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.

Toure: Trying to Pull A Perez Hilton & Failing

May 2011 — Audience Note: When I first wrote this post and referenced Perez, it was a nod to his ability to draw attention, but coincidentally after he got into a fight with a black person and unleashed his latent racism, the comparison takes on a deeper but slightly different implication. Ah well…
I read the Black & White On Martha’s Vineyard article several days ago. It was the subject of a very lively discussion at a popular black political blog. I immediately thought if I’d had it in print form it would’ve immediately been relegated to the trash bin. Or used for doggie liner. At least it would’ve served some purpose. I also wondered why that particular writer had been hired. What – was Dream Hampton or Lawrence Otis Graham not available? Then it occurred to me. This wasn’t really about the tea and horsey set, it was a hit piece on Michelle Obama (and black women considered dark(er) skinned).
Say it ain’t so! I’d seen this type of bait and switch before. A white editor hires a black writer to do an attack piece thinking skin color and a few positive words would confuse enough people into missing it. Exhibit A: the Salon article by Erin Kaplan that I deconstructed back in November. Now how many black people are regular readers of New York Magazine or Salon? So these weren’t articles for us.

This is another case of a Pseudo-Intelligentsia Slave Catcher that I wrote about seven months ago. How can it be we’re still grappling with these issues of black hatred? Clarence Thomas is doing his best to send us back to enslavement. I’m not joking folks! Some people also seem to be confused and think these situations involve blacks who are self-hating. No, their egos are firmly intact. They just abhor other black people. In this case it may have been about envy of (the status of) a particular black woman, but what goes for one goes for all.

This is why David Letterman got smacked down publicly for targeting white women for denigration. This is why black women have not been protected as a collective and the writers of these hit pieces lie about their efforts at gaining the approval of racist whites, contributing to white supremacy and get away with it.

