Ten Things Every Black Woman Should Know (Excerpt From My Book: “The Black Wake-Up Call”)

By Walter L. Hilliard III. 1. YOU’RE A ROLE MODEL. Know that you are truly Queens and the backbone of all civilization, not just Black Civilization.  Modern human beings evolve from an African Eve.  Look it up.  If it weren’t for the strength of Black women, Black people would not have survived slavery and be here today.  Just look around and see how you, Black women, still hold the Black family and the Black community together.  When our young brothas are getting locked up and our older brothas are still acting like boys, there’s always a Black woman “holdin’ it down” – and the “it” is anything and everything you can think of.  So remember, the kids are watching, especially your daughters; teach them well.

–  Is being a role model important to you?  Why or why not?  Do you have the courage to give up what’s not good for you to become the Queen you are?

Remember that it’s sometimes easier for us to remain insignificant, voiceless, and immersed in our own bad habits because there is a payoff – we’re comfortable.  Being a role model is not about being perfect, it’s about working hard and demanding excellence.  Besides, what’s the alternative?

2. STOP BABYING YOUR MEN AND YOUR SONS. All you’re doing when you hide your inadequacies behind being a grown man’s caretaker is creating a relationship immersed in insanity.  This insanity is often hardly noticeable, but powerful, and will not allow you to seriously pursue your full potential, nor will your mate and son be the best they can be.  Grown men who act like big babies and young men who act like babies are not cool or cute.  Make your man help around the house and teach your son to cook and take care of himself.  Demand that your man treats you well and your sons treat women well.

–  Who is the last man you babied?  How did you baby him?  Why did you baby him?

Remember the world “takes no prisoners” when it comes to Black people who can’t do what they need to do to be who they need to be.  Your Black skin is an issue for some people as soon as you walk through the door.  But if “you” let your race be an issue for you, allowing it to be an excuse for you not demanding that your boys be men and your men be Real Men – then you are part of the problem, not the solution when it comes to the Black community’s striving to overcome our obstacles.

3. ADJUST YOUR “ATTITUDE.” We all know that the American Black woman’s head-bobbing, finger-snapping, and tell-it-like-it is persona is known throughout the world, but Life is not a “Waiting to Exhale Movie” and being more concerned with being right instead of being fair, bearable, and approachable – no matter what the circumstances – does not lead to a life of true happiness.  Too many Black women believe they are professional critics, able to cut someone down in the blink of an eye.  And being one who speaks your mind is fine . . . if your mind is sane.  You have to constantly examine your “mistaken certainties” – the things you’re certain about but are mistaken – to be of clear mind.

–  What are you usually negative about?  Why?  How can you improve your attitude?

Remember negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you expect the worst, you will experience the worst.

4. Take Off Your Helmet, Shoulder Pads, And Cleats And Leave The “There Are No Good Black Men (Or They’re All Married)” Game For Good. This includes “All the Good Black men are dogs, not working, etc.” versions as well.  When you indulge in “Black man bashing” you are bashing yourself because you are bashing your father, your sons, your brothers, your uncles, and your grandfathers.  You are Black – and you’re connected to your Blackness through your people, through all Black people.

–  Do you like Black men, in general?  Why or why not (be honest; think about your views on Black men, particularly relationships you’ve had with Black men)?  How do you treat Black men, especially those you don’t know well, when they approach you?

Remember that there are many people in society that want you to give up on

Black men because others are threatened by their strength and intelligence.

“They” want you, Black woman, to put him down so they can stand on both of

you and feel better about themselves.  Besides, who better to hear you out after

that long, hard day at work at a job that wants you to remember that you are

Black, and therefore less than?  You are not a statistic; it only takes one Black

man to make a difference in your love life.  The only shortage is in your mind.

5. Never, Ever Step Back Or Step Off When Someone Is Attacking You Or The Black Community Or Our Image, Beauty, Intelligence, Or Work Ethic. Whether you’re the only Black person in a meeting at work and someone put’s “us” down or someone Black you know is being discriminated against – step up, step out and “speak on it.”  One thing you’ll learn about life, if you don’t already know, is “kissing up” to people, especially the Mainstream, never works eventually.  People know when you’re “kissing up” and when you’re Black, it’s even more despicable.  No one respects those who don’t respect themselves, so fight when you must, but be professional.  Those that will do you harm are less inclined to mess with you if they fear you more so than if the like you so don’t worry about being liked.

