Saturday, December 13, 2014

African-American Women Today Have More Opportunities Than EVER Before - If You Choose To Squander These Opportunities, That’s On YOU and YOU ALONE

Warning: This is a VERY long post that you might want to read in sections.

Weird New School Ideas
Recent online conversations about so-called “Respectability Politics” (RP for short) have shown me that some very weird ideas have become normalized among many younger Western Blacks. I have to specify younger Western Blacks, because I’ve never seen African colleagues, coworkers or acquaintances heap scorn on respectable behavior. Maybe some Africans somewhere are joining Western Blacks in scorning common sense and respectable behavior as so-called RP. I’m just saying that I’ve never seen any Africans do that.

I’m not going to mince words in this post. I’m going to say some things the plain way. I’m also going to quote some comments I’ve recently made online about some of these weird new school notions. But before I get to that, let me make a list of these peculiar, self-defeating ideas and assumptions that I’ve been surprised to see underlying a lot of younger Western Black women’s comments (and perceptions).

·         Weird Idea #1- respectable, sane, and civilized behavior is some kind of burden, equals making concessions to White people, and equals appeasing White people. [Ignoring the fact that in their pursuit of access to White vaginas, BM have been changing their behavior to make themselves pleasing to White women for over a century.]

·         Weird Idea #2 – the way an African-American (AA) woman shows her ethnic and racial self-respect is to behave in an Unfriendly Bordering On Hostile manner when among White people. [Ignoring the fact that in their pursuit of access to White vaginas, BM dropped that Acting Unfriendly Around White People routine 40+ years ago.]

·         Weird Idea #3 – AA women’s opportunities to socialize, network, date and marry in the outer world are as limited as they were 30+ years ago.

These Weird Ideas Are Insult To Our Foremothers

Seeing comments that appear to be fueled by Weird Idea #3 upset me more than anything else. Because it spits in the face of everything that our foremothers went through in the U.S. For any AA woman alive today to sit up and pretend as if she’s living under the same harsh circumstances as our foremothers is a disgusting insult to all the AABW who came before us.

It also makes mockery of everything that AA women in my age group (who were the first mass desegregation generation) went through.

Unfortunately, the sort of careful planning and preparation that apparently was done by AA adults whose children integrated southern schools did NOT happen in terms of northern, big city child pioneer integrationists. At least, not from what I could tell by knowing a number of northern, big city child pioneer integrationists, including several of my cousins.

Instead, what happened in the Chicago-area (and in other northern big cities from what I’ve heard from survivors among the child pioneer integrationists in my age group) is that individual AA parents decided to move into previously all-White or overwhelmingly White neighborhoods and suburbs without any sort of preparation or planning for their children.

In many cases these AA parents did so for ego-centric, showing off reasons. Such as the quest to be recognized as the First Black to live in Fill In The Blank Place. That whole Special Snowflake mental disorder is not a new thing. Many of them didn’t care that their children were suffering and paying the price for their quest to be the First Blacks (and often the Only Blacks) in Fill In The Blank Place.

Which is why off the top of my head I can think of 5 Chicago-area child pioneer integrationists whose minds were destroyed by the experience. One of whom is on psychotropic medications after an adolescence, young adulthood, and middle age spent never having established a healthy or stable lifestyle. AAs never talk about (or even admit) that there were large numbers of AA child pioneer integrationist casualties whose minds were destroyed by the experience.

I praise God that my parents were quite happy to keep living in our all-Black, middle class neighborhood while I grew up. I praise God that I had a foundation of a happy childhood spent growing up in an all-Black middle-class neighborhood. That foundation of being comfortable in my own skin came in handy when I first encountered large numbers of Whites in my magnet high school and at the White college and law school I attended.

What pisses me off the most about Weird Idea #3 is that I can tell that younger, new school AA women are using that false idea as an excuse for their inaction. As an excuse for their failure to take advantage of the opportunities that exist nowadays. I’m not feeling any of that.
The same way I'm not feeling the so-called plight of those AABW actresses who are too lazy to take advantage of the opportunities that literally didn’t exist for earlier generations of Black actresses.
In an age of video podcast TV shows, YouTube videos, digital film equipment, etc., modern day Black actresses don’t have any legitimate excuses for not producing and creating an audience for their own content. These women are not trapped into begging for other people to cast them in their productions the way pioneers like Diahann Carroll and others were in previous generations.

