All Articles Tagged "friendship"

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.

Should You Expect Discounts From A Friend Or Family-Owned Business?

April 20th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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These days it seems like everyone is trying to save a dollar, and rightfully so. With limited salary increases, shaky job stability, and the harsh reality of unemployment, it’s only natural to find ways where you can cut back a little.

But does that mean you don’t properly invest in a friend or family member’s business?

I get excited when I hear of people I know trying to create their own path in the entrepreneurial game. It’s not an easy task which is one of the reasons why so many small businesses fail in their first year. Yet even with this knowledge, you wouldn’t believe the number of folks who expect, or in some cases demand, special treatment when it comes to pricing. Can’t they get their business off the ground first before you come in with a long list of things you want for a discount or free?

When I got married three years ago, I wanted to treat my bridal party (I had seven members …yes, seven) to something nice. My nuptials were in the morning which meant we all had to get up early in order to be ready for pre-wedding photos and other small needs. Most of us barely wear makeup, let alone know how to glam up our faces. Because of this, I decided to hire a friend of mine who was growing a makeup artist side business. She has come to my home in the past to practice her airbrush techniques for photo shoots and was very talented.

Rather than use our friendship to my advantage by asking for a discount upfront, I thought it was best to respect her hustle and pay full price. Luckily she did give me a bit of a discount which I was happy to pay. Who’s gonna argue with that?

She later approached me and said thanks for not asking or expecting a hookup. Apparently, many of her gal pals would try to guilt her into doing their makeup for free so they could go to a special occasion, birthday gathering, or hit the town for the heck of it.

It’s understandable that folks would like a little something something for having a relationship with a business owner. Whether a close family member or friend, it’s always nice to receive special treatment. Many of us would provide it if we were able. That however does not mean you demand discounts, which can turn the line between a business transaction and personal relationship into a blurry one.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a small boutique and seen someone who obviously knows the owner roll up with a basket of items and say “put it on my tab.” What’s this tab you speak of? And who exactly is supposed to pay it? And when?

At the end of the day, we all need to respect each other’s hustles. If you know someone who has a small business, remember they’re doing everything they can to make it successful. Like us, they have monthly bills, obligations and need to provide for their families. How do you expect them to meet their bottom line if they’re always giving out special discounts and freebies?

Unfortunately, some relationships turn sour when people actually get mad at not receiving a perk. I don’t think business owners are trying to be mean if they deny the request. Perhaps times are slow and they really need the money. You aren’t in their books and have no clue about their situation.

Should you receive perks from someone who sells a good or service, that’s great. Just don’t go around expecting anything because you know them.

Should Your Best Friend’s Boo Pay For Your Meal Too?

April 18th, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing the do and dont’s of my girl friend’s dating standards. Among them were Do’s such as, do open my car door, do send my mom flowers on Mother’s Day and so on. However, one particular do caught my attention.

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My girls stated, “Do pay for all of our meals and drinks if you’re out with my friends.” This one was a little bit shocking to me. As a younger sister to 3 brothers, I’m used to being taken care of. They normally pay for the entire meal regardless of who is in attendance. However, it never registered to me that it was a deal breaker for some women.

I experienced it myself first hand when I went out with my girl and her two male friends. They paid for her and just looked at me to pay up. It definitely did leave a bad taste in my mouth. However, it’s not a deal breaker for me.

What if the gentlemen does have the funds to pay for everyone? Should he still break his wallet to impress your friends? The first time out with everyone, yes. But what about the third and fourth time? Should he still be required to pay for your best friend’s meal?

Let’s discuss ladies!

We Can Keep It Cute: How To Survive Being Around Someone You Don’t Like

April 10th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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How To Survive Being Around Someone You Don't Like

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What do you do when faced with opposition or someone you don’t like? Are you a person who needs to show how you feel by letting the world know, or one who can keep calm and carry on? It can be really tough when you have to spend time with someone you don’t like. Instead of letting your feelings get the best of you, consider these tips.

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

April 10th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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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.

A Temptress In Sheep’s Clothing? 15 Signs Your ‘Friend’ Is Interested In Your Man

April 7th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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While it’s never good to be super paranoid in a relationship or go around accusing people of having wandering eyes, that doesn’t mean you don’t watch for signs of shadiness coming from your camp. Unfortunately, not everyone who claims they are your friend will have your best interest at heart. In fact, some will go as far as to be nice so they can get what they really want. Here are some warning signs that your so-called friend wants your man.

