Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Subverting the 'ought to' Codes!

Let me say this to people. Success is not all that hard. The ability to progress and move forward is in the human DNA. Sometimes the way black folks talk about black problems you'd think that we all need to go get a PHD to enable us work out our situation. Yet, it is for the simple fact that we have lost sight of the very basic principles that even most unsophisticated societies know and act on that black folks find themselves as a collective in dire situations. I often see black folks as running about looking for 'high level' solutions, when they should simply go back to the basics and so much would fall into place.

Now I was happy to hear a comment by one of the readers on another IR blog that the 'climate' seems to be changing for black women. She cited her experince of flirting with an Asian and white guy soon after Obama was declared the election winner (and his black wife michelle and two lovely daughters took world focus). She said that it appears men are looking at black women with a new gaze, as if seeing them with fresh eyes. I am so happy for this and say this is one thing I have been looking forward to; a situation of 'harvest' for black women, not just one or two hard fought wins, but a kind of general fertile atmosphere within which black women can reap and reap with little effort.

I want to warn you that there are some people who will want you to keep focussing only on black men for relationships and engaging in those age old conversations and back and forths about black men dating other races that takes a whole lot of black womens energy and critical time. Indeed I heard that a talk show host (a black man) is doing some sort of phone in show on the topic. When black men see that black womens's attention might be going elsewhere, they try to pull them back into the same ol talk and preoccupation. Trust me the idea that a growing number of black women are not obsessing over them and their ativities would send some black men into cardiac arrest. I have unearthed the fact that one of the decided (unwritten) criteria for true black womanhood within the black group, is that black women have to be focused on black men; their activities, their choices, their every move etc etc etc. I will be writing about this topic in the near future.

Sisters, particularly those who are my usual audience, dont waste your time on old and gone things. This is how folks prevent you from looking up and seeing new opportunities. When you are involved in the tooing and froing over black males dating choice, guess what? available and willing men just keep passing by. Now if you want to enagage in such debates then make sure it is to drop the seed of wisdom for other black women who are bound in the loop of hashing and rehasing and obsessing over black men. Put enough info out there for them to know they have other choices, something which the 'black community establishment' would rather they not know and avail themselves of.

Positioning for success

1) Get rid of the urge to 'conform' to what a black woman ought to be
Many of us, without even being aware are acting under black instructions of what I call the 'ought to codes'; how black women ought to talk, see things, feel about things, analysis issues, respond to issues etc etc. I remember being in a women's meeting a while back where a black woman expressed her point of view and suddenly there were all these cries of objection from black women, with one woman jumping up from her seat, and with a stern lecturing voice and even sterner face, tell her how she 'ought not to have 'thought that way' (as a black woman)'. You see as black women, we 'ought not' certain things. We ought not to think certain ways, we ought not to say certain things, we ought not to reach certain conclussions, ought not to take a certain line of action' etc etc etc. This is one key reason why a lot of 'black women's meetings' are unproductive and we black women, havent found a way out of the pit we are in as a group, even though thousands meet regularly all round the country. It is because when we come together we are still operating under notions of what we 'ought to' or 'ought not to' be doing, saying even feeling as black women, so our brain is not free to revolve 360 degrees in search of solutions. At the end of the day, there is only so much we can achieve in such a restricted frame of mind!

Black women are constantly in a straitjacket in terms of what they ought to and ought not do and it has become so instinctive in many that when they hear something spoken outside these accepted terms, they will immediately jump up to push the errant female back in line even if this woman was simply speaking from her pure observations of issues and what her senses were telling her about a situation, yet this is totally unacceptable if it clashes with what she 'ought to be saying'.

Let me tell you black women if you dont know this, there is a reason why the creator gave us five senses. It's that we can respond to what they are telling us about the environment and plot a favourable cause of action! If you dont respond to hot and cold appropraitely by putting on more or less clothing for instance, you could die. If you refuse to heed the blaring horns of a truck, you will get run over! You cannot afford to make a practice of discounting your sense-fed internal intelligence.

If you engage in switching off your senses so as to be more in line with what you 'ought to' be feeling, saying or doing, then you are already in trouble because it will be hard to unlearn this activity and your life will be all about fufilling the 'ought to' requirements rather than what your senses say is needed in the situation. At the extreme end of this, you will reprogram your sense till you are unaware of how you really feel and see things. No wonder we cant get many black women to plot a straight course from 'their needs' to 'the solution'. With all the manipulation going on with black women in their community, with people doing all they can to separate black women from their real needs(even the most basic and practical ones like self preservation), many black women are going to have to be re-taught how to reconnect with their needs as communicated by their senses.

Try this excercise, whenever you feel the 'ought to' response arise within you due to any situation, stop and think about the 'intelligence from your senses'. Think, 'But what do my eyes see?,' or 'What is the conclussion from what my eyes and ears are telling me?' Get to know your real 'sense feelings and responses', even if you choose to overide these.

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Pamela said...

