Friday, July 3, 2009

Open Panel Discussion: Let's Talk About Leadership, And Where Do We Go From Here With Black Women's Empowerment Activism?

These topics have come up during a recent blog discussion. I feel that they are deserving of a separate open-panel discussion of their own. So, please feel free to add your thoughts.

Here are my thoughts about this:

I feel that African-American women (AAW) don't need "leaders" in this context. We need consciousness-raising. We need to learn how to have minds that are open enough to re-think what we've been doing.

The life-saving, life-enhancing ideas that various Black women empowerment bloggers have been discussing are really quite simple, and founded on common sense. All that's required to put them into use is a willingness to reconsider some things, and change some self-defeating behaviors.

I'm somewhat confused by the mental resistance and the "stuck points" that some AAW seem to have with all of this. Especially with the weight issues---I just don't understand why seeking validation of the "pity party" is more important than life itself.

In my case, I took the time to re-examine my ideology (and what I was doing) shortly after I was presented with new information (the Dunbar Village Atrocity & Aftermath, various blog essays, etc.). After reviewing all the new ideas and new information I had come across, I decided to change course. It was painful, and I grieved over the loss of the previous ideas I had found certainty in. But I'm better off for it.

It's one thing to carefully consider new ideas or information and THEN reject them after thinking it over. It's something else to keep going around a mental "spin cycle" with the same stale thoughts---as if one had never seen or heard the new information. I don't understand that sort of behavior. Especially when the status quo is NOT doing anything positive for a person.

I think that our people's previous models of "leadership" are obsolete and frankly, unworkable in our particular context. [For a variety of reasons that we can discuss in greater detail, if anyone is interested.] In terms of our empowerment/consciousness-raising activism, I think what would be best is an "open source" model of activism.

Here are some links that explain the ideas behind "open source" warfare, etc.

www.pastpeak.com/archives/2006/01/global_guerrill.htm

http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/robb_opensource_war.htm

29 comments:

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

I agree with this,

"I think that our people's previous models of "leadership" are obsolete and frankly, unworkable in our particular context. "

Wholeheartedly. And I think that the idea of "open source warfare" is strongly aligned with my concept of leadership/followership. I had never heard that term before, so I thank you.

My definitions of leadership are influenced by an atypical socialization and background, and I forget that the lens through which I see leadership is vastly different from the norm.

And more importantly, I'm realizing that my online tone is perceived as being much harsher and off-putting than the tone I'm trying to convey.

I want to take some time to fully prepare my thoughts on this topic, because there are other models and definitions of leadership that can benefit us as BW, and that don't at all involve self-annihilation. And I feel like it's the one of the few items of value I can add to the dialogues about BW. I'm neither a blogger nor a writer, so the only time I talk about this online is through posting. But I want to make certain that when I post, I do so in an effective and helpful manner, not an impassioned and ham-fisted one.

Thank you for having this topic.

Tracy said...

Hey 'Dija!!

Ok...I'm gonna take this post as my que to quit lurking and start contributing....

Well from the two pieces of information that you provided, it seems that the "open-sourcing" is primarily being done by the factions that wish to halt the empowerment movement. Different bloggers or commenters banding together to upset or kill a perfectly good message. But they also have lots of infighting about their own issues.

The weight / pity party issue is going to be difficult - simply because the "support system" is always on full alert. BW still equate "thickness" for Blackness and the ongoing struggle. Some BW think "Well I have a "life" (a "man", house, car, etc.) what do I need to be thin like a white girl for?" Not realizing that she had to work ten times as hard for twenty times less....

For every one woman that you get to understand that some things must be released for total freedom to commence, you will come up against 100 that will give you their reasons for not letting go.

And that 100 will have another 100 and "God" to back them up.

We are literally talking about wresting the ideals that have spanned for generations about what a BW is supposed to be and do and look like in this world out of their white knucked grips.

The difficulty in putting the plan into action is another drawback. I could literally be rich in a week if I said that I had a pill or a drink that making me change. But this involves a lot of sacrifice ( I miss fried chicken!) and hard choices and effort. It involves putting aside time for myself, saying no to some folks and facing my own doubts and fears. For a lot of bw, it is easier to play the martyr,ignore the mirror and drown all feelings in food. It is just easier to sail with the tide than to try to swim to shore.

Throw in "the big lie" - Our men like us bigger anyway - and you have a difficult wall to break down.

Difficult, but not impossible...

Bw are from Missouri - you have to "show" us... If you take a good look at the media, movies, even commercials, what do you see most of the time when they show a BW? An overweight woman. And no one challenges this because it is what we are used to....we almost prefer it. There has to be an "unlearning" process. The message that "thick/fat" is the norm for BW has to be exposed for the lie that it is. Feelings will be hurt, but lives will be changed for the better.

Evia's site ( not kissing butt here..) is a good example of how the empowerment open sourcing cells can work....not just talking about it, but showcasing actual results ( in this case, pictures, stories, testimonies of IR couples) of what lies ahead if you use the tools and insight that is being given.

The subscriber eventually gets tired of living vicariously, gets curious and tries the advise for herself - and opens up a new whole new world.

That is why I try to post pictures of my progress - so bw can see for themselves that this and anything that they ever wanted to do can be achieved.


