All Articles Tagged "black women"

When Black Women Attack Each Other: The Problems With Kim Lute’s ‘Problem With Black Women’ Essay

April 22nd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Yesterday, the Huffington Post published a piece from accomplished writer Kim Lute called “The Problem With Black Women.” In it, Lute, a lighter complected woman, talks about how she’s struggled to make and maintain friendships with darker skinned, Black women all her life.

She makes it known early in the essay, which you should definitely read in full, that she sympathizes with darker skinned women who have had to bare the burden of colorism. But she always explains that there are struggles on the lighter side of the spectrum too.

The unwritten rule is that the darkest women are the most burdened while lighter black women are, I suppose, damned to “house Negro problems” that equate to mere hiccups in days that are perpetually long with happiness, job promotions and our pick of viable suitors.

But not only that, Lute asserts that one of the biggest issues with being a lighter skinned woman is the rift it’s created between herself and her darker-skinned sisters.

I’m going out of my cotton-picking mind trying to convince my darker sisters that I’m not their competitor, and that loving who I am, and what I look like, isn’t a condemnation of darker women.

The meat, and perhaps, most problematic part, of the essay came when she described why her relationships with Black women have failed in the past.

The unvarnished truth lies somewhere between my own emotional hang-ups and the fact that most of the darker black women I’ve met are competitive, strident, pushy and critical of my decisions. As such, it’s been easier to socialize with those women who value my friendship without stipulations and constant backtalk. Thus, my friendships with white women are neat, unfettered and based solely on our likes and dislikes. And instead of forcing my friendship on black women who want nothing to do with me, I’ve allowed my other relationships to develop organically even if it meant there was a glaring absence of color that would cause my ancestral foremothers to spin in their unmarked graves.

Though her life has been mostly devoid of long-lasting Black friendships, it’s still something she desires.

In fact, every time I see a gaggle of darker black girlfriends I can’t help but long for their camaraderie, their sincere compatibility. Over the years, I’ve had numerous friendships with black women of all shades but only a precious few resulted in true amity and enlightenment. Sadly, most of these “friendships” were beset with backstabbing, hurtful rumors and instances of fierce rivalry from both sides.Have I ever encountered these same headaches with my non-black girlfriends? Of course, but black women have disappointed me in far larger numbers than white women. Could it be my fault that I don’t have black social circles? Likely.

Then, in perhaps one of the most illuminating parts of the piece Lute talks about growing up in a house where her mother doted on and praised her darker-skinned sister.

To grow up in the shadow of a sister who is forever deemed smarter, more accomplished, prettier and more popular has certainly instilled prejudices that I’m ashamed to own, and have been slow to acknowledge. 

And at the end, Lute asks herself some very necessary questions.

Is my lack of black girlfriends due to my childhood? Or am I naively assuming my interests are exclusive to white women? Or is it because I’ve allowed other’s preconceived notions about darker black women to wedge a divide between us?

Whew, girl!

Honestly, I feel sorry for Kim and I believe her when she says she doesn’t have Black friends. Because if she did, and ran this pitch by them, certainly one of them would have suggested it wasn’t the best idea.

First, the title alone is hard for any Black woman to swallow. And though reading is fundamental and you can’t always judge a piece by the title, it seems that Kim is trying to distance herself from the group to which she claims to proudly belong.

Sadly, the rest of that essay follows in that same vein. Though I doubt this was her intention, the essay reads just like every other attack on Black women from the mainstream media. Ironically, these are also the same sentiments Black men share when they explain why they don’t date Black women. You’ve heard them before and you read them again in the excerpts, Black women are “strident”, a nice synonym for loud, “critical”, “pushy” and offer “constant backtalk.”

I can’t help but wonder if Kim is lacking Black friends because she’s grossly unaware of the challenges Black women face in this world and the attacks that have been lodged against us for centuries now. What else could explain her reliance and rehashing of these racist, and frankly, misogynistic stereotypes? As nicely as she tried to package this, her essay was yet another attack on Black women. And in addition to being especially hurtful coming from one of our own, it’s also terribly unoriginal. While I believe we need to have more open and honest discussions about colorism, one in which character attacks are lobbed, only serve to escalate an already monstrous problem.

