As black people, we often reference a “code,” but so many fail to “stay on it,” which has me questioning if it truly exists. Here’s what the code would include if I wrote it, and side note, I’m sure there are other things. But here’s where I would begin:
Black women would be polite to each other in public.
This isn’t to say we cannot disagree with one another, but we need to raise our collective frequencies and decide to stay silent with women we do not care for or whose behavior we do not agree with. I regularly see black women publicly bickering with and ridiculing each other in public spaces. I watched two YouTube personalities I was very fond of have a nasty, public feud. One personality stayed quiet for the most part while the other one took to making several videos to share with her large following. The entire thing was a bad look and did not help DSBW’s image whatsoever.
Black women would refuse to engage in physical altercations.
Yes, sometimes you do have to defend yourself. But I’d love it if we would only resort to that when walking away or calling in reinforcement (such as a protective male or the police) is not an option. Physically fighting puts us all at risk. It skews our image toward masculinity and while some women might appreciate that (and they have every right to like what they like) all women don’t want that. I, for one, do not want it. I am a mother of two with a fragile, 130lbs body. I am physically fit, but I am not a fighter and I have too much to lose by throwing down in public.
Black women would ONLY use proper tone and diction when speaking publicly.
I’m tired of the 6 o’clock news black woman who gets on camera and spouts a bunch of uneducated mumbo jumbo for someone to make a meme or remix out of. Similarly, our social media content has gotten way too out of hand. Not everything needs to be voiced publicly, in live streams, or through videos. If it’s not something you’d be comfortable saying in front of your mom or to the face of the person you are mad at, it probably doesn’t need to be said.
When speaking at press conferences or other media events with cameras and microphones, we must always, always speak and act tactfully and intelligently. No, it’s not “acting white,” it’s carrying yourself in a poised way.
No more hair bonnets or pajamas outside of the house.
Black mothers would demonstrate healthy parenting skills.
If you don’t like your child because his/her dad “ain’t shit,” if you’re mad that you have multiple children with multiple men and it’s tiresome, if you are angry you can’t go to Greece for a vacation because you have to take care of your children, I have news for you: Those are all YOUR choices. None of that is your children’s fault. Stop taking your regrets out on the children you willingly bore with whomever. Also, stop paying forward all the ways you were mistreated as a child. No, it wasn’t fair, but what good does perpetuating that behavior do? If you think breaking your child’s spirit is necessary because whoever raised you broke yours, then you don’t deserve children. I know plenty of loving women who cannot bear their own who would love the opportunity to.
Black women’s blind loyalty to black men would stop.
Because in all honesty, it’s not reaping any benefits for DSBW, and plenty of others have covered why, with the statistics on how we are getting the short end of the stick in that deal. Individual black men who are faithful, loving, and worthy? No problem with them. But those aren’t the same ones who are on TV or radio, profiting off of DSBW dollars while also burning us every chance they get.
We would only support causes that are our own first and foremost. Ruthlessly.
This is not to say that gay people shouldn’t have rights, that transgenders should not have rights, or that feminism doesn’t have some important points…but the bridge from oppression to recognition seems to always be assembled on the backs of black women, and it’s tiring. We can support people on an individual level instead of in collective terms - when things become collective, other collectives wash us out, i.e. the natural hair movement, #MeToo, and we can go ahead and throw feminism in here too.
What would the code include if YOU had a say?
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. When she is not advising clients, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.