Tag Archives: Uplift Black Women

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Ready for a Black Woman VEEP?

Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States of America! That’s right, the Toddler-In-Chief currently occupying the White House, will be a one term president. The headline may be that Biden flipped five states to win 290 electoral college votes. And the subheading may be that he toppled the worst presidency in the history of the Republic with 51% of the popular vote (winning by nearly 6 million votes). But the real story, the juiciest part, is that he did it not only with unprecedented support from Black people, but with a Black woman ON THE TICKET!

Y’all, our next Vice President is a SISTA! Come January 20, 2021, the person a mere heartbeat away from the most powerful position in the world will be a BLACK WOMAN! The majority of Americans elected Senator Kamala Harris to be the new Vice President! She will be the first woman, the first Black person, and the first person of southeast Asian descent to EVER hold that office.

Wow. Just typing Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris feels sublime.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see the Biden/Harris ticket coming. Neither Biden nor Harris were my first choice at the start of the election season. In fact, after the first debate, I even posted (only kind of jokingly) “I’m gonna pissed if y’all make me vote for Biden in November”. Back then, I honestly couldn’t see Biden as the right choice to topple the Orange Menace.

Harris at least made my top three, but only barely. A deeper dive into her career in California politics did quell some of my initial reservations about her. But, I still liked other candidates better based on their platforms. You see, I’m what I call a “Primary Purist”, who ultimately “falls in line” when it comes to the General Election. In other words, I believe that you should vote for who you WANT to win during the Primary. But when it comes to the General, you vote for your party’s nominee. I never “throw away” my precious vote when my preferred candidate isn’t on the ballot.

But don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a Joe Biden enthusiast since his opposition to Robert Bork’s SCOTUS nomination in the 1980s. In hindsight, I hated his lack of support for Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings after she accused Thomas of sexual harassment. But honestly? At the time, I don’t think Biden’s failure to vigorously defend her really resonated with me. This was 1991, before the internet and 24-hour news cycles. So the nuances of what went on behind the scenes went over my head. Besides, he also co-sponsored and passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994.

Later, I loved him as former President Barack Obama’s Vice President. Although admittedly, I enjoyed him as VEEP as much for the optics of an older, white man playing “2nd fiddle” to the younger Black man as anything else. Remember all the funny “Uncle Joe” memes and jokes?

My point is, I wasn’t so much “anti-Biden” as I was just for other candidates. For me, his advanced age and firm position within the Democratic “establishment” meant he wasn’t progressive enough for me. But by the time he won the nomination, I enthusiastically supported him. Because even Biden’s old, white man centrism would be a huge improvement over the deadly debacle of 45’s administration. I would’ve voted for a dustpan to replace that dude!

Then Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. He selected a Black woman with an Asian background, who’d graduated from an HBCU (Howard University), and who is a member of the oldest Black sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., founded in 1908). He chose a BLACK WOMAN! And despite my reservations about both candidates, I got very excited.

Now some folks out there like to think of themselves as the “Gatekeepers of Blackness”. You know the ones. They always sit in judgement of who is or isn’t “Black enough” in appearance, thought, and deed. I mean, I get it. Even I have some hard and fast Blackness boundaries (i.e. Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King are NOT Black, dammit). And while I admittedly hold some pretty strong opinions about Black Card revocation when someone actually works against Black people (like Breonna Taylor prosecutor, and coon extraordinaire, Daniel Cameron), I don’t usually challenge a person’s claimed Blackness.

So some folks say Kamala isn’t really a Black woman because of her Indian mother or her white husband. I say “haters gon’ hate”. Yes, I’m sure she’s benefitted, both personally and professionally, from her light skin. But Kamala Harris is, undeniably, a Black woman.

Given today’s climate, she’ll definitely be treated like a Black woman by the nearly 73 million Amerikkkans who voted for the racist rapist responsible for more than 245,000 COVID deaths.  I shudder to think about the hate and vitriol she’ll encounter from our racist countryfolk. But this is Amerikkka, so it’s not surprising.