Then to drive the point home further, Kim expounds on the ways in which her friendships with White women are better because they’re neat and free.

I hope I’m not reaching when I say that our friendships with other Black women are more likely to involve honest conversation and critique because, the behavior of your fellow Black woman, for better or worse, is oftentimes a direct reflection on you as a Black woman. White women, thanks to White privilege, are able to live more individualistic lives because they are the majority and the actions of one rarely negatively affect the image of the whole group. Furthermore, if you’re invested in that woman’s growth and development, there is bound to be “backtalk” when she talks to you about decisions with which you don’t agree, regardless of race.

And that’s what I mean about her piece having a misogynistic undertone. The notion that your friend, a grown woman with a mind, should be seen and not heard when you tell her something is ridiculous.

As I stated, the most insightful part of the essay came when Kim revealed that her sister, who was darker complected was her mother’s favorite. Childhood baggage and projection are real. And I wonder if the deep rooted issues that prompted this essay would have been better written in a diary or discussed with a therapist. (And believe me, that’s no ‘Black people don’t do therapy shade. A lot of us could benefit.) In short, this just wasn’t right for this forum, where readers, like myself, have to search and scrounge for the good intent in and behind this piece.

At the end of the day though, it does truly seem like Kim would like to have genuine, Black, female friendships. And as someone who has benefitted immeasurably from my friendships with Black women, I hope she gets to experience that incomparable sisterhood.

College-Educated Black Women Can’t “Get Ahead” Because They “Marry Down”

April 21st, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Ever heard of “assortative mating”? It’s just a fancy term for marrying a spouse with a similar educational background. And according to Quartz, college-educated Black women better jump on the assortative mating bandwagon. They’re losing out on attaining a higher household income because they’re “marrying down.”

The concept is simple, really: assortative mating brings forth greater income because two college graduates multiply household earnings by two in comparison to households with less-educated couples. Marrying within your educational achievement bracket also paves the way for better intergenerational mobility:

“Families with two college graduates will have more money to invest in their children and may be able to afford private K-12 schools or homes in top-notch school districts. They are also more likely to have jobs offering greater flexibility, allowing them to better balance work and family life,” Quartz said.

Of course, on the flip side, less educated households face work insecurity, paltry pay, and limited access to quality education for their kids.

But Quartz points to one factor that affects assortative mating patterns — race.

Black women face more difficulties seeking a mate of their educational ilk in comparison to White women “…because of racist attitudes to inter-marriage.” Those are Quartz’s words, quoting a study from sociologist Phillip N. Cohen, not mine.

Just 49 percent of Black women marry a well-educated spouse. Compare this to a whopping 89 percent of White women.

Here’s a look at the racial landscape of bachelor’s degree holders in America: 37 percent of White women have a BA, followed by 29 percent of White men, 23 percent of Black women, and 16 percent of Black men, according to Quartz’s analysis.

“The chance for a college graduate to marry another college graduate is likely to be greater if there are more marriages across race lines, since this will expand the pool of potential mates. This is especially true for those from minority racial groups,” Quartz adds.

The Black population, though, is least likely to cross racial lines to marry.

As a result, the costs of “marrying down” are high. “Black women who marry less-educated men have lower household incomes, to the tune of almost $25,000 a year,” Quartz said.

While Black women (and men) are dragged down my various other factors such as school quality, criminal justice, college access, wealth gaps, segregation and discrimination, Quartz says that assortative mating — or lack there of — contributes to the racial disparity.

“There has been progress towards a ‘post-racist’ society, we are still a long way short of a “post-racial” one,” Quartz concludes.

“It Makes For Awkward Conversation”: What It’s Like To Be A 30-Year-Old Virgin

April 14th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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You can run, but you can’t hide. There seems to be no escape from it. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s sex!

