When a Black Woman Asks For Help

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that broke my heart. She's someone I've known since I was nine or ten years old and she's been going through a really tough time for the past year or so. I've often wished I was back in Chicago so I could be there for her more than I have been. I don't want to put her business out on front street but talking to her made me think about something I've asked myself many times over the years: What's the response when a black woman asks for help?

I've been thinking about this for many years because when I was in college, I noticed an interesting phenomenon happening with a few of the young black men who were among my best friends. Almost all of them lived at home with their parents, none of them were going to college even though one or both of their parents was college educated and they were often treated by their mothers and most of the friends we mutually had as an endangered species. Not that that perspective was necessarily wrong because looking at the statistics, they are often in physical, mental, spiritual and emotional danger. I also worry about all those statistics when I look at my own sons and the possibilities of what could happen scare me. It's just that the same care and attention was most often not given to the black girls and women I knew.

Out of the black women I knew, none of them lived at home with their parents. Almost all of them were going to college. Many had more than one job on top of school responsibilities, and if any of us said we were short on the rent and didn't know where the money was coming from, there was no helping hand to assist. If we were hungry, well, we just had to be hungry. We were not regarded as being an endangered species because we're supposed to be the Strong Black Woman -- you know, the woman who has endured birthing babies in the field and going back to picking cotton twenty minutes later.

For so many black women I know, there is a complete double standard in how they were brought up compared to their brothers or male cousins. The brothers and cousins were "loved" and the daughters were "raised". The lives of many of the black women I've known have been an intersection of the real axis of evil, racism and gender inequality. I remember how in high school, guys I know were expected to have girlfriends and their mothers would chuckle over their son's attractiveness to the opposite sex. The more girls calling the house the better.

On the other hand, some girls I knew were called whore and slut and beaten/grounded if a guy called them up. Academics were pushed with girls, and although they might be pushed with the boys, being cool was pushed just as much.

So many of the girls I know, girls who are now women, were raised with the attitude that black women have got to be self reliant, you've got to hold it together and if you're having a tough time, you better hustle and figure it out on your own because you don't have anyone to count on but yourself.

I remember being 19 years old and asking my now husband why it was that he was always getting asked if he was hungry but no one ever asked me if I was hungry. His black male friends were always being asked if they were hungry too. If these guys said yes, somebody would immediately fix them something to eat. Or, if we were out in public and one of my black male friends said, "I don't have any money," someone would buy them a meal or pay for their movie ticket. If they didn't have a ride somewhere, then someone would come pick them up. If they needed a job, hook-ups would happen.

Sometimes this all got particularly weird and seemed to have racial undertones to it because we hung out with a very diverse group of people. The sociologist in me would wonder how much of a role guilt was playing into some of the interactions I'd observe between my friends and those in our circle who were not black. I just knew that young black women weren't being cultivated and nurtured in the same way. Some would use the word "coddled" instead of nurtured. Sometimes my friends made me angry though because at times it felt like they sort of milked some folks' perceptions in order to get a hook up.

The person offering up the food or money for a movie ticket was most often not a black female. Black females would look at these guys and be like, "And? So? I guess you're not going to the movie then."

There was the racially sexualized dynamic between the black males I knew and the young white women of our acquaintance. I remember one college boyfriend brutally explaining to me that he was cheating on me with a white girl we both knew because she would give him, "her car, her cash and that ass."

Funny how some things are said to you and you never forget them.

Anyway, I can't tell you how many times this discussion about the differences in the way black women and men are treated by society has come up when I'm a room full of black men and women. Most often it's turned into a huge, heated argument where the women are sharing what they've been through and how they didn't have, for example, white girls lending a car, buying laptops for them or taking them shopping at the mall and they didn't have a mom at home telling them that it didn't matter what they did, they'd love them no matter what, and if things didn't work out, they could stay at home forever.

The men turn around and say that at least the women don't have to get harassed by the cops and put in special education. At least the women don't have folks grabbing their purse and crossing the street when they see a scary black man coming. The conversation never ends well.