But for now, rather than focus on all the ways this nation has failed to adequately address it’s white supremacy problem, I choose to focus on the fact that a Black woman has shattered another glass ceiling. Even though I’m bracing for the inevitable racist backlash Harris’ election portends, I choose to celebrate that a sista will soon ascend to the highest levels of our government.

Twelve years after electing our first Black President, the citizens of the United States have elected our first Black Vice President, and she’s a woman. The politically nerdy little girl inside me celebrates this moment with unbridled joy and unfettered hope. The idealist in me sees this triumph as a win for progress.  And the 35-year Delta girl (of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the 2nd oldest Black sorority) in me sees my sister-Greek’s win as a win for us all. As our deeply divided nation slowly and painfully inches towards that “more perfect union” the Framers set out to form, I know that Kamala Harris’ ascension to the 2nd highest seat in the land means that we are, indeed, ready for a Black woman to lead.

Go get ’em, sis. We got your back!

SOPHIA’S SUNDAY UPLIFT (Good for Every Day of the Week)

Sister, as you walk your fine ass into this coming week, I want you to OWN IT! Own every inch of space you occupy and every particle of air you breathe. Own it like Senator Kamala Harris owned that mediocre-white-maleness-on-a-stick, Mike Pence in last week’s debate. (When she smiled and said “I’m speaking,” I felt that in the depths of my soul, didn’t you?) I want you to own this week like it’s about to be your best week yet!

Listen. You already know that you’re gonna have to deal with some bullshit this week, right? I mean, it’s always something these days: an idiot boss, with a tenth of your brains and even less of your talent says something sideways; or a mask-less stranger gets a little too close in public. Whatever form it takes, you know some bullshit is coming your way this week, because it always does. Especially during these turbulent times.

But it’s how you deal with the bullshit that matters. So this is your reminder to own whatever comes your way this week, because you already have the power within you to get through ANYTHING. You already have what it takes to overcome any obstacles, roadblocks, or bullshit this week throws at you.

I promise: you got this!

Think about it, Sis. You’ve already survived 100% of the bad things that have happened to you, right? So I’d say the odds are definitely in your favor that you can handle whatever bullshit this week has in store. After all, you’re already a pro at getting through tough situations. You’ve been training for this your whole life.

My point is that you’ve already proven how strong and resilient you are by simply surviving what should have taken you out the game a long time ago. You’re still here, still getting shit done, and still looking damn good doing so. That tells me that you can certainly face this coming week like the Boss you are.

So get out there and OWN this week (and stay safe and healthy while you do)!

#WearAMask #OwnItSis #BlackGirlMagic #Vote2020

 

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift (Good for Every Day of the Week)

I know someone needs this message today.

Listen. You’re way too precious to beg for time and attention, Sis. Maybe you’ve simply forgotten your worth. Maybe you’ve been so caught up in “survival mode”, trying to keep your loved ones safe and healthy, that you’ve forgotten how wonderful you are. Is that why you’ve been accepting less than you deserve? Could that be the reason you’re letting someone get away with neglecting your needs? Have you forgotten that you’re lovable and deserve only the best?

Stop accepting scraps from people who don’t appreciate your value. Notice I didn’t say they don’t recognize your value. Because they do. They know full well how amazing you are. They’re just counting on the fact that YOU don’t. They only do the bare minimum for you, knowing that you’ll gratefully accept it from them. So, stop it.

No, really. STOP IT.

First of all, let me remind you that you are more than enough just as you are … flaws, and all. You’re more than enough even with those extra pounds you picked up during quarantine, and even before you’ve completed that degree. You’re enough even though you’ve been out of work for a while, and you’re still not back on your feet. YOU ARE ENOUGH! You’re worthy and deserve only the best: the best treatment, the best loving, the best of EVERYTHING! So stop settling for less, and stop putting up with the bullshit!

