Friday, August 14, 2009

Ladies..we need to hear this :) ..No more Angry Black Women..

The ideals expressed in this article are those all women need to hear. Instead of tearing each other down, lets raise each other up. It's a little long,but it'll be worth it if you learn something or can help another young woman.

Black Women Behaving Badly
by Kierna Mayo

ESSENCE examines why other Black women are often our worst enemies and how we can put aside jealousies to love, support, and affirm our sisters

You'd never know it, looking at Nikia Macklin. For one, she's gorgeous, feminine to a fault. A curvy, hair-always-done 34-year-old who's employed as an intake worker at a social service agency, she rides the commuter rail to work in an adorable yellow linen dress and open-toe heels. She's the prototype of a sharp, hardworking Black woman. But when Macklin crosses her legs, left over right, her tattoo shows-a teeny-weeny pair of red boxing gloves just below her ankle. It's the only clue to who she used to be, the kind of woman who wouldn't hesitate to get right up in your face and fight.

Like too many of us, Macklin spent years embroiled in a never-ending drama with other Black women. Whenever she walked into a room full of sisters, she could feel the negative energy. Who's she looking at? was her mantra. And she wasn't alone. Starting as far back as junior high school and lasting well into adulthood, Macklin rolled with a crew of girlfriends who would set it off anywhere, on anyone.

While every encounter didn't necessarily end in a physical altercation, confronting other Black women was the norm. "The confrontations started to spill over into other parts of my life. I could be on the job and tell my [Black female] manager, 'Bump you' or 'Kiss my ass,' and walk out. I really didn't realize until I was about 30 that this was all me," Macklin concedes. "I was projecting all this stuff going on inside of me onto her"-she gestures toward imaginary Black women-"and her and her and her."


Sisterhood. It's such a loaded term for Black women, no two of us define it quite the same way. There has always been a particular rhetoric about Black women as sisters, but for some of us, the reality doesn't always measure up. Our collective struggle against racial, class and gender barriers are ties that theoretically bind; the word sister itself has become synonymous with Black woman (as in "That sister was doing her thing!"). Yet Black women from every socioeconomic group still report that the search for true sisterhood is at times clouded with confusion-if not straight-up pain. ESSENCE editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray acknowledged as much in her April 2009 "Between Us" letter from the editor, in which she pondered: "Black women's relationships with one another have often been fraught with tension. Truth is, sometimes we are our own worst enemy.... Whatever happened to lifting each other as we climb?"

The response was astonishing. E-mails poured in, sounding the alarm for a deeper discussion. "As a Black woman who is a leader on my job, a minister in my church and an influence to my children, I am often complimented on my inner and outer beauty," wrote ESSENCE reader Lynette K. McDonald of Dallas. "However, I often encounter the sideways looks and glances of other Black women who seem to mean me no good. It has always been a concern of mine how we treat one another, more so in the unspoken nuances, snickers and whispers heard off in the distance. We are our sister's keeper, and if we fail to bring life to our relationships, we automatically sow death. I choose not to make that my legacy."

Sociologists point out that each of our lives leaves an imprint on our collective sisterhood; how we treat one another has a ripple effect that extends far beyond the women directly affected. Perhaps you don't have a tattoo of boxing gloves, but ask yourself: Have you ever looked another Black woman up and down? Have you ever laughed about another Black woman behind her back? Spilled her secrets? Have you ever flirted with another Black woman's man? Woke up next to him in bed? Have you ever had a silent thought, even for a split second, wishing failure on a Black woman at the job? Is bitch a regular word in your vocabulary? Be honest. Is it a sister?

The fact is, to varying degrees, most of us are guilty of being less than sisterly at some point in our lives. The reasons we hate on one another, as strangers and sometimes even as lifelong friends, are complicated and layered. Researchers point out that, at the deepest level, the vestiges of slavery still have us in a self-hating choke hold. Add to that the insidious nature of sexism inherent in a male-dominated culture, and the fact that we are prone to act like, well, women. "Women are not like men in terms of physical aggression," explains Phyllis Chesler, a professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at City University of New York and author of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (Lawrence Hill Books).

