In the first part of this mini series, we spoke about the issues we have between the black female students at FAU. I conducted a survey and the results showed that the majority of black-women students do see a problem within our community and some of those women were very honest and said they were guilty of not contributing to a better society with black women at FAU.
Now that we all have come to a consensus that there are problems and they can be fixed, we can begin a discussion on the solutions and things we all can do as individual black women to better empower and uplift each other.
As I have said before, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility. Three simple steps are to embrace your imperfection, practice mindfulness and compassion, and express gratitude.
No matter your background, income, or social status, you have no right to point out someone’s indifference by judging, laughing at, or demising another black woman’s appearance, habits, or ways of life.
Do Not Let Black Men Influence Us into Hating Each Other.
Black men with social status put us in a “survival of the fittest” mentality where what they say goes and if we don’t level up to their expectations we are not qualified. This creates competition between us women, fighting for the love of the same black man. Admit it, you believe his words before you’ve even given her a chance to explain the hurt and lies your man placed upon her heart.
To overcome this, we must first build self-confidence and change any toxic beliefs that men put in our heads. It is evident in the hip hop culture that men have a huge influence on our self-esteem which then manipulates our views on other black women. According to Psychology Today, toxic masculinity is defined as “men who are socially dominant, who are strategically risk-taking in their behaviors.”
I believe that there are some men who know their impact on women and use it for their personal gain. Women, I know we love us some chocolate men and we’ll go crazy for the man we’re in love with, but are you too blind, to see the influence black men have on us? As soon as we get a crush and find out another black woman likes him, it’s an automatic race to get him first, a competition. This may not apply to every single one of you reading this, but majority of the time this is the case.
This is not Flavor of Love or The Bachelor. Let him choose who he wants based on his personal preferences without you having to shame another woman to make yourself look or feel better. If you claim that you are “that b*tch” and your confidence is high, why chase a man? Why belittle another person to make yourself feel like you’re in first place? A true confident woman does not have to do any of that! Lastly, let love find you. Proverbs 18:22 says “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” May I emphasize the words HE who finds a wife, not she who finds a husband.
An example of how men are able to influence our minds is the “shoot your shot” game. It was always frowned upon when a woman proposes to a man or when she initiates her like for a man, or even asks him out on a date. Now that men are “tired of making the first move or being rejected”, they have been making us feel more okay with and more willing to shoot the first shot. Look around. Observe your surroundings. Do you not see women taking more authority to get the men they want? Do you not hear about women shooting their shot? This is one small but definite example of the influence men have over us.
Therefore, instead of allowing the words and expectations of men to sink into our brains, let us find our own confidence and make our own conclusions about a person we know. If you don’t know the person, then having any conclusion about her would be immoral because you simply do not know her story.
Applaud the Positives and Help Fix the Negatives.
Many times people kick others down when they are already on the floor and belittle someone’s success when they are doing great. Refrain from doing this- when one black woman wins, we all win! Laura Miller, a writer from EBONY said it best!
“Let’s face it. The world has proven to be an ugly place, and it’s time to find beauty in simple values that are free and often taken for granted. Love, friendship, and unity have been cast away for greed, independence, and fear. This will not get any better unless we, specifically women of color, reach back and lean on each other.
It saddens me to know that many Black women often live in isolation, depending on just themselves to get through life. Who helps shoulder their burdens? Who reinforces their confidence?
Women were created to have confidants. It has been studied and verified in the Harvard Medical Journal that there is healing power when women seek friendship and sisterhood. We release Oxytocin, which removes stress and helps us de-escalate our tensions.
Truthfully speaking, without us, working together, standing against the unspeakable, there will be no unification. Our Black men cannot and will not be able to stand like towers unless Black women are first able to show them what unification looks like.
Black women need each other more than we realize. For every backbiting woman we meet in the workplace, there should be an equally encouraging woman to cancel her out. For every social media troll and dream crusher we come across, there should be a, “You are awesome!” supporter anchoring the ship. Humbly speaking, one friend isn’t enough. Now is time for #squadgoals — a team of ladies, forged to help all of us succeed and to grow.”
