This is my claim to fame, and I love it. Here is the the thing, it can be a bit lonely from time to time. It is not my experience that most people walk around with the intention of discovering and being their “authentic” self.
By authentic I mean “real” as God intended us to be. Typically most people admit they settle, they accept that you cannot always get what you want, and stop trying. Being fabulous does not allow for settling and I sometimes experience feeling frustrated that I cannot seem to be like everyone else.
Luckily this does not happen often, but when it does, it sucks. So what to do? Tonight calls for some music& dance therapy! All will be right in my world soon enough.
Delta GEMS (Growing & Empowering Myself Successfully) is under the auspices of the Educational Development Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Chicago Alumnae Chapter. The Delta GEMS are made up of five major components: Scholarship, Sisterhood, Show Me the Money, Service and Infinitely Complete. Delta GEMS membership is open to female high school students between the ages of 14-18 years old.
My comment (see original post here>>) was not intended to compare or point out “whose struggles are more harrowing and epic” I am requesting that instead of criticizing black women (something that is running rampant) as the cause of the great divide in our community…, we affirm and lift her up. I can’t speak to the messages black men have been getting, but I will accept that somewhere they got the impression that they weren’t needed. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have heard about this notion. I grew up in a wonderful family with and awesome Dad who was a product of a single parent household (imagine that). The biggest difference I see in the Black community from pre and post Civil Rights is the breakdown in COMMUNITY meaning the Village mentality. When my Grandfather abandoned his family (I now think it was PTSD after WWII) the men in the community stepped up to be a father and role-model to my Dad. Once crack and heroin was introduced into our community and integration was a safer option, the drug culture and desire to be “accepted” began to erode the trust and unity that we had pre-civil rights.
I cannot speak to pre-emancipation days, but I can say that from my research into the Black female experience in America, Black men have always engaged in oppressive, chauvinistic ,and misogynistic behaviors b/c that is the standard set in current day societal norms. The women’s liberation movement (beginning with the suffragist movement) began to address those inequities, but Black women did not put most of their energies into that b/c we were fighting for basic survival alongside Black men. It didn’t mean we liked our situation, but when faced with the choice of basic civil rights as a human or equal rights as a woman we chose to focus on human rights first! After the Civil Rights act and we got the ability to live where we want or go to school where we want, and vote (ideally) yes we started to examine our role in society as women. It only makes sense. The predominant state of women in the world is deplorable. As a collective we are oppressed and Western women lead the way and transforming that state of being. The problem is that the Black community still is under attack! So we as Black women are still faced with this dilemma of gender vs. race.
Black women have always had to hold it down. For the most part I and most black women I know have never over-identified with traditional feminist thought b/c we ALWAYS had to work outside the home, (yes it is nice to have more options than maid, cook, nanny, seamstress, wet nurse, etc… so I have to give props to feminists on that one). From the moment we set foot in this country we had a different experience than white women. It’s not good/bad or right/wrong it just is. What Djehuty points to however, is an awakening by many Black women that our acceptance of traditional gender roles (housekeeping, cooking, child rearing, etc…) ON TOP OF having to work and contribute to the household financially was inherently unfair and insane. As higher paying jobs became available, we started to think “Hmm b/f I needed his contribution to the household to make ends meet(basic survival) and was willing to look past a lot of BS (read chauvinistic, misogynistic, irresponsible behavior) to survive, but now, I can handle this (basic survival) on my own and would rather be alone than in an un- fulfilling relationship.” What we do want and need (yes I say need b/c we do need our life partner) is to be in a relationship with a man who respects, honors, supports, and loves us. Who wants to see us happy and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that so. I don’t know about these crazy “man-hating” feminist out there (that’s just weird b/c men are fabulous), but most of the “Strong, Independent, Black Women” I know, want nothing more than to be in a phenomenal relationship, but struggle to find a man who shares a similar vision of what that looks like, and choose to be single rather than settle.
What was missing was/is education of or perhaps inquiry by Black men on what it would look like to be a man in a relationship with a liberated woman. How does one define his manhood/masculinity if not based on dominating, subjugating, and controlling women? Black women and the Black community are trailblazers in the transition to an age of equality for men and women. This isn’t about men and women being the same b/c we are not. It is about respecting and valuing our differences. Yin/Yang does not equal better/worse or higher/lower they are just both different and both necessary for a balanced world that works for EVERYONE.