One can only hope you’re with someone who’s loyal and has no time for birds. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean your house of unnecessary drama.

Would You Ever Date Your Friend’s One Night Stand?

March 21st, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Okay, before we dive into this topic. Let’s step up a scenario.

It’s a Friday night and you’re out with a group of your girlfriends. From across the room, you see a beautiful pair of brown eyes staring at you. Curious, you stare back. The handsome gentlemen with the beautiful brown eyes approaches you and starts a conversation. The two of you have hit it off and exchange numbers. At the same time, as you’re exchanging numbers, you see your best friend giving you a strange look. After the gentlemen leaves, and you’re on cloud 9 from having a great conversation with the gentlemen, you’re best friend walks over. After asking you how it went, she tells you, “Yeah I had a one night stand with him once.”

Aw Sh*t! I can hear your heartbreaking from here. Now, you’re left with the painful decide of whether or not you’ll give this man the time of the day. So, what’s your verdict?

For many, the answer is flat out no. Real friends, don’t share their leftovers, period. However, what about the group of you that say yes? Are you totally comfortable with being with someone that has seen one of your friends naked?

In a excerpt from a book proposal he’s attempting to sell, Lil Wayne tells the story of what happened to him when he found out his girlfriend slept with Drake.

According to the story, Drake visited him while he was in jail and confessed to the fact that he slept with his girlfriend. Drake said, “Yeah, it’s true. Don’t f*** with her like that cause I did f*** her.”

Wayne writes, “This is the type of s*** that a man never wants to find out when he’s locked up. Or, maybe so, cause only God knows what I would have done if I wasn’t locked up right now.”

Wayne admits in the proposal he and his GF argued a lot, and that may be why Drake said, “Don’t f*** with her like that.” As for the timeline, Wayne says the woman told him she had sex with Drake the day BEFORE they met.

Wait a minute, let’s pause right there. She had SEX with DRAKE BEFORE they met. So, technically, she was Drake’s one night stand. She had sex with him before she even met Lil Wayne. So, what makes Lil Wayne so upset. Is it really because she slept with Drake?

This is the perfect example of what someone would do in a situation like this. Again, we ask, would you ever date your friend’s one night stand? Apparently, Lil Wayne would not.

 

Breaking The Code: Should Your S.O. Stay Friends With A Habitual Cheater?

March 20th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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It’s friends versus boos on this week’s episode of “Breaking The Code.” MadameNoire’s editors and the fellas of MTV’s “Guy Code” speak on whether you should remain friends with an ex, if it’s cool for your partner to remain friends with someone who habitually cheats on their partner, and the age-old question of whether you should tell a friend he/she is being cheated on. Watch and weigh in in the comments section.

Like Attracts Like: Why I Chose To Build A Bond With My Newest Friend

March 16th, 2015 - By Lauryn Stallings
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By the time I began high school, boys I could confide in outnumbered girls three to one. The disparity grew as we went from teenagers to young adults and the value of an acquaintance became based on more than just fun. There’s likely myriad reasons I have better interactions with men, but the most uncompromising of those is the absence of something I find fundamental.

Ambition is a prerequisite for my time and attention, and too often I’ve found the women I meet have too little. Even as I move into my mid-20s, I meet women who seem aimless or distracted. And while this is not a trait unique to the fairer sex, my experience has skewed my friendship pool older and male.

Thankfully, that’s not always the case, and every so often I meet a woman who is self-actualized. Last year, that woman was Candice.

When we met, there was no instantaneous Disney-approved bond. Rather we spent months working together with little more than passing pleasantries. In fact, I can’t exactly recall the circumstances that initiated our first meaningful conversation. But the more we spoke the more we discovered our ideologies aligned, and in a matter of months we spoke every day, mostly at work.

If asked, I’d credit the strength of our friendship to our shared dedication to our individual aspirations. Truly there are times when our chats sound more like discussions between members of a cohort than casual exchanges about life. Candice and I commiserate about the hustle as we goad each other toward our accomplishments. We championed each other through her adjustment to graduate school and my transition into full-time media.

And while those objectives formed a base on which our relationship grew, my affinity for Candice has as much to do with her initiative as her ability to relate to me on intellectual and personal levels.

