Tuesday, March 11, 2008

State of Sistahood


NEW YORK - This is a triumphant time for black women: Condoleezza Rice in the global diplomatic spotlight, Michelle Obama captivating campaign crowds as a potential first lady, billionaire Oprah Winfrey playing political kingmaker.

It's also a traumatic time: Rutgers University basketball players disparaged by radio host Don Imus, a black woman kidnapped and tortured by whites in West Virginia, the home-owning dreams of black women disproportionately dashed by foreclosures.

That remarkable mix is the focus of this year's State of Black America report, issued Wednesday by the National Urban League. It features essays looking at the array of challenges faced by African-American women: economic, social, psychological and medical.

"The one thing that is certain is the need to hear and amplify the voices of black women," longtime civil rights activist Dorothy Height writes in the foreword. "Too often, our needs, concerns, struggles, and triumphs are diminished and subordinated to what is believed to be the more pressing concerns of others."

Julianne Malveaux, the president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., contends in the report's opening essay that the image of black women in popular culture has barely improved in the year since the Imus incident.

White men continue to dominate on TV's Sunday morning news shows, she writes, while "the gyrating, undulating image of African-American women in rap music videos and, by extension, on cable television is as prevalent as ever."

The report delves deeply into economics, noting that black women are more likely than white or Hispanic women to be running a household and raising children on their own. According to Malveaux, black women hold more jobs nationwide than black men, yet — despite their breadwinner roles — earn less on average, $566 a week compared to $629 for black men.

In an essay about the home loan crisis, Andrea Harris, president of the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development, suggests that black women have suffered disproportionately. Assessing recent federal data on subprime loans, which are a main culprit in the foreclosure epidemic, Harris says black women received far more of these loans in 2006 than white men.

“It is easy to imagine the devastation that is headed toward African-American women and their communities,” Harris writes.

An essay by Dr. Doris Browne, a public health expert, details the above-average rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease among black women.

On an upbeat note, former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman notes in her essay that black women are making huge strides as entrepreneurs. The number of businesses owned by them increased by 147 percent between 1997 and 2006, compared to an overall business growth rate of 24 percent, she wrote.

Another of the essayists, Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said in an interview that disparities in health care and economics are the paramount issues for black women as the election campaign unfolds.

Exit polling shows that black women have become a larger force within the Democratic electorate compared to 2004, and Campbell said their expectations for policy changes also are rising.

“We want to go beyond being thought about,” she said. “We want action.”

The president of the Urban League, a 98-year-old black empowerment organization, hailed women as “the backbone of the black family” — constantly surmounting obstacles. Marc Morial called for expansion of programs that would assist black women in starting businesses, protect more of them from predatory lending schemes, and provide more of them with affordable, high-quality child care.

“When black women hurt, the American family suffers,” Morial wrote. “But by uplifting black women, especially those struggling hardest to keep their families together and their dreams on track, we lift up every American community.”

A year ago, the Urban League focused its State of Black America report on the difficulties facing many young black men, including their high rates of crime and imprisonment. This year’s theme was welcomed by black women who believe their particular concerns often are overlooked.

“I’m heartened that we’re delving into this issue in depth in a way that we haven’t in the past,” said Avis Jones-DeWeever, a public policy expert with the National Council of Negro Women.

“For us, it’s two steps forward, one step back,” she added. “But we do have a lot to be proud of.”
According to the statistics, times are very hard for us as people. And times are even harder for sistas. What do you think are some of the most pressing issues for sistas? How have you dealt with your own issues? What can bruthas do to help you?


Anonymous said...

It's hard out here for us.

With that in mind, stepping on President Obama's platform, we need a change.

We can hear all these great speeches, read some powerful literature. Have all of these things to give us hope for tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes, it's back to doing the same old stuff. Until we actually put forth an effort, put our foot down on the cancer that we have allowed to fester in our lives, we will continue to get the same results.

After the Rutgers incident, Black women were in an uproar. A few days later, it was business as usual. What will it take for us to realize our worth? We are the strongest group there there is yet we continue to let not just America but our ownselves cut at our strength. We need to wake up, brush our teeth, eat breakfast and keep it moving. Basically, we need to take action. Consistent action before in order to see things change.

*Off my soapbox now*

Anonymous said...

My bad on the typos. I was a lil fired up...lol.

Don said...

I agree with the president of the urban league - black women are the backbone of the black family. That goes without saying. And yes they do tend to catch hell sometimes, especially from the men they have chosen to begin a family with. Yall keep your head up though. A change will come. One day all brothers will get it together.

