Tag Archives: Black women

Growth and Expansion by Sophia Ned-James

First of all, my sister, your beauty is boundless! Everything about you is lovely and lovable, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You’re already a work of art, made in God’s image, so love who you are right now!

That said, you must continue to grow and expand. And that means letting go of anything and anyone that no longer serves you. Just like your hair won’t grow unless you trim the dead ends, you won’t grow unless you get rid of the dead weight. It’s way past time to unload all that unnecessary baggage, lighten your load, and expand!

Don’t worry, though. A lot of that dead weight will fall away naturally. Because as you continue on your journey of growth and expansion, you will alienate, intimidate and even infuriate some people. And that’s okay! Not everyone will be able to handle the new you. Truthfully, some of them don’t deserve the current you, either.

So stop wasting your emotional energy on people who are never emotionally available to you. Instead, devote your valuable time and energy to those who feed your soul and help you grow.  Just keep moving forward and trust that the right people will love and encourage your journey, even when they can’t travel it with you.

#growth #expansion #selflove #selfcare #BlackWomen

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Can We PLEASE Redefine the Strong Black Woman?

Sisters, we really need to redefine what it means to be a Strong Black Woman.

Listen.

I long for the day when a Black woman’s strength isn’t only measured by how much mistreatment she can endure. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget that you’re only human: fallible, vulnerable, and capable of feeling pain.

I’d love for people to recognize the strength it takes to be vulnerable and ask for help. It isn’t easy to let your guard down and bare your soul. It’s hard to be open and raw and deeply honest about who you are or how you feel. To do so takes real guts.

I want to redefine the Strong Black Woman image to include not just our resiliency in the face of oppression, but also our beauty when we’re broken and our joy when we’re ecstatic. I want it to include the full range of what it means to be human. We’re as complex and confusing and confounding as anyone else, and should be allowed to be our full selves without being considered “weak”.

The image of the Strong Black Woman as society’s “mule” persists, most certainly because it serves both white supremacy and the patriarchy to do so. But it persists also because we, as Black women, allow it to.

Consider the way we praise the long-suffering Black girlfriend who puts up with her man’s cheating, beating, or whatever, only to finally “get the ring” years later when the guy finally settles down and proposes.  This sister is celebrated, by men and women alike, as “strong” and “loyal” and “deserving”.

I call bullshit.

She was “deserving” before she spent the best years of her life waiting for that man-child to grow up. She would have still been “strong” had she kicked him to the curb, even if it meant being alone. “Loyalty” in the face of mistreatment isn’t commendable, it’s just sad. And we need to recognize that a woman’s strength has nothing to do with her ability to endure heartache from her romantic relationships.

Further proof of how this unhealthy notion of the Strong Black Woman is so deeply entrenched in our culture is how medical professionals treat us compared to how they treat white women. For example, studies have shown that in the U.S., Black women are prescribed opioid painkillers far less often than our white counterparts. On the one hand, this has resulted in fewer opioid overdoses among Black women than have occurred among white women. On the other hand, this also proves that Black women are expected to be able to endure more pain.

And it goes beyond pain management, too. I mean, don’t even get me started on the ridiculously high Black maternal mortality rate in the United States. But that’s a topic for another day. The bottom line is that this outdated, misogynistic notion of the Strong Black Woman is literally killing us!

When you’re seen as impervious to pain and abuse, you’re easy to hurt and abuse. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget you’re still human. And it’s easy to ignore your humanity because they think you can take it.

Sure, we can take it. Black women can take whatever life dishes out, and look damned good doing it, too. After all, we embody Black Girl Magic in spite of our oppression. We continue to show up and show out for the people we love; we run successful businesses and build empires; we’re the backbone of our places of worship; we enrich our culture with our art and talent; we dominate sports that a few decades ago were completely closed off to us; we serve our communities from the grassroots to the military to elected office; and we change the world with our scientific and technological genius.

In spite of everything thrown at us, we rise, we conquer, and we flourish! So yeah, Black women can take it.

But we shouldn’t always have to.