How do I know that most of this “our plight as AA women” talk is an excuse for inaction?
Because in the time that it’s taken me to write and indie publish 6 books*, a lot of y’all in various BW-centric audiences are STILL talking about what you’re “going to do.” [*The recipe ebook I showed an Amazon royalty check for in THIS post, an ebook about homemade organic beauty products, the Sojourner’s Passport book, and 3 romance books geared toward WW romance novel readers.]

Comments During A Recent Discussion
Here are some comments I made during a recent online discussion. Since this part is so long, I’ve made the first sentence or two in each separate comment purple bold:

[Other Commenter],

You said (I’ve emphasized certain parts in bold):

—“On another note, I agree that respectability politics is a good thing. If by respectability politics, you mean presenting yourself in the best light possible at all times in order to combat negative stereotypes associated with your racial/ethnic group.”—

I don’t understand why so many (mostly younger) Blacks keep imposing THIS interpretation on respectable, sane, civilized behavior.

I don’t present myself in the best light possible in order to combat negative stereotypes about my racial/ethnic group.

I present myself in the best light possible because THIS is what works best (and feels most comfortable) for ME. I carry myself as a respectable, sane, civlized person because I AM a respectable, sane, civilized person. And I LIKE and ENJOY being a respectable, sane, civilized person.

Behaving in a respectable, sane, civilized manner isn’t some kind of burden for me. It’s not a sacrifice for me. Which is what new school Blacks make it sound like when they characterize respectable, sane, and civilized behavior as some sort of appeasement of White people. I really don’t get that false connection so many (mostly younger) Western Blacks make between respectable, sane, and civilized behavior and White people and appeasing White people.

Black folks who do that make it sound as if Blacks are inherently depraved savages. Because if somebody perceives respectable behavior as automatically equalling some sort of concession to Whites, or as a burden (much less a heavy, unbearable burden) . . . what does that perception say about that person’s natural inclinations?

Behaving in a respectable, sane, civilized manner happens to have positive side effects. Such as not confirming ugly stereotypes. Such as the fact that respectable, sane, civilized behaviors and lifestyle choices tend to lead to better outcomes in life. But those are positive side effects. I’m a respectable, sane, civilized person because I enjoy being a respectable, sane, civilized person.
[Blog Hostess],
Before I say anything else, let me thank you for hosting this conversation. I believe that being able to talk this issue through has helped a lot of folks (myself included) clarify their thoughts about all of this.
 [Other Commenter],
You’re welcome!
Your comment has stirred up lots of memories and thoughts for me. :-)
First, it’s it pitiful that one has to do all that “code switching” just to go unharrassed among other AA Blacks at work. Because the real deal is that any AA woman who doesn’t display at least a few ABC mannerisms in front of other AA employees will be the target of open and active sabotage by those other AA Black employees. It’s ironic—the vast majority of AAs at any job won’t cooperate with each other to advance each other as a group (the way non-AA others do). But they will get together to cooperate in dogging out another AA Black coworker who doesn’t conform to their expectations of “Blackness.”

Second, isn’t it so very interesting that—no offense intended—so many AA women like your mother feel obligated to carry the torch for ongoing hostility to Whites? Especially given that AA Black males made a point of dropping that unfriendly-bordering-on-openly-hostile-to-Whites behavior around Whites DECADES ago.

As a teenager, I recall hearing AA negro males at my magnet high school making a point of openly saying that they liked ALL girls, irrespective of race. I don’t remember them ever appearing to feel any need to show hostility to White folks. And other AA Blacks didn’t try to check them about their lack of hostility to Whites in general (and White girls in particular). THAT burden of being aloof somehow was reserved for AA girls and women. And AA girls and women were the only ones being “policed” by other AA Blacks over any perceived lack of displayed hostility toward Whites.

It all reminds me of a post by Halima:

Third, I’m appalled to see how some very peculiar notions have taken root among so many modern day Western Blacks. And I have to specify Western Blacks, because I’ve never seen African Blacks scorn respectable behavior. Maybe there are some of them doing that. I’ve just never seen or heard any African coworker or acquaintance scorn respectable behavior. Just sayin.’

Fourth, I’m amazed at how so many new school AA women have kept all these very strange in the modern context notions going. Let me be more specific about what I mean. It amazes me to see and hear so many young AA women still talking this blanket hostility to Whites talk in the modern context. I was a teenager in the 1980s. I’ve seen how much things have changed socially. I grew up in segregated Chicago, and spent my teenage years and young adulthood in the U.S. Midwest. I also have some cousins who are straight-up White-people-worshipping oreos for real.

