that are sold by non-black businesses in your "McKinney community," buy them online instead. There are plenty of black-owned businesses operating online who have pristine customer service. If you're serious about change, you can wait 3-5 days for your hair product to arrive instead of buying it from a hair shop run by Asian owners who don't like, respect or support black people.
The point here is self-sufficiency. As long as you continue to funnel your dollars into non-black owned businesses in neighborhoods like McKinney (where many of the business owners probably agree with that police officer's actions) they will not respect, acknowledge or listen to you. They just want your money, and then for you to leave their premises promptly!
4) Plant More Seeds of Self-Respect and 'Knowledge of Self' in Young Black Children
As a disclaimer to this point, I am not suggesting that the young teens in McKinney did not have respect for themselves and property. In fact, from what I saw, they were very well-mannered, polite and respectful.
But I do think that black children in general need to learn more about self-respect, self-love and knowledge of self, to give them a better perception of who THEY ARE as human beings.
They need to learn their history -- not just the part about how blacks were whipped as slaves, but the part about how George Washington Carver and Madame CJ Walker became well-respected entrepreneurs in their communities. When they have a better perception of themselves and each other, they will let go of notions of white supremacy. They will love and respect each other. They will be more motivated to build up their communities rather than to be apathetic about things that go on.
Truth be told, whites in towns like McKinney feel comfortable treating black children (and adults for that matter) like dirt because they don't think we even care about ourselves or our own communities. That's the prevailing narrative that is being spread about black people in this country. That police officer in McKinney and the civilian white man who was "assisting" him didn't even consider that the young black girl they were attacking might have a family, mother, father, or brother who cares a WHOLE lot about her.
5) The Black and Brown Kids in McKinney Need a Beautiful, Well Run and Managed Pool of Their Own
The first problem that I noticed when I viewed the McKinney Pool Party video was that the black kids had to enter predominately white areas like McKinney in order to have nice things.
Why can't black people have nice things in their own part of town? Why do they have to venture to potentially hostile parts of town in order to have teenaged fun?
People have suggested that someone throw these kids a big pool party, complete with their favorite musicians. That sounds like a nice idea, but then what? What about next summer? What about the summer after that? What about the generation of McKinney black children after that?
These kids need a long-term solution. A quality, well-managed pool (and other services for kids) inside of their own community. A place where their white friends will wish they could come to more. Strict rules must be enforced and it has to be kept CLEAN by community members.
But again, keep in mind, when a community pool becomes a dump, that isn't the "white man's" fault. That is a reflection of the collective mentality of the community. If black people want nice things, they have to be willing to set boundaries, guidelines and rules for kids and adults to maintain those nice things. Trusted black organizers who are natural leaders can help by organizing, maintaining and cleaning up community pools and other public services that are frequented by black kids.
6) Keep Recording
It's clear that America's "justice" department doesn't really want to convict police officers, even when they're caught on camera committing crimes, but there is still value to recording these incidents.
For one, it creates a record of these cases that will never go away. 100 years from now, this police officer will still have a recording in history of himself mistreating a 14-year-old girl in a bathing suit. And secondly, even if a criminal case isn't pursued against a particular officer, a video is still strong evidence to use in a civil trial to collect money for pain and suffering. Again, money talks and BS walks -- if enough civil monetary cases are filed and won, cities will eventually be *forced* to do something about rogue racist officers who choose to mistreat black people.
7) Encourage Unity
As disturbed as I was watching an innocent young black girl thrown around by a 200+ pound white man, one part of the video gave me some hope.
It was the part when her friends ran to her assistance and risked joining her on that ground. Both her female counterparts and a few of the black boys tried to help her. Those boys risked getting beat up or shot for their friend.
Black people must be more unified if any of these aforementioned solutions are to work. We seem to spend more time arguing and fighting with each other in recent times (often in public) than loving and supporting each other. I do see a LOT of black women putting themselves out there in the name of the black community, but they can't do it alone. Unity, understanding and action is needed ACROSS THE BOARD. Women and men, young people and seniors.
Will these solutions be implemented tomorrow? Probably not, but you can't begin to take action without a plan. Hopefully these ideas will inspire more black community leaders and members to explore and implement real solutions. Real solutions that will make the black children of this and future generations feel more empowered, valued and safe.
There was no way I was going to miss watching the premiere of Bessie on HBO on May 16, 2015. It was amazing, just as early reviews had mentioned. It was full of dynamic and raw performances as well as important messages to think about. There were a number of jewels that Dee Rees and Bessie dropped in the movie that I wanted to briefly mention.