Sex! Sex! Sex! It’s everywhere you turn, on billboards, in movies, in music (and in music videos); and if I see another viral YouTube video of animals humping I’m going to scream! We are truly living in an oversexed and over-twerked society.

But there are a few of us still meandering around the universe who remain untouched and free from penetration. To put it plain and simple, we are the virgins of the world (cue dramatic sound effect, “bum bum buuuuuum!”). According to the Center For Disease Control’s Health Statistics Report, four percent of the population here in the United States are, in fact, virgins. Since Millennials (men and women born between 1980-2000) are now the largest generation in the United States, and those born at the beginning of this generation are in their early to mid-thirties, it is safe to say that of that four percent, quite a few of those virgins are in their thirties.

The Dirty Thirty. It’s an age where your concept of what being old is has changed because you are now at the age you once thought was on the precipice of old. You are finally making strides in your career while your student loan payments are devouring your income. You are getting a grasp on your life goals and have set a plan in motion to achieve them. The idea of becoming a responsible adult begins to set in, and the pressure of settling down becomes a reality. With all of the adulthood responsibilities your thirties bring, a few women have added “maintaining abstinence” to their list.

Erica, 34, and Jasmine, 32, are both virgins. Erica and Jasmine have obtained graduate level degrees and have successfully advanced in their careers. I must admit I have known these women for quite some time and didn’t even realize that they’ve never had sex. This confidentiality is mainly because many virgins don’t discuss their virginity with people. Erica says, “The only discomfort I have is sharing the information sometimes. In the past, people got weird when I told them I was a virgin, so I stopped sharing. Interestingly, people like to tell me their sexual history, which I’m okay with, but at times; they talk, I listen.”

Jasmine feels the same way. As she puts it, “I’ve been in situations where I’ll be talking with a group of friends and the conversation turns to sex and people share their experiences. I don’t have any so I’ll be quiet. If it’s at a party or something, I may excuse myself.”

Both women made their decision to remain virgins early in life and want to have something to give to their future husband after saying “I do.” Erica says that she made this decision after watching the way sex affected the lives of those around her when she was young:

“I originally decided that I wanted to wait until I was married when I was in high school. I saw too many people making risky, and life-altering decisions based on sex, not realizing the full consequences of their actions until it was too late. I felt like I had a better chance of having a future if I waited. So I made a private commitment to God that I would wait. No one made me do it. Nothing formal. Just a prayer.  I’ve decided to remain a virgin because now I know that the person that I share myself with is going to be someone that will be a part of my life forever. With such a strong connection as that, I want that person to remain in my life and be welcomed in it. I want that person to be my husband.”

Jasmine’s decision originated from what she learned growing up in the church:

“I was raised in the church and was taught that sexual intercourse was reserved for marriage. Over time, I took more ownership of it. I didn’t just stay a virgin because I was told to, but I stayed because I wanted to reserve myself for my husband. I thought This guy is going to be the love of my life, of course, I’d want him to have what no one else has had. It became a personal choice for me.”

Shakia, 27, is the founder of the Bare.Bold&Beautiful Movement and author of an upcoming book that focuses on her decision to be a virgin, as well as the journey of nine other women who have made a similar decision.

“I decided to write my book on my abstinence experience when people were continually shocked that I was a virgin. People’s first response after being informed that I’m a virgin is usually, ‘No you’re not,’ justifying their claim by pointing out the way I dress or my outgoing attitude. Then there are people who are confused and ask, ‘But why? You’re pretty’ as if every virgin is a virgin because no one desires them. I began to realize that my look and attitude did not fit the idea of a virgin that many had. So, I decided to share my journey and give a new face, dress and attitude to the virgin. As readers are invited on my journey of abstinence they will realize that I have had plenty of guys who were willing to introduce me to the pleasures of sex and that I have even had to suppress my own urges when my body’s desires were not aligned with my decision. I want to make it clear that there are women and men who are adult virgins not because we are not desired by the opposite sex, but for reasons that all drive the choice that we have made.”