Secondly, you need to take responsibility for your own happiness, Sis. It isn’t up to him, her, or them to “make” you happy. That’s on YOU. You’re more in control of your life than you realize, even now, when the world is literally burning. Seize that control and create your own joy. And when you do, you’ll realize that you don’t really need approval from all those people who underestimate and undervalue you. And the people who truly appreciate you and all your magnificence will only enhance the joy you’ve created. Never, ever depend on someone else to make you happy.

Finally, you need to make your mental and physical health a higher priority. Not only do you need to protect yourself from the pandemic, but from all of the other illnesses and ailments that can affect your quality of life. If you lack insurance or are under insured (as so many of us are), get online and research what free or low-cost services are available to you in your state, county, or city. Network with your friends and family to see what resources they use. As Black people, we really need to stop keeping all this stuff so secret, and share what works so that we can all thrive and be healthy. So go ahead and start those conversations with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from others who may be having the same hardships as you.

The bottom line, Sis, is that you’re too precious to let anyone, even yourself, treat you any old kinda way. You, and you alone, have the power to create your own joy, and divest yourself from people and situations that don’t appreciate your value. Stop accepting bad or even mediocre treatment from the people in your life,  stop looking to others for your happiness, and prioritize your mental and physical health so that you can thrive and live the life you deserve. Now, straighten your crown, hold your head high, and get out there and walk in your purpose!

 

SOPHIA’S UPLIFT: Radical Self-Acceptance, Pandemic-Style

We talk and write a lot about how this current pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health. But have we really addressed how the isolation, stress, and uncertainty of these trying times affects how we feel about ourselves? I’m not just talking about how COVID-19 has affected depression, anxiety, and other disorders, either. I’m talking about how nearly SIX MONTHS of this mess has changed the way we see ourselves.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have used the lock-down to complete a gazillion household projects, learned a new language, or baked thousands of loaves of bread. Or you may be one of those enterprising entrepreneurs who parlayed their job uncertainty into a lucrative side hustle, making more money than ever. It’s quite possible that you eat healthier, exercise every day, lost 50 pounds, and can now bench press your living room couch. You may even be proud of everything you’ve accomplished since mid-March, and your self-esteem is better than ever.

If this is you, then congratulations! And I mean that sincerely.

But, if you’re like me and millions of others, you’re more stressed, significantly fatter, and maybe even a little disgusted with how little you’ve accomplished since binge-watching The Tiger King back in the early days of this never-ending pandemic. And if you’re like us, your self-esteem has taken a beating. That’s why we all need to get back to practicing radical self-acceptance and self-care.

Radical self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop trying to improve yourself. It simply means that you love yourself as you are, flaws and all. It means you stop beating yourself up over the 17.7 pounds you’ve gained, and start embracing the fullness of your body. You can love yourself deeply and accept every inch our yourself fully, and still work at getting, looking, and feeling better.

Radical self-acceptance means that you’ll strive to do better today than you did yesterday, but also that you’re still proud of the person you were yesterday. It means that you love yourself out loud, because you can recognize where you need to improve, and still adore who you are right this minute

Speak affirmations to yourself throughout the day. Take time to pat yourself on your back for the little things you accomplish, as well as the big things. If all you managed to do today was the bare minimum of what you need to do to survive, then allow yourself enough grace for that to be okay. Be kinder to yourself. Give yourself a break. You really are doing the best you can at any given moment during any given day. And sometimes, that has to be enough.

When you get back to deeply accepting and loving yourself, you’ll no longer accept the things that don’t serve you. You’ll disengage from disrespectful and harmful people, and you’ll only embrace those who truly love and honor you. Some people will accuse you of being selfish when you love yourself enough to make YOU a top priority. They’ll resent your self-acceptance and confidence. But that’s okay. Let ’em go, Sis. Your real friends and family will be proud of you and encourage your self-love.

