Black Women and the Cut Throat Sisterhood
Since I was born, I’ve been a sister. I was born into a sisterhood. My mothers, my sisters, my aunts, my cousins. Black women were always my sisters. I grew up with a younger sister. I shared most of my experiences with her. I protected my sister and she protected me. I supported my sister and she supported me. I fought with my sister, but we shared more laughs and smiles. We are still sisters. Because of her, I know how to be one. As an older sister, I learned how to be a keeper. Have I been kept?
I have encountered many sisters in my life. Some I could trust, some that I learned later that I couldn’t. I’ve had the same best friends since middle school. What keeps us bounded is LOYALTY. It wasn’t until I got older that I tried to venture into finding new friends. Though I have encountered many women I’ve called sisters, Loyalty is where our sisterhood was the most tested. Many seek sisterhoods, but not loyalty. I learned this the hard way.
The moment I didn’t agree, I was discarded. The moment I didn’t desire to be in the “clique”, I was considered the outsider. “You can’t sit with us”. As if we don’t have our own tables. There are many. False sisters will gatekeep their table, but want to eat off of yours too. I desired a tribe. I desired to connect with women who not were always similar to me, but to grow with me as their own unique self. That’s unity. To achieve this takes loyalty, and trust that we all can travel in our own directions. We will just meet at the crossroad together. The love will always remain. And they would trust that I’d be there when we meet again.
Alot of the slander I see amongst toxci sisterhoods and black women, comes in the disguise of “holding each other accountable”. There’s a difference between holding another accountable and projecting judgement on someone with guilt and shame. What I have seen is a desire to call out every flaw of the next woman, to make it more about judgement. We’ll label another woman, before we ask her for hee name. Her reputation will proceed the opportunity for her to show her true character. This is the same thing society already does to women, especially black women (patriatchy). Are we holding true to sisterhood or playing in the same game? Are we growing together or leading to self-destruction by our own sabotage?
In this society, black women (especially) can hardly dodge accountability as is. Black women are ALREADY facing consequences from patriarchy and racism for poor choices, or for not fitting into the societal definitions of womanhood. When will we admit, sometimes we like seeing other black women in pain? That we project our own pain onto each other? Our fears? Our selfish desires? Our insecurities? The black women’s misery is already appealing entertainment, mocked, and publically displayed. Perhaps we aren’t playing the game, perhaps we created it. Many just enjoy the view or instigate to keep it going.
When will we be accountable for how we treat each other? Or will we continue to take our issues to the full out extent and then cry about lack of changes?
Another issue I see amongst black women circles I have been apart of, is lack of respect. The “clique” mentality often doesn’t leave much room to respect individuality. It leaves the sisters with differences to feel alienated. Often many try to change the sisters that stand out from the rest. If the circle is full of women that have envious or jealous ways, the target(s) can experience much emotional abusive behavior from the other sisters. The competitive nature instilled in many black women can make it difficult for many to come to acceptance of the black women who threats the group’s identity. Often the black women that have the courage to display their own identity is seen as “weak” within the group. Does the chain that links us require us to not respect our differences?
Toxic sisters can also be territorial and possessive. In a previous blog (“I’m a Hoe), I briefly spoke on degrading language me and my sister were called when we were young. The same holds true today. Both me and my sister experienced this often when we moved to new neighborhoods. Growing up we moved often. I recall times we used to just walk around the neighborhood and groups of girls spoke hateful words towards us without provocation. I realize now that many black women can view a new black woman/girl in her neighborhood, at work, in school, or even new to her family as a possible threat. And treat her as such without much reason.
The immediate response to the presence of the “new girl” can result in blatant disrespect, and isolation. Often spoken to these new girl(s) who aren’t immediately accepted are hateful words such as: bitch, hoe, slut, whore. If they are extremely hateful, they will commence to attacking her appearance, body, hair, or personal style. Many will even think that if the ones they attack tolerates their abusive behavior and easily forgives, she can become apart of the “clique”. As if an induction to a friendship or sisterhood requires unjustified hazing or tolerance of mistreatment. Perhaps if more black women and girls are treated with more acceptance and fairness, we could see the same amongst friendships and sister circles.
The deepest knives in my back came from women that I once called “sister”. The ones who had smiling faces, but daggers in their hands with slander on their tongues. They had hugs that were so fake they held their breath instead of exhaling together with me. My pain was their latest gossip or entertainment. Not much genuine care or support. They disguised themsleves as admirers, but even the hateful admires. They treated me the same as men have treated me or worse. They even taught their sons and lovers to treat me how they treated me. They deceived me to believe we were friends, yet they plotted revenge or destruction. Who needs enemies when those in your circle treated you worse than one? The ones you called, friend. The ones you called, sister.
Many were plotting to steal my gifts or talents, and take the credit for themselves. To watch my every move, and laugh as I tripped or fell. To down play my successes. To see who I was dating to assess for themselves if our relationship failed. I let you have him, sis. They plot to make me their scapegoat, to dodge their own accountability. I never plotted revenge upon them. I supported them. I cried with them. I laughed with them. I shared my most intimate secrets with them. I shared my authentic self with them. Why did you give me your mask, sis? Why did you give me betrayal, sis? Why did you give me competition, sis? They wanted to compete. I wanted to collaborate.
They gave me motivation, but when I failed they joined the crowd and laughed at my pain. I looked up at them. Betrayed and hurt. They denied what they have done. I wished them the best in Life. I’m still my sister’s keeper. That won’t change. I let them Be great. Let me Be great, Sis.
© Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.