But despite all the shock, confusion, and the lack of support for this major decision at times, many virgins can find and thrive in relationships with people who applaud and respect their choice. Jasmine, who is currently in a serious relationship, is lucky enough to have that in her life.

“I am currently in a relationship. He, like most guys I’ve talked to in the past, was a bit shocked, but he thinks it is a very good decision. He said right after I told him, ‘You are the smartest woman I know.’ With him, I don’t feel any pressure. He’s also marriage minded. We’ve talked about having sex, and he is fine with waiting until the wedding night. He actually keeps me on track.”

I, too, am like these women. I have decided to maintain my virginity until I get married. And though sharing this gift with my future husband is ideal, my decision to wait has more to do with the gift I have chosen to give myself. We all have been given one life to live and the personal choices we make shape the very essence of our lives. We virgins of the world, the four percent, are taking ownership of our bodies, our options and standing by what makes us happy (and our values) in a world where sex is everywhere and in everything.

Jealous Much? Why Comparing Yourself To Your Friends Is A Recipe For Disaster

April 10th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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comparing yourself to your friends


We don’t do it intentionally. At least, I hope we don’t. But sometimes as women, we find ourselves competing with our girlfriends. Not that we’re racing to some invisible rite of passage type of finish line (first one to the altar gets bragging rights for life!). This competition is more about an unspoken comparison. If we’re not careful, trying to figure out where our lives stack up by comparing it to the lives of our girlfriends can lead to jealousy. The unhealthy kind.

It can range from the petty – Damn, her nail polish game is on point today! Why didn’t I think of putting those colors together? – to the more consequential – Why can’t I be as forgiving as she is? What’s wrong with me? It’s a definite the-grass-is-greener complex and if we’re in tune with our deeper selves, we can recognize that this comparison game is really our inner monolog talking. It’s that little voice in our head that likes to critique our flaws and shortcomings to the nth degree.

It’s not that we’re not happy for our friends when they’re on the up and up. We don’t secretly hope for their demise ‘cause, well, then we wouldn’t exactly be friends, would we? We know the blood, sweat and tears they put into getting that promotion, maintaining their marriage, and scrimping and saving for that dream vacation. We were there during the process, after all, and if we’re halfway decent friends, we were supportive along the way.

But if we long for some of the same things in our own lives and come up empty-handed, we can’t help but compare. It’s easy to forget their long, work-filled road when all we want is to be where we want to be, and with a quickness. We respect and admire our friends, after all, but assume we should always be on equal footing. That’s not exactly how things work in the real world. We’re individuals on our own unique paths, making our own unique choices. The same can be said for our friends. Therefore, comparing situations is futile. It can lead to unnecessary stress, tension, and unhappiness.

Maybe the source of this competitive vibe can be blamed on living in a fast-paced, get-everything-now, me, me, me society. Perhaps we’re still reliving old pain we’ve never fully healed from – the abusive ex we let destroy our self-esteem, the parent we were never good enough for. These things have a way of interfering with our everyday lives and affecting our most treasured relationships years later. But no matter the circumstance, when we compare ourselves to our friends, we fall into a woe-is-me attitude and not only is that tiring, but it’s also played out.

It’s enough that as Black women, we are constantly pitted against one another in the media. We’re perceived as difficult, argumentative, demanding, cat-fighting, back-stabbing…I’ll stop there. None of us want to bring that kind of drama and chaos into our personal lives–we’d much rather watch it on TV. I’m not suggesting that comparing ourselves to our friends will send us down some desperate, real, or whatever kind of housewife path. I’m simply acknowledging that friendship, real friendship, isn’t a competition. If we can be better friends to ourselves, we can in turn be better to our friends.

Speaking for myself, I know my tendency to compete with my girlfriends comes from feelings of inadequacy. That feeling had been triggered at times when friends succeeded in one way or another. I would feel as if, welp, she got the last helping of goodness. Since there’s none left for me, I might as well quit while I’m ahead. Where’s Iyanla to fix my life when I need her?

