D for Dependency : A Black Women’s Survival Guide

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to say thank you to all who participated in the last post’s comment section.  With over four hundred comments there was a ton of information that was thrown around and if anyone missed that post and the comments I would suggest going back and reading them. (Yes I know that’s a lot but I don’t think you’ll regret it.)

https://notyourgirlfriday.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/1040/

Today I just wanted to talk to the younger crowd, (and may some older ones) who are having an issue with dependency. I’m choosing to direct my post towards younger women because from what I’ve observed this is when the issues I’ve observed typically start (and the older ones carry the dysfunction taught to them when they were younger into adulthood and pass it on.)

Note:  A lot of this post will be observations and which everyone is free (of course) to make of it what they want and my advice will be at the end.

Because of my job I spend the majority of my day around women and children.  Usually these women are of varying ages and races and so are the children they have, along with their educational level.

Here are the numerous observations I’ve gathered.

*The following will be about all women before I taper my point off specifically to AA BW, so hang tight.

  • Most of the women are of lower socio economic status
  • Most of these women have one child (at least)
  • Most of these women seemed to have no education concerning contraceptive
  • Some of these women have had a history with drugs/alcohol
  • Most of these women are unemployed
  • Most of these women were dependent upon the men in their lives to give them necessities. that includes: Money, housing, healthcare, citizenship, childcare, clothing and necessities, cars/transportation etc.
  • Most of these women have no assets outside of these men. That includes any of the following that I just mentioned above.
  • A majority of these women had and have unstable family lives. *
  • A majority of these women threw away the opportunities that they had.
  • While most of these women are unemployed a large majority are on some sort of government assistance/ food stamps/ “ Disability” ( I put this in quotation marks because I have noticed that there are no discernable reason they should be receiving this and yet I see this is a large portion of their “ income” )
  • Most of these women are short an education and yet they know exactly where to go each month to get each benefit check.
  • Most of the black women have the most kids
  • Most of these women live in chaos.
  • Most of these women have no long term plans.
  • Most of the black women were least likely to have started off married

I can’t say that these observations stopped there. (Although in some ways I wish they had because as I continued to watch I noticed even more disturbing trends among the employees. (I promise I am getting to the larger point that has to do with black women… just bear with me.)

  • Of the very diverse staff (and by diverse I mean most ethnic groups were represented ) I noticed that there were allegiances amongst those who were of the same ethnic groups (with very few exceptions)
  • Nothing was never what it seemed and generally (I would learn later) that a lot of it was a cover for actual illegal
  • I noticed that while everyone there promoted “unity” and “inclusion” underneath there were a number of “networks” or “in crowds” which somehow the black women were never in.
  • Nepotism and Cronyism is alive and well (sometimes to the point of illegality.)
  • I’ve seen people who were supposed to be “neutral” use their own biases when making decisions (as in there was less sympathy by certain people towards certain groups. And you can guess right now the ethnicity of those who received less sympathy.)
  • I’ve seen certain women be used only to fall on a sword for the “well meaning” ideals of others.
  • I’ve watched black women with very impressive resumes not be hired while non bw were hired over them.

What does all of this mean for black women?  You’re probably asking yourself.

Well for those who haven’t already pieced it together allow me. In all of this, I’ve noticed that there is a decided lack of independence and autonomy for the black women involved.

But …but… how did you come to that conclusion? Aren’t you extrapolating your rather weak data too far?

No I’m not. Because when I started working at this organization and even before I always wondered where some of the dysfunctional behavior amongst black women actually started.

I always wondered why black women weren’t #winning and I’ve never been more sure after watching the dysfunctional behavior in action.

And then it hit me. Most of the black women I saw who were clients of the organization and even the ones who worked there had no idea how to do anything other than be dependent on the people around them.

Most of the BW clients were stuck in a very distinct cycle in which their very well being was dependent upon what they received from others. And concerning the black women that were actually employed in the organization, I saw (at least two) allow convince them to act out behaviors that threatened their livelihood or put them in a losing position while there so called “allies & friends” advanced over them, and that was after they used those women as leg UP. I also watched the privileged “woc” condone and defend behavior that was outright illegal of other women who happened to fall into their circles (read ethnicity).

And when I look at the larger world I see this behavior ALL THE TIME.

Maybe I’m not being clear (and forgive me as I try and make my point), but I notice that most black women allow themselves to be the charity case to whichever benevolent benefactor decides to come along and throw scraps their way.

(I know I’ve written about something like this before. In fact, I distinctly remember how I famously attempted to convince black women to create their own media and some very special snowflakes basically referred to me as a tyrant. Lol. But what I’m suggesting for black women is more important than media representation.)