Dont hold your breath though.

Im just playing. LOL.

Don said...

wow @ jewells just came up in here and dissed Obama early in the morning. I want change Jewells for today and tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

It's time for black women to finally be heard ... by the whole nation but first we must unite together with ourselves, our families, our communities to make our voice heard.

I think the most pressing issues wiht black women is SELF WORTH and old fashion pride, respect,and dignity.

Brad said...

Allow me to counter a point. I do believe that black women are the backbone of the family. But I actually believe it should be Black Men. Black women have been burdend with that task unfairly and for far too long. Ever since the slave masters decided to use the strong black buck to sire a child but not be a father to it....we've been lost.

So, while the women have held us down....I think the problems in our community start and grow within the failures of "some" of our men. Personally I know a lot of good brothers who are the strength in their families. But I can tell you without question that when the family has a strong man....that family in itself is strong.

I applaud our women for the 400 years of strength that they've provided our families with. But it's time for our men to take the mantle.

Opinionated Diva said...

Wow...you always have some great topics!

There's so many things I want to say, but I can't find the right words...and it's pissing me off! LOL

I will be back!

12kyle said...

@ Jewells
President Obama. I like the way that sounds! You are correct. Consistency is the key.

@ Don
No doubt! They've held their own for so long. When I started reading this article, it talked about how these are challenging times for black women. I thought..."when has there NOT been challenging times for black women?"

@ ©hoklateRain
Sistas will unite for the cause. I do believe that. Thanks for coming to tha 12th Planet!

@ Brad
Good points bruh. There's a whole laundry list of things that we can talk about that black men need to do. But today I wanna give the shine to our sisters. And we will talk about it, too!

@ Opinionated Diva
It's ok. That happens from time to time. Just come back when you can.

The Jaded NYer said...

I saw this article last week on MSN and after the first paragraph I abandoned it.

My relationship with the media is a crazy, irrational, love-hate thing. When I see articles like this, the only purpose it serves, in my opinion, is to sway the subjects in question to the article's main idea.

Like when you read stuff that says women/man/dog of a certain age have a harder time of finding a mate, fighting cancer, losing weight, finding a job...whatever, fill in the blank. A woman/man/dog will read that and then *BOOM* feel like sh*t because "The Media" (she says in her best Chris Rock impersonation) is telling them to.

You want to know the state of Black Women? We're working hard to better ourselves just like everybody else in this country. We're born with two strikes against us and know it from jump, so we adjust and soldier on. Our mothers and grandmothers gave us the tools and resources we need to make a go of it, all we have to do now is apply them...

F*ck MSN and all the pundits...I ain't got time for the propaganda; I'm busy tryna do me...

(sorry...I got a lil fired up...)

The Jaded NYer said...

Actually, no, I'm not sorry, dangit! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!

Eb the Celeb said...

I tihnk some of the most pressing issues for sistas is the negative images portrayed of us on television. We have little girls growing up that don't have a balance. All they see on tv is the video chicks, the i love ny, and the ignorant chicks on flavor of love. When we were growing up we had a balance, yes we had the foxy browns, but we also had the clair huxtables.

I dont think I have dealt with my own issues. I think my issues stem from the lack of finding a meaningful date. I'm not looking for a husband right now, but it would be nice to go out on a real date, to have a black man truly stimulate my mind. Til this day I still have not been with anyone whose conversation stimulated me as much as their dick has. I strive for that. I want that mental orgasm. But then again, maybe I'm not ready for it yet.. because when I does happen I may fall head over heels head first for the man just because I've never had it before. So maybe God hasn't given it to me for a reason and right now I am content with that.

Bruthas can help by searching for more depth early on. Its a shame that women mature (for the most part) faster than men. I feel if more men knew what they do in their mid 30's when they are in their mid-20's that it would help out a lot with the images portrayed of black woman, with the success of african american relationships.. and so on. The men are suppose to be the head of the household, and I dont think they are stepping up to that title early enough in life. There was a time that as soon as men got out of high school they were ready to be the head of the house, be the bread winner, take care of the family, and do what is needed to truly start being a man. Nowadays, 18 year old have no recollection to do anything for anyone but themselves.

Ok.. .that's enough for me right now.

12kyle said...

@ Jaded NYer
I too have an extreme hate for Ms. Media. You can either report the news or you can manufacture it. And they manufacture. It's like you said...words are put in places to sway people. So are statistics. I took statistics in college and I know that you can make them sound the way that you want them to.

