We know that black men tend to stick together, even to the point of justifying another black man’s illegal actions, for the sake of protecting someone else with whom he has an unspoken bond of brotherhood with, regardless of what genetics may say.
Do dark-skinned black women have the same? Some might say yes; we can certainly point to examples of it in television and movies as well as in musical alliances, and groups like the one that congregates around the mission of Divine Dark Skin exist in many forms to celebrate all different aspects of black femininity. Yet, some might argue that black sisterhood is non-existent or a myth.
In similar fashion, evidence of black women betraying one another is also easy to locate in media, with varying forms of this betrayal being displayed in black women’s conflict and physical altercations with one another, in the policing black women do to one another, and when black women play into stereotypes that are harmful for the collective.
The black community in general has a hard time cultivating unity, so seeing this problem show up among black women is not surprising. But any absence of a sisterhood is a contributing factor to other issues that dark-skinned black women face in terms of feminine promotion in media, professional advancement, the safety of black women, and the overall positive imagery of DSBW. To deny the importance of a need for black sisterhood (especially if you are a black woman) seems to directly negate aspirations of seeing the overall advancement of DSBW. We will all fare much better if we can stick together, even if just in staying on code.
Black sisterhood is positive reinforcement that helps support the personal work black women are doing right now (and will continue to do). Black women are focused on nurturing positive environments for themselves in healthy ways, but many of us still run into bumps as we confront challenges we’ve faced in greeting and embracing our own unique identities.
Being able to relate to each other helps us to not get slowed down by these bumps, but I can still feel an air of resistance to this idea among the collective of black women. We claim to want to be closer, but proceed to drag each other when one of us speaks up with an unpopular idea or challenging perspective. I would love to see us opt to respectfully disagree with each other rather than choosing to bury each other and setting fire to the grave when one of us dares to step out on a different point of view.
Sisterhood among black women also conveys a positive message to little dark-skinned black girls. Stereotypes exist, but culture does not have to mimic these. If a staple in black culture showed black girls consistently striving for good grades and being well-rounded with academics and extra-curriculars, little black girls of the future will be in positions to be more business-savvy, more employable, and more global citizens than they are now, which creates a future that sounds bright and hopeful for them and their children.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. When she is not advising clients, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.