So, like I said, my friend is really going through some struggles and yet many of the same people that would bend over backwards to lend a helping hand to the guys I knew back in the day are blind and deaf to her plight. She's not too proud to ask for help, but listening to her yesterday, her requests for assistance are being ignored.

I can't help but wonder if the response would be different if she was male.


Lydia said…

That's a great question. I believe that black women are so used to having to "make a way out of no way", struggle through it etc, because so often, like your friend there may be no one to turn to. And people just get used to us doing everything for ourselves without asking for help.

I was carrying some things from my car once and a guy said "Do you need some help?"

I replied, "No, I got it."

A friend of mine, said - "Now why won't you let that many help you? Why do YOU have to have it? Let him do the work."

It made me think of your "I Want List" post. We don't get to "want" stuff, because we are so busy taking care of other people and doing it all.

I am working really hard not to "raise my daughter and spoil my son."
brotherkomrade said…
A great piece as always, LA.
I can only say a few things on this:
While the stats have always bore darkly on young black men, it is the fault of he leadership layer of our community who have repeatedly gone public with the focus of what urban plight has done to black males and never talk about what it has done to black women who also fill he prisons and joins gangs and or sell drugs.
The research has been done and while the stats may be higher when you compare the genders, all black women aren't in college or being nurtured and taken care of either.
But that's the point- nobody cares or notices them, because we brothers all still have the mythological image of the tough-as-nails black momma who can take on all kinds of burdens like a pack mule and in the end she won't have needs to be met.

I have to say with all issues I have with my own mother, she did raise me.
By 17 I had a job and understood what it took to manage a household and how the importance of collectivism is how a family functions. I was cooking for my younger sister before I was 12. Now, nothing big, but I eventually cooked the real sh*t in teens since my mother worked nights.
So I'm fortunate I was raised that way. I tripped out in my 20s when I saw brothers just ordering Taco Bell because they didn't/wouldn't cook for themselves. No survival skills.
Anyway, great piece. I would like to hear from others on what could be done to reverse this. I do have to say that the fathers who are still around need to teach their boys that despite the many social pitfalls awaiting them, they have to own their actions to keep from falling into them and we need to teach our boys that there's no free ride because of the pitfalls. Also, parents; whether they are still together or not need to partner up and be fair in how we treat both genders. No more telling the girls that they need to move out when they are old enough but keeping boys at home. If you gonna kick out one, kick out the other. If you going to spoil one, spoil the other and if it's about the economy and they have top move back in, then they both need to kick in on the rent.
I'm done babbling.
Neil said…
I have always noticed the "strength" of so many black American women, but never really thought about the dynamic you mention here. Of course, this isn't the only group which treats men and women differently. You also see it with Asians, Jews, Indians, especially the more traditionally-minded. This must be frustrating for you friend. Who wants to feel that she have to do everything on her own? At the same time, these unhealthy gender role models are not any better for the men as the women.

Hopefully, things change with each generation.
modest-goddess said…
Both of my male cousins are dating white girls and I remember them showing up driving their cars and the girls were at work or somewhere else and they joked about it. I think a lot of the problem is single mothers trying to raise men on their own. They raise their daughters to be independent then spoil their precious sons. Even in college you meet guys that have never done laundry. I've heard a lot of people in my parent's generation say it is easier to get a daughter to move out on her own. But why would a son leave when he is being waited on hand and foot?
Anonymous said…
As a single mother that just stumps me. A single woman is treated badly and doesn't raise her son to respect women; don't raise her son to be a man? Thats the other side that doesn't get as much attention. Many men are the way they are because not only are their fathers absent but also because their mothers stifle their growth.

Sometimes the mother is right along with her son disrespecting a young woman. I better never see my son disrespect a woman, I don't know what I'd do to him first--knock him up side his head or kick his a**.

I may not be a man but I bet my life that I can teach my son how to be a responsible person, a human being and respectful to women.

We can be strong and not suicidal. I do what I can. If I can't then I won't.
Liz - wow. I saw this dynamic at lot at Syracuse. I didn't/don't understand it.

