There’s no tell-all manual or guidebook for how to be black woman and flourish in a society quite like the one we live in today. As a result, many of us are stumbling clumsily along the way, having to unlearn and decolonize our minds as we wake up to the numerous toxic systems of thoughts that have been generationally passed down through the black community (such as elevating and idolizing loosely textured hair and light skin). To help speed along this process, I’ve compiled a list of tips that will not only help you better navigate this racist, colorist and misogynistic world, but will also equip you with everything you need to thrive.
1. Operate With Your Safety In Mind First, Not Your Ideologies
It would be nice if black women could be as carefree, whimsical and politically bold as we wanted, but we also have to be aware that doing such is likely to make us the targets of hate groups or ignorant individuals. The truth is, actions like protesting, speaking out about boldly about controversial political issues may put you at risk of violence. Statistically, black women suffer higher rates of physical and sexual violence and higher rates of psychological abuse. According to a 2015 Violence Policy Center study, we are “two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men” than white women, and are often the victims of homicide. The chilling facts reveal that more than nine in ten Black female victims knew their killer. Even young black girls are not immune, as they are expelled and suspended at higher rates than other races of girls.
While this certainly doesn’t mean we need to live our lives in fear or cowering to other people—it does mean that we need to be conscious of the way society’s perception of us affects our safety. Take extra precautions to ensure that you’re spending time with people who value you and that you’re sharing your life and opinions in an embracive environment.
2. Operate As A Community With Other Black Women
Often times, black women are extremely community-minded when it comes to the black community—and often to our own detriment. For years we’ve been marching at the head of political movements like black lives matter, largely in support of black men, while receiving little to nothing in return. I’d argue that instead of continuing to be the backbone of the black community, we begin instead to create a supportive community of black women who protect, love, comfort and respect each other.
This doesn’t mean every black woman has to be your friend, but by lending regular social, financial and economic support, and by uplifting and supporting black female entertainers, businesswomen and everyday black women, we have a shot at improving the lives of black women everywhere. This may look like getting a subscription to DDS Magazine to get a regular dose of dark-skinned black beauty and to support black female writers, designers, editors, and much more. It even may look like getting all of your Christmas presents from black woman-owned companies. Whatever it looks like, make sure to implement it now and stick to it. There are legions of black women waiting for your support.
3. Take Advantage of Your Unique Beauty
Our hair grows up and out, our noses are wide and our luscious lips are full. We all know society’s history of complaining about these features on black women, yet, worshipping white women who have these features (whether natural or not). But there’s no need to beat ourselves up over the ignorance of others. Why? Because black women are absolutely gorgeous and unique, we have features that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s simply in our best interest to fall head-over-heels in love with ourselves, as hard as society and low self-esteem may make it.
In 2019, let’s not hide behind European-textured wigs and weaves, bleaching cream, or “highlighting” our faces in an effort to slim our naturally fuller facial features. Instead, let’s embrace every aspect of what makes us different and continue to be the envy of the world! Remember, embracing your features will help undo the mental strongholds of white supremacy in your mind and give you freedom.
4. Travel, Travel, Travel!
We’ve all heard the musings about the difficulties of travelling while black. And unfortunately, as an avid lover of travel and a black woman, I’ve discovered that many of these stereotypes about other cultures are true when it comes to how they treat black women. Some cultures stereotype us as sex fiends or angry black women. But things are changing. For example, in Spain—my next travel destination—there’s a group called Las Morenas de España (which translates roughly to something like the brown girls of Spain) which aims to add comfort to the experience of every black girl in Spain through their luxurious retreats, conferences and the multitudes of articles available about life in Spain, and even Europe as a whole.
We can’t allow ignorant people to stop us from enjoying one of the best gifts that life has to offer—travel! Travel to the mountains and clear your mind with the sharp, crystal-clean air, or take a shark-cage diving trip on the coast of Australia—the sky is your limit.
5. Prioritize Your Health
Aren’t you tired of the statistics of black dysfunction and rampant health problems in the black community? Let’s start by being the change we want to see and making 2019 the year of healthy black women. Physically and mentally! We face a disproportionate number of health risks and concerns, such as Lupus, Heart Disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fibroids. Many mental health problems can’t be fixed entirely with a good fitness and self-care regimen, but almost all of them can be and are improved with regular exercise and a good diet. Act like your health is your number one priority because it should be. Never forget that you are beautiful, valuable and worthy of everything you want--including good health!
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety and Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."