It is no secret that black women today are on the receiving end of a full on media assault. We see this in the way we are depicted in popular culture, in movies, television, music and blogs. You can even try searching online and you’ll find various degrees of negative advertising when it comes to black women.
We are portrayed as undesirable, uneducated, unfit and uncouth. Despite the fact that these depictions are categorically false and preposterous as evidenced in our real day to day lives, the media is all too happy to continue to spew this caricature of us.
The effects of this onslaught can be seen in the way we lead our lives. Some of us –though we may not readily admit to this, react to our vulnerable standing in society by looking outward for validation. We become shopaholics, addicted to staying on top of the trends; we skim online retailers while multitasking at work and hit up the mall after work incessantly looking for the newest piece of fabric or MAC blush, with the
hopes that our purchase might even in the tiniest way give us that edge over the competition. Or, if that’s not you, maybe you seek validation in the arms of a man by going to great lengths to please him, whether that means loaning your car out to him twice a week, giving him money, or allowing him to get away with behavior that disrespects and demeans you, all for the sake of being able to say you have someone that claims you as their woman.
Then there are the women who spend a small fortune on their hair and keeping it impeccably styled while they are simultaneously late on their rent for the month. Now please don’t get me wrong, if this is not you, then I am not talking to you, but I think most of us can either relate directly to this or we know of someone who can. I understand that ALL races of women shop, allow men to get away with what they shouldn’t, and spend money on their hair. My concern is us as women of color and our underlying motivations when we participate in this irresponsible behavior. Could it be that we are trying to compensate for our feelings of unworthiness brought upon by our perceived low rank in society? If so, I would like to say that it will not work! These vices only help to further erode our self-esteem. The only way to respond to the media’s lies is to reject them!
We can show our rejection through our refusal to watch, purchase and patronize media outlets that propagate this false and incomplete image of Black women as a whole, instead of tuning into Basketball Wives on Vh1, we can tune into OWN. Instead of purchasing a Lil Wayne record, we could check out the latest offering from Esperanza Spalding. We can further show our rejection by using our education, intellect and ambitions to infiltrate the powers that be behind the networks and media outlets and becoming manufacturers of our own entertainment a la Tyler Perry and Oprah. And perhaps most importantly, we should show our rejection in our hearts, by affirming our self-worth inwardly; we do this by reminding ourselves of what our Creator says about us: “We are beautifully and wonderfully made in His image.”
Instead of seeking validation through unhealthy shopping excursions, men, and our hair, we should refocus our efforts into more formidable ventures such as learning about wealth building strategies; money is power and we as black women need to master our money in order to leave something for the generations to come. We can demand more from our men and carefully lay out our expectations, and if they are not met we can follow through on our threats to leave, fully knowing that there will be someone out there who will see us for the exemplary women we are. We can volunteer, get involved with a church or community group, or take up a new hobby because we know that when we focus on others and not ourselves, we begin to see the world differently and new possibilities and opportunities (not to mention new places to meet like-minded men) befall us.
I challenge every woman reading this to turn your face from the lies you see about yourself on the television or computer screen, funnel your energy into more substantive entertainment and create new and more satisfying life habits that work to affirm and reinforce your self worth.