Monday, July 06, 2009
Fending for themselves among Wolves
Sometime in 2006 I wrote an article about the 'wall of shame' created by some black girls in Brown University to shame their black male counterparts for their preference for non black women and possibly with the intention of getting these males to come back. This incident I believe happened in 1996 and garnered media attention. These young women ended up looking bad on so many levels as you can imagine.
In the article I talked about being shocked that these girls were willing to lay down their self respect in a bid for black men, an attempt which failed. I was also suprised that they recieved no counsel against doing something that would not only convey the idea that they had no inherent attractive features and so needed to compel the men by shaming, but also that their activities lent to the notion of white beauty as superior. Those were indeed the days when black women would abandon self-pride in their most often futile attempts to get black men (it still continues to today, but a lot more black women employ some sense and self-awareness). I talked about how full of pride and big headed white girls were likely to be after the incident.
I am looking at this issue again. You see, even in articles written back in the 80s, there are clear descriptions of this same phenomenum; the rejection of black girls by black boys in school for their non-black counterparts, even today it is a widespread and well known practice. So why is it that each new batch of black girls goes to school unaware and unsuspecting and thus has to have their confidence crushed? Why did these Brown young women seem ambushed by this phenominum such that they had this reaction, when we all know that it happens and has for years?
Why are our young women still being sent off to schools and colleges naïve in the idea that black men will be theirs and embracing the idea that they must continue to reserve themselves for black boys/men and this is somehow a viable idea?
How is it that big sisters, aunts and mothers have decided to leave their daughters unprepared for something they themselves know and experienced. I question if they do indeed have good intentions towards our young black girls or are they so eager to see them hurt and demoralized as they were. Indeed, is this some necessary rite of passage for our girls.
We have and continue to do our young black girls a terrible wrong. Yes this does speak to the fact that the tradition of care and 'big sistershood' towards the next generation of black women has been eroded, if it isnt non existent altogether.
These black women at Brown are forever enshrined as the ugly ducklings because no one prepared them for the reality which we all knew would confront them on campus.
Sometime ago I was having this discussion with a freind who has two young girls. I said to her that she would have to prepare her daughters for the dating reality of today. She responded in a way that showed she was resistant to the idea. To me she was somehow willing for her daughters to persist in the 'fantasy' that black men would come for them regardless of the damage this obsolete idea would have. In truth, she appeared not to want to process this painful idea and join the dots of what she knew deep down(the recurring theme of black female lack of courage and burying their heads in the sand around this particular issue). I told her to remember her experinces in school of being taunted for being dark and asked her why she wanted her girls to experince all that unprepared. I told her if I had anything to do with it, the young ladies would be well prepared.
This whole incident underscores for me the fact that black women’s naivity is a tool used by black people and in particular pro self-sacrificing black women to continue to keep alive the non sustainable 'black unity' idea. To them the pain and self-doubt that will result for black women is a small price to pay as long as the black unity dream can be kept alive for a little longer. Naivety is a tool used to lock black girls into a life of sacrifice which they get trapped and groomed into before they know what the deal is.
What many folks seem unable process is that black unity cannot be sustained beyond this generation by only black women.
Yes you would have thought that by now, this understanding of how black boys behave would have entered into and been incorporated into the general 'intelligence' passed to young girls to enable them negotiate school life and their youth effectively. Yet black women who have gone before them somehow see passing on this crucial bit of information unimportant. The question is, are older black women looking out for the younger ones? It doesnt appears so.
Perharps failure to recall their experinces and pass on knowledge is because they are blocking out their own painfull experinces and trying to minimizing it for their mental health, however our young girls are being damaged and for their sake we must confront this issue and shore up their self esteem before it gets shot to pieces.
Indeed I cannot believe that here we are in 2009 with the issue covered over and when we do talk about it, it is in fits and starts, as if it is something new and something not widespread. We mention it in passing and speak about it as if it is just an anomally with limited occurrence when it has been with us for decades. We mention it as a side issue as if it is irrelevant to the mental-well-being of black girls.
But the rejection of black girls at school is now an entrenched culture from all observation. Can you imagine your young sisters, nieces and daughter being in that atmosphere, going through that esteem destroying experince everyday, with no protection, no mental armour given them by those who know the deal. Can you imagine the damage to their esteem and sense of self as a women. You hear all sorts of disturbing stories about black girls sitting huddled in the corner at prom parties, while the white girls are dancing with every type of color.
Can you imagine the distorted image of black women generated in the mind of white girls, and the inflated sense of self and ego they will always carry towards black women.
Why are we then suprised when our young women begin to normalize the idea of being alone and the notion that they are just not the ones to get men, or that they should be grateful for any attention, setting the stage for later acceptance of singleness and defective selection patterns.
Many of you are quick to extend compassion and consideration when bad things happen to non-black young women, but see black girls as being able to take whatever, strong women that we are supposed to be. We do not realize that these are not women with the experince and developed skills to be resilient, but our young vulnerable girls. Why do we cast them as those who ‘can take anything’ as if strongness is magically inherited by black females. And then we get shocked when they crack under the load.
This active devaluing of black women among their peers means black women are increasingly finding it hard to relate to wider society and even other women on an equal footing and with a sense of pride and confidence. Rather they are forced to carry a sense of personal shame and fear and a sense of not meeting the mark. Indeed black women become destabilized in their relationship with the rest of the world.
We must fight back!
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Posted by Halima at 8:46 am