Black Women Walk On Eggshells

 

I was sitting down discussing the plight faced by women of color with a few friends of mine and it seemed that we could all agree on the fact that no one aside from us truly understood the things we deal with daily. No one, including black men, understands what it is like to be a black woman in the United States. No one can comprehend the eggshells that we walk on daily that we have to pluck out of our feet when we arrive home. No one understands the nervousness that envelops many black women as we stand before a crowd of people – many of whom do not feel we are worthy of standing in front of a crowd at all.

Almost of second of every day, I have to watch what I say, my appearance, the way I walk, the way I approach members of the opposite sex, the way I dress, and even the way I think in fear that those thoughts can be read outwardly. Black women are constantly walking on eggshells so we do not trigger any discrimination by fitting a particular stereotype. I often find myself speaking very quietly so I am not referred to as “loud”. I often find myself dealing with unwarranted and rude behavior from others in fear that someone will call me “aggressive”. As a middle school and high school student, I straightened my hair in fear that someone would refer to it as “nappy” or “bad hair”. I walked standing straight forward and compact in fear that if my hips started to sway from side to side, I would be called “fast” or “loose” and it wasn’t until middle school that I realized I was under much more scrutiny than the girls of other races.

If only other people could walk in our shoes for one day – just ONE day, maybe the taunts and inappropriate comments would cease. Maybe the world would understand what is is like to live in a supposedly “free” society, but have to carefully select everything you do and say. That does not sound too free to me. Many of us are trapped inside our own bodies, unable to break free because if we do, we’ll be labelled. And many people may feel as though we should not care about the opinions of others, but the opinions of others sometimes shape our well-being. Your reputation is everything and black women must guard theirs every second of every hour of the day.

I commend those who speak out freely and live carefree. I am currently on my journey to that place and hopefully I am there before I bring a child into the world. Oh, how I dread the day I have to tell my child that they are unable to behave a certain way even though other children do simply because they are a different color and come from a different culture. However, my plan is to avoid that conversation at all costs and to let them know that their personality, despite what anyone thinks, is beautiful and if someone calls you “aggressive” for being outspoken, there are plenty of other people that will call you a LEADER.

Until then, I am still walking on eggshells, but my feet hurt now. These heels are pinching my feet. I’m uncomfortable. Walking on eggshells is not something that a leader does. A leader takes charge. A leader walks around the eggshells or better yet, kicks them aside or stomps on them. It is virtually impossible to be a leader by jumping up on the tip of yours toes and hopping from your left foot to your right foot, carefully monitoring yourself, unable to focus on your surroundings because you are too busy fearing how the world may treat you. At this point, what do we have to lose? The best way to win this war is to better ourselves, educate ourselves, and BE ourselves. If you are naturally loud, be loud. If you’re naturally outspoken, speak up. Let us no longer live in fear, let’s live in self-love.

The Ethnic Exchange: Dating Dont’s

341867348089699_a-c726224f_2vhHUw_pm

I was scrolling through my timeline on Twitter and I noticed a common theme: young women priding themselves on being faithful to a man that is not their boyfriend.

These women felt that if they stuck around long enough with absolutely no title on the relationship, eventually they would be able to prove their loyalty to that man and he would give her the world. To most, that may seem fair and it may even seem like it works, however, I have some news for you guys.

IT DOES NOT AND HERE’S WHY…

  • By limiting your own options and being exclusive with one guy even though he may be dating other women, blocks out a plethora of men who would be ready and willing to give you what you want at this very instant. You may be so caught up in the presence of one man that when Prince Charming (they do exist) comes around, you barely even recognize him, or you do recognize him, but your “morals” do not allow you to pursue him.

 

  • Why would a man desire what he already has? It doesn’t make any sense. By being exclusive without being his girlfriend, you’re basically saying “It’s okay honey. You don’t have to put in any work to have me because I’m right here.” Now, by sending that message out, do you really think he will stamp a title onto your relationship? He already has what he wants.

 

  • Believe it or not, being exclusive to a man who is not your boyfriend/fiancee/husband, is a clear indication (whether it is true or not) that you have low self-esteem. Human beings exude an energy when they are not happy. No matter how hard you try to hide it, people will know when you are hurting. Many women are unhappy with being his “friend” and they want more, however, when you do not demand more and just sit there like a bump on a log, it shows that you are unwilling to stand up more yourself – that you’ll remain unhappy if it means making this man happy. The only guys that will enjoy that are the abusive ones and you don’t want them anyway.