The unity within the empowerment source is also important...agreeing to disagree on some issues, but all standing together on the main issues. The cross blog links and referrals show the reader that this is not just one person's idea, but there is a network of good information from different sources.

You have come to the realization that you cannot save everyone or change everyone's thinking.
There is always going to be much kicking and screaming. So for the fortunate few that do come around and change for the better, the empowerment movement must be consistent in its quest to help better the lives of those who want it.

Happy 4th!!

Khadija said...

Anna,

You said, "I want to take some time to fully prepare my thoughts on this topic, because there are other models and definitions of leadership that can benefit us as BW, and that don't at all involve self-annihilation."-

I know for myself this concern (self-annihilation) is a large part of why I'm not enthusiastic about the "let's get organized" or "let's do _________ together" ideas. We all remember how high school student organizations operated. There were a handful of workhorses, and lots of other people who only showed up to take the yearbook pictures for the group.

Like everybody else, I've got my own life and therefore a limited amount of time that I'm willing to invest in various activities.

Another concern I have about tighter organization is that this almost always involves creating a hierarchy of sorts. Which tends to create power struggles; and intensifies any pre-existing power struggles.

Yet another concern is about how Black folks "do" whenever there's an "official" activist organization. We come up with NEW assignments for other people (the activists) to work on. Without offering any work on our part. We've all seen the pattern of folks writing/calling Activist A and/or Activist Group B to suggest that THEY do ___________. I've seen folks write in with new, suggested assignments for other types of activist bloggers.

Ummm...NO. Before I even consider investing any time or energy into somebody's suggestion, I want to know what THEY are doing/going to do themselves. I self-selected myself to just start doing some of the things I felt needed to be done. Other folks can do the same.

You said, "And I feel like it's the one of the few items of value I can add to the dialogues about BW. I'm neither a blogger nor a writer, so the only time I talk about this online is through posting."-

Ahh, modesty. You keep emphasizing that you're not a blogger or a writer. Err,..okay. Nevertheless, I've found your comments quite thought-provoking and helpful.

You said, "But I want to make certain that when I post, I do so in an effective and helpful manner, not an impassioned and ham-fisted one."-

I haven't heard anything "ham-fisted" about your comments. Everything's cool as far as I'm concerned!
___________________

Tracy,

Hmmm...you've raised some very important points. So...in some cases this weight thing is bound up in keeping one's "Black card"?!! Wow...that NEVER occurred to me.

In terms of the open sourcing, I feel that our "side" has been more or less doing this informally. I've seen occassions where various bloggers have supported initiatives launched by other bloggers. I think that's sufficient.

Since AAW are NOT on lock-down like women in other countries whose freedom of mobility is LEGALLY and PHYSICALLY curtailed, I feel that earlier models of activism are mostly irrelevant. I know that the open source model lacks the emotional payoff of feeling as if we're "coming together." However, as I noted above, I believe these earlier modes come with heavy baggage.

These earlier modes are irrelevant because there aren't any restrictive laws to march against. In fact, there are laws that I feel we need to PRESERVE (such as access to family planning and abortion services). We don't have a maze of laws keeping us in a cage. This is not 1950s Selma. Or the era before Roe vs. Wade.

As Western women, we are among the most free women on this planet! The only thing that's actually stopping us from having abundant lives are OURSELVES. Specifically, our confused, misguided thinking about various issues.-

I don't see how an organization can effectively address something like various individuals' confused thinking. I believe that these battles are won one mind at a time.

These are just my thoughts about all of this.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Halima said...

Sorry for dropping off of the discussion Khadija, it was way past my bedtime.

I think this step of bringing the issue out in the open is so helpful Khadija, even if no answers are found, at least we wont be in a sense ignoring the big elephant!

I agree that if there is to be leadership around the SP/empowernment it needs to be one which takes all the reasons why we are all hesitant into account because it is all very valid that we dont have time, are fearful of sabotage and backlash and lack of support from other women etc etc. All these must be taken into account to fashion some sort of co-operative effort for the work.

I think the first step however is acknowledgement from key participants that there needs to be some form of co-ordinated approach and direction (leadership). We can even leave it at just that acknowledgement stage for the next six months if necessary.

Halima said...

Just wanted to add something about the confusing mind-state of black women.

The way I conceptualize the SP and Emp work is one of lifting up a standard (like moses in the desert if you like), so that bw can see that there is an alternative way to what many know deep down is crazinesss.

This is why I agree with evia that it is about marketing and visibility and raised awareness that an alternative mindset is available.

If you notice how the counter attack has been structured, you will see that the opposition knows instinctively that they must suppress the message and prevent it from becoming common knowledge. This shows that the message is effective all by itself if only bw have the opportunity to confront it.

Lets say we are at this point 1/2 a meter off the ground, what we need to be is 12 metres at least, so the everyday bw going about her normal day to day business, cannot help but encounter and come across the principles and ideas contained in SP.

About bw being free to change their minds, i think one aspect of the problem is how we think in terms of 'dispensation'.

Many bw still feel that we are under a particular black dispensation which requires certain beliefs, outlooks, behaviour, codes, view points etc etc.

i dont want to give too many biblical references but like John the baptist announcing a new dispensation by saying the 'Kingdom of God is here', it requires new ways of thinking, being and going about your business etc etc, unless bw 'sense' we are in a 'new' way/time/dispensation, many will feel unable to jettison the thinking package that comes with the old dispensation.

hope i am making some sense lol!