I think this idea that we black women don't need help and are "superwomen" is literally killing us.

I hope your friend gets the help she needs.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for that, Liz, as a white guy, it's an issue I'd never considered. But I think as Neil said, there's a similar dynamic in other groups of people. I know it's common in Italy for men to be mollycoddled mother's boys and for them to live with their parents well into middle-age, while the women are more independent. It seems to be partly a sexist thing.
it used to drive me crazy when my ex husbands family would ask around if any of the men were hungry and then expect me to make them a plate...I used to ask if their arms and legs were broken and I'd get that evil eye from the elder aunt!!! But heck like you said no one was asking me if i was hungry!!!!
Anonymous said…
I read this, then set it down to think about it for a while. I think you are onto something, but I see it a little differently.

I've seen strong people - men and women - of all races and cultures struggle not only to ask for help but to receive help when they ask for it. Strong people are frequently punished for their strength by being isolated from support.

I'm sorry your college boyfriend made those excuses to you. In my mind, his behavior is unacceptable - and his excuses ridiculous. But I've seen women of all races and cultures give everything to men until there's nothing to give.

(Did you know that there are homeless women in Beverly Hills? Married young, children gone, no friends, no alimony, no job skills, husband moves on - they live on the streets and eat at the grocery stores. No one is sure how many women there are like that - estimates are in the thousands.)

I appreciate your efforts at a difficult and complicated issue. I suppose that before I have anything profound to say, I'd need to figure out why I struggle to accept help, why I don't receive help when I ask for it and why I am punished for being strong. ;)
Liz Dwyer said…
You all have left such great comments... I haven't had a chance to respond all day and now I'm going out. Forgive me in advance for having to respond to these later tonight!
As an African American male I always say that the best thing anyone can do for us is to expect us to actually act like men, to hold us to high standards and encourage us to meet those standards. It amazes me how people infantilize black men while believing they are supporting us or being understanding. I know all the stats, the theories, the social analysis of why many brothers (not all) are messing up but ultimately if we want things to change part of that is about changing ourselves. Racism does not give us the excuse to engage in behavior that hurts not only black men but everyone around us (including black women). If we really love ourselves, if we really love our people, then we should stop the nonsense and act accordingly. Otherwise we have no credibility when we start complaining about what other people are doing to us.
Anonymous said…
Great post.

I am so tired of the 'at least you don't have it is bad as the Black man' speech. It is a nausea-inducing argument.

We experience a double dose of prejudice when sexism and racism combine. Hell, we have to deal with colourism in our community!

Black women aren't considered worthy Liz. We value Black men more than we do ourselves!
Lisa Johnson said…
This is a great topic. I definitely see where often black men are very catered to, but I also see where I as a black woman take on too much. I'm trying to learn to accept help when it's offered. It does go both ways. If we act like we don't need help, then it won't be offered as much.

Sometimes men have offered to carry things for me or offered their seat on the train and I said no. One time I really needed the help too and found myself wondering why I didn't take the help when it was offered. Why did I automatically say that I was okay, when I really wasn't?

Maybe because the fear is that when we really need the help that nobody will be there. It's been a real learning process for me.

I've found that the times when I needed help the most, some of the most unlikely people were there for me and really stepped up. If I hadn't been open to their help, I wouldn't have ever known how much they cared. Unfortunately, some of the people that I thought would be there for me were not.

I hope that your friend gets the help that she needs. Maybe she might find the same thing. There may be people who really care about her who will step up and help. But they may not be the people that she expects.
Liz Dwyer said…
Sometimes I think about how before I had kids I didn't want to have boys because I didn't want to raise them up in such a negative, destructive pattern that I see so often with boys and I wasn't sure how to avoid it. It is true that we are so used to having to make a way that we sometimes don't see help that's offered. But what happens when you're looking for help, asking for it and people offer nothing?