 

  • What is wrong with enjoying the single life? I know the patriarchal society we have been brought up in makes us fear dating multiple men (and by dating, I mean going out on DATES, not fornicating) because if we do, we’re labeled as “sluts” and “whores”. But guess what? It’s 2014 and women are starting to take their power back. As an adult, you should be able to freely decide who you want to associate with and if Johnny wants to take you to the movies on a Friday and Brian wants to take you to lunch on Sunday, you can do both. And if Johnny sees that you like Brian, that may be an incentive for him to step his game up and ask for a committed relationship. If he doesn’t, Johnny probably didn’t care that much about you anyway.

Women are natural nurturers. We like to make everyone feel good, especially the men we date. We jump through rings of fire trying to impress them, please them, and make them feel as though we’re the one for them, however, you cannot be the one for anyone else until you are the one for yourself. But I have a question….

So, has anyone EVER been exclusive with a guy who wasn’t your boyfriend? 

SHARE YOUR STORY AND LET US KNOW IF IT WORKED OUT IN YOUR FAVOR…OR NOT.

 

 

 

Natural Hair: Learning to Embrace It

Within recent years, ethnic women in the United State have caught on to what many feel is a trend, but I would rather consider, a movement.

Through the Internet, ethnic women have been able to connect and discuss the trials and tribulations of their natural hair – a discussion which usually ends with laughs, smiles, and an exchange of different hair care routines.

The media has not always represented the often coily tresses of women of color. The women on the covers of magazines usually have long, silky hair with little to no wave pattern. I remember being a little girl and wishing that my hair grew out of my scalp like the models in magazines or the white girls I was in class with. With much maintenance I could achieve those styles, but what was wrong with my hair?

Luckily, I had a mother who never allowed me to go so far down that path that my self-esteem would be permanently damaged. She would make sure my tresses were conditioned and soft. She would often braid my hair and constantly give me compliments:

“Essence, your hair is so thick. If I could have half the hair on your head.”

“Your hair is such a pretty color. Look how nice and full it is.”

Eventually, I began believing what she said and until this day, I still love my hair: all the coils, kinks, waves, and curls.

Unfortunately, not every young woman of color is blessed with a mother like mine and many grow up, go to college, get married, have children, and then pass that low self-confidence to their daughters and sons. And when it comes to dating, these women often falter and eventually fall flat, not realizing that the very beauty they want everyone else to see, has to be seen by themselves first.

During sophomore year of college, I decided to stop getting perms. It wasn’t as much of a struggle as many made it seem. I loved my natural hair and I wanted to see it again so during my transitioning phase, I was much more excited than fearful.

Of course with any chance comes a bunch of rude people who refuse to mind their own business.

Why would you cut your hair? Why do you want to wear it like that? You had such nice hair before.

Oh, and my favorite…

Your hair is so nappy now. You need a relaxer.

How ironic that most of the comments came from men of color and I could feel myself collapsing as I approached 20 years old.

Okay, I’m probably going to start dating soon. Are men going to like my hair?

And as quickly as those feelings came, they went, but that is my story.

Has rocking your natural hair ever put a dent in your dating life?

Well, I had the pleasure of speaking with a friend of mine and Saint Peter’s University alumni, Jaleesa Wreh, about her natural hair journey.

IMG_3526jo

Me: So when did you first decide to go natural?

Jaleesa: Circa 2009.

Me: Would you describe the journey as difficult?

Jaleesa: At first it was. I had a couple of plateaus because of products and the way I was managing it.

Me: Did you do a big chop or transition?

Jaleesa: I transitioned with micro braids and a few sew ins. Then, I gradually cut my hair. I was coming out of a short permed hairstyle so it didn’t take long for my permed ends to grow out.

Me: When you first revealed your natural hair to everyone, what was their overall reaction?

Jaleesa: They liked it. They all said “it was me”. I don’t think there was anyone who had something negative to say.

Me: Were you dating anyone at the time?

Jaleesa: No, I was single. It’s funny because my current boyfriend and I had met on a night while I was in between braided styles and my hair was rough and it’s been an ongoing inside joke about it since then.

Me: Did you ever think at any point that having natural hair would hinder your dating life?

Jaleesa: Not really. I felt if a guy didn’t like it he had to go. I thought about not looking sexy in my bonnet at times or worrying about re-twisting my hair at night, but that feeling passed.

Me: Any for anyone wishing to go natural or who has recently gone natural, what advice do you have for them?

Jaleesa: Never be afraid to go back. If something’s not working, try again. Be patient. Know that everything won’t work for everyone. And love who you are. Fake the funk if you don’t like it at first. Having confidence will help you grew into it.