#NotYourMuleAnymore #StrongButHuman #BelieveBlackWomen #RespectBlackWomen#ListenToBlackWomen

Photo: Pixabay

Monday Motivation by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters,

In this life, you will experience defeat, but you won’t always be defeated. Every heartbreak, setback, or failure may bring you low, but trust and believe, you won’t stay down forever.

Pain is temporary, and victory is imminent!

Read that again.

Remember those words. Write them down if you have to. Repeat them to yourself whenever you feel sadness, fear, or doubt.

And when you’re having a bad day, week, month, or even year, remember to dig deep within and tap into that all that strength and resilience that got you to this point. Then pick yourself up, shake yourself off, adjust your crown and go build your world!

You got this!
#LoveYourselfFirst

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for July 14, 2019

“Shhh …”

Black girls and women are too often silenced in today’s world. Either we’re too loud, too aggressive, or we have too much attitude. Some folks even begrudge us our happiness, complaining that we’re laughing too loud in public.

Throughout our lives, so many people “police” our tone and our words: from our elders who shush us when, as little girls, we try to talk about being abused; to some of our own men whose fragile egos seek to stifle our voices and dim our lights for fear we’ll outshine them. And don’t even get me started on the many public forces that seek to silence us or render us invisible! 

How many times have you been told to “calm down” when you stood up for yourself? How many times have you been told that your attitude is the reason you didn’t get that raise or promotion? How many times have you tried to shrink yourself into a space that didn’t really fit you or welcome you?
Well I say stop letting others silence you! Stop allowing others to police your tone or dull your shine! Keep speaking up … in fact, speak LOUDER! Don’t apologize for being who you are, because you are worthy of respect, attention, and all that is good and positive!

Distance yourself from people who can’t handle ALL 100% of you. Remove yourself from spaces that won’t allow your to flourish and shine and grow. Rid yourself of ANY circumstance that doesn’t see or serve you in all your infinite glory!
Always be YOU and do YOU, because you are enough, just as you are. And you DESERVE TO BE HEARD!
~Artist is unknown and I don’t own the rights to this artwork

 

5 Ways To Do Better By Black Women by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters!

We all know that #BlackGirlMagic is real because we live it, breathe it, and manifest it every single day. We’re out here making strides and building legacies. We’re thriving and breaking down the same barriers that held our foremothers back for centuries.

Yet somehow, we Black women are still perhaps the most maligned, abused, and mistreated demographic in the world! We’re woefully underpaid and overworked. We’re constantly underestimated. We’re always expected to take whatever’s offered and do more with less. And on top of all that, we’re expected take care of every-damn-body.

Listen. It’s time to turn things around and change the narrative. We deserve better, so we must demand better. As the saying goes, we teach people how to treat us. Well, we need to start teaching people how to treat us with the awe, reverence, and respect we deserve. 

Here are FIVE THINGS we can all stop doing RIGHT NOW that will make the world a better place for all Black women:

1. STOP judging a Black woman’s beauty by European standards (skin color, hair texture, and body size/shape);
2. STOP judging a Black woman’s strength by how she copes with oppression and abuse;
3. STOP judging a Black woman’s worth by whether or not she’s in a romantic relationship;
4. STOP judging a Black woman’s womanhood by whether or not she has children; and
5. STOP judging the value of a Black woman’s emotional or physical labor by her willingness to provide that labor for less than it’s actually worth.

Let’s do it for the diaspora, for Black sisterhood, and for OURSELVES!

~Art is “Internal” by Mia Bergeron. Neither SuzyKnew! nor I own the rights to this artwork.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 23, 2019

I long for the day when a Black woman’s strength isn’t measured by how much mistreatment she can endure. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget that you can be vulnerable or that sometimes you need help. And it’s easy for them to ignore your humanity because they think you can take it. Sure, we can take it. We can take whatever life dishes out, and look damned good doing it, too! But we shouldn’t always have to.

#NotYourMuleAnymore #StrongButHuman #BelieveBlackWomen #RespectBlackWomen#ListenToBlackWomen

~Art: African Woman by Psichodelicfruit

Girlfriends: The Power of Friendships Between Black Women: ASK JANICE

 

Given the pervasiveness of rape culture, misogyny, and especially misogynoir, I’ve come to believe that we women need more safe spaces that are just for us. Let’s face it, sometimes, regardless of our relationship or marital status (or even because of it), “we’re all we got”!

