Classy Black Women


Folks who always seem to have a contrary opinion can be a major obstacle to real progress in the black community.

 

Classy Black Lady Note: This blog post was about 90% written a week before the Shawty Lo Minstrel Show hit my radar. The talk around whether it's worthwhile for blacks to petition this show at all is a perfect example of what this blog post is about. Watch for the contrarians, detractors, deflectors and distractors.

 

We've all seen them in action. They are the cousins of the classic Uncle Tom persona. They are second cousins to what the kids call "haters." They aren't quite against black progress but they continually doubt the possibilities and distract us from the main point. 

Whenever someone in the black community is bold enough to stand up and do or say something different and progressive, here come the contrarians being... contrary. If we listen to them, ultimately nothing will get done. You could tell them the sky is blue and they'll argue saying: no, it's really "bluish-green with a hint of yellow."


An Example 
Let's take an example. Most of us know the story of Malcolm X. He was making real, bold progress and changing minds in the black community. The progressive black people around him wanted him to continue full-force.

But then came the distractors, detractors and contrarian voices:

"He thinks he's better than us!"

"He's wants to be bigger than the organization!"

"He's pro-violence!"


Never mind that Malcolm X was doing awesome things in and around the black community. His detractors couldn't just stay focused on that. 


We all know what happened in the end -- the contrarians won that battle and a great leader was taken from us. Who knows where the black community might be if Malcolm X had lived to a ripe old age?

Being Contrary Since the Slave Days
I imagine contrarians were around even in the slave days. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Harriet Tubman had to deal with a few as she was working hard to liberate hundreds of black people.

"Why are you taking that route Harriet? That's just stupid. We could take this way and get there 10 minutes sooner!"

"Why is she carrying a pistol around though? I don't like that. Ugh, I just can't support violence, so I'll stay right here with massa."

 

These voices distract us with petty arguments that pull us away from the main goal. If you let them win, you'll end up arguing with them all day long and nothing will ever get done. 

They'll zap you of your confidence. Not only that, but they could take your rep down a few pegs if you participate in childish or petty arguments with them in public.


Why?
So are these black people hired agents of disruption or are they just the type who like to argue for arguing's sake? Or maybe it's just a common show of narcissism?

I honestly don't know yet, what do you think?

I would say that in any case they are even bigger enemies to progress in the black community than blatant white racists or "Uncle Tom" types. They are an even bigger problem because we don't always recognize the black contrarian as an enemy to our progress as readily as we recognize a racist person or an Uncle Tom persona.

In many cases distractors, deflectors, detractors and contrarians hang around in black spaces and pretend to be down for the cause but always have a dissenting opinion ready. They play the devil's advocate on just about every issue. They just can't seem to get on board. They have to find a problem with every idea. They also tend to be loud, very vocal and sometimes fairly witty.

Beware the Contrarian
If you have a goal that you want to achieve in the black community, whether it is a mentoring center for kids, a blog, a magazine, or an idea for a television show, just beware of the contrarian. Follow these steps:

1. Identify the person as a distractor, detractor, deflector or contrarian -- not publicly but for your own information. However be careful not to confuse a contrarian with someone who is providing you with honestly constructive feedback that could improve your plan. You'll know the difference. In many cases constructive feedback comes in private.

2. Avoid further communication with the contrarian once you have them pegged. They want you to argue and get distracted by petty issues. When you cease communication they may become frustrated and continue to prattle on to anyone who will listen. Let them. Stay focused on your plan.

3. Remove anyone who is a potential distractor or deflector from your circle immediately. They can be more destructive than any other force that would threaten your main goal -- especially when they're working from within.

4. Analyze whether YOU may be a contrarian yourself. When someone comes up with an idea do you try to shoot it down or distract with a petty comment ala "You spelled 'its' wrong in the second paragraph -- I can't listen someone who can't even spell correctly!" They call this "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."  Don't be an agent to the potential downfall of someone else's idea or plan -- just make your own!

5. No matter what, if you believe in your idea to help the black community, stay focused and positive.


Peace and Love


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Why do researchers feel the need to continually study the habits and trends of black women in particular as if we're science projects?