–  What would you do if you’re around someone who says something you suspect is racist or derogatory towards Black people?

Remember you are the embodiment of Blackness, like it or not, no matter where you are.  You cannot ignore your responsibility to the Black community.  What if Martin or Malcolm or Rosa Parks had worried only about themselves and said to hell with Black people?  Where would the rest of us be?

6. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  If you buy bad shoes, don’t be surprised if they don’t last (and the sistahs talk about you).  If you lay down like a doormat, some men will walk all over you.  Take responsibility for your choices.  If a brotha’s not working, seems to not mind going in and out of jail, or if he’s a womanizer – your choice to welcome him into your life says as much about you as it does about him.  Whenever you meet any man, the question is not so much where he’s been, or necessarily where he’s at, it’s where he’s going that’s most important.  He must have goals and he must be working on achieving them (and the brotha betta have a car; you cannot be with a brotha that has a bus pass).

–  Have you ever let a Black man walk all over you or misuse and abuse you?  Why or why not?  Have you put into practice what you’ve learned, or do you keep making the same mistakes?

Remember a relationship is about teamwork.  Instead of you and your man looking at one another and complaining about what you don’t like – come together, bond, and look outward at the world, and go conquer it as a team.

7. UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF CHARACTER VERSUS REPUTATION. Worry about what you think of you – character – not what others think of you – your reputation.  Black people feel so insignificant so much of the time that we over compensate and get caught up in an adult version of peer pressure, going along with the crowd, trying to be popular or “fit in to get in”, and so on.  Although not all bad, our fraternities and sororities are often breeding grounds for elitist behavior.  Spike Lee’s “School Daze” is probably much truer than we care to admit.

–  What do you love most about you, the person?

Remember that there has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like you.  You are an artist and you have an opportunity to paint the most powerful, beautiful life ever.  Do not disappoint yourself or the world.

8. KNOW THAT THINGS WILL NOT GET BETTER IN YOUR LIFE UNTIL YOU “DO” BETTER. Most Black women, as well as Black men, are struggling on some emotional level and/or in some area of their lives.  When the larger society is facing hard times, our hard times are two and three times worse. But you cannot feel sorry for yourself and pray that GOD will save you.  HE will provide you with the means to save yourself.  You have to practice the habit of picking yourself up and doing what needs to be done to take care of you and yours, or to be successful, period.  Life demands that you literally reach into your experiences and make something out of yourself.  No one’s going to give you anything.  And if you let others do it for you, they’ll do it to you.

–  What could you be doing a better job of in your life?  When are you going to start?

Remember to have faith that things will get better, but remember  “trying is and excuse for not doing.” Can you please repeat that?  Again?  Now, one more time?  And make sure you teach this to your children and the men in your life.

9. FIND A WAY TO MAKE PEACE WITH THE SISTAHS. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard Black women, young and old, say that they don’t like other Black women or they don’t have any or many women friends.  Not including a close friend or a couple of close friends, a lot of Black women hate Black women.  They think other Black women are bitchy or catty, sneaky, or just plain crazy.  White women have many of these issues, too, but their angst is nothing like that of Black women’s.

–  Do Black women, in general, get on your nerves?  Why or why not?  What is it about you that you suspect may bother other Black women or cause them to dislike you?

Remember the sistah you’re hating on may have been traumatized or experienced as much negativity as you have in her life.  But you need her as much as she needs you.  If you can’t help a sistah out then what is your life really about?

10. BE AMBITIOUS. If you’re a Black woman, especially when considering how hard life is for Black people, in general, and you’re not working hard towards “being somebody,” mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, etc. – then you’re not really living.  You’re not helping your family or the Black community be the best it can be.

–  What do you want others to say about you when you’re gone or have entered the spiritual world?  Are you currently living the type of life that reflects what you want others to say about you?  Why or why not?

Remember you will not get out of this life alive.  Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’ve come to accept a live of mediocrity.  You should control Life; Life should not control you.

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