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?
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?