Why Are Black Women Hurting Each Other?

BY: - 24 Sep '12 | Home

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Photo Credit: Allen Penton

Photo Credit: Allen Penton

If it was up to reality television, a lot of people of different races would probably think that black women couldn’t get together without drink throwing, bottle chucking, and shoes coming off before someone’s weave is snatched. We’ve debated that topic before. Many of us can accept that this is not our reality. We can get together and be civilized and not go through the motions of acting a fool in public places. But there is still an elephant in the room: black women really can’t stand other black women.

Let me make it clear that this is not the case for all of us. Please read that again. This is not everyone’s truth. But unfortunately, we have some sort of bitterness towards each other for one reason or another. I can’t tell you how many times my mom and I have gone out shopping and we get these looks from other black women as if we did something to them. We don’t know these ladies and yet they spew venom with just an evil glare. I’ve gone to places where a black woman is working, and get met with an attitude no matter how nice I am. I just don’t understand it.

I pretty much smile at whoever I make eye contact with. It’s just a habit. But I really make it a point to do so when I make eye contact with another black woman. And can you believe sometimes I get a response like an eye roll or a scowl? Woah, I don’t even know you. Why are you mad at me? It used to make me extremely uncomfortable growing up. I would feel like black women were staring at me and talking about me and I never knew what I did. As I continued to grow, I kept experiencing it and it was just sort of the norm.

The reasons could vary. You should see the negative conversation that happens when it comes to skin color. I’ve heard snide remarks about another sista’s clothing or hairstyle. Your job, your car, your home, anything is up for grabs for some women to talk about. I just don’t understand why. We tear down ladies who look just like us for no reason. People don’t like Jada. Folks talk about Gabby’s hair. Women aren’t satisfied with Halle. And don’t even get them started about Beyonce. It’s just a bunch of negative energy directed towards each other.

We should be embracing one another, not tearing each other down. The attitudes should disappear. Smile, don’t scowl, at the next black woman you see. Don’t think the worst of her, think the best of her. We allow jealousy and envy to get in the way of finding common ground. The ladies you’re talking down to have feelings. The women you refused to smile at may have really needed that smile. The one you think you’re better than could be in the same position as you.

I want to see us continue to build each other up, support each other, and love each other. We’ve been doing better, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We have to help each other, not hurt each other.

Oprah has been discussing the Terrible Things that Women Do to Each Other during her Life Class. Check out this video about why women compete with one another:

BMWK – Do you think that some black women can be mean to each other?  We see so many black women treating each other horribly on reality TV now-a-days, how can we teach our daughters to love and respect each other?

About the author

Briana Myricks wrote 136 articles on this blog.

Briana is a 20 something Social Media Specialist residing in Long Beach. She blogs about her journey of self discovery and development on SheDevs.

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21 WordPress comments on “Why Are Black Women Hurting Each Other?

  1. Sheena

    I wrote a note about this very subject 2 years ago. I would like to share it with you.
    *************************************************************************

    Within the past year, I’ve witnessed or listened to countless stories of the DEMISE of FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS. These stories include everything from so-called friends/associates stating negative comments – to lying – to competing for status among girlfriends – to the unwillingness to apologize and reconcile hurt feelings. WHY IS THIS THE CASE???

    Woman to Woman, let’s try to break this down.

    A friendship is supposed to be a relationship between individuals that agree to support and trust each other. Why are there so many phony friendships among women? Women are so quick to TEAR each other DOWN & to PIECES before they are willing to offer a helping hand. Women can be all to eager to dismiss another woman’s feelings and opinions because she does not want to listen or take the time to understand HER perspective. Even if you don’t agree with HER way of thinking, what’s wrong with RESPECTING it?? It is possible to disagree and criticize RESPECTFULLY. An authentic friendship involves listening/hearing. For those that don’t know, listening/hearing is the act of giving your attention to…that’s it. It doesn’t entail offering YOUR opinion or advice. This involuntary act of responding to what you’ve just been informed of is a classic problem in females. Unless someone’s specifically asks for YOUR $0.02, then keep it to yourself and just be the “listening ear” that they need. Women vent more often than they realize; women often know what they want or will do and just want to share that (without being judged) with their girl. Now with that, after your opinion has been solicited, females need to understand and accept that one’s advice/opinion is just that — THEIR advice or OPINION. If you can’t take watered-down or honest feedback, then don’t ask.