Keep "babbling". I'm feeling it and I give it up to your mother for doing all she could to raise you right. I agree with you so much about the role of parents in all of this. Remember how a decade ago there was a VIBE magazine with Foxy Brown on the cover and I'll never forget the words on it, "Sex sells and rhyme pays so Foxy Brown wants to know: ‘What’s wrong with being strong?’" -- and we all know what has happened with Inga since then. Sigh.

The mythology of a strong black woman is so ingrained in our psyches that we can tend to accept it as fact. But while there is undeniably a strength, there's little acknowledgment of the high rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, health and weight issues that impact black women. Yes, you do see most ethnic groups treat males and females in quite an unequal fashion and it does keep men from achieving and being all that they could be. It's interesting that I never hear about the strong Italian woman or the strong Thai woman as a stereotype. But that could be because I don't have insider knowledge of those groups' internal issues.

AAGH! I have to go run errands. I'll respond more in a couple of hours!
So much to think about here, Liz.

My brother was coddled and given everything by our parents while I was raised with the knowledge that I was far less valued. As you know, we're not black.

Of course the statistics on young black men are horrifying, and our society has always been appallingly unequal in regard to them. But it's shocking when young women are treated so badly within the black community.

The fact that black women are so often amazingly strong people does not justify withholding the nurture they deserve. In fact, I think it's even more amazing that so many achieve all they do when no one helps and encourages them.

Your college boyfriend was a major asshole. The whole dynamic of white girls acting like cash cows to black guys is also unhealthy because they are acting out of their own cultural guilt. As soon as race becomes more important than a partner's other qualities, it's not about love but about proving ones own lack of prejudice - which is a kind of prejudice, too.

I hope your friend gets the support she needs.
Liz Dwyer said…
I feel for single mothers. They do the best they can but still it's not possible to completely replace the role of a father and when a father is supposed to help with the training and raising of the children, single mothers get so worn out. The thing of showing up in the cars... gosh, that is a scene I've seen too much. I've seen it turn into a weird internalized oppression thing where as a black woman you feel like the guys are trying to throw it in your face, trying to make you feel less than because, for example, you are not blond and blue eyed. And it's a shame really because interracial couples that really do have genuine love going on are often perceived as being merely a farce because of the sicknesses that can exist in our hearts.

It doesn't make sense to raise your son to disrespect women, does it? I think we women are sometimes raised to mistrust each other, to see other women as competition and so then perhaps we pass that along to our children. Throw in all of the issues of colorism, internalized oppression, and having to operate in a racist society where folks can be on TV talking about having lynching parties against Michelle Obama -- and we're just supposed to act like it all rolls off of us. Anyway, yes, it is astounding when you see a mother allowing her son to disrespect a woman. It's like, what are you thinking? It's reflecting that the woman's been taught that she's nothing so she's gonna make sure someone else knows she's nothing too.

I feel like I could have a whole blog dedicated to the crazy, racially complex stuff I saw going on during my college/young adult years. Yeah, what that boyfriend said was insane, but how about six months later having another white female say to someone else I knew that she could steal away her black boyfriend because she was everything the black girl wasn't. It was literally like being in an insane asylum sometimes. -- Beyond white and black, we see the same thing play out with colorism in the black community too. How many times have I heard lighter-skinned people express similar things? Way too many times.

Yes, so much is sexism. I do think there's a similar dynamic in other groups and I don't like to go down the road of who's had it worse. Everyone has experienced oppression to some extent in our world because that's what our world system currently is. But I also think the intersection of racism and sexism is a particular dangerous mix to the mental health of black women.

There's so much negative racial imagery about black women in this country. We're angry and have a chip on our shoulders, we're bitches, we're fat, we're whores, we're gold diggers, we're loud welfare moms with a gaggle of kids by different daddies... and we're sooo super strong that we can do it all. It all gets to be too much.

I don't know if those same kinds of pervasive racially charged stereotypes exist for the average Italian American woman.

I guess I can only speak to what I see, what I've experienced, and my experiences are that of a black woman. The fact that I am half-white is irrelevant because wouldn't it be a crazy thing for me to walk around telling people I'm white?

