Monday, October 18, 2010

Progress as by-product, She just snapped and a Blog Break

A Break calls to me. I often take a bit of a ‘break’ from Blogging in October and I am about to do that now, but just want to leave a few thoughts with you to chew over while I take a well needed break and I guess a reflection on the BWE work and blog.

Group progress is a natural ‘by-product’
Black women need to realize something very key; community thriving is a natural by-product of women thriving in those communities. We can see this clearly in the case of Africa. The women in most African countries are not doing well and thus the children born to these women are experiencing poverty and deprivation from generation to generation, which sets the tone for the community overall.

Black women going about getting the best out of life will naturally lift the tone of the group which they belong.

The wrong idea however that somehow the black woman has to ‘turn aside’ to do the work of elevating the community has gained currency over the years, this is why many black women think that the progress of the ‘community’ requires some form of denial and active sacrifice on their part. This then becomes the slope into the belief that it requires self-abnegation and the kind of level of dedication which automatically results in ‘self –neglect.’ Rather, community progress is a natural result of them shooting for the best for themselves be it the best ‘health’, best jobs, less stressful lifestyle, the best men, thus the best support and conditions within which they will birth the next generation and thus taking the next generation higher and higher.

Think of how flowers get pollinated from the natural activities of bees. Our fruit come to us as a natural product of Bees going about their natural business of life for themselves! As they gather nectar to make their food (honey) they pollinate the flowers giving us our food and fruit! In the natural course of foraging for food and shelter, animals also disperse seeds bringing in the crop. If a community will thrive it will automatically come from the natural ‘self considering’ activities of women not those of self negation, therefore it is important to be and get the best for you.

Many life process and systems are designed to be ‘built in’ and seamlessly woven into the flow of life. When you have to ‘wind thing up’ ‘over-exert yourself’ even ‘design additional systems’ e.g. set up government projects to bring about something that should be a natural by product of common life activities then you are dealing with a failed system.

She just Snapped!
I arrived home sometime last week to discover that my neighbour had trashed her house (as in smashed up the place).

Apparently the woman snapped and took a sledge hammer (or something of that nature) to the place. Now my neighbour is not black but I think her story highlights the importance of being with someone who shares the same goals both immediate and long-term, often goals that might not even been articulated properly but are deep and abiding aspirations.

From a friend I gathered that her man was an ‘out of job’ decorator. Nice enough but the fact that he was not working I believe played into the reason for the ‘incident’ in addition to other things. The woman was more or less ‘accepting’ of her husband out of work status and he looks after their son, while she works. Anyway I also learnt she was trying to buy a house (the one they were renting off the government). In order to have a chance at this, you have to keep the neighbors happy.

Well guess what, ‘endless loud music and weed smoking’ made the neighbors, write a petition against the woman and jeopardize her plans to buy the place.

My friend said the woman had asked her guy to ‘tone it down’ repeatedly and had warned him that his activities could block their attempts to secure the house. I am sure he kind of ‘got it’ but not to the necessary ‘depth’ and urgency, that was required apparently.

Indeed one thing being out of work can do is that it can make you ‘become out of touch’ with what people who have working lives do and their life flow. For instance people who work 9-5 etc most often do not play loud music on Sunday, or Saturday morning (on Saturday morning in particular because this is the time most normal workers might have for a lie-in), it just is a natural thing that springs from being in the flow of a working life or having a family set up immersed in ‘working and schooling life’ culture.

I believe the underlying major issue however was the fact that this woman was trying to secure the future for her young son. I believe from all indications this woman was of a ‘class’ that had forward plans around these kinds of things while her man was shall we say, ‘more immediate’ in concern. Let me add here that improving the prospects of the next generation with intent and purpose is to me the corner stone of a thriving community. A community that has a pattern of leaving the future of its young to chance (speaking on the family level of course) or approaches it haphazardly or gives the barest minimum it can to the effort is destined to be a ‘failed community’.

I think this was the trigger to the ‘house wrecking’ incident. This woman was doing all she could to ensure her child had a future investment and surely all a man could do was support this noble goal. What she got however was a man who was too focussed on self to not realize the wider impact of his activities (despite repeated ‘talks’) on the efforts of his partner towards securing a future investment for their son. Did the man hate his son? I doubt it, but a more immediate focus and less forward thinking can take the appearance of ‘not giving a care’.

I know many black women who are ‘with’ men focussed on their immediate pleasures and comfort while they the black women are busy trying to see how they can ‘build’ a future for the family. Imagine a situation where a man needs a hug but the wife knows hanging around to ‘cater’ to his feelings means she will miss her train to work. A man who know there is a long term focus in this respect will often compose himself and not allow such emotions to come in the way of long terms goals.

Men who throw tantrums about you catering to their ‘feelings’ or not being constantly there to stroke their little bruised egos (which no doubt in today’s society will be bumped now and again), are unlikely be able to see beyond their selves to focus on larger issues at stake like securing a better future for the children.

So we have an example of a ‘white man’ needing to grow up but in a recent project

I found myself struggling with two black male participants and the feedback coming was that ‘affirmation’ was necessary.

I however realized that the black women and white men and women on the team just ‘got on with the job’, it was the black men apparently who needed all the affirmation and building up and possibly ego stroking to get on with the basic tasks. I thought to myself, ‘It’s not affirming you need, you need to GROW UP’.