    Digging deeper, I believe that females don’t discuss the uncomfortable feelings in their relationships. This often times leads to DEMEANING and SHARP comments that have festered and ERUPT in heated moments. If you think your girlfriend needs to discipline her kids more often; talk to her about it. If you think your girlfriend is wasting her time on a no-good (cheating, lazy, abusive, lying, etc.) dude, then talk to her about it. If you think your girlfriend needs to exercise so she can stop complaining about her weight, then talk to her about it. If you think your girlfriend needs to take an anger-management class so she can learn some emotional management, then talk to her about it. If you think your girlfriend has some self-worth issues (maybe she should get her Bachelor’s degree or start a business or write a journal about those childhood issues so she can let the toxic vibes go), then talk to her about it. Don’t be artificial/fake/phony/pretend and let these suggestions sit and THROW THEM IN HER FACE at the wrong time. A friend would try to help another when times are good, NOT just when disagreements arise. If she doesn’t heed your advice/opinion, RESPECT it and move on.

    Many females have self-esteem issues. We’ve all had moments in which we didn’t feel like a QUEEN. However, that is an EXCUSE for CHILDISH, SHAMELESS behavior. We as women need to learn to FACE OUR FEARS. It’s okay not to have it together ALL the time. We don’t have to have the BADDEST shape; the FENDI luggage; the most successful kids; the PERFECT significant other; the BIGGEST house; the MOST friends; the BEST dance moves; or the GREATEST parties. Many women want to do shows to compensate for LACKING; get your MIND RIGHT. BE THE BEST YOU; FLAWS & ALL. On the flip side, a lot of women want to play paparazzi (aggressively pointing out every weak/down & out moment you have so they can feel better about themselves). On way feeling better about yourself is by helping other that are less fortunate in an area in which you are fortunate (even if it’s temporary fortune). If you can give a homeless person some change or volunteer your time to the seniors or shelters, why not give your girl a helping hand????? Helping doesn’t have to be financial—you can help her start exercising by walking with her; you can offer to babysit while she cleans the house; you can take her to a restaurant and share an appetizer so she relax; you can listen, etc.

    To sum up this narrative, I think the reason there is so much TURMOIL in female relationships is because of lack of self-esteem (confidence in one’s one ABILITIES & WORTH); lack of communication (sharing of feelings; not a ONE-WAY activity); and respect ( showing consideration and courtesy). We as women can be so quick to forgive a man’s indiscretions (intimate and platonic male friends), but WILL NOT TOLERATE a flaw in our female friends.

    Maybe one day soon, we will learn to get along and accept each other’s differences POSITIVELY.

    *******************************************

    Reply
    1. Briana Myricks Post author

      I love it Sheena! Lack of self-esteem is a huge reason, as well as upbringing. It’s not a natural behavior, rather, a learned behavior. Thankfully there are many women who don’t experience this, but it is heartbreaking that so many do.

      Reply
  2. Niambi

    I don’t think it’s so much so black females hurting each other, i just think it is broken people hurting each other. Someone said something to me a long time ago that i will never forget and it was simply this “Hurt people…hurt people”. I know this first hand because I used to be this person. When you are broken and hurt, you can only give out of your brokeness and your hurt. But when you are healed and made whole, you are healthy within yourself and you therefore contribute to having a healthy relationship. The next time you see a black sistah or anyone who is spewing hurt, you be the one to help heal them or pray for them instead of talking negatively about them.

    Reply
  3. The Travelin Diva (Kirstin)

    I think the images that young women see on these reality shows are a factor in this type of behavior. They see it’s okay…well the mentality is “they are on tv” so it must be okay. One way to combat this behavior is to change the image of African American women on tv… I think we really need to start there!

    Reply
    1. Briana Myricks Post author

      That’s a good point Kirstin. I believe it’s a learned behavior, and nobody acts this way from the time they come into this world. There needs to be more positive images for the up and coming young black women. What about the women who are grown and have been rolling the negative program since they were young? Is there any way this behavior can be changed?

      Reply
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  5. Pastor louis abili-mordi

    A WOMAM THAT FEARS THE LORD IS TO BE PRAISED.IF YOU FEAR GOD U LL NOT BE WICKED:U LL LOVE EACH OTHER AMEN-PASTOR LOUIS

    Reply
  6. Dani

    As Myrick stated, this isn’t everyone’s truth. So I thank Myrick for sharing her opinion. Whereas I have never really experienced the unwarranted hatred of another women (black or white), I work in a profession where I have the “privilege” of coming into contact with women (mostly African American) who have disputes with other woman (mostly African American). The level of hate is sickening and the disrespect they display is appalling. I live in a city made up of less than 30% blacks and that is supposedly the “Buckle” of the Bible Belt. So, in my perspective, there is a real need for concern.

