12 Voices: #OnBlackWomen: Advocate,  Adversary, Or Both?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Black women’s relationships lately. I believe this concept has taken such a high position in my mind because of the episode of “Scandal” where we see “Olivia Pope” (Kerry Washington) and “Annalise Keating” (Viola Davis) pairing up to handle a relatively large and impactful case. Ms. Pope was referred to Ms. Keating as someone who would be able to make things happen/get things done (Season Seven, Episode Twelve. Even if you were not  a “Scandal” fan, this is a great episode to watch relative to Blackwomen and our relationships with one another).
To make a long story short, Pope made continuous “digs” at Keating’s past indiscretions, in an effort to make herself look blemish-free (if you follow the series, we ALL know that this is far from the truth). Keating fired back in response to Pope’s slick jabs; the two ended up hashing out these differences, after hitting each other below the belt several times, and both worked to secure a resolution to the case together.
My question is: Why do we as Black women have to “try each other”/throw slick jabs when there is no one walking the face of this earth who has a blemish-free situation? This isn’t to say that ALL Black women exhibit this type of behavior, but it happens more often than not. EXAMPLE: We are in a professional or casual networking setting; we see a “sistah” across the room who is mingling/shaking hands/hugging those in attendance; it almost instantly makes some women feel a “who does she think she is” type of way in their spirit. Some might even “mean-mug” the seemingly nice woman; some may find a way to say something negative about her or her appearance; some may ignore her totally…but WHY? Why not get to know a smiling face to see if the two of you mesh? Why can’t we come INTO a situation with optimism, instead of thinking that the next sistah is “competition”?
What I have learned, in this ever-growing “let’s have all kinds of socials with cute themes” day and age is this: there is a wide variety of powerful yet quiet storms (in the form of Black women) in Chicago. Some of these women have so much pull that they may attend these events just to meet up with women and “catch a vibe,” seeing who they can pull to the top right along with them…and just because you haven’t heard of them, doesn’t mean that they haven’t heard of you. No one is saying to kiss anyone’s “hind part” (lol), but it never hurts to be nice; you never know how far a pleasantry can actually take you OR your career. If you are interested in growing, it’s essential that you are able to get along with your female counterparts. Realizing that we all have flaws, yet making an effort not to judge someone FOR their flaws, is just ONE way that winners think. In that “Scandal” episode, Olivia Pope is a very powerful woman with a very questionable past…but her record of handling business is impeccable. Annalise Keating is also a very powerful woman with a very questionable past…but there is no denying her brilliant mind, and the way she is able to finesse a situation. The two of them coming together to fight on behalf of thousands of people made PERFECT sense! But they had to get beyond the “petty” to get to the ultimate “purpose.” What I liked about this episode is that Annalise never came into this situation with a judgmental attitude. She wanted to get to work. The only way we knew that she had done her homework on Olivia is because she had to stand her ground in the salon. And although Olivia was nit-picky and judgmental, I liked that she took this route because she was QUICKLY reminded that she isn’t the only one with a haunting past. Once she was brought back down off of her high horse, she grasped that Annalise was all about getting the job done. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sometimes, we as sistahs may have to “check” our sistah in a way that only she can understand, but also in an effort to help her get to that next level. The two of them were able to move beyond their issues to work together, only intensifying their power as Black women. Can you imagine how far we could all get if we recognized the power/light in the other person, instead of trying to dim that light to make ourselves look brighter? Something to think about…


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