Since we became friends, Candice and I have discussed everything from our career goals to our travel dreams, our religious devotion and personal dilemmas. We’ve talked about things that have no bearing on our relationship as much as topics that, were we insistent our values perfectly align, could dissolve our friendship. And though we are both Black women, our experiences have been different enough that we’ve given each other an abundance of social revelations.

But mostly we talk about expectations. We reaffirm the standards we should have for ourselves and others rather than play into a society that simultaneously applauds and berates women. There are so many willing to demean themselves and belittle others for the promise of fame or to appease someone whose interests are self-serving. We now must place a premium on sincerity in our daily interactions.

With Candice there are no questions of loyalty, no concerns of backbiting or ulterior motive. We’re not in competition with each other because we value the success of the other. Our friendship has succeeded because we genuinely want to see another Black woman succeed. Our community could use more of that.

 

This weekend on Café Mocha: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Singer Leela James works on R&B Divas LA with an all-female cast. Loni Love is on The Real with an all female cast. With reality show cat fights going viral, we’re asking: Can’t women just get along? Plus Leela talks about the reality show experience and her most important passion her music.

Get Em’ Bae: Should Your Man Fight Your Battles With Your Friends?

February 8th, 2015 - By Toya Sharee
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So by now if you’re familiar with my taste in TV, you know my guilty pleasure are the ladies featured on Lifetime’s Little Women: LA. The reality show is no different than Basketball Wives or Love and Hip Hop as a group of twenty and thirty-somethings navigate dating, friendship and motherhood with all the added challenges that being a dwarf can bring. Once you get past the height requirement you’ll find the same catty arguments, competitive relationships, and drink throwing that you’ll find on any VH-1 line up.

(**Warning: Spoiler Alert) Last week’s show featured cast mates Terra and Christy going head to head after Terra suspects Christy created unnecessary drama by revealing to friend Traci that Terra is pregnant. Traci has been trying desperately to get pregnant, and Christy who is known for pitting the friends against one another in the past defends her action saying that she wanted to prepare Traci for Terra’s big news since she felt she might feel resentful or jealous that she failed to get pregnant first. Terra ends up calling out Traci for being shady in a big blow up by a friendly bonfire, where Christy’s husband’s Todd runs to her defense. When Traci’s husband Erik’s suggest that Todd let the ladies hash it out on their own, Todd insists that a real man defends his woman, even if it is to her own friends.

Hmm…I can’t completely disagree with where Todd is coming from, but I must admit it’s always made me look at a man funny when he’s involved in drama and cat fights. As stereotypical as it may be, I’m used to men solving their problems with a few cuss words and clowning each other’s sex lives before having a beer over a game of 2K and forgetting why they were mad in the first place. When a guy gets overly involved in the “he said, she said” my respect for him instantly drops down a few notches.

I guess at the end of the day it’s less about what gender you are and more about maturity. Someone has to be the voice of reason and as much as I want my husband to have my back in situations where I feel I may be surrounded by snakes, I also need him to sit me down and be blunt about when I’m being a b**ch.  It’s important for couples to know their place in the partners’ relationships. Some situations don’t require your input and are best left worked out among those directly involved. There are three sides to every story: the person you love’s version, the other person’s point of view and the truth and it’s natural to side with the person you sleep next to every night. But just because you love them, doesn’t mean that they’re right. At the end of the day as much as I may not want my husband to be hurt, he’s a grown ass man and to some extent, can fight his own battles.

You also have to be ready to accept all the things you may not want to hear when everyone has kissed and made up. It’s all good when your better half is on the front line with you because you’ve decided you collectively hate your girl Tamika, but what about when you and Tamika decide to squash it and your man still remembers how upset she made you and all the times HE had to wipe away your tears? You can’t expect other people to forgive those who have caused you pain, just because you’ve decided you’re over it.

My husband is truly my right hand and I most definitely want him to back me up when it counts, but the truth is I know my friends best and it’s unfair to allow him to bully them when the beef is clearly between me and them. When you allow your man to fight your battles, boundaries get crossed that aren’t easy to come back from and he may start to believe he has license to disrespect your friends. It can leave you in an awkward position in the middle exploring where your loyalties lie. You don’t want to create an environment where your man is comfortable talking to your friends however he feels like. At the end of the day how your partner treats those you chose to have in your life says as much about the respect he has for you, as what he has for your friends.

Does your man get involved in you and your friends’ affairs?

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.