Get What You Need First, Then Do X, Y, Z

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN NEEDS FIRST

Get what you need first, then do x, y, z. Two readers mentioned this simple and wise rule in a different context during an earlier conversation. (Thanks ZooPath and Karen!) This is a pop culture detox issue because generations of African-American women have been programmed away from this basic rule of self-preservation. And programmed into making time for anything and everything except getting their own needs met. Meanwhile, men consistently make sure that their own needs are always being met.

There’s nothing normal about a woman directly and publicly functioning as a Sister Soldier. That’s a man’s job. This abnormal behavior of Black women functioning as warriors has been normalized in the minds of most African-Americans. [Mostly for the purpose of picking up African-American men’s slack.] As I mentioned in an earlier conversation, this Sister Soldiering is an extremely bad look that reinforces the negative, repellent image of African-American women as belligerent she-males and un-women. It’s an example of what Elijah Muhammad called “tricknology” when you’ve been tricked into beliefs and practices that are contrary to your interests. Let’s examine some other angles involved when Black women engage in heavy-duty, public “crusading.”

CONDITIONED RESPONSES

So many Black women think they’re acting as free agents and making their own decisions when they’re not. Instead, they’re unwittingly giving conditioned responses to certain stimuli. Much like Pavlov’s dogs. We’ve discussed some conditioned responses during conversations at the previous blog. For example, we discussed most Black women’s conditioned response of automatically rallying around any random Black man who’s in trouble with Whites. And doing so without ever considering whether that particular Black man who’s in trouble is of any value whatsoever to Black women and children. Halima, blog host of Black Female Interracial Relationship Circle is currently discussing another commonly observed conditioned response from Black women.

FREEDOM IS THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE

Freedom is the ability to choose. When you give conditioned responses to stimuli, you are not free. You’re in bondage. You’re in bondage to whatever responses you’ve been conditioned to give. And to the person who controls your behavior by deciding when and where to provoke your conditioned responses.

Some of us have learned not to give conditioned responses in support of Black men. We’ve learned to take a breath, take a step back, and carefully consider whether the current “Black man who’s in trouble with Whites” is of any real value to us before we respond. But we still haven’t learned how to apply the normal human ordering of priorities. We haven’t learned to always ask, “What’s in it for me? What will Activity X do for me in terms of meeting MY needs?” We haven’t learned to keep in mind the normal human prioritizing of issues related to people: self, family, clan, ethnic group. [I mean this in the sense of reciprocating people within these categories. For me, a non-reciprocating biological relative is the same as a non-reciprocating total stranger in terms of my priorities.]

Most African-American women still have many self-defeating, conditioned responses to various stimuli. Most of these conditioned responses seem natural to us, and go unquestioned. We don’t ensure that our own needs are being met. Meanwhile, men consistently make sure that their needs are being met.

THE HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

Before we go much further, I would suggest that you examine the following diagram and brief explanation of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Please pay close attention to the second (safety needs—personal security from crime, financial security, health and well-being) and third (belongingness and love needs—friendship, intimacy, support network) tiers of human needs.

ACTIVISM OFTEN CREATES A ROCK-STAR LIFESTYLE FOR BLACK MALE ACTIVISTS—IT MEETS THEIR BASIC PERSONAL NEEDS

Up to this point, I’ve used formal language. Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. For Black men, political activism is a vehicle for getting their personal needs met—a source of getting paid and getting laid. Much like the ministry. All on their terms. For example, has Rev. Jesse Jackson ever worked at a job?

Think about the roster of married Black male activists who were promiscuous womanizers such as Dr. King, Elijah Muhammad, and so on. These men had the pleasures of a home life with a wife sitting at home waiting for them, and plentiful sex on the side with female groupies. Think about the single Black male activists who were promiscuous womanizers such the Panthers and others who had a steady, non-stop supply of female groupies they were having sex with. On top of this, Black male activists are typically treated as celebrities and showered with adulation. For Black men, activism is often a vehicle for fulfilling their (financial) safety and belongingness and love needs (intimacy of all sorts, including sexual intimacy).

In short, Black male activists routinely get their personal needs met. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Meanwhile, activism does not provide the same perks for Black women who are working as hard and facing the same pressures and dangers.

ACTIVISM DOES NOT PROVIDE SIMILAR “ROCK STAR” PERKS FOR BLACK WOMEN ACTIVISTS—NOR DOES IT DO ANYTHING TO MEET THEIR BASIC PERSONAL NEEDS

Activism does not provide the same perks for Black women. While it may provide higher-level needs for women, it generally won’t do anything to provide the foundational second and third-level needs.

While keeping the hierarchy of needs in mind, I invite you to do what we rarely do: Consider some of the inner lives of the crusading, activist African-American women that we hold up as Black History Month heroines. If your thinking is similar to mine, you won’t be pleased by much of what you see. I’ll just name a couple of examples. Dorothy Height has never married. Mary McLeod Bethune separated from her husband (who died in 1918). She never remarried, and she passed away in 1955. These women came of age during an era when marriage was the norm for Black women and readily available within the African-American collective. Who, if anybody, did these women come home to for all those decades?

Consider the personal horrors of being married to a Black male activist like Dr. King. He was often away from home. Coretta Scott King was also in great physical danger—and living alone for long stretches of time with their children. She was responsible for holding down the fort, and child care while he was away. If she was faithful in her marriage, that meant she went through long stretches of not having sex while he was away. Meanwhile, Dr. King was having sex with his women on the side. I won’t even mention the female Black Power activists who apparently served as “booty calls” (and worse) for male Black Power activists.

For Black women, activism does not provide the perks it often provides for Black men. No free money. No husband to remain faithful to you while you sleep around with other men. No adoring harem of male groupies. The only woman I can think of that “had it like that” was a White author named Ayn Rand. Apparently for a number of Black women, crusading activism was a dead-end leading to an asexual, ascetic lifestyle. Who wants that, except a nun?

From what I can tell, one of the relatively few “Black History Month Heroines” that appears to have been involved in activism while also making sure to get her personal needs met (the way she wanted) was Lorraine Hansberry. She was a bisexual or lesbian who married (either out of genuine love for her White husband, or to use him as a voluntary or involuntary cover story), while still dating and sleeping with women.

WHEN YOU’RE PRESENTED WITH PROVOCATIVE STIMULI, DO YOU FIRST ASK YOURSELF, “WILL RESPONSE X HELP GET MY NEEDS MET?”

What do you do when you’re presented with various provocative stimuli, such as the anti-Black woman verbal droppings of damaged Black men? Do you automatically snap to attention and assume the role of a crusading, Sister Soldier? Do you jump into battle to engage in cyber-brawls with them? Leaving aside the “bad look” issue, if all of your major needs are already being met, then you’ve got ample time to fight them over their verbal droppings.

However . . .

if you’re living somewhere unsafe;
if you’re not financially secure;
if your belonging and intimacy needs are not being met;

. . . then how in the world do you have any time, even a split second, to invest in responding to the latest anti-Black woman verbal dropping of this week’s damaged Black man?