I was happy for my friends, no doubt, but wanted a sort of success by association. Ludicrous, I know. Before long, I was mad at friends for simply being their brilliant selves. What kind of sense does that make? And if I was in a funky rut – forget about it. I expected my friends to be stuck down in the dumps with me, too. That’s hardly fair or sensible.

Instead of wasting time feeling sorry for myself, I now choose to see my beautiful, thriving, dust yourself off and try again friends as examples of the greatness I can and will achieve. They inspire me to be my best self, not compare my worth and value to their own fulfillment.

The Challenges Black Women Face In Wealth-Building

April 9th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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The median net worth for Black women in America, according to a recent report from the Survey of Consumer Finances, is a dismal $100. If they are raising children, forget it. They have no wealth at all. The Sacramento Observer delves into why women of color face difficulties in building wealth.

In the years since the onset of the Great Recession, Black women are the only group that have not regained the jobs they lost before the economic downturn. In fact, the unemployment rate has actually risen for Black women — from 8.2 percent in December to 9.2 percent.

Black women, in particular, were hit hard by the stagnating economy because the recession dragged the service and public sectors, where African-American women are overrepresented, into a downsizing frenzy. On top of that, as the cost of living continues to rise, wage growth is at a standstill.

“Even if wages had been growing, the wage gap persists – and not even education can bridge the chasm. Consider: Black women with master’s degrees earn slightly less than Black men with bachelor’s, and White men, Asians, and Latinos with associates or post-secondary degrees,” SacObserver added, referring to the 2013 Census Population Survey.

With this wage disparity, Black women do not possess enough disposable income to risk putting their hard-earned money into strategic investments such as real estate, stocks, appreciating valuables (e.g. wines and collectibles), and businesses.

As a result, Black women do not have a legacy to pass on to their children. Wealth in America is mainly acquired through inheritance above all else. “When people say Black people are somehow inferior, or are doing something wrong as to why they don’t have wealth, that is completely wrong,” William Darity, an economics professor at Duke University, said.

A high net worth cushions Americans from unexpected expenditures. This allows families to be less reliant on individual paychecks for financial security. “For those who lack wealth, they find themselves in precarious, vulnerable situations… and those faced by Black women are perhaps more severe,” Darity said.

A quarter of Black American women over the age of 65, SacObserver added, rely on Social Security benefits as their only source of income.

When living paycheck to paycheck fails, entitlement programs are the only safety nets that are preventing middle and lower class families from falling into destitution.

The Atlantic said it best: “The poor spend relatively more on what will keep them alive, because they must, and the rich spend more on what will keep them rich, because they can.”

Black People Do Hike

April 6th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Black people do hike

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When my new friend suggested that I go hiking, I thought she was mad.

I am not Reese Witherspoon and this is not the film, Wild. The only hike I have ever been on was on the trails in the Wissahickon in Philly (which are beautiful by the way). And the longest hike I have ever been a part of was when I didn’t have enough bus fare to get me from downtown Philadelphia to my house. Now she wanted me to scale a mountain with her in the Southern Drakensberg part of South Africa.

She must be mad.

Plus, we all know that Black people don’t hike.

She laughed, “That’s madness. I’m Black and I hike.”

I gave her a massive side-eye. “You are an Indian from Calcutta and you live in Canada.”

She laughed again, “But in South Africa, I’m considered Black so there is that.”

Okay, questionable racial designations aside, there was just no way she was getting me out on the trails. As stated earlier: Black people just don’t hike. It has always been an unwritten rule – sort of like, White men can’t jump or dance or have bad credit. The point is that for many of us, hiking is not something we consider a good time. We like beaches and hot water in warm hotel rooms and room service; none of which exist out in the wild. A hike for many of us is climbing the stairs to the second floor of a home after getting a glass of soda out of the refrigerator. The only use many of us have for a Land Rover is to transport our friends and all of the fresh new gear we just picked up from the mall. And as for camping, that’s what we do in front of the television when Empire comes on.