When I was in high school, college and law school, it really didn’t matter how open and friendly you were as an AA girl or young woman. The vast majority of Whites in the Midwest would NOT respond appropriately. Because the vast majority of them were NOT open to befriending ANY AA Black person, no matter how friendly you were to them or around them. And the racist Whites vastly outnumbered the non-racist Whites. So it took a LOT of courage for a non-racist White person to genuinely befriend an AA person in the Midwest (especially in segregated Chicago). Be “befriend” I mean any relationship or interaction that goes deeper than surface acquaintances (beyond saying “Hi” and “Bye”).

Most people of all races are cowards. Why would Whites go through all those extra changes when there are plenty of their own people to socialize with, date, and marry?

So, during those 2 decades, I heard plenty of anguished tales from those relatives who were the parents of my White-people-worshipping oreo cousins who STILL literally had doors slammed in their faces when they tried to attend White parties that the handful of non-racist White kids at their high school had invited them to.

And I saw things for myself during high school, college and law school: American White boys/men would smile, look at, and admire the beauty of AA Black girls, but only about 5% of them were brave enough to approach an AA Black girl*. And of those American White boys/men who were brave enough to approach an AA Black girl and ask her out, only about 2% of those males were bold enough to take that Black girl home to their parents and family. Things are very different now.

[*Also factor in the non-friendly, closed, bordering-on-hostile behaviors that most AABW are socialized to engage in regarding WM.]

I don’t know what was happening on the east or west coast in the 1980s or 1990s. I’m talking about what was going on in Chicago, other areas in the Midwest and the rest of “Heartland America” (places outside of parts of L.A. and parts of NYC) at that time (I had female AA friends who went to various colleges throughout the country).

Another difference: When I was in college, law school, and during much of my 30s, non-racist/non-hostile White Americans were generally as clueless and oblivious to racism as racist/hostile Whites. Unless there was a cross burning somewhere—with a noose attached to it—the vast majority of non-racist/non-hostile White Americans never really picked up on or noticed racism unless and until they were prompted by Black folks’ outcry. And even then, most of them were so insensitive that they just couldn’t perceive or comprehend that anything was amiss unless and until there was a cross burning.

By contrast, I’ve seen young (30 and under) non-racist White prosecutors—without there having been any complaints or outcry or prompting from any Blacks in their social circle—publicly lash out and go ALL the way off on other Whites who said something they perceived as racist in their presence. I’ve also watched groups of younger (30 and under) non-racist White prosecutors—again, without prompting by any Black person—denigrate other White coworkers that they perceive as being racist.

I’m saying all of this to say that it’s a TRAVESTY to see so many young AA Black women needlessly cut their own throats and squander the MUCH more open social networking, dating, and marriage opportunities that literally did NOT exist in most areas of the U.S. when I was their age (at least not that I or any other AA girls/young women I knew who went to college throughout the country at that time were aware of).

Geez, I hadn’t meant for my earlier comment to be THAT long—LOL! Please excuse me, y’all.

One thing I forgot to mention about the AA negro males at my magnet high school and college who made a point of openly saying that they liked ALL girls, irrespective of race.

In terms of the ones I went to school with, even AFTER some of these negro males “who love ALL girls” (not infrequently) got accused of rape by the White girls they chased after and sexed—and/or physically attacked by these White girls’ fathers and brothers—other AA Blacks somehow never scolded or policed them for their lack of hostility to Whites or for their openness to White girls. In those instances, somehow ALL Black folks’ outrage became focused on the Cry Rape After She Got Caught Sexing A Negro Male White girl or her racist White kinsmen. There was no “What Did YOU Do To Get Yourself Caught Up?” victim-analysis such as what AAs routinely do whenever something negative happens to AA women and girls.

Even after these AA negro males got burned by White girls, they were NOT expected to carry a torch of hostility toward Whites. These negro males were NOT expected to be or demonstrate hostility toward Whites. That duty was somehow reserved for AA girls.

It’s a new day. There’s no self-interested reason for any AA woman to be engaging in Sista Soldiering-style blanket hostility to Whites or other nonblacks. Or for harboring the sorts of assumptions that go along with that behavior. All you do when you do that is erase the “wiggle room” (as Evia calls it) that you might need later on down the road.


