“You can’t dump one cup of sugar into the ocean and expect to get syrup. If everybody sweetened her own cup of water, then things would begin to change.” – Florynce Kennedy
A survival guide. It conjures images of adventurers like Bear Grylls navigating dense forests and river rapids like nature itself is not out to destroy him. Despite clever camera tricks, we all know Bear is never in any real danger.
But you, black girl, are in real danger. Big time. You can feel it in your soul. In the way you watch your words. In the way you shield your daughters. In the way you train your sons. In the way you vote. In the way you worship. You are an endangered species.
The world is volatile and unforgiving. And you, black girl, are different from the rest. You walk differently. You talk differently. You remove burdens from the shoulders of others without speaking a word. You dig deeper to nurture and provide without reciprocation.
Do you remember how old you were when you heard the famous Malcolm X quote?
“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
It resonated with you, didn’t it? Whether you heard it in 1962, or 2018, you felt that. Because it’s still true.
That’s why we need a Black Woman’s Survival Guide. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and we are going to make it through to the other side. Our mental faculties will be intact. Our hearts will be tender. Our souls will be full.
Survival Tactic 1: Leave work exactly on time every day for a week.
I was once on the phone with my sister while I was leaving the office around 5:20 in the evening. She said, “I thought you get off work at 5?” I told her I began shutting down shortly after 5 and I wrapped up a few conversations, organized my office and left. She tsked me and said, “You don’t understand. Your work day ends at 5. Start shutting down at 4:52. 5 p.m. is when you should be walking out the front door.”
It changed my whole world. I enjoy my work and I often work more hours than are scheduled due to events, travel or other obligations. But if you are salaried for 40 hours per week, 40 hours should be the norm and not the exception.
Leave on time, sis. That time is yours and yours alone to allot to what fills your soul.
Survival Tactic 2: Speak life into a child.
Everyone has children in their lives, whether or not they emerged from your body. Make it a point to observe a child. Look past their behavior and into their potential. Dream for them. Tell them something positive. Ask for a hug. Tell them their value to you. Don’t say “but.” Speak life.
Every sista I’ve ever met had that one person who believed. The one person who knew they were going to make it. Sometimes it’s a parent or aunt. Sometimes it’s a teacher or coach. It’s time for you to be that person. If you don’t have a person who believed, it simply means you haven’t met them yet.
Survival Tactic 3: Say no.
You have something on your calendar right now that you do not want to do. Cancel it right now. Decline it. Make the call. Send the email.
Make room for something better. Even if it’s a Netflix binge or a cup of coffee. You don’t owe anything to anybody.
Survival Tactic 4: Purge.
Throw away 10 items of old clothing or shoes in your closet right now. When your closets are filled with the old, you can’t make room for the new.
Survival Tactic 5: Admire yourself.
Strip naked and look at your body from head to toe. Examine yourself. Name one thing you love. Smile at yourself. Do it longer than you think you should.
This is the only body you’ll ever have. Love her as she is today.
Survival Tactic 6: Apply for a new job.
There’s no need to update your resume. You don’t even have to interview or accept if you get a call back. Just apply. It will help you remember there are always other options.
Survival Tactic 7: Share the love.
Text another black woman something beautiful about herself. Feed her soul in a way you never tried before. She needs it.
Survival Tactic 8: Break out your calendar.
Schedule that appointment you’ve been putting off. You know the one.
Survival Tactic 9: Be touched.
Let someone touch you intimately but non-sexually. Get your hair washed. Get a massage. Visit a chiropractor. Get a pedicure. Hold hands or lock arms with a friend while you shop.
Survival Tactic 10: Create something beautiful.
Black women gave birth to the entire world. Everything you see around you is a product of you or your ancestors. You were born to create beauty. Don’t deprive the world of what only you can bring to it.
Survival Tactic 11: Be inaccessible.
Last night, after multiple rounds of temper tantrums and testosterone fueled fits in my house full of males, I decided I had had enough. I simply walked into my bedroom and locked the door. Everyone was fed. Everyone was safe. But I was not safe. I was in danger of losing my head. So I became inaccessible.
This isn’t always possible. We do what we have to do. But every now and then, be inaccessible. Come home from work an hour early. Go to lunch and turn your cell phone completely off. Don’t connect to wireless on that flight. Don’t respond to a single text for a weekend.
Survival Tactic 12: Ask for help.
Independent sistas can’t stand this one. Who is helping us? We are doing for everybody else. But there is someone. There always is. Ask.
Survival Tactic 13: Worship.
Take off the religious cloak. Forget your upbringing. Worship the one you feel in your soul on a primal level. Sing. Dance. Cry. Laugh. Worship.
I worship Christ. I don’t expect others to, nor will I push him on you. But when I’m in a state of worship, it is utterly blissful, and utterly peaceful, and I do not need to carry any burden, including my own. Worship is freedom.
Survival Tactic 14: Be present
Thanksgiving is a big celebration in my family. I went to my sister’s house to visit loved ones, and it was wonderful. Before I went, I decided to be present. I hung up my purse and my cell phone in the closet before the meal and didn’t pick it up until we were about to hop in the car.
For me, this meant conversations were uninterrupted and more meaningful. Food tasted better. I laughed at kids jokes. I was able to catch up with everyone. I didn’t take a single photo of the event. I didn’t need to Google anything. I didn’t need to respond to any texts.
The result? As we drove home I looked at the time and I was shocked. I had totally lost all track of time, and enjoyed every moment. A world with fewer devices is a world with stronger relationships.
Bonus Tactic: Cut your losses.
You know that business “opportunity” that was supposed to make you rich (or at least make ends meet)? That closet full of unsold product from said business? The Prince Charming who made you feel like a princess but now only strips life from your soul? The friendship that became a competition instead of an encouragement?
Let it go. Let it all go. It’s not worth the sacrifice.
These tactics won’t fix your life, but it’s a start toward maintaining your sanity in this volatile world. If there’s one thing that we all know, it’s that black women will make it through to the other side. We will smile at the future. We will keep on. Let’s make that survival worth reaching.
OK sis, what did I miss? What are some of your survival tactics? Please share them!