Felicia said...

...I'm somewhat confused by the mental resistance and the "stuck points" that some AAW seem to have with all of this....

Khadija,

I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of Learned Helplessness.

From Wikipedia...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness

Learned helplessness as a technical term in animal psychology and related human psychology means a condition of a human being or an animal in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance to which it has been subjected. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation (Seligman, 1975).

I feel that we (BW empowerment bloggers, commenters, and silent readers who are also spreading the word I hope) have the BEST chance of helping/swaying those BW who are in group 1 & 2.

In part one of Seligman and Steve Maier's experiment, three groups of dogs were placed in harnesses. Group One dogs were simply put in the harnesses for a period of time and later released. Groups Two and Three consisted of "yoked pairs." A dog in Group 2 would be intentionally subjected to pain by being given electric shocks, which the dog could end by pressing a lever.

A Group 3 dog was wired in parallel with a Group 2 dog, receiving shocks of identical intensity and duration, but his lever didn't stop the electric shocks. To a dog in Group 3, it seemed that the shock ended at random, because it was his paired dog in Group 2 that was causing it to stop. For Group 3 dogs, the shock was apparently "inescapable." Group 1 and Group 2 dogs quickly recovered from the experience, but Group 3 dogs learned to be helpless, and exhibited symptoms similar to chronic clinical depression.


The ONLY way group 3 stands a chance is if they physically move from these all black urban Hell Hells. And I'm not saying that these Hell Holes don't exist outside of Urban environments. What I am saying is a BW has an increased chance of losing her LIFE if she stays in these urban wastelands.

And once you're dead, the games totally over anyway.

In order to reach the promised land (a psychologically and physically SAFE environment where BW can begin the process of deprograming themselves and thus have a chance at living normal, healthy, and love filled lives) they have to LIVE first.

BW MUST physically leave these dangerous all black "communities" because they are taking a psychological BATTERING DAILY that many if not most are apparently NOT bouncing back from.

BW from ALL socioeconomic backgrounds and living environments MUST also leave these new-school anti-life black MENTAL constructs as well.

These black mental constructs are a PRISON CELL for BW.

All forms of "entertainment" produced by these ANTI-lifers should also be avoided.

BW need to go GOLD TURKEY on all of that poison.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

So true, the most effective types of warfare after the post-WWII era that caught up US troops lay in guerilla warfare, where there was no set battleground, no set identifiable soldiers, just individuals poised to strike and make the msot damage from some unidentifiable location.

Indeed, considering those who want to detract from the types of work being done here, for example, and on Evia's, they like the idea of having one person they can point to, because that is the typical type of activism all are familiar with.

But without being able to identify the larger numbers who are interested and who blog, but who are not well known, or who don't even blog but read, and who quietly go about their lives taking and applying what is being spoken of, it is difficult to "engage them in battle" so to speak.

Evia said...

Some BW think "Well I have a "life" (a "man", house, car, etc.) what do I need to be thin like a white girl for?" Not realizing that she had to work ten times as hard for twenty times less....

Thanks for breaking it down, Tracy! The devil is truly in the HIDDEN details. Most of the story is hidden. So this point of yours jumped out at me because I've noticed throughout my adult life that many AA women work so hard and get so little in comparison to women from other groups--who expend MUCH less effort. ALL of my AA girlfriends, associates, and acquaintances have worked a LOT harder than me and have substantially less to show for it, and this is exactly what has caused some of the envy I've experienced with them. They can see that they're putting out a lot more effort than I am and they can't figure out why I live and am shown love by the men in my life so much better than they are.

It's because I THINK differently. That's why I keep talking about the importance ot THOUGHT. AA women need to adopt a drastically new way of THINKING. Without that, nothing else is going to make much difference.

However, THOUGHT is not available in pictures. LOL! That's why if we look at the ratio of energy/effort to results, we can see that it's not a matter of working hard; you have to also work smart. An AA woman can do all of the "right" things and still end up empty handed because she's following a failed thought system. Our captured ancestors worked very hard but many ended up with nothing to show for it. So I've noticed that after all of that hard work, the typical middle class AA woman doesn't end up with nearly as much to show for her work as compared to women from other groups, including other middle class ethnic black women. Some AA women in their 50s are still working like mules.

Also, many middle class AA women don't have much QUALITY in their lives--IMO-and many of them are abnormally stressed and don't get to experience many finer aspects of life because many of them are largely not treated like middle class women from other groups. Many of these other women have a bulk of MEN around them who are functioning like MEN. This is the inescapable difference, no matter how this situation is crunched.

As I and others here have pointed out, many AA women have not opted to live the life of free women. They self-burden. They opt for voluntary servitude. So many middle class AA women pride themselves on being HARD workers, working (some work 2-3 jobs)--like mules. So, I think that some of them believe they deserve to eat what they want after all of that hard work, self-sacrifice, unfulfillment, etc.

They REFUSE to re-train or change their thinking, yet they still will hate on the AA woman who opted from the getgo to live well. I've lived my life as a free woman. Mind you, I also lived well with a black husband because I broadened my options very early and chose well from the global village. I've always had men in my life who relieved me of much stress and burden because I chose men who would and could do that and who realized that that was a major part of their role. I've noticed that many AA women seem to have developed a distinct taste for loser men across the background spectrum.