Keep in mind that this damaged Black man that you’re investing time into battling is most likely having ALL of his important needs met while you’re working on responding to his original verbal dropping. If he wants to be married, he’s most likely already married (with or without engaging in adultery). If he doesn’t want to be married, he’s most likely happily sleeping around.

There’s whatever latest anti-Black woman verbal dropping from a damaged Black man. Let’s say you work on responding to that.

What will you do about tomorrow’s verbal dropping from the same damaged Black man? Of course, you realize that he’s not going to cease and desist immediately with his hate speech about Black women. It’s going to take time to get this one individual damaged Black man to either retract or apologize for the particular statement in question. It’ll take even longer to train him not to say those sorts of things in public.

What about next week’s verbal dropping from the same damaged Black man?

What about tomorrow’s verbal dropping from a different damaged Black man? There’s more than one damaged Black man publicly making anti-Black woman statements. In fact, there are many of them. Will you pursue and fight them all? If not, how will you allocate your attention between them? How much time will you earmark for pursuing and fighting them? Will you figure out a ranking?

Have you thought about any of this, and after consideration decided to invest your time into tussling with this particular damaged Black man? Or are you having a knee-jerk, conditioned response to the stimulus of “damaged Black man makes anti-Black woman statement”?

Let me be clear: I respect free will, and I’m not trying to discourage African-American women from making the conscious choice to involve themselves in whatever activism suits their fancy. I’m not even trying to discourage Black women with major unmet needs from spending their time and energy on activism. I think it’s ill-advised to do that (unless they’re careful to spend most of their energy on getting their needs met), but that’s their choice. I’m simply asking that more African-American women take the time to consider the following questions, and answer them for themselves:

Is dealing with whatever provocative stimulus meeting your personal needs? If so, great. If doing so isn’t directly meeting your needs, is it at least moving you closer to having your personal needs met? If so, more power to you. If not, perhaps your attention and energy would be better spent on getting your own needs met.

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37 Responses to “Get What You Need First, Then Do X, Y, Z”

  1. tertiaryanna says:

    “It’s an example of what Elijah Muhammad called “tricknology” when you’ve been tricked into beliefs and practices that are contrary to your interests.”

    This is even more true when you think of how true soldiering works. There’s a deep level of reciprocal responsibility, integrity and discipline that comes along with the loyalty and obedience that goes w/ real soldiering. These are core, integrated values, and they’re continually emphasized. I’m not saying they always make it happen, but that’s the plan.

    So when BW are encouraged to act how they are, they’re taking on the work without even getting any of the benefits that a true solider would. A real soldier can expect reciprocity, and that his group is looking out for him. “Tricknology” is an excellent word, because we think we’re fighting as allies. But too often, we are duping ourselves into being weapons and shields, not comrades. We know what happens to these tools when the fighting stops.

  2. pioneervalleywoman says:

    This is an excellent assessment! As I read your essay, I thought of Malcolm X and his widow, Betty Shabazz and how their story fits in.

    He had fame while he was alive and became the heroic martyr in death. Do you remember how he was the icon baby activists of the early 1990s imagined themselves becoming? They wore medallions and t-shirts, and especially after Spike Lee made the movie.

    But what was going on in his personal life? I don’t know of any stories about him cheating with movement groupies, but he did have a wife who had six children to raise; she took care of them while he pursued his activism. She was the one left to struggle along when he died. As an activist, he was not mainstream, and so she did not have the kind of support that went to the widows and families of activists like MLK; Coretta Scott King was able to create a whole business out of his historical memory and Myrlie Evers managed to become part of the civil rights establishment.

    Shabazz’s children were traumatized by his death, and one of them had an out of wedlock child who was even more traumatized and damaged. How did she die? Her grandson was living with her; he set her house on fire in 1997 when he was 12 years old. She died from her injuries. He has been in and out of prison over since then.

    • Tamm says:

      In response to above. In talking with people who were very close to her, you know who helped Betty Shabazz in her time of need jewish people. This came from people who were in the same sorority as Betty Shabazz (she was a Delta). It was not the National of Islam or any black organizations, but jewish people. Go figure…Also, when you watch and read commentary about their marriage, Betty Shabazz always said that Malcolm had more votes than she did. Unfortunately, when he died, he did not put anything in place to take care of the family. However, despite that she was able to work, raise six daughters, graduate from college, earn her Doctorate, and became an esteems professor in the CUNY system before her death.

  3. TertiaryAnna,

    You said, “But too often, we are duping ourselves into being weapons and shields, not comrades. We know what happens to these tools when the fighting stops.”

    Yes, tools are often discarded altogether. At minimum, tools are set aside until the person needs to use them again.

    This is the flip side of the observation of the established pattern that BM’s non-Black wives (such as Prof. Gates’ and Van Jones’ White wives) don’t and won’t lift a finger to fight on their Black husbands’ behalf (when these BM come under attack). Non-AA women have NOT been conditioned or programmed to be Sister Soldiers. Nor does anyone (including their Black husbands) expect them to publicly battle men.

    You also won’t see other types of women of color functioning as Sister Soldiers. The African women that I’ve observed since college generally DON’T involve themselves in protests, crusades, and so on. They’re too busy getting their personal needs met.

    My point is that we shouldn’t even be looking to be anybody’s “comrades” on any battlefield. We shouldn’t be openly soldiering on the battlefield, much less providing the majority of “the troops.” Other types of women are not doing any of that. They get men to fight other men for them; and fight indirectly through men.

    And it’s the conditioning AA women have been subjected to that has so many of us mindlessly, hypnotically “snapping to attention for battle” as soon as we’re presented with certain types of provocative stimuli. Like wind-up toys. Meanwhile, our own personal needs go unmet.

    I’m asking more AA women to take a breath, take a step back and question the knee-jerk, Sister Soldier reflexes that they’ve been conditioned to have.
    ____________________________________

    PioneerValleyWoman,

    Thank you for your kind words about the essay; I truly appreciate it. I divide the women involved in this into 2 broad categories: The wives/girlfriends of BM activists who suffered (along with the children) as collateral damage. These women didn’t necessarily sign-up to be involved in activism themselves. Many of them signed-up for marriage to a BM who then decided to become a public figure (with all the “rock star” perks that go along with that).

    And then there are the crusading, AAW activists like the ones I mentioned who decided to make their own active contributions to the AA struggle.

    From my point of view, activism did NOT work out well for either category of women in terms of their personal needs being met. Like I said, Lorraine Hansberry is one of the few Black History Month heroines who appeared to make sure that HER needs were being met along the way. And she was outside the mainstream along many dimensions. Both in her choice of marriage partner (WM), and in terms of her sexual orientation.

    But my main point is that one can see this same pattern of an extremely different set of “rewards” for activism based on gender replicated on smaller levels (activism providing rock star perks and meeting their basic needs for BM activists, and activism providing nothing for BW activists). I’ve seen it with local, “grassroots,” Black community activists. Even the minor, “grassroots,” local BM activists acquire female groupies, and propel themselves into paid speaking engagements as a result of activism. Meanwhile, local BW activists are pouring themselves into activities that aren’t doing anything for them in terms of getting their own personal needs met.