    Reply
    1. Briana Myricks Post author

      Thank you Dani. I wish more people who feel so appalled about this article read that line, seeing as how I stated it twice: this isn’t everyone’s truth. Simply my experience, and the experience of other women. I’m glad that there are so many women who haven’t experienced it. But the ones who have, like you said, the level of hate is just sickening. For those who experience this, it’s a problem, and I want to learn why.

      Reply
  7. WarrenAZ

    I’d like to challenge Myricks’ perspective in this piece and offer my own.

    There is no elephant in the room and I cant see a reason for a debate here. Without having to cite a peer-reviewed source we can assume that most black women have at least one non-relative black woman in her life that serves as a friend, a mentor, or partner in a profession.

    The disclaimer in your second paragraph is to keep you from being held accountable for suggesting that our combination of race and gender can and will hinder positive interactions with individuals of the same. By definition that is racial and gender prejudice. Youve also given yourself the authority to interpret the “looks” unfamiliar black women give you in public as hostile without further inquiry. Unless you can produce something more compelling than an emotional reaction to a glance from a stranger these experiences in particular arent enough to prove a social handicap on the part of black women toward other black women. Something to support the claim that your behavior towards these black women was/is consistently cordial is missing as well. The social obligations youve placed on yourself, by your own admission, was a personal decision and using that to force these same obligations onto other black women based on the race and sex you have in common is very intrusive on your part. You mentioned growing up but never “growing out of” your state of paranoia when it comes to other black women. This is something you might want to explore, perhaps with a more objective party.

    The tensions over appearance, property, and occupation are expected in every facet of humanity. There is enough evidence to support this kind of social fragmentation in academia if you are willing to invest the time. Aside from Jada Pinkett-Smith, Halle Berry, Gabrielle Douglas, and Beyonce, all actually retaining black women as a significant percentage of their respective fan bases and financial contributiors, there is also more compelling evidence of the support black women show each other. Black women who offer quality products and services have been able to rely soley on the black female population for promotion/publicity, financial contributions, trends, information, and ideas for their financial independence. You can find overwhelming examples of this on Youtube if reading pieces the pieces in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Essence, and Black Enterprise Magazines proves to be burden. There are also the kin networks among poor and disadvantaged black women. Again if its not too taxing you can read more about these networks right online on some very prominent academic websites. I normally assume that when someone wants to “see” something they make an effort to find out if that something exists or not.

    Competition is healthy and inevitable which is why most men and other species will compete for something; a mate, a job, food, space, attention, etc. If the idea that women shouldnt compete because it make their peers uncomfortable, than the fear of losing is what needs to be examined, not the biology of women who are still humans and capable of reasoning.

    Reply
    1. Briana Myricks Post author

      Warren, great challenge! I see a reason for debate because some people experience it and others don’t. My disclaimer wasn’t to keep me from being held accountable, and I think many people are taking this as a generalization to blanket every single black woman, when in fact, it’s simply my experience from black women, and not every single one I’ve met. As we can see, there are ladies who have felt the same way I have, and ladies who haven’t. So for those who haven’t, I stated that so they wouldn’t feel like I was attacking them, and tell us what their story was. Simply opening up conversation. I believe it’s a social handicap because it’s not just me who has dealt with this. Sure, maybe I need to do a survey of a few hundred or thousand black women to see some statistics on it, and then it can be considered a problem. It’s a problem in my life, that’s for sure, which makes this an opinion piece, and not factual. I don’t believe it’s intrusive because really, how hard is it to return a smile? How difficult is it to simply speak to someone who spoke to you? Not doing those things is rude, no matter if you’re a black woman or not. I believe in the golden rule: do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. I’m being nice to someone, speaking, smiling, and when they don’t return the same common courtesy, I think it’s safe to assume they want the same type of treatment, which is odd to me. Yes, the tensions of status and the like are in every facets of humanity. But I’m not talking about how that works with ALL women or ALL genders or every social situation. I just wanted to address how it’s a problem between 1 race and 1 gender. I agree with you, that there are plenty of black women who support other black women. Along with the ladies I mentioned who are big names, there are countless ladies who are not considered celebrities who may have a small business, mostly patronized by other women of color. That, to me, is outstanding, and definitely worth being noted. I’ve seen it in all of the sources you’ve named, and look forward to seeing even more of it. I’m not familiar with kin networks, so I will definitely take the time to look those up. I will do further research and make a valiant effort to see what the majority decision is: if my personal experience is a bigger problem than in my life and the lives of a few other women, or if we are exceptions to the rule. Thank you so much for your comment.