Khadija said...

Halima,

Oh, there's no need to apologize---You're in a European time zone that's what, 6 or 7 hours ahead of mine! LOL!

Also, I like biblical metaphors. They tend to speed up comprehension of the idea under discussion because most people have heard at least the basic outline of various biblical stories.

You said, "I think the first step however is acknowledgement from key participants that there needs to be some form of co-ordinated approach and direction (leadership). We can even leave it at just that acknowledgement stage for the next six months if necessary."-

Okay. Yes, this generalized coordination would be a good thing. In the past I have supported initiatives launched by other bloggers. I expect to do so in the future.

You said, "This is why I agree with evia that it is about marketing and visibility and raised awareness that an alternative mindset is available.

If you notice how the counter attack has been structured, you will see that the opposition knows instinctively that they must suppress the message and prevent it from becoming common knowledge. This shows that the message is effective all by itself if only bw have the opportunity to confront it.

Lets say we are at this point 1/2 a meter off the ground, what we need to be is 12 metres at least, so the everyday bw going about her normal day to day business, cannot help but encounter and come across the principles and ideas contained in SP."
-

I agree. This is why I'm trying to encourage as many of us as possible to start producing our various creative works that will showcase the SP/empowerment message of freedom of choice. I want as many different, decentralized people as possible spreading these messages in their own way in their own environments.

You said, "About bw being free to change their minds, i think one aspect of the problem is how we think in terms of 'dispensation'.

Many bw still feel that we are under a particular black dispensation which requires certain beliefs, outlooks, behaviour, codes, view points etc etc.

i dont want to give too many biblical references but like John the baptist announcing a new dispensation by saying the 'Kingdom of God is here', it requires new ways of thinking, being and going about your business etc etc, unless bw 'sense' we are in a 'new' way/time/dispensation, many will feel unable to jettison the thinking package that comes with the old dispensation."
-

Hmmm...I'll really have to ponder this. I hadn't thought of this angle until you mentioned it now. The problem with BW waiting for the dispensation is that we tend to only receive "dispensation talk" from BM voices. Most BW don't seriously listen when another woman is telling them something of great importance. We only listen to those sorts of announcements from men.

Which is not going to happen in this context because these males that BW listen to have a heavily vested interest in keeping the status quo by suppressing and distorting word of any announcements about the new dispensation.
___________________________

Felicia,

Yep. I talked about learned helplessness in the post The Inner Sanctuary, Part 3: Decide To Beat The Curve where I said:

"If we are honest, we must admit that there is a LOT of learned helplessness among Black people. If we are honest, we must admit that much of what passes for Black political thought encourages learned helplessness. If we are honest, we must admit that much of our "common wisdom" reflects learned helplessness."-

Yes, these Black residential hellpits aren't just in urban areas. There are some all-Black suburbs south of Chicago that are absolute hellholes.

As you noted, the first step is to preserve one's very life by fleeing these dangerous places into safer areas. And I agree that we must ALL purge our minds of the ANTI-LIFE entertainment products from deranged, new school colored folks.

Khadija said...

Part 2

PioneerValleyWoman,

You said, "So true, the most effective types of warfare after the post-WWII era that caught up US troops lay in guerilla warfare, where there was no set battleground, no set identifiable soldiers, just individuals poised to strike and make the msot damage from some unidentifiable location."-

Yes, this is why I want as many different, decentralized people as possible spreading these messages in their own way in their own environments. Through their own creative works, through their own blogs, through word of mouth, etc.

You said, "Indeed, considering those who want to detract from the types of work being done here, for example, and on Evia's, they like the idea of having one person they can point to, because that is the typical type of activism all are familiar with."-

Yes, it's similar to the way the US military likes to perceive of enemies/competitors as James Bond-type villians. They portray folks (Saddam Hussein, etc.) as The One Big Villian---"Dr. No."

The Internet Ike Turners/BM trolls/Ikettes are very similar to the White, racist, Southern segregationists: They desperately want to believe that it's only a handful of "outside Northern agitators" who are spreading the message.

You said, "But without being able to identify the larger numbers who are interested and who blog, but who are not well known, or who don't even blog but read, and who quietly go about their lives taking and applying what is being spoken of, it is difficult to "engage them in battle" so to speak."-

Exactly. For example, I've been talking to a number of BW at work who then quietly give copies of various bloggers' posts to their college-age daughters. Their daughters then quietly discuss these ideas with their BF friends. All of this is quietly happening "under the radar."
_________________________

Evia,

You said, "That's why if we look at the ratio of energy/effort to results, we can see that it's not a matter of working hard; you have to also work smart. An AA woman can do all of the "right" things and still end up empty handed because she's following a failed thought system. Our captured ancestors worked very hard but many ended up with nothing to show for it. So I've noticed that after all of that hard work, the typical middle class AA woman doesn't end up with nearly as much to show for her work as compared to women from other groups, including other middle class ethnic black women. Some AA women in their 50s are still working like mules.