So let’s get to the article shall we? This was supposed to be a discussion of where the Obamas would stay when they come to the Vineyard and getting responses from the residents. My feedback is in bright blue.
The Only Ones deal with glass ceilings at work, unfortunate misunderstandings in their neighborhoods, condescension from blacks who think their education or class makes them inauthentic, and identity crises in their kids….And while the Only Ones embrace each other, they can be dismissive of other blacks.  [My responses are in blue]
If you refer to yourself as an “only one” don’t you think that you’ve set yourself apart from people in the first place and maybe you’re the problem? Class envy is real, but so is contempt.
“When you see a beautiful black family with their kids, it makes you feel really good about being black,” says Chrisette Hudlin, wife of Reggie and a lifelong Vineyarder who travels there every summer from L.A. “As a person who’s high-achieving and striving for the best for their family, you’re looking at these other black people who have the same goals, and it makes you feel good as a black person. You don’t feel out of place.”
If you have to see other black people, in a specific setting to feel good about yourself then again, that’s an internal character issue within you. Reginald Hudlin used to work for BET and green-lit such gems as “Read a God*amn Book” and “Hot Ghetto Mess”. His contempt is so well-known Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks “Hunger Strike” episode that skewered him was pulled.
Let’s go the tape [This video was pulled from Youtube — drats!]
Trey Ellis says, “The black part of the Vineyard is like, I would imagine, being gay and going to the Castro. It’s this mecca where you can be yourself and be with people who have so much in common with you. No one has to feign some street cred when they’re playing tennis.”
Well having lived in San Francisco I can tell you the Castro has a mix of LGBT & hetero with a lot of young kids thrown in the mix. Not to mention the fact that not all LGBTs have the same interests. The main thing that distinguishes the residents is income status as SF is grossly overpriced with 2/3s of its residents renting. Plenty of people from all social strata play tennis. You should have said yachting instead.
Obama is more a man of the people,” says a Vineyarder who’s part of black high society. “He doesn’t seem to identify with affluent black people. His wife definitely doesn’t; she is basically a ghetto girl. That’s what she says—I’m just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did. She hasn’t reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they’ll do about that.”
Ahem, when has Michelle Obama ever referred to herself as a ghetto girl? You know some of the real black elite and not these poseurs featured in this hit piece want to throttle these loose-lipped lucys right now.
This is the one particularly inflammatory piece that got everyone buzzing. It’s also the one quote attributed to an anonymous source. Given what I discussed above, this is why I took the writer to task on Twitter. I would have done the same to Erin Kaplan had I had means of directly contacting her. This isn’t personal. I could care less about Toure, but I do care about black women. An enemy is an enemy no matter what shade or gender they come in. He wanted to dismiss his detractors as not understanding the tenets of journalism and the use of anonymous sources. Then it was about our being emotional (Angry Black Woman alert). I think it’s a made up quote by the writer – who has publicly displayed his contempt for black women (which I’ll discuss below). At the very least if it is a Vineyard resident it’s someone who is jealous of Michelle Obama – and Jennifer Hudson! If you’re an Only One why do you care about these women? What editor worth their salt would’ve allowed a piece like this to get published as written? This isn’t investigative journalism or involving a government operative. It’s pure fluff – and vitriol. That’s why I know it’s a hit piece.
Toure is a wanna-be Perez. Perez is not a journalist either but he is a media star. Sometimes the allure of the camera, smell of cash and the pat on the head is just too much for some people. This is why you have so many lining up to participate in the Negro Superbowl aka State of the Black Union every year. Hat tip to Gina McCauley, blog host of What About Our Daughters for coming up with that one-liner. For those not caught up in the journalism swirl he is NOT respected. This article has been panned across the board but he’s going to try to milk the outrage for all he can to create more opportunities for himself.
That’s fine but I will not sit by idly while he does it at the expense of black women. Pick somebody else! You don’t get to throw rocks and run and hide. Be a man and stand up for yourself! That’s my conclusion after reading this article. Pure drivel. I know it’s hard out there for a journalist know-a-days but did you have to let yourself be used so thoroughly Toure? Ha- he volunteered for it!
Kaplan had the same excuses and mock outrage and free speech protestations. If you’re going to write something STAND BY IT don’t try to OBFUSCATE. If I’m called to “explain” myself with this post I am fully able to do so. I seek justice across the board. My motives are clear. We have to police the behavior of the would-be black assassins who are here to attack us from within. They’re so darn obvious and predictable that picking them off should be easy. The damage they do is as serious as a heart attack though. It’s a slow moving poison that spreads on contact tearing away at the esteem and fiber of many, but it’s especially damaging to black women.
This isn’t about a difference of opinion, the right to use anonymous sources or writing about a difficult subject. The Obamas didn’t need to be in the piece at all other than a mention in passing if that was the case. The pointed dig at Michelle was the intention behind the article. The unspoken subtext of how a brown-skinned woman from the South Side of Chicago not being “good” enough to be the First Lady is what’s at stake here. Only certain types of black women are good enough and it usually involves lighter skin, a different hair texture and other superficial traits. As someone mentioned in the comment section at NY Mag if Michelle Obama looked more like Michelle Fenty this wouldn’t even be an issue.
Exhibit B:
I realized what this person had made clear in their quote: it was the paper bag test all over again, but worse. The only thing Michelle Obama and Jennifer Hudson have in common is similarities in their height and city of birth. They are a generation apart, grew up in different neighborhoods and have nothing obviously in common to compare the two. Oh wait…they do have one thing in common. They have similar coloring – and they’d fail that test. These so-called elites (and now their wannabes) have been using advancement as cover for their assault on browner-skin black women for many years now.
So let’s get this out in the open once and for all and call it for what it is: skin shade racism. Blog host Evia at Black Female Interracial Marriage E-zine so aptly coined this term. We like to use flowery words, like colorstruck. As if it’s something that has taken over us that we have no control over. By “we” I’m talking about black men using it against black women – and other black women are taking their cues from them to bash each other. These men always like to discuss and defend their racism as a “preference” or in the case of this writer who asked on Twitter why he (and by proxy other black men) couldn’t talk about how much he liked light skin and found it to be beautiful when so many praise the beauty of darker skinned women. Which many black woman labeled darker skinned can attest to the fact that does NOT happen. He isn’t fooling anyone. Black men (and the foolish black women who agree with them) and their preferences have been killing the black collective since post-slavery. There’s no need for white racism when black people are the first in line to knock each other down for free. That’s when it clicked (for me at least) why he had been hired for this piece.
About preferences: I really enjoy coffee. After trying many varietals and beans from different countries I’ve found a combo that appeals to me. I have a special occasion brew as well. It also has to be prepared a certain way and I use a specific sweetener combination. Now if I’m away from home and can’t make it the way I prefer I’ll settle for something else but I won’t really be satisfied with it. In fact I already know before I drink it that it’s a temporary fix. Sometimes I’ll skip it altogether and have a tea instead. That’s the thing about preferences. You really love it above all else. It suits you. Nothing else really compares and if you had the chance to have it all the time without the costs outweighing the benefits you would. So when you hear people talking about preferences and this is where BM come in talking about their preferences for light/white skin, the BW should know she’s been relegated to the dustbin to be pulled out and used when other options aren’t available. If she’s foolish enough to stick around. And she’ll go right back there when he’s through. Preferences are desirable and coveted. If you aren’t a preference then you are not considered to be of any value beyond what resources can be taken from you (sex, money, attention, a couch to crash on).
In full disclosure I’d sent him messages asking for a clarification. Just because you read one Tweet doesn’t mean you’ve grasped the entire conversation. He hadn’t replied at that time and since I went to his page and didn’t see it as part of a larger conversation I took him at his word. Mind you this is a man married to a white woman and I’m not here to disparage that. I think all black people, especially black women, African American women in particular (since so many seem to have a problem with the concept) should exercise ALL their dating and mating options, stop chasing after this mythical Black Prince (that doesn’t exist) and get out in the real world and be cherished by fully functioning men who are able to love you back faithfully and unconditionally.
He only responded to me after another black male writer entered the conversation and only about this article (the you don’t understand what journalism is spiel). If people had more character and a little backbone the entire collective wouldn’t be disintegrating before our eyes. Instead people mourn dead musical icons (rightfully so) but will go back to their apathy and inaction. Or as I like to refer to them as “Excusers and Deniers”. The building is on fire people. Discussing the burn rate (how things aren’t that bad), which room will go first and not caring if it’s not your section of the property (classism) or insisting that a firefighter (new leadership) will show up to put it out DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP THE FIRE.
People like this writer represent BM who are of little or no value to BW. Appearance, education or notoriety without character is like whipped cream on top of poop. These famous athletes, rappers, actors, music artists – whatever – are no different from the guy on the corner selling dope. They all have a hustle: to enrich themselves, usually at another’s (some easily duped BW) expense. They will pretend to be your friend, have sex with or call on you for ego stroking duty but they will not honor, cherish or marry you. Unless you have something they want: Euro features, money or access to things they want. And if they do they will not be faithful and they will still dog other BW. (Re-read that again before you get your hackles up – I said men like that not ALL black men.)