The people in your life who truly have your best interests at heart will celebrate your happiness and progress, not be jealous of it. So let those others go. They weren’t for you, anyway. Putting yourself first is an important step towards radical self-acceptance. Anyone who begrudges you that isn’t good for you.

You may not be where you thought you’d be by now, but you’re still here. And that’s something, especially during a pandemic. You’re here and you’re beautiful, and smart, and at ALL times, more than enough. Whether you’ve mastered working from home or not; if you’ve lost 20 pounds or gained them; or if you parlayed your side hustle into a well-paying job or you’re trying to survive on unemployment; you’re still here and you are amazing exactly as you are in this moment.

Don’t let the fallout from this pandemic or any of the other craziness happening in the world rob you of your self-esteem. Put yourself first, love yourself deeply, and accept who you are, flaws and all.

Stay safe out there and wear a mask!

#SophiasUplift #Uplift #selflove #selfacceptance #upliftBlackwomen #Blackwomen #radicalselfacceptance #radicalselflove #loveyourselfdeeply

 

SOPHIA’S WEEKEND UPLIFT: How Ya Doin’, Sis?

Hey, Sis! How ya doin’? You good? I know it’s been a minute, but I just wanted to check in and see what’s what.

These are some crazy times, right? A pandemic, mass protests, political unrest … there’s so much going on, right now! The economy sucks, the current administration seems hell-bent on killing us and stealing the election, and we can’t even get together with our friends (in person) and commiserate! I know it can be overwhelming and scary, so I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.

No, really. Are you taking care of yourself? Because I know you’re taking care of everyone else: your kids and family, your job and friends, your faith community, and all the other causes and organizations you give your time and talents to. But are you taking care of YOU?

I hope so! I know we talk about self-care a lot here at SuzyKnew! But the importance of self care can’t be overstated, especially now. Are you drinking enough water? Getting enough exercise? Enough rest? Please, Sis. Do whatever it is you need to do to take better care of you. Because we need you. The world needs you. Your loved ones need you.

We need you to not just survive, but to THRIVE! Listen. I know you’ve already been through a lot. You’ve endured so much during your short time on this planet, more than most people could ever bear. And your pain and struggles have shaped your strength and your beauty. Your survival is a testament to your fortitude.

But you’re more than just the sum total of your past pain and heartbreaks. You’re more than just a survivor and a “beater of the odds”. You are a fully-formed person, deserving of all the good things this life has to offer. Your dreams matter and you deserve to have them all come true. You’re not just here to make the world a more beautiful and loving place (though you do that so well), you’re also here to reap the benefits of that beauty and experience pure, unadulterated joy! You deserve this!

So go ahead and put yourself first for a while. Because it’s up to YOU to live a vibrant and meaningful life, filled with wonder and bliss. So use your time wisely, choose your friends carefully, and remember your dreams and your purpose. Hydrate your mind, your body, and your soul. Always be your most authentic self. And never settle for ANYTHING less than what you truly deserve.

Before I sign off, I want to talk a little bit about rest. Taking care of yourself means getting all the rest you need; not just exhausted sleep, but real, restorative REST. Your body needs rest. Your mind needs rest. And your spirit needs rest. If, in order for you to get the rest you need, you have to shut yourself off from the rest of the world for a bit, then do so. Even if it’s only for a few hours alone in your favorite room.

I know your family needs you. I know you can’t afford to miss work.  But you know what? I bet if you ask a trusted friend to watch the kids or take care of your mom for a day or so, they’d gladly step in and do it. I bet if you actually took the time off your job probably already owes you, the place will still be standing when you get back. You just have to ask: for help, time off, a break. So go ahead and ask. You deserve this.

I hope you take this advice in the loving spirit for which it’s intended. Because I do love you. You are me and I am you. And most of the time “we all we got”. I love you, Sis. So take care. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And please … be well.