For the young-uns in the audience, here are a couple of links to the sorts of things that would happen to Black folks who wandered into or around certain neighborhoods in 1980s America—these 2 incidents are from 1980s New York City (emphasis added in bold):

“Yusef Hawkins (also spelled as Yusuf Hawkins, March 19, 1973 – August 23, 1989) was a 16-year-old African-American who was shot to death on August 23, 1989 in Bensonhurst, a predominantly Italian-American working-class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Hawkins and three friends were attacked by a crowd of 10 to 30 white youths, with at least seven of them wielding baseball bats. One, armed with a handgun, shot Hawkins twice in the chest, killing him.[1][2]

Hawkins had gone to Bensonhurst that night with three friends to inquire about a used 1982 Pontiac automobile that was for sale. The group’s attackers had been lying in wait for either African-American or Latino youths they believed were dating a neighborhood girl.”

“One African-American man was killed and another was beaten in Howard Beach, Queens, New York, in a racially charged incident in December 1986 that heightened racial tensions in New York City.

The dead man was 23-year-old Michael Griffith, who was born on March 2, 1963 in Trinidad and lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was killed after being hit by a car on December 20, 1986 as he was chased onto a highway by a mob of white youths who had beaten him and his friends. Griffith’s death was the second in a string of three infamous racially-motivated killings of blacks by white mobs in New York City in the 1980s. The other victims were Willie Turks in 1982 and Yusuf Hawkins in 1989.”

This incident is from 1997 Chicago:

“For the last few days, a parade of politicians and preachers have made their way to the bedside of a comatose 13-year-old black boy to pray for his recovery and for the city’s soul.

In a storm of fists and feet, the boy, Lenard Clark, was beaten into a coma by a pack of white teen-agers as he rode his bicycle last Friday on the edge of Bridgeport, a neighborhood known here for producing mayors and racial hostility. According to the police, the teen-agers later bragged about keeping blacks out of the neighborhood.

These are tense times in Chicago. The beating of Lenard came on the heels of another ugly but less serious racial incident two weeks earlier. During a high school basketball game, dozens of students from a predominately white, Catholic boys school taunted players from a largely black school with chants of ”Buckwheat.””

THIS was the atmosphere in which teenage and older AA negro males were making a point of publicly saying that they like ALL girls, irrespective of race.

Don’t let anybody try to fool you into thinking that New York City, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey or any other major Northern city was oh-so-different from the dangers of backwoods Alabama in those days. THESE were the known risks that AA negro males were willing to take in order to befriend, chase after, date and sex White girls. Furthermore, AA negro males knowingly took these risks in pursuit of White vaginas without any criticism whatsoever from other AAs after they were beaten and/or killed during their pursuit of White vaginas.

I’m telling y’all younger readers this so you can put it in perspective. AA negro males dropped that Self-Othering Behavior/Acting Unfriendly & Strange Around White People shtick DECADES ago.

 AA negro males have also always been willing and eager to literally risk their lives in order to be friendly to White girls and WW.

AA negro males have also always been willing and eager to behave in ways that White girls and WW found pleasing.

So, why in the world in 2014 (going on 2015) would YOU as an AA woman feel the need to act strange, engage in self-othering behaviors, and do other weird things in order to feel like you aren’t making some [imagined] “concession” to White people?

With all due respect, I feel that a lot of y’all are drawing the WRONG conclusions from what I’ve been (unsuccessfully) trying to express. Let me try this again:

Modern-day AA women and girls (who have their heads on right) are NOT “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” Instead, you have MORE opportunities than EVER existed before for AA women and girls. Especially those of you who are still in the prime of youth—when your “woman card” has the most market value. If you choose to squander the opportunities you have in this day and age, that’s on YOU and YOU ALONE as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re trying to pretend that your social opportunities today are like the way such things were 30-35 years ago (as an excuse for not seeking abundant life in the outer world), that’s on you and you alone. I was there before. Things have changed. Things are significantly different.

Any AA woman who waits until there’s any sort “a solid and SUPPORTIVE community to fall back on” before she seeks abundant life might as well curl and die right now.

Because there will never be any “solid and SUPPORTIVE community” among any sub-set or sub-faction of AA Blacks. Including among the BWE readership. And y’all know that. Because the bulk of YOU aren’t giving “solid” support to BWE activists and readers who have businesses and products for sale. Stop tripping. Evia already (correctly) called a lot of y’all out about that. Personally, I ain’t mad about it (I know how my own people “do”); I just don’t like dishonesty.