"One in every four black men are in jail." That means 75 percent of us aint in jail. There's less black men than white men so the numbers can be constructed in any way that you want them to be.

I understand where you're coming from and it's ok to get fired up about it. Preciate the passion.

@ Eb the Celeb
Very deep. I often wonder about the images on tv (especially videos). If you're on a set and are asked to be damn near nekkid and you say no...you don't work b/c there will be SOME other female who will say yes. Somehow...someway...we've gotta get outta that cycle.

There's nothing wrong with wanting that mental orgasm. Nothing wrong with falling head over heels about someone. You just have to be smart about it and make sure that your mind guides you.

Being man of the house is a joke for some of these kids. They don't know how to be something that they've never seen before. Momma is man of the house. And we've gotta get outta that cycle.

WeJa said...

AS i've said before, nobody is going to see us any differently until we see ourselves differently.

This may seem off subject, but it isn't.

Speaking from a personal subjective view, I know i fall victim to not being the typical stereotype, and sometimes advertise myself as not the "stereotypical black male".

I will love it when we and people from other backgrounds begin to see people as individuals and not a big ball of homogeneous fabric without any differentiating designs.

But I don't think that will happen until we begin to ourselves different and explore outside of comfort zones... realize its okay to be an adventurer.

AS I said, this may seem tangent... but it is directly related because I fall victim to negative comments from my sistas because of my creative expression/presentation. It leads me to believe that many are still stuck in the cage... that box of how things are supposed to be, which can and does reflect their world schema.

Simply, its okay to be different, reach for different paths, even seek different guides of life. Its okay to not fit into the typical, you don't have to be anything other than what you feel. NO... you don't have to be the ghetto image you see in the videos. You don't have to be sexual object that many times is portrayed in videos. "Ghetto" ain't cool in any culture, but contradictory its okay for many of us to be exploited by large corporations who use these type of images to sell products to us.

MEN... a large part of problem is us and how we treat our women, and the mixed messages we give them. Spread the feeling of respect and love. Find the innocence within our ladies and cherish it... let them feel free to be comfortable and allow the innocence to shine. Its this innocence that can and will help us to change our view of ourselves and how others see us.

Queen of My Castle said...

Very interesting article and the comments are just as engaging and real. I agree that we have it hard, but it doesn't stop us from persevering. One problem among us is jealousy, another being unhealthy competition...stemming from the root of jealousy. We are very strong and capable, but underlying that strength are quiet dorman seeds of insecurity and low self-esteem. As someone else stated, until we realize our full value and worth, there's not much anyone can do for us.

Trish said...

Kyle, you know I cant not stand Bafoonery!! Its all over TV and until we can first love ourselves and the beautiful black sistas that we are even with our big butts, big hips, large lips and great big ole breasts, we cant teach anything to our little sistas.
Teach them not to put themselves out there like some video vixen, teach them that they have to love themselves before any man will love them in the way they need to be loved.
When we do that... we'll bring up a whole generation of beautiful black & brown girls that wont fall for the okee doke and will be able to recognize bafoonery and disrespect when they are confronted with it !! Whew !

Brad, once again as usual love your comment and feel that I also would have a whole lot to say about our black men, but thats a whole "nother" blog that maybe our moderator can touch on in the near future.

Love yourselves Sistas, Love yourselves !!!

Anonymous said...

@ Don: I'm not dissing Obama. Stop trying to start trouble. I'm in agreement with him. Just saying that we need to take action within the need for change.

L. Renee' said...

nice pic! You are sooo cute! LOL

Anyway, Brad touched on something that I think is very important. Black women are as strong as they are because we had to be. There really wasn't any choice in the matter. Now, through the generations, we continue to model that behavior for our daughters. However, in this process of being strong we have forgotten to our allow our men to be men.

steve-o said...

good topic...this almost needs to be a conference call instead blog topic. too much to be said...

topics regarding the state of blackfolks are always intriguing to me because there never seems to be an answer or solution offered other than the obligatory..."we need to get together...we need to stop being 'crabs-in-a-barrel'..we need to value each other more...our voices need to be heard"

while all are true in some aspect, we never seem to get to the root of these issues. i'm not suggesting that i have the answers, cause i don't. however, there never seems to be any discourse regarding the root of all these problems.

the state of brotha's and sista's are inextricably linked. there is enough blame to go around. like a wise man to me once, "you can fix blame or you can fix the problem." for every issue a sista has with a brutha there is a valid counter-issue and vice versa...what is the root of it all?

most if not all the people posting to this blog are fairly enlightened. we are preaching to the choir. we, as bruthas, know who our sisters are. they know who their brothers are. what is the root of our issues as a community? you can't talk about the state of sisterhood without discussing the state of the brotherhood. we are both moot without each other. how did we get here?

there are several schools of thought yet as a community we never seem to be able agree on the origin our issues. therefore, we never really agree on a solution. you can't accuratly diagnose a problem without knowing the cause.

when do we start to chop at the root...i think its distracting analyze the issue separately..i'm just sayin...