    I want more AAW to focus on getting their OWN personal needs met; like every other group of women focuses on getting their own needs met. Instead of constantly being distracted from their own needs by this knee-jerk, conditioned Sister Soldier reflex.

    Activism is fine, but it can also be a trickbag that leads to the secular equivalent of being a church lady who has no life or source of fulfillment outside of the church.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  4. Felicia says:

    Khadija,

    You are encouraging black women to use their brains and apply logic to situations (usually situations that have nothing to do with them personally) instead of knee-jerk emotion.

    This is commendable. Only by thinking and behaving logically – instead of emotionally – will black women ever achieve true freedom.

    The freedom to exercise their full options on the relationship front.

    As it is now – and unbeknownst to them because of conditioning – most black women are merely puppets being controlled by those who do not have their best interests in mind in the least.

    Thanks for shedding some light on this important issue.

    It is a waste of precious time for black women who want better for themselves, to be going back and forth (online or off) with damaged and deranged BM or BW for that matter.

    That time would be MUCH better spent on trying to improve their own situation. Getting their own basic needs met.

    Needs that are every human beings birthright.

    Most BW are hovering somewhere at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

    And they will stay there as long as they continue to be led by their manipulated emotions instead of using their brain and intellect.

    Human beings – including black female human beings – were bestowed with brains in order to use them.

    What is the saying? Use it or loose it. If BW (or anyone else) continue to not use their brains, their ability to reason will atrophy and eventually die.

    And when the ability to reason is truly gone, then all is lost for those particular BW.

    Luckily, the fate of the masses does NOT have to be the fate of individual BW.

    Brave individual BW who have their blinders off can live and love VERY well in these times.

    This can’t be stated enough. It’s about attitude and priorities. And a willingness to follow through in ones own behalf.

    I consider this essay a rallying cry for BW to wake from their fog before they have needless life long regrets.

    Thank you for this Khadija.

  5. Magenta says:

    Wow.

    I have to admit, this was a tough one to read, but I appreciate your willingness to “get real” about these issues. BW are programmed to serve the community and dismantling that thought process is extremely hard. A President who presents a romanticized view of “community organizing” doesn’t help things either. I have had to ask myself some very tough questions concerning if I want to become more involved in activist efforts. I care deeply about progressive causes, but I am not willing to make myself a martyr or culture warrior. Especially when I see that my male counterparts are not making the same sacrifices. Your essay reminds me of a passage I read in a book about goal setting “Pay the rent first, then go save the world later”. I need to focus more on making sure my immediate needs are met and not be tempted to use activism as a way to fill a void. Your “secular church lady” analogy was excellent, I see it all the time with activist friends of mine. It is like they have forgotten that it is okay to have a life outside of whatever cause they are fighting for.

  6. Felicia,

    You’re welcome; and thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

    You said, “Most BW are hovering somewhere at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.”

    Yes, and I’m amazed at the sheer number of “tricknology” snares that are designed to convince BW that living at the the bottom of that hierarchy is acceptable and normal. And that it’s appropriate for AA women to put their own needs on the backburner. Meanwhile, NOBODY else is doing that!
    ________________________________________

    Magenta,

    You said, “I have to admit, this was a tough one to read, but I appreciate your willingness to “get real” about these issues.”

    I know this is a difficult subject, because it creates awkward, uncomfortable realizations about many cherished notions. After I did my “likelihood of personal fulfillment/needs being met” survey of the traditional, Black History Month heroines, I came to the ugly and uncomfortable conclusion that many (if not most) of these women lived like chumps in terms of this issue (to my way of thinking) . . .

    I’m not talking about ethics here. I’m talking about a life of either having: “Needs Being Met” vs. “Unmet Needs.” I don’t know what Lorraine Hansberry’s arrangement was with her husband. If she deceived him and purely used him as a “beard,” then that was dirty and wrong. But for this conversation, I’m not looking at these situations from the right/wrong angle. I’m looking to see who consistently got their major personal needs met, and who consistently didn’t get their needs met. On that tip, so many of these Black History Month heroines got played.

    You said, “BW are programmed to serve the community and dismantling that thought process is extremely hard.”

    I hear you. Like so many AAW, much of this conditioning was also invisible to me. Until after I stumbled out of the Matrix. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I was never into vows of poverty for any cause or any reason. And I assume that folks can tell from my statements in this post, that I’ve never been into the notion of being an asexual ascetic! LOL! But, until now, I never really asked the question of, “What exactly does activism usually contribute to AA women’s personal lives? Does it do for BW what it does for BM (meet many of their personal needs)?”

    You said, “A President who presents a romanticized view of “community organizing” doesn’t help things either.”

    Yeah, and it’s safe to assume that his personal needs were being met while he was community organizing. It’s easy to have warm, fuzzy, and fond memories of such events when your needs are being met! *Smile*

    You said, “I need to focus more on making sure my immediate needs are met and not be tempted to use activism as a way to fill a void. Your “secular church lady” analogy was excellent, I see it all the time with activist friends of mine. It is like they have forgotten that it is okay to have a life outside of whatever cause they are fighting for.”

    Yes, I’ve seen a lot of this, and it concerns me because not only does this behavior pattern go unquestioned, but it’s lifted up as being noble for AAW to do this. Nobody talks about (or seems to even notice) the HUGE difference in perks/rewards between BM and BW activists (rock star perks vs. nothing).

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  7. rainebeaux says:

    Ah, Khadija, you’ve helped inspire me again, lol. I was thinking to myself, “Gee, as much as I’d really like to help ‘fight the power’ as it were, the fight isn’t in me right about now…there’s the order of getting my OWN needs met–I need to at least clear ‘level two’ [the safety/security needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs] to even say the word activism.” oddly enough, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about this thought process. *Karen, I was asking myself earlier today how many BW were pinned beneath the pyramid. *insert shudder here*

    • rainebeaux says:

      ^^Pardon me, I meant Felicia: a thousand apologies…typing a bit too fast and got the comments sections mixed up.

  8. Rainebeaux,

    You asked, “how many BW were pinned beneath the pyramid?” That’s a good question.

    As was discussed at length during the “The More You Do This, The Less Desirable You’ll Be” conversation, as more individual AA women do what Asian women have done—marry quality, powerful, Alpha-male WM, many of the collective problems that AA women face will solve themselves. I know that a lot of AAW don’t like to hear this sort of answer because:

    (1) we hate to admit that this is a patriarchal world and that some problems can’t be PERMANENTLY solved without the active intervention of men; and/or

    (2) we hate to admit that any other group of women (in this case, Asian women) have actively made a collection of better individual choices than us; and/or

    (3) we hate to admit that certain internal AA problems like the widespread slander of AA women by AA men won’t be PERMANENTLY solved without the intervention of outsiders, in this case, dominant WM. When more dominant, powerful, Alpha-male White men marry Black women, then Black men will stop slandering Black women. Either out of their habit of taking their cues from White men, or out of fear of offending this emerging critical mass of White men who view Black women attractive and desirable.

    NOTHING about the above long-term solution fits into the “put on my marching shoes and march to Selma” or the “fight the power!” Sister Soldier behaviors that AAW have been programmed to do in response to any and all problems. And the long-term solution of “get with the most powerful, Alpha man and HE’LL solve my external problems” is totally contrary to the “help a (weakling) brotha out” behaviors that AAW have been programmed to do.