All My Love,

Sophia

#selfcare #selflove #upliftBlackwomen #Blackwomen

 

ASK JANICE SPECIAL: How Ya Doin’, Sis?

How ya doin’, Sis?

It’s been a rough few months, hasn’t it? It’s as though we’ve entered a weird, combination of 1918 (global pandemic), 1929 (economic crash), and 1968 (civil unrest) all at the same time. We opened with the untimely and tragic death of NBA star Kobe Bryant; saw the Republican-led Senate vote to acquit the current occupant of the White House on two counts of impeachment; became completely obsessed with the antics of Joe Exotic and his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin (Netflix’s The Tiger King); and the ENTIRE world caught a deadly virus which shut down EVERYTHING.

As a result of the COVID-19 virus, the economy tanked, causing millions to lose their livelihoods; states issued “stay-at-home” orders to stem the spread of the deadly virus, forcing us all indoors; then, armed civilian militias stormed state capitols to protest the stay-at-home orders; murder hornets are headed to the U.S. and a giant asteroid is headed towards earth; and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of racists and George Floyd at the hands of (under the knee of) racist police officers sparked massive protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality WORLDWIDE.

And it’s only June! I mean, really, 2020 has been a wild ride!

So, I ask you again: how ya doin’, Sis?

Because we all know that Black women, in particular often bear the brunt of all the craziness going on in the world. For example, the racial disparities in health care alone make us more vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. We all know Black women who either couldn’t get tested or were denied quality care during this pandemic. And don’t even get me started on the covert and overt racism we experience on a daily basis. From the irritating microaggressions we grin and bear from our white colleagues to the “Karens” who want to call the manager/police/anyone-in-charge on us for simply existing in our Black skin, we catch Hell even during the good times. And these are not good times, are they, Sis?

So how are you? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you drinking enough water? Are you exercising and eating healthy? How are YOU?

I ask because I know you, Sis. I know how hard you work for your family and your people. I see you out there at these protests making sure people have enough water and masks, keeping track of everyone’s kids, putting yourself between the police and your husband, brother, son. I see YOU!

I see you driving around making sure your elderly relatives and friends have enough food, water, and toilet paper when they can’t go to the stores because of the virus. I know you’re helping the kids keep up with their schoolwork so that they don’t fall behind during the pandemic. I see you using what little spare time you have left to sew masks for your friends and to donate.  I see you out there taking care of everybody.

But, Sisters! If ever there was a time to make your own well-being a priority, it’s NOW! Because this is a marathon, not a sprint. We Black women already know that without us, this entire society that’s really a house of cards built on a shaky foundation would crumble. Or get burned to the ground. So we have to stay strong and be ready for the long haul.

That means you MUST take care of yourself. Drink more water. Exercise. Meditate and pray. Eat right. Laugh with friends. Make love. And take time out of every single day to center yourself and YOUR needs.

You can’t pour from an empty vessel, Sister. You’ll be no good to the people you love if you don’t take good care of yourself. So, if that means you have to skip the next march, then so be it. Let others march in your place. If you need to unplug from cable news and social media for a while, then do it. I promise, it’ll all be there when you get back. If you have to turn off your phone for a few hours every evening, then do so. Give yourself permission to stop, be still, and find some peace.

We’re only halfway through 2020, and there’s still so much work to do. Here in the U.S., we have an election coming that will determine what our country will look like for decades to come. We don’t know if our kids will be learning online or returning to the classroom. We have an economy to repair, deaths to properly mourn and funeralize, and a lot of healing to do. We’ve also got to keep the momentum from these protests going and set about making real and lasting policy changes. And that’s just a partial list.

So please take care of yourself, Sis. Put yourself first for a while. Take a break. Take a nap. Take a bath. Take a breath. Take care of you so that you can be battle-ready for the days, weeks, and months ahead.

