Joining Better Networks, Part 1: Consistently Bring Something Of Value To The Table

This is the first chapter of an ongoing series of posts about how to become a welcomed member of productive networks. Humans are social animals, and always cluster into various groups. Unless you’re a hermit, you’re a member of various (sometimes overlapping) groups. These networks vary in size, purpose, and effectiveness.

Most African-American women need to find and join new, healthy networks in the global village. Because their current all-Black networks tend to be accidentally chosen, non-reciprocating, and often downright destructive. However, to join productive networks, most African-American women will need to change the way they approach networking. Most importantly, they will need to change their understanding of the entire process.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT #1: READ THE FREE NETWORK INFILTRATION SPECIAL REPORT PROVIDED BY THE SOVEREIGN MAN BLOG

Your homework assignment is to visit the Sovereign Man blog, and get a copy of his free report Network Infiltration: The Secrets to Becoming a Welcomed Member of The Most Exclusive Networks in the World.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT #2: READ THIS POST BY THE SOVEREIGN MAN

Read this post.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT #3: PURGE YOUR MIND OF THE “PEOPLE OWE ME SOMETHING” MENTALITY

When most African-Americans speak of networking, what they’re really describing is coattail riding. It doesn’t occur to them that they should or need to contribute value to the target person they want to benefit from. Especially when that target person is also African-American. Most African-Americans have an entitlement, “hook me up” mindset. That’s why you hear all this talk of expecting other African-Americans to “reach back,” and “set up programs” for them. It’s all one-sided. The people looking for the handout from other Blacks never say what they’re going to do in exchange for any assistance given. Because they don’t intend to do anything except TAKE from that person. And if you don’t hook them up, then they create an entire narrative in their minds about how you must be jealous and evil. It’s irrational.

With African-Americans, this entitlement mindset is also heavily intertwined with our many toxic attitudes and misguided notions about class issues. Here are some responses I gave to several readers at the previous blog when this topic came up,

My responses to Reader A

I…see…Perhaps they simply did not want to give them to you. Perhaps they simply did not want to give them to anybody. Were they under any obligation to do so? I think not.

I had a Korean martial arts instructor. He did NOT accept any and every person who came to him wanting to be his student. He was right. He had a right to decide whom he was going to share his hard-earned information with. There are potential students that one feels comfortable with. And then there are other people that one does NOT feel comfortable sharing oneself with. For all sorts of reasons. Some “legitimate.” Some “illegitimate.” Regardless of the reasons involved, nobody is required to share their life lessons with anybody else.

The sort of mentoring that it sounds like you’re talking about is very personal and requires trust. In explaining real-life things (such as the keys to personal happiness), one inevitably ends up sharing details of one’s personal life. Details that one might NOT want broadcast to the world.

I know for myself that if somebody approaches me with a “you owe me” attitude, I’m immediately turned off and distrustful of that person. If somebody feels entitled to have access to MY life lessons, what else of mine do they feel entitled to have? Furthermore, what happens to the personal information that I shared with the student if the student “falls out” with me at a later date?

Also, an attitude of entitlement to what I’ve learned through MY personal experiences would make me wonder about the “you owe me” wannabe student’s judgment. If I did share, what would they do with the information I gave them? Would they handle MY information with the same level of discretion that I feel it deserves? Would they spread my comments around? Would they misuse my information?

Why take that risk with insights that I’ve learned through MY personal experiences? Personal experiences that I might not want broadcast to the world if the student ever “fell out” with me?

Respectfully, it sounds as if you’ve never considered the risks involved in what you were asking of these women.

. . . More blunt talk:

The Black poor and underclass have this peculiar (really quite vain) notion that people from other classes actually think about, or pay attention to them. From what I’ve seen, the Black poor and the underclass are NOT on most middle class persons’ radar. The ugly truth is that nobody cares enough about the Black poor or underclass to pay any attention to what they’re doing. Nobody’s watching them. Nobody even sees them until they do something (often negative) to bring themselves to other folks’ attention.

I have never seen people FROM middle class environments who actually defined themselves in relation to the Black poor or underclass. They have other measures of self-definition. The Black middle class’ self-definition revolves around jockeying for position among other middle class people. And on social climbing into the Black elite. The Black poor and underclass don’t factor into this self-definition equation. They are irrelevant to this equation.

On the other hand, I have seen insecure, dysfunctional strivers take great pains to distinguish themselves from the Black poor. These are also often the people who have emotionally charged relationships with material things, professional titles, and other “stuff” that they are desperate to wave around and show off. It seems much more likely to me that these are the sort of people that you’re describing who enjoy, or need, to see ghetto clown shows for their self-validation.

. . . All of this sounds as if you’re [still] angry with these women (and by extension the Black middle class–the “hate” part of the “love/hate relationship” you mentioned having with the Black middle class) because they chose to exercise their free will, and chose not to mentor you. Why be angry with them if you understand that they had NO obligation to mentor you? Why be angry with the Black middle class if you understand that these women had NO obligation to mentor you?

It seems to me that the only way a person could be angry about this is if that person felt entitled to these women’s mentoring. As if these women OWED somebody some mentoring. They didn’t. They don’t. Anyone who understands this also understands that there’s no reason to harbor anger or resentment about this years later.

. . . But since you understand that they didn’t owe you (or anybody else) any mentoring in the first place, it doesn’t matter what their reasons were for choosing not to give it.

. . . As far as the Ebonics-speaking lawyer [that I had mentioned], her inferiority complex and hateration prevented her from perceiving what others were telling her as help. She chose to interpret the help as a put-down. Back to the “you’re looking down on me” obsession with such folks.

I don’t recall saying that “most Blacks don’t want help.” What I will say is:

Because of various distorted thought patterns, many poor, underclass, and hater-striver Blacks often don’t perceive help as help. Their distorted perceptions twist it around into something else. Usually something negative, such as the “you’re looking down on me” obsession. When they don’t perceive it as help, then they don’t want it.

Even if they do understand that the offered help IS help, and do want it, such people often ONLY want it ON THEIR TERMS! As if the helper is under some obligation to make the help as convenient and pleasing as possible to the person who needs it.

Considering that nobody owes anybody help, this is upside-down and backwards thinking. It also turns off potential help-givers. Someone making demands about the form and fashion of the help that they want from others increases the “hassle factor” involved in helping that particular person. Some people are only willing to be helpful as long as it’s not a hassle. Because they want to make demands about the form and fashion of the help, a lot of Black folks make it too much of a hassle to help them. The Black poor, underclass, and striver-haters have a bad habit of making it a hassle to help them. As if somebody has to cater to them to help them. NOT.

Anyway, back to the main point:

No matter how sincerely you wanted help, these women were NOT under any obligation whatsoever to give it to you (or anybody else). You wanting their help did NOT create any obligation for them to give it. They did not owe anybody any mentoring or any other help. If this is understood then there’s no reason to be upset with their decision to exercise their free will and not offer mentoring.

. . . We agree to disagree.

It sounds like you’re adding qualifications to the “nobody ‘owes’ anybody any help” statement. Qualifications such as “the same path,” or people “not trying to help themselves.”

For me, those qualifications don’t matter to the basic principle involved. The basic principle I believe is that nobody owes anybody anything. [I am excluding caregiver relationships such as parent-child, etc.]

My basic principle is that people have the right to exercise choice when it comes to giving, charity, help, whatever. They can choose to give. They can choose to withhold their help.

Charity is a good thing. However, I believe that any duty to give in charity is a believer’s duty to God, NOT a duty owed to other human beings. One is giving out of thanks and obligation to God, NOT because other human beings demand it. To think that people owe us help is similar to the attitude of an aggressive panhandler who feels that other people owe him some of THEIR money. No, I DON’T owe any of my money to panhandlers. I don’t owe panhandlers any money whatsoever whether or not:

1-they are passive or aggressive while panhandling.

2-I perceive them, or they perceive themselves, to be on “the same path.”

3-I perceive them, or they perceive themselves, to be trying to help themselves.

None of that is my point. My point is that I don’t owe panhandlers any money. And the money that I do NOT owe them can take various forms: the money can be my time, energy, information, or help.

Like I said, we agree to disagree.

My responses to Reader B

This is an extremely important point about how a person’s class of origin affects outcomes.

Hard work and determination are VERY good things, but there’s always a LOT of other stuff going on behind the curtains. Too many of our people don’t understand this. Especially some of those who are first-generation college grads. Some of us believe that a degree from a status university like Harvard automatically grants one entry into various settings. Or that such a degree will grant one authority or “juice” in various realms. It does NOT work like that if you don’t have family or social connections to back that up.

Furthermore, the organizational chart (on paper) does NOT necessarily reflect true authority or “juice.” Let me give an example. If you’re a Black professor at a prestigious university, this does NOT mean that you have any true authority whatsoever over any of your wealthy, connected, White students. NOT unless you are as connected as they are.

This means that they are free to refuse to defer to you. To whatever extent they wish. And there will be very little that you can effectively do about it. ESPECIALLY if you are your family’s first college grad. A fancy degree from an fancy university does NOT outweigh that wealthy, connected student’s extended family connections.

Let me give the reverse example. The (racist) White dean at the law school I attended had the nasty mental habit of assuming that every Black student there was the first in their family to go to college, much less professional school. This dean seemed to perceive us all to be so-called “charity cases” who should be grateful to be there.

NOT. And the dean found this out the hard way. The Dean and Assistant Dean did some things that I found to be extremely foul. Among other yucky potential consequences, they then discovered that my father was in a position to have the wrath of the IRS descend upon that school. They quickly backed up. And decided to “fly right,” and address my concerns.

But they apparently thought that I was a fluke. They still didn’t learn their lesson about assuming that it was safe to try to screw over ALL of the Black students. They messed up and took liberties again. With one of my friends who was a year behind me. What they didn’t know was that the then-Illinois Attorney General (now Sen. Roland Burris) was a close friend of his parents.

Apparently, they discovered that the Illinois Attorney General’s Office was planning to stop interviewing any students from that law school if they persisted in their foul actions regarding my friend. They quickly “got on the good foot” regarding my friend. Praise God, for at least these incidents, it worked in the reverse of what usually happens: This racist White dean of a White law school had to factor in how 2 Black students might react.

The moral of these stories is that there are always things going on behind the scenes that have nothing to do with paper credentials. It’s not enough to have the paper credentials. For stuff to work in the best manner, you have to have an effective posse to accompany the paper credentials.

My responses to Reader C

No, nobody is saying that strivers NEED the help or friendship of affluent Blacks. But it certainly helps, and makes the path smoother. There is an expression about “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Only a fool goes out of his way to urinate on potential sources of help and advantages.

Striver-haters are NOT going to be able to connect to those Black people who already have connections. Therefore, they won’t be able to borrow the benefits of that Black person’s family connections. The same applies to aggressive panhandlers who are in folks’ faces demanding, expecting, and feeling ENTITLED to their help.

My responses to Reader D

I’ll be pleased if just one person reconsiders the hateration and/or entitlement mindset that has become dogma in mass AA culture.

I think that this “you owe me” mindset is a fairly recent innovation in mass AA culture. As in, since the 1960s (my older relatives say that this is when large numbers of Black folks went crazy).

My grandmothers (the maid and the seamstress) did NOT think that anybody owed them anything. My grandfathers (the handyman and the cook) did NOT think that anybody owed them anything. My parents (who grew up poor, and are strivers who made the leap into the middle class) never thought that anybody owed them anything.

As I reflect on your comment, I realize that no, my parents didn’t raise me to believe that they necessarily “owed” me anything after they raised me to adulthood! For example, it would never occur to me to expect my mother to just drop whatever she’s doing to babysit any children I had. It would be nice if she was willing to babysit, but she doesn’t have to do that. She does NOT owe me that.