Brown English Muffin,
I know. If you raised your hand and said, hey auntie can you fix me a plate, she'd be looking at you like you're crazy! It's just not fair!

I'm still sitting down and thinking about this post too. Did I really say what I wanted to say? I'm not sure. It's a good point that you can sometimes get punished for that strength. Maybe that is the case for what happens to some extent within the black community. I do know that my friend is really open to accepting help and asking for it, but she's getting the cold shoulder in ways she should not.

As far as that one boyfriend, I'm sort of not sorry that happened because it let me know he was a jerk. It's just one of those moments I've never forgotten because it was so insane. Of course relationship jerks happen to everyone but to be explicitly told that you're being rejected because you are not the standard of beauty, and in a dynamic that overly racializes the rejection, is a horrible thing that I've seen happen too many times, not just in my experience. Couple that with the onslaught of being the wrong color skin, wrong type of hair, wrong lips, wrong behind, wrong everything in America -- it takes a psychological toll -- which is why little black girls are still picking the white doll as being more beautiful.

And homeless women in Beverly Hills -- I've seen them. It's all so wrong.

I 100% agree with you. We do horrible things to ourselves. I worry sometimes about how I might be overcompensating because I'm scared I might "infect" my kids with some of the same mentalities that I've been raised in. Thankfully as we grow and learn new ways of being, we can give birth to something else.

You know, I often think about how there are children who have never had a single interaction with someone white calling them the n-word but they've had a thousand interactions with someone black doing so.

I'm really tired of that speech too. Folks miss the point that you're not competing for a medal of some sort. You're not trying to have a badge that says, "I am a member of the group that's endured the most suffering!" But there's often a complete lack of willingness to even acknowledge there could be a problem. And the colorism, it's ridiculous. Really ridiculous.

I agree that it's hard to keep from taking on too much. I think it's hard too for some folks to admit they need help because they're afraid they're going to fall apart completely if they reveal that there are cracks in that "strong" shell. I definitely have experienced the fear of thinking that when I really need help no one will be there, mostly because there have been many times in my life when that's exactly what happened. As far as my friend, someone has really stepped up, thank goodness. But it was after her exhausting all possibilities and repeatedly asking those in our circle back home for assistance. I wish I could share the details of what she is going through but I can't. I feel that if I could, it would perhaps explain a bit more.

Yes, so much to think about. Sometimes I put these thoughts out there and they're not fully formed, fully crystallized. You all weighing in also helps me to reflect on how I'm really feeling about something. I do think it's amazing that so many of the women I know have achieved so much despite all that they've been through. When I talk about the arguments that have transpired when you get black men and women together, I've found that the guys will somewhat recognize that strength on the one hand, but on the other hand, the perseverance is sort of condescended to.

The cultural guilt thing is such a terrible dynamic to see playing out. For a time my brother only dated blonds and the things he would say about them when they weren't around were horrible. It was that stereotypical, "I'm going to get me a white girl," kind of thing. It was awful to see how these girls were being used to feed race-based fantasies and how it all somehow made him feel better about himself. It wasn't till later years that he even dated black women at all. Sigh.

As for my friend, I think she really needs assistance and a fresh start. And prayers. Lots of them.
Anonymous said…
A lot was said here. I do think that black women have been raised to take care of themselves in a different kind of way. But that was a respnse to the same essential problem: racism. Years ago black men were not allowed to be men. They couldn't protect their wives and sisters because they would end up lynched or tossed in jail. When they went out to get jobs they didn't get paid the same wage or their work as their white counterparts, if they were hire at all. So what happened was that many black men felt helpless and impotent and, unfortunately, stopped trying. So black women were forced to fend for themselves and mothers raised their daughters to do the same.

Oddly, Black women were never seen as a threat to white power. That's why they were allowed to care for white babies. That nonthreatening presence would prove helpful as the years progressed and the Civil Rights movement gave way to the feminist movement. Today Black women largely make more money, have higher education, and generally achieve more than black males. Not beacause black men are horrible but because the parenting (I had to throw that in) hasn't caught up to the reality.