I know 2020 has been a lot … but we got this. We will win.

Stay healthy and safe.

#BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForBreonna #SayHerName #BlackWomenMatter #BlackGirlMagic

 

SOPHIA’S INSPIRATION: Self Forgiveness by Sophia Ned-James

Ladies! Let’s talk about Self Forgiveness!

For many of us, the forgiveness of others and the forgiveness of our God are the cornerstones of our belief systems. We’re taught from a very young age that to forgive is divine, and that we should forgive others as God forgives us.

But what about forgiving ourselves? What about showing ourselves a little grace for our stumbles? I’ve noticed that, for women especially, self forgiveness is a lot easier said than done.

Why is that, though? Why is it so hard for us to forgive ourselves? Why do we, as Black women, spend so much time beating up on ourselves for the mistakes we made in the past?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, though I’m pretty sure the reasons are layered and deeply rooted in the perpetuation of white supremacy and patriarchy. Because everything seems to be layered and deeply rooted in the perpetuation of white supremacy and patriarchy. But that’s a discussion for another day and another column.

The point I’m trying to make is that whatever our reasons for holding these forever grudges against ourselves, we need to stop! Black women especially need to learn to forgive ourselves as readily as we forgive others, and as completely as God forgives us. Period!

Sisters, it’s so important that you make peace with your past, and then let it go. You are so much more than whatever awful things you did back then. Your mistakes don’t have to define you, so stop giving them so much space in your head.

Listen. Everyone messes up, sometimes! So stop being so hard on yourself! Learn from your errors, do better next time, and move on with your life. Focus on where you’re going, and leave where you’ve been in the rear window.

2020 has been hard enough, already. A global pandemic is wreaking havoc on humanity and you’re doing the absolute best that you can. So show yourself a little grace and let those past mistakes and stumbles go. You’re not the same person you were, so love and forgive yourself for who you are in this moment. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Stay safe and healthy. And be kind to yourself!

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

ASK JANICE CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL: Black Women Already Understand Racial Bias In Medicine, Why Don’t You?

I just had a brief Facebook exchange with a white woman (a friend of a friend) that perfectly shows why Black women must always fight to keep our voices and experiences from being erased. Our mutual friend had posted yet another article about a Black woman who was denied COVID-19 testing THREE times, and ultimately died from the virus. These stories have been popping up all over the place, especially in the hardest hit areas. And they clearly show the rampant racial bias that has always existed in our health care system.

The conversation that followed the article was mostly about how this current pandemic has truly highlighted the huge disparities between the medical treatment of Black people, and Black women, in particular, and everyone else. We all lamented the fact that too often, Black women’s pain and symptoms are ignored because of the implicit bias of medical professionals; and how this happens to Black women regardless of their education levels or socioeconomic status.

In fact the original poster is one of my best friends, and is a highly educated physician who lives in a wealthy neighborhood. But when her COVID-19 symptoms became life-threatening and she had to call an ambulance, the EMTs tried their hardest to talk her out of going. They repeatedly dismissed her symptoms and kept telling her that the hospital would probably send her home. It took another physician friend who was on speakerphone to convince them to take my friend to the hospital, where she was admitted, after all. Thankfully, she was released after a few days, and is recovering comfortably home. Praise God.

Anyway, I pointed out how frustrating it is for Black women to basically have to submit a resume and bank statement when recounting these experiences. It’s as if, for the benefit of the white sympathy, we have to prove our “worth” as humans to get them to understand that we get discriminated against because we are Black and female, regardless of our backgrounds and income. As if it’s okay to discriminate against poor and uneducated Black women. Which, of course, it isn’t. No one should face discrimination when seeking medical care.

It’s the same thing that happens when a young Black, unarmed person is murdered by the police. We always feel compelled to point out that he was a good student with a promising future. In reality, no one deserves to be gunned down, regardless of how they do in school, or where they live, or how much money they have.

But I digress.

