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Why Do Black People Not Like Other Black People?

Some time ago I was out for dinner with a few industry people.  Six people sat around our table, 3 of which were black (myself included). The conversation flowed- we spoke about everything from work to hair to brands and ultimately adoption. As everyone shared their opinion on the topic, one of the black ladies expressed her very strong desire to not have children (through childbirth or adoption). Fair.

She then admitted that if she had to go the adoption route, she would definitely adopt a white baby over a black baby. Shocked, the entire table began to probe to establish the reason she felt so negatively about black babies. She explained how adopting a baby of another race would help her avoid all the drama that the blackness of a baby would possibly bring.  In her reasoning, she mentioned how the variety of obligations she felt she would need to fulfill and plainly, everything else that came with being black, were too exasperating for her and it seemed a white baby would just be a better option.

I sat there overcome by complete shock at how a black person had made being black, something that was an innate part of who they are, sound like such a terrible thing. This amount of black-self-loathing disturbed me so much. Unfortunately that was not the only time that I had been exposed to such. To this day, I cannot help but wonder: why do black people not like other black people?

Chika Onyean, author of bestellers’ Capitalist Nigger and Roar of the African Lion arguably based both books on the notion of black self-hate. The lack of support shown for each other in the black community as well as what seems to be the general preference of non-black things is further broken down and explored in both of these books. One of the many examples that Oynean shares is the perception that many black people hold that anything that is inherently black is unfavourable, unattractive, not good enough or not to be trusted. This has resulted in people actively choosing to move away from blackness with the more success and money obtained and the general affinity to aspire to whiteness.  Upon reading the book, I became more aware of the many things that we have come to adopt as social norms that are actually expressions of black self-loathing.


Lenon Honor discusses the demeaning ways in which we speak to and about each other as well as the strong lack of trust for each other in his video titled, ‘Why Do Black People Hate Black People So Much?’  I can't help but wonder where all of this comes from and how come it has gone on for such a long time, even being perceived as ‘normal’ or ‘okay’.  Is the way black men perceive and talk about black women and vice versa the result of this terrible notion? What about black people seeing dating a person of another race as an act of superiority? Oh guys ! Why do black people not like other black people?

As black women, this concept often manifests itself through what Mam’ Felicia Mabuza Shuttle coined the ‘Pull-Her-Down Syndrome (PHD). PHD is rooted in jealousy, incessant competitiveness and trying to bring another woman down , as a result, in attempts for her not to excel. Gossiping, being hypercritical, sabotaging, spreading rumours and the general lack of support that some women have for each other are all examples of PHD tactics.

If you have never experienced PHD, then good for you, but unfortunately I have had many instances where I have been antagonized by fellow black ‘sisters’ in my efforts to excel. It took me some time to realize that it had nothing to do with me but that their severe case of ‘haterade’ was merely another way in which black self-hate had manifested itself.

Or that if someone is doing well that somehow takes away from us? One would think that (black) women would want to see each other do well considering how the odds are generally stacked up against us. Where does this culture of not wanting other black women to do well come from, ladies? How are we supposed to move forward if we are fighting ourselves?

Black People

Despite our efforts to be pro-black, we still find our own people seeing black as synonymous with inferiority. We laugh at black people who cannot speak English yet people who cannot speak their own mother tongue go on ‘unscathed’. We continue to withhold support from each other. We lighten our skin, use filters in hope to be perceived as lighter and thus ‘prettier’ and ultimately aspire to whiteness.  We spurn our own cultures and traditions.

Perhaps this issue may be generational, it may take some time and it may not even be limited to just black people/ women, but one can not deny that it is very much alive. It is however clear through many efforts that the reparation of the black self-esteem is in eminent. It makes no sense for us to fight for the world to perceive us in a better light whilst we perceive ourselves negatively and have such a difficult time loving each other.

I am in no way pinning this behaviour down to all black people or all women, as humans will be humans.  I am simply expressing my own experience and wondering out loud: why do black people not like other black people?

By Lerato Tsotetsi


13 comments on “Why Do Black People Not Like Other Black People?”

  1. Wow, wow, wow! you've nailed it Lerato...#PHDsyndrome# why do we hate each other though. Are we programmed as such by society? Can we not embrace who we are and what we are about? The black-self loathing is really disturbing. Great articles...makes you think?

    1. Thank you Theo. Tough times hey. But I think we have just been programmed that way hey. Really curious to know where it all comes from myself. In the same breath. it is great to see all the pro-blackness that more and more black are starting to show.

  2. This article shows us how far we still need to go for equality because WE (Black people) perpetuate the discrimination ourselves. We cannot be liberated or equal until we do so... how we will get there I have no clue, but for future generations I hope we do.