To all those struggling with the transition from chemically processed hair to natural hair, know that like any journey, you will go through many ups and downs. Some ups and downs will have to do with your hair care routine and others will have to do with how society reacts to your hair. Avoid and ignore those with negative comments and embrace those who are positive. After all, it is your hair.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Drop Your Panties

Let’s face it. It’s 2014. “The Birds and the Bees” talk we once had with our parents no longer plays such a significant role in our lives. After all, many kids today no at least where babies come from and how to successfully perform the task well before their parents are pacing in the corridor outside their room, contemplating how to reveal the news that there is no stark.

Women, for pretty much ever, have been taught to be ashamed of our curves, our bottoms, our breasts, and our legs. It was told to us (from very young) that the women who reveal certain parts will no disowned by their families and will never find a decent man. In 2014, that is no longer in many households.

But with this new found freedom comes responsibility, and with responsibility becomes precautions. Those hips you were blessed with at 16 do not always attract attention from people that wish to give you the life you deserve. Some of that attention comes from creeps, who give that same attention to every other budding woman, totally dehumanizing her with his eyes and denouncing her as some object – one to be played with temporarily and thrown away.

Like men, women of all shapes and sizes have sexual urges and in today’s society, more and more women are acting out those fantasies. Some re even objectifying men. But with that amount of power, some may act as though they cannot be harmed. Tsk, tsk…little do they know.

So to combat help women decide who they should or should not lay down with, I’ve compiled a list of questions that we should all be asking ourselves before we do the do with anyone…

1)      Can I see him being a good father to my children?

A little forward, yes, but very necessary. STIs are not the only downside to unprotected or “the condom broke” sex. Babies are another option. For many of you, the question should be “Am I ready to be a mother?” and for some of you the answer may be yes. However, when you have a child with someone, you are binding yourself with them for the REST of your life. Remember that guy you met at the bar? Do you really want to deal with him for the REST of your life? I didn’t think so.

 2)      Am I having sex because I want to or because I’m craving attention?

Many women suffer from unstable self-esteem. We will feel like Beyonce one day and Freddy Kreuger the next and no one, including ourselves, will know why. On our Freddy Kreuger days, we may latch on to whomever days “Wow, you look great” and many women will do things out of the ordinary to hear it again. Never have sex on Freddy Kreuger days because on your Beyonce days, you’ll be ashamed of yourself and sometimes you’ll be so ashamed, you’ll turn into Freddy again. That’s never been a good look.

3)      How comfortable am I with my physical body?

We all know what sex is! A person will see parts of you that no one has EVER seen before: birthmarks, scars, cellulite, moles, that tattoo on your….well, you get the point. They see it all! Are you willing to give that to them? When you lay down with someone, you give them a bit of yourself? Are you proud of that? Are you totally comfortable with this person seeing that back hair you didn’t get around to waxing? We all have our flaws. I’m sure we would all much rather those flaws be viewed by someone we are in a committed relationship with rather than a one-nighter.

4)      Am I mature enough?

I know this is a given and varies from person to person, but it’s extremely valid. There are people in this world who are well in their 30s who have not had sex and that is their prerogative. For anyone who has had sex and became completely infatuated with the person afterwards even though it was supposed to be a fling, you may not have been mature enough to handle sex. Sex is a big deal. You’re much better off waiting, then doing it and regretting it.

5) Have I been tested? Has he/she been tested?

Okay. I know many people are not seeing a cute face and running to the clinic, especially after a few drinks, but it is important to know your status and the status of the person you’re going to have sex with. There are many STIs out there, some that cannot be cured, and you don’t want to catch any of them, especially from some stranger. Many people aren’t even aware that they have STIs so your best bet is to be safe, rather than sorry.

Of course there are many more questions to ask, so develop your own list. Your body is a temple and should be treated as such. You are worth time and contemplation before doing anything hastily. Take your time and decide whether or not this would be a good decision. After all, you are the one that has to live with them. You might as well make them good.

The Double Standard of Interracial Dating

20140220_180522-1

It is 2014 and people from all over the world are dating, marrying, and procreating with people outside of their race. During a simple walk to the store, one can see an interracial couple. In today’s society, it is becoming more and more of a norm.

Unfortunately, there are a few people (the bad apples of society), that find the idea of interracial love completely absurd. In this day and age, I feel sorry for these people – sorry that what they find gross or unnatural is all over television and walking down the street. They are better off coming to terms with it.

What I find even more ridiculous is the double standard in the black community. I am totally basing this off what I have seen on social media websites and just being outside among the masses.

