Whenever I speak to high school girls and ask why they don’t get along with other girls the very first thing they say is “Females are just messy.” It never ceases to amaze me that in those moments of anxiety and angst, they are able to separate themselves from the very species they were born into. They think of themselves and the few “friends” they think they have as somehow different than the lowly class of female they are disgusted by. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed the company of other women. I have always appreciated the confidence in which we walk and dress and style our hair. I have always longed for the friendships that last and the stories that only you and your best girlfriend have in common. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of ups and downs, stabs in the back, slaps in the proverbial face and disappointments when it has come to my sisters but in all, if it came down to it, I wouldn’t want to exist without the bonds that only women can have with one another.
What would happen if all women, specifically all black women, would learn to genuinely feel the same way about one another? What would it mean for us to collectively make a decision to change the way we look at, talk about, and approach and support women of color?
Think about it...barring illegal activities...what would it look like if just on the strength of having a vagina meant I would have your back and you would have mine. Just like Issa Rae said she supports “everything black”, we as black women need to adopt the same mentality when it comes to one another. Now, let me clarify, it no way am I proposing that we support nonsense but I am wondering, wishing, wanting us to support and celebrate each other. Historically it has been black women who have tipped the pot. We have been the organizers, the decision makers behind the scenes, the tempo keepers and the inspiration for change. We know how to “can” when others simply cannot. The sheer strength of a black woman’s back and the amount we can carry is unsurpassable, even to a man’s brute strength, when it comes to bearing children. In short, ladies, we are some bad beings!
I look at what is happening in the news right now with Mo’Nique and her pleas to ask all of us to boycott Netflix based on gender and color bias and discrimination and I am very confused by the backlash from our own community. Now, this is not about whether or not I or anyone else “likes” Mo’Nique or her delivery of the message, it truly is about the situation.
Why aren’t sisters banning together behind her, if the facts are truly what she presented? Why aren’t questions being asked and demands being made for equal pay and equal treatment?
What about Taraji Henson and her movie Proud Mary? Again, whether you like shoot em up movies or not, we should have supported her just because she is one of us. Just because she is a black woman who played the lead role in a movie of this kind in over 40 years. How do we expect other communities to take us serious, if our own communities don’t? We have to do better in the way we allow Hollywood to portray us and the psychological trauma that is caused by viewing this character over and over on reality television. Subliminal messages we have ingested have caused a disease so deeply rooted in our psyche that we actually believe the lies we have been fed about our own selves. No amount of hashtags will reverse this schema. We are going to have to do the work and “unlearn what we have learned.”
The idea of being your sisters’ keeper extends far beyond simply looking out for one another. It means holding one another accountable when we veer off course and out of character, supporting each other when no one else will, healing one another through motivation and support and shining our light so bright it encourages our sisters’ lights to shine just as bright.
There used to be a time when the one spoke for the many because the many trust the one. We have to return to this community mindset as women of color. In these times more than others, a united front has to be presented to the world. Not based on likeability or popularity but based on survival. We control our own destinies and instead of begging for a seat at someone else’s table; why not gather up our tribe and build our own table? We have to create intentional experiences for our sisters to survive and thrive and be so confident in our own, unique awesomeness that the idea that someone who looks like me having that same amazingness it not seen as a threat but a complement to our existence. There is enough room at the top for all our collective goodness to succeed but we have to change our mindset, hopefully sooner rather than later, hopefully...now.