In fact, not one of history’s greatest land and sea explorers, including Lewis and Clark, Marco Polo, and even Dudley Do-Right, the Canadian ranger from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, are Black people. And according to a recent survey by the Outdoor Foundation, out of the 142 million people who enjoyed outdoor recreation in 2012 (that is up by 800,000 since 2011), 70 percent of those people were White people.

Not to bring our ancestors into all of this, but I’m convinced that Martin Luther King Jr. did not march and Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X did not fight the power so that I could go “roughing it” out somewhere in the dirty wilderness. That sounds too much like oppression to me.

“What about the San people who have lived along those trails and mountains for at least a century? They’re Black and basically they hike.”

Good point.

But I’m a city girl who freaks out when I see a mouse or even a roach. What am I going to do when I cross paths with a snake? Or worse, a serval cat (wild cat) or jackal? Also, what do I wear? What do I bring? I don’t even have the right gear. The only shoes I brought with me to Africa were a pair of Pumas, which I do Zumba in, and a pair of Betsey Johnson fashion boots, which aren’t exactly functional, but look damn good with a short skirt. I felt totally unprepared for this journey, especially compared to everyone else who was all geared up. I did not have the time nor money for such a trip.

And as noted in the Outdoor Foundation’s report, I had a good reason to feel that way. While lack of skill and a general lack of interest remain the top two reasons why people avoid outdoor recreations like hiking, the cost associated with these activities is not that far behind. The average annual salary for someone who participates in outdoor sports, like hiking, is above $75,000 a year. You would need to make that much to pay for all the expensive gear needed for such excursions. A good pair of hiking boots can run you a couple hundred dollars. And let’s not forget backpacks, weather-proof clothing, tents, walking sticks, hiking tours guides, and other camping gear necessities.

And then there are the park fees. Most national parks and conservatories require permits for entry. These fees may be necessary to help pay for the upkeep of these beautiful landscapes, but they can also act as a deterrent to a family on a fixed income – like myself. When you consider all of that, you can kind of understand why many people think hiking is a rich – and White – person’s sport.

“You don’t really need all of that,’ she said. “Just throw on some comfortable shoes and warm clothing. You can’t let what we’re supposed to do and have stop you from having this experience.”

Another great point. At best, I would have a good time doing something I had never done before. At neutral, I would have a nice quiet weekend sitting cozily in a log cabin by the mountains while my friends hit the great outdoors. And the worst thing that could happen is that I would fall off a ridge and get my arm stuck between two boulders, only to have to chew it off after 72 hours of being trapped by my lonesome.

However, in the words of Drake, you only live once and that is what I intended to do. YOLO.

There were five of us who decided to hike through to the Sani Pass trails in the KwaZulu-Natal province of Southern Drakensberg. As no surprise to me, I was the only non-Indian Black person who took part in the hike. In fact, upon our arrival at both the park and the lodge, I would be the only Black face seen for miles, with the exception of domestic help and lodge staff, who lived a ways away. Not only would I have to endure an entire weekend of White people smiling awkwardly, but I would also have to endure curious stares from some of the Black people who wondered what the hell was I doing out there with those crazy White folks.

The lack of Black faces – both indigenous and foreign – reminded me of the scene in Darkest Austria, a great mockumentary that harpoons the National Geographic anthropology specials on tribal cultures. In the mockumentary, ethnologist Kayonga Kagame points out the peculiarity of White people hiking, or basically walking through the wilderness, as recreation. Basically, he notes that indigenous folks do not walk long distances in rough terrains for fun–they do it out of necessity.

And yet there was my Black behind, standing at the mouth of the park about to go hiking. For a second, I thought about turning around and “hiking” back to the lodge. However, when I saw the park itself, every fear I had in me seemed to vanish. To say that the park was absolutely beautiful is an understatement. It was definitely something I had never seen in Philly or anywhere else in the world I’d traveled to for that matter. There were plush green mountains and clear fresh water so clean that you could drink right from the stream. There were big blue skies and fluffy white clouds. And then there was the silence. No car horns, no loud conversations coming from cell phones and no blaring televisions dishing bad news. The only “noise” to be heard for miles was the chatter of crickets and other critters. I swear, if God decided to have a vacation home on earth, I’m certain it would be in Sani Pass.

