First of all: By “Blacks,” I am referring to people with African ancestry, which includes North American blacks (so-called “African-Americans”–Blacks who clearly are descendants of Africa but who, due to the Enslavement Process and no fault of their own, are usually unable to trace their roots back to a particular country in Africa), Caribbean Blacks and continental Africans (“Blacks” who can summarily trace their roots directly back to a specific country in Africa).
Now that that’s out of the way . . .
Please excuse me in advance for my boldness: I’m getting older –42 to be exact, and I find myself getting impatient. Black folks have been “complaining” since I was a child in the 80’s and 90’s–about everything it seems. Some of those complaints have been legitimate (think Rodney King), but some are simply the result of a lack of determination and . . . dare I say . . . don’t get mad–personal responsibility (think proliferation of unplanned births, the number of “baby mamas” representing virility, killing each other over expensive items like sneakers, clothes and gold chains). I noticed even as a child, that many of the “wrongs” and ills we noticed in our communities were due to our own lack of education and self-determination. We have long been our own worst enemies.
And it’s only getting worse: We’re still underrepresented in higher education and at executive level management. Our literacy rates are down. Our marriages–and subsequently our families–and subsequently our communities, are failing. And this is not a class problem: Upper-classed Blacks aren’t faring any better: They’re busy keeping up with the Jones’s, going on all the right vacations, going to all the right schools, and joining all of the right organizations and societies, but it’s all for naught with impaired relationships.
A lot of our problems would be resolved with one adjustment: community building. Communities are based on relationships. We don’t love each other. We tend not to see each other as reflections of ourselves. We see each other as enemies first; then if we’re lucky, we get to the point where we talk and realize there was never any reason for animosity–just some jealousy and insecurity–which wouldn’t exist if we saw each other as reflections of ourselves: My wins would be your wins. My beauty and intelligence would be yours, too. But we continue to see each other the way we were taught to during the Enslavement Process, as enemies. Now: We perpetuate slavery all by ourselves; no need for Massa’ to oversee.
If we improved our relationships, everything else would fall into place.
So let’s talk about change. Following are a few behavioral tips I hope Black folks abandon NOW, in order to ensure our survival.
1. Gossiping About/Pre-Judging Each Other. We have to stop talking about each other and start talking to each other. Shonda Rhimes mentions this bad habit in her book “Year of Yes.” Females (not women) have a habit of claiming to “know” other females without ever even talking to them. Some petty, trifling females make up whole stories about other females of whom they are intimidated or jealous, to make themselves feel better. They go on a smear campaign to ensure that the victim is portrayed as someone or something less than the gossiper. This isn’t fair, and it’s evil. It is the greatest sin: bearing a false witness.
Sometimes you have to excuse or evaluate your thoughts: Sometimes your thoughts are the result of you trying to compensate for your unresolved inferiority complex.
We also have to stop judging each other. We are so quick to label and stereotype each other, but we call it a crime when people of other races pre-judge and stereotype us. We size each other up by skin color, clothing, speech, dance moves, education, and so forth. And a lot of this judgment is based in one’s own inferiority complex. We see something different, and because it doesn’t validate our own existence, we reject it and encourage others to reject it also. Yet, when Whites and others do this to us, we holler about a lack of diversity.
When we’re not sizing each other up, we’re spreading assumptions and second-hand information as if it’s a fact. If you didn’t see or hear it for yourself, it did not happen and shouldn’t be repeated.
And some things are just plain out none of your business. Here is a list of things you shouldn’t be talking about with respect to others, even if you do have first-hand information: a person’s private life (e.g. sex/dating), a person’s background (e.g. employment history, childhood, prior residence), medical or mental health history, and anything else that you probably would not want people knowing about you, or that could cause someone to be unfairly judged.
Thinking is not knowing. Sometimes you have to excuse or evaluate your thoughts: Sometimes your thoughts are the result of you trying to compensate for your unresolved inferiority complex.