    All of this sort of thinking is unfamiliar to most AA women. However, it’s a new day. If we want something different than what we’ve been getting, then we’ll have to do something different than what we’ve been doing up to this point.
    *********************************************

    Reader Whose Comment I Rejected,

    NO off-topic comments or links for this conversation.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  9. pioneervalleywoman says:

    Magenta and Khadija:

    You said, “A President who presents a romanticized view of “community organizing” doesn’t help things either.”

    Yeah, and it’s safe to assume that his personal needs were being met while he was community organizing. It’s easy to have warm, fuzzy, and fond memories of such events when your needs are being met! *Smile*

    My reply:

    His basic needs were being met, because for at least some of those activist years, Michelle earned more money! She spoke of the years as well, that he pursued his dream while she was the one holding down the fort at home! She is lucky compared to the other wives of activist types. His activism resulted in success for him and all sorts of perks for her, a pay off of sorts for all the sacrifices she made.

    An observation; I can think of one female activist who was successful at having her needs met. And this is a conservative, Phyllis Schafly. She began activism as a stay-at-home wife and mother of six who pursued activism as a hobby. Her husband supported her in her activism, even paying for her to go to law school so that she might more effectively fight against what she saw as the extremes of the women’s rights movement.

    A fair number of her opponents, white women in the movement, didn’t have that basis from which to do activism, and they wound up being, it seems to me, just like the black female activist–look at some of the founders, for example, of Ms. Magazine–Gloria Steinem. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, on the other hand, began activism as a married woman; she has remained married to the same man for decades.

  10. pioneervalleywoman says:

    On the other hand, I must admit, though, that many of those white female activists deliberately did not want marriage, when many black women in movements believe it will be their means of finding the “black prince,” but that does not necessarily happen. He might want to collect only movement groupies, or if he has a “wifey,” whether legitimately married or not, he has the groupies on the side…Others don’t even want to marry movement women. They find women from outside the movement. We spoke of this in the context of the “office wife” phenomenon on the old blog–activist women who spend so much time dedicating themselves to the “great man” of the movement that they don’t find a man of their own!

  11. PioneerValleyWoman,

    I don’t want muddy the waters of this conversation by veering off into discussing WW activists. WW’s circumstances are NOT AA women’s circumstances, and have no real application to ours.

    For just one example, they are operating in a context in which marriage and legitimate family life is readily available for them, if they want it. Phyllis Schafly was already having her needs met BEFORE she took up activism as a hobby. These other WW like Gloria Steinem could have also had their needs met within marriage, if they had wanted to do that. That option was always available to them; they voluntarily chose to do something else and do something countercultural and offbeat.

    WW activists are basically culture-war activists—whether for or against the conservative, “traditional” understanding of family, women’s roles, and so on.

    WW activists are NOT battling men in order to hold up and sustain the White American collective! They are not fighting non-BM in order to hold up WM. And, particularly in the cases of the WW conservatives/religious zealots like the Phyllis Schaflys, they are NOT fighting alone or in the front ranks. Phyllis Schafly and others of her ilk were/are propped up by a network of WM.

    WW are protected, provided for and fought for by WM. This is the reverse of what’s going on/been going on among AAs, where BW protect, provide for and fight for BM.

    You said, “Others don’t even want to marry movement women. They find women from outside the movement.”

    Oh yeah, I noticed this about the budding BM activist types when I was in college and law school. They would sexually use the politically-active, “conscious” AAW who were participating in those activities, but those weren’t the types of women that they really wanted on their arms as their girlfriends. For all their “conscious” and political talk, most AA male wanna-be activist students chased after the APOLITICAL, preferably light-skinned, Whitley Gilbert-types (like the character in A Different World).

    I’ve noticed similar patterns in some of the AA mosques that I’ve visited. In fact, a (BM Muslim) friend once told me about how the imam scolded the men at his mosque for ignoring the religious, single Muslim BW who are mosque members in order to chase after “worldly,” non-Muslim women—and then try to convert these tight-skirt-wearing women into hijab-wearing housewives.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

    • Karen R says:

      They would sexually use the politically-active, “conscious” AAW who were participating in those activities, but those weren’t they types of women that they really wanted on their arms as their girlfriends. For all their “conscious” and political talk, most AA male wanna-be activist students chased after the APOLITICAL, preferably light-skinned, Whitley Gilbert-types (like the character in A Different World).

      I found on my college campus the “activist” BM leaders were secretly bedding apolitical white women all the while preaching the virtues of solidarity, etc.

  12. pioneervalleywoman says:

    I tried to think of black women who were movement women and who did it effectively, not as the groupies or spouses of movement men who suffered as a result, and not as single women who gave all for the cause.

    All I can think of were black women who were pioneers in professional fields like law: Constance Baker Motley or Marian Wright Edelman.

    They had professional degrees long before it became more common for black women to do so and they did activist work through organizations that paid them salaries. They did their activism in the courtroom and then went home.

    Marian Wright Edelman is interesting; she was the first black person to get licensed to practice law in Mississippi. While she was there, she met a young white lawyer who worked for Robert Kennedy. She married him and then moved to DC and raised her family. He went into law teaching and she founded the Children’s Defense Fund, a group dedicated to protecting children.

    C Delores Tucker married long before she became an activist, almost like a Phyllis Schafly, where she married a successful man who supported her efforts in the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement.

    So we can see how these black women activists took care of their needs and did not give up their basic needs for the cause.

  13. lunanoire says:

    Thank you so much. This is what I needed to hear, after missing a luncheon downtown with people in my area to give assistance to a non-client!* She showed up w/o an appointment. She did the BW “woe is me” routine w/o realizing that even if she receives help from me or someone else, whe will still have to reveal financial information that she would rather keep private. I am starting to grow tired of people who are trying to get out of a bad situation but are unwilling to release the required information. Once you ask for help, your options are: 1. accept the process and provide info; or 2. reject the process, and lose out on the possibility of getting help. Why people so poorly situated think they have such negotiating power I do not understand.

    *I thought she was a client b/c a coworker decided to take her as a charity case and my office is removed from the center of activty. I work in a gentrifying neighborhood, and am getting better at explaining that just because I wear a suit to work does NOT mean I have the resources to help you out. I am at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, trying to move to financial security and the well-being improvements that money can buy.

  14. Karen says:

    Based on Maslow’s hiearchy, I find myself hovering somewhere in the realm of self-actualization.

    For me this an effect of being very clear on having my needs met first. Did it happen overnight, no. It has been an ongoing evolution since early adulthood.

    What has been an overarching theme for me is to ensure that my own needs were taken care of first, whatever they may have been, whatever the situation.

    This was not a linear progression by any means and there were starts and stops but it is truly a breath of fresh air to live your life based on having your needs met first. When that is taken care of, then you can choose to involve yourself in issues of others (or not). However, I have found more often than not that when evaluated against, “is there anything I gain from this interaction?”, it is best to leave it alone.

