By Yvonne Sam
Forgive me for being so blunt right out the gate, but the truth must be told, and it simply is what it is. We are capable of identifying and pinpointing the issues we face when dealing with white women, and even other women of color. There is a conversation that can be had about our relationship, on various levels with our Black brothers.
Be that as it may, as Black women we should be able to come to the table and stand with and for each other. The color of our skin, texture of our hair, education, class or preference should not serve as obstacles hindering us from seeing ourselves in each other. To further the discussion of how to become better allies for each other, there are some paths that must be avoided, as they do not augur progress.
There is enough room at the table for all of us sisters. You do not have to throw a sister under the bus to get ahead. You do not have to treat another Black woman like an enemy because she exists in a space that she has earned. Work together, reach back and check with the sister you see working hard to earn her place in the world. Do not ask others to refrain from destroying you, when in a split second you would destroy a sister for no legitimate reason.
We must be able to accept help and correction from each other. Shaming exists in our community, and this must be brought to an end if truly positive bonds are to be built. We must be able to advise each other, and when necessary respectfully correct each other, based on where we are and the world we live in. We must be able to discuss how to protect self, exist in different spaces, and correct practices that won’t benefit us. A sister should be able to pull another sister(s) to the side without being accused of shaming or hating.
Yes the men in our lives must be responsible for their loyalty to us. Having thus said, if we are aware of a sister who is in a committed relationship, or she is married, do not betray her trust by putting hands on her beau. This is what enemies do, unfortunately it is often the sister whom we trust that have betrayed us in kind. Not every man falls for it when approached by “that” friend…but it should never happen.
As sisters we must use our mouths to build not to destroy. Black women know how to empower in a way that is beyond words. You could find yourself in a place in a space whereby you are a bit unstable because you feel isolated. Then you see another sister, and she simply acknowledges that she sees you and WE got this. That moment can re-define your day. Sadly, too many sisters are using said power to tear each other down. Of course, society wants to see us at each other’s throats…why would we give them the satisfaction. If you aren’t going to use your words to give life at least do no harm. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21
We must desist from downplaying or devaluing the experiences of another sister, because it is not our own. Black women face challenges in this country, be they brown skin, light skin or ambiguous presenting. Some of our hardships may vary…. but there are some challenges that come with just being a Black woman. Just because another sister talks about something she deals with that you do not, there is no need to try to silence her. There is enough hurt going around and we need safe healing spaces. As sisters we are all in this thing called “life” and “Black womanhood” together.
In the sphere of womanhood, no woman understands a Black woman like another Black woman. When we work together, we empower each other; we uplift our men, our brothers and nurture our babies. When we stand together we are capable of moving mountains. Who can take my sister down, if I am standing with her? The answer should be no one. However, no one can destroy a Black woman like another Black woman, and this must stop, immediately. Now more than ever, we need each other.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.