[I believe, as I’m sure you do, that parents who choose to produce children owe a duty to feed, clothe and properly rear the children they produce. Even with that said, my grandparents and parents taught us all to be GRATEFUL and THANKFUL for anything that anybody ever did for us. Including what our parents and other relatives did/do for us!]

The other thing that I find interesting about the entitlement mindset is the lack of introspection that frequently accompanies it. If I’m getting a series of negative responses from a series of different people, then I’m going to take a step back and try to check myself. I’m going to try to envision the FULL range of possible reasons why all of these different people are saying “No” to my request. Including the price tag and risks involved for a person who says “Yes” to my request (that I might not have previously considered).

Verbally saying that my heart is pure and my spirit is beautiful does not necessarily make it so. My first move is definitely not to assume that they are ALL somehow jealous of me. [Which is vain, and inconsistent with a pure heart.] Maybe these other people are seeing something going on with me that I can’t see myself. Something that I probably won’t find out about if I’m CLOSED to the very possibility that maybe I’m the one who’s off-base in this situation.

This is all quite interesting.

Letting go of the entitlement mentality is the most important part of joining better networks.

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52 Responses to “Joining Better Networks, Part 1: Consistently Bring Something Of Value To The Table”

  1. Karen says:

    Dear Khadija,

    Excellent post!

    You will forgive me if I skip the homework assignments (smile). I learned very early in life that there was no such thing as entitlement (from my grandparents). I have always earned my way, and my relationships/networks are based on reciprocity.

    I have had experiences where people have approached me asking (and sometimes demanding) that I give of my resources (time, experience, money, etc.). Bluntly stated, I asked what value does it bring to me to give you X,Y or Z. What efforts have you made to obtain X, Y or Z? Or is the assumption that I am only here to give and you to take?

    I have never had patience for “lazy” people and to me the entitlement attitude is the epitome of laziness.

    Those that I have mentored (and in all cases, they NEVER asked to be mentored), were people that I witnessed had demonstrated by their actions that they took the extra effort, worked hard, and were all around decent people. If they had a question, it was always after they had taken the time to try to resolve it themselves not like many who would rather get a quick “answer” versus taking the time to learn something in the process.

    Such people I just stay away from and to your point, I do not owe anyone anything. Frankly, LIFE is not owed to us. Too many forget that fact, it is a miracle to be born and it is up to each of us to make the most of that life. Leeching off others is not a part of the bargain in my book.

    Thank you for the link on Network Infiltration; there is always something new to learn *smile*.

  2. Valerie M says:

    The entitlement mentality is a chronic problem worldwide, but especially in Europe and the U.S. Can we stand together and say “Greece”? It knows no racial barriers. But of course, I know you are focusing on the black “community” here. I do agree that many blacks are lacking even more so in networking effectively and having a mindset of reciprocity.

    As far as the black “community” goes, all of the coddling and white guilt over stuff they personally had nothing to do with is not working. Many of the hand outs need to be cut severely. I’d also like to point out that I am tired of statistics being used to justify the handouts and the victimization mindset. Let’s not fool ourselves. People do stupid stuff and then that stuff ends up in the statistics… not the other way around. That is, unless you allow statistics to control how you act. Anyway, as long as it keeps happening, the more you will see the entitled folks resist any type of effective networking and reciprocity. That goes for any human, not just blacks.

    I once read a story in the book “Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar” by James M. Bach. I highly recommend it if you are into self-education, which should be happening whether or not you are in or completed traditional schooling. It goes something like this: A bucaneer/pirate captain wanted his crew to take over a much larger armada (the Spanish navy) ship. The way he increased the chances of his crew succeeding was by deliberately sinking his own ship. His crew knew at that point that they didn’t have a choice: succeed or perish. Sometimes the fastest way to get someone to swim is to throw them in the water.

    Like you’ve said time and time again, when people see that nobody is coming out to help them, they will quickly start finding business and personal opportunities. Hey now… where were all these opportunities before? How is it that black slaves and black in the early 20th century were more oppressed but were still able to be more resourceful than some black people are now??? How were they able to network together to keep things going and rise above their circumstances? For what all of “our” ancestors went through, I do not even want to hear anything about how oppressed anyone (in the U.S. at least) is today. Or how anyone is “keepin’ me down.” To me, that is a slap to the faces of the people who dreamed and worked so hard to get us where we are today.

  3. Thank you for this post Khadija.

    My only question for you and all other future posters is what can a newbie offer a veteran in any industry?

    Basically, how can I as a newbie reciprocate?

  4. Dear Karen,

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

    Not everybody needs to do the homework. 🙂 A dwindling number of AAs already understand that nobody owes them anything. Unfortunately, the masses of AAs don’t get it. And their entitlement, “I expect something for nothing” mindset is the underlying common denominator in most of our collective problems. For one example, this mindset is the reason why 99.99% of our networks don’t work.

    When another Black person helps most AAs, we NEVER return the favor. Meanwhile, we will forever sing praises to the non-Black person who throws a moldy crumb our way. All of this is why I stopped being helpful with 99.99% of the other AAs at work. They don’t comprehend the notion of helping the people who help you. They take other Black people’s help and keep stepping.

    AAs also have the nasty habit of taking kindness from other Blacks as weakness, and an invitation to exploit the generous person. On the flip side, if the target Black person is wise enough to refuse our demands for “something for nothing” then we hate and denounce that person as “jealous,” or a snob, or some other insulting term.

    You said, “Those that I have mentored (and in all cases, they NEVER asked to be mentored), were people that I witnessed had demonstrated by their actions that they took the extra effort, worked hard, and were all around decent people. If they had a question, it was always after they had taken the time to try to resolve it themselves not like many who would rather get a quick “answer” versus taking the time to learn something in the process.”

    I know some folks in the audience are tired of hearing about “old school,” traditional AA cultural values. But what you just described in that passage is one of them. As a small girl, my parents also raised me NOT to come to them with questions or requests until AFTER I had exhausted all of my own resources trying to find the answer/solve the problem. I always knew that I could come to them for help; just not as my first step in terms of normal questions or problems. [A genuine emergency was a totally different situation.]

    Like you, when evaluating whether or not to be helpful with someone, I look to see what they’re doing for themselves. It’s funny. From what I can tell, most non-AAs understand this idea. And, up until the 1960s, most AAs also understood this idea. We also understood that if somebody did something for us, it was on us to make sure that the person who helped us benefitted in some way. Not necessarily right away. But eventually the person who was helped would make sure that this favor worked its way back to the helper.

    Not anymore. And not for a very long time among AAs.

    Expect Success!

  5. ValerieM.,

    I’m focused on AAs here, not “Blacks.” Especially with this particular topic. Because it’s been my observation that non-AA Blacks generally do practice reciprocity among themselves. From what I’ve watched over time, NOBODY else has the parasite, “the world owes me,” “something for nothing,” mentality to the degree of modern (post-1960s) AAs.

    You said, “Like you’ve said time and time again, when people see that nobody is coming out to help them, they will quickly start finding business and personal opportunities.”

    No, (unfortunately) I don’t expect the masses of AAs to have this reaction. We’ve almost completed the journey of becoming a permanent underclass in the US. Instead, what I expect the AA masses to do is engage in increasingly aggressive panhandling—meaning riots and threats of riots if they don’t continue to get handouts from the outer society.

    The practical problem with this strategy is that it worked on the previous White American elites because of White guilt. However, this strategy won’t work with the emerging Latino and Asian political elites in the US. These immigrants weren’t part of the slavery narrative in the US, and they have their own immigrant sob stories. They’ll simply put some “peace walls” and other physical barricades around burning AA residential areas. And call it a day.
    _________________________________________________

    RevolutionaryAndJoyful,

    You’re welcome!

    You said, “My only question for you and all other future posters is what can a newbie offer a veteran in any industry? Basically, how can I as a newbie reciprocate?”

    Thanks for asking this question; I was hoping that somebody would ask it. Here’s my view:

    Someone who’s looking to network as a peer of the target person should offer something the target person can’t readily do for themselves. As the Sovereign Man blog host put it in his report, the networker should (casually) offer to solve a problem that the target person has. He stresses the point of casually making this offer. Because if the aspiring networker is too eager, then they put themselves in the servant category—and the target person no longer views them as a possible peer.

    [A person can be a newbie in the target person’s industry while at the same time being a heavy hitter in another industry. The newbie’s status in their own field might carry as much weight as the target person’s status in their field. So, they’re still in a position to be perceived as a peer if they play their cards right.]

    As a total and complete newbie in a field, a person is typically not in the position to network with established folks in that field as a peer. Because they’re NOT a peer, they’re a total newbie. In that case, the person is looking to network as a student/protege of the target person. In such a situation, one can offer to do something that the target person doesn’t want to do for themselves.

    If at all possible, it’s always best to offer the target person something they can’t readily do for themselves. That carries more weight. Sometimes even newbies have access to resources that a target person doesn’t already have. Such as a newbie having a contact person that would be willing to provide a service (even better if it’s a specialized service) to the target person for a huge discount.

    As I state in the essay, the biggest problem is that most AAs never think to figure out what they can bring to a target person’s table. Most people have something, or access to something, that they can bring to a table if they look hard enough for it.

    Expect Success!

    • tertiaryanna says:

      I think it’s also important to seem moldable. If a newbie looks like a potential protege, that can be more helpful than a newbie who is inflexible and can’t be taught. You don’t want to appear both inexperienced and unteachable.

      Thank you for this post, and also for the links back to the “mirror for princes” literature. The Balthazar Gracian one is listed in full online, and I’ve been reading it carefully.

  6. Valerie M says:

    Point taken on both accounts. And I understand your focus on AAs.

    I’d just like to clarify: when I say “black,” I am speaking of Black Americans in general not blacks overseas. I am not AA, technically speaking; I am of Caribbean ancestry. So I get that there is a different shared history, culture, M.O., or whatever apart from AA’s. However, I see how after decades and generations of being exposed to the stereotypical AA mentality and behavior, many Caribbean Blacks are actually imitating it. I have even seen this to a much lesser extent with SOME children of recent African immigrants. In my generation (early to mid 20s), I sometimes can’t even distinguish between the behaviors of AA’s and Caribbeans anymore. Some of my own cousins, aged from 18 to 35, have gotten caught up in the nonsensical thinking and we are all first generation Americans. So, to me, in my generation, I’m finding it harder and harder to separate AAs from other native Black Americans.

    Anyway, this is probably all moot point but just wanted to share.

    • ak says:

      Yes. What you’re saying there is true Valerie M. My whole family is Jamaican and I was growing up in and still living in the US, my mother said she can see some younger generations of Caribbean people picking up the stereotypical AA mentality and behavior, and I saw it for myself too.

      Depending on certain parts of the US, it can be hard sometimes to tell the difference between AAs and blacks who descended from non-AAs take Florida for instance.

      • Beverly says:

        I must say something about this. (waves at Khadija)
        Jamaicans are just as committed to the something for nothing mentality as African Americans. How do I know that? Half of my family is Jamaican and most of them want something for nothing. I just needed to say that because many carribeans try to pretend that they are so advanced and African Americans are not. PUHLEEZE! So many Jamaicans and other carribeans sit in their island paradises and wait for international handouts and other forms of charity from their first world cousins. So let’s cut out the lies.

        • Hello there, Beverly!

          {excited waving}

          Thanks for the reality check. Oh…I know certain things. Such as the common sense observation made at the previous blog by a non-AA Black reader to her fellow Black immigrants. To paraphrase her, she said: “There’s a REASON why we’re not in our home countries.”

          Indeed. I can see lots of reasons why masses of immigrant Blacks have fled their various Black paradise homelands and ran to the US, UK and the rest of Europe. But it’s not for me to say these things—I’ll be accused of “hating” foreign-origin Blacks if say certain things. So, I’ll let you and others who have family connections to these various Black paradises filled with healthy cultures make the reality check.