Tell me, have you ever seen this headline in a mainstream newspaper:

Studies Show That White Women Account for 71% of All Plastic Surgeries Despite Risks of Death

or

Studies Show that White Women Continue to Tan Despite Serious Health Risks

Matter of fact, have you ever read any major news headline that had the phrase "white women" in it at all? Although they do have stories on these topics, the writer never mentions the race of the women most affected. Tanning deaths are a major concern. Statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show that approximately 71% of plastic surgery procedures are performed on white women even thought there is a significant risk of death. That is a major story, is it not?


I am a frequent observer of media stories and I can not recall one instance where white women, or any other group of women other than black, was singled out for a negative study then had to endure seeing the findings published on Huffington Post, Fox News, Washington Post and other major news outlets for the world to read.


So why are researchers and media professionals so specifically concerned with studying the habits and behaviors of BLACK WOMEN as if we are an ongoing science project?


Hair Stops Us from Exercising?

Yet another "study" popped up on my radar today which BOLDLY states that black women don't exercise because of their hair!

The "study" claims that 2 out of 5 black women say they don't work out because of their hair. It was based on a survey of 103 black women... Of what socioeconomic level? Where were they from? How were they chosen? Were they picked out of a salon getting their "hair did" or from the street? Were they permed or natural?


I'm a little ashamed to learn that a black woman, Dr. Amy McMichael, led this research without being more thorough, especially considering the stereotypes of black women that we deal with every day. Even she admits that "they only surveyed African-American women, and they can't say whether this is a problem shared by other ethnicities." She has played right into a negative narrative of our sisters that the mainstream media ultimately ran with.


Never mind the countless other plausible reasons why some black women don't exercise, such as working multiple jobs and carrying a family on their own. Or simply not having the extra money to pay for a monthly gym membership considering the tighter economy.


Never mind the fact that there has been a major natural hair revolution going on in the black community. When you wear your natural hair "sweating your perm out" is no longer an issue.


Never mind that there are organizations like Black Girls Run and countless fitness meetup groups targeted for black women across the country that have black women of all ages bursting at the seams to sign up. They are successfully addressing the health issue IN BLACK WOMAN CIRCLES.


Why?

What is the real purpose behind these studies? Some researchers may claim that it is meant to somehow help, but when has attempting to shame someone with a negative narrative ever helped?

Even though the head researcher turned out to be a fellow black woman, I would have to wonder why? What is her point? What does she hope to accomplish? And why would this type of study be funded in the first place?


Hello: America is Fat

Yes. Black women obesity rates are very high and should be addressed. But guess what? So are the obesity rates of black men. So are whites and Latinos. So is the American obesity rate overall compared to that of other countries. So why don't these researchers ever see a need to come up with ultra-specific studies on why every other American group is fat?

My theory is that it is because America has a very twisted obsession with black women -- they both admire and hate us at the same time.


The problem isn't hair. The problem is American culture. We generally eat too much and have an unhealthy diet that includes sugary soda, red meat, fatty dairy products and lots of bread. We also have a more sedentary lifestyle, spent in front of the television whenever we have a free moment. That is not a color issue, it is more of a culture issue. It is also a socioeconomic issue because in many cases less affluent people eat unhealthy fast food and can't afford to buy more healthy options for themselves and their families. They also don't have as much free time for working out.


The problem is UNHEALTHY HABITS. All races and genders in America are guilty.

What's probably most important to note is that publishing these types of studies won't solve the problem. Issues with obesity in the African American community are best addressed in community settings, such as community-based healthy-eating programs and learning sessions that don't aim to shame.


Black Women and Self Esteem

What's probably most ironic about all of these "studies" is that despite the constant supposed alarm-ringing, black women STILL seem to be happy with themselves. In fact, black women have the highest self esteem of any group of women regardless of weight. We don't need the validation of others (or like others) to know that we are great.

In conclusion I will say that I am not overweight and never have been. Hair has never prevented me from busting a move at Planet Fitness. So this "study" doesn't get me riled up because of a personal beef. Still, I have questions...