    This also has the positive side effect of eliminating the what I call “Energy Vampires”, these are people who take your energy, leaving you mentally and physically exhausted. They will take and take and take until you have nothing left to give. By focusing on your on needs, these vampires never can get close enough to start stealing your life force.

  15. RColeman says:

    I found this to be striking as I read this this morning..

    Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5

    Women of all races bring home less income and own fewer assets, on average, than men of the same race, but for single black women the disparities are so overwhelmingly great that even in their prime working years their median wealth amounts to only $5.

    In a groundbreaking report released Monday by a leading economic research group, social scientists turned a spotlight on the grave financial challenges facing an often overlooked group of women, many of whom could not take an unpaid sick day or repair a major appliance without going into debt.

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10068/1041225-28.stm#ixzz0huORhPs2

    This excerpt from the article, pretty much confirms what this post is saying;

    In a 2008 study of black women and their money, the ING Foundation found that black women — who frequently manage the assets of their households — financially support friends, family and their houses of worship to a much greater degree than the general population.

    The writing is more than on the wall..

    • Karen says:

      Referencing the article, there are two points that deserve commentary:

      “High unemployment and high incarceration rates for black men also lower the likelihood of single black women finding a partner to help build a more secure financial future.”

      The above statement is only true as long as AAW do not expand their dating pool beyon AA BMs.

      “If wealth was based on hard work, African-Americans would be the wealthiest people in our nation,” she said. “It’s not about behavior. It’s about government policies. Who does the government help and who is it not helping?”

      We need to stop expecting the goverment to save us. By making better choices about who we associate with, by focusing on improving our education/skills and clearly choosing QUALITY men as mates, by default our collective situation as AAW will improve.

  16. tertiaryanna says:

    Khadija,

    My point is that we shouldn’t even be looking to be anybody’s “comrades” on any battlefield. We shouldn’t be openly soldiering on the battlefield, much less providing the majority of “the troops.” Other types of women are not doing any of that. They get men to fight other men for them; and fight indirectly through men.

    And it’s the conditioning AA women have been subjected to that has so many of us mindlessly, hypnotically “snapping to attention for battle” as soon as we’re presented with certain types of provocative stimuli. Like wind-up toys. Meanwhile, our own personal needs go unmet.”

    I understand your point now. It is very easy to be that wind-up toy, and even easier to be mobilized against our own self-interest. It’s like some weird surcharge on BW’s attention and energy, and we’re so slow to question that extra expense. It does take a toll.

    I’m finding that when I’m talking to other people, I might be well aware of (insert current BW-bashing controversy) but that’s a specialized knowledge that’s not helping me connect w/the people I’m meeting. They’re studying politics, economics, current events – the tools of creating societies, and I’m studying the rubble. I know I’ve had to forcibly remind myself to engage in the world I’m actually living in, which is indifferent to a lot of the superficial battles BW are asked to fight. It’s one thing to be active when it actually helps you directly, but a lot of what I’m seeing isn’t as direct as other issues being discussed by my peers. And I’m not even actively discussing these issues, but just the space it takes in my head tends to crowd out the room I want for self-development.

    I think that there’s a balance between being aware enough of the issues to know which are relevant and how to strategize, and actually putting plans into action. But discernment is needed to put boundaries between these phases. From your essays, I’m seeing how BW are socialized to attack before seeing what the situation even is. So we’re fighting using tactics that come back to haunt us, on issues we don’t even need to fight. I think we need a BW “stand-down” or detox, or something, and reflect on the fundamentals.

    Thank you for these essays.

  17. Nathifa says:

    You said,”And the long-term solution of “get with the most powerful, Alpha man and HE’LL solve my external problems” is totally contrary to the “help a (weakling) brotha out” behaviors that AAW have been programmed to do.”

    I agree completely. That is why we now see endless negative comments, stories from various people of varying racial, ethnic and gender groups. They have an invested interest in keeping the status quo of black women continuing to be sista soliders.I think once we start taking a step back and begin looking at the situation before we act we will save ourselves from spending time and energy on things that are not worth us fighting for. What do we get out of these emotional responses besides more grief, stress and inaction on moving forward with our own plans.

  18. RColeman says:

    I just read this…it should should more than bring the point of this very important post home.

    Once-revered S.C. lawmaker freezes to death alone
    Goggins was the first black woman in the S.C. Legislature and helped transform the American education system

    http://www.salon.com/news/2010/03/11/us_forgotten_lawmaker/index.html?source=rss&aim=/news

  19. Professher says:

    I confess: I haven’t read the comments; I was too eager to add mine! I’m older (chile, don’t ask!) and for much of my early life was a S.S., albeit one considered cute and “alive” (i.e., getting her needs and wants met). As I’ve aged, I’ve not realized how much life I’ve wasted until now with many of the things you and other BWE bloggers seem to know at such young ages. So, my story re: this (well, kinda) topic: I was in a public forum with one of my brilliant BM co-workers. He’s hated, in large part, by the whites because he’s clearly smarter than they. At one point, however, he was showing his his crazy/disturbed/unhinged/deep-end side and it was uncomfortable. I WANTED to jump in to “save” him from the rare “victory” he was giving the jealous whites. I was sooooo ready to do something to support him — ask a question, give him an amen kinda response, cite stats to support him, recraft his words to prove THEY didn’t get it, but I did — but I didn’t. Instead? I stopped myself and remembered: “He HAS a wife; I’m single. She’s also a co-worker. She’s brilliant; SHE can stick up for him; I’m ALONE and don’t need to “help” him.” Need I add that his wife is Asian? I was VERY proud of myself in that moment. Old dogs can learn new tricks, it seems. I wish I’d learned earlier so much of what you women know now. It is my greatest regret and I am trying to push past the limitations and reduced options that aging brings. Thank you. Welcome back (if I’ve not said it yet)!

  20. PioneerValleyWoman,

    You said, “I tried to think of black women who were movement women and who did it effectively, not as the groupies or spouses of movement men who suffered as a result, and not as single women who gave all for the cause. All I can think of were black women who were pioneers in professional fields like law: Constance Baker Motley or Marian Wright Edelman.”

    Yep, using the criteria of movement/activist BW who also were effective at getting their personal needs met eliminates a LOT of the AAW that are lifted up as Black History Month heroines. {shaking my head}
    _________________________________

    Lunanoire,

    You’re welcome!
    __________________________________

    Karen,

    {deep martial arts bow in salute}
    ___________________________________

    RColeman,

    I read the news stories you linked to. Lord have mercy {shaking my head}
    ____________________________________

    Tertiaryanna,

    You’re welcome!

    You said, “I’m finding that when I’m talking to other people, I might be well aware of (insert current BW-bashing controversy) but that’s a specialized knowledge that’s not helping me connect w/the people I’m meeting. They’re studying politics, economics, current events – the tools of creating societies, and I’m studying the rubble. I know I’ve had to forcibly remind myself to engage in the world I’m actually living in, which is indifferent to a lot of the superficial battles BW are asked to fight.”

    That’s the other (hidden) social price tag of AAW being preoccupied with the latest verbal droppings of damaged Black men—it takes the AA woman who’s focusing on that mess OUTSIDE the flow of the healthier social world that exists outside of all-AA constructs. Meanwhile:

    1-life in the healthier, non-AA, outside world goes on; AND

    2-those AA men who have the resources to do so are further integrating themselves into this larger, non-AA, outside world—and its benefits.