Angela D. Coleman, president and founder of the Sisterhood Agenda (, agrees that our struggle to love ourselves is at the crux of our issues with one another. "At the core of being able to be a sister, of being someone who can be relied upon for unconditional love and support, is being able to love yourself," she says. "Intrinsic to sisterhood is self-love, self-esteem, and understanding and accepting who you are."


One reason it's hard to ignore or simply overlook the insecure and combative nature in some sister-to-sister relationships is because in pop culture they show up everywhere. Venomous exchanges among Black women are more than acceptable-they're commodified and sold. The spectacle of 14 beautiful women piling into a house for weeks, verbally ripping one another apart for the affection of one man-à la VH1 shows like Flavor of Love and its successor, For the Love of Ray J-has become the guilty pleasure of millions of us. The Real Housewives of Atlanta, a gossip-filled hit Bravo reality series that follows the lives of five of that city's wealthier women, even decided not to invite one Black cast member back for season two because, as she told, she failed to provoke negative controversy.

Studies show that the more women reach out to and spend time with each other, the healthier and happier they are, and the longer they live. "But Black women have gotten to the point where they are bearing it all on their own. They are dealing with issues of shame, seeing each other as competitors, and it's literally affecting our sense of who we are," warns Joy DeGruy Leary, Ph.D., author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (Uptone Press).

Despite all of our accomplishments as Black women living in a Michelle Obama age, we are also still subtly socialized as second-, even third-class citizens, and finding a way to self-love from that position can be tough. Of course, the big pink elephant in the room when it comes to understanding why sisters hate is the value we tend to place on men and their role in our lives. The struggle for the attention or affection of a man is, hands down, the recurring theme when talking to women about being left heartbroken by their sisters. "The problem is huge; it's bigger than any one of us," says Chesler. "We've internalized sexism [the notion that men are of superior value], and it applies in every area."


But what about our own mistakes? How do we begin to heal the sisterhood? Could a simple shift in focus be enough to put us on a different path? It's a good place to start, says McDonald. "Black women think they are more different from each other than they really are," she notes. "When it comes to issues such as what does Black womanhood mean to me, and what are some of my responsibilities, we are very much alike. We yearn for the same things."

Like many maverick sisters doing research in the field of Black women's studies, McDonald focuses not on negativity, but on our light. "I'm so blessed that I've always had close Black girl-friends whom I could trust emphatically," she says. "I have a friend today whom I've known since I was 5, another since I was 11. I'm now 47, so I know what's possible. I always feel sorry for Black women who are missing out on that."

Depending on where you are in your own journey toward self-love and sisterhood, you may still have to do the emotional work of dismantling distrustful and demeaning attitudes toward other Black women. We would all do well to acknowledge the powerful words Toni Morrison once spoke at a Barnard College commencement address:

"I want not to ask you but to tell you not to participate in the oppression of your sisters.... I am alarmed by the violence that women do to each other: professional violence, competitive violence, emotional violence. I am alarmed by the willingness of women to enslave other women.... I am suggesting that we pay as much attention to our nurturing sensibilities as to our ambition. We are moving in the direction of freedom and the function of freedom is to free somebody else."

Imagine what might happen if we all chose to abandon the self-fulfilling, negative model of generally hating on sisters, and instead consistently took action to spin our relationships with other Black women to the positive. Like offering random sisters a genuine smile or giving other Black women compliments instead of snide side-glances. How might a fighting woman like Nikia Macklin have been different if, from the time she was a young girl, instead of feeling piercing judgmental eyes from her sisters, she had been enveloped by unconditional support and camaraderie? And even, dare it be said, love?

Source: Essence Magazine September Issue

True or False? What are the reasons black women and women in general hate on each other? And how can we change that? Speak on it...


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