Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Self-Defense Tips for Black Women

It’s clear that as a collective, black women have no first line of defense. In fact, some people even delight in our suffering, especially if it is at the hands of white men. Abuse only counts when white men are the perpetrators; it doesn’t count when black men do it. Oh, and don’t forget, if you do get abused, you probably deserved it and the benefit of the doubt will go to the perpetrator, not you (like when that elderly lady was beat up on the train in New York earlier this year, and a surprising amount of people condemned the woman, saying that “old folks have a slick mouth”). With all that in mind, here are some things you can do to stay safe in an ever-more-dangerous society.

  • Have a plan

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you’re alone a night, make sure you stay in well-lit, crowded areas with lots of places that you can be seen. If you have earphones/headphones on, play your music quietly, or turn it off until you are somewhere safe.

  • Get a gun

    Not only should black women get their concealed carry permit, but we should also spend time at our local gun range to learn how to properly and most effectively use a gun.

  • Opposed to firearms? Can’t get a gun? Try mace

If you live in a place with stricter gun laws, get some other self-defense item you can use as a weapon from a distance. Perfume, hairspray, even water can be used to temporarily startle your would-be assailant, if mace or pepper spray isn’t allowed. And if you do get any of these, keep it in your pocket as you walk rather than buried in the bottom of your purse.


  • Take up some martial arts

    In addition to being great exercise, martial arts like Krav Maga will arm you with the skills and techniques to get out of potentially dangerous situations. Self-defense courses should be a top priority for all women, but especially black women!

  • Get in shape

    Despite the #blackgirlmagic we so proudly proclaim we have, we are not superheroes; we are biologically smaller and therefore, more likely to be weaker than a man who poses a threat. So rather than fight, use flight. Run away as fast as you can, screaming something attention-getting and to the point like “Help” or “I’m in danger” to get the attention of people who might actually help, instead of record. Being in shape will allow you to escape faster.

  • Get a self-defense ring

    Weapons that don’t look like weapons are great because a would-be assailant may not notice it. With a self-defense ring, you can amplify the force of a slap, scratch, or punch if you need to use force. There are also self-defense key rings that look innocuous but can be employed if needs be and cause some damage to an attacker.

  • Pay attention

    Whenever I’m walking alone at night, I notice everything. I’m looking as far ahead as I can. I look behind me frequently to make sure I’m not being followed. When I see women glued to their phones while walking, I cringe because all it takes is one moment of distraction to become a victim. Stay on high alert!

These are only a handful of things that you can do as a woman of any race to protect yourself. Do you have tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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