    So, while large numbers of AA males are focused on getting and increasing their foothold in the larger, non-AA, outside world through working for White-owned concerns and dating/marrying non-Black women . . . AA women continue to have their attention focused back on what you’ve referred to as “the rubble.”

    This is a double whammy for AA women. These conditioned responses have AA women directing their attention away from what might be beneficial in getting their needs met; AND directing their attention toward some verbal vomit that is of no value to their lives.

    Now, I’m still inclined to respond to things that constitute public safety issues for all BW. Issues involving sexual violence, and issues that negatively impact AA women’s ability to comfortably exist in the spaces that we need to keep open and viable for ourselves—such as workplaces and college campuses. We need to be able to walk around public spaces in relative safety. We need to be able to attend a university or go to work without facing an onslaught of racist/sexist harassment.

    Those are the sorts of issues that I feel directly impact the quality of life of all AAW, including me. So, I feel that I have enough of a personal stake in those sorts of issues to justify investing time into dealing with them, if I choose to do so. But even with these sorts of issues, I’ve trained myself to take a step back FIRST, and see where I am in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy at the moment before deciding whether or not to personally involve myself in dealing with it.

    You said, “From your essays, I’m seeing how BW are socialized to attack before seeing what the situation even is. So we’re fighting using tactics that come back to haunt us, on issues we don’t even need to fight.”

    Exactly. And we’re doing this as hypnotic, knee-jerk, programmed responses. Without giving any consideration to how these conditioned responses are a diversion from our efforts at getting our own personal needs met. It’s one thing to knowingly, and after deliberation, make the conscious choice of “Okay, I’ll take time out from getting my unmet needs met in order to do X.” It’s something else to make this sort of sacrifice unwittingly.

    You said, “I think we need a BW “stand-down” or detox, or something, and reflect on the fundamentals.”

    ITA.
    _________________________________________

    Nathifa,

    You said, “I think once we start taking a step back and begin looking at the situation before we act we will save ourselves from spending time and energy on things that are not worth us fighting for. What do we get out of these emotional responses besides more grief, stress and inaction on moving forward with our own plans.”

    Indeed. This behavior pattern is an endless negative feedback loop that helps keep AA women’s collective image and quality of life in the toilet. I know it’s totally against our programming, but I’m once again asking more of us to consider the example of how Asian women (through their individual marriages to dominant, powerful, Alpha WM) positively shifted the image and perception of AW in this country.

    The cumulative effect of individual AW securing high-quality, powerful husbands worked, and solved their image/public slander problems. What so many AAW are doing of working to punish invidual damaged AA male slanderers one by one is NOT going to solve that particular problem. For each one damaged BM that is chastised, a new one will crop up with a new anti-BW public comment each week.

    The only thing that will permanently stop damaged BM from engaging in that behavior is when the dominant, powerful, Alpha men (who are WM) who dominate these BM make them stop. And these WM have the power to do that, if they want to. They just don’t have any natural incentive—such as more of them being married to AAW—to do it automatically. And dominant, Alpha WM do this automatically for the type of women that they are likely to marry—WW and AW. WW and AW wouldn’t have to ask a Rupert Murdoch (who’s currently married to an AW) to react negatively to damaged BM who are slandering WW or AW.

    Like I said in the earlier post, BM live under the heels of these other men. They depend on these other men (who are mostly White men) for their employment and ability to eat. These damaged BM writers work for, and are subordinate to, WM bosses. The same applies to damaged BM entertainers.

    The public slander by damaged BM will permanently stop at the point when a critical mass of these dominant, Alpha WM have a personal reason to automatically crack down on these damaged Black men for saying those sorts of things—at the point when more of these powerful men are married to AA women—they don’t and won’t let damaged BM slander women who are like their wives. This is how AW naturally moved themselves into the same “protected” category that WW exist in. One AW marrying one Rupert Murdoch at a time.
    __________________________________________

    Professher,

    You’re welcome! And thank YOU for your kind “welcome back” back to the internets. LOL!

    As long as there’s breath in one’s body, it’s never too late to seek abundance in life. Onward and forward!

    You said, ” I stopped myself and remembered: “He HAS a wife; I’m single. She’s also a co-worker. She’s brilliant; SHE can stick up for him; I’m ALONE and don’t need to “help” him.” Need I add that his wife is Asian? I was VERY proud of myself in that moment.”

    I’m VERY proud of you too! Good for you! Everybody has made mistakes. Some mistakes are simply more visible to others than other types of mistakes. I’m still learning a lot of things—especially from listening to the comments from readers like you! The point (for all of us who haven’t quite got there yet) is to keep moving forward into the Promised Land. *Smile*

    *************************************************
    ***Note to Readers***

    In making this new site the kind of project that’s sustainable for me over the long-run, I’ve had to streamline how I handle certain things. The comments section is one of them. What this means is that I’ll give substantive responses to those folks who enter the conversations early (as I did across the board at the previous blog).

    After each post is a couple of days old, I’ll generally continue to publish new comments from readers. (That meet the commenting guidelines as set forth at the previous blog—those who are unfamiliar can read the comment “box” at the previous blog.)

    But, after a each post is a couple of days old, I generally WON’T continue responding to new comments.

    [In other words, I’ll continue to publish comments to this post, but I’m not going to reply to any more comments in this thread. FYI.]

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  21. Felicia says:

    “I know this is a difficult subject, because it creates awkward, uncomfortable realizations about many cherished notions. After I did my “likelihood of personal fulfillment/needs being met” survey of the traditional, Black History Month heroines, I came to the ugly and uncomfortable conclusion that many (if not most) of these women lived like chumps in terms of this issue (to my way of thinking) . . .”

    Juanita Goggins Dead: Once-Revered South Carolina Lawmaker Freezes To Death Alone

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/11/juanita-goggins-dead-once_n_495498.html

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Juanita Goggins became the first black woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature in 1974, she was hailed as a trailblazer and twice visited the president at the White House.

    Three decades later, she froze to death at age 75, a solitary figure living in a rented house four miles from the gleaming Statehouse dome.

    Goggins, whose achievements included key legislation on school funding, kindergarten and class size, had become increasingly reclusive. She spent her final years turning down help from neighbors who knew little of her history-making past. Her body was not discovered for more than a week.

    Those neighbors, as well as former colleagues and relatives, are now left wondering whether they could have done more to help.

    “I’m very saddened. People like her you want to see live forever. She had quite a gift for helping others,” said state Sen. John Land, a fellow Democrat who was first elected to the House the same year as Goggins.

    Goggins, the youngest of 10 children, grew up the daughter of a sharecropper in rural Anderson County, about 130 miles northwest of the capital. She was the only sibling to earn a four-year college degree. Her bachelor’s in home economics from then-all-black South Carolina State College was followed by a master’s degree.

    She taught in the state’s segregated schools, married a dentist and got into politics. In 1972, she became the first black woman to represent South Carolina as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Two years later, she became the first black woman appointed to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

    “I am going to Columbia to be a legislator, not just a black spot in the House chambers,” she told The Associated Press in 1974 following her victory over an incumbent white man from a district just south of Charlotte, N.C.