Rezidl said...

Nice pic Chocolate Boy Wonder!

The biggest issue sistas have is their self esteem!

Forget how their perceived or how they are treated or anything else. Their treatment is a by-product of how they perceive themselves. If you KNEW and BELIEVED you had worth, you wouldn't let men, the media, your boss, etc. treat you any old kind of way. People are people and they will do exactly what you allow them to do. You accept shyt, you will get shyt. You demand parity you will get parity.

That does not mean you shout and scream to be heard. It's the opposite. You quietly and confidently exude the greatness you feel inside. People will "hear" you loudly and clearly.

For our generation, nothing matters more than each person owning who they are and taking hold of what they believe is theirs. No president or office-holding person can contribute fully to your perception of who you are. No policy or motivator can do that for you. You have to own You!

...man, this topic propels you on top of a soapbox.

I digress.....

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

You guys have summed up most of my thoughts precisely. I agree with Eb the Celeb about the negative images of us that are portrayed in the media. I think it's absolutely gone too far.

I also agree with L. Renee, we have gotten so used to taking care of everything that we've prevented our men from being men. It's all a setup that has been constructed to keep us down. If we women are the ones with the professional careers (they won't hire qualified black men) bringing home the bacon, that's going to make the men in our lives feel less than, which ultimately destroys our families.

I could go on and on, but I digress.

We've definitely made some strides, but we still have so far to go.

PrettyBlack said...

Ooooh weee this is a good one. I have to agree with jaded on alot of what she said. The media will have us believing we're still in chains...and some of us will be looking for the key.

My thing is everyone is getting blamed for what some siters and their mommas arent doing. Teaching their daughters and themselves. I've written about this before. When will some sisters take responsibility for their own actions.

Everyone is quick to point fingers at the negative, what about the sisters who are in college degree'd up, or trying to get there? How many times can we blame someone else for when a chick decides to be buck naked on a video...free of charge? When does the blame lie squarely on that sisters head? Some sisters need to get it together. Period. Stop thinking their salvation or their way out, or their self worth is through a dick. It's not.

It's through love of self. Most chicks love a man before they love themselves. Dads need to to be daddies and moms need to be mothers. There is nothing wrong with the sisterhood...there is something wrong with some sisters.

But isn't that with every race?

Trish said...

Chocolate Boy Wonder!... I love it.

12kyle said...

@ Weja
I feel you, bruh.

"I fall victim to negative comments from my sistas because of my creative expression/presentation."

How does that affect your views of sistas? Are you gonna date outside of your race?

Great post. You sound like a shrink...fa real! LOL.

@ Queen of My Castle
Those words are true. Sistas must realize their self worth. I think that starts at home with mommy.

@ Trish
Self love is very important. It's been a perpetual cycle. It starts with how mommy feels about herself. But as men, we also have to uplift her, too

@ LRenee
Thanks for the compliment! I had to cut my 5 yr old outta the picture. He's not too happy about it. LOL

I remember seeing something saying that "it's tough times for black women." I was thinking..."when has it been EASY for black women?"

@ Steve-O
Welcome back, bruh. You've been gone for a minute. Good to see you back on the set. Whether we like it or not, black men and women's struggles are tied at the hip. They need us and we need them

@ Rezidl
Chocolate Boy Wonder? Youz a funny dude. But you're right...self esteem will prevent you from settling for less and letting people walk all over you. This is definitely soapbox material

@ Brown Girl Gumbo
Family is very important. The breakdown of the black family has contributed to the breakdown of the black woman

@ PrettyBlack
You hit the nail on the head. There are plenty of sistas (and bruthas for that matter) that are doing what we're supposed to be doing. That won't make the news. Negativity sells.

"Most chicks love a man before they love themselves. Dads need to to be daddies and moms need to be mothers." Amen!