So we need each other to keep us sane, keep us grounded and more often than not, keep us from catching a case! The powerful energy that a good group of women friends produces can be transformative. I know this firsthand because I’m blessed with the most amazing and supportive girlfriend village, ever!

That’s why I decided to celebrate the power of close friendships between Black women. Socially and culturally, our society seems to be at a crossroads between progress and regression. On the one hand, the rise of the #metoo movement has caused a dramatic shift in how we view the treatment of women, especially in the workplace. On the other hand, the fact that R. Kelly is still a free man with a musical career is just one example of how entrenched rape culture is in our society. It also illustrates a general lack of regard for Black girls and women.

There is still so much to do for women, especially Black women, to attain equal status. Being at the intersection of racism and sexism leaves us especially vulnerable in a world where the powers-that-be (namely white men) have dug in their heels to maintain their power. And the reality is, we don’t have a lot of support out there.

Sure, there are some allies in our fight, but non-Black women tend to focus on issues that center them rather than us; and Black men tend to center their activism around racial issues alone, without any regard for the Black women in their ranks. This has been true since the 19th century, in both the early feminist movement and the early Civil Rights movement. And not much has changed, despite the Black woman’s tireless efforts on behalf of both gender and racial equality.

So today, I celebrate the power of friendships between Black women. I do so for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because there’s no way I could have made it this far without my girlfriends.

Full disclosure: I adore men, and my village is filled with them.  I’ve never bought into the notion that men and women can’t be friends. I have several close male friends who mean the world to me. Most of them are married with families, now. So of course the dynamics of those relationships have changed. But the friendships are still true and strong. And I wouldn’t trade any of them for all the riches in the world.

But I can’t imagine my life without my girls. I have friends I’ve known since before we lost our baby teeth, wore bras, had our first periods or experienced our first kisses. Girls I went to grade school, high school and college with are still my closest “homies”. And I’ve even made some very dear friends as an adult.

These women are my rocks, my beacons of light during my life’s storms. They’re my comfort when I’m down and the first ones I call when I’m happy. They’ve seen me through every failed relationship and heartbreak. They’ve been by my side for every victory and triumph.

My close friends propped me up when I’ve faltered and lifted me when I’ve fallen. They prayed for me when I lacked the faith to pray for myself. My girlfriends have celebrated my greatest moments with me, like the birth of my son. And when I lost most of my immediate family in the span of just a few years, my girls were the ones who literally held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own.

When I’m in a hole of despair, I have friends who will climb right in there with me, wrap their arms around me and hold me. Then, when they know I’m ready, they’ll gently help me find my way home.

My girls don’t judge me for my quirks and oddness. They get that I’m more than a little nuts. My many mistakes haven’t driven them away yet, and they continue to put up with my insane misadventures. For some reason that I just can’t fathom, they love me despite all my faults.

Sure, we’ve had our fights. We’ve fought over stupid stuff like lipstick and who’s going to bring the ice to the next party. We’ve bickered. We’ve bitched. And we’ve gone months and even years without speaking. But the reunions were always joyous and somehow, despite the time and/or distance between us, we managed to pick up right where we left off.

None of this comes easy, though. Like any relationship, friendships between women take work. We have to be willing to deal with each other’s crap. If one friend is always late, you have to swallow those snarky remarks when she finally gets there, because you know you love her anyway. And if you know your other friend is going to spend over an hour complaining about a guy she should’ve dumped three years ago, you listen anyway. After all, she’s done the same for you.

It’s also important that we accept each other where we are, which isn’t always easy. As our lives change, so do our relationships with each other. We’re always growing and changing, and our friendships have to follow suit.

We have to be understanding when one of us needs space, and present when one of us needs comfort. We have to listen when we really want to talk, and hold our tongues when we want to say “I told you so”. And at the core of these and any successful relationships, is mutual respect.

Not every friendship is the same. You know what I mean. You have those friends to whom you can turn for career or financial advice and they’ll never steer you wrong. Then there are the “good time” girls who turn every outing into an adventure. You never know where you’ll end up by the end of the night, but you know you’ll have fun getting there.