Also, many middle class AA women don't have much QUALITY in their lives--IMO-and many of them are abnormally stressed and don't get to experience many finer aspects of life because many of them are largely not treated like middle class women from other groups. Many of these other women have a bulk of MEN around them who are functioning like MEN. This is the inescapable difference, no matter how this situation is crunched."
-

So THIS is the reason why I get the "side eye" from other AAW on those rare occassions when I talked about my plans to quit my job and STOP working in a couple of years! [Even though I never tell anybody the details of what I'm doing, I've learned to shut up about this in general. So as to not give the "haters" any opportunities to sabotage me.]

So THIS is why some other AAW have called me "lazy" over the years because I REFUSE to work like a dog for any reason whatsoever! I didn't understand that until you and Tracy explained this.

I've worked (one job at a time) for the past 20 years, and I've had quite enough of working in general, thank you very much! I've got other plans for the rest of my life. LOL! This is why I'm building the sort of automated business that author Tim Ferriss talks about in his book and blog.

But here's the thing: NOBODY is stopping these other women from having a better quality of life.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

I'm thinking today about the difference between independence and freedom and how that applies to black women. I need to do a post about this and want to form my thoughts more clearly around this.

Felicia said...

A view from the pits of Hell... (must read)

WHY ARE BLACK LEADERS SILENT ON POP CULTURE OF DEATH AND ABUSE?

http://www.wavenewspapers.com/opinion/op-ed/39999887.html

Khadija said...

...For example, I've been talking to a number of BW at work who then quietly give copies of various bloggers' posts to their college-age daughters. Their daughters then quietly discuss these ideas with their BF friends. All of this is quietly happening "under the radar."...

It's this under the radar activism that really has to take off.

I implore anyone and everyone who knows the truth (that the "black community" is officially DEAD in respects to being a culture that sane BW should be apart of - or contribute to - considering it's disdain towards BW) to "shout it from the rooftops" COVERTLY to sistas.

Under cover.

Under the radar.

Do whatever you have to do (ALWAYS considering personal safety first of course) to get the word OUT.

Because we are truly in the "last days" here. It's getting down to the wire.

But a certain percentage of BW CAN still make it out. IF they're supplied with enough good information. And if that information is presented in the right way by the right people.

That's why what Khadija is doing is ingenious.

She passes the information to the mothers, the mothers pass it to the daughters, and they share it with their girlfriends.

And so on and so on...

EVERYONE do what ever you can. Even if it's a little bit. Because every little bit helps.

To Hell with these non existent so-called "black leaders".

What have they ever done to benefit BW?

They're a part of the problem. They've let things descend into utter chaos and depravity.

And expect to honestly be thought of as "leaders"?SMH

Leaders of what?

BW MUST start being their OWN leaders, and stop associating with, thinking about, mourning, and bearing children by TRASH.

Aphrodite said...

RE: BW and weight

Hello All.

Much respect and gratitude Khadija,


I think that both you and Tracy may have hit the nail on the head when you talked about identity being tied into weight.

I think that for some people from certain class tiers perhaps thinness can be perceived as being a "white woman thing" or a bougie white woman thing and black people don't do that.

Aphrodite said...

Another angle is when Tracy mentioned "thickness". I do have an affinity for a shapely female form. That is my personal ideal of what I consider attractive for myself and what I notice as attractive in other women. Not necessarily a fat or overweight one, but curves...

But I can say that perhaps this was learned. Because if I recall correctly Rev Lisa had some posts that discussed the hierarchy of BW and how body shape/size was one of the ways that BM ranked BW.

Perhaps the concept of "thickness" is a part of that - which again ties into identity- which most BW still take cues for from BM.


Then I think that on an individual level weight issues can be connected to your identity. I can remember Dr Phil and Oprah having a show (and Dr. Phil mentioned this in one of his workbooks that I have) that [this is just a fast interpretation]

1. sometimes excess weight can be comfortable for a variety of reasons. Even though large people may be treated differently there is still some safety and security there. It is like the devil you know sort of thing.


2. once the weight is shed you have to face all the reasons why it was there in the first place whether emotional, physical, whatever- and you have to learn new coping strategies and new ways of being which can be frightening and painful for people.


3. dealing with others forcing their opinions about your identity on you/sabotage etc. In his book and when he was on the Oprah show this was covered a lot. One woman in the book described when she lost weight her close friends began to alienate her.

On the show one BW stood up and said after she lost weight she became the butt of family jokes i.e. she can catch rain water in her neck and there were warnings of her becoming too thin. Other audience members talked about sabotage where people would constantly offer food that they said she didn't want.


I can relate to the last two. Some have begin to notice my loss recently and I have gotten one or two warnings of don't get too thin. People feel it is ok to ask me how much weight do I plan to lose total. Then there are the jokes of me being a head and some clothes walking down the street.

I have even had people foist food on me that I didn't want. I was at a family gathering and I had one family member offer me a plate with 4 pieces of white bread when I told him I am not eating bread period at this time and I definitely don't like white!


I went out to dinner at a Thai place with some now ex-friends and specifically told them that I didn't want sugar or pasta and this women ordered two Thai sweet teas paid for them and pushed them across the table at me telling me over and over that they were really good and I couldn't drink just one bc they were soo good blah blah blah. Then got pissed when it sat there bc I was sooo unappreciative of her kindness.