Much props to everybody for the vibe today. I appreciate it.

Sexxy Luv said...

Weja, I can relate to every word that you had spoken, I agree with you 100% and I am not going to speak on it because I don't have the answer, I am still trying to get right myself.

It's not about what the black man can do for the black woman, it's what the black woman needs to do for herself, I think if we figure out what we want and who we are before we get involved with the next person we will be better off.

I made the mistake of having children by a man because of his looks, and how much money was in his wallet instead of worrying about if I could raise a family with that man, I have accepted my mistake as a woman, I am no longer carrying that chip on my shoulder, I have moved on! what's next!

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

dangit 12kyle...i've been sick so i'm late on this

but anyhoo, i would like to cosign brad and the jaded nyer. but i also say that my biggest gripe is the weight of personal responsibility. A LOT of the "issues" we are faced with and are bothered by could become non-issues or less of an issue if we lived more appropriately or made better and more educated decisions. so as eb the celeb said, the images on tv are disturbing...BUT there are women going in droves to join these castings with the hopes of exploitation and "glitz." as jewells said, the rutgers incident was deplorable and distasteful...BUT i happen to believe that the way you carry yourself DOES influence others opinion of you. so all of the tattoos and jewelry and such that the ladies were sporting caught attention, albeit from a bigot. a lot of women have had to shoulder families and children by themselves...BUT some of them ignored the signs telling them they should run for the border.

i think i posted about this a while ago, but i read an open letter to sen. obama asking him what he'd do as president to stop the war on black women and girls in the media, to stop hypertension and diabetes and AIDS from wiping us out and creating safer environmentss for black women and girls. i was outraged at the demands some women were making from a man on a hill...decisions that are made every day that shape health, safety, entertainment and culture....things they did over and over, yet looked for someone else to remedy. so in cases like little daniyah jackson and the hunt & yarell mothers and children from IN were tragic and horrific. but the circumstances surrounding these stories left me uneasy. the accessibility that some people parade often bust the floodgates wide open to death, disease, depression and many other harmful factors.

no one is perfect but we all have choices, and the freedom of choice also has its blunders. CHOOSE WISELY!

MsPuddin said...

Back in Africa before slavery, men and women worked as a team, they were considered equal. A woman fought along side her man. Then when they were brought over to America, sold into slavery, the slave masters brought Africans of these traditions, breaking their unions and bringing them down as a people. Which is one of the reasons it is so hard for us to work together today…

I’m trying to help by educating myself and focusing on me right now. If I’m stable then I can hopefully later combine that w somebody else’s stability. Similar to our African ancestry…

Mizrepresent said...

Brothers can raise their children, their young boys to be respectful of women, to appreciate family, the be the backbone we've been missing for such a long time. Brothers can become more involved in their communities, mentor a young one. Brothers can love their spouses, cherish their significant other and demonstrate their love and respect everyday, so when another young brother sees you, he sees and observes and perhaps learns how to respect a woman.

No new lessons, brothers, just old ones, tried and true that got left behind.

great post!

steve-o said...

12kyle, thanks bruh...

look, i have a problem with this particular brand of analysis with regard to black-folks problems. not that i don't think that sisters don't need recognition of their progress inspite of forces that would rather they fail. i come from a long line of women who are made of some incredible grit and courage. one of my life mentors is a woman (shout out to dr. phyllis chunn duncan) however, there are no women issues that don't directly or indirectly affect men and vice versa. that's one thing dr. duncan imbued in me is my role in determing the reality of the women in my life and theirs in mine.

for example, several women have posted that the most pressing issue for black women is the lack of pride, self-respect and dignity possesed by today's black women. traditionally these traits or qualities are articulated by mothers and validated by fathers. it can be done without one or the other but its less likely that it will happen without both. so the fact that its an issue now is evey black person's issue.

i just think that separating the issues prevents us from uncovering and resolving the root cause. further, any discussion that doesn't involve both of us is a moot exercise. nothing gets solved...


mspuddin, i used to romanticize the culture of our ancestors too. i have found that sexism is older than the crucifixion. the influence of islam (no offense to anyone) in african culture, particulary sub-saharan africa, is ancient. islam and christianity have both been historically sexist and have gotten progessively better thru the centuries. however,while there were some socities that were more progressive than others, women have been largely discriminated against and marginalized since the beginning of civilization. though, i am proud of our heritage, i must be realistic about every aspect as i become more educated about it.

i get where ur coming from though and i'm pulling for ya!!!