          I also won’t comment on my grandparents’, my parents’, and MY tax dollars being used to finance the international welfare/public aid—err, “international aid”—that these examples of Earthly paradise have been receiving from my country for the past 45-50 years. With no visible progress after almost 50 years of international welfare. That’s also not for me to say…

          **ADDENDUM**Recognizing that non-AA Blacks tend to do much better (than AAs) in terms of networking among themselves does not mean that: (1) I worship them as being superior to anybody else; or (2) that I fail to notice some of the other types of problems that they have—just look at what they’ve done to their own countries. But the state of their countries and collectives are their problems, not mine. Those are their problems to correct (or not), not mine. This is another reason why I’m not focused on giving reality checks about those sorts of issues right now.

          Right now, I’m focused on correcting a distorted understanding among my OWN people of how networking works. So that more of the women from my own ethnic group can effectively move forward by joining better networks.

          Let me also stress that I don’t feel that anybody has said anything inappropriate or offensive during this conversation. I’m simply speaking my thoughts as various points are raised during the conversation. In other words, it’s all good. 🙂

          Expect Success!

  7. And remember this as well RevandJoy: I don’t care who the person is, everybody’s got a problem, and the bigger they are, the less time they have to solve it. My parents always taught me to always come to the table with solutions and you will be rewarded. Case in point: I was a newbie social worker with no connections whatever. I was in a new town. I was a “striver,” first in my family to go to college. This was a state job, and supposedly promotions were totally based on a merit exam and longevity. So I was looking at least five years before I could even think about a promotion.

    Well the assistant director (at least four levels above my pay grade) had a problem. There was a report she was supposed to do monthly and she was way behind. Everyone else just complained about it. I did a little research and quickly realized that it was something I could do. So I did. I pulled together a spreadsheet, plugged in the relevant data and sent the results to her. She was overjoyed. (This issue had been going on for at least a year.) In no time at all (less than a year) I was no longer a caseworker. She literally created a position for me that didn’t involve casework at all. I became a consultant. Well you can imagine the reaction in the office, they called me a suck up. I wasn’t sucking up. Sucking up is empty and meaningless. I saw a problem and came up with a solution and was rewarded accordingly.

    • ak says:

      Good for you.

    • You are my she-ro 🙂 I love your approach-I’ve used an approach like this in my former job, and it made it possible for me to add a couple of impressive items to my resume. I lost some focus when I got to this most recent position. Thanks for reminding me of what works.

  8. Muse says:

    A mentor/mentee relationship should be reciprocal. Most established individuals I know don’t take on mentees unless that individual will enhance their own network. They see the mentee as a potential power player down the line or someone to pass the torch to as their social standing growing. Unfortunately many African Americans don’t seem to get this. When AAs come across an established person of color, they arrogantly assumed the power player wants or should help them. [Khadija speaking: I deleted two sentences and a link here.]

    Professionals who decline becoming a mentor aren’t sell outs or cruel people. They are just very strategic about who they allow into their circle. It’s very critical that we are mindful as to who we bring into our inner circle. If the mentee makes the any missteps, their actions may reflect poorly on the mentor.

    In my personal life I’m not big on networking in the traditional since. I’m very appreciative of the network infiltration article you linked Khadija because it’s another source that verifies that traditional network strategies that most professional AAs utilize are ineffective. Often times I get tons of emails about these “networking” events. When I was in college I use to attend thinking that these gatherings were worth my time and energy. As it turns out that everyone at these events were looking for a mentor and had no influence whatsoever in their industries. The real power players were not at the events. Everyone was looking to see how the next person would enhance their career but brought nothing to the table. One networking event taught me that I had to be more strategic on how I would approach elevating my career. My folks advised me that if you have the talent and you shine at what you do, the right people will come around. Everyone wants to be attached to success. It’s not just about hard work put positioning yourself to be at the right place at the right time.

    Sadly most people don’t add value to the environment that they are currently in. Most are not willing to put in the time or discipline to become the very best at what they do. You also have to be in a continuous state of learning so that you can supplement the skills/talents you already possess. Most people don’t take time to cultivate their personalities or interest outside of work so they come off as one dimensional. Then there are the clones who try to mimic certain personality traits, interest, and goals as people they admire but they end up coming off as disingenuous. This type of behavior is often seen in hater/striver individuals whose have deep rooted self hate issues.

    My point is that if you want to get anything out of this life you have to stand out in a positive way. Your actions and personality should even make a shrewd individual want to be part of your social network. People of influence want to be around others like them not individuals who will taint their brand. The entitlement mindset needs to be purged all together. None of us are entitled to anything in this life. Those with entitlement spoiled brat issues usually don’t get very far anyway. Americans are falling behind the curve because of our slothful entitlement mentality. In a few years (or perhaps sooner) we are going to see who gets left behind to ride on the small yellow school bus.

  9. Tee says:

    Khadija:

    This post is outstanding!!! Thank you for the links!

    Years ago I used to attend after work networking events in NYC. These were black only events that attracted “professionals” from all over the city.

    These events were a waste of time because there was no real networking going on, because no one attending was in a real authoritative position (mostly middle managers/supervisors). While it was always a well groomed crowd, an exchange would consist mainly of someone in your face bragging about their experience/qualifications, and then shoving their business card at you. No one in attendance was interested, or really understood the concept of networking.

    Khadija, about the passage in Sovereign Man’s report where he makes phone calls to various law firms, be very careful not to be dismissive of the receptionist, because he/she can speak a word to the company head or delete a call record that could hinder a first contact. As a former receptionist, I have done this many times to strangers who thought I was just the “lowly receptionist” when in fact the boss would ask me how that person conducted themselves in the waiting area, or on the phone.

    Khadija you said—
    “Considering that nobody owes anybody help, this is upside-down and backwards thinking. It also turns off potential help-givers. Someone making demands about the form and fashion of the help that they want from others increases the “hassle factor” involved in helping that particular person.”

    I have learned to “wait and see” when people express that they need assistance. I ask myself is this something that I will want to deal with for the duration. Most of the time the answer is no. Usually people of this caliber really don’t want help they just want to you participate in their madness.
    Khadija, once again thank you for such a valuable piece of information.

    Peace,

    Tee

  10. ak says:

    Thanks Khadija. I read the information on Network Infiltration and the Sovereign Man post in assignments one and two. I’m very glad I read those actually because it has shed light on actions of my own in the past regarding networking and what have you that were totally wrong or just ineffective.

    If I wanted to find out if a very influential, affluent, and ‘leader in their profession’ person could mentor me, I for one wouldn’t act very accusational and upset if that person couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. I also wouldn’t think in my head in an accusational, angry, or upset way about this ‘professional leader’ person. Why would I do that?

    Yes first of all they don’t have to mentor me if they don’t want to, but they could also be factoring in if our personalities seem to differ from each other too much, if our schedules seem to difficult to work with, or they could really be just too busy. Also these ‘prospective mentors’ have lives too to focus on they may have family problems, work issues, health issues etc. anything else that may stop them from providing there time to you.

    But even if everything really is for the most part just hunky dory with them and they still say no to mentoring me, then no just means no and I’d just move on. But I’m glad that what you Khadija provided through Sovereign Man has shown me a clearer and more effective way of trying to get the results I’d want to seek in the future.

    I have to say what Muse said is true. I have been a spoilt brat as a kid, and it never got me far. Thank goodness for slowly but surely growing up though anyway!

  11. ValerieM.,

    I hear you. Although, I will note that immigrants represent a skewed portion of their societies—the most energetic people. Most people don’t have the courage and energy to get up and leave their home country.

    Immigration often has the effect of skimming off large portions of the cream of a society. Low-level knuckleheads tend to stay at home, and therefore out of sight of Americans. Thereby immigrants get to hide large chunks of their culture’s dirty laundry from outside eyes because, for example—Delroy The (West Indian) Idiot never left the Caribbean.

    Meanwhile, DeShawn The (AA) Idiot is on full display on “front street” in his home country, the US. So, everybody who immigrates to the US can easily see and hear what DeShawn The (AA) Idiot is doing on the local tv news.
    ________________________________________________

    Roslyn,

    You said, “I don’t care who the person is, everybody’s got a problem, and the bigger they are, the less time they have to solve it. My parents always taught me to always come to the table with solutions and you will be rewarded.”

    I 100% co-sign. THIS is the point that I’m trying to get across to aspiring Sojourners. Thank you for making it so concisely!
    ________________________________________________

    Muse,

    You said, “Most established individuals I know don’t take on mentees unless that individual will enhance their own network. They see the mentee as a potential power player down the line or someone to pass the torch to as their social standing growing.”

    Exactly.

    You said, “Unfortunately many African Americans don’t seem to get this. When AAs come across an established person of color, they arrogantly assumed the power player wants or should help them.”

    This is a welfare-recipient type of mentality. I suspect that the loss of honor and dignity during the 1960s that made it possible for large numbers of AAs to readily sign-up for public aid has a lot to do with the mentality. [Prior to the 1960s, most AAs felt that accepting “charity” was shameful and a disgrace. Especially for a man to have his woman and children accepting handouts. My older male relatives from my grandfather’s (God rest their souls) and my Dad’s age groups always said/say the words “charity” and “public aid” with a sneer in their voices.]

    You said, “Professionals who decline becoming a mentor aren’t sell outs or cruel people. They are just very strategic about who they allow into their circle. It’s very critical that we are mindful as to who we bring into our inner circle. If the mentee makes the any missteps, their actions may reflect poorly on the mentor.”

    That’s another angle with all of this. These “I want something for nothing” AAs will typically do things at work that reflect very poorly on anybody who is perceived as their patron. Not only do they not bring anything to the table, but they detract from everybody who’s associated with them. Or as you say, “taint the brand” of everybody who affiliates with them.

    You said, “I’m very appreciative of the network infiltration article you linked Khadija because it’s another source that verifies that traditional network strategies that most professional AAs utilize are ineffective.”

    Yes, I also enjoyed the article. And the 2nd part of this portion of your comment is another reason why I linked to the article. AAs have gotten to the point that we don’t even understand that the way we’re doing LOTS of things is totally ineffective.

    This is why I have repeatedly referenced various AA versions of cargo cults. AAs have cargo cults surrounding voting, networking, and some other activities. We mimic the outer forms of these activities without understanding how these things actually work. We don’t understand the inner ingredients that are needed to make these activities work for us the way they work for non-AAs.

    You said, “One networking event taught me that I had to be more strategic on how I would approach elevating my career. My folks advised me that if you have the talent and you shine at what you do, the right people will come around. Everyone wants to be attached to success. It’s not just about hard work put positioning yourself to be at the right place at the right time.”

    Positioning is going to be a future chapter in this series. For a long time at work I thought that it was sufficient to do good work. No, it’s also important to make sure that you’re seen doing your good work. AND that you are the one who gets the credit for your good work. I learned to be much more protective of my work product after being ripped off by a couple of thieves at work.

    [One example:

    Years ago, I found out from a secretary that a coworker had made a copy from the court file of a custom-researched motion and brief that I had done in a case. This person then modeled all their future motions on that subject on my template. The secretary knew the difference between that person’s original writing style and what the person had copied from me because she was the one typing up all these various motions and briefs from everybody at that work site.

    The ultimate was that this person used a motion and brief based on MY template and research as a writing sample when they interviewed to become a supervisor! The secretary wouldn’t have pulled my coat to all of this if I hadn’t cultivated good ties with her.

    Ultimately, this was all MY fault. [As I concluded while mentally beating myself up about it at the time. And as my Dad thoroughly scolded me when I vented to him about that particular mess.] I should have made sure to have my original work seen (translation = publicized) when I did it. So that nobody else could swoop in and pretend that the research, motion and brief templates were their work product.]