The solution to the crisis in our community will come from looking forward and engaging one another as equals and being committed to each others happiness, empowerment, and full self-expression. The past has not worked b/c there is always someone held down while the other rises. It has not been done before, and we have the opportunity to create a model that will work for the world! The question is will we rise to occasion or disintegrate under the weight of the challenge? Given that we survived the middle passage and over 400 years of oppression, I say we can do it!
In my experience, there are not many Black radical feminists. The strong independent black woman syndrome we see now is not a product of feminist doctrine, and more a survival technique as a result of the devastation of the “community” aspect of the black community in the post civil-rights era.
As a matter of fact if you read the stories of the late Dorothy I Height, Ida B Wells and some of the work of Angela Davis, you will find that most black female activist choose to fore go strongly participating on the women’s liberation movement in favor of supporting the Black community’s effort for civil rights in spite of the fact that the Black male leaders did not always honor and respect the women in the movement.
The formal split in the feminist and civil rights movement came about the time women got the vote in 1920 (I think it was 1920) although many times we (black women) were prohibited from suffragist and early feminist activities b/c many white women were also staunch racists. It should be noted that the choice to give women the vote was partly to keep Black people disenfranchised. Prior to that the suffragist worked along side the abolitionists. I won’t get started on this Divide and conquer strategy that was used then to separate women and blacks and is being used now to separate black men and women and blacks from other minority groups (like the Latino community).
Something to point out is that the major contributions of many black women have been omitted from the public history of the movement due to the (how should I put it) predominantly chauvinistic nature of our society. Angela Davis talks about the misogynistic and often abusive experience many black women suffered in the mist of the Black Panthers and other pro-black organizations. I think her book Women, Race, & Class spoke to this and if not that book some of her other work (I read and wrote on this in college so forgive me I don’t have the details straight).
Feminism has its issues, however; the problems in our community come from Black Men and Women not being committed to each other. Black women have sucked it up for centuries only be to be blasted now for adapting to WHATEVER life has thrown at us. I wholeheartedly agree that we could use a little (well a lot) of softening, but please respect the fact that we have never faltered in our commitment to our community, families, and children in spite of slavery, rape, attacks on our womanhood, morality, and character, the killing of our sons, and abandonment by our husbands and fathers (over 60% of black children being raised by single mothers is a fact). It saddens me when I hear us criticized for becoming how we are not to survive in spite of all the attempts to break our spirit (read “Ain’t I a Woman by Sojourner Truth).
I want to hear Black men say” I acknowledge you for your strength, commitment, and tenacity and am here to take the burden from your shoulders so that you can relax and just be. I acknowledge that my brothers and I were systematically separated from you and our community. I know and appreciate that you have not given up on us even when many of us ran from you AND our responsibilities. I am committed that you feel respected, supported, safe and fulfilled in our relationships. I love, honor, and cherish you and pledge to stay by your side as you now learn how to be a soft, feminine woman again as I learn to be a strong, masculine man. Let us build a strong community together and never let anyone or anything tear us apart again”
*steps off soapbox*
So it’s time for the new fall shows. In the past few years, I haven’t watched much TV on a regular basis, but I am happy to say that this fall, I am actually looking forward to sitting in front of the boob tube for a few hours each week. I thought I’d share with you all my favorite picks. Why you may say? No reason really except there is some fabulous Chocolate Man Candy and good action on deck! YAY YAY YAY!
I should state that I loooooove anything SPY-Related and when you add a sexy black man to the mix who can resist? So I am happy to say that I will make it my business to watch the oh so tasty Boris Kodjoe in Undercovers this fall! Since Alias went off the air years ago, I haven’t had any good spy stuff to watch on TV. There is has been a whole bunch of cop shows, CSI’s and Law & Orders and I have to say that I have had enough. I know a lot of people like them, but I like sex appeal, espionage, and good old-fashioned fighting!
Although, not starring a tall, sexy man, tonight I caught the premier of Nikita and it was great! Its reminded me of one of my old favorites “La Femme Nikita” that was on years ago! I love to see powerful women kicking butt on TV!