    Voters “were weary of poor representation. They were ready to accept a person who was sincere and concerned about things. Those feelings go beyond color,” Goggins said.

    She sat on the powerful House budget-writing committee and was responsible for funding sickle-cell anemia testing in county health departments.

    The former teacher also helped pass the 1977 law that is still the basis for education funding in the state. Her proposals to expand kindergarten and to reduce student-teacher ratios in the primary grades were adopted after she left politics in 1980, citing health issues.

    “She was not bashful or anything. She liked to talk. I used to say she could sell an Eskimo ice,” recalled Ilese Dixon, 88, of Pendleton, Goggins’ last surviving sibling. “She was just lively and smart. She thought she could fix the world.”

    Her colleagues say they never learned the specifics of her illness and, since she didn’t talk about it, they didn’t press.

    Several years after leaving the Legislature, Goggins divorced and then moved to Columbia in the early 1990s, renting the brick ranch house in a quiet neighborhood off North Main Street where she lived for 16 years.

    Her son said she worked several years as a case manager for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, although a spokesman said the agency had no records of her employment. At one point, she also started a nonprofit tutoring service called the Juanita W. Goggins School of Excellence.

    Neighbors said she was always a private person. One neighbor said she would return her waves, but refused to let visitors in the door.

    Last year, about the same time the Legislature voted to name part of a state highway after her, Goggins was mugged near her home. She changed the locks on her door and stopped taking walks, according her neighbors and landlord.

    Police found Goggins’ body March 3 – two weeks after she was last seen. Her landlord contacted police after a next-door neighbor realized he had not seen her lights on in some time.

    Coroner Gary Watts said she died of hypothermia, probably about Feb. 20, and said he found indications of dementia. When she died, during a cold snap, Goggins was wearing several layers of clothing, yet her heat was working at the time.

    She had money to pay her bills, but the utility company said it shut off the electricity for nonpayment Feb. 23. Watts said it appeared Goggins was using Sterno to cook, but her stove was still functioning when police climbed through a window and found her.

    “I miss her,” said Erskine Hunter, an 83-year-old neighbor who ensured Goggins’ lawn was mowed and hedges were trimmed. “I don’t know why I didn’t go over there and hammer on the door.”

    Hunter said Goggins occasionally came to his home and visited with his granddaughter. She refused to let anyone drive her anywhere, and refused rides to and from the bus stop, so he often went to the grocery store for her. But he had not done that in several months.

    State Sen. John Scott, whose realty company owns Goggins’ home, said he and his sister tried to take care of Goggins as best as they could without prying.

    “We lost a great trailblazer,” said Scott, a Democrat from Columbia. “Our family’s very saddened this happened to a person who’s given so much.”

    His sister who manages the property, Linda Marshall, said Goggins declined help from the county.

    “She needed someone to assist her, but anyone who tried to get close, she’d block them off,” she said. “She was very fragile. This was something I always dreaded.”

    Why she withdrew remains a mystery even to her son. He attributes it to her illness, which was never fully diagnosed.

    “That’s something I’ve been trying to get my head around for the last 15 years,” said Horace Goggins Jr., 42, of Powder Springs, Ga.

    He last saw her about six months ago. She would not let him help her either, he said.

    He wants to focus on her accomplishments and the good times at his mother’s funeral Friday in Rock Hill.

    “I would like for her to be remembered as a woman who cared about her community,” he said. “I want her to be remembered as a positive role model, not only for African-American girls, but also any young girl who has a want and a desire to make a change and do something positive.”

  22. Patricia Kayden says:

    Powerful essay! The one thing about you that is clear is that you know what you are talking about. Hopefully, alot of Black women are reading your website and LEARNING from what you say (and putting your words into action).

    I don’t consider your writings to be entertaining — they are truth and life. Too many Black women unconditionally support those who do not reciprocate.

    Keep up the great work!

  23. Professher says:

    Back again. So, I attended a wedding of a young man dear to the men in my family. Nice guy. The problem for me? I’m the odd woman out of my family. Always have been. My father boasts about me when I’m not around, but often ridicules me on occasion in public; my younger brother ignores me until he needs money, my older brother left the building long ago with his “mixed chick” love and has created an empire of ’em, thanks to his half-white wife and all of her white girlfriends and half-white sisters.

    I KNOW they wanted me to attend EVERYTHING, for their sakes, to make us look “whole” and “intact,” so they can say I was there. But, darn you, Khadija; this post is staying in my head and resonating like you would NOT believe. So, I attended the ceremony, sat waaaay in the back, was seen enough so that word would filter back to da boyz, and rolled out. I went to my favorite Amish Farmers’ Market, purchased wholesome food (well, there were those two peanut butter cups…), and enjoyed my time, being smiled at and admired and HATED (I didn’t MEAN to come to a place in boots, a figure-flattering dress, a silk head tie, and full makeup where most women — myself included — dress like ragamuffins)! Lots of BM looked at me; I didn’t respond, as a man who isn’t man enough to just say “hello” is a NOTHING to me now. One man waited for me to get it together and held doors open for me to leave. A bag boy asked me if I needed help to my car. Now, had I attended the repast and beyond with my family? MAYBE no one would’ve said anything stupid and MAYBE the mixed chick idolizing wouldn’t have been a record heights (mourning, you know). Still, the notion of “What Will Serve Me?!” was the warning alarm that kept sounding in my head. So, instead of being either ignored or ridiculed, I had an afternoon of being admired and treated nicely.

    Thank God for you; I’m finally getting it.

  24. Karen R says:

    Once again you hit it out of the park with this one!! For those of us who have exited the Matrix of the DBR black community, this is the preamble to our Constitution. This could be created as a Pledge of Allegiance to Ourselves.

    “It is hereby understood and agreed that I shall have my needs met BEFORE rescuing, attending to, and sacrificing myself in order to meet the needs of others…” Your post should be printed, signed and notarized!!!

    I have been reading your blog and others for several months now. I left the “black community” years ago physically, emotionally and spiritually. Initially, I felt guilty about my choice and that I no longer chose to rescue. Since I have left, the complexion and makeup of my “community” has changed. Friendships from the BC had to be renegotiated and in some cases they were left to die. The idea that AA women should get our needs met FIRST is seen by some as heretical. It is indoctrinated in us to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice and hold up the image of the STRONG BLACK WOMAN. That idea is dead!!!!

  25. Oshun/Aphrodite says:

    Hello All,

    After reading this post several times and then reading some of the comments – I find myself either choking on tears or choking on rage.

    Khadija’s comment referring to only one BW activist who lived well, were disturbing enough, but the comments by PioneerValleyWoman and RC Coleman pushed me to the edge.

    The kick in the guts for me in Mrs. Goggins situation is that so many people saw what was happening and waited until after she was dead to say, “I don’t know why I didn’t do something.” I can’t even emotionally process that.

    It reminds me so much of Ms. Esmin Green (sp) who died in front of casual observers in the ER. She was not an activist, but after her death members of her community/church said similar things about her extensive involvement in supporting others.

