And This is for Colored Girls Who Always Seem to End Up Alone

The black woman’s role has not been placed in its proper perspective, particularly in terms of the current economic and political upheaval in America today. Since time immemorial the black man’s emasculation resulted in the need of the black woman to assert herself in order to maintain some semblance of a family unit. And as a result of this historical circumstance, the black woman has developed perseverance; the black woman has developed strength; the black woman has developed tenacity of purpose and other attributes which today quite often are being looked upon negatively.” –Shirley Chisholm, 1974 The Black Woman in Contemporary America Speech at the University of Missouri

As a little black girl you are taught many things. Your position in life as a girl defines how you behave. You are taught what to say, what not to say, how to act, how to talk, to play with dolls, to keep your legs together when wearing a dress, to wear a dress, and so on and so forth.  This is probably not much different from what other little girls are taught.

As a little black teenage girl you get told many things.  You are ordered to stay away from little boys who (as my mother told me) “just want to see how their ‘thing’ works.”  You are advised not to be the girl they keep company with at night, while they won’t dare be seen with her during the day.  You are told when you can date, and your dating is monitored under close supervision.  When you are of an appropriate age, you may get to go to the movies or to McDonald’s with your “little boyfriend”, but you better be home by 9:00.  This is probably not much different from what other little girls are told.

As a young adult black woman, your teachings of childhood have probably successfully ensured that you have transformed into a beautiful female specimen.  The instructions you were given as a teenager have enabled you to enter the world with your head held high, and with confidence that you are grounded in some sense of virtue.  You are a woman.  A female.  This has been made clear to you all your life, but as a young adult black woman, you know that your sex does not define your capability.  You are a black woman and you are proud.  Your mother, your aunts, and every beautiful black woman you have encountered have made sure of this.  With some variation or another, this too is probably not much different from what other young adult women are taught, however, for most young adult black women, this is where the teachings on being a women peak and become reiterated throughout the next few stages in life.

As a black woman, it is habitually instilled in you that you are strong, smart, dependable and completely capable of doing everything on your own.  You are taught what not to tolerate, how to demand respect, how to provide for yourself, to expect to provide for yourself, and to never depend on a man for anything.  You are never taught to expect to be a wife; never taught what that even means.  You are never taught how to give respect, how to comfort, how to care, how to love, who to love, who to depend on and how to know you can depend on them…you are only taught not to because you can’t.  This is the difference for many women of color.  Many of our homes have no men in them, and so most of our mothers teach us, directly or indirectly, that we have to expect to provide for ourselves and for our families alone.  We are taught that even if we do find a man, and even if he loves us, we are still not saved from this fate.  Men leave as often as they come, we learn, and so we are never taught what it takes to keep one.   As a result, we seldom know how to do just that, and are seldom even encouraged to try to.

This is the difference for women of color.

An educated, beautiful, strong, virtuous woman does not “run up behind” a man. He is supposed to see her for all she has to offer and then appreciate and love her unconditionally.  He is supposed to treat her like a queen–give her everything and shower her with commitment, devotion and affection.  As black women, this is what we are told we deserve, but what we are oftentimes not told, is what we are supposed to do for him.  This, we do not know.

This is the difference for women of color.

We are not taught how we are supposed to appreciate a good man, because half of us don’t even know how to identify one.  In our minds, he doesn’t exist.  In our minds all men are the same, and if you give them the slightest amount of power, they will use it against you.  So you don’t give them any.

This is the difference.  

My heart goes out to little black girls who have to grow up believing they are not entitled to the beauties and benefits of being a woman.  My heart goes out to little black girls because we are encouraged to fight our natural desires to be cared for, and to care for others.  We grow up believing we have to fight to be treated right, becaue many times we do. We grow up expecting that no one in this world is going to recognize our strength, our intellect, our loyalty or our capability.  We grow up on a mission to shove these attributes down people’s throats and demand that they appreciate all of them. We grow up on the defense.  If anyone ever seems like they do appreciate our strengths, we half-heartily appreciate their appreciation because we fear that if we let our guard down for a second, be vulnerable for a second, depend on him for a second…he will disappoint us and we will be left alone.

This is the difference for women of color.

We go through life expecting to be let down; expecting to be left alone; expecting to be alone.  We don’t trust men to take care of us and so we convince our daughters that all we can depend on is ourselves and maybe each other.  Tragic, because in the end that is all we get left with, and if you look around, that’s who you see many black women with–themselves and each other.


21 thoughts on “And This is for Colored Girls Who Always Seem to End Up Alone

  1. Beautifully said! My mother and I have this discussion all the time. As a young single woman myself, I keep looking around wondering why there are so many beautiful and successful, yet single black women. I think it largely stems from our history as you mentioned and our fears of letting our guard down. Especially for my generation and the little ones coming up behind, we have been constantly exposed to the “new” way our culture wants us to think. Statements like “always be independent”, “you don’t need a man”, and “love is for suckas” has kept us alone. On the outside they may put up a front that they are strong and feel no emotions, but WE were created for love and want it if we really ask ourselves. I also think black women must get away from the belief that there are no good men available (especially when referring to black men). There are plenty of great men out there. Many women just aren’t ready for them because: a) they don’t love themselves enough to really grasp how a man can love them, b) they are not a “good woman” themselves and don’t see they are attracting what they are exuding, or c) they are stuck in the cycle of beating men down, that no self-respecting good man wants to be in their space, let alone in a relationship with them. I have finally understood that for my own life. I used to lead the “man-bashing club” lol, but I realize now that my desire to have a mate in my life does not have to negate my strength and individuality.