    Expect Success!

    • Robynne says:

      Hi again Khalidja!
      Thanks Khalidja for highlighting this. As one who is also set to enter the legal profession, I’ve been doing exactly as you said in my internships – do good work and make sure I’m visible (my work product) as I’m doing this work. Work thieves and users do pop up even before they enter the field. I’ve seen some of this disgusting behaviour in law school. Usually this happens in study groups (especially 1L year) where apparently the group members were not properly vetted. Some leechers joined study groups where the members were perceived to be the top ranking students. Others would not share outlines etc. accessed from someone else (usually a 2L or 3L) with other members of the study group. Yet, these leechers had no qualms whatsoever in using resources that others brought to the study group. So, my study group 1L year was just me and another person, who was incidentally from my home country – Jamaica.
      Thanks for this salient reminder. Make sure that your work product is attributed to you. There is nothing I hate more than intellectual property “thought” theives. This is by far the lowest form of theft.

  12. Tee,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

    You said, “Years ago I used to attend after work networking events in NYC. These were black only events that attracted “professionals” from all over the city.

    These events were a waste of time because there was no real networking going on, because no one attending was in a real authoritative position (mostly middle managers/supervisors). While it was always a well groomed crowd, an exchange would consist mainly of someone in your face bragging about their experience/qualifications, and then shoving their business card at you. No one in attendance was interested, or really understood the concept of networking.”

    Guuurl, that mess is an absolute waste of one’s time. I stopped attending any of that AA so-called networking nonsense a couple of years after I graduated from law school.

    You said, “Khadija, about the passage in Sovereign Man’s report where he makes phone calls to various law firms, be very careful not to be dismissive of the receptionist, because he/she can speak a word to the company head or delete a call record that could hinder a first contact. As a former receptionist, I have done this many times to strangers who thought I was just the “lowly receptionist” when in fact the boss would ask me how that person conducted themselves in the waiting area, or on the phone.”

    I agree. Not only is being decent to the support staff the right thing to do on “GP,” but on a practical level one should keep in mind that such people are often indirect gatekeepers.
    _________________________________________________

    AK,

    You’re welcome! I’m happy that I found out about the Sovereign Man blog. I found out about it from this blog post over at the Thrilling Heroics blog. (I mentioned this blog during the “Language Adventurers” blog post.)

    Expect Success!

  13. ak says:

    Khadija:

    Immigration often has the effect of skimming off large portions of the cream of a society. Low-level knuckleheads tend to stay at home, and therefore out of sight of Americans. Thereby immigrants get to hide large chunks of their culture’s dirty laundry from outside eyes because, for example—Delroy The (West Indian) Idiot never left the Caribbean.

    Meanwhile, DeShawn The (AA) Idiot is on full display on “front street” in his home country, the US. So, everybody who immigrates to the US can easily see and hear what DeShawn The (AA) Idiot is doing on the local tv news.

    I apologize and I don’t mean to derail. Exactly Khadija exactly, what you said is true. Only I’m not the type to want to hide what’s going on back in Jamaica, the good or the bad, from you or anyone else just because I’m a non-AA. If you ask me a question, I would happily answer you. I have been hearing a lot of horrible beyond despicable things that the low level knuckleheads are doing back in Jamaica from my own family and their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. And of course this is the internet age, it’s very hard to hide the knuckleheads from ‘back home’ nowadays as most countries put their newspapers and even TV news on the internet now!

    And countries like Australia ONLY take the cream of the crop of people from other countries to live and work in Australia, even from within the British, their mother country. A lot of Brits have been killing themselves to move permanently most times to Australia or New Zealand but they can only get over there if they have jobs waiting for them that they have proven they qualify for.

  14. ak says:

    By the way Khadija, your old dean back in law school sounded like a right old bugger, and I’m glad that your parents and your friend’s parent were willing to fight him back for you both!

  15. KM says:

    Very good subject. I read the article and I noticed some things that I have been doing in my own life that I wasn’t realizing.

    What I would have added in the article was that anyone seeking to join new, exclusive networks needs to be as pleasant as possible. That means using good manners because even if a person has a lot of money and can do something for you, if they are basically an ogre (like a lot of AAs), you’ll be used as long as you are useful and when you aren’t needed, you’ll be “forgotten.”

    I just want to add this because at my old job (which was hellish with lots of striving AAs with no sense), I did my job well, I was pleasant while I created my exit strategy. Even though there were still people angry when I left, I had created enough of a network where now, I have opportunities to join in at a much better (very little AA strivers exist there and its highly regarded here in my city) mh/mr agency at a much better pay rate and position. This is something where 99% of my former coworkers would never be offered because they didn’t try to create a network/expected handouts. Plus, at my current job, I’ve been able to use my experiences at my old job to create a niche for myself which has allowed me to move up to a higher pay grade (which will help me fund my side ventures).

    I’m also going to apply this as even though I’m young (not yet 30), I have people coming to me looking for networking opportunities. I’ve already been picky and I will continue because ladies, any and all help that we can give is precious and should only be given to those who truly deserve it.

    Sorry for rambling.

  16. KM,

    Thank you for your kind words about the post; I truly appreciate it.

    You said, “What I would have added in the article was that anyone seeking to join new, exclusive networks needs to be as pleasant as possible. That means using good manners because even if a person has a lot of money and can do something for you, if they are basically an ogre (like a lot of AAs), you’ll be used as long as you are useful and when you aren’t needed, you’ll be “forgotten.””

    Indeed. There’s a lot of free-floating rage and hatred among most AAs. Look at the totally hateful way most AAs talk to each other on Black blogs. It’s scary. Many (if not most) dysfunctional AA strivers lack the sense to cover that up while they’re at work. Folks, keep in mind that I’m talking about dysfunctional AA strivers, not all AA strivers. There’s also dysfunction within the AA middle class. It just manifests in somewhat different ways. This came up during a series of posts about class issues at the previous blog.

    From The Art Of Majesty, Part 1: Avoid the Head Negro In Charge Syndrome:

    The “mirror for princes” genre was a type of political writing that was very popular during the European Renaissance of the 14th through 17th centuries. These books taught rulers how to behave in order to avoid having reigns that were violent, tragic, and most of all, short. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is the most famous example of this genre.

    Currently, these books are mostly read as a form of self-help literature. Most Blacks have never heard of them. This is a pity. This lack of knowledge is almost always reflected in how many Black folks handle whatever authority they have. Instead of managing our affairs (and those under our command) with the greatness and dignity of a sovereign, we are typically small, tacky, and therefore not respected. I’ve heard this referred to as the Head Negro in Charge (HNIC) syndrome. My former supervisor is just one unfortunate example of this. I can think of many others. You can too.

    . . . The HNIC syndrome is an example of what often happens when previously powerless people are given even a smidgen of authority over others. They go buck wild. That’s how others can tell that such people have never had anything before. They use their job titles to try to lash out at people that, in their hearts, they secretly believe are their superiors. This behavior makes them appear small, tacky, and therefore they are not respected. This behavior makes them stand out from others who are secure in their positions. In the Black context, this is what often happens when poor Blacks work their way into the Black middle class and the professions. Instead of internalizing the self-perceptions and behaviors that are part of that class, such people often bring their insecurities and resentments with them.

    Let me be clear: I’m not saying that all Black people who work their way into the middle class and professions do this. I’m saying that many of them do this. I’m also not saying that those who were born into the Black middle class are immune to this syndrome. The HNIC infection has slightly different visible symptoms among those who were born into the middle class.

    People who do this don’t understand that true power can afford to be gracious. This is why they never develop true power at work. All they have is the force of their job titles. Being respected is a component of having true power. They are not respected. This makes their hold on their job titles tenuous.

    My former (Black) supervisor was a textbook example of all of this. In addition to manifesting slum habits (shouted conversations with people standing three feet away, etc.), she spent most of her time being negatively obsessed with women she perceived as being born into the Black middle class.

    From The Art of Majesty, Part 2: The Imploding Black Middle Class:

    For the past 30 years, those of us born and bred (B & B) into the Black middle class have done everything we can to systematically lower ourselves in dignity, significance, and finally, economic rank.

    And it has worked!

    . . . I mentioned in Part 1 of this series that B & Bs have issues with material things, just not the same ones as dysfunctional strivers. Dysfunctional strivers try to use material things as magic totems that will grant them entry, and make them belong, to the Black middle class. They’re hung up on “status marker” items because they don’t feel like they truly belong to the middle class. In many cases, they DON’T. I’ve heard such people referred to as “ghetto.” A more listener-friendly version of this put-down is to describe someone as “inappropriate.” When the person is extremely out of place (like the striver Black lawyers I’ve seen use Ebonics in court), they’re often called “totally inappropriate.”

    By contrast, B & Bs’ hang-ups about material things mostly revolve around herd-like conformity, fear of “slipping” in perceived rank within the middle class, and fear of damaging one’s (hoped for) chances of climbing into the social elite. All of this is based on several misapprehensions of reality. Ironically, the behaviors caused by these hang-ups undermine B & Bs’ chances of remaining middle class (much less the notion of being accepted into the elite).

    The first failure is the refusal to understand that class is a generational project. Therefore, climbing into the elite is a generational project. Since the entry requirements are less stringent, a poor or working class person can make the leap into the Black middle class. However (for those who care about such matters), a striver who successfully transitions into the middle class will never be considered part of the upper social ranks within this class. The upper social ranks are reserved for born members (B & Bs). This is a bitter pill to swallow for Black strivers.

    The entry requirements for the Black elite are more stringent. The elite won’t even entertain the notion of accepting someone unless they were born to serious affluence. This is a bitter pill to swallow for social-climbing B & Bs. Most B & Bs refuse to accept that so-called elite social status is closed to us, and something that is only possible for our children. Even in terms of B & Bs’ children this possibility only exists with the correct overall preparation, and the correct positioning of the children. Successfully pulling this off requires generational delayed gratification. B & Bs can’t engage in this sort of delayed gratification because we’re too busy assuaging our own insecurities. While doing so, we damage our own fortunes and diminish (if not outright lose) whatever we have. This is one underlying reason why we’re involved in downward mobility.

    Because we are focused on trying to gate-crash our way into the Black elite, B & Bs can’t even think straight. There are many echoes of dysfunctional striver behaviors. Most B & Bs are so focused on mimicking the elite’s surface attributes (and buying similar baubles), that we don’t look to see what lies beneath. We don’t see that real affluence is based on having GENERATIONS of financial freedom. Financial freedom is several levels above and beyond financial security. Instead of financial freedom, what most B & Bs have is a “good job.” B & Bs have to actively work for the money that sustains our lives and lifestyles. The money stops coming in the moment the B & B stops working the job, stops generating billable hours, and stops performing dental/medical procedures. This is a grave problem on several levels.

    First, by depending on a single “good job,” B & Bs are undermining our own financial security.

    . . . So, not only do we undermine our own financial security, but we ignore one important attribute of the elite: They have assets generating enough passive income to sustain their lifestyles. Having passive income means that you are making money even while you’re not working. You’re making money while you’re asleep or vacationing. Strivers who make it into the Black middle class rarely have any assets that generate passive income. They usually don’t own things like stocks, rental properties, or the sorts of businesses that you don’t have to personally work at, etc. B & Bs are more likely to have these sorts of things, but we use them as fashion accessories. Or we have them as hobbies. We don’t develop these assets to the point where they are able to sustain our lifestyles.

    The combined effect of this foolishness makes it impossible to transmit wealth to the next generation. You can’t bequeath a “good job” to your children.

    We are mostly squandering what we have on looking, dressing, and driving like the Black elite. We are not seriously building passive income, which means that we are not building any serious wealth. We are not building anything to pass on to the next generation.

