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The Hate We Were Taught: Why Supporting One Another Should Be Our New Default

"... as people of color, we have so many battles to fight, but fighting one another should not be one of them."

Lately, I’ve been exploring this concept of sisterhood and what it means to create safe communities, expansive spaces for one another, and how my organization Plan A can continue to do this as a mandate, within our drive to support more women of color entrepreneurs and leaders.

In conjunction to auditing how to build nurturing communities, I began exploring my own personal relationships, as well popular motifs portrayed in media, and noticed an interesting theme common to many women of color, which is, a natural default to the man. An abandonment of sisterhood, easily and quickly. And even when I trace my ancestral lineage, this too runs deep in my blood.

On more than one occasion, my heart has been broken by this theme, whether through a friend, loved one or witnessing a back and forth Instagram/Twitter war by women of color tearing each other down, rather than celebrating and building each other up. And when I peel back the layers, I can’t help but wonder, why?

Why as women of color are we so quick to abandon one another?

Why do we choose the relationship or word of our men so quickly over one another and, even at times, ourselves?

Where did we learn this? "Who taught us to hate ourselves? Who taught us to hate our own kind?"

I’m reminded of these words from the late, great Malcolm X, even more so as I reflect on my time currently living in South Africa, and observe the lack of regard blacks have towards one another here.

The amount of anger I field on a day to day basis from my South African brothers and sisters, (that might I add, isn’t personal or unique to me) when either crossing a street and someone speeds up to almost hit you (which can be extremely traumatizing ) or being pushed or bumped into in the grocery store (often times, by employees) with little to no regard, or to the amount of times I’ve been sexually harassed openly and aggressively.

All of this only leaves me with this one question: Who taught you to hate yourself?

This notion was posed by Malcolm X, while giving a speech in L.A., in 1962, and I find it is still so relevant today.

As people of color, I recognize there is a subconscious legacy of self hate that is passed down in our bones as a result of the systemic suppression and oppression of our people, over hundreds of years, based solely off the color of our skin. So, where there is rage and resentment in me at the grievances I’ve witnessed and experienced from us and among us, I will do my best empathize with the root in which this behavior stems. I do this by filling those spaces with empathy, and lining them with motivation. Why? Because, as people of color, we have so many battles to fight, but fighting one another should not be one of them.

Sisters, now more than ever do we need to unify in support of one another and learn a way to heal the power struggle with our men. Meaning, we need to stop giving men power, whether consciously or subconsciously, over ourselves, our God, our own wellbeing, our diets and our identities.

This is an act of love.

We need to hear our sisters when they reach out for support from abuse at the hand of one of our most beloved men.

This is an act of love.

We need to release this fear that we aren’t safe or whole without men — that regardless of our value, they’re worth more.

This is an act of love.

Sisters, we need to stop letting our men take their own unresolved trauma (because being a person of color in this world almost guarantees its own level of trauma, both inherited and experienced) out on us, while doing our damnedest to take their pain away by absorbing it.

This only kills us, and enables them, though all we want to do is take the pain away. However, attempting to love their pain away won’t heal us. The truth is, we’ve got to process our own pain that comes with living as a person of color in a post-colonial world, and they’ve got to work to heal their own.

Having these tough conversations and setting boundaries is how we help ourselves heal, raise our worth and, in the process, help our men grow and heal too.

This is an act of love.

We’ve got to be able celebrate one another’s successes (and mean it) as our own, instead of throwing stones and attempting to dim others' light. Because when one of us wins, we’re closer to the collective goal post. This scarcity mindset is what keeps us distracted and fighting each other, instead of the real battles and challenges we actually face.

We must unify in times like these, healthily, and whole-ly as men and women, as people of color. We need one another.

This is the highest act of love.

To quote Beyoncé, who was also inspired by Malcolm’s words all throughout her landmark album, Lemonade, “When you hurt me, you hurt yourself, try not to hurt yourself …”
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Alisha Golden is the founder of Plan A is an innovation lab and start-up studio geared toward raising and accelerating the impact of young women of color. Plan A was born from a culmination of Alisha’s over a decade long experience driving sustainable change and triple bottom-line impact for clients, through her consultancy firm, combined with her commitment to activism for gender equality and civil rights. Plan A’s core message is: The fate of tomorrow will be defined by each young women’s willingness to rise, today…”