    • That’s so beautiful. I love that you get it. I had stopped trusting men without even realizing it and then I met my husband. It wasn’t until then that I even knew what love was. Black Love is such a beautiful design that i want every black man and every black woman to know what it feels like and how much joy it brings . Partnership is an amazing creation.

  2. *snaps* yessssss sister friend in the struggle.
    Great points. It would be interesting to see a male version of this. Like what all black men are NOT taught or better yet NOT expected to do so they don’t (I.E. make something of themselves, not end up in prison, not be a serial baby daddy). Not all but some.

  3. Wow. A fantastic example of distilling emotion and experience into words. To add, while I am not African American, this post hews very closely to what I experienced being raised by a single mom.

  4. Extremely good solid points. Promoting inner beauty and being self sufficient is a big way for mothers and women to learn to encourage girls of color. That could help them become stronger women of color.

    • That’s true, and self sufficient is definitely the way to be. We just have to be careful not to confuse being self sufficient with the inability to operate in a partnership. Oftentimes we’re so bent on being self sufficient that we refuse assistance; especially when it comes in the form of romantic relationships. Along with doing for themselves we need to teach our children how to love and do for one another so we can rebuild strong black families.

  5. These are some great points. I can give you a man’s point of view. Here is the problem. Woman spend the majority of their young life, between the ages of 18-24, wanting to be independent, single and going wild with so-called “Bad Boys”. Then when they graduate from college and get a job in the real world what are you going to find? The men that you are working around are all established and MARRIED!!! While all of your so-called “Guy Friends” from college are still out in the clubs with another group of woman doing the same thing. I’ve had plenty of girls when I was in college tell me that I was to much of a nice guy, or they would say, “if we meet again about 4 years later we could be together.” Now it is 4 years later. I see them on facebook still single and wish they had love, and I’m married and found love. Black women turn the guy away that goes to church, doesn’t drink or smoke, has no baby momma’s and treats them like a lady.

    Let me give you a reality women. The older you get the more your window for Mr. Perfect will close and you will end up for the rest of your life with Mr. Good Enough. And I would want any woman black or white spending the rest of their lives with someone you settled for because you let so many Mr. Right’s pass you by.

    • LOL, YES!! That’s EXACTLY my point. I think the idea of feminism and the media are responsible. We see all this “single ladies” crap on TV and hear it on the radio and it quite frankly makes us all selfish and self-centered. So many women and men look at marriage and relationships as a sacrifice to themselves and the things they want. My question though is always, “what are you trying to do that you can’t do with a partner?” Then this career driven crap that women are fed makes us feel like we have the luxury of a step by step checklist, but the reality is, you can’t “put marriage off” because relationships aren’t something we can control on our own. There’s another person involved and we have to comprimise and move when we get the chance, when the opportunity of love presents itself; not when we decide we feel like we may be ready. It doesn’t work like that.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting, brother. My aim was not to bash or blame women alone for these issues, but to possibly give insight on the psychology that creates them.

  6. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog 🙂 This is exactly how I was raised to think. I’ve always had the mindset that I should never think of my life with another and that I must and can only depend on myself in life. I think it’s from watching so many black women try and fail in their attempts to find a companion who supports them fully. I think there just needs to be more examples of black love where the woman doesn’t eventually regret her decision to trust the man. I grew up around black women who all wished they would have focused more on themselves, instead of marrying at an early age. I believe black women know the negative impacts that a man can have in their life, and most have yet to see the positive. Especially, If they’ve watched their mothers, grandmothers, and aunts struggle with love with another man as little girls. I would love to be more vulnerable, but the risks just seem to great. I just believe black woman have to be stronger than women of other races because of the obstacles we must overcome daily. I think all black women just want to feel secure. When I tell my little cousins to focus on education and not boys, I do so because I’ve seen several black women look to black men for support and the woman ends up supporting her husband and herself. Something she could have done alone and probably better.

    I really wish black women could be more open to love and support, because we sure do deserve it. It’s just that many us really only really have ourselves, and it’s easier to just count on the person that you know is capable of success. You.

    • Exactly. I do acknowledge that oftetimes the reality of our situation is that our men are broken and they, too don’t know what it means to be men. Both sides suffer from the same traumas and neither of us 1) realize we are suffering, or 2) know what direction to move in to heal from this suffering. As a result we end up hurting each other and pushing each other away. The solution though is the opposite. We all need to put our weapons down, move toward each other and learn to love. I had the same fears because I had seen the seemingly same relationship failures amoung the women in my family. What many of these women failed to include with their teachings to “stay focused on school/success/myself is that it isn’t relationships that break women, but relationships with the wrong men. There wasn’t really much emphasis on how to spot and identify a good man or how to appreciate him once I’d found him so I guess I subconsiously assumed they didn’t really exist. Anyway, I realized later that the reason they left that part out is because they didn’t know any more than I did because no one before them had gotten it right either. We oftentimes focus so hard on what we don’t want that we end up completely missing what we need.

      Thanks for reading, sister and don’t give up hope. Black men who know who they are and what they want are harder to find, but all worth-while things in life present challenges. Like you said, we need to focus more on the solution (examples of black families and black love) instead of the problem.

  7. Okay Please ignore my last comment! I just read this book within the last hour of posting my previous comment called The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer and my viewpoint has completely changed. I believe black women don’t allow love because our past impressions of it has made us afraid. But by restricting our hearts from a powerful energy source like love, we aren’t allowing ourselves to truly enjoy and experience life with enthusiasm. We must learn to be open to love and take it from anyone and everyone who offers it. No matter what, we have to learn to stay open to love. 🙂 Soooo refreshing!

  8. You wrote some powerful stuff. I particularly love this sentence. “We grow up on a mission to shove these attributes down people’s throats and demand that they appreciate all of them.” That behavior transcends gender.

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