Exhibit C: Let’s go to the tape –  [the YouTube video was removed after being circulated amongst BW bloggers]
According to Ne-Yo during this interview with a white woman fan who he jokingly (?) considers bedding, he’d love to procreate with her because —  “All the prettiest kids are light-skinned – normally.” Do you still think this is a joke? A preference? If being light-skinned is normal then what is being brown-skinned? ABNORMAL. When BM like this music artist feel so open to allow their pathologies to be on public display the entire collective is headed for destruction. And we wonder why Michael Jackson seemed so tortured and why it turned so many of us off? Looking in the mirror and seeing the truth isn’t always a pretty sight.
Now, if I’ve somehow misunderstood some aspect of this I am certainly willing to reconsider a point or two. What I will not do is argue about “journalistic practices” and “use of anonymous sources”. I am not a journalist, but I am a writer and I have common sense. I also care about the support and uplift of black women. No one can challenge me on that. I also stand by what I’ve written. I’ve left the Matrix. I’m honing my mind and cutting through much of the confusion that has left many of us walking in circles. I may still trip over my feet from time to time (by asking about black men stepping up collectively) but I’ve left the burning building and I’m not going back.
What about you?
I will continue this conversation to further discuss class, advancement and intra-black , anti-black woman racism next. I had so many ideas while writing this post it would’ve been five pages long!