Monday, March 29, 2010

Strong Black Women(SBW) Blues

Why do we ignore pain? Whether it is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Generally, usually, mainly pain is trying to get us to pay attention to something. Pain is both the initial wake up call and the final ‘nuclear’ option. Initially pain can be the short sharp shout telling you to pay attention to your lower right abdomen, something isn’t right. Get this checked out. The pain may even subside, after all it has called your attention to the ‘not-rightness’ of the situation. If you choose not to act then sooner, rather than later, the pain goes ‘nuclear’ it switches on and stays on. It is amazing how long pain can last!

SBW and Pain

We (for this post ‘we’=BW) are used to ignoring pain. We think we are strong women when we ‘work through’ the pain. We wear pain as a badge of honor!

We ignore the pain we feel in our chest for hours until we notice it radiating to the jaw and down the right arm. And then we still ignore the pain until we are about to pass out and yell for someone to call for an ambulance.

We ignore the pain we feel in our heart when some woman calls our house or his cell phone at 9:pm wanting to know where is our husband/fiancĂ©/boyfriend and wondering why you (the wife/fiancĂ©e/girlfriend) are answering his phone. And we don’t confront him.

We ignore the pain we feel in our mind when we know, when we just know a situation or place is not safe or trustworthy. And we stay there in the place or the situation.

SBW and Strength

We think as strong women we are supposed to accept a man who has a relationship with more than one woman. Strong women can share a man. Strong women don’t have to rely on a man.

We think as strong women we are supposed to fix, uplift, and upgrade broken, toxic, unsafe communities. Strong women go to church in dangerous neighborhoods where people shoot into church. Strong women stay and fight for the lives of these people.

We think as strong women we are supposed to help the men in our lives be men, so that, as men, they can lead the family. (The family we are currently leading.) As strong women we should make men feel like men; help men become better men; accept men as they are; stop demanding so much from men when they come home; and praise men for doing the things they are supposed to do. (I read this on a blog, don’t blame me for the contradictions.)

This is how strong women roll.


This is how strong women roll?

Letting go of the SBW Stereotype

Where is the reciprocity?!

If a woman you helped in the past does not return the favor, what do you do? Do you help her again the next time? Oh I don’t think so!! I think you tell old girl you don’t have the time, money, resources, or whatever. Maybe you are nice about it. Maybe you are not nice, reminding her how she didn’t help you out when you asked for help. However it goes down, you most likely don’t dole out the assistance.

So why is it different with a man, or an organization, or a community?

Black women have got to let go of the stereotypical strong black woman crap. We hold on to this stereotype to our detriment. This stereotype is just as injurious to us as the ‘mammy’ or the ‘sapphire’ stereotype of the early/mid twentieth century.

The pain we are feeling is not a wake up call. The pain we are feeling is the ‘nuclear’ option. Either we address what ails us now, or we will continue to suffer. We will continue to throw good money after bad, give valuable time to losers, and waste precious resources on toxic communities.

And when I say fix what ails us, I do not mean to fix what ails the community, I mean fix what ails you. Individual. Black. Woman.

Because when you are clear-eyed and pain-free, you can determine your next best move.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

On Not Dating……

While visiting a BWE bog I responded to one of the posts sparked by a recent Washington Post newspaper/online article about, what else, black women dating outside their race. Mind you this was not the entire focus of the post, more of a jumping off point to discuss black women and their/our need to deconstruct some of the prevailing myths about black women and who were are (or are supposed to be) according to ‘Ye Olde Black Monolith’.

The part of the post having the most immediate resonance with me was the discussion regarding self-actualization and how it can be achieved without a man.

My entire comment is in response to this particular portion of the post:

“Of course women can be self-actualized without being married, partnered or dating. Self-actualization requires a woman be in relationship with herself not with another person. The negative slant mainstream media have attached to being an ‘educated, single, greater than 40’ black woman is a constant mantra these days. Rest assured the negativity will only increase. Mainstream media love pathology and surely, in the estimation of the media, there is a goldmine of pathology embedded in being a single, black woman over 40.

In this marriage-minded culture, singlehood is looked upon as a problem to be solved rather than a way of living and being in the world. If a person is single by circumstance (i.e. the person wants to be married but is not for any number of reasons) then the poor unfortunate warrants pity. If a person deliberately chooses to be single then the person is thought odd at best and quite possibly deviant at worst.

Being single at an age greater than 40 is not the indication of failure some women believe it to be. It is not an occasion for people to pity a woman because (in their opinion) she wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough or lucky enough to be chosen by some supposed prince charming. Nor is it an occasion for people to cheerfully point out her ‘situation’ is her fault because she thought too highly of herself in her 20’s and 30’s, was too picky and therefore deserves to be a lonely, bitter, childless spinster at the ripe old age of 40. Can you say schadenfreude?