    . . . Imitating the Poor Leads to — Surprise! Being Poor! Who Knew?!!

    Our “good jobs” can’t be passed on to our children. It almost doesn’t matter. Many of our children can’t get or maintain a “good job” because they are emulating the Black underclass.

    Expect Success!

  17. T says:

    Hello again, everyone:

    I would like to thank you, Khadija, for putting it out there about networking. The prevailing mentality of “giving back” has done more harm than good in our community for the reasons you just stated. In the late 80s, when I was on my way to college, the prevailing thought wave was “what will you do to give back to the black community?” Admittedly, I did not give thought to this because, to be honest, I did not know what career field I wanted to focus on. And the community I came from was disintegrating fast, and no matter what I had to offer, it would not be received in the spirit in which it was given. Thus, my thoughts did not center on “what will I do to give back to the black community.” Instead, my focus was on how I could enrich myself and create a sphere of influence, rather than a sphere of concern where giving back meant taking on burdens that were not mine to shoulder anyway. If this wave of thought makes me a traitor to the community, then so be it. I don’t offer my knowledge and expertise for free; no one else does this but the AA community-much to its own detriment.

    Sorry if none of that makes sense, but please know that this post gets my full support. I do not feel that sense of false obligation that giving back means in the AA communities.

  18. Hodan says:

    Great discussion as usual, thanks for posting this Khadija. I totally agree with your perspective on ‘PURGE YOUR MIND OF THE “PEOPLE OWE ME SOMETHING” MENTALITY’!

    I never understood this you ‘owe me’ mentality. Heck, even after a certain age, our parents do NOT owe us anything and its time for us to seek our own income and way of life. Mentorship or more importantly networking is truthfully an art form. One, where few people excel @, specially people of color in particular. I had to learn the hard way not to let people mooch off me and differentiate between those who are giving back something for my knowledge and info, instead of thinking they are ‘entitled’ to it. I was so good @ providing good networking opportunities for people, but sucked at seeking it for myself…you know that stupid perception that its not ok to demands whats best for yourself.

    About the AA or black culture of entitlement. I tend to differentiate between those who expect something without giving up or working hard for it, and those entitled to basic fundamental access in any progressive civilized society. Someone touched on this, but in the case of Greece, Italy and Spain (really a lighter version of 3rd world economy), they have an aging population and a small #s of young people. In this case, the young expect to get theirs without working for it and contributing to the system (similar to what the US is facing in term of social security). However, these countries are different from the US, Japan, Germany and UK, where the rich are getting richer, while the middle class has been shrinking disastrously for various reasons.

    Anyway, sorry for the off topic. I have to say in reference to the discussion, I never felt obligated by or for the black community. My family, my mother in particular encouraged us to excel and work hard and not associate with our community unless we are ready to handle all the pointless drama. To this day, most of my friends and networking group are Whites, Asians, Arabs, Africans, etc. We can learn so much from some of these communities, because most do not expect any hand out from people or government.

  19. Hodan says:

    Sorry for the double post, but what I find heart breaking is the hatred some black women have for their fellow sisters. I can’t decipher the psychological reasons for it without stereotyping the issue, but I just can’t seek networking from most I know….but they sure are quick to ask for one. Also, many black men I know in higher caliper (unless they are from my own community or certain other African ones), they pretend like I am not there. Only paying attention to me when white guys or other non-BM befriend me and provide the info I was seeking…its hilarious to watch the stupid drama.

    My advice to those seeking good mentorship or networking is to volunteer, do internships through the government, corporation and non-profit. Watch and observe until you see some people you can tap into. Also, make sure you work hard and show your skills, haters will notice, but so would those well connected. I prefer to work with either gender, since most of my former bosses were women, but men are better @ hooking a sister up, esp. non-BM are great….the older the better….to minimize any romantic interest since I have none towards most of the guys I know. Be professional and friendly @ all times, learn that fake smile white people are good @ :)-

  20. T-Ann says:

    Most AA’s (especially the underclass) do not comprehend “bring something to the table.” What I cannot stand is someone coming to me asking for a handout. Before I enrolled in college-and even after-I was asked how I would contribute to the black community. My goal in obtaining a college education was to empower myself and increase my sphere of influence wherever I was. In my experience, those who were looking for us to “give back” were ones who exhibited no desire to help themselves. Like many of you here, I do not offer my skills and expertise to those who bring little or nothing to the table and have no desire to do so.

  21. Felicia says:

    Khadija,

    I’m so happy your website (along with others in the online BWE network) is about concrete SOLUTIONS to problems.

    This downward mobility is SO sad… And it’s happened to most of my black (African-American AND African who grew up here in the states) friends from the Bay Area. I was born in 1968 so we were all teen-agers in the 80’s. I’m the only one who has maintained my status and am actually doing better. I can honestly (and sadly) say most of my black friends from back home are definitely worse off then their parents. The neighborhoods they live in are also worse. Some have no health insurance, and others have barely anything in the bank. I’ve been told this. Most don’t own their own homes. It’s unfortunate on so many levels. I do have one good BW friend who escaped the ghetto (and a lot of insane family members) and is doing very well financially with a good job but she’s depressed because her biological time clock is ticking and she has no prospects what so ever. She has the career, now she wants the husband and children. Now she only dates WM and other non BM – when she does date – but she could slap herself for turning down (at the last minute) a marriage proposal by a nice, kind, and well employed WM who loved her. She told me some chicken sh*t excuse back then for why she broke up. But she could slap herself now. I remember he was short and she had an issue with that even though she’s short too. I said it’s what’s inside that matters. He would make a good husband and father. That was over 10 years ago and I’m sure he’s moved on and provided well for another woman.

    Anyway, I know this research below is true because I’m seeing it with my own two eyes.

    Middle-Class Dream Eludes African American Families

    http://www.mapj.org/?q=node/126

    By christopherrenner – Posted on December 18th, 2007
    Many Blacks Worse off Than Their Parents, Study Says

    By Michael A. Fletcher
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 13, 2007; Page A01
    To view original article and read blog comments, click here

    Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a new study — a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans.

    Overall, family incomes have risen for both blacks and whites over the past three decades. But in a society where the privileges of class and income most often perpetuate themselves from generation to generation, black Americans have had more difficulty than whites in transmitting those benefits to their children.

    Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class in 1968 — a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars — grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation’s earners, with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16 percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility. At the same time, 48 percent of black children whose parents were in an economic bracket with a median family income of $41,700 sank into the lowest income group.

    This troubling picture of black economic evolution is contained in a package of three reports being released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts that test the vitality of the American dream. Using a nationally representative data source that for nearly four decades has tracked people who were children in 1968, researchers attempted to answer two questions: Do Americans generally advance beyond their parents in terms of income? How much is that affected by race and gender?

    “We are attempting to broaden the current debate” beyond the growing gap between higher- and lower-income Americans, said John Morton, Pew’s managing director for program planning and economic policy. “There is little out there on the question of mobility across generations, and we wanted to examine that.”
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    The data source, called the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, followed 2,367 people from across the country, including 730 African Americans, since 1968. The study participants have been repeatedly interviewed about their economic status through the years, allowing for income comparisons across generations.

    The Pew reports found that in many ways the American dream is alive and well. Two out of three Americans are upwardly mobile, meaning they had higher incomes than their parents. About half the time, moving up meant not only that they earned more money than their parents, but also that they were better off in relation to other Americans than their parents were.

    That growth was most evident among lower-income people. Overall, four out of five children born into families at the bottom 20 percent of wage earners surpassed their parents’ income. Broken down by race, nine in 10 whites were better-paid than their parents were, compared with three out of four blacks.

    Median family income for adults now in their 30s and 40s rose by 29 percent, to $71,900 between the two generations covered in the reports. And as incomes grew, households shrank, from an average of 3.1 individuals in 1969 to 2.3 in 1998 — meaning that income per person grew even more.

    Julia B. Isaacs, a researcher at the Brookings Institution who authored the three reports, noted that between 1974 and 2004, the median income for men in their 30s actually dropped 12 percent. But because more women entered the workforce, and earned much more than their mothers, median income for women more than tripled during the period, to $20,000.

    “The growth we’ve seen in family incomes is because of the increase in women’s income,” Isaacs said. “Without that, we would not have seen an increase, because men’s earnings have been flat and even declined.”

    Again, the reduction has been more dramatic for black men than whites. And income for white women, who were less likely than black women to work outside the home a generation ago, has grown faster than it has for black women. Black women earned a median income of $21,000 in 2004, almost equal to that of white women. Black men had a median income of $25,600, less than two-thirds that of white men.

    Overall, family income of blacks in their 30s was $35,000, 58 percent that of comparable whites, a gap that did not surprise researchers. Startling them, however, was that so many blacks fell out of the middle class to the bottom of the income distribution in one generation.

    Ronald B. Mincy, a Columbia University economist and professor of social welfare policy who has focused on the growing economic peril confronted by black men and who served as an adviser on the Pew project, said skeptical researchers repeatedly reviewed the findings before concluding they were statistically accurate.

    “There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans,” Mincy said. “We don’t have an explanation.”

    Pew hopes to develop some answers in future reports in its series on economic mobility. Reports scheduled to be released early next year will probe, among other things, the role of wealth and education in income mobility.

    Mincy and others speculated that the increase in the number of single-parent black households, continued educational gaps between blacks and whites and even racial isolation that remains common for many middle-income African Americans could be factors.

    “That’s a stunner,” said Orlando Patterson, a Harvard University sociologist, when told about the Pew finding. “These kids were middle class, but apparently their parents did not have the cultural capital and connections to pass along to them.”

    Another reason so many middle-class blacks appear to be downwardly mobile is likely the huge wealth gap separating white and black families of similar incomes. For every $10 of wealth a white person has, blacks have $1, studies have found.

    “We already knew that downward mobility was much more likely for blacks,” said Mary Pattillo, a Northwestern University sociologist who studies the black middle class. “But this is an even bigger percentage drop than I have seen elsewhere. That’s very steep.”

    • Karen says:

      None of the above will be a surprise to those of us who have been aware of what is happening to the BC.

      However, there was one statement in there that bears highlighting:

      “…Black women earned a median income of $21,000 in 2004, almost equal to that of white women.”

      What this means in real terms is that there is serious “untapped” potential among Black women to define and determine there futures and becoming a true economic might IF they can free themselves from the current trap of trying to uphold the BC…

      As for the rest of the report, all of us who have been paying attention, know that the last 4 decades or 2 generations has been disastrous for AAs. Unfortunately, the damage has been done.

  22. Khadija, you’ve truly outdone yourself this time. I’ve read quite a few of your posts and I always feel enlightened and empowered after reading. So many of your posts ring true to me; your writing is a constant source of inspiration 🙂

    As a young woman trying to figure out how to connect with better social circles, I was at a loss for how to get this done. I truly felt that I didn’t have anything to offer. But between this post, Sovereign Man’s publication, and Roslyn’s comment, I remembered some practical ways that I improve my social connections. I am so eager to use what I’ve learned: I can’t wait LOL!

    Sorry to ramble a bit. I am eternally grateful for you and your message. Continue to do this wonderful work–so many young women have, and will continue to, benefit from this message.

  23. T says:

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on this topic. And Khadija, thank you for bringing networking (the right way to do it) to the forefront. I don’t know about anyone else, but I got tired of being asked “what are you going to do for the black community” question when I was matriculating into college and considering a major. Where I’m from, the black community was not (and still is not) particularly interested in improving itself, so any help I would render would not be received in the same spirit that it would be given. Therefore, I chose to focus my efforts on self-improvement and increasing my sphere of influence, rather than create a never-ending sphere of concern surrounding the black community.