Where my doctor friend’s white friend (whom I’d met years ago when they were in medical school together – she’s very nice, btw) made me grit my teeth was when she said,”I think that women, in general, are often dismissed and being a woman of color magnifies that”.

Y’all.

She just “All Lives Mattered” the very specific discrimination that Black women face in health care! Not only that, but she lumped Black women in with all women of color, which is another HUGE pet peeve of mine (more on that in a second).

Listen. I will be the first to admit that all women face discrimination. Full stop. How-some-ever (as the aunties used to say) … there is absolutely no scenario, situation, or circumstance where white women face the same level of discrimination as Black women. Not here in the good ol’ U. S. of A., and not ANYWHERE else on this planet!! I don’t care how much Becky and Karen have to deal with, it pales (see what I did there?) in comparison to what Black women face EVERY SINGLE DAY.

(In fact, have y’all seen how, all across the internet, white women have been claiming that them being called Karen is the same as a Black person being called the n-word? Whew! The nerve! But that’s worthy of a whole separate post, because there is so much to unpack and discuss. Again, I digress.)

And people really need to stop saying “women of color” when they mean Black women. Because again, Black women face way more discrimination than women from any other racial or ethnic group. And more often than not, those other groups treat Black women like shit, too. All while appropriating our vernacular, our style, our swagger, and everything else that’s glorious about us.

That is why I never refer to myself as a woman of color, anymore. Not when those other colors treat me just as badly as some white folks do. No thank you. I am a Black woman. Period. And when you are referring to any kind of statistics, trends, studies, or whatever that measure how women are treated, you need to make sure you separate the experiences of Black women from every other category. Because our experiences are not that same.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in solidarity with ALL women on many issues, like equal pay, reproductive freedom, and any number of important things. I’m all for gender solidarity as long as Black women’s voices are heard and heeded. But what I won’t do is allow for the erasure or dilution of Black women’s experiences. Nor will I let ANY comment, turn of phrase, or post that attempts to do so go unchallenged.

I’ll close with a quote from the late Malcolm X: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” He said that in 1962, and it has never been more true than today.

Wash your hands and stay healthy!

 

ASK JANICE CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL: Have You Cyber-Partied With Your Girlfriends, Yet?

As we wrap up another Women’s History Month amidst a global pandemic that has us all doing some form of “social distancing”, I want to celebrate the tenacity and ingenuity of friendships between Black women. Even in the face of “shelter in place” and mandatory quarantines, sistas are gonna find a way to celebrate each other … together.

That’s because Black women have a long and storied history of “making a way out of no way”. So if we decide to co-opt various teleconferencing apps to have cocktails and dance parties with each other in the face of impending doom, then that’s what we’re gonna do!

Listen. We’re all stressed these days. This latest coronavirus, COVID-19 (or “the Rona”), has changed everything. Every single day, we’re losing our loved ones to this insidious disease. Here in the U.S., thanks to the abysmal response of the current occupant of the White House, we’re seeing our death toll rise exponentially every day. Of course it’s hitting Black communities especially hard. You know that old saying, “When America gets a cold, Black people get pneumonia?” Well, that’s never been more true than now.

At this point, I don’t even know anyone who hasn’t been personally touched by this virus. It’s bad, y’all. Really bad. And the fact that we haven’t even peaked yet is terrifying! So it’s more critical than ever that we all abide by the “shelter in place” rules so that we can stop the spread. Which means no Happy Hour meetups, no brunches, no in-person socializing with our favorite friends.

But … what that Rona NOT gone do is stop a sista from getting that all-important, rejuvenating, re-charging, gut-busting-laughter-filled time with her girlfriends! We have the technology to stay connected, even as we responsibly “social distance” ourselves from each other. And Black women everywhere are taking full advantage of it!