Don't Allow Bad Energy Around You
As a child, Bessie had to contend with a mean-hearted sister named Viola who abused her and her siblings. When she came to fame, Viola did everything in her power to try to break her down with words ("you think you're all that, don't you"). When that didn't work, because Bessie's self-esteem was too high at that point, she altered her plan to break Bessie down. She decided to sliver her way back into Bessie's life with a show of kindness, giving her a picture of the family and looking pitiful.
Predictably, as soon as Viola got her chance to move into "the big house" with Bessie, she started back on her mission to destroy. She started off by sowing seeds of contempt between Bessie and her husband Jack Gees (who was weak and bad energy himself, but to a lesser degree). She fed Bessie her "medicine" (gin) instead of encouraging her to get better. Then, when Jack Gees left Bessie after beating her up, Viola was the one who let him in. She sat down and sipped tea as her plan came to its full fruition, and her sister was finally back "down in her place." Remember this lesson the next time you think about letting someone back into your life from the past.
Remember Those Who Are There for You in Hard Times
So often when people get a certain level of fame and wealth they forget about the people who were there for them in the hard times -- back when they didn't have much. Bessie propelled herself off of the back of Ma Rainey, and then got lost in the fame she acquired. But who was there for her when she really needed someone later in life? Ma Rainey was there for her from the beginning and the only one who could pull her out of depression.
Who Cares What They Think?
Ma Rainey taught Bessie how to express herself and not care what others thought. This built up Bessie's self confidence and made her an irresistible force to be reckoned with. I believe that the reason why so many women today have low self-confidence and self-esteem is that we care way too much about what others "might" think of us. Many of us are living in isolation and not in our full power thanks to fear of what others might think if we stepped outside of the box.
I think the most important lesson that I got from the movie Bessie was the importance of empowering yourself, economically and otherwise. Back in those days, black people were treated like trash by both white and black outfits, but there were still black business people who had economic empowerment. They knew their worth and demanded it in business dealings. I read somewhere that Ma Rainey owned her own theater houses, so instead of waiting for someone else to pay her what she was owed, she decided to pay herself.
Stories like this are why I don't sympathize much with people who say they hate their jobs or complain about what they're paid in 2015. If you're not happy with your economic situation, you're not going to get very far by complaining to "the boss." You have to make your own way in this world. If you don't want to do that, then you will have to continue to be at the mercy of bosses.
I fell in love with Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey thanks to this movie. I am so thankful to HBO for being willing to tell the stories of black woman heros in such a classy and professional way. These stories are authentic because black women like Dee Rees are given the reigns.
I believe that historical films like this are crucial in getting the black people of today to regain cultural pride and remember our majestic roots.
Is the modern sexual liberation movement about women's empowerment or attention-seeking?
I have written on this subject a couple of times, but the inspiration came to me to write about it once more, to drive this point home. After this post, I'm moving on.
For the past three or four years I'd say, a number of young (mostly college age) feminists have put out the online rally cry for "sexual liberation" as a way to achieve equality and empowerment. They look to popular celebrities like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose as proof that it "works." They find it empowering to see their favorite celebrities use their sexuality as a calling card.
But I wonder, when will these voices that advocate new-school sexual liberation finally just admit that it's more about getting ATTENTION from men, fans and social media followers then it's about seeking liberation or empowerment for women?
There Are Other Feminist Causes to Promote
I advocate a woman exploring her sexuality in every way, in the comfort of her home with someone she cares about and who cares for her. I also see the art in our sexuality. But there's a line -- why is it that sex-positive advocates feel the need to continually make public displays of their sexuality in order to feel empowered?
Because it's not actually about empowerment for women -- it's about getting attention for themselves.
Let's take the celebrity examples I mentioned earlier as an example. They all use the new feminist idea of sexual liberation as a crutch, but in all cases they are only trying to get more attention, money and fans for themselves. They know that sex sells -- and they are products. It's all very simplistic.
If these celebrities really had concerns for women's empowerment, they would take up additional causes that affect women as a whole besides telling them to use their sexuality as a way to get power. They would use their platform to tell young girls to get an education and help them avoid domestic abuse.
Do you know how far even $1 million would go toward cloning programs like Black Girls Rock? These woman celebrities spend that every month on shoes.
