Written by Penelope Farthing
With 2019 coming to a close, I have reached my first anniversary at Beyond Black and White. I have made a few friends, flexed my writing muscles, and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Lessons like what, you ask? Here are a few things I’ve learned while occupying this space:
At the heart of it, I think this is what it boils down to. The thing we call sisterhood is warped. Black women expect their sisters to show up for them, but when they don’t show up in the specific way they want, all bets are off. Anything outside the prescribed way to talk to fellow black women is viewed as a personal attack rather than meaningful advice. True sisterhood doesn’t mean lying to each other when the truth is painful.
Everybody wants to secure the bag, get money sis, practice hypergamy, and marry the rich husband and get the big house with the white picket fence and 2 children and the family dog. But when we suggest things that may make this level up journey a little easier, a few things may happen. The first, people will agree with the suggestions and embark on their personal journey. Depending on the suggestion made, another thing that could happen is we get accused of shaming, and the comment sections on social media blow up with relentless exchanges between the factions.
A third thing that happens, though not as frequently as the first two, is making the exception the rule. Commenters will point out how they still secured their bag, while doing or having something that is considered an extra layer of difficulty. Why go through life on Hard Mode when there are simple things that can be done to reduce the difficulty level? Leveling up will look different to everyone, but that doesn’t mean there are some universal tactics that black women can use to get ahead.
Out of all the things I’ve learned, this one annoyed me the most. When the blogs I and other writers post are shared on social media, only a brief snippet is included in the description, alongside a link to the blog. Time after time after time, black women will flood the comments, drawing conclusions based on one sentence out of a 1000+ word post. The nuance applied within the article is disregarded, because the blog post in question was left unread. I welcome people disagreeing with my stances, especially my more controversial ones, but I truly wish more people would read the whole thing before attacking the message.
Weight will always be a touchy subject with any woman, really. But the hundreds and hundreds of comments that were left on any post talking about weight was really something to behold. I will be examining possible reasons why this in a blog post unto itself in the new year, and will be taking a long, (possibly indefinite?) break from weight-related discussions after that.
The ‘didn’t read the whole thing but offering my conclusions anyway’, is my first annoyance; this one takes second place. We collectively are so quick to place the blame at the feet of black men, white men, white women, and those other black women over there, when we too have our share of blame for community ills. Yes, the black male collective has lots to answer for, but whose womb did they exit from? We are not always the innocent bystander, and sweeping our own dysfunction under the rug only does us and the community at large a disservice. Accountability is a universal concept that we as black women are not exempt from.
Speaking of exemptions, I am not exempt from lessons learned. One commenter pointed out that my tone of writing at times comes off as defensive and condescending, and I appreciate the constructive criticism. Due to the nature of the topics I discuss, writing defensively came somewhat “built in”, as a means to circumvent the typical responses made by women who disagree with the points I’m making. I’ll be taking that criticism into account in the new year and will work on improving my writing to reflect the suggestions made. When it comes to certain topics (such as my post on the pageant winners and subsequent clarification), my own nuance is in need of some work, and I’m not as far along on my own journey as I’d like to be.
Overall, I have enjoyed writing for this platform and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. To our fans and non-fans alike, thank you for a great year. I hope 2020 yields clarity of vision (get it?!) and we all level up in our personal journey along the way.
What have you learned about yourself, or the community, in 2019? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Penelope, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.