Unlike the WW and other non BW women who came in and out of the organization BW do NOT have the infrastructure, cultural support, familial support to be dependent on anything and anyone that orbits them.  BW do not have this option to simply wait for someone else to deign to give them something.

I would advise most black women to minimize the level of dependency that they have on outside sources.  And no I don’t mean, shut yourself in your houses, never get married/have kids, and work yourselves to the bone to prove that you’re independent. *Rolls eyes sarcastically*. I know some of ya’ll like to pretend I’m some demented loon coming up with things to make your lives miserable.

What I mean is black women need to cultivate and environment which they can sustain themselves, and surround themselves with likeminded ALLIES (see my previous post on allies have linked below) who want the same things and who are TRUSTWORTHY.

SO here is my advice:  (and for the Veteran BWE writers and anyone else who has any ideas PLEASE post in the comments.  The comments that are posted further along the conversation to levels even I couldn’t take it and provide much needed points of view. And I know the Veterans have already written about this in the past.)

Remember that having a college degree is extremely important. I noticed a number of commenters say that it would be extremely wise to major in STEM areas. And while I note that this is very good advice, I would also like to remind black women that it would be a good idea to secure, land/ housing (that doesn’t have a mountain of debt attached to it) sooner rather than later.

I’m not saying to forgo college completely, what I am saying is that it would wise for black women not to get caught up in that a degree process that is falling apart as we speak (even for white people.) And as some commenters point, out many blacks are NOT majoring in any areas of study that will give them a return on their debt. To be honest, that is why I am in less of a hurry to simply go to graduate school. I have a relatively good job at the moment (for having no bachelor’s degree). Once I have my degree I will be working towards paying off my student loans within the first couple of years while I save money. As one commenter left in the last article you can buy even micro homes (some with three bedrooms) for a very low price. If you save your money well.

As Khadija has mentioned in many of her posts (and you get a virtual cookie if you can find them) there are signs that the US will be thrust into another economic frenzy in which those who are not prepared will be left out in the cold. (And let’s face it blacks are never prepared especially black women who give away all of their resources) I am more interested in being able to grow my own food/ have my own resources than depending on the government for help (and historically the government cuts funding to those who need it most during times like this).

I would also advise black women, even those who are making tons of money now to live way below their means. I’ve noticed that those in debt are the ones that have the most issues when shit hits the fan. I remember one WW online had a blog about living frugally (she was a SAHM and her husband was a realtor. They lived below their means and paid the mortgage months ahead of time. Which turned out to be good because when business was slow they had the house payments taken care of and she kept a lot of food in her freezer and grew the rest so they survived pretty well until things picked up.)

I would advise any black women dependent upon social services at the moment to find alternate ways of getting what they need (as Khadija has said it is very wise to have multiple streams of income).

Have a back-up plan just in case your career plans sour.  I remember watching a movie in which a white family lost their job (they guy was rich) and were forced to give up their lifestyle. Of course their idea of a tragedy was having to move to a very nice farm with a horse that they owned outright and which their family lived down the street.  What struck me about that movie is that SMART people have some sort of safety net just in case SHTF later. The current economic situation in the US and the faulty way that the system is set up means that many people will be heartbroken again.

Be wary of people who want to make waves/ and use you as the poster child for revolution at your job.  And don’t depend on these people to have your back after their attempts sour.  The most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen was a young BW around my age basically fall on the sword for a well-meaning WW intent upon doing exactly this.  This black women put herself in the line of fire, ultimately leaving her no choice but to quit, after years of emotional trauma and retaliation. This women of course had no one to come to her aid. And it took me a while to realize that the WW had far less to lose than the black woman who’d gotten involved.  Meanwhile everyone else sat back and watched it all go down.

If any black women are aware of illegality or impropriety going on at their jobs I would advise you to act stealthily. For example I know there have been more than one rumor of embezzling at this organization. and If you can’t quit your job (which I can’t at the moment) I would advise you to keep a record of EVERYTHING. I currently make copies of anything thing suspicious. I take pictures; I copy my paychecks and my time card and keep records of the rules in a safe place that way nothing can come back to me. If you have enough evidence to report (which I also wanted to do) I would advise you to take your evidence quietly to the proper channels.  But do NOT come at people who are known for impropriety and simply call them out in public. Not only will you get a mark on your back but if you are unsuccessful you may have a problem later.