Insular mentality Part 11
Black women Please DO move mainstream

Stop huddling together with other blacks afraid of the wider world. Stop hiding away from the broader trends and broader social context looking for the black thing or the black place. Stop avoiding the broader playing fields in search of a black oasis or black controlled spaces where you think you will be supported and valued etc. On the contrary, most of these black spaces now harbour toxic dynamics and attitudes.

This need to separate out and move ‘side stream,’ is I believe a result of black people feeling that the rules of wider society were set against them, and would not let them win and at a point in history this was nothing but the truth. However in our present social context it is deadly for black women to remain always segregating towards that ‘black space’. It is in these places that they face a squeeze, devaluation, famine, cut throat competition etc etc. So essentially all black women have is the comfort of believing that these spaces are nurturing, providing and affirming but the reality is far different from what black women find comforting to believe.

When you move mainstream you give your abilities a good workout and hone and develop skills beyond mediocre (which unfortunately continues to be more than enough within black circles). You need that mental, attitudinal and ability workout from having to compete in general circles, it will make you a better and more aware person. Trust me it makes you think faster, with acuity and become more effective in your craft most importantly you are kept current and modern, understanding what applies ‘now’ as opposed to ten years ago! Sometimes you hear black folk talking and it is like they feel asleep for some decades!

You will learn how to be confident in diverse crowds, how to sell yourself well and make your services/attributes have wider appeal.

Also many black women are looking for the right thing in the wrong place. Many of us are seeking to feel accepted and that we belong in our work places. To me that’s why you have family and friends. Indeed I know a couple of black people who went to work for ‘black organisations’ because they wanted ‘warmness’ and ‘closeness’, they found something totally different! The workplace is a place to make a living mostly (not saying it isn’t welcome if you have thoughtful and amiable work colleagues) but at work, you essentially need a conducive and supportive atmosphere you don’t need to be hugged up with and loved up with your work colleagues!

Yes for some of us who zone in and gravitate towards ‘black this and that’, it can be scary, to think you have to ‘brave’ a wider world (constructed as hostile within the black perspective) but beyond the initial trepidation you are more than likely to receive a favourable response. In the wider context you will find a market for the practical, expedient and that which is good value for money, however within black circles I often find that you have no clue what black folk want and sometimes in the face of real practical needs black folk will prefer to play status games!

I know many ‘progressives’ continue to construct the world as untenably racist for black folk. Now I am beginning to think that many ‘progressives’ hold hidden motives to keep the status quo going, yet unlike their right leaning brethren are unaware of it.

Move outwards and breath fresher air.

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Anonymous said...

Hello Halima,

I hope you have a pleasant blogcation and get some rest and relaxation! I appreciate all that you do and I pray God blesses you 100 fold!

Felicia said...

Enjoy this vacation of yours Halima. You certainly deserve it!

Rest and replenish yourself.

Take care and God bless!

Khadija said...


You said, "Many life process and systems are designed to be ‘built in’ and seamlessly woven into the flow of life. When you have to ‘wind thing up’ ‘over-exert yourself’ even ‘design additional systems’ e.g. set up government projects to bring about something that should be a natural by product of common life activities then you are dealing with a failed system."

Indeed! And I love your example of the bees going about their business.

Rest, relax, and enjoy your well-deserved blog break.

May God bless you for all the life-enhancing and life-saving work you've done!

GoldenAh said...

Have a good time off. I have to say, when I've written intense BWE topics - it is exhausting. Fluff is easy to do. So I admire your ability to keep it going. You deserve the break.


trish said...

Halima, your work is invaluable. Enjoy your time off. We look forward to your return.

foreverloyal said...

Have a good blogcation. This was a good note on which to pause.

Faith said...

We'll be here when you come back! Get some rest.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the woman who smashed her house: this, I think is why the 'at home' dad and working mom situations dont work in the long run. The guy is sooo bad, that hes SMOKING WEED AROUND THE KIDS!! which makes it even worse!!Kids, especially little kids, get contact high real bad if hes smoking it around them. Also, men get the meaning from work generally, and woman get their meaning from home generally from home. Although we women do quite well outside the home, its not good if he's not working too.

Anonymous said...

Have a great blogcation, Halima! And thanks for leaving that little nugget of advice re: moving out of Black zones and havens, as well as the skills-sharpening that comes when one does. I'll take this to heart!

Evia said...

advice re: moving out of Black zones and havens, as well as the skills-sharpening that comes when one does

Yes! Excellent advice.

Halima, relax for as long as you need/want, reflect, and be revitalized. We have to always keep in mind that if we burn ourselves out, we won't be able to help anyone--not even ourselves. Ourselves should thus alway be 'First and Foremost.'

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your rest.
LOL, maybe it is time for you to move. I would hate living next to those people.


Shan said...

Did you hear about the 8 male teens (7 black 1 latino) who beat up an ir couple (bw/wm)? The couple were honor students. This is the second time I heard about something like this happening.

We already know the story behind the mentality of bm, but I can't help but wonder wth is this latino trying to prove. Does he think has some type of "special rights" to bw because he's latino? Apparently this was racially motivated, and the couple was black/white so obviously he's just a follower.

Look up the story. It happened in Cleveland, Ohio.

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