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10 Ways To Stop Failing Black Girls

Author: Denise Purkett

We are barely a full week into 2019 and already it has been exhausting for black girls. It’s hard to not feel anxiety and the weight of black women in general when watching the viral video of a black girl getting assaulted over plastic straws in Mcdonalds, or enduring the 6 part docu-series on surviving R. Kelly’s sick predation towards young girls.

Unfortunately, if you happen to be a black girl, you are already accustomed to rising above the disrespect formed against us on a regular basis. It’s no secret that black women are the most disrespected people in our country. Day to day we fight to protect ourselves while also fighting to protect our families and communities. We speak up for people that a lot of times don’t always speak up for us. Many instances in history prove black women’s strength and perseverance in times of despair.

One of the most magical attributes about black women is that we know how to pull through and make things happen with or without cooperation from other groups. However, having support would help alleviate some of the problems that black girls face everyday. Maybe you have been failing black girls all around you and you’re not even aware of it. Maybe you see your silence as minding your business and trying to keep your job. Maybe you’ve never even been told that you are supposed to protect women but especially black women. Black girls matter, and it is time to start treating them that way. In case you’re unfamiliar with how to do that, here is a guide with 10 tips to help you to stop failing the black girls in your life.

Protect Us

This is probably one of the most effective ways to help a black girl to feel less abandoned by those we fight for the most. It’s actually quite simple. While we do our best to protect ourselves, we could always use the extra reinforcement of protection. One of the issues I personally had with the video of the black girl fighting off the irate white man is that there were two black males also seen in the video that did not protect her. Yes, they helped by breaking up the fight, but the aggressor grabbed her for far too long. The argument would have never even progressed into a physical altercation had one of those young boys stood up for her in the beginning.

It’s not enough to just pull us back from the battles, we need you to also be active in the fight with us. Not only in physical fights, but other battles that we face. This means that you confront and do something about your grown friend having inappropriate relations with minors. This means that you support us by also not giving your money and attention to celebrities, corporations, and other entities of power who choose to disrespect, appropriate, or minimize us. This means that you make sure that we get to our cars safely at night without trying to get our number at the same time. Protect us like you would (or should) protect your grandmother, mother, aunts, and sisters.

2. Affirm Us

Affirmations and recognition can go a long way especially when it’s given to those who hear it the least. Tell us that we’re beautiful without catcalling or being creepy. You don’t have to hotep us to death either, but an occasional “Hey Queen” doesn’t hurt. Praise black girls for the attributes that they naturally have instead of criticizing them about it and then praising the ambiguous girls who purchase those same attributes.

And please don’t only affirm us for our physical attributes. Compliment our brains, the way that we think, the way that we work and the way that we win. Receiving affirmation does wonders to a black girl’s self-esteem and can save them out of a lot of situations that could play on their perception of themselves. The more affirmation, the better. There is nothing that an empowered black girl can’t do. Never miss the opportunity to tell us how amazing we are.

3. Encourage Us

This goes along with affirmation but it’s more so reinforcement. Sometimes we need an extra push to help us keep moving. Encourage us to fulfill our dreams and to do whatever it is that we are trying to pursue. Encourage us to be better. Don’t prey on us during times of weakness and vulnerability. In fact, when you see that we are in a moment of weakness, encourage us to rebuild ourselves with self-love. When we get in places where we seem stuck, encourage us to find alternatives. When you see us in abusive situations, encourage us to find the strength to walk away and offer the support needed to make those steps.

Don’t stop us from wanting to reach our dreams. Don’t get in our way or try to mold us into your own personal adaptation of “traditional relationship goals”. Encourage black girls to be free and to use their autonomy. We were born to be limitless, so encourage us to explore life freely.