    Although I would be glad to help people, I am not easily moved by someone who is a chronic beggar or a “squeaky wheel.” I just do not share my resources, knowledge, and expertise with any and everyone, and I think that is OK. Doesn’t make me uppity or bourgie; it makes me smart. People who get upset with others who are not easily inclined to help them are generally lazy and unwilling to do any work themselves. That’s my two cents for today.

  24. T says:

    When my friends and I were going through college, we were constantly asked “what will you do to give back to the black community when you graduate?” I never gave it much thought because, truth be told, it was not my intention to do so. Before someone jumps in and calls me a traitor or a sellout, hear me out.

    The black community that I knew was not interested in bettering itself; in fact, it heaped scorn on those who were. Seeing this made me realize that some people do not want to be helped, no matter what efforts you present to them. And this very fact made me aware that “giving back” is another mantra that proved false in our communities-one that has to be dropped now. No other race of people I know carry this around as an absolute once they’ve come up in life. Their priorities are growing their wealth and passing it onto their descendants. That’s their way of giving back. To my mind, that’s the right and only way to give back.

    To that end, I watch whom I offer my resources, knowledge, and expertise to. I do not place any false obligations upon myself to help those who will only bring a negative return to the exchange. In fact, I avoid such people like the plague. Instead, I connect with people of all races and colors who are interested in uplift and progress.

  25. *CC* says:

    Hello Khadija,

    I found your last comment as interesting as your post! (excellent!) You hit a nerve when you said, “climbing into the elite is a generational project…” You are telling the TRUTH!

    Although I am generally pleased with the direction of my life, it has taken me, my ENTIRE working life (I’m mid 30’s) to obtain my current status. I work full-time, have a small consulting firm, and own additional property.

    My point is this: My husband and I have almost worked ourselves to death attempting to create / provide a certain lifestyle for my family. Between both of our “good jobs” — it has taken everything we have to pay off student loans, finance my consulting firm, purchase investment property, and finance private school. At the rate we are going, we may see a decent financial return in 10 years. My daughter will be a young adult by then, which means that it will have literally taken a generation to go from “broke” to “financially secure” but not “financially free.”

    Note that, when I refer to lifestyle, I am NOT talking about driving BMWs or other fancy cars (I have a 2001 Nissan) or purchasing expensive clothes, jewelry, purses, or other foolishness.

    Real affluence is very, very difficult to “build” from scratch, especially when bills are due every month and you don’t have affluent parents to help you. Generating passive income is no picnic either. I am working on these things, and I’ve found it to be very challenging.

  26. *CC* says:

    With regard to “giving back,” T said, “No other race of people I know carry this around as an absolute once they’ve come up in life.”

    From my observations, this is not true. I see white and Asian people helping others within their race ALL THE TIME. They don’t call it “giving back to their community” — but the end result is the same. Instead of this behavior being the result of “community pressure” it is simply more of a “cultural norm.”

    Their social and professional networks are primarily intra-racial. I’ve seen white people hire marginally qualified white people, I’ve seen qualified white people receive *opportunities* that elude highly qualified non-white people. I’ve seen a white person screw up/loose a multi-million dollar contract and receive a promotion a few years later. White people do look out for one another. To think that other people do not factor race into their equation is being naive or disingenuous.

    I think that “giving back to the BC” has gone from an economic strategy of upliftment to dysfunctionally burdensome. I think “giving back” in some capacity is great, but I agree that it should be focused, fruitful, and not unduly burdensome.

    I have been blessed with several black professionals who were kind enough to “give back” by helping me. One person hired me to break up the “all white” office (and YES I was qualified). Another black professional recommended my company for several contracts (and they had a long list of more experienced small companies to choose from). Not only did I EXCEED expectations, my contract was renewed and they increased the work and revenue.

    My point is this: I have the credentials, qualifications, experience, work ethic, character, etc. to get the job done. But I am thankful for the black professionals who “gave back” by opening doors for me that I could NOT open for myself. I spent two years trying to “infiltrate” a network that a BM professional helped me access almost instantly. While his primary consideration was my ability to bring something to the table and get the job done, he definitely believes in helping qualified, hard-working black professionals get ahead.

  27. Khadija about your comment about all-black networks turning ugly– I am a stay-at-home mom. I’m somewhat reclusive in nature–an unfortunate symptom of a writer’s pathology. So, a few years ago when I was approached by a fellow homebound mother to join an all African-American mother’s group, I was suspicious. A group of women meeting together on a regular basis to… um…”support” each other seemed a bit fishy. Alas, I decided to join.

    At first, I was gleeful; the initial sorority I felt was intoxicating. The girl’s nights out, with the tearful, bear-your-soul revelations that felt akin to baring your a** in public; the “you can trust me” looks of concern when problems arose; the vast pool of qualified babysitters! Ah, I was seduced! Then one day it all came crashing down–my dreams of an unlimited stable of friendly heifers spiraled into a fetid abyss of backbiting, gossip and duplicity. I know I’m part of the species and all, but beware of women who travel in packs. It can get ugly.

    Just my few pennies: Join a group if you fear becoming an unshaven, unclean hermit; but don’t do it because you’re hoping to make lifelong friends. If you were like me in high school–the outsider always on the fringe of a clique–then sorry, don’t even bother.

  28. Robynne,

    You’re welcome! I mentioned some of my own missteps along the way (work thieves stealing credit for my work product in the past), because we all need to be hip to that.
    _________________________________________________

    T/T-Ann,

    There’s nothing wrong with the idea of helping one’s fellow AAs. [That’s what I’ve been doing with this blog and the previous one.] As CC points out in response to your comments, helping their own people is what everybody else does. The problem is that AAs no longer give reciprocity to each other. So, the problem isn’t the idea of mutual support. The problem is that the support is NEVER mutual among AAs.]

    I feel that this “give back” stuff is an example of something that Halima, blog host of Black Female Interracial Relationship Circle, has described as an “orphaned precept.” An idea that made sense and was productive in the beginning. But these same precepts became toxic over time as the parties’ behaviors changed.

    As she has explained, one example of an “orphaned precept” is the cultural programming that tells BW to support BM. This cultural command made sense in the era of Jim Crow segregation because at that time, most AA adult men were marrying and supporting AA women and their children. During segregation, if you supported an AA male the odds were that he would use this assistance in order to support a BW and his Black children. So, during that era giving to an AA man was more or less the same as giving to AA women and children.

    This equation of: “give to an AA man—so this AA man can give to an AA woman and child (his AA wife and children)” has been dead for the past 35+ years.

    The modern equation is: “give to an AA man—so he can keep it for himself (by refusing to support his illegitimate children), OR so he can give it to a NON-Black woman and her Cablinasian child” (who will mostly likely grow up to give it ALL to White people—see Tiger Woods).

    There’s NO rational reason for a BW to contribute to the modern equation, since none of what she gives will ever work its way back to her—or back to any other BW. Nobody ever explicity said what the original purpose of giving to AA men was about. So now, there’s a cadre of Black males who are offended when BW don’t want to allow themselves to be either: (1) directly pimped by giving resources to NON-reciprocating BM; or (2) indirectly pimped by the non-Black women who are hooked up to BM—which is what happens when BW give resources to a BM who’s hooked up to a non-BW.

    It tickled me at the previous blog to see just how enraged several low-and NO-value (to BW) Black males were about the blog post titled, “Black Women: Why Do You Let Becky, Lupe, J.Lo, Fatima and Mei Ling Indirectly Pimp You?” Several of them were angry enough to link to that post, and clutch their pearl necklaces in horror as they suffered through an attack of the vapors. {chuckling}

    These males feel entitled to BW’s support even when they have NO intention of reciprocating that support. This is crazy. But it’s also a “Frankenstein’s monster” that AA women built by unconditionally humoring AA men for all these decades.
    ________________________________________________

    Hodan,

    Here’s why I can’t relate to Black folks (from anywhere, including the US) offering extensive critiques of Greece, Italy and Spain:

    I challenge anybody to name a single Black country whose economy can match that of Greece, Italy and Spain! Or can match South Korea’s economy.

    I challenge anybody to name a single Black country that has economic immigrants flocking to it like so many 3rd world and former Eastern bloc citizens are running to Spain and Italy. [I’m not so sure how many economic migrants are running to Greece.]

    Also, I don’t count middle class (White) American retirees who go to 3rd world countries to live like kings on a pension that wouldn’t go very far in the U.S. That type of situation reflects an extremely weak economy relative to other countries, not strength.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Elijah Muhammad often talked about this sort of thing. If a culture or society hasn’t—and actually CAN’T—build something comparable to what some other society has, then they’re really not qualified to critique that other country’s handiwork.
    ________________________________________________

    Felicia,

    Oh yes, there’s a focus on solutions here. There’s no time left for any of our traditional empty venting.
    ________________________________________________

    MissGlamtastic,

    Thank you for your kind words; I truly appreciate it.
    ________________________________________________

    CC,

    You said, “I found your last comment as interesting as your post! (excellent!) You hit a nerve when you said, “climbing into the elite is a generational project…” You are telling the TRUTH!”

    Thank you for your kind words; I truly appreciate it. Since AAs have so many bitter hang-ups about class issues, there’s rarely any honest conversation about how class mobility actually operates. I’ve had the misfortune of watching several frustrated and confused wannabe social climbers angrily wonder why the Blacks that they were seeking validation from were reacting so poorly to them. One woman actually angrily announced that she “makes X thousand dollars a year and drives a ___________.” {Lord have mercy…} She said this as if this was supposed to mean something [to those people].

    [Incidentally, I don’t care about any of that stuff. Nor do I care about social climbing. That’s fine for folks who care about that sort of thing, but I’m not one of them. I’m quite happy with my Hyundai. And my heroes are people like (dictator) Gen. Park Chung-hee, who industrialized South Korea and dramatically improved the standard of living (and that nation’s fate) in just ONE generation! He completely changed the fate of his people in just ONE generation.]

    Expect Success!

  29. Christelyn,

    You said, “At first, I was gleeful; the initial sorority I felt was intoxicating. The girl’s nights out, with the tearful, bear-your-soul revelations that felt akin to baring your a** in public; the “you can trust me” looks of concern when problems arose; the vast pool of qualified babysitters! Ah, I was seduced! Then one day it all came crashing down–my dreams of an unlimited stable of friendly heifers spiraled into a fetid abyss of backbiting, gossip and duplicity. I know I’m part of the species and all, but beware of women who travel in packs. It can get ugly.”

    Oooh, guurl. This highlights another point: People have to be screened as individuals. And each possible connection to each separate individual in a group needs to be monitored on its own merits; as well as on how it affects overall dynamics. Not everybody in a group is an appropriate person for one to get entangled with.

    Without derailing (too far), Christelyn, I just wanted to say that I’ve recently spent some extended time visiting your blog and I’m impressed. I especially enjoyed your “Princess S.O.L.” video! It was hilarious AND a very effective way of communicating an important message. I also admire your courage in entering the dreaded “weight/overweight discussion among AA women.” We all know how ugly it can get whenever anybody deviates from the preferred “being overweight and obese is just fine, dam*it!” message.

    Expect Success!

    • Wow–that’s some complement coming from you! You know, I find that delivering a controversial message with humor is often an effective way of getting the point across. Comedians do this quite skillfully. That’s where I get many of my cues.

      Glad to see you give the thumb’s up to my blog! I hope one day I can get you as a guest one day!

  30. TertiaryAnna,

    You’re welcome! You’ve anticipated Part 2 of this series when you said, “I think it’s also important to seem moldable. If a newbie looks like a potential protege, that can be more helpful than a newbie who is inflexible and can’t be taught. You don’t want to appear both inexperienced and unteachable.”

    Indeed. And this is another problem with roughly 95% of AA wannabe proteges. They are UN-teachable because they are too arrogant to listen with humility and to take direction from anybody.

