Perhaps it is an unfortunate trait of our gender, but the habit of viewing each other through critical eyes and picking each other apart is a common practice of women the world over. However, as black women living in a European western dominated society, can we really afford to maintain such venomous practices towards each other? Sure, the high of looking down our nose at a sister less fortunate, or judging another for making choices we deem undesirable may be tempting , but can’t the joy of spreading sisterly love be just as satisfying? A Utopian sisterhood may not be realistic, however a more progressive approach towards relating to each other and ourselves could signal true revolution, and irreversible positive change in our culture. Here are a 12 ways we can learn to be a little more kinder to ourselves, and each other:
1. Respect for Oneself: If there’s on thing The Boondocks Uncle Ruckus teaches us is that hatred for others starts from within. The ripple effect of self-love and respect is arguably the most crucial step in healing the image of Black women, both publicly and privately.
2. Create the Change You Wish to See: The well-known saying goes: “You cannot change others – you can only change yourself.” Envision using criticism to make changes in your own life rather than simply judging those whom you may be opposed to.
3. Know When and What to Compromise: For women of color in entertainment for example, the road is rife with tough choices. In the quest for personal and professional success, it’s a good idea to prioritize your personal values to avoid selling out, or selling your soul, just to get ahead.
4. Accept Your Natural Beauty: All too often black women are surrounded by messages that (in)directly devalue our unique beauty so we have to work consciously to accept our natural beauty, rather than feel estranged from it.
5. Show Your Support – Participate in (or donate to) organizations, activities or resources you feel do their part in the advancement of the overall well-being of black women.
6. Start Your Own Movement: Groups and conferences such as Black Girls Rock, Enough Is Enough and Leading Women Defined were born of an intention to create healthy images of black women and girls in the mainstream media. Whether it’s a blog, discussion group or official organization, if you see a void, there are many ways in which you can unite with other sisters to help fill it.
7. Try Compassion, Rather than Condemnation: Too often folks tend to confuse judgment with constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is used to critique an individual for their betterment and involves harboring a certain level of respect and empathy for another person. Before we gleefully castigate the questionable choices of R&B’s newest “it” girl, or even the angst-ridden young mother yelling at her kids on the sidewalk, it wouldn’t hurt us to attempt to add a little compassion to our critique cocktail. The difference could bring about real strides within our community, rather than digging deeper divisions.
8. Surround Yourself With Positivity: Seek out images, artists, writers, publications, etc. that you feel make a positive impact on black culture.
9. Embrace Similarities and Differences: Black women are complex and dynamic. Ironically, this fact that fragments so many of us, is actually a healthy phenomenon. There’s no rule that says all black women have to be clones of one another, so why not simply learn to accept – and even honor – our multifaceted sisterhood?
10. Let Your Voice Be Heard: – Reach out to media outlets, and select advocacy groups to share your concerns and feedback when you see questionable or disturbing depictions of black Women.
11. Understand Your Place In History: The history of black culture, black women included, did not start with the intersection of Africans and Europeans. There is strength and freedom in embracing the full scope of our heritage.
12. Remember that We’re Not Victims, We’re Valiant: It’s easy to get bogged down by the never-ending facts, figures and other dubious data pointing to the dire state of black womanhood. The fact remains that through it all, we’ve survived and continue to strive and succeed.