There is a saying, “When you teach a man, you teach an individual. When you teach a woman, you teach a nation.” This states the power of the woman in the fate of civilization.
BUT…..before they become women, they are girls.
And it is these hearts, minds and souls that will shape the future. As such is the case, how important is it that we pay careful attention to the development of our girls?
Digress with me for a moment.
Think of the grains of wheat that would be our bread. And think of the expansive field in which they grow. We would not dare allow anyone to use that field as a dumping ground. That field would be protected, cultivated, watered and tended to. After all, it is the wheat from this field that will be milled into fine flour for the bread that we eat.
Naturally, when we understand our health’s relationship with the field and its crop, we aren’t cavalier about the corruption of either.
This is an illustrative way to help us understand the significance of our girls. It is they who will nurture a future generation. And their capacity to do so is greatly dependent on the environment and preparation of their childhood. So it is important for us to keep in mind that their states as women can be directly correlated to their childhood.
Let’s stay mindful of the unique challenges they face in a consumer society in which the acquisition of ‘things’ is a determinant of one’s personal value. Let’s stay mindful that our girls, as never before, receive an unrelenting barrage of devaluing messages. And let’s stay mindful that their protection, education, fulfillment and self love will determine outcomes just as their vulnerability, neglect and self hatred will.
The raising of our girls cannot be outsourced to television, social media or smart devices. Our concern must compel us to actively invest in their wellbeing, as these are they who will literally give birth to the future.
And lastly, remember this as it pertains to women:
She cannot give love if she doesn’t have love.
She cannot give value if she doesn’t have value.
She cannot give wisdom if she doesn’t have knowledge.
The cultivation of all of this starts in childhood.
In whose hands do we want our future placed?
Credibility is trust and is developed based on one’s combination of knowledge, experience, longevity and most importantly, RESULTS. Credibility has nothing to do with how much a person speaks on any given subject.
For example, it should be obvious that the person married for 30 years is a more credible advisor for a newlywed than the serial divorcee. Shockingly though, this is not obvious to far too many people, especially if the divorcee is conspicuously loud and riotous.
For many, the ‘realest’ or most authentic person is determined by who is the most boisterous or who attracts the most attention with their incessant talk. It’s as if we determine that the loudest in the room must be the one who is the most qualified.
This is misguided; and in most circumstances, this can be counterproductive thinking-especially, when we are looking for leadership or for partners.
This is a must-have conversation for the Black community. Historically, we have been a people who operate largely on emotions and unrestrained passions. Too often, we are led by our feelings and decision-making is directed by what moods we are in.
This is not just based on my own observations. This is based on social science. We have been researched and studied and it has been concluded that what we ‘feel’ is what will lead us.
Take the example of matters of social injustice. We are known for exhausting ourselves in marching, boycotting and protests in response to gross racial mistreatment. And in the yelling and rallying, we are aroused and excited. However, weeks, months and even years later, - after the emotions have subsided - we rarely have significant policy change that will prevent further injustice.
This is why I absolutely love the example of Baltimore, Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. In the wake of the apparent unjust treatment of Freddie Gray, she pushed forward with a prosecution based on the facts and evidence of the case. The goal was to secure a conviction of those she deemed responsible for his untimely death. In the end, there was no conviction, but the indictment and prosecution brought significant policy change within the Baltimore Police Department.
This is a great example of being effective, rather than loud. We must give people an opportunity to demonstrate their efficiency and mastery in a field before we get behind their leadership or partner with them. I was taught, before reading any book, to first study the author. This will afford a broader perspective because one will be more acquainted with the writer’s history, values and ideals.
We must be reminded in the Black community to be impressed by more than just a speaker’s volume or babble. We have to be discerning. We must listen for content. We must listen for wisdom, intelligence and logic. And we must get familiarized with the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) that the individual’s wisdom has borne.
If we look for results behind the volume, we will quickly learn who is who and what is what. This type of discernment will save us time, and possibly, our own reputations.
Be very careful to whom you hitch your wagon!
I watched the video of the Asian beauty store owners attacking the black woman who they accused of stealing eyelashes.
Before the video played, I knew I’d be offended. But I was not fully prepared for the outrage and total disgust I felt when I watched it.
I advise anyone reading this to watch the video; it can be found on Youtube. But if you cannot bring yourself to watch it, I will briefly describe what happened.
The owners of a beauty supply store, one male and one female, accused a black woman of stealing something. There was someone off camera talking, repeatedly telling the woman to just let them check her bags. She forcibly denied taking anything.
Quickly a confrontation escalated to both owners going after the woman physically as she tried to hold them off. While trying to avoid their reach, the man kicked her. Then he grabbed her and pulled her around until she fell. After getting her to the floor, the female owner grabbed an arm while the man put her in a choke hold. She continued to yell that she did nothing wrong while both held her.
The man appeared to be squeezing tightly until the female store owner lets the arm loose and tapped him repeatedly, while speaking a foreign language. It seems that she may have been telling him to get off her neck. He didn’t comply immediately. Then he released the choke hold and attempted to hold her down by wringing one of her arms behind her back.