I do agree that black males are sometimes babied in a way that is sad and unhelpful. It has to stop if we are to move forward.
I'm sorry about your brother. I have noticed that most black men who date white women prefer blonds. Of course, a lot of white men do, too.

But some of those women are using black men for their own fantasies, or to make themselves feel better, ie unconnected to white racism.

Using anyone is not about love, and we all deserve better.

I think it's also true that the most racist members of white society do not perceive black women as dangerous in the way they do black men, especially if they're beautiful. The black men who are most accepted in such circles are those who most nearly resemble white men in their behaviors and appearance, and until that changes dramatically and people relate to one another as fellow members of the human race, all our relationships will be messed up.
Unknown said…
This is a wonderful post. I will say I noticed this as well. Black women are to remain strong, and we have to learn to stand on our two feet and make a way, as we have no one to rely on. I remember growing up academics was heavily pushed for me. It was the whole if you don't care care of yourself, no one will. Not that my family wouldn't help me, but it seems that if I didn't have my family, I would have no one. No one ever tried to spot me when I needed a ride, or a movie ticket, or a meal, I had to get it myself or hope for the best.

In terms of asking folks if they are hungry. I fell for that hook, line, and sinker. My husband would freak out every time I would ask him did he want a plate at family reunions or functions. He didn't understand why I needed to get his plate or why he couldn't just do it himself. But in my mind the women did the kitchen stuff and the men sat around talking or playing dominos, that is just the way it had always been. I went from feminazi to Donna Reed and it confused him :)
Ehav Ever said…
I think some of the response to a person's plight are dependent on a number of factors you touched on, as well as the element of if that person is a part of a tight knit community. When I was a kid I grew up in a very tight knit community. There were all types of people, but when it came down to it we were really tight.

What the past is for a person I believe that the current generation can turn that around, but looking at the past and coming up with realistic solutions to be implemented into the parenting of future generations.
Liz Dwyer said…
Good historical context of the long term effects of racism. This doesn't always get taken into consideration and it's easy to say that black parents are just naturally misogynistic and backwards but much of this is in reaction to what has happened within our society.

Yeah, everybody likes blond hair so women dye it or weave it to make it that way. I am happy to not be blond though! :)

Yes, there are those who use black men to feed fantasies but I think it is tied to racism. There's the racial stereotypes of the big black man with the huge penis who'll be animalistic in bed and some women pursue that. Plus I've known a lot of girls who considered it a racial taboo to date a black man and so would pursue it to piss off their parents -- and you're right. It has nothing to do with love. Won't it be a beautiful thing when these things are only discussed as the strange foibles of a previous age?

I hate that feeling of thinking that you'll have no one. And you made me laugh with that story about your husband. That's really funny but it's all stuff we have to navigate these days.