Black women seem to be becoming more and more comfortable with black men dating outside their race. It is less of a shocker because it is becoming more common. My black friends and I have embraced the idea of interracial love because like any other type of love, it is love nonetheless, and love is beautiful.

However, I have also seen a lack of acceptance from black men when black women decide to date outside of their race. I heard this from friends who dated outside their race who claimed they would hear taunts and laughter. Some of the men would even approach my friends as if the person they were dating didn’t exist.

So being the inquisitive person that I am, I put it to the test last spring. I have a friend named Lance who is tall, blue eyed, and red haired with freckles covering his face. There is no mistaking him for anything else – he is white.

We were doing community service together at school and we had to walk into different stores and get the people there to hang up signs promoting an event at school. So I decided, what if we were to walk down the street and enter these stores…holding hands?

He agreed to it and the second our hands touched, the difference between us had become noticeable. Before, when we were just handing out flyers, we were two college students. After we held hands, we were a couple – a tall, blue eyed, red haired white man and a petite, black girl, brown eyed, with an afro. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, there are people who frown upon that.

We had not even walked 10 yards before a random stranger yelled out of his car “What are you doing with him?” But, my experiment was not over. I had to see what extent these men (and women) were willing to go.

So, as we passed by a small sneaker store, an elderly white woman saw us from across the street, she then crossed the street, and stared at us as if we were aliens that had escaped from Area 51 and were trying to blend in with the masses. As she got a bit closer to us, she sucked her teeth, hard and multiple times, overtly letting us know that our holding hands was unacceptable, but we kept walking.

So later on, and I think the most obvious of them all, was a young black man wearing a Polo shirt and a snapback who was walking in the opposing direction as Lance and I. In passing, he grabbed my hand, proceeded to tell me “What are you doing with that white guy?” and slightly tugged me away as if Lance were not there. But, we kept walking.

Of course, that was not the last. There were many other stares and vexatious comments and just like I had heard, ninety percent of them came from black men.

I can only intellectually guess why. Being that black people are a minority in the country and are mixing rapidly, there is a chance that our population will grow even smaller in the coming generations. A small sting creeps up the stomachs and spines of certain black people (the ones lacking self-esteem) when they see another black person dating outside their race. Instead of thinking, Wow, look how far the world has come, they think, what is wrong with my race that that person decided to date outside of it?

I personally believe love has no color and limiting one’s self is detrimental to one’s overall wellbeing. Your soul mate may be a white man, an Asian man, a Latino man, and Arab man, etc. Limiting yourself only prevents you from seeing the true beauty of the world. Everyone should be able to date who they choose without the taunts and stares and if you are dealing with those rude comments, hold your lover’s hand…and keep walking.

Ethnic Relationships: Gender Roles

As women of color, our plight when it comes to relationships, love, and sex is a little different than the rest of the world.

Since we aren’t necessarily at the top of the totem pole and we often find ourselves dealing with men who are not either, we easily face a subset of problems which need to be exposed, broken down, and built back up.

For example, a relationship between a black woman and a black man is different than a relationship between people of other races. Since almost every culture in the history of civilization has been patriarchal, the man leads as the woman follows. The woman handles the home while the man goes out and protects and provides for the home. Men have always been “one up” on women in almost every society and of course, it has been ingrained in women to follow these social constructs.

As people establish their own idea of gender roles, those opinions (which later become expectations) shape the way we communicate with people and form relationships. People with differing ideas of gender roles will often fail in a relationship with one another.

But since men of color are not necessarily on the same social platform as white men in the United States, women of color have to abide by a different set of rules. In most American households, it is safe to say that if a man is around, he is the head. But what if the head of your household is not the head when he steps out of the door? What if he becomes just another pawn on the chessboard?

And that brings us to how complex gender roles can be in a black household because black men unfortunately are not seen as natural leaders when they step out of their homes. They have to work much harder to get certain things accomplished, even things as common as providing for their families.

That often pushes the women to have to take on a “manly” role to establish a comfortable household. And as I have personally seen on numerous occasions, it creates a thick tension in the household. The woman may go to work, school, etc. and also have to take care of so-called “womanly” duties.

Lucky for everyone, those who are aware of this social epidemic can plan things out ahead of time before establishing relationships. It can only start with us. Perhaps, men and women of color should focus more of their attention on their own lives before establishing relationships and even more important…starting families.

Like I’ve said before, our relationships are a bit different than that of others and because of this, we have to approach our problems differently. So let’s continue to grow and foster better relationships with one other by realizing those issues and preventing them from continuing.