Only you know your boundaries. Do not let someone drag you into a mess they won’t bother to clean up. Do not let someone else make trouble for you. Other people only risk what they are willing don’t let someone push you past your comfort zone and don’t depend on someone else to fall on that sword when the time comes. Too many people like to allow BW to be the sacrificial lamb and go first.

DO not depend on acquaintances to have your best interests.  Simply because someone is smiling does not mean they are going to help you when the time comes. By all means find allies, but find ones that are actually going to benefit you not simply suck you dry. Remember some people are only looking for a step up. I saw this at work with a black women who was friends with a non-black woman. While the non BW took the fast track to get hired she did nothing to help her so called “friend” also get a job in an opening that would have suited her well.

Don’t depend on men to suddenly make your life perfect. I know this might offend some, but I have to be honest; from some of the clients, most notably the BW, Their problem were anything but solved when they “had a man”.  And not this isn’t some “don’t need no man” strong black woman trope.  I support black women dating whoever they want and pursuing all options, and I’m thrilled whenever I see black women get the love and support/ be cherished like they deserve. But I’ve notice certain factions seem to believe simply having a man will somehow replace all the trifling, ill though out, ill planned, idiocy that they allow to seep into their lives. By all means have love in your life, but for the love of almighty get your shit together.  How can you love someone else when your life and everything in it is mess? For example I want to get married very soon and have already taken the steps to do so.   At the same time I’m also aware of the importance of having my shit together which is why I want to be relatively debt free and have a long term plan too.

DO not depend on others to put your safety first.  I’ve seen many black women put themselves in dangerous situations mistakenly believing that they are going to be protected when the time comes… They are wrong. I’ve seen this with the clients who come in. Many black women have multiple kids, and depend on FATE to determine if they are going to have children. They take no proactive, protective measures against an ill-timed pregnancy (with some random man) and generally seem unconcerned with what they’re doing or how it will affect their children.

Edit To Add:  Do not depend on the ailing health care system and rising costs to fix your ailments. Before our eyes the health care system is falling a part. And if the economy blows up so might that health care you have. As other BWE writers have said, take care of your health. So in case that happens you won’t be out in the cold trying to pay for treatments that would be preventable. Try keeping in shape and eating as healthy as possible. I’ve learned that many illness are preventable if people sustained healthy lifestyles.  Remove, the hormones from your food, try and go sugar free (it is hard but at the moment I’m learning how to get buy on only thirty grams a day which is the recommended value for women) exercise. I know things happen but you’d be surprised at how much you can prevent with the right lifestyle.

Further, and I’ve said this a million times, do not depend on WW or BM to tell your stories about YOUR suffering.  I’ve said before putting your eggs in that basket you’re bound to wind up with an omelet you weren’t looking for. Speak for yourself and find people who are allies and will do it for you when the time comes. (For the new ones go back to my “posts you may want to read first” tab and start from the beginning.)

Finally, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, despite all the people I manage to piss of when I do; do not depend on people to represent you in a way that will benefit you when they have a proven history of putting themselves first. That is insane. Recently, I’ve became enmeshed in the Sleepy Hollow fandom. I enjoyed joining the forums (and even enjoyed shipping). To be honest I wanted to see if MAYBE my previous assertions (about BWiF) would be proven wrong.

Hell, I know some people didn’t believe my previous posts about BWiF and honestly I wanted to be proven wrong just once in my life. Unfortunately as I predicted this show has started to sideline the main BW character in favor of the WW character and co (which I called last year I believe). and I’ve decided to pack it in. Now, I’ve noticed a number of people are also angry (and for a split second I was too.) Although for me that went away almost immediately, Because I know that if I want something to represent me I’ll simply create it myself and I accept that show wasn’t created for me in the first place.

I’ve warned ya’ll before to watch what you watch.  Be careful before you invest (I never watched the show live or anything like that because I refused from the beginning to help them with ratings before I knew what was up.)  Further I’d say again maybe black women wouldn’t be so upset with this if they created their own media. (I’m currently in the middle of finish a series so I’m good.) If you want representation get it yourself.  The difference between others and black women is that they have their own self-sustaining media machine to paint themselves in the best possible light. It would be wise for black women to catch on and stop living solely for scraps.

I know many young black women think that I’m “doom and gloom” to point out these things; that I’m making it up (I have no idea why since I’m not getting paid for this and receive no monetary endorsements). In reality after watching the bewildering process of all the black women around me get screwed I’m hoping that even one BW will heed some of my advice.

But if you reject everything else remember: you are not helpless. You are worth more than scraps.

Until Next time,

Stay Neutral

Next Post (tentative title)

Speak for yourself : A cautionary tale