I even had a co worker who was fat all her life and before she came to work with us- she lost weight. she was a size 4/6 and the women who worked with us- all black and some were her relatives talked about her like a dog. Lots of what she thinks she is- how her personality has changed (which in hindsight she was demanding more and better which was def not a bad thing), but was seen as bad by the women bc she was seen/deemed as "unworthy". She was also the darkest among us which in my opinion didn't take away from her beauty, but may have had something to do with the backbiting as well. The only thing I didn't like about her was that she was so ghetto (loud, profanity)in her language and mannerisms. She really could have been in like Flynn if it were not for that bc a lot of the white male clientele were really fond of her.

Aphrodite said...

At any rate the show explored the identity and weight angle further. A husband and wife were on there bc the husband said that he no longer "knew" who his wife was. She changed her personality changed- of course they were black.

And Oprah/Dr. Phil started saying something to the effect that if you have been overweight for so long and that is what people know/expect of you- perhaps they feel a bit threatened by you changing or you can even feel threatened or intimidated by the change. Things that may have been crutches/excuses in the past will no longer work/apply for the individual. A person may say they are being discriminated against- socially or professionally bc of their weight and when the weight is gone they have to deal with the true source of whatever. And again people may want you to be the "old" you.


So maybe there really is that group lock step pressure/identity from a variety of angles in addition to the other variables mentioned. I mean just think of how AA identity is so caricaturized by the ABC's. I don't think it could be too far fetched to think that physicality could be included in that as well.

Felicia said...

When I stated...

"I implore anyone and everyone who knows the truth (that the "black community" is officially DEAD in respects to being a culture that sane BW should be apart of - or contribute to - considering it's disdain towards BW) to "shout it from the rooftops" COVERTLY to sistas."

I SHOULD have added (and will therefor do so now) on a non-reciprocal basis.

This point can't be stressed enough.

Traditionally BW have given to the black community (when it was a community) BUT there was SOME positive return in the end. That is marriage, respect, protection, a higher degree of support, fathering of ones children, etc...

Now, it appears most BW (70% single rate, 70% OOW birth rate, etc.) are receiving NOTHING from all of this giving.

Nothing but disdain and a hard way to go.

So, I would just hope that BW would start being more selective of who they give to and what they give.

And if all of this giving is not being reciprocated it needs to STOP.

Plus, outside the "bc" it's mainly men who do the giving and women and children who are on the receiving end when it comes to the basics of a good life.

This role reversal mess that too many BW find themselves in needs to stop.

Aphrodite said...

@ Evia

"They REFUSE to re-train or change their thinking, yet they still will hate on the AA woman who opted from the getgo to live well."


I think this is a mixture of low self esteem/bad self concept. I think that the person like this may be unaware of their options (magical thinking on auto pilot i.e. other people just got it like that) or see herself as unworthy of taking/acting on those options i.e. that is for other people not for me.

Aphrodite said...

@ Khadija,

"So THIS is the reason why I get the "side eye" from other AAW on those rare occassions when I talked about my plans to quit my job and STOP working in a couple of years! [Even though I never tell anybody the details of what I'm doing, I've learned to shut up about this in general. So as to not give the "haters" any opportunities to sabotage me.]

So THIS is why some other AAW have called me "lazy" over the years because I REFUSE to work like a dog for any reason whatsoever! I didn't understand that until you and Tracy explained this."



Wise move to use stealth to work towards your goals. :)


I too have been called lazy and gotten the side eye many many times.

This is an area that I need more clarity on as well in order to have more balance bc I do have some guilt around this sometimes.

My mother and I have had serious disagreements about this as well as my brother (I know I should consider the source with my brother) and some of my extended family members. My extended family thinks I am too lazy to breathe and my mom and brother often called me lazy coming up and there is still some sting there from that.


The thing is after my dad died my mom became the work mule for her brothers in sisters - who were all married. Feeding everybody(we are talking the whole fam dropping in unannounced for sunday dinner), loaning money (and she is a widow), loaning property (tools, lawnmowers), sewing clothing/altering clothing at a moments notice for no pay, giving away her clothes, sunday hats, shoes etc, making care packages for some of them with can goods and toiletries, running errands, providing transportation with no gas money for adult heads of households to get to work or run errands, tending to the sick, assisting in raising grandchildren, babysitting for cousins, receiving and forwarding mail etc..

Aphrodite said...

How or why they came to view me as lazy I don't know and I went through a phase trying to prove to them I wasn't lazy. It seems like some people in my extended family want to "punish" me with crazy levels of work/busyness/hardships.

I mean I did chores and the like and I handle my business to make sure my needs are met financially, but I don't get and still never get the hardship/struggle love affair.


I have to admit honestly I do want an easy life and what is wrong with striving to get as close to that as possible?


I think it has even gotten to the point where the AA woman workhorse idea has seeped through to others.

I was having a convo recently with some nonblacks and I just blurted out my desire to see the world. In the past this was a passing thought, but as a result of hearing about all the BW living it up in europe and traveling and such I have been really thinking...

And some of the comments from these people - who have traveled themselves- didn't sit well with me. It was as if I grew a third eye and they wanted to know "why" I wanted to travel as if this was odd bizarre and I shouldn't want this blah blah blah... I should be "in my place".


There have also been other moments with nonblacks where they have expressed in so many words that I have had it "too easy". Which I think is a hoot to say the least considering that I am AA and a woman and some of them have white privilege.