    Thought provoking article Lerato

    1. Duuude. I really hope we do too. It all starts with us as individuals. Reading the above mentioned book & watching the video really helped me to see it in my own behavior and in things I thought were normal; it made me become more aware and started shifting my actions/ thoughts from there. Still a long way to go

  3. Love the article Lerato. It’s such a mirror of truth – there is so much hatred in amongst us as the black community. It’s really just so sad. There was a time in life where I believed that the “PHD syndrome” is overstated and it’s used by people who want to elevate themselves to a stature of having “haters”. "It took me some time to realize that it had nothing to do with me but that their severe case of ‘haterade’ was merely another way in which black self-hate had manifested itself."

    However, in growing up and becoming more self-aware and more conscious of social dynamics at play I have realise that it is our painful reality. I can’t speak on other races because I am black.

    Our interaction with each other is sometimes so painfully and obviously hateful. With the emergence of blogging and social media and the anonymity and comfort it provides, we have been lent insight into how much hatred and ill-will we have towards each other as black women. It’s not even disgusting, it’s more sad than anything. I hope that as we come into our own as blacks and black women we start to see that social themes like PHD syndrome don’t have to be our reality and our legacy. We don’t have to like or cheer for each other, but let there be underlying honour and respect in our interactions.

    Really thought provoking article. Thank you!

    1. Yho hun. PHD is reeeaaaaalll.It is really so sad hey :(. Especially coz it's already tough out
      And yes, I think it becomes so much easier to pick things up with self-awareness- it was the same in my experience. Kudos to you.
      I also reeeaaaaly hope we really pull ourselves towards ourselves.
      And yes, absolutely agree with you, we need to have respect and support for one another, personal differences aside. I truly believe we will get there, eventually. Thank you sisi

  4. Great article as sad as it may be. Black people were indoctrinated not to trust or love each other. Black people were taught to hate everything that identifies them as black. Even the term itself "Black" was used as a negative connotation to ensure that self-hatred was inbred in us. This tactic proved to be very successful for our colonisers as everything that a "white" person says is gold yet when a black person says its the opposite. Bleaching "skin lightning", relaxing our hair are just but a few indications of how our perception as black people has been drastically altered.

    Now for that woman to abhor everything that represents being black is a result of a social construct that we need to demolish as black people.

    1. 🙁 its so sad Lebo. I started picking that up once I started reading more books and articles about the subject. We absolutely need to demolish this!!! Luckily, we live in the year of wokeness and it seems that our generation and the ones that come after us will be able to combat this, hopefully 🙂 :). Thanks for reading

  5. I have never understood the concept of pulling others down. Can't people stop to think that you can learn from others who are successful. The PHD syndrome has gotten so bad that people are shocked when they receive genuine compliments. I love seeing people do well, because firstly, I know that my time will also come one day, and that secondly, I can learn valuable lessons from other people's hustle.

    1. Ah you know hun, for some reason we seem to think other's winning means that we are losing. OMG I know the genuine compliment thing too well. I have received such weird reactions when I give compliments that have often left me feeling confused. I LOVE doing people well too. Keep keeping it on boo. We need people like you

    2. Totally agree! I never got it and in fact i find a lot of relations filled with unnecessary politics! Let's just cheer and clap when it's deserved and use each other as inspiration not benchmarks and competition. I'm a huge cheerleader for people who i feel are doing awesome and wish everyone was on the same bandwagon too!

  6. I appreciate such articles because it reminds me of how much i need to do self introspection as a black female in a society that does not necessarily favor my being and essence - and how much i need to be forceful and proud of every inch of my blackness.

    I must admit that i have moments where I myself perceive something to be "too black" with a negative connotation because i deemed the behavior or object uncultured or too "ghetto". And we are conditioned to think that black = all things negative & complicated but in the same token there are times where i declare with pride that "I do x and y because i'm black, it's who i am" . It's really quite complex and huge task to mentally take down a couple of the walls we have created and let to manifest.

  7. In the late sixties and early seventies young Blacks most of them were university students tried to educate other Blacks to love themselves to no avail. I remember two years after our democratic elections when I was appointed as one members of Estate Agents Board. When I self suggested to be one of the committee there was such opposition from Blacks although two coloureds were the first one to oppose. I thought I would get support from other Blacks. I was completely wrong they supported the coloureds. The only person who supported me was a liberal guy who was of Jewish origin. The Whites got a chance to spread rumours about me in order to be kicked out of the Board. When I was re appointed two years after that incident I was shocked to find out one white guy had tried to stop using a Black CEO to write a letter to the department not to be appointed.


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