I need to do some checking, but there is more TV Goodness to look forward to! My newest crush Mechad Brooks is one of the main characters on this My Generation Show. I know it may be politically incorrect, but I should warn all the sistas that his character is married to a white girl :-(. Oh well, I guess I can’t have it all. I’ll just have to enjoy watching him on the screen and imagine that in real life he would just loooove to be with a Chocolate Diva like moi!
Then we have Blair Underwood as The President in “The Event.” I appreciate him as a handsome distinguished man, and I am excited about the suspense, action, and mystery that the show promises! This show’s previews have got me all excited about what it is. I am intrigued and anticipatory!
Hmm I am not sure if I should admit this, but I plan on watching the Cheerleader show Hellcats! Yes I know its cheesy, but I have ALWAYS loved cheerleading, so much so that while in Business School at Wayne State I was on the squad for 1 season(we didn’t have cheerleaders in my high school and I didn’t make the squad in undergrad, so I gave it one more shot in grad school)! I have seen all the Bring It On movies and if I catch a cheerleading competition on TV, I can’t turn away!
I kinda wanna see Hawaii Five-O, and of course my go to show for my dance fix is Dancing With the Stars! The question is with everything I have going on, how will I find time to watch these shows? I may have to break down and get my DVR going? In guess I can catch them online on the weekend, b/c it simply won’t work for me to try to watch them when they air. I committed to making time for fun and relaxation, and I declare a few hours of good TV part of my Fall fun time!
I admit it, I’m guilty, I stood there, watched the toss and made no real effort to catch the bouquet. I am 6 feet tall and an ex-center so trust me, if I wanted it I could have boxed out all the other ladies and snagged it…but I didn’t even try.
The bride was beautiful last night. I was happy to see them get hitched and she was radiant. It was her day and she made the most of it! As with all weddings it came time for the bouquet & garter toss. The DJ puts on “All the Single Ladies,” and the MC calls us to the floor. The bride (quite the performer) is dancing and prancing about, teasing us with fake throws and making it fun. I am into it. I’m dancing to the song, smiling laughing and have every intention of fully participating in this age-old ritual. The she does it, she tosses the bouquet and I watch it arc up, over, and the come crashing down to the floor. There is no rush to grab it, and awkward pause, and then one of her Aunts picks it up and we head back to our seats.
I’m not sure what came over me. For some reason, although I think my arms moved, I did not bring myself to actively snag the visual representation of the desire to be married. I do give myself credit, I actually went to the floor when they started playing “All the Single Ladies” with no prompting. In the past I sat back, found a way to hide out and flat out refused to participate. However, I recently declared to the universe I am open to love, romance, marriage, and Relationship Bliss, so to stay in Integrity and have my actions align with my word I went out there to demonstrate it. Now I can analyze myself to death, but in reality I know that while I am saying I want it, I am secretly scared to death of the idea of a committed relationship. But that’s me, I’m curious as to what had the other Single Ladies, a) sit back and have to be called out by the bride to come to the floor and b) step away from the bouquet?
I’ve been in the inquiry about Black Professional Women and marriage for a few years now. It began with me at about 27-28, when people starting asking me when I was going to get married and I started wondering why I was so “whatever” to the concept. However, as I get older and now as I listen to the conversation and “statistics” about the disparity in the ration of Educated, Professional, Black Women to Men and the statistics about how many of us are single & childless I had to ask, “Is it really because there are no men available ,or is there something else?
It’s something else alright,and its demonstrated by this ritual. We are not pulling for marriage and relationships. Men or women. At this wedding, after the bouquet toss, came time for the garter. Same thing, if not worse. Unmarried men there with dates, didn’t want to get up, the groom had to call out his boys, and yes the garter ended up on the floor too.
As a friend of the bride, I felt bad because it can’t be a nice feeling to have your bouquet hit the floor, and as a woman who wants to be in a loving, supportive, passionate, sexy, committed relationship, I felt a little sad. As an amateur cultural anthropologist, I was intrigued. Rest assured I’m taking this on and actually have a book coming out soon about it, but for right now on a personal note, I am taking baby steps towards this whole dating and relationship thing. Maybe, because I don’t really want a traditional marriage by any stretch of the imagination, I shouldn’t participate in the bouquet ritual, or perhaps I can stay present to the fact that I have created the most awesome relationship ever and that having a little fun at a wedding and going home with a beautiful bunch of fresh flowers doesn’t have to mean I’ll become a miserable Diva trapped in a marriage I hate.