How Can Black Women Thrive in a Racist Society?


I read some articles over the weekend that left me shocked, angry, and speechless. The first was about a high school principal accused of racist verbal attacks against two black teachers. She allegedly compared their looks to gorillas and scoffed at big floppy lips and nappy hair. As horrible as that seems, that’s not the worst of the accusations. Both teachers feel that their poor evaluations were racially motivated.

The other disturbing event took place in Italy, a country where black woman fetishes are said to be common. If so, why is Cecile Kyenge having such a hard time winning over many of the country’s citizens? You would think that a woman as accomplished as she is would face few obstacles as Italy’s first black cabinet minister. Her impeccable credentials aren’t enough. In the minds of the ignorant, she’s just another immigrant leeching off Italy’s blood. Some are so resentful that they threw bananas at her during a rally and one extremist even called for her to be raped.  It would appear that no black woman is safe.

Whenever these issues are discussed on or off the net, comments like, “this is so sad” or “It makes me so mad” or my favorite, “black women are so unprotected” are thrown around without thought. Has anyone ever pondered ways to beat the system instead of crying about it? Lamenting without action is a huge disservice to yourself and young black women everywhere. So how do we beat the system?

I’m a firm believer in having friends in high places. Friends in this case means allies rather than buddies. If you don’t have any, resolve to make some. Think of the backing you might have against a racist manager when you are a bestie of the CEO’s daughter? Or what can a racist teacher do to your child when you are on a first name basis with the principal or superintendent? We may not be protected as a group in the near future but we sure can have it on an individual level if we make friends in high places.

Time to brainstorm and discuss. What are some ways that you can thrive in a racist society?

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