      Reply
      1. WarrenAZ

        Thank you for a speedy reply. You say you don’t want to be inclusive to other groups in your observation. Unfortunately doing this separates black women from the rest of humanity based on uncontrollable factors (race and sex) and asserts a standard of conduct based on them. The idea isn’t to deny your experiences or the experiences of the black women who affirm your position. Its to introduce some critical thinking in this matter and also keep black women from being regulated to racial and gender obligations they haven’t consented to. Returning a smile or a simple civil gesture isn’t difficult but it is their right to not engage them as individuals in a free society. You, as I do, subscribe to the “Golden Rule” because we find value in it based on the benefits but if other black women don’t it simply means they’ve made a choice not to and not a lack of or for social potential. There is also no proof that black women (I should say African American for this statement) need a social or cultural overhaul in this capacity because these norms persist in other combinations of identity. This is why I stand by my charge of racial and gender prejudice in your perspective.

        I do appreciate you stating that it is an opinion piece but your ability influence thought on such a substantial platform comes with a certain level of responsibility and transparency which you’ve attained in your other articles on this website. If I went by my experiences alone or even the experiences of some of the black women I know such as; being retained by black women for high paying positions, receiving most complements on our appearance from black women, enjoying comparable service from black female providers, and platonic and professional relationships with non-familial black women spanning decades you’d have an opposing view based on yours. That is why I offered something more objective and accessible than my own experience which will be bias. I would gladly participate in any studies or surveys you might conduct in the future and I also have a substantial number of black women in my network diverse in age, sexual orientation, status, occupation, and religion. In the meantime an opposing view is needed based on evidence to the contrary. Maybe that is where the debate comes in. I am going to make an apple tart now.

        Reply
        1. Briana Myricks Post author

          LOL Thanks for the follow up Warren. After reading this comment, you’re right. I do have a level of responsibility to not be bias in my opinions and state facts instead, which I don’t have the sources to back up. I sometimes do forget to realize everyone has a choice in what they do (like the statement “I don’t have to do anything but stay black and die!”) I admit I get frustrated when people don’t do as I do or act as I act because it’s foreign to me, and in my mind it makes sense, but my way may not make sense to others. Just because it works (or doesn’t work) for me doesn’t mean it’s right (or wrong). So it’s definitely something I have to remind myself of when I encounter these things, and shouldn’t take it personal, unless there’s an actual attack. I get what you’re saying; we can’t segregate black women in one debate and argue that it’s not fair that they’re not included on others. That’s not right. This is something I’m excited to learn more about, and I’ll definitely let you know if/when I conduct surveys to find out more experiences. Thank you again!

          Reply
    2. RTMJ

      You response was very sound as a statement. I would love to have more links to the research in which you have done on this subject as am working on a master’s thesis in which I could include some of what you have mentioned. Having done some research myself the studies that surround social interaction within the context that the author is addressing I have found that there are lots of qualitative gaps. Part of my assignment is to compare the effects of these gaps on the analytic perspectives displayed by media that influence youth. One of my main challenges is narrowing the context from which I can relate this to the program in which I am in enrolled. Thank you both for your insight on this subject matter as it has given more to consider while redefining my topic.

      Reply
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  9. Mr007x

    As a black male this article is completely true but their bad behavior also extends to their enter acting with black men. How many times have BM said that too many BW has bad attitudes but many BW don’t want to hear it. But on the other hand this sickness has is played out among BM which explains the high black on black murder statistics for men. Until black america learns to respect itself there will never be any improvement.

    Reply
  10. Mousey

    I’m not sure if this is the correct forum, but for me, it is not so much as black females hurting each other. It is just a matter of respect for each other. In my situation, I had a co-worker who was going through financial trouble and I referred her for a part-time position at my second job. At the time of the referral, from what I saw from working beside her, she was a dedicated worker. She was hired for the part time position position, but her performance on the job has not been up to par, from what I hear. In addition; her attitude, work ethic and total personality has done a complete turn around on our first job. To this day, she has not even thanked me for referring her for the part-time job. I have kept my mouth shut on both jobs because I have never been the one to want to cause drama, but it has gotten to the point where I am considering leaving both jobs.

    Reply
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