I Have a Dream That 20 Something Black Women Don't Have to Give Up Their Blackness to be "Empowered"
"The black community is dead and has been for decades!" -- BWE Battle Cry!
One of the great byproducts of last week's bizzare BWE blogger attack on WAOD is that some of you felt safe to question anti-Black woman BWE propaganda in an open forum.
Sugarcakes left the following message on our post from last Wednesday. She’s a 20 something Black woman:
Hey, I'm new to this forum. I'm a black woman in my mid 20s and I've been following the BWE movement for two years.
When I first discovered the BWE movement I thought I found home because there were so many other like minded black women who were going through the exact same struggles as I. I seriously thought I was the only woman of color suffering the abuse in the black community but obviously other women were just being quiet about it.
[quote]BUT these problems are IN NO WAY the whole BC, plus the "exit" "solution" is the least realistic, most unlikely and most ridiculous conclusion to come to. To exit or escape obviously means that you have some place to "escape" TO - somewhere to go, per se; some community willing to take you in.[/quote]
This is the biggest obstacle I face with the BWE movement as well. The only way to escape the BC is by escaping your blackness, and that just isn't possible. Wherever you go, we are still Black, and will still be treated accordingly.
I went off to college, and was the only minority in many of my classes and had a very difficult time navigating the other world. Many white women were very cautious around me, and were not willing to let me into their social circle. Perhaps they saw me as a threat? it was incredibly hard. So when most of the BWE sites suggest black women to leave, I get a little uneasy because of the lack of acceptance I faced inside and outside the black community. Sugarcakes
Thank you Sugarcakes for defining the central problem in the Titanic Empowerment Theory -> Jump in to the iceberg filled waters surrounding a sinking ship instead of taking an available life raft because it is being steered by a Black person. They always present escape as having one of two options, jump into ice cold water and freeze to death or stay on the sinking ship - either way, you eventually drown. they never consider option C) build your own community which might happen to be Black. Luckily there are a broad range of options available to you that don't involve abandoning "Blackness." (And what is Blackness anyway?)
Congrats on having some well developed critical thinking skills. Bloggers are not you parents or your goddesses/gods. Despite all inferences to the contrary, they are fallible and they do not know everything. And while bloggers can offer opinions, tools, and challenge your beliefs, you shouldn’t substitute your own judgment for that of a blogger. Plus, you are going to miss out on all kinds of blessings by judging people based on the color of their skin. You never know where your help comes from.
I never went to a majority Black school until I was in High School and even then I was in a school within a school because I was in honors classes. In middle school, I was the only Black kid in my entire grade that was in the Individual Honors Program ( for three years). I went off to college and was often the only Black person in the room in school activities. In addition, I have a tendency to challenge authority and tradition which makes it incredibly difficult to function in traditional Black organizations where asking "Why?" is often frowned upon.
In other words, I’ve spent a great deal of time in some of the situations you described in your comment.
Build Your Own Tribe
It sounds to me as if you are going to have to build your own tribe and that tribe may be comprised entirely of like-minded people...who happen to be Black(or not). And you will probably run into those people in settings outside of the institutions of the Black community. That’s what I’ve done.
Most of my social circle is made up of highly educated ambitious Black women. Because friendship and alliances are often based on what you have in common. Some of my friends are single. Some are married. The ones with kids are all married. Almost all of us have passports and use them. Almost everyone has an advanced degree and a side hustle or two or three and none of them have ever brought foolishness to my door or let me bring foolishness to their door. Under the logic of many of the bloggers you are likely referring to, I should run from this group of honorable decent, compassionate, smart, funny, kind, encouraging Black women because they are Black.
Your tribe is out there looking for you. They are waiting for you to find them, you just have to put yourself in a position to be found. You get foundby living your life and pursuing things you are passionate about- not because of who you will meet, but because of your passion and interests. And guess what? Other people with that same passion and interests are going to show up and usually you’ll connect with at least one of them. Work on developing good internal energy and people will be drawn to you.
Meetups and locality-based Facebook groups are always a good start. So are classes and other organized activities.
If for any reason you were not born into a functioning tribe and haven’t been adopted into one, then you are going to built your own. You are going to be entrepreneurial about the support network you build around you. And you are going to have to leverage the resources you have available to you -- in other words, don’t block your blessings by judging someone because they have brown skin. It sounds crazy for me to have to type that, but things have gotten THAT outrageous. Millions of Black women are living abundant lives surrounded by support networks made up almost entirely of other Black women. You can have that too.
Above all, your main obligation in life is to yourself. To accept yourself. To love yourself. To befriend yourself. Part of who you happen to be is a Black woman.
Here's some more advice from WAOD Readers
I don't know your background, sugarcakes, but I can relate to straddling two "worlds" and residing in neither. Don't give up! It's okay to seek out black and non-black spaces that you've sussed out, and they don't need to be perfect. As long as they benefit you, go for it. And you can have multiple groups that fulfill different needs. No single community has to be all things for you. I learned that the hard way, but that's okay, it's a well-earned lesson.Daphne
@sugarcakes, I have reiterate Daphne's point. I know what it feels like not to belong. I am connected with my family by blood but we have very few things in common. When I was in corporate America, I was isolated and made few real friends from among my work acquaintances. I think one part of the problems is I'm not interested in the middle class ethos (perhaps I never have been) and I will not be a part of victimology that sometimes characterizes the culture of people who are poor. Please note that I didn't say anything about race. Most of the time people are people. There are some people you will not like just because and there are people who will not care for you just because. That's life. I've found that when I pursued my interests, the people I needed in my life (regardless of color) found their way there. Monica
Here is more helpful advice
- Happy Black Woman- Five Ways to Expand Your Social Circle and Connect with Like-Minded Women. I recommend all but number 5.
- The Change Blog- Why Your Should Move Away
- Tiny Buddha - 50 Ways to Open Your World to New Possibilities
Go out and build your own tribe!