    Expect Success!

  31. foreverloyal says:

    As you said Khadija, there is nothing wrong with helping fellow AAs, that is normal, healthy behavior when correctly practiced.

    I remember at the previous blog, you wrote a post about having pride because you were concerned that some of the comments came dangerously close to”black people suck, I don’t associate with them.”

    Surely we can recognize that despite the ills plaguing us as a collective, there are still enough sane people around to be valuable friends and allies?

    I belong to an AA mom’s group. I did not jump too soon into oversharing/overtrusting. I have observed that the group dynamic is positive, and have seen these women support each other in numerous ways over the past few years.

    How different would so many AA women’s lives be if you and Evia and the rest had kept your observations and advice to yourselves? You weren’t obligated then and you are not now, but so many have taken the advice and run with it. Every individual that wakes up and makes positive changes strengthens the (new) collective.
    BTW everyone, buy The Sojourners Passport today! 😉

  32. ForeverLoyal,

    Thanks for the book plug! LOL!

    You said, “As you said Khadija, there is nothing wrong with helping fellow AAs, that is normal, healthy behavior when correctly practiced.

    I remember at the previous blog, you wrote a post about having pride because you were concerned that some of the comments came dangerously close to ”black people suck, I don’t associate with them.”

    Surely we can recognize that despite the ills plaguing us as a collective, there are still enough sane people around to be valuable friends and allies?

    Indeed. This is why I keep repeating the need for ethnic and racial self-respect as AAs. Which is in stark contrast to the self-hating “I don’t know what it means to be AA” attitude. Nobody except AAs engage in that sort of denigration of their own ethnic heritage. Foreign Blacks certainly don’t do that. I would suggest that people read the Pay Attention to Nuances When Black People Say They Don’t Understand What Black Means post, where I discussed this in some detail.

    ForeverLoyal, what you’re pointing out is the vulnerable underside to BWE work. There are a lot of AAs who are still working through childhood issues of being teased by the Acting Black Crew. And they latch onto anything that sounds like a hip justification for their pre-existing rage against their own people.

    This is why I’ve had to keep certain boundaries clear:

    (1) This is NOT an interracial relationship blog. This is an AA women’s empowerment blog. There is a difference between the two ideas. There are some nuances involved. Part of empowerment is AA women having the freedom to marry whoever they want. If an AA woman is not free enough to exercise her option of choosing men from the global village, then that particular woman is NOT free. However, not every interracial relationship represents an empowered choice. For example, an AA woman being married to a non-Black wife beater is not empowerment.

    I’ve been talking about AA women choosing QUALITY men of any and all racial and ethnic backgrounds. The current lack of marriage that AA women are experiencing is at its core a numerical problem of supply and demand. Too many AA women are restricting themselves to an ever-shrinking pool of increasingly spoiled AA males.

    Most of AA women’s problems stem from their brainwashed choice to make themselves a captive audience for AA men and the long-dead AA community. [We don’t have AA communities anymore, simply dangerous all-Black residential areas.] The skewed-in-favor-of-AA males social and dating scene will naturally come to a healthier equilibrium if the over-supply of AA women is removed. This will happen as more AA women expand their marriage horizons to include the global village.

    (2) This is not a “Black” blog. This is an African-American blog that seeks to advance the interests of AA women and girls. There are some parallels and overlap in terms of what BW around the world are facing. However, my primary focus is on my own ethnic group’s interests. Unfortunately, there are very few AA voices that put AA interests first. We’ve been brainwashed to worry about everybody else. Meanwhile, for the most part, nobody else is worried about us.

    So, with all of the above in mind, let me republish a post from the previous blog. It was An Open Letter To Those Who Support BW-Empowerment Blogs:

    Over time, I’ve noticed several recurring, disturbing patterns during conversations at many BW’s empowerment blogs.

    Some commenters are so (justifiably) disgusted with the many crimes and failures of BM that they are eager to support ANY statement that tongue-lashes BM. No matter what the source or motivation for these statements. This gradually leads to supporting the words and actions of racists. This leads to becoming mirror images of the Negro male celebrities who were so focused on their hatred of Black women that they were eager to validate comments made by a racist like Don Imus.

    Some commenters are (justifiably) angry with mass AA culture due to their experiences of being victimized by the Acting Black crew. As a result, they have knee-jerk opposition to the very idea of any sort of AA self-respect, AA pride, or AA unity. This gradually leads to supporting the words and actions of racists.

    Some commenters are (justifiably) frustrated by their interactions with still-brainwashed AA women. This leads to calling such women “mammies.” This leads to being as VICIOUS and hateful toward these already-oppressed BW as any “hair flipper” that I’ve described in the past.

    Some commenters are so in love with their non-Black boyfriends/husbands and half-Black children that they’ve lost all sight or comprehension of BLACK interests. And they promote the interests of their half-Black children (and other half-Blacks) at the expense of BLACK people’s interests.

    Some commenters are foreign-origin Blacks (West Indians and Africans) who come to these forums as voyeurs to insult AA men (and AAs in general) under the guise of supporting BW. These West Indian and African commenters rarely mention the many dysfunctions of their own societies. Or their own oppression as women within these societies. I had to ban one such foreign-origin voyeur from this site.

    Let me emphasize that I am NOT a cheek-turning Christian. Islam recognizes that retaliation serves a healthy purpose—to discourage further wrongdoing. So I would never instruct anybody to forgive or forget the wrongs that were done to them. However, the Quran commands believers to NOT let their justified anger lead to committing injustice. Revenge must be proportionate to the evil that was done. And it must be directed against the guilty party.

    All of the behaviors I’ve mentioned above are as destructive as the original evil (the oppression of AA women) that these blogs are fighting. Those who engage in these behaviors are becoming the mirror image of that which they claim to be resisting.

    [With the exception of the foreign Black voyeurs I mentioned who are simply bigots, bullies and cowards attacking already wounded people. They are too cowardly to vent their frustrations on Whites, so they come to AAs with their garbage.]

    I’m very happy that this current blog has been blessed with the good-faith participation of several non-AA Black readers. Prioritizing one’s self doesn’t mean being anti-others.

    Thankfully, the bad-faith non-AA foreign voyeurs have mostly stayed away from this new blog. Along with the Internet Ike Turners and Ikettes. Along with the “where the WM at?” type of BW who—just like many BM—are fixated on non-Black flesh. Along with the BW who exclusively fawn over so-called “beautiful biracial children,” while NEVER referring to Black children as “beautiful.” Everything is not for everybody; and I don’t want these type of people hanging around here.

    Their general absence is the happy result of some of the unpleasant measures I had to take at the previous blog. Unpleasant measures like the open letter post I quoted above (which led to many angry folks writing in—folks who aren’t used to being confronted). Unpleasant measures like the one, specific “call-out” post that I wrote in response to a foreign-origin Black blogger who I felt was operating in outrageously bad faith regarding AA women’s issues.

    Unpleasant measures like the open letter to BW bloggers about online security matters post. Which is worth repeating, in part:

    I’ve already discussed the public handling of Internet Ike Turners in an earlier post. Now, in light of subsequent events, I feel the need to mention some behind the scenes precautions that women who have an online presence need to take. Here’s a comment that I made in response to one of Faith’s recent posts (she’s the blog host of Acts of Faith In Love And Life, which is on my sidebar blogroll). I’ve added links to several news stories:

    “Well, first things first: I believe that every woman blog host and YouTuber needs to take security issues seriously. I remember reading a news story a while back about how women blog hosts across the board (and no matter how innocuous their subject matter) are so much more likely to be blog stalked and harassed by male readers.

    Meanwhile, so many women (especially AA women) have been programmed to nervously laugh off male acts of aggression. For example, I’m thinking of a disgruntled BF reader at my blog who was angry when I made a comment about this a while back.

    She characterized my comments as paranoid; and defiantly stated that she was not going to “live in fear,” etc. In other words, she was not going to take online security issues seriously, nor was she going to take DBR-Black male commenters’ online aggression seriously. She took this posture even though the hate comments from DBRBM had driven her off her own blog! Even though she shut down her own blog due to BM harassment, she ANGRILY ran to another BW’s blog to badmouth me because I talked about security issues. The mind boggles.

    All of this was before a young Black woman named Asia McGowan was murdered by a DBRBM who was spewing hatred toward BW on YouTube. He was spewing hatred in response to her innocuous YouTube videos. http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/2009/04/youtube-facebook-murder-black-woman-slaughtered-by-crazed-fellow-youtuber-and-facebook-stalker-detroit-police-ignored-warnings-by-youtubers/

    [Incidentally, there’s a BM website that hails this killer as a hero. I’m not going to name it. I don’t give publicity to racist/violent/sexist sites.]

    In any event, I strongly urge all women blog hosts to:

    (1) Keep track of the trolls’ IP addresses and geographical locations;

    (2) Maintain a log of print outs of the trolls’ comments (whether you publish them on your blog or not—you need to keep a file on these nuts);

    (3) And most importantly, be prepared to call your local FBI field office, local law enforcement, and local law enforcement in the troll’s jurisdiction THE MOMENT the troll submits a comment that you feel is in any way threatening!

    In terms of this latest DBR-killer, it just goes to show that despite the seeming differences between various types of nuts (racists, DBRBM, sexists, religious fanatics, etc.), what they ALL have in common is that they HATE women. Peace, blessings and solidarity.”

    Ladies, an Internet Ike Turner has already KILLED a young African-American woman. He wasn’t the only Internet Ike Turner that’s capable of, and eager to commit, violence against women. There are others. Many others.

    So, nobody can honestly accuse me of glossing over the very real problems that exist among AAs. However, like people from every other ethnic group are with their own people, I’m committed to working with those (relatively few) sane and healthy AAs that are left.

    Expect Success!

  33. Vanessa F. says:

    Coming late to the conversation but better late than never! As a late-twenty something year old, I have found ways to give back to peers and mentors who have helped me along the way. For example, in a former position, I was pushed out my the ceo (it was a small business without any grievance procedures, etc.) of a consulting firm. I accepted his terms and went about my business enjoying my time off. At this point of my life, I was working on my masters thesis and needed the time to myself and to not be bothered with having to go to an office five days a week. For reasons attributed to the business owner’s personality (a long story for another day) he began slandering my professional reputation to anyone who listened. One such person was a consultant who I worked with for the past three years on various contracts at this firm. She informed me about what was being said and I explained to her the situation from my perspective. Luckily, she did not take the ceo’s word at face value and wrote me a glowing recommendation which made a HUGE impact in obtaining new opportunities after I finished my grad program. If I had not cultivated a good working relationship with this woman over the three year period, who knows how far I would be along right now.

    As a thank you and to continue cultivating good will between her and I, first I took to a swanky lunch once i returned to the working world. Afterwards, I kept her aware of all contract opportunities in my new profession for her to place bids. To this day, I still keep in contact with the consultant. Many times, we are just shooting the breeze but I will never forget that how she has helped me and I realized that she did not have to help me.

    Lesson 1: You are never to young or ‘green’ to give back.
    Lesson 2: Cultivating relationships is a must and will open up plenty of doors.

    -Vanessa F.

  34. Hodan says:

    Quote: Khadija: Hodan,

    “Here’s why I can’t relate to Black folks (from anywhere, including the US) offering extensive critiques of Greece, Italy and Spain:

    I challenge anybody to name a single Black country whose economy can match that of Greece, Italy and Spain! Or can match South Korea’s economy.”

    Hodan: I must be missing something, but are you saying that being black exempts one from critiquing any of these countries because in comparison an African country wouldn’t be equal to it? Its like saying a Chinese person cannot critique or examine political and social structure of Japan or South Korea, because the former lacks any legitimate democracy, while the later has a strong civil government.

    Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa have equivalent economic power of Spain and Greece. South Korea is not comparable since its in Pacific Asia and its economy and political structure have been propped up by the United States right along with Japan since WWII. Spain and Greece is comparable to Turkey and Brazil, even though they have much weaker economic power than them.

    I think the continent of Africa can only be comparable to South Asia and Latin America. Spain and Greece would not be remotely a financially and politically viable countries without the ‘Marshall Plan’ under Truman. Africa like South America (which is coming out of neo-colonial economic conditions) have been looted for centuries and politically interfered with since the cold war. Many countries have yet to rise up and it will take 50 more yrs, but some have managed to come out of the dark history and endless civil unrest. Its easy to judge Africa as a country, rather than a continent with its complex history. We only see the war and starvation, instead of those countries that are stable and considered strong functioning democracy from Tanzania to Mauritania.

  35. Hodan,

    You said, “I must be missing something, but are you saying that being black exempts one from critiquing any of these countries because in comparison an African country wouldn’t be equal to it? Its like saying a Chinese person cannot critique or examine political and social structure of Japan or South Korea, because the former lacks any legitimate democracy, while the later has a strong civil government.”

    South Korea is exporting Hyundai cars and Samsung electronic gadgets to Americans. Japan has been exporting various finished products to the US for quite some time. What does the Black world export except for raw materials? Regardless of its degree of tyranny, the Chinese government has been successfully feeding numbers approaching a BILLION people. Meanwhile, there are places in the Black world where successive governments still can’t or won’t feed their own people.

    I’ve read a number of Islamic scholars mention that “knowledge is adorned by actions.” And that knowledge isn’t simply what has been memorized, actual knowledge is that which is benefited from. There’s also a samurai proverb that makes a similar point. [“To know and to act are one and the same.”]

    Well, judging by the economies of the Black world (including the AA collective), we obviously don’t know anything of value about economics. To me, that means that we’re really not in a position to critique the previously successful economies that others have been able to build for themselves. To me, it’s as ridiculous as the corner wino pontificating about macroeconomics.

    One can’t compare the current downturn in various Western European countries to their previous long-standing record of being able to provide for their own people. They have a track record of building economies that work. The modern Black world does NOT have this track record. And all the excuses that one can think of (colonialsim, slavery, etc.) don’t change this basic fact.

    For this purpose, it’s irrelevant that their previous centuries of prosperity were built on theft from the 3rd world—that’s the nature of any empire.

    Malcolm X said it the rough way. To paraphrase, he told AAs to “stop talking that equality talk. If you haven’t built for yourself and your kind what the WM has built for himself and his kind, then you’re NOT equal to that WM.”

    The colonialism excuses, rationales, explanations used to justfiy African and Caribbean nations’ mass FAILURES are very similar to the slavery and Jim Crow excuses, rationales, and explanations used to justify African-Americans’ mass FAILURES.

    Most Black countries have been officially free of colonialism for about as long as AAs have been officially free from Jim Crow. [With the exceptions of some holdouts like Angola, South Africa, etc.] The excuses are obsolete at this point.

    You said, “Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa have equivalent economic power of Spain and Greece.”

    I’ll take your word for it. South Africa’s economy was built by Whites. And White South Africans still dominate that economy. So, let’s not inaccurately count that as a Black achievement. Rwanda is a good example of what’s wrong with many other countries in the Black world—they have extremely volatile and fragile politics.

    In healthy societies, an election dispute does NOT automatically mean that droves of people will run out into the streets and start attacking their neighbors with machetes. Which is what happened in the previously perceived as stable Kenya a couple of years ago. I won’t bother to expound on the genocide in Rwanda and how from all reports, it’s still an extremely fragile country. Given what they did, do you really feel that Rwanda is comparable to Spain or Greece?

    You said, “South Korea is not comparable since its in Pacific Asia and its economy and political structure have been propped up by the United States right along with Japan since WWII.”

    Respectfully, these are more excuses. Western international public aid has ALSO been propping up various Black countries. Especially during the Cold War.

    You said, “Its easy to judge Africa as a country, rather than a continent with its complex history. We only see the war and starvation, instead of those countries that are stable and considered strong functioning democracy from Tanzania to Mauritania.”

    I haven’t been talking about “Africa as a country.” Point blank, what I’m saying is that the Black world is a collection of FAILURES. The mass failure to build anything that other people flock to from around the world, the way that economic immigrants flock to Western Europe, the UK, and the US. I’m not even focused on war or starvation. I’m focused on the widespread economic failure relative to what a place like South Korea—which was bombed out and suffered massive starvation, by the way—has achieved (Hyundai, Samsung, etc.) in the same amount of time.

    It’s parallel to how the AA collective is a FAILURE. In both cases, Black folks have been officially free of colonialism or Jim Crow for roughly the past 50 years. In both cases, the time for excuses has run out.

    Finally, I wouldn’t be quick to call any African country “stable” or a “strong functioning democracy.” Folks said that stuff about Kenya. And then they had an election dispute a couple of years ago. And then LARGE numbers of folks apparently hit the streets with machetes and started slicing up their neighbors. One doesn’t expect something like that to happen in Western Europe. That’s some Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia-type of mess.

    Now, I do understand that much of this sort of thing stems from the artificially drawn borders derived from the colonial days. However, it’s 50-60 years later. The excuses are played out at this point.

    Expect Success!

  36. Hodan says:

    I don’t think anyone who b_tches and whines about colonialism should be listened to at this day and age. Neither do I consider people who lived under historical and economic apartheid should suddenly join the first world economically speaking. It took Europe 100 yrs to develop Industrial economy build on free labor and crippling tariff. Why do you think the United States economy is the strongest in the world even in its weakest form today?

    Spain and Greece political system is no better than any 3rd world countries from Tanzania to Brazil, etc. In fact, if anyone have learned their history, they lived under dictatorship up to the 60/70s and had endless military coup. Hence, why the decline of Communism in most Western countries began in Spain and Greece and the disillusionment with revolutionaries. So, whey you requested an equal comparison, I gave you one. Rwanda despite its genocide propped up by the Catholic Church in that country within the Hutu ethnic tribe, its still one of the strongest economic power in a developing countries. In fact, due to its strong functioning system, they rebounded out of its genocide, similar to Turkey, Poland and dare I say Germany.

    On exporting, less than 10% of European countries export anything, they import mostly from the Middle East, Turkey, Brazil, China. Heck, even in Canada and the US, we no longer export anything worth having.

    I believe on the issue of foreign aid, one can never claim what was given to Africa and Latin America could ever be considered economic support the likes of Europe and South Korea. The World Bank and IMF have collapsed governments from Argentine to Zaire (present Congo)in the 80s and 90s. Its only when Argentine, Brazil and others refused the destroying financial debt by international Banks pretending to be economic Aid, did these countries develop real democracy and strong emerging economic powers.

    lastly, I have a friendly beef with you on this:

    Quote: “South Africa’s economy was built by Whites. And White South Africans still dominate that economy. So, let’s not inaccurately count that as a Black achievement.”

    This sounds like a line I would expect from white south African and not an informed sister. South African economy is build on the backs of black Africans from the 1000s who died on mining under horrendous conditions, to the farmers who were uprooted from farming lands into shanti towns. White South Africans might have reaped the economic benefit under Apartheid, but those who enslaved for it were the blacks. To this day, SA is the most violent countries in the world mainly because of the injustice in term of access to decent wages, affordable education and housing.

    I would agree with you on the matter that African elites and small middle class, unlike Europeans and Asians, have yet to learn they benefit the most when real political freedom exist. Europe came out of the dark ages mainly because its educated class recognize the importance of providing political rights and economic freedom. King and Church can only serve you so far, without selling the idea of nationalism and rule of law.

  37. Hodan,

    Yes, we’ve hit several friendly “agree to disagree” points. 🙂 Here’s my last rotation about all of this:

    You said, “lastly, I have a friendly beef with you on this:

    You quoted me when I said: “South Africa’s economy was built by Whites. And White South Africans still dominate that economy. So, let’s not inaccurately count that as a Black achievement.”

    You said, “This sounds like a line I would expect from white south African and not an informed sister. South African economy is build on the backs of black Africans from the 1000s who died on mining under horrendous conditions, to the farmers who were uprooted from farming lands into shanti towns. White South Africans might have reaped the economic benefit under Apartheid, but those who enslaved for it were the blacks.

    This is comparable to Detroit or the other US cities that AAs have “inherited.” White people built the infrastructure that local Blacks ‘inherited’ in South Africa and US cities like Detroit. There’s a huge difference between inheriting something from somebody else and building it up from scratch.

    Of course, in both cases they used the labor of exploited Africans and AAs to build those magnificent industrialized cities and economic infrastructures. But their use of Black folks’ slave labor doesn’t erase the fact that THEY built it. They built that infrastructure, and to my knowledge modern Blacks haven’t built anything comparable to it.

    I have no problem with giving people, even an enemy, their “props” when seriously talking shop. And that’s what I consider these conversations to be—another space for some honest brainstorming. Excuses just won’t cut it anymore. Time has run out for all of that.

    Expect Success!

  38. VanessaF.,

    You said, “Lesson 1: You are never to young or ‘green’ to give back.

    Lesson 2: Cultivating relationships is a must and will open up plenty of doors.”

    ITA!

    Expect Success!

  39. Karen says:

    The Spanish Civil War was a proxy war fought between the Nationalists (Backed by Germany/Italy) and Republicans (backed by the Soviet Union). The Fascists (or Nationalists) won. It had a fascist government and their dictator actually made the transition to a democratic government.

    He specifically ensured in the constitution that none of his descendents could hold any government position.

    Spain’s economy is fragile as it was heavily focused in construction/real estate and as it was a “low-cost” country from a labor standpoint, once costs started to rise, it made it vulnerable.

    The dynamics between Spain versus Greece and other countries you mentioned are not the same and should not be lumped together.

    As I have relatives and good friends in Spain (who are Spanish); one of which is a writer and hobby historian, it is important to clarify that point.

    Concerning exports within Europe, there is quite a healthy export economy in continental Europe (among European countries) and Germany is also a leading exporter of goods to the rest of the world.

    What I fail to see at this point is the benefit of such comparisons?

    A Nigerian commenter once stated that even now the best oil fields are being sold to Chinese investors who have already installed their own “security forces”.

    There is still no disputing that Black male leaders (as women have not had the opportunity to lead countries, with the recent exception of Liberia) have collectively failed to bring their countries forward in the last 50 years.

    Even in Haiti, the relief organizations have learned they must ensure that the food and supplies go directly to the women and children as there are roving groups of males that will steal/take the food and are also kidnapping and raping women and young girls. Who takes responsibility for these behaviors?

    Speaking specifically for AAs, we depend on our food, clothing, shelter, public infrastructure from the white majority population. We have not built anything of our own and we by our actions as a group will not support businesses from our own people.

    What is the reason now that the wealth of many countries on the African continent still remain centralized in the hands of very few? That there is no thriving middle class (except with very few exceptions)? That all too often when women try to make strides as a group, the men do not support and often take/destroy what they have accomplished?

    ==============================

    To get back on topic:

    Of all the people that I have mentored over the years, only 2 were AAs. Of the two (AA BM/AA BW), only one had the good sense to show humilty and learn. The other one behaved in the classic manner as described by Khadija:

    “They are UN-teachable because they are too arrogant to listen with humility and to take direction from anybody.”

    It was the AA BW that behaved in the classic manner as described by Khadija. At the time, I thought the behavior was isolated however it is only increased over time. The end result is that I no longer bother. As they already behave as if they know everything, who am I to try tell them any different.

  40. […] mentioned during this post, Humans are social animals, and always cluster into various groups. Unless you’re a hermit, […]