Thursday, April 23, 2009

Are you a member of the 'Cult of the Blues’

We have been having very thought provoking discussions on a number of black female empowerment blogs and a few days ago on Khadija’s Blog , we came round to the question, ‘Why are many black women not creative in the pursuit of their advancement?’ You give some simple, straight forward suggestions and instead of ‘taking off’ with it, or at least doing something with it to a little extent, they come back to you with the most basic of questions of how to make it happen, or they become more creative and fast thinking in pointitng out reasons why it wont work.

Many black women when given some insight and the outline of a strong strategy that will launch them to another level, respond in a way that can cause one to wonder whether they are really serious about moving forward. This can be very frustrating for many of us who want to see black women win because while I do not discount the fact that some black women genuinely do not know how to help themselves out on the most basic level (a situation which is very worrying in itself), these ‘I cant even figure out how to put my left foot in front of my right without help’, responses can suggest there is no real desire to move away from a situation and excuse making just to stay put.

Many of you are acquainted with the ‘Hole in the bucket’ ditty made popular by Harry Belafonte. Essentially a guy wants to get out of helping fix a bucket by pointing out obstacles to getting this simple task done.'s_a_hole_in_the_bucket

The strong sentiment communicated by his inability to do any 101 thinking around plugging a hole in a bucket, is that he does not really want to do it or he prefers the situation (lazing in the sun) as it is.

Not wanting to do any rudimentary thinking to put a plan into action, and not wanting to exert oneself in this regard, speaks to being comfortable in a situation or maybe still, not wanting the ‘change’ strong enough.

I want to point out a few other reasons why black women don’t want change.

Some black women have decided that black womanhood is about ‘singing the blues’.

In might not be a well formed thought and understanding in their minds but on some level this is how they understand black womanhood. They essentially feel that black women’s lot in life is to ‘sing the blues’; go through hardships and make it through the fire and just have a catalogue of complaints in tact and in place and ‘the lord will wipe away their tears some day’. This can mean that black women can indeed both seek out and set up situations that turn out this way.

I do believe that a host of back-to-front injunctions from the black community leads black women into a whole heap of hardship, yet at a point black women connect with this ‘identity of the blues.’ What happens however when black women latch unto the idea of ‘change’ or ‘more’ without addressing the deep rooted belief that black womanhood is about hurt and pain? Well it sets up self-sabotaging behaviour, resistance to doing anything real and practical towards making the change happen, or fault finding and lack of creativeness around suggestion towards coming out of dire situations.

Remember that our foremothers had woes aplenty. It is not suprising then that there are those of us (many at that) who have come to identify with a ‘woe is me’ life, in fact we have made it a ‘culture,’ and seek it out as a situation (most often subconsciously) regardless of talk to the opposite.

Many black women’s deep instincts on this is, ‘What’s a black woman without her blues situation?’ So when you suggest to them a way out, how they can have it better, or stress free, drama free existence, how they don’t need to suffer lack of men or not have to carry back breaking burdens, they get mighty uncomfortable because that is definitely not a black woman to them.

Deep down and without even processing it on a conscious level, black women who belong to the cult of the 'blues,' are saying, ‘That doesn’t sound like a black woman,’ ‘Where is the pain situation, where is the burden and the heavy load I have to labour under to really be a true black woman?’

This is a key reason why, when shown how we can move away from lack, some of us will find ourselves going back to or gravitating towards websites and forums that dwell on our pain situation without a clear plan and encouragement towards real solutions (beyond hope and pray and 'if we love urselves more it will happen'). Or we continue to moan and complain about lack of men and what have you and essentially thats all we are ready to do, because that’s what it is all about; its not about complaining towards a solution but complaining posibly to blow off steam and then go back to the situation. Yep, 'whats a black woman without her complaint ?’huh. That sure aint no real black woman.

The life of a martyr and the life of suffering is so tightly bound to the identity of many black women that they just automatically move to where there is woe and burdens to be carried.

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Anonymous said...


HoneeB said...

I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head. A lot of people talk about wanting "no more drama", about wanting to do better and have better but don't take the steps to get themselves out of the situations they are in. They just want to commisserate before going back to business as usual or they think up reasons about why they can't do something instead about all the wonderful things that could happen if they succeeded (I have been guilty of this at times). Add this to the whole "being an authentic black woman" thing and I think it adds undue pressure to try to conform to some kind of agenda that we didn't even sign up for. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

"This can be very frustrating for many of us who want to see black women win because while I do not discount the fact that some black women genuinely do not know how to help themselves out on the most basic level (a situation which is very worrying in itself), these ‘I cant even figure out how to put my left foot in front of my right without help’, responses can suggest there is no real desire to move away from a situation and excuse making just to stay put."

This is one of the very reasons why I feel BW should be of help to themselves before helping anyone else. BW are fighting from a disadvantaged downhill position. Energies should be placed in "cleaning one's own" instead trying to clean everyone else house while our own STINKS to high Heaven.

Jewell said...

I agree. If we feel it, tell ourselves it, talk about it with our friends and family, read about it in blogs and magazines, and hear about on TV and radio...then this thinking starts to become part of our identify. The hard part is change. When we start thinking a new way, it can be lonely and scary because the blueprint for this change is less certain.

I decided that 2009 was the year for change. It has been hard to examine my deep rooted issues and to begin to see and interact with the world in a new way. The first step was hard but it is getting better.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's just the opposite. I find most black women like to "stay positive" regardless of how dire their situations are. These women are the least inclined to actually do anything. Black churches are filled to the brim with these women. Black women who "sing the blues" (or rather acknowledge and psychoanalyze), then act) are rarities.

Anonymous said...

Plain and simple most of us are SCARED of change.


Khadija said...

Hello there, Halima!

Excellent post, as always!

Yes, it is quite curious. And you made me laugh with the hole in the bucket song reference. I remember that song! LOL!

There's also the curious disconnect from the very point of our foremothers' hard work: They were struggling so that we could have it easy! Or at a minimum, easier than what they had. NOT so that we could have lives that were as difficult as theirs often were.

I've always had my own goal of moving toward "zero tolerance" of mess. To my way of thinking, my grandparents and parents dealt with a certain amount of "mess" in life so that I wouldn't have to be bothered. If I'm dealing with the same (or more) mess than them, what was the point of their sacrifices? That would be the unmaking of all of their hard work; which is totally unacceptable.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Wow that was deep and true! I just had a conversation with my mom who's in her 50's and she said she'd pray about something or the Lord would deliver her to something she is completely capable of dealing with IF she chose to, but she refuses. So I see where my thinking has changed in less than a year to where I recognize these patterns of "Fix Me Jesus" from people who can pray AND follow through with actions on their own. I get it now and the clarity is quite shocking I tell you. Also I can't pretend to go along with the old program (the LIE). I've learned I have to divest myself emotionally...and physically so I don't have close proximity but that it's okay.

Anonymous said...

A whole race of females is indoctrinated forever and from girlhood to sacrifice at the pleasure of others and to hate themselves, and this is the end result. It ain't rocket science and it ain't the fault of Black females either.