Note from BW of Brazil: A little time for reflection. Sometimes due to life’s challenges, pitfalls and disappointments, we sometimes forget that those who we sometimes treat as competitors are/should be part of our support networks, shoulders to lean on or simply friends in those times in life in which we need just that. For black women, often the lowest on the totem pole in their respective societies, the unity, solidarity and sisterhood among their equals is sometimes the only thing that exists. In this poignant piece, Thaís Santos touches on the necessity of developing and maintaining a very important relationship that perhaps only black women can truly understand.
From black woman to black woman, life is less lonely
by Thaís Santos
“Many black women feel that we live lives in which there is little or no love. This is one of our private truths that is rarely a subject for public discussion. To name this reality evokes such intense pain that black women rarely talk about fully with one another.”
The above excerpt, by the black American feminist bell hooks, has been widely shared by black women in social networks. It brings into focus a debate not only painful but also rarely spoken: lack of affection in the personal lives of black women. The principal view given to this issue is the difficulty that we encounter in finding and engaging in serious and lasting relationships. But it’s not only in this aspect that the black woman is alone.
Our loneliness in relation to the world begins in the difficulty of our understanding as black woman, by the very construction of Brazilian racism, but it does not stop there. The black woman that is really conscious of the part of prejudice that she suffers possesses a great difficulty in depositing in her equals a sense of reciprocity, understanding, solidarity, etc.
And it is this emptiness which is so costly. For us, black women, the absence of love is so deep that we cannot see it even in the black woman at our side the possibility of having sisterhood.
White feminists talk about sisterhood and the necessity of women needing to stop competing with each other, cease from looking at each other as rivals and begin to look at each other as partners. It’s this relationship that for us is a big challenge, many black women around me say there is no sisterhood for black woman. It doesn’t exist because, often times, for us to find a relationship is above most of our interests, we make this an unconscious priority; we cling to the crumbs of love offered to us by white or black men. And from there our relationship with any person who threatens this ‘achievement’ is deeply shaken.
Often times we look at another black woman on the subway, at parties, in the hair salon and the appearance of the women already determines whether or not we will approach each other, we make a judgment of her beauty, we establish a relationship of a rather subjective competition. Often we fail to support our black sister in a particular argument, without realizing that for a black woman to raise her voice against anyone and impose her opinion is one of the biggest challenges and demonstrations of strength.
Unfortunately, blinded by sexism and marked by racism, we stop creating bonds of solidarity and strengthening them, because of a lack of reflection, a lack of understanding of the difficulties, because to us – and everyone else – it’s fitting that we must above all preserve ourselves and proceed with the moral of individualism and so on.
But being black women, recognizing ourselves as black women, is first of all an act of courage and strength! And because of this, we already recognize ourselves in each other without knowing our names. Because with each black woman who stands up and assumes her color, we have our struggle strengthened. With each black woman who says she will no longer accept sexism and racism, we’re a step closer to freeing ourselves. And with each black woman who looks at another and understands her pain, we have two stronger women. The sisterhood arisen from this relationship transforms our daily lives, makes us understand that the sexism that tries to divide us only increasingly deserves our nurturing and caring for each other.
Overcoming the lack of love in the life of the black woman is not finding a black man who she can rely on. It is also, if this is of your interest, but it’s not only this. Overcoming this lack of love is loving yourself, loving your sister, loving our color and our strength. It is putting one’s self first, understanding and recognizing in your equal the possibility of starting to rid yourself of so many anxieties that only we understand. It‘s finding beautiful looking at another black (afro/natural hair), at other curls. It’s feeling good about your body while looking the other broad features, big booties. It’s knowing that no relationship is worth the tears of another woman.
The more I see black women, the more I realize that there is great difficulty in developing a relationship of deep friendship between them, we learned to close ourselves in order to preserve ourselves. And increasingly I realize in the breaking of this barrier a relationship that sisterhood, affection nor any other word can describe.
Often times we fail, often times we lack the reflection in realizing that this sister is not smiling much, or she needs someone to be at her side just to say: ‘I’m here!’ Often we lack saying how much we think our black sister is beautiful and we care about her. Because this relationship, this solidarity, this sisterhood changes our willingness to face life and our loneliness decreases.
Therefore, if it is still very important for loving relationships that ‘you kiss your black woman in a public square’, it is very important to embrace your sister. Our bonds of solidarities can produce an affection rarely found in this dog-eat-dog world. And that’s what I’m after…
Text devoted to my black sisters from the Coletivo Negro-USP (Black Collective – USP, University of São Paulo), with whom every day I learn about being a woman, black and feminist.
Source: Blogueiras Negras