So I think that whole strong BW thing is bleeding out...

Since I really don't like people implying or suggesting that I not/can't do something i have decided to expand my travel.

I mean on the inexpensive side people backpack/couchsurf abroad all the time - why would this be odd?.

Even though sometimes it is hard for me to have that balance of being nice to myself all the time I do make it a point to take a vacation for my birthday and do something really nice for myself every year on my birthday no matter what.

And I have gotten the side eye for that bc I go top shelf all the way for my birthday whether there is someone to help me celebrate or not: whether it is skin treatments, spa haircuts, loads of champagne, I take myself to a formal dinner at a (with my special birthday outfit), I order pretty birthday cakes, nice hotel accommodations, I plan an itinerary and go do touristy stuff and take lots of pictures. That is my time to be a princess and feel good about myself. And people look at me as if I have the third eye.

So far I have only been to Mexico, but I am dying to wear my passport out. So maybe like I said I could expand my birthday locations to include international ones.

Khadija said...

Faith,

I'm looking forward to your post. Indeed, independence isn't quite the same thing as freedom. It's all about the nuances! LOL!
_________________

Felicia,

You said, "To Hell with these non existent so-called "black leaders". What have they ever done to benefit BW? They're a part of the problem. They've let things descend into utter chaos and depravity. And expect to honestly be thought of as "leaders"?SMH Leaders of what?"-

Well, to be fair, and to give the credit that is due: Rev. Jackson was heavily involved in Dr. King's integration efforts that made it possible for us to be free enough to travel, or do much of anything. For all of his MANY faults, let's be clear--Integrated lifestyles would not be possible without the efforts of deeply flawed people like Rev. Jackson. We tend to forget so many things so quickly.

Also, Revs. Jackson and Sharpton do have a history of responding to grievances that crossover Black politicians (such as our current President) NEVER respond to. Who you gonna call when racist Whites/Mexicans/whoever hang a noose around your front door/office door? You couldn't call crossover Negro politicians like former Sen. Obama about that kind of stuff. He never responded to those sorts of issues. He had to stay nonthreatening, and keep Whites comfortable with him.

However, to give a FULL accounting one must also mention the following:

Many (most?) of these BM leaders are part of the same negative behaviors that have caused the total disintegration of the former AA community. They are mostly womanizers and cheaters. They are often absentee fathers. Some of them are Negroes who like to beat women (like Maulana Karenga, etc.).

In Rev. Jackson's case, I went to high school with two of his kids (Johnathan and Santita). [Yes, a LOT of folks went to this one particular public, magnet high school in Chicago. LOL!] I didn't know them well. At the time, I had a few acquaintances in common. The impression I always had from what few bits of information came my way was that Rev. Jackson was rarely home. That was when I realized the costs of parental notoriety.

I'm saying all of this to say that the bulk of our BM leaders cannot lead regarding the issues that currently confront our people. They can't lead because THEY are actively part of the problems!

You said, "Plus, outside the "bc" it's mainly men who do the giving and women and children who are on the receiving end when it comes to the basics of a good life.

This role reversal mess that too many BW find themselves in needs to stop."
-

I think that things have reached the point with the normalizing of OOW, and eternal singleness that many (most?) AAs no longer have any sense of what normal family life is like. {sigh}

Khadija said...

Part 2

Aphrodite,

Thank you for your kind words; I truly appreciate it.

Well, what can I say about all the various forms of madness you've described regarding the weight issue? One of my friends talks about what she calls "the layers of dysfunction" within the AA collective. I see that.

I also see that a lot of us just aren't going to make it. I think about the peers I know who are dead. I think about the peers I know who are dealing with serious health issues. I praise God for my health and the opportunity to move forward. After seeing what feels like so many lose their chances or their chance to move forward with relative ease, I'm determined not to squander MY opportunities to keep moving forward.

It occurs to me that so many people are carrying so many DEAD things, DEAD issues and DEAD thoughts around on their backs. Much of it stems from mess that doesn't really matter anymore in the general scheme of things. It's like being robbed multiple times from just ONE robbery. There's the initial loss in that original moment. And that initial loss is compounded with each future LOST moment that is squandered reliving/clinging to the original problem.

I understand how easy it is to get caught up in that sort of negative mental replay and carting of mental "mess" around to new situations. I've done my share of that in the past. As the notion of mortality becomes more tangible to me with each acquaintance's death, I find that I have less time for that sort of thing. The ancient samurai used to meditate on death quite frequently. It apparently helped clear their minds of nonessential clutter. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also spoke of contemplating death.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Halima said...

Khadija i think i did not explain myself well at all. sorry bout that, i was rushing out the door. Scratch everything i said about dispensation (I was using it in a very old biblical sense to mean 'in the days of'). i will start again.

When you said

I'm somewhat confused by the mental resistance and the "stuck points" that some AAW seem to have with all of this..... In my case, I took the time to re-examine my ideology (and what I was doing) shortly after I was presented with new information (the Dunbar Village Atrocity & Aftermath, various blog essays, etc.). After reviewing all the new ideas and new information I had come across, I decided to change course. It was painful, and I grieved over the loss of the previous ideas I had found certainty in. But I'm better off for it.

