Defining Reciprocity: Black Women Are Still Being Told To Put Everyone Else First!

Yet the buck stops here.

Some women think of themselves by their ethnicity or race first. Some women think of themselves by their relationships (i.e daughter of or wife of someone). Some women think of themselves by their station in life or job. Still others are considered by gender in relation to a political agenda…but still have their race or class status hand in hand.

One of the most freeing aspects from reading the essays of empowerment as discussed by certain bloggers is that we are FREE. Their words are a much-needed inoculation against the insanity messages being spouted as facts today.

  • We are free to date whomever we fancy. Character trumps skin shade.
  • We are free to explore our orientation or identity and establish it as we see fit.
  • We are free to explore our individual tastes. Go see the world!
  • We are free to live our lives as we see fit. Our standards are what matter most.
  • We are free from being conjoined with random black men and tying our existence to them.
  • We are free – or we should be – from the myth of the “black community” and upholding its “tenets” of enslavement.
  • We are even free from needing the understanding or approval of other black women for our individual choices. Even the ones that claim to be in support of empowerment.

Why is that so many are invested in telling us what we “should” be doing? I had a conversation with someone who asked me when I was going to do “community service” and help the children. This was the tail-end of a conversation about a black male student who was beaten to death. I think the “people” that need to “step up” are black men and the Civil Rights organizations. Since we know it is NOT black women causing the majority of the violence, the misogyny and the denigration why would anyone assume we have the power to “fix” other people (esp. black boys and men)?

We know them by the fruit of their labor.

Now, I’m not mocking the benefits of offering assistance but the idea that I should feel in any way obligated to encourage, uplift or elevate other people (and their otherwise abandoned, mistreated, or cast-aside kids) is rather presumptuous. I’m certain this will be considered heresy to some but far too many black women have sacrificed themselves at the altar of “saving all of our people” for naught. Things have steadily deteriorated and the depravity will only multiply.

Black women need to stop riding the rescue wave for others and take care of themselves first!

I am a black woman, an African-American but that is but ONE aspect to who I am. I’m also an artist, a writer, a singer and a budding gourmet chef. I’m also a Gen-Xer, born in the USA, grew up on the East Coast and the first-born child. I enjoy a variety of music, love to travel and enjoy plushness. I cry at poignant commercials. I am many things yet sometimes I am no one in particular. Who says I have to be ANYTHING other than WHO I WANT TO BE?

Yesterday, I had to be very firm in setting boundaries with an individual who was willing to take advantage of me. Lack of communication and setting a bad precedent in behavior will only set a path in motion that’s nearly impossible to reverse. After hearing about their various issues with this and that and feeling empathy but recognizing I was about to be steamrolled I had to put my foot down. I was very reluctant to do so but at the end of the day who’s looking out for me if I won’t take care of myself first!!

When we try to be “nice” and overlook obvious flaws to “get along” with others we are not doing ourselves any favors. There will always be some issue that takes precedence. Once people see they can be “abusive” or take advantage it only escalates. It may be a joke at one’s expense, a harsh word or demanding considerations that overextend others. It may be borrowing money with no intention of repaying, asking someone to look the other way or withholding affection.

I wanted to know whether this person would respect my wishes and set aside their self-interest for the greater good. Their response was to become rather combative because I wouldn’t “understand” their difficulties. Actions speak louder than words. It’s why women are referred to as bit*hes when they don’t respond to street harassers or make unpopular decisions. People are very quick to turn to anger when they don’t get their way and lines are drawn in the sand. “Do it my way or else there’ll be hell to pay!” That is the ultimate in manipulative behavior.

When there is mutual respect, concern and affection…you know a true FRIENDSHIP or KINSHIP…people will look at the big picture. It’s one thing to ask for help. It’s another thing to insist the need for alleviating one’s challenges/difficulties at someone’s expense. Sometimes misunderstandings do occur and things should absolutely be resolved. Sometimes people know exactly what they’re doing in crossing a line. Setting boundaries is not the problem. It’s about respect for self – and others by insisting on them to begin with. There’s no need for emotionalism or lingering anger when they are established and adhered to. No one is going to convince me otherwise.

Sometimes we must ensure our dignity remains intact even if our needs cannot be met at that time or in the preferred manner. Getting along with another person, an organization or even a community should NEVER include being used as a doormat or being self-sacrificing to one’s detriment.

4 comments to Defining Reciprocity: Black Women Are Still Being Told To Put Everyone Else First!

  • puregoldlady

    excellent post! I have enjoyed what I've read so far on your blog.

  • Faith at Acts of Fai

    Celeste: Thank you so much for your reply. I am so glad you've been helped by this post. Taking a stand for oneself is sometimes not easy but is always necessary. I'm feeling a little melancholy and your words have comforted me as well.Shermyb: Cheers!!! If more of us take heed I know the quality of our lives would improve.

  • shermyb

    Amen, Amen, Amen!!!!!!!!!!

  • Celeste

    Amen. Lately this is all I've been able to say on the blogs I've been visiting is amen, because you ladies have really been "preaching." Faith, you really ministered to my heart this morning. I've been grappling with a situation similiar to the one you mentioned, and you confirmed my feelings, and affirmed my response. God bless you.