For the past few years I’ve been interacting with black women who organized to promote empowerment of black women and girls. The movement is called BWE, which is an acronym for Black Women’s Empowerment. Now those of you who have followed my writing, radio shows and read my books know that I’m all about raising awareness and educating black women and girls about their options in romance, how to protect their spirits, and how to recognize and eliminate from their lives people who display characteristics of abusers. I spend a lot of time shining the light on behaviors and attitudes which shoot black women in the foot, explaining the need to break free of traditions and cultural norms that harm black women, and why we must eliminate social conventions which limit black women’s power based on gender and race.
However, I recently had an exchange with a group of women associated with BWE that left me utterly disgusted.
BWE = Broads Who (need to fucking) Evolve?
Never in my life have I come across such a group of women who are their own worst enemies. As I’ve written before, there are black women that seem attached to feeling pain, rejection, and hurt – so much so that they seek it out, post up graphics and links to articles seeking to make other black women feel just as hurt and rejected as they do about themselves.
Typically these conversations revolve around the very thing they are NOT supposed to be focusing on – black men. In particular, they focus on how black men date and marry white or Asian or Latina or mixed women instead of brown skinned to chocolate colored black women. To me this makes not a lick of sense.
I mean, when you are supposed to be working to empower black WOMEN, why do you instead spend hours every day discussing black men and how they don’t want women that look like you?
How is such behavior “empowering?”
What bothers me the most is that these very same black women rail on and on about how black women need to expand their options for love on a global scale. “Broaden your horizons and date out!” they say. “Black men are not trying to be husbands and fathers on any large scale!” they shout. Okay, I’m with that because love truly knows no skin color or language barrier. And it’s true that black men are the least married demographic in the country. No argument there.
So why if this is where your head is as a black woman, would you flip the fuck out if a black man does the same thing? When these BWE chicks see a black man with a non-black woman or even a light-skinned mixed woman who self-identifies as a Sistah, they lose their damn minds!
They will create or find memes, then post them up in BWE forums so they can all agonize over the famous actors or musicians who are with non-black or light skinned black women. They work themselves into a frenzy, psychologically beating themselves up over and over again, reinforcing the notion that they aren’t good enough for a black man because they are too dark skinned.
Keep in mind all this angst is over a black man on the big screen they will never meet, never touch, never talk to, never date, never work with, never marry and never have children with. A black man they claim they don’t want anyway because they don’t treat black women well which is why they choose to date men of other races.
“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
A Woman With Low Self Esteem and a Victim Mentality Will Never Be Empowered
Most of the conversation the other day surrounded this meme:
The BWE women were in an uproar, claiming that black men — by choosing women of other races to date and marry — are effectively “telling young black women they are nothing!”
I’m wondering how they got THAT from the women these dozen or so men choose to align themselves with. I mean, are black women so desperate for someone to define them as women that they seek validation from celebrities? I find it difficult to accept the logic behind young black women believing that who they are should be defined by what a man – a complete stranger at that – thinks or says or marries.
Believing you are a worthless person, a total piece of shit, because someone you don’t know has a wife that doesn’t look like you is not only narcissistic, it’s behavior in direct opposition to that of an empowered woman. Really, it sounds straight crazy. Caring about what other people think about you is foolhardy. People will be jealous and say things to try to hurt you. People will be envious and not want you to be better or do more than they do, so they will say things to try to hurt you. People will feel insecure about your confidence and abilities, and do or say things to try to bring you down to their level. Knowing that, why the hell would I give what some other person thinks any credence?
As the frenzy of rejection gathered steam, there was a call to boycott the movies of these actors because “we should not support those who are not supporting us!”
Basically they want to see these black males with black girlfriends and wives, and if they don’t have one then they feel that man should be excluded from receiving black female dollars. Yet no mention was made of movies starring white actors and actresses that weren’t supporting them either. Nor was there any discussion of the designers whose purses, shoes and jewelry they go into debt to acquire who hire staff, models, publicists and distributors who are not black either. Nope, the focus was all on celebrity black men not wanting to be with them, and their desire to punish them for it.
I pointed out that their emotion was overruling logical thinking in three ways:
(a) black women are not the only fan base these guys have, nor are black women their largest fan base. Black Americans in total constitute 13.1% of the national population; black females slightly more than half of that. Statistics include those women in prison, seniors in nursing homes, and children too young to see a movie like this. So we’re looking at about 5% of the population and believing that alone supports black movies? FOH! These Sistahs are totally unrealistic. For example, I live in an area that has a 97% white population. We couldn’t get in to see Best Man Holiday showing out here three different times because of all the white women there on girls night out in groups of 4-10 women, all in a thither over Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs;
(b) the BWE chicks seemed to forget that white actors are not “checking for” or “supporting” them either, but the rants advocating financial boycotts had no mention of this demographic. Once again I was left to wonder why women who are supposed to be focused on self empowerment were expending so much energy and effort lamenting attention not given to them by black men they CLAIM they aren’t interested in anyway; and
(c) their attitude was short sighted, and that they should consider the fact that every one of those guys stars in movies with black actresses, and if they don’t see the movies to keep black actresses working, then all the work we’ve done to have ourselves represented in media would come to naught. Advertisers and producers invest in projects to MAKE MONEY. And without making money, they will soon see no value in making movies that have black actors and actresses in them.