That notion of AA women and girls waiting for “a solid and SUPPORTIVE community” before they do X,Y, Z is just another excuse for folks’ ongoing refusal to take advantage of the opportunities that didn’t exist during my youth. I’m sorry, I can’t let y’all slide with that excuse.

I didn’t realize it during high school, college and law school, but there were nuances to those racial beatings of AA negro males. The AA collective likes to characterize those attacks as White hatred against ALL Blacks. I’ve come to realize that this was actually about gendered sexual competition between males. And about White male tribal protection of their tribe’s females from outsiders.

To be blunt: WM and White boys didn’t want AA negro males sniffing around their sisters’ and daughters’ vaginas. BM always describe their actions and issues as being about “civil rights and such (and this is the story BM sell to BW), but it’s always been about BM wanting access to White vaginas.

Males tend to not have any illusions about other males’ real agendas. The same way women aren’t fooled by other women’s agendas. So WM and White boys were never fooled by AA negro males’ “civil rights” talk. They knew the real deal–and knew BM’s real motivations for trying to socialize with Whites–from jump street.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but these racist beatings and attacks were mostly a gendered war between AA negro males trying to access White vaginas and WM trying to protect the women in their group from that. Because another harsh reality is that AA negro males have a widely observed and known pattern of paternal abandonment of the children they sire, along with a host of other sub-par paternal deficits.

This battle between AA negro males and WM has nothing to do with AA women. AA women don’t have a horse in that particular race, and don’t have a dog in that particular fight. Most AA women and girls didn’t realize this nuance back in the day. Because this was sold to us as blind attacks on ALL Black folks (who were supposedly all in it together on the same team), not a gendered sexual competition between males.

My point is that since AA negro males weren’t too proud to make all sorts of behavioral concessions to White people (including risking death) to chase and please White girls, why are YOU worried about feeling like you’re making concessions [to White people] if you carry yourself in a respectable way?

Most AA women and girls in my age group fell for the okey-doke. There’s no reason for you young-uns to fall for the same okey-doke. There is no “team.” There is no “us.” By now, the so-called Black community has made it perfectly plain that they will never support you. BM have made it perfectly plain that they will never support you. Each AA woman and girl has to go her own way. And stop waiting for anybody else to actively support you.

No, it’s not “fair.” Life is not fair. And yes, nonblack women have it much easier because they have active support from the men in their group PLUS active support from BM.

It is what it is. Circumstances and opportunities for AA women are better now than they’ve ever been before in the U.S. If you fail to take advantage of these opportunities–because you’re waiting on support that in your heart you know will never come from any large group of Blacks (including from the audience of BWE readers)–that’s on you, and you alone.


[Blog Hostess],

I’m greatly relieved to hear that I misunderstood what you were saying, and that the issue wasn’t being framed in terms of waiting on support. Praise God! I must admit that I worry about that sort of thing, because AAs have a long-term habit of imposing the same old self-defeating interpretations on new ideas. We’ve done that with every previous new idea/solution AA activists have come up with.

I’m very, VERY thankful for this era’s greatly increased opportunities for AA women and girls.

Addendum. In my view, AABW in my mother’s generation (and older generations) didn’t tell younger AABW the plain truth. About many things. In bulk, they stayed silent about anything that reflected poorly on BM. In bulk, they didn’t look out for their daughters’ best interests (the way a “typical” Jewish mother actively looks out for her daughters’ best interests).

Instead, most of them (some knowingly, others unknowingly) sacrificed their daughters’ and other BW’s daughters’ best interests on the altar of “supporting our young BM.” I don’t do that. When I speak about AA women’s issues, I tell the plain truth as I honestly see it. Whether folks get angry or not. I keep a clear conscience.

Forty-plus years of mass AA out of wedlock (oow) childbearing and the mass fatherlessness created by oow have allowed lots of weird ideas to take root among modern day AAs. Fatherless new school folks can get angry at people like me who point this out. But it is what it is. A lot of AABW are drowning, or barely treading water at best. These weird ideas are a large part of what has AABW drowning.

Another thing that keeps a lot of AABW drowning or barely treading water is their refusal to take action. And their inclination to twist everything around into an excuse for their refusal to take action. I understand that a lot folks want different results without having to actually do anything different. Which is fine. Keep doing the same thing. Please just stop complaining about the getting the same (negative) results that you’ve always gotten while doing those same things. Own your choices—instead of complaining about the fruit your choices bear.

If you want to find abundant life, stop talking and start doing. Nowadays there are opportunities for AABW that never existed before. If you’re serious about living well, you won’t squander these opportunities.