I stopped the video at that point.
It was painful to watch the humiliation that black woman endured being thrown to the floor and held in a choke hold by a man.
The idea that throwing a woman on the floor and choking her as a means to deal with alleged theft is simply unbelievable.
And so I wonder, what conditions exist that would make store owners think that resorting to violence for alleged theft-of cheap eyelashes-was appropriate?
And further, what compels a man to put a woman in a full out choke hold who is of no threat to him?
My answer: the refusal to acknowledge the humanity in the black woman- by many.
Some may deem this an over generalization and that may be their opinion. In my blog, I only express my own.
Despite repeat patronage by black women being necessary for any business to thrive in the black community, we are treated as nuisances. It is black women who have the majority spending power in the black community. So it us to whom they advertise; but in their stores we are harassed, followed and frequently treated with disdain and contempt.
We are simply a lucrative annoyance.
And what do these Asian store owners know of us? Do they interact with us and our communities? Are they sponsoring the little league football, baseball and basketball teams? What about the dance and cheer squads, do they sponsor them? Do they visit our churches, mosques or temples? Do they live in our neighborhoods? Or are they reaping the benefits of our spending and taking their earnings to their own communities, far from us?
One would think they would need to engage the community since we overwhelmingly support them. But they show no interest in us beyond the consumer/seller experience. And this is because we do not demand that.
Think of how they have their stores in our communities that sell us unhealthy foods, cigarettes, blunts, liquor, wigs and weaves through cages as if they were serving animals in a zoo. And it is us who keep these business profitable.
In general, we do not demand respect or dignified treatment and therefore it is not given. The saying, “You teach people how to treat you” is applicable in this case. These vendors have treated us this way for as long as they have been in our communities. And I believe that the disdain has degraded to what we witnessed in North Carolina.
We say amongst each other, “shiiiii... Black people can’t get together to do nothing!” But I beg to differ. We are expert consumers. We just do not employ this expertise amongst and with each other. And others recognize this weakness and take advantage of it. However, if we do not recognize what must be done, we cannot expect others to treat us better than we treat ourselves.
If we want better, we must do better.
Whether this man apologizes or not should be immaterial.
The key is the change that this man’s maniacal actions will spur in how we serve ourselves.
Otherwise, once our emotions from this terrible incident fade...as the social scientists know and can always predict...we will back at the door looking to cop that Cambodian straight virgin weave or that Malaysian kinky curly weave.
If we can buy from others, we can buy from ourselves.
I attended a national track and field championship event recently where there were athletes competing from Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York and other neighboring states.
At this multi day event,I was abundantly pleased to see the great number of black female athletes sporting their natural hair. Some with braids, some afros and headbands, some twist outs and up-do’s…
I remember a time when the idea of being called ‘nappy’ or worse, ‘black and nappy’ was terribly painful. Now these young sisters, high schoolers to as young as 6 or 7, were rocking their nappy, kinky hair with ease and confidence. And it was intentional, not a mistake based on no time to press n comb.
These young women weren’t making any obvious political statements in their hair styles either. It just seemed to be the trend on certain teams... gorgeous chunky afros!
Although there was the occasional weave here and there, it was rare. The pleasure and pride I felt was immense watching our girls embrace a natural part of themselves that had been (and remains for some) a horrendous source of conflict, inner and outer.
It appears that we, as a community, have arrived to a time where the acceptance of natural blackness is trending.
The ‘freedom’ enjoyed by black girls wearing their own cultural hair styles shouldn’t need to be a cause for celebration...however in understanding our American history, it MUST be recognized as progress. The decades and generations we have spent being cultured in black inferiority requires that we celebrate and recognize acts of self love, major and minor.
For most nationalities, it is uncommon to relate to the mindset of self hate sustained by blacks in America and blacks abroad. For most nationalities other than black, they have had the freedom to bask in their own heredity and physical traits as beautiful.
Thankfully, this is gaining traction in many of our communities.
For some readers, there may be the question, what is the big deal with black women and their hair?
For those readers, I say this: consider looking in the mirror at your hair texture, the shape of your nose, the thinness or thickness of your lips, the hues of your skin and eyes and the build of your body....now imagine that each feature is a handicap, an ugliness, a source of derision, scorn and mockery...these features not so easily hidden or changed are targets of hate by people with influence and power...you cannot outrun the ugliness you were born with and everywhere you go, people remind you of it...so you are attached to the source of your pain, inherited from your parents who have these very same unsightly traits that you will also pass on to your offspring…
It is unbelievable the degree of effort employed to make blacks hate themselves. Therefore, the effort must be even greater to restore our love and admiration of self.
This is the movement I love. This is the trend I am witnessing.
And it is not all about natural hair; it’s just that the embracing of natural hair can be a sign of us embracing ourselves more deeply.
The struggle is not near over however. Many black women often hit roadblocks in employment when their natural hairstyles are outside of employee appearance guidelines where perms and weaves are favored.
So this does remain an ongoing issue...but if what I witnessed in the confidence of those young girls was any indication, things may be changing at a quicker pace than in years past.
Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.