We walked down the trail, along the river and then up a mountain to get a closer look at a waterfall. It was a tough climb, but surprisingly, not too difficult. Those years playing Billy Elliot in Zumba class really helped to increase my stamina. And in spite of not having on the “right” gear, I was still very comfortable. In fact, the only time I fell was when I took off my Pumas to wet my feet in the river.

Over the course of one weekend, we hiked on three separate occasions. One of those times, I even worked up the courage to hike by myself. We saw lots of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and ancient rock wall art, drawn by the Sans people hundreds of years ago. We also saw lots of baboons, elands and funky insects too. Don’t worry: they stayed far away from us. Apparently they were more scared of me than I was of them.

The final day of our trip, we hiked for seven straight hours. Although we didn’t reach our goal, which was a special rock formation at the very top of a large mountain, I finally understood what hiking was about: It’s never about the destination, but how you survive and manage the journey. I also learned a lot about myself, mainly that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was, physically as well as mentally.

There were also some things I learned about the hard way: like the benefit of wearing long pants and hosing yourself down with mosquito spray. My legs look like a winning game of tic-tac-toe…

Why Black Women Don’t Report Their Sexual Assaults

March 25th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Why Black Women Don't Report Their Sexual Assaults


I’ve been gravely disappointed during this ongoing Cosby scandal. Partially because the Bill Cosby I’d watched and admired was now marred by this scandal but mostly because of the people in my circles who tried to demonize the women who spoke out against him. After all, I never knew Bill Cosby. I do, however, know the family members, friends, distant associates and others who asked questions like “why are these women just now coming forward?”


This type of thought pattern just showed that there is a gross ignorance among people about sexual assault and what happens, emotionally and psychologically, to the women who have endured it.

And while I’ve tried to fight the good fight on my Facebook page and in conversations where it happened to come up, explaining that there is no set way to process trauma; now there is empirical, anecdotal evidence to support what I had been saying all along, especially as it pertains to Black women.

A New York based human right’s organization, called Black Women’s Blueprint, is conducting an ongoing study which found that nearly 60 percent of Black women have been involved in a coercive sexual assault by the time they are 18-years-old.

And in relaying her own story, one of these women explained in an article with Raw Story why it’s so hard for Black women to report their sexual assaults to the authorities.

If we report our assaults to police, we risk being retraumatized not only by the inhumane process of reliving a violent experience through sharing its gory details – but also by the violence of the criminal justice system itself , which treats rape victims like suspects . Worse yet, the police themselves commit assault with impunity ; often, they target black women in particular , knowing our existence at the intersections of racism and misogyny make crimes against us far less likely to be investigated .

To be a “ good rape victim ” is to immediately report your assault to the police (even knowing you will likely never see “justice” ), but to be a good black person is to avoid the police entirely because your life quite literally depends on it . The tightrope walk is impossible.

These words sound alarmingly like the ones Beverly Johnson wrote when she detailed her sexual assault with Cosby. You might recall that she hesitated coming forward because, with all the racial tension in the country these days, she didn’t want to be the Black woman attempting to drag a Black man down.  

She knew before the essay was even published that she would be in for a world of scrutiny and judgement.

And she was right. My heart broke as I watched people, some of them MN readers (women), call Johnson everything but a child of God for daring to step forward with this story.

If Johnson, with her illustrious career and the respect she’s earned in the industry, was torn down in this way, imagine what happens to the “unknown” women who tell their doubting family members and law enforcement officers about their own sexual assaults? The outcome is not likely to provide any closure. In fact, the experience of being doubted, questioned or further victimized might just result in even more trauma.

To paraphrase one of my Facebook and real life friends: ladies and gentlemen, the women in your life, who’ve been quietly living with the secrets and burdens of their own sexual assaults, are watching you and your reaction to this whole Bill Cosby situation, wondering if they should continue to remain silent and whether or not you’ll doubt them too.

