13th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards Luncheon

Source: Rich Fury / Getty

If I know anything in this world it’s that Niecy Nash is one of the baaadest Black women on the planet.

She’s a versatile actress who can give you comedy with the best of them like she did on Reno 911 and can flex her dramatic chops and bring you to tears like she did in Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us. And if you want both, she can do that too. Just watch any episode of TNT’s Claws.

Nash is beautiful, relatable AF and has one of the most snatched waists I’ve seen in Hollywood. She is the most coveted prize, a gift and a beautiful Black woman who is worthy of the love and happiness in this world.

So imagine my surprise, when I read an article on xenecole.com that said that during the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon the three-time Emmy nominee bravely admitted that when she divorced her second husband her family told her she better hold on to him at all costs. Why? Because despite everything Nash has going for her, she wasn’t anything without that “good man.”

“When I owned we were better friends than life partners, my family was quick to say, ‘But you all look so good together.’ And, ‘Well, if the man ain’t beating you, what you leaving for?’ The one that made me laugh the most was an ode to him being attractive. [They said,] ‘Well, you never had to put a sack on his head to sleep with him.'”

“And I replied, ‘What about my happiness?’ The untethering from my family’s beliefs, the internet’s expectations and my marriage ending caused me so much pain. Pain is putting things in a necessary order. You’ve got to acknowledge how you feel. Trust that it is so much easier to walk in your shoes than it is run towards a lie.”

She went on to say that her making the choice for herself to walk away was also about breaking the generational curse that so many Black women are under.

“There was a huge myth I inherited from the women in my family which is, ‘You are nothing without a man. Get one and keep one no matter what.’ This long line of women that I come from had never been taught what choosing yourself looks like.”

In the end, she told the crowd that by choosing herself and living in her truth, she is better for it and is setting a strong example for her daughter.

“You’ve got to own the part you play. I encourage you to walk in your truth, live your trauma and live your best damn life. I am the most grateful because I now know myself much better than before. I let my daughters watch me walk through the whole thing. Because I want them to get up every single day and choose themselves. I realize I did right when my daughter said to me, ‘I am so proud of you, and I want to be just like you when I grow up.’ [My] generational curse is broken!”

Listen…I’m not going to lie, reading her words gave me chills, because we can all relate. This isn’t just about Niecy’s experiences.

While, I’m lucky that my parents don’t necessarily subscribe to this idea that because I’m single, I am less than, that doesn’t mean others around me don’t. I think to all the cookouts, family gatherings and just even conversations with other Black women, especially older ones, where my accomplishments—award-winning journalist and filmmaker, Ivy League Master’s Degree and overall happiness—don’t really matter because I am unmarried and God forbid, childless. Even worse, I have been made to feel horrible about myself because I am ambitious, don’t believe in being submissive to a man (I prefer a true partnership where we both lead side by side) and am an independent person, I chase away and turn off “good Black kings.”

Oh well.

I’d rather choose a life where I’m an equal and if I don’t have that, I can’t be happy. So I choose me…and if that means being alone, so be it.

For some that may sound harsh, but I have spent way too much time watching other Black women fall into that same generational curse Niecy was talking about, doing anything and accepting anything to keep that man. The years of exhaustion, catering, coddling, shrinking themselves and the utter unhappiness of being a ride or die, sticking it out, only to be disrespected and later blamed for why that man acts that way.

“If he cheating there’s something you ain’t doing.”

Honestly, this can’t be worth companionship, can it?

Be clear: This isn’t to say that love doesn’t matter because it does. IT REALLY DOES. We’re human. We need love, touch, conversation, intimacy and sex in our lives. We just do. But why is it that when it comes to Black women, we’re told to not have standards, to stick it out to make him a better man or to not have the power to make the best choices for ourselves?

Just look at how bad Ciara’s name had been dragged in the mud for refusing to accept the mess that her ex-fiance and father of her first child Future put her through. She chose herself and her child and look at the divine love that choice brought into her life down the road. But there are still people out there mad at her, for doing what they hate to see: A Black woman being free.

That’s what this is about, being free and having the power to make your own choices. Free to love who we want; refuse what and who we want to, whether they don’t beat us or do, or cheat on us or not. Most importantly, this is about being free and aware enough to reject these tired old sexist ideas that have plagued our mamas and grannies’ relationships. As Black women, we are something, with or without a man, and Niecy’s bravery has shown us that not only is it time to break free from these chains but that it’s possible.

Hopefully, we’re paying attention.

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