Actually, what better time exists for one to develop an inner-life? What better time exists for one to embark on the journey of deep self-reflection? When is there a more opportune time for the deep work one must undertake to achieve self-actualization? This is not to say these things cannot be achieved if one is in any way partnered, rather, I’m saying being single presents a great chance to focus your attention on yourself.”

I am dedicating a few posts about singlehood on this blog because I believe it is important to discuss various perspectives with regard to empowering black women to make more informed choices in their lives.

I think it is of paramount importance for black women to understand single and childfree does not equal failure! This is a false construct! This mindset keeps you focused on what is perceived as lack rather than what is actually abundance.

‘If I don’t have a man, where is the abundance’ you ask? Your abundance is in the opportunity to focus on what you do have. Mental, emotional, spiritually, psychological, financial, whatever! Now is the time to examine, excavate, uncover, and discover Who You Really Are!

Focusing on what you do not have only increases your awareness of what you do not have….which tends, in my experience, to depress the heck out of you.

Focusing on what is present in your life intensifies your gratitude for what is (again in my experience). Focusing on what is brings you into the present moment. No magical thinking. No fantasy. When you know what is real, you can work to accept what is real or work to change what is real (and learn to discriminate between what is changeable and what is not).

This is not to say life will be a cakewalk, but isn’t it better to expend your energy on reality rather than fantasy? Isn’t better to know who you are and to trust your knowledge than to accept an identity other people have attached to you?


Monday, March 1, 2010

But That’s not the Problem….

Society and the media continue to treat being single as a problem to be solved rather than a way of living in the world.

A number of blogs I visit do the same thing.

Maybe It's Me

Do you get the feeling from reading some blogs if you are still single at some age greater than 40 then there is something wrong with you? Perhaps, according to them, you have fallen for the only-a-black-man party line or have set your standards too high or continue to live in an area with a miniscule number of eligible*, interested men or some other issue pointing to your lack of understanding of or complacency with the status quo. Plenty of bloggers/commenters gleefully predict how women over 40 will end up as sad, lonely, angry, frustrated, bitter, multiple-cat-owning spinsters unable to pass their genetic material into the next generation.

What ever the situation, what they seem to be saying is, it’s your fault.

Single Female Blogging

I suspect like most (some/a significant minority) people, I have periods where I access the internetz with something approaching regularity which are then followed by long periods when I don’t even go online (this past week for example).

I am busy (and deeply grateful to be busy). I work in the fitness field and I drive all over the metro-area to teach. Pro – I am in great shape! Con – I don’t always have time to get to the computer during the week.

I peruse a number of blogs and read a few blogs regularly. Often, I don’t get to read my favorite blogs on a daily, every other day or weekly basis due to my schedule. The blogs I like encourage women to choose wisely; to expand their horizons; to examine actions, thoughts and beliefs; and to develop an inner-life. Heck to live a better life! I enjoy learning about the different paths people take to improve their lives.

What I don’t find (and maybe I just haven’t run across blogs addressing this issue) is a blog focusing on every day life as a single black women not looking for a relationship. What I don’t see is the acknowledgement that singlehood is a viable, enjoyable option. No I am not against marriage. No I am not suggesting children don’t need a father. I am not offering an opinion on motherhood. Being coupled and/or being a mother is not the cure to being single.


Singlehood is not an indication of worth.

I have no doubt the map of your world can be positively shaped by having an intimate relationship with another human being. And by intimate I don’t just mean physical, I mean a deep connection to someone on an emotional, mental, and spiritual (not religious) level. Marriage can give a person that kind of a connection. Or not.

I also have no doubt the map of your world can be positively shaped by having a deep connection to/knowledge of your Self.

Let’s be clear, if you are single beyond the age of 40 there is nothing wrong with you. If you are trying to meet someone: cool. If you are not trying to meet someone because you are engaged in some kind of personal transformation/discovery: cool. If you are not trying because you don’t have room for anyone in your life, now or ever: cool.

Life is worth living and living well when you are single! You don’t need a husband or significant other or children to validate your life. Marriage is not the only path to a happy life. (Mind you, I don’t recommend dating losers or sleeping around indiscriminately (unprotected or otherwise!) either…that would be pointless and mind-bogglingly ill-advised.)

What I mean is if you are single and not dating; if you are not out hunting for Mr. Right at the moment, well that’s cool too!

I'm starting to blog about it. Like to read it? Here we go...


*Eligible does not include men who are married, damaged, no/low value or do not desire monogamy, regardless of color.