Snob Hair Couture Giveaway: Win Two Free Bundles!

March 18th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Snob Hair Couture

Snob Hair Couture

With Spring on its way, we’re sure you want your hair to be on fleek!

Thanks to Snob Hair Couture, that wish can come true! Known for its long-lasting versatility, natural flow and movement, with minimal shedding, Snob Hair Couture is available in a variety of lustrous textures such as Brazilian (relaxed straight, loose deep, amazon wave),Malaysian (Curly), and Mongolian (Curly, Silky). With Lightweight and supple bundles, Snob Hair Couture is chemical free, guaranteeing a flawlessly natural and refined extension style. In order for you to get your hair laid to the gods,  founder of Snob Hair Couture, Doris Perry, and MadameNoire are giving away two free bundles and Snob apparel to one lucky winner.

To enter the contest be sure to follow Snob Hair Couture at @SnobHairCouture and @MadameNoiredotcom on Instagram and post a fierce selfie or photo of yourself channeling your inner alter ego with the hashtag #SNOBBIN

Check out Snob Hair Couture’s promo video from their latest hair shoot and good luck!

Artist Makeda Lewis Releases Black Feminist Coloring Book, “Avies Dreams”

March 10th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Makeda Lewis

Makeda Lewis

Artist Makeda Lewis has created the coloring book you’ve dreamed of having since you were a socially-conscious little girl. Titled, Avies Dreams, Lewis’s adult coloring book is based on illustrations of the dreams a girl named Avie had after she saw the world in its truth.

Unfortunately for Avie, she was institutionalized because she didn’t live up to the world’s standard and the status quo. Because of this, Lewis’s coloring book depicts the effect feminism, afrocentricity, death and rebirth, gender identity and power dynamics has on Black women reports Blavity. That might be a bit much for a young girl to digest, but as grown women we clearly see ourselves in the adult coloring book’s drawings. Besides her newly released coloring book, Lewis is also selling coffee mugs with in-your-face phrases that will make you feel powerful via her BigCartel commerce site.

To purchase Avies Dreams, click here and know that you’re putting your hard-earned dollars towards a good cause. A third of the proceeds will go to WellSpring Living, an organization that houses young women who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

Here is a preview of a page from Avies Dreams. What do you think?

Makeda Lewis

Makeda Lewis

Support Your Sister: Black Women Come To Zendaya’s Defense

February 25th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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black women come to zendaya's defense feat

Though Giuliana Rancic’s apology last night seemed sincere and heartfelt to me, there are still some who are refusing to accept it. But more importantly, other Black women in the limelight who stepping forward to show their support and solidarity.

First, there was fellow loced sister Selma director Ava DuVernay, who wrote this under Zendaya’s initial open letter.

Then “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington commended Zendaya on her open letter to Giuliana.

And finally, Solange spoke about the ways in which the show had been speaking about the fro on the red carpets for years. And she even referenced the time In Touch Weekly compared her hair to a dog. That didn’t go unnoticed. In true Solange fashion, she provided the perfect response for it.

India Arie even released a “Songversation” about this whole thing. See what she said. 

I wanted to jump in and defend Zendaya – but she’s doing that BEAUTIFULLY  herself.

VERY. WELL.  DONE.  It’s a powerful thing to be a TEENAGER in the public eye, and feel empowered to speak up in your own defense. STUNNING!

In my opinion, Entitlement in and of itself, BLINDS people to that very entitlement …  THUS allowing the behavior exhibited.

I’m not calling Giuliana Rancic a RACIST, .. but OF COURSE  it has to do with RACE.   To say it has “Nothing to do with race” .. THAT’S why people get mad.

But lets remember HOW difficult it is for a person of Gullianna Ranci’s social context to really UNDERSTAND how we see race in this issue. How race is a pervasive ISSUE in the entertainment industries as a whole.

We  need more more compassion in this world. Period

So I’m not MAD at Giuliana Rancic I’m SAD at her.  I’m Sad that things LIKE THIS keep happening.