This past weekend, my social media was absolutely buzzing with women sharing pictures of their Zoom cocktail parties, their Skype brunches, and other online group events. Also, thanks to a few famous DJs going viral with hours-long Instagram and Facebook Live parties, folks were having full-blown dance parties with their friends, all from the safety of their own homes!

And boy, do we need some fun, right now! I mean, there’s only so much gloom and doom we can take. It’s been a relief to turn off the president’s lies and cyber-party with my girls. We’ve shared cocktails, danced, laughed, and cried together … even though we’re forced to be apart. These virtual get-togethers have given me LIFE, and I can’t imagine doing this quarantine thing without them.

So if you haven’t done so yet, check out platforms like Zoom or other web conferencing options, and gather your girls for a cyber-party! They’re easy to use and totally worth the effort. We need our girlfriends, ladies! Remember … in today’s world, sometimes “we all we got”!

Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy!

#datrona #COVID19 #sistafriends #girlfriends #cyberparty #getyourgrooveon #blackwomen

The Grace To Fail By Sophia Ned-James

The recent demise of Senator Kamala Harris’ U.S. presidential bid got me thinking about how Black women and other women of color are rarely ever allowed to “fail up”. White men do it all the time! You need look no further than the current occupant of the White House for the most glaring example of this.

Even Black men are allowed to “fail up”, or at the very least, are afforded enough redemption to make money. Yes, Black men have it a lot harder than white men, because of white supremacy. But for every Colin Kaepernick that can’t catch a break, there are 10 Chris Browns out here flourishing. Yes, the same Chris Brown who has a nasty habit of beating up women is still out here selling out shows. That’s how patriarchy works.

Black women and other WOC don’t have it like that. Senator Harris, the only Black woman in a ridiculously large field of Democratic presidential candidates, certainly didn’t get to “fail up”. Hers wasn’t the only campaign with organizational and money issues. Yet she still suspended her run for the presidency way sooner than many of her lower polling, lesser known white male counterparts. Even if, as some hope and predict, she ends up on the ticket as the vice presidential nominee, that she “had to” quit so soon is telling.

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking about how Black women and other WOC don’t get to “fail up” the way that men do. And I realized that a big part of the reason for this is that we don’t allow ourselves to do so. We’re our own harshest critics, and are often the loudest voices telling us what we can’t or shouldn’t do.

I really wish that Black women, in particular, gave ourselves the number of chances that mediocre white men give themselves. After all, we’ve proven time and time again that, when it comes to beating the odds, Black women truly are undefeated. By the time most of us reach adulthood, we’ve learned how to make a way out of no way and overcome obstacles that would have flattened anyone else.

Yet, when we make mistakes in our careers, our families, or in life itself, we beat up on ourselves harder than anyone else. Sure, we pick ourselves back up and keep it moving, but we often carry the baggage of those mistakes with us, limiting how far we allow ourselves to go.

I just think we need to get better at forgiving ourselves for the stumbles we make in life. I mean, aren’t we supposed to learn and grow from our mistakes? Aren’t we often better people for them? So why are we so hard on ourselves?

Today I implore you to allow yourself the grace and freedom to make mistakes and grow. You are the sum total of your experiences, both positive and negative. You wouldn’t even be YOU without the tears you’ve shed, the pain you’ve felt, or the stupid stuff you’ve done.

Mistakes and pitfalls are part of the process and integral to your journey. You’re stronger because of them. You’re better equipped to take on even tougher challenges because of them. Now you only need to believe that you’ll ultimately win because of them.

So when you fall, pick yourself back up and reach higher. Don’t just keep it moving, keep it moving on up (cue The Jeffersons’ theme song here). When you reach one goal, aim even higher for your next one. And when you reflect on your life, be sure to celebrate the fullness of your journey, because you couldn’t have gotten where you are without being where you’ve been.

We all fail sometimes. That’s just how life goes. But as Black women and other WOC, we have to realize that we can “fail up”, too. We can falter and then climb higher. Because we really are that amazing.