2. Narcissism/Sense of Entitlement. Black people have a habit of imposing rules on others that serve to inflate their own egos and delusions, and pathologizing anyone who does not fall in line with their dysfunctional thinking. In other words: The same process slave masters used to keep slaves in line during the Enslavement Process. For example, some Blacks think that all Blacks have to “speak” to each other. For some Blacks, not acknowledging another Black and sitting at the lunch table with all of the other Blacks means a person is “bourgeosie” or thinks they’re “better.” Some Blacks take it personally if they don’t get a greeting from other Blacks, resulting in the offender being disparaged to other Blacks and Whites. Interestingly, the onus is not on the offended Blacks to greet the offender first. I guess we’re just supposed to know whose self-esteem needs the most inflation? So if you don’t require a “Hi” and an introduction, you’re still supposed to know that other Blacks do?
And being talked about behind your back or mistreated doesn’t excuse your obligation to greet or acknowledge the offending Blacks.
I think we learned this during Slavery: Often, slavemasters would make sure they could still trust a slave by checking their attitude and level of submission. During Slavery, slavemasters would rape and/or beat a slave, and expect the slave to still work just as hard and smile the next day. I notice Blacks do this: Will plot your demise and watch you fall, then ask, “Are you okay?”
3. The Phony-Sisterhood Act. In other words: Two-facededness. This is the one where we talk about each behind each other’s backs, then when we meet we say, “Heeeeeeeeey, Guuurl,” and give each other a hug and a kiss so that onlookers get the impression that we’re soooo tight and cool with each other.
If we improved our relationships, everything else would fall into place.
4. Co-Signing to Foolishness. Black men: I’m directing this at you. Stop giggling when females bad-mouth and condescend to each other. Make it clear to these trifling little girls that denigrating others in order to make one’s own self appear better is not attractive. Females often disparage each other to get attention. You should especially be turned off if a female disparages another and then smiles up in her face.
Gossiping about other females and tearing each other down is hurting our communities. If a female reports having a problem with another female, make her be a woman and confront the subject of her ire directly. Don’t try to mediate or be her pigeon taking messages back and forth between the two. And make her be specific about her complaint. If the complainant’s gripe is not legitimate, like she slept with her man, or she cuts tails off of puppies, or abuses little children, don’t give it a listen. Don’t entertain petty gripes about appearance or subjects that show the complainant does not really know the person. In order to not like someone, you have to know them. Some petty, trifling females will complain about people they’ve never even formally met or had a conversation with.
Demand true, hard facts. And whatever you do: Make up your mind about the subject for yourself. Don’t buy into the smear campaign. It may be just to get your attention.
5. Not critically thinking/Exercising Discernment. There’s a YouTube video about the death of Titi Branch, a popular natural hair care manufacturer. The documentary proposes that Branch’s suicide was provoked by her White, manipulative boyfriend. Maybe I think too much, but the comments section of the video gets hi-jacked by some obviously patronizing White posters who facetiously ask about hair products for their bi-racial children. Benevolent Blacks respond to the posts with suggestions and advice. Really, People: We couldn’t see through this? Is it just me? We have to stop getting side-tracked and be more discerning.
There’s also a video entitled “11 Sensual Things Black Women Do That White Guys Love.” In this video, a White male claims to list things he “admires” about Black women. Again: The comments section is riddled with gushing Blacks impressed with a White person’s supposed “love” of us. One of the things mentioned is how we point at objects, like “chicken.” Now, I’m not one of those Blacks who thinks Blacks can’t admit to liking chicken in front of Whites, but that’s the example you want to use? And the “compliments” this guy gives are not impressive. You gotta be able to see the forrest for the trees, People.
Please watch the aforementioned videos and tell me if I’m over-thinking this.
6. Competing with each other. During Slavery, we were forced to compete with each other in order to survive. Sadly, that mindset persists today. When two Blacks engage in the same activity, one might be told, “You copyin’ off of . . . ” Like we all can’t be great and have the same ideas. We’ve adopted dichotomous thinking, which in this case leads us to believe that only one of us can succeed at a time. Again: If we saw each other as extensions of ourselves, this would not be an issue.