    The article on BW and wealth made me sick to my stomach. It made me think of some older BW in my community who are near retirement or in retirement. They married BM, but did not marry well. These women are all still active in their churches, political and community organizations – despite aches, pains, and chronic health conditions. Some of them take in grandchildren and great grandchildren with no assistance from parents and raise them. Many have financial difficulties … we just went through a brutal snow/winter and many have confessed that they can’t afford the utilities or food/prescriptions as things were already tough.

    I recently assisted one elder in cleaning her home last month because her back and knees had her bedridden and her pastor was supposed to deliver communion to her at home. Not only did the pastor never show up, but he never called her to tell her so. He left her waiting each Sunday for a solid month. The church hardly returned her calls and when she finally spoke to someone – they made statements like “I knew we forgot someone…I told them we needed to stop by Ms. so and so – making light of it all. Perhaps it was not my place, but this elder still mails in her tithes and I suggested she not do that. They can’t even be bothered to treat her decently when she’s shut in and needs them most.

    No reciprocity for these women and all their efforts. I keep getting flashes of the terrible way Ms. Goggins and Ms Green died and I feel that similar is in store for many of the women around me. It seems dogs are treated better.

    I know that there are things BW can do to move forward, and I am grateful for Khadija’s blog and others, but every now and then that rage and pain comes up when I realize the scope of how BW have suffered needlessly, been used, cheated, harmed in ways that compromise basic survival. It enrages me that the majority of the information I have received was designed to groom me to wind up with the same fate.

  26. pioneervalleywoman says:

    Oshun/Aphrodite says…but the comments by PioneerValleyWoman pushed me to the edge…

    My reply:

    You’re welcome. I was hoping to talk in one instance about the tragic effects of black male activism upon a family–Malcolm X, Shabazz and the children as well as the more effective examples of black women’s activism, found in black women whose activism upon the behalf of the community got them “paid,” and put them in place to do other things (ie., Marian Wright Edelman, or Constance Baker Motley who became a federal judge), including finding spouses, or they began activism long after they took care of their basic needs.

    Another observation: Marian Wright Edelman and C Delores Tucker weren’t just “race women,” which has tended historically to be about black men’s interests, but they eventually became activists in ways similar to how white women became activists, focusing upon the issues that tend to be of interest primarily to women: women and children, women and families. This got them greater support from the outside community that they did not get from the black community.

    For example, Marian Wright Edelman’s group–how often do black people think of it, a children’s defense group modeled after the NAACP? Remember as well, Tucker’s activism on behalf of black women and girls against the rise of gangsta rap that denigrated them. While black folks were howling she was elitist, she got support from whites for her efforts.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      Hello Rev PioneerValleyWoman,

      Thank you.

      I am not extensively familiar with the two others you mentioned, (thank you for sharing), but I am in awe of C. Delores Tucker. I think she was amazing. She was a pioneer or just had a lot of common sense.

      I remember her speaking out and I didn’t understand at the time – I was so young. I couldn’t see the big picture. I am grateful for her calling attention to and railing against rap when she did. The sad thing is that obviously she was wise enough to see the writing on the wall, the BC fought her, and now BW are dealing with the aftermath of that.

      • Miss V says:

        Oshun/Aphrodite,

        I didn’t understand Mrs. Tucker at the time either. I was young and had no idea, and like you, I’m seeing the aftereffects on black women. It’s true what ‘they’ say about hindsight being 20/20…

  27. JaliliMaster says:

    RColeman said: “In a 2008 study of black women and their money, the ING Foundation found that black women — who frequently manage the assets of their households — financially support friends, family and their houses of worship to a much greater degree than the general population.”

    What annoys me the most about this is that I have noticed that whenever something like this comes up, the usual reaction from a lot of AA women is to praise the situation, repeating the tired clichés of AA women being “strong”, “supportive” etc. Whether out of embarrassment to admitting that they are being used by quite a few of the people they hold dearly, or because they genuinely believe that this is a pre-ordained calling for the masses of AA women. In America, Black and Asian women have the highest earning potential or spending power (it is one of the two, but I cannot remember which one). If such tests took into account that most of these AA women are the sole breadwinners, and are also financially ‘responsible’ for many of their other GROWN, ADULT relatives, it would be seen that the financial situation of majority of AA women, even those earning good incomes, is much worse. That is probably what was done with the study the RColeman linked to, hence the reasons why the results show such a terrible situation.

    Due to AA women’s advancement in education, careers, etc, on the surface, it would seem like a lot of resources are coming in. But few people are willing to look into what is going out. That is why AA women still fare much worse than many others who earn less. Let’s not forget that a lot of AA women are also losing out in terms of other needs, seeing as the majority of AA women don’t seem too interested in forming rewarding relationships with many of their work colleagues unless they are Black. Most of you who have held jobs can attest to this. Many of the BW employees, especially the single ones, usually have some office clique with themselves. What I mean is that though they may be sociable with other fellow employees, outside the office, the majority only tend to socialise/hang out with the Black male/female employees. The BM employees rarely ever do the same.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      “What annoys me the most about this is that I have noticed that whenever something like this comes up, the usual reaction from a lot of AA women is to praise the situation, repeating the tired clichés of AA women being “strong”, “supportive” etc. Whether out of embarrassment to admitting that they are being used by quite a few of the people they hold dearly, or because they genuinely believe that this is a pre-ordained calling for the masses of AA women. ….it would be seen that the financial situation of majority of AA women, even those earning good incomes, is much worse.”

      I guess I was delusional thinking that at least some BW were out there at enjoying themselves in some way despite being trained to help others. It floored me that even educated BW, many who have struggled to attain, aren’t enjoying any of the fruits of their own labor.

  28. Karen says:

    Oshun/Aphrodite,

    Let it go… Honor those feelings of sadness and rage but then let them go.

    The elderly woman you described and women like her have decided to continue to support institutions and systems that do not support them.

    It is a teaching moment for you to recognize this for what it is (thank you Khadija for this space to discuss), to learn and to move on.

    All of these BW who have and continue to sacrifice for others and not ensure their needs are met are a clear warning for the rest of us to not fall into this trap.

    The situation with Mrs. Goggins as so many nuances that I could write an essay but what strikes me most of all is that her own son was not willing to take action (15 years of not taking action) to find out what was wrong with his mother and to take care of her. He had not even seen her in 6 months.

    This could be an indication that her activism caused her to sacrifice having a healthy relationship with her son or that he was completely indifferent to the plight of his mother.

    Either way, such stories serve as cautionary tales of what we that have left or trying to leave the Matrix must avoid:

    Sacrificing or not ensuring that our needs are met FIRST before doing X, Y, or Z.

    • Oshun/Aphrodite says:

      @ Karen

      “Let it go… Honor those feelings of sadness and rage but then let them go.”

      Thank you Karen. I am much calmer today and in a better frame of mind. This is definitely a teaching moment. Once I think I have a handle on and scope of what that truth is – a baseball bat flies to the back of my head and says no, is actually worse. But it is better to know the truth and act accordingly.

  29. Miss V says:

    My sister…you’ve said SOOOO much in this post…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!