Ehav Ever,
Yes, tight knit communities are key, but sometimes what can seem tight can unravel, especially when you're a woman going through a divorce and the husband comes from a well-respected background. That's what's going on and it's horrible.
Felicity said…
LA a great post and from my experience, I had to deal with my austistic brother and it was hard at times, after my mother died, I had to fight my father to get help, which I got. I was also a divorced single parent, even though Lambert could understand simple instructions, my father would expect me to do heavy lifting. I realised that I was suddenly disappearing. I suffered depression when I got divorced, and again when my father and brother both got sick. My father got sick and was in hospital for nearly four months and it was a three hour journey daily to go to see him. After he came out, my brother got ill and he was in hospital for nearly a month and social services they were a nightmare. I had to heal myself, by visiting green parks and I sat down and I realised that I got no support, my husband would left me on my own most of the time. I had to learn to call for help when I needed it, there was nothing to be ashamed of, because my father or my ex-husband would say that I was weak. I was told that I was lazy, because I was born in UK, by my father and my husband and my husband would also tell me that I couldn't cope. I started to look seriously at my life and life of black woman of West Indian/Guyanese orgin living in the UK. In the West Indies, even if their husbands rotten, they had a family unit to help them, they could always go to someone in the country, with their children. In the UK and mainly Western Europe, the system was did not understand us and it was racist. Our husbands were always with the 'boys' and they left you to cope on your own, with your children, as a result, UK ahd the highest amount of black women in mental institutions, the drugs are a lot stronger, because we needed to be controlled, the there killers of black women is cancer, heart problems and strokes. My mother died from cancer and quite a few women I know died from heart problems. I realised that if I tried to take on, the world and be a strong black woman, I would be a victim myself, because I was a carer of both my brother and my father, I got in touch with the carers society, I got help. My father still insisted that I go out to work. I refused. Whenever I need it, I call for help and there is nothing wrong with that!
Malik Akbar said…
The post and the discussion here bother me on a lot of levels. The tendency to make generalizations based solely on personal experience is one reason I stopped writing personal anecdotes related to race on my blog. There are too many ingrained prejudices and stereotypes flying around, even in my own mind, for me to allow myself to be anything but rigorously analytical and to validate every assertion with evidence. And that's what bothers me most whenever Black folks start talking about the sorry state of our men, or our children, our our women, or our families, or our schools, or our politics. Where's the evidence? If you didn't know anything about Black people except what you heard in churches, barbershops and hair salons, you'd think we were the most wretched and debased people on earth. We need to start interrogating our own assumptions. First, how did we come to the conclusion that we're in a generally sorry state? Second, sorry relative to what? Third, if we are indeed sorry in some respect, does it actually have anything to do with being Black? Nine times out of ten, if we take the time to find the answers to those questions, we'll find that we're repeating myths and stereotypes.
Miriam said…

The BC will never know how similar they are to the Jewish community.
Liz Dwyer said…
That is a lot to go through and the health and mental health problems of women as a result of feeling like you have to shoulder so much, well, that's a lot to bear. I didn't know that about mental health rates for black women in the UK. Wow. You have me thinking about much our (and I mean people as a whole) community structures are torn apart by racism, colonialism, war and ethnic cleansing. When the society we live in is as a whole is not conducive to asking for help and fosters the very problems that lead to health problems, overcoming fear of just asking anyway becomes a life or death choice.

I hear you. Still though, my post, in all of it's imperfection, bothers me less than the situation my friend is in. I am naming something real that I have experienced and that dozens of black women I know have seen and experienced. I mean, I grew up watching how people reacted to a request from my white father and to requests from my black mother. No, it's not a scientific study with a certain number of people to validate it as being a trend, but what I've seen happen is real. Other people may have different experiences and that's fine.

As far as stereotyping, we can all easily travel down that path, can't we? Of course it's not true that black people don't care any more or less about their girls or their communities. But our society as a whole is another story. And, probably much of what I've seen happen is the result of people living out stereotypes -- so, am I supposed to ignore my experiences then just because they might fit into a stereotype?

On this blog, for me, I have not come to the same conclusion about sharing personal anecdotes about race. If I can't express what it is I'm experiencing, even if the resulting discussion is difficult, well, I might as well not blog. I suppose that's why the title of the post is a question because I know what I think but what does everyone else? I found folks' responses really interesting, especially based on what I know about everybody, and it gave me a lot of food for thought.

Again, every community has it's good and it's bad. Clearly, black folks don't have a lock on sexism or bad parenting or anything like that and I don't think that's the case. Can we do better? Yes. Can everybody do better? Yes. But in the meantime,my friend is still in a horrible situation and I still think the response to her would be very different if she wasn't a black woman.

We are all a bit more similar than we realize, aren't we? I love coming over to your blog to get some of that perspective. :)
Iam Robert said…

It's funny that I came across this post today. My wife was just saying that she experienced the same thing while growing up. She even went as far as saying that in her family, the males were pampered, the women were not. Now I don't understand all the dynamics of this, but I do feel I know what a true friend is and a TRUE freind would not deny you, if it was in their power, in your time of need. I agree, the behaviors you highlighted do exist. I guess for me the main thing is to surrround myself with friends.

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