My daughter made a comment that caught me in a moment of shuddered disbelief. ‘Who were those black people at practice?’ she’d asked of a new family to her volleyball club that I’d sat with. I don’t know if I heard the full of her question as her delivery had vibrated to my core so that, over whatever it was that she wanted an answer to, all I heard was ‘those’.
She said ‘black’ as if she were reporting a crime or another woebegone statistic: ‘An unidentified b-lllack male…’ or, ‘Yet another b-lllack woman…’ It felt to me, akin to the manner in which non-Jews spit ‘Jew’ from their lips. ‘What black people?’ I asked in a tone inflecting, What the hell kind of Black do you mean?
Later that evening, I knew exactly from where she’d gotten the wind in her sails. ME. Flipping channels, I threw my hands at an episode of Fantasia’s reality show and added, “She’s a hot mess!” for good measure. Not an hour earlier, I had taken offense to the very action she’d learned from my example. What she meant was, not like us.
Where do we get off?
In the weeks leading up to the theatrical release of “For Colored Girls”, every email, tweet and Facebook post screamed with anticipation. I wondered what the after effect would bring to our sister-community. I thought that it would be stronger than the sister-high that lasts but two weeks after Essence has told us we should be nice to one another. I hoped. Then I got this email:
When I first heard of the movie “For Colored Girls” I got so excited. I had visions of group discussions and moments shared with one another that would lead to healing and growth…
Reality set in and I realized that so many of us wouldn’t be willing to participate for various reasons: You don’t like me, you don’t care for somebody I might invite, you only hang out with certain people, you don’t understand the big deal about Tyler Perry making yet another movie about black people and our issues, for all the world to see, you don’t like crowds, so [and] so is too ghetto, such and such is too uppity, etc…
It has ALWAYS amazed me that black women are each other’s biggest critics. We are the quickest to bring each other down, find each other’s faults and nit-pick at a sister until she has nothing left, nothing left to give, and then we step over her and call her worthless. We take the prettiest women and tear them down for ‘thinking they cute’ but turn around and dog the average sister because ‘she knows she should take better care of herself than that.’ We call strong women female dogs and accuse weaker women of riding somebody else’s coattails. We tell a big sister to put down her burger and criticize a skinny woman for not picking one up. We ride the loud mouth woman for talking to darn much and torment the quiet woman for needing to take up for herself.
I have to wonder since we all share a common thread (whether we want to admit it or not) is there something about ourselves that we don’t like? What has happened to us that we cannot seem to get along or unify to support one another? Everybody seems to be out for self while other groups unite against us. Nobody else has to bring us down because we trample on the spirits of each other daily.
Even if you live in a mini mansion, drive a luxury car, have good credit, rich, handsome, husband… this does not mean that should look down your nose at the woman with 4 kids, no husband, living in income-based housing struggling to keep her lights on. Money alone doesn’t make you happy (not true happiness), good credit doesn’t keep you satisfied, beauty doesn’t make you any less insecure, fame doesn’t make you less vulnerable or cause you to be a better judge of character.
Ladies we HAVE TO DO BETTER!!! I’m not suggesting that we all like each other and be phony, but that we all try to respect each other. You HAVE NO IDEA what the next woman is going through, you don’t know what past or current hurt and pains have shaped her into who she is today. If we would spend 1/3 of the time spent tearing each other down to build someone up, encourage someone, and show love, we could truly make a difference. PLEASE don’t be the straw that breaks another woman’s back. There is a woman out there that needs your smile, your hug, your support, [and] prayer. (sender unknown, content edited)
Where do WE get off?
If we are to travel this road toward discovery and fulfillment we have to stop ignoring the approaching signs signaling a dead-end ahead. If our GPS is set to avoid all chance encounters with stragglers on the road lest we be misidentified by our commonalities, we’ll forever run into ourselves. We believe that to travel in the right direction we have to avoid familial roads, faces, circumstance. Well, we’ve been thumbing a ride on that wagon forever and in 2008, we thought we’d been allowed to travel.
Where DO we get off?