I would honestly like to know what fuels these studies to continue despite the fact that they don't seem to have any positive effects on black women or society in general? Who is funding these studies and why? Are they scientific or is the media behind this, knowing that any story with the words "black women" in the title will get a lot of hits?


Regardless of the answers, most black women ain't studdin' ya. So quit studying us.


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The murder of Kasandra Perkins should be a wake up call for victims of domestic violence. Here is advice for young women who may be in similar shoes.

The news of Jovan Belcher killing Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his newborn child, was so disturbing to me that I was not going to speak on it at first. But then I saw a black blogger (who is not worth naming) blaming Kasandra Perkins for her death and using this as a reason to bash black women. I also read a few articles online that seem to be reaching for someone or something else to blame other than the killer. One, posted on a popular black website for women, blamed the GUN for what happened instead of the instability of the killer.

Too many major media stories on this case seem to sympathize with Belcher and ignore the fact that a woman's life was taken in her prime. So I feel the need to say something about this now.

As a young woman in her early twenties (just like Kasandra Perkins at age 22), I was unfortunate to experience a situation somewhat similar to Perkins'. Everything seemed normal on the outside for others to see, but the arguing and fighting kept escalating. It was more emotional and mental abuse than anything -- I felt trapped. I was caught up in a nasty cycle of staying with and protecting someone who I knew wasn't in his right mind at the time. I was smart enough to GET OUT before the situation got really out of hand. Deep down, as much as I resisted leaving him due to the routine of it all, I knew that if I stayed, something was going to happen to either me or him because we were both losing it. Either way, my staying in the situation could have ruined both of our lives at the time.

Some young women put up with the abuse because they live for being able to talk about "their man" to others -- to show everyone how great their life is. In my case, I had a ring on my finger, a nice home and a partner; what many young women in their 20s want. 

I feel I can safely state that this may have also been one of Perkins' issues, being the girlfriend of an NFL football star. She publicly tweeted and instagramed about their love and how wonderful her life was. Yet behind closed doors she was living with someone who ultimately decided it was fine to shoot her nine times and then kill himself. Those stories don't match up -- now they're both gone and left a newborn baby behind.


If You're Being Abused, Here is What You Do...


Young girls and women need to understand this warning -- LISTEN to that female intuition that tells you IT IS TIME TO GET OUT! Don't sit in that house and keep letting things get worse just so that you can have a man around. 

REMOVE YOURSELF from the Situation...

I don't care if you own the apartment or the home, GET OUT OF THE SITUATION and give yourself time to get back into your right mind.  Things become much clearer when you leave for an extended period of time. If you're embarrassed, you don't have to tell anyone that or why you moved away -- it's none of their damn business. This is about YOU.

Again, if you or someone you know is in a dangerous relationship, the priority is to TAKE YOURSELF OUT OF THE SITUATION as soon as possible. It is not normal and it is not okay to live like this. If necessary, devise a detailed plan to leave when the other person is gone and least expecting it for your safety. 


Go somewhere very private or around supportive friends or family (supportive of YOU that is) and change your phone number so that you are not tempted to communicate with the abuser and hear his sob story. Be serious about this. Stay away for at LEAST 6 months before you decide to come back to your abode to gather the rest of your things/settle your affairs in that place and bring someone you trust along with you for support.  

This is just my personal advice as someone who went through it -- a professional domestic violence counselor might be able to tell you better.

Do what you have to do to be whole again. I promise if you follow these steps closely, your mentality toward the relationship will CHANGE very quickly.


It's On You 
The abuser is not going to suddenly stop abusing -- it is completely in your power to stop the cycle of abuse. It starts with you making a mental decision that you do not deserve this treatment. 

The next step is taking smart affirmative action and sticking to the plan. Remember that violence in relationships only escalates until it ends up in a tragedy like the one that occurred this past weekend. Both you and the abuser are not in your right mind, so it can only get worse. Snap out of it and start putting yourself first. You are loved, this blog post is proof!


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