Sexual liberation is mostly about garnering attention, not about empowering women, which is why I've always given this mostly online feminist "movement" the side eye.
You Already Own Your Sexuality -- You Don't Need Permission or Acceptance
You are already sexually empowered without having to broadcast it on social media and from every rooftop. You are a grown woman with choices, and no one has the right to tell you how to make those choices. But when you choose to publicize those choices on social media and in public venues you take on a social responsibility, whether you like it or not. You have to ask yourself what is REALLY behind why you feel the need to make public displays of your sexuality. Attention. DMs from men. Likes. Retweets. Kudos. Social acceptance by peers. Money maybe.
Not the empowerment of women.
If you don't care about anyone but yourself and your own need for that attention (which all of us crave if we're honest with ourselves), then you're not going to understand or hear this message. But if you're truly concerned about the empowerment and liberation of women, you'll see the hypocrisy of the modern sex lib "movement" and how it can actually be a detriment to our progress.
How do we convince black girls that they still rock even if they don't have a "rock" on their fingers?
Watching Black Girls Rock is always special for me. I had the pleasure of being in attendance at the very first taping of this amazing award show celebrating black girls and women. Now it's such a big deal that the First Lady of the United States is involved. It's official.
As I was watching this year, a fleeting thought came to mind and then back again when I saw Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband have a PDA moment on stage.
The truth that some don't want to admit is that a lot of black girls won't think they really rock unless they have a man by their side. They can have every accomplishment in the book, from a doctorate degree to owning a successful business, but nothing seems like enough if they can't also say they have their MRS. They aren't happy being alone and successful.
This narrative plays out every week on Being Mary Jane, a show that also airs on BET. Even though Mary Jane has all the trappings of success, a beautiful home, luxury car, a well paying job and success as a television celebrity, she still feels "incomplete" or like she's not enough because she doesn't have a husband and children.
The reason why so many young women idolize strippers and celebrities who sell sex is because they draw the attention of men. They want that attention for themselves, so they emulate these images. Many would much rather "rock" for being sexy and attracting the temporary attention of men than for being a smart ambitious girl who is set for life. And that's problematic because the women who they idolize today will likely be the cautionary tales of the future.
So Are You Seeing Anybody?
The desperation of needing a man in order to be happy and complete is something that is taught to us girls from a young age. We often watch our mothers, older sisters and aunties go through it with men, just for the sake of keeping them around. Every television show or magazine article centers around finding that perfect man for you. And if you've ever gone out with "the girls" you know that the topic of conversation almost always starts with "so are you seeing anybody, girl?"
This definitely isn't a phenomenon that only happens among black women. All women of all races have this obsession with finding a man, but all women of all races don't have the uniquely dysfunctional dynamic of relations with their male counterparts. Non-black women still have a solid pool of candidates to choose from. Black women don't have the same level of support as other groups of women from their counterparts. Black women often have to make serious sacrifices if they want to marry a black man or even a man of another race. In fact, the romantic relationships that young black women find themselves in often are the very things that hold them back from finding success.
So my thought is this: how can we create a shift in the mentality of young black girls to be genuinely happy with their success, even if it doesn't involve having a relationship with a man? How do we convince them that they are enough all by themselves? This would obviously have to start with very young girls for a real shift to happen.
If I had to throw out a few suggestions I guess they would be:
- Older black women have to make better choices in men for themselves to be that living example for their young nieces, daughters and sisters (breaking the cycle in every way).
- Teach young girls the difference between good and bad treatment from men so that they'll demand better.
- Teach young girls the importance of valuing themselves and their own needs over the needs of a boy.
- Show young girls to value their bodies, that it's not something to be shared with everyone (not just talk or religious ideals, but actual facts).
- Encourage young American black girls to explore the world from a young age to meet men from other cultures other than America -- they shouldn't grow up believing that *all* men in the world have the same general mentality as American men.
The main goal of any solution would be for black girls to a) not gauge their level of success as a woman based on their relationship status, b) learn to be complete in themselves first and foremost (a man does not complete you) and then c) learn that they do have options if they choose to get married one day, so that they will choose someone who is good for them. I believe that if they come to a place where they are genuinely happy with themselves and not stressed about finding someone, they will attract a great person into their lives, unexpectedly.
This is a major challenge, because ideas about the importance of having a man are deeply ingrained in women. But I feel that it's a necessary challenge to address if we're serious about teaching black girls that they do in fact ROCK, even if they're rocking without a ring on their fingers.