In other words, their focus on trying to get back at these men on the big screen they will never meet, never touch, never talk to, never date, never work with, never marry and never have children with will hurt black women as much or more. The BWE chicks were feeling crushed and rejected because black men they claimed they don’t want anyway (due to the fact that they don’t treat black women well), shrugged and moved on to women of other races.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The 12 Commandments of Black Women’s Empowerment
Facebook poster L. Young summed things up quite nicely:
I feel you make valid points. The problem is: for most black women BWE is only theoretical, most have not changed their minds, emotions or actions to any appreciable degree. Most are STILL deeply attached to the ashy foreskins of black men, therefore they are deeply offended and hurt by black male rejection. Most are NOT ACTIVELY dating and mating with men of other races. They are too afraid, too down on themselves so they operate out of a profound belief in scarcity and BLACK MEN KNOW THIS!!! This is a form of insanity that is extremely contagious. I call it Lassie loyalty; it will only get you a dog biscuit at best!! The really sad thing is THIS INSANITY is what is really off putting to men of other races. Not our hair, not our skin color, not our bodies!! But our mass abuse victim behavior of Lassie loyalty to those who have hated us for generations. Black women must CHANGE THEIR MINDS ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEN ACT ACCORDINGLY.”
Bam! There it is.
The question must be asked: Is there anything we can do to turn these Sistah’s minds around? I’m on the fence about that. From what I’ve been reading for the past few years, it seems most of them need serious therapy because of their overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and deep childhood wounds suffered because of their skin color. This is something I am not equipped to do — I am not a psychotherapist.
However, I do believe that with some guidelines in place, and a true understanding of what behaviors, attitudes, words and actions constitute empowerment (and which don’t), positive growth and change can be effected by black women stuck on a treadmill of imagined rejection and self loathing.
The relentless replaying of old childhood tapes of rejection, and the never-ending belief they are less because of what some black male stranger does with his penis must stop; this mass attachment to rejection and abandonment by complete strangers must stop; this idea that white men are inherently better just because they have white skin must also stop.
Instead black women must turn their focus from outward to themselves. Only then will the empowerment begin. As long as one seeks validation, acknowledgement and approval from others, one will never feel whole. Other people cannot GIVE you happiness, confidence or self-esteem – those are things you must provide for and to yourself. Here are my 12 suggestions for positive change.
- Though others are important to me, I will give myself permission to be selfish and take care of myself first. My spirit, mind and body are precious things that I will protect from negative images and thoughts that make me feel badly about myself as a black woman. I will reject all words, writings, media and music which attempts to discount, shame or humiliate me as a black woman. Instead, I will focus only on the persons, places and things that bring me joy and happiness.
- I will center my efforts around improving my life and the lives of my Sistahs by focusing on artistic and professional achievements, establishing financial stability for myself and my offspring, and the acquisition of education and skills in demand.
- I will expand my horizons with travel. I will acquire a passport and use it. In preparation for this trip, I will learn at least one foreign language well enough to use it to communicate with the natives when I go abroad.
- I will take back the power I have given to men to judge, validate or condemn me as a black woman. I will not ask for their cooperation or permission; I will take it because it is mine to take. [“Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.”~ Gloria Steinem]
- I will reject all cultural norms which limit my equity in society, and the status quo attitudes which place women, especially black women, in a position of inferiority to men.
- I will help and support my fellow black women, striving to uplift, advance, encourage, enhance the lives of, and look out for the well being of one another. I will lovingly help guide those who have taken missteps back to the correct path, because I seek the best for her as I do myself.
- I will eliminate any and all attitudes which prohibit sharing of information or assistance to fellow Sistahs by only speaking positive things into the lives of others. When my Sistahs are successful, so am I.
- I will care for the precious gift I have been given of a healthy body by eating well, resting, exercising, and selectively sharing my sexuality and fertility only with men that meet my moral standards and values, and for whom reciprocity is a mandatory.
- I will embrace, educate and protect young black girls from predators or detractors, helping them to develop to the maximum of their ability with high self esteem and the confidence that they can be and do anything they imagine.
- I will join forces with other black women to fight racist and sexist stereotypes which in any way denigrate or disrespect black womanhood. I will take responsibility for leading this fight and avoid sharing, duplicating, or spreading images or messages which will unnecessarily injure the spirits of my Sistahs.
- I will validate other black women for their achievements, beauty, skills and goals. I will also validate myself daily, and immediately turn off the negative voices in my head that tell me I am not enough.
- I will do these things as a teacher/sister/friend with and for any black woman willing to listen and learn, regardless of her religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, educational level, or cultural background.
The only way out of the mental and emotional hole black women are in is to join hands and pull each other up. I think this list is a great starting point, certainly not meant to be all inclusive of the mindset which would promote true empowerment of black women… it’s just a starting point.
Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.
Category: Women's Issues