Of course there are the friends with whom you can talk for hours about anything, happily picking apart any manner of subjects, no matter how trivial. And there are the sounding boards, the ones you bounce ideas off or just generally bitch to. They’re always willing to listen, to let you spill your guts.

And there are the girlfriends who will always tell you the truth, even when it hurts. They’re the “straight shooter” friends and everyone needs at least one. Who else will stop you from leaving the house looking a hot mess? She’ll take one look at you, and lovingly but firmly tell you that you need to completely re-think your outfit or hairstyle or shoes.

I don’t know where I’d be without my spiritual guides, always ready with the perfect Bible verse for any situation. They remind you to keep God first, which is probably why you’ve made it as far as you have. And they will pray for you even when you don’t think you deserve it.

Oh, and we can’t forget the friend with whom you can share every dirty little secret. You already have a pact with her that if you die first, she must immediately empty your “secret” drawer and erase your browser history before telling anyone the bad news. Phew! I’m so glad I have me one of these! And she knows I’d do the same for her!

And of course, no group of friends is complete without that ride-or-die friend. She’s the one who’s got your back no matter what. If you call her upset and ready to crack some heads, her only question is “Your car or mine?” She’s always on your side, even when you’re dead wrong. She’s the A.C. to your O.J., willing to drive the white Bronco as you run from the police.

I know girlfriends can never replace a spouse or a life partner. They’re not supposed to.  But they can enhance your life is so many beautiful ways.

Yes, I love my family deeply. But God chose my family for me. I chose my friends, and they chose me. That makes our bond truly remarkable. It’s a bond of choice. We’re here for each other because we want to be. And I wouldn’t be anywhere else!

Pictures from Pixabay, onyxtruth.com, and financialjuneteenth.com

 

Coming Soon Near You: HIV Drug Ads Targeting Black Women

Whether we know it or not, we Black American women are more likely to be infected with HIV than any other women. And, we are more than twice as likely to be newly infected than Black men. Southern Black Ladies are at even more risk!

These days we do have more options. Truvada – the drug that treats HIV/AIDS – also works for prevention. Taken daily at a lower dose, healthy people can avoid contracting HIV. It’s a pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP.   But, Truvada PrEP isn’t well known among us, and many primary care providers like obgyns aren’t that familiar with the drug either.

Although PrEP was rolled out in 2012, it hasn’t caught on for a lot of reasons, especially among “us.” Well, U.S. public health officials and non-profits are out to change this. They’re on a mission to bring ads to communities, especially to African-American women, across the country.

A big challenge is not a lot of Black women are into taking a pill every day to prevent a disease they could prevent by keeping their pocket book closed or making their man wrap it up. But, PrEP is particularly appropriate for women who have infected partners – or men who refuse to wear condoms. You need to know your HIV status though, which means getting tested regularly. Having PrEP as an option makes getting tested and insisting your partner get tested regularly a little easier. A little easier… right? Not always an easy conversation to have but a necessary one.

New York City’s PrEP campaign came out over a year ago under the name “Play Sure,” aimed at the general at-risk population. The results are still being reviewed. But, it is clear African-Americans aren’t using PrEP as much as their White and Latino counterparts.

Washington, DC just rolled out their big PrEP campaign last December called “DC takes on HIV,” aimed at Black women. Women in DC are particularly at risk because 2% of residents are already HIV infected; AIDS is an epidemic there. DC’s campaign aims to have 90 percent of D.C. residents aware of their HIV status, 90 percent of D.C. residents who are diagnosed with HIV seeking treatment, another 90 percent who are already under treatment achieving viral load suppression and a 50 percent overall decrease in new HIV cases. Okay now…

The Black Women’s Health Initiative – the only organization dedicated to improving the lives and health of the U.S.’s 21 million Black women and girls – rolled out their campaign. A big message of theirs is 1 in 32 Black women will become infected with HIV.  Articles in newspapers are showing up in old school Black press like the L.A. Sentinel and elsewhere, targeting Black women.

As we roll into 2017, let’s take time to reflect and determine how we will make the new year AIDS free.