Some serious mind renewal is indeed needed. I am thinking about a friend of mine that is my age (within a year). I had a discussion with her about this a few weeks ago. This has a religious twist to it. She is praying and believing that God will give her a bm for a husband. She will be 50 in February. I mentioned how many bw in the church are praying and believing for this. I told her why is it that so many bm praying for this are not married? I stated the numbers are not there and that God will not go against anyone's will. I told her that she may have a longer wait. Let me tell you I NEVER prayed a prayer like that if my memory is correct:)

If it is a true attraction factor I can see that. We did not have time to really delve into this. I think something else is going on with this. The reason is that a long time ago she liked a wm (not in love) but they agreed to just be friends. There are things I know about that where it was good they did not hook up. However I just wonder why she has not even considered checking out another one.

I am not with anyone. Believe me when I tell you it is NOT because I'm waiting on anyone. I do not consider any 'ought to' codes either. I will do what I want when I want to. The only time I may think a little about this is when I hear of horrible stories like the Marine and his wife that were murdered a few days ago. I can say I am not naive to think that everyone would be happy if I got with a non-black man, especially a wm. However if I live my life worrying about what others think I should be doing I am not living my life but someone else's concoction of what I should be.

sistrunkqueen said...


Thanks for the refresher course. I wish you could go to the BWWDI site and talk to those bw who have some serious issues. I won't go into that now. I am glad that you are telling bw to open their options. Many have and are making power moves. One I know is in Paris,she just moved there a few days ago. Alot of sisters are escaping.

lormarie said...

Just wanted to say that this, along with many of your essays, are extremely enlightening and fun to read. Thanks for the reminder not to conform.

ak said...

Preach on this Halima! I can't stand when other black wopmen or black people period have to jump on a black woman for being individualistic enough to do what ever she wants to do and speak her mind, that somebody has to jump down her throat and make her step back into line!

Can't these black people see that they are being the true mammy and overseer of old?

CW said...

Hi Halima...

Great post as usual, and your comment section is back...Yipee!
And one of the biggest obstacles BW face is 'the mind'...Stop listening to those who don't have your best interests at heart...

The Oracle said...

Hey Halima! Im so glad you've brought back the comments section.

I love that black women are finally mobilizing to get from under black males thumb. We'll be a force to reckon with in 2 or 3 years :)

Anonymous said...

Great post Halima. Your essays have always been very inspiring.

I'm so glad we can comment now!

Taylor-Sara said...

Hi halima, love the post-that was fantastic! Nobody seems to break it down quite like you...keep up the good work.....

Peter said...

Great many THNX! I'm a white guy living in Sweden [land of the long legged tall blondes] and for me, as a blonde, the sight of at darked skinned lady is - mmmmmmm- gooood.
If any of you ladies reading this - go to Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland). Us guys hasnon of the predjujices, we like to cook and take care of the children, change the tyres of the car and assembly the Ikea furniture. And we do appreciate a good woman whenever she comes around...

Anonymous said...

"...Stop listening to those who don't have your best interests at heart..." I think that is one of my favorite beliefs.
Pay attention to your surroundings.


Miss Pinky said...

WooHoo.....the comments are back !

I too, grow tired of the BW "should" do or be ABCD....we are FREE to live and choose as we please.

S.S. said...

This is such a wonderful essay that you wrote Halima. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Julie said...

Fantastic post. I think that it's to do with our survival and tribal wiring. It's threatening when someone has a differing opinion or point of view from the majority. The tribal elders try to suppress that opinion or criticize the person making it to keep the tribe intact(or so they perceive)

The tribal beliefs are a great way to keep people down with reprisals for those with a differing point of view. Also if BW became more conscious about what is really going on and took action based on what is really right for them, the fear is that the bc would collapse.

But ironically that is what is happening.

So many of us go against our god given instincts. I saw an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show with actor/comedian Steve Harvey talking about AA male/female relationships and he said that women give themselves away far too easily.

He said that we override our best gifts ie intuition in order to be with some man. Any man. He also said that men label women as "nagging" "ballbreaking" etc, so that women feel guilty about making legitimate demands on men and men don't have to step up to the plate.

I hadn't heard anyone, male or female say this before or say it like that before but it was spot on.

They then spoke to a young black woman who was in a relationship with, I assumed, a black guy. They asked how it was going and she said that it was fine. Of course it wasn't and she was tolerating too much, that much you could sense, as could everyone else on the panel.

I don't know if you've heard of the Law of Attraction, which is as old as the hills.

But you attract what you put out. Or not. If someone is interested in us romantically comes across as desperate and needy, then we are less likely to be attracted to them and more likely to run in the opposite direction. That kind of desperate energy is not appealing.

The more needy you are, the less respect people tend to have for you. Or you tend to attract very controlling people as a kind of counterbalance.

If BW are refusing themselves the option of dating outside the race in the vain hope that one day their black prince will come, BM pick up on this and go towards other races - that kind of martyrdom energy isn't attractive to BM or anyone else.

BW need to focus on their own needs and well being, their standards and values about who they will accept and won't. If BW set the standard and are clear and grounded in themselves, then BM are more likely to respect them and step up to the plate in terms of having the kind of relationships they deserve to have.

And if it isn't BM, then other kinds of men will. But as long as black women are tied to the notion of suffering and martyrdom, they'll just attract more of same.