“The idea that African-American women are or should be all things to all people without needing or wanting support themselves is rooted in racism and sexism, and damaging both financially and emotionally. Strong Black Woman Syndrome calls on Black women to be the problem-solvers, chief caretakers and “end all, be all” for everyone in their lives sans support and respite. Essentially, the Strong Black Women Syndrome demands that Black women never buckle, never feel vulnerable and, most important, never, ever put their own needs above anyone else’s—not their children’s, not their community’s, not the people for whom they work—no matter how detrimental it is to their well-being” says Kara Stevens from EBONY.
Not every black girl is as strong as the stereotype says we are. Black women as well have mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, eating and bipolar disorders, and substance addiction/abuse. We have breaking points, and emotions that should be handled with fragility. I interviewed a student who will remain anonymous and she stated, “Sometimes people give you a bad vibe and that would make [you] react off of it but sometimes you can be wrong about that vibe too.” I want to applaud this student for realizing and admitting that she quickly assumed the worst about someone’s vibe but was wrong about it at the end. It takes maturity and humility to recognize that you were wrong for assuming the worst case about another woman. When you assume the worst of someone without hearing them out and being open to truly understanding their point of view, you leave room for degradation, wrongful assumptions, and hate.
Watch Your Own Words and Actions
As black people we are said to be tougher, more intimidating, and very misunderstood. It is vital that we are careful of what we say and more importantly how we say it. I, personally, am guilty of saying things in an aggressive way. I no longer call it my struggle or weakness because I’ve learned that everything is a two-way street. If my words are right but my tone (how I said it) is wrong, then it is not only my responsibility to improve on my tone, but the other person’s responsibility to be open-minded of me and understand that my tone isn’t always a reflection of how I meant it (especially if both parties have already discussed their communication mishaps). This is an example where coming to a common ground would be beneficial to both women. You shouldn’t think that if you don’t like something about someone they have to change themselves for your well-being. Everything is a two-way street, so instead, while you give that person time to improve, also be a helping hand to her. Don’t just tell her what her problem is but help her overcome it.
It is okay to have your own thoughts and opinions, and it is okay to not be so fond of someone or some women but it does not mean you have to slander their name, reputation/image, or make it known that you dislike her.
Root For Each Other
If we do not root for each other, no one will. We can be the most powerful people if we remain united and put the “crap” aside. The smallest gestures and simplest words can change someone’s life or give them hope to live another day. Compliments, smiles, and hugs are the smallest ways to help our peers; supporting a business, giving credit when it’s due, and providing the benefit of the doubt is more of what we can do to support our kind.
Laura Miller said, “Our community needs us to do better. The strength that each of us conveys should not be limited to hashtags and social media quotes. We need to be able to look at our sisters and say, ‘Wake up, you can do better!’ We often ridicule instead of uplift when we’ve progressed in our lives. Why not mentor and foster development for women whom you see your former self in? Stop believing that if you work hard all on your own that you will make it. It will not happen. There are things in this world that require organization, steadfast improvement, and a willing spirit.”
The organizations we all join have a mission, a purpose, and a goal. If you join for clout or a real experience, stick to the model. In other words, don’t be half ass. Follow the mission and purpose of your organization by living up to them behind the scenes and in the spotlight. Don’t be the woman to preach about women empowerment and participate in related events but drag the same women you “empowered” in the lobby of residence halls or behind the tables on the breezeway.
Remember that this series of articles may make you feel uncomfortable because of how upfront it is. Many women go through the same things like the rest of us do. One thing I’ve noticed is that we all have the same problem but a different story. I am not the only one who’s had an issue with another black woman here at FAU, and you’re not the only one here at FAU to experience some low down dirty things involving another woman. We all can relate if we just open up to each other! During one of my interviews, one girl who prefers to be anonymous stated, “I feel like black women have a guard up and they don’t want to open up to people unless someone opens up to them first and that’s how I am sometimes.” I know many of you reading this can relate to her. You feel like someone else has to make the first kind or rather friendly gesture for you to respond back and in that same manner. That’s where we go wrong! Waiting for the first person to make the move will result in no one making a move. It takes some of us a lot of guts to crack the first smile or say the first word but it is truly rewarding to know that we initiated something good. From experience, tabling on the breezeway is good practice for being more open. You learn to be kind and engage with people you don’t know from a whole in the wall.
I hope this article finds you well and we can collectively improve on ourselves and our community for a better we.
Part 2 of 3