Editorial Staff

The Black Woman’s Bill of Rights: Boundaries

I’m writing a series of articles regarding rights that each and every black woman has, rights they may not realize exist or have unwittingly surrendered.

This week, we talk about boundaries.

To illustrate my point, I’ll share with you something that happened to me last year.

“So, where do you live?”

I was walking through town when a black man who I didn’t know called to me: he had a question. I was not alarmed because (1) it was day time (2) there were people around and (3) I could literally kick a stone and hit the local police station. And the person, at first, didn’t seem to possess any ulterior motives.

When he was in front of me and I could clearly see him, I noted that he was covered in tattoos and appeared to be in his late thirties. I politely asked him if I could help him. He stated that he was new to town and wanted to know if I knew of any apartment complexes in the area. I told him of a new development that had recently opened, what it was called and where it was located. Throughout my attempts to explain, this gentlemen kept complimenting me (referring to me as beautiful) in a way which I found a bit odd but not offensive. Having given him the information, I was ready to be on my way, and was going to say as much when this person dropped a figurative bombshell on me:

He asked me what my home address was.

This person who I knew all of five minutes, if that, felt that it was not at all bizarre to ask a complete stranger where they lived. I didn’t give him my home address, suffice it to say. I did however firmly state that I didn’t share personal information with people I didn’t know. I wished him the best of luck and then headed in the opposite direction. And with as much speed as I could muster without actually running.

No, you can’t have my personal information, total stranger…

He actually seemed surprised, not offended, but surprised by my civil rebuff. That makes me think that some black women have given such sensitive information to him in the past. And that worries me.

I remember writing about what happened later that week with that specific concern in mind, asking, “My God, are black women really THAT desperate?!”

So desperate for black male companionship that they would so easily give away such vital information? So desperate that they would risk their personal safety and that of any children they may have? So desperate they would unwittingly alert a potential murderer, rapist, child predator, etc. as to where they can be found sleeping and helpless at 3am?!

I was and remain flabbergasted by the event, and similar ones observed and experienced regarding black men and the absolute blatant disrespect and disregard for black women and girls, which goes completely unchecked by the recipients.

Why you have a right to set boundaries

Black women, you don’t have to give out information to any yahoo who asks for it. You don’t have to allow anyone into your space, figuratively or literally, that doesn’t deserve to be there. A person who hasn’t earned your time and respect is entitled to NOTHING when it comes to stepping beyond the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.

Some black people have gotten it in their heads that because you share a skin tone, they are perfectly within their right to approach and chastise you in public (“Why you with that white boy?”) or sexually harass you as you attempt to walk down the street or any number of highly irregular or inappropriate behaviors. This “I know you, even though I don’t know you, because we’re both black” ridiculousness needs to end. Somehow the brotha and sista terms are felt a little TOO strongly by some folks who think it’s a license to treat your boundaries as non-existent and act in an ultra-familiar way. You wouldn’t do it some white person that you didn’t know, why is it okay to do it to me? Because “a black woman won’t call the cops”? You’ve got the wrong one, Slappy.

Ladies, you have the right to not consider this behavior to be normal, to treat it as abnormal, and to do whatever you have to in order to oppose it. It doesn’t matter if that person is “just trying to help you out”. It doesn’t matter that others feel that a black women shouldn’t have boundaries. YOU have the right to look out for your own safety, dignity, and well-being.


Do you have personal boundaries? Do you have a set of rules for what is required of a person to pass beyond your boundaries? If the answer is no, stop and FIGURE OUT what you need to do to go about constructing mental, emotional, and physical boundaries for yourself.

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