The key here is that you abandoned an 'ideology.'

it is key because when you abandon an ideology, along with it goes its attendant beliefs, outlooks on life, behaviour codes, view points etc etc ie things that are tied to this ideology.

I find that many bw are trying to incoporate bits and pieces of useful advice without rejecting an underlying ideology. This might be the reason why they seem not to get very far and they dont seem to be able to abandon certain outlooks, behaviour, sticking points etc. This is because they are still clining to an ideology, thus the behaviour that makes perfect sense under this ideology automatically continues or bubbles up from time to time. they need to totally uninstal the ideology which will take with it, its attendant problematic and maladaptibe 'behaviour set'.

So what is the overall belief or ideology that remains 'uninstalled'? I think it is 'bm and bw together' ideology. This belief comes with its own practices, codes and etc.

What we can learn from you is that you finally understood, 'What time it was'. There are a host of people out there trying their best to prevent bw from understanding 'what time it is'. In fact this has been the main trust of the opposition; to get black women to 'sit right back down' in the idea that everything remains the same, the battles havent changed for them, black men havent changed, the priorities havent changed etc etc. They keep saying, 'Stay put, stay put in what you are doing, on the course you have been travelling'. You hear about people fighting wars that have been over because they were not informed or didnt observe the surrender etc. they carry on the behaviour that is 'required' for that war. This is like the case with bw, carrying on a behaviour set not meant for the now reality!

Black women must come to the understanding that there has been a change of 'regimes' and we are no longer in the regime of 'bm is coming for bw', or 'bw and bm are to build a community together,'.

Getting bw to understand what regime we are really under by pointing out the signs and the observable evidence, will hopefully get them to reject on the whole, the ideology which causes them to operate these maladapted and counter-productive life strategies. for those who kind of sense the truth, it will take courage for others, just having their eyes opened to the truth will enable this debunking process to happen.

The users and anti-bw folk want desperately to keep them thinking they are still in the days of 'black man and black woman unity' so they can harness them for keeping the dead idea alive.

Halima said...

To further our discussion of appropraite co-operative models, i think a useful one could be that of everyone continuing their own work as they have been doing etc, but contributing 10-20% of time and effort to some collective project(however this might be decided).

Leadership can also be revolving rather than static, with 'terms in office,' (so to speak) with as little as 1 month-2months terms for a 'project lead', which might go some way to counter hierachy battles that you mention.

If the will and understanding that we can do much much more work through even a small collaborative effort, then, we can formulate an appropraite and effective co-operative/leadership model.

Felicia said...

Khadija,

THANK YOU for giving a historical perspective. OF COURSE black leaders have historically done WONDERS for black folks of both genders.

Everyone knows that. That's in the historical record. When Black History month is celebrated, it is this previous life enhancing behavior that is pointed out.

None of us would be where we are today without the Sheroes and Heroes of the Civil Rights movement and pre Civil Rights movements.

We should ALL pay homage to them for what they did (and the blood they shed) for US.

What I was referring to in my previous comment was what you alluded to here...

Many (most?) of these BM leaders are part of the same negative behaviors that have caused the total disintegration of the former AA community.

Because of their current refusal to condemn negative behaviors that are KILLING American black culture (and black women and black children), that they probably WOULD condemn IF the perpetrators were white, they have ceased to be leaders in my eyes.

The ONLY reason why more black folks - regular and those who cold make a serious difference because of their influence - aren't calling a spade a spade and fighting this destruction that is swallowing individuals and communities whole, is because it's damaged beyond repair black men who are causing the chaos.

And according to the powers that be in "bc" nobody is supposed to touch or even refer to DBRBM.

Apparently they're supposed to have FREE REIGN to cause as much destruction as possible.

This mentality is SICK.

YES, you have a few black people in prominent positions who are speaking against the madness.

BUT, that's too few to produce positive change.

The very fact that those notable blacks willing to speak out are in the minority, just drives in the point that BW need to start looking INWARD instead of outward.

NO one is "coming to the rescue". BW are going to have to rescue themselves.

Khadija said...

Halima,

You've said so many important things that they merit a Reader's Money Quote. THANK YOU!
________________________

Felicia,

You said, "NO one is "coming to the rescue". BW are going to have to rescue themselves."-

Exactly!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Halima said...

Gee khadija thanks for showcasing me under money quote! I am blushing now!

Khadija said...

Halima,

You welcome, and THANK YOU for your thoughtful, incisive comments!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Aphrodite: You can travel abroad and work even depending on your age and country

Check out http://www.bunac.org which gives a 6-1yr work permit for students who live abroad. It take about 3 weeks for them to process this. The UK has no age limit. You have to be registered for a full-time course load which they verify but I say signup for community college and drop the classes after you've received your credentials if you've already completed school.

Getting out of this country and living elsewhere - even if it's another Western country still offers an alternative and different perspective. As well as greater appreciation and opportunities to date.


My post is up by the way and I didn't specifically talk about all of the things some AA black women are struggling with: that would be being a mule for others - or being expected to be one by others; etc because some are still trying to deny it so I did try to incorporate these ideologies in a roundabout way. Onward and upward!!!

Aphrodite said...

Thank you Faith for that link! I really appreciate it. I looked around the website and one or two of the countries look interesting. And thank you for the tip on classes. :)