The Black Girl’s Guide to Staying Alive

An Essay for Black Girls everywhere.

Oluwatoyin Ruth Salau

Step 1: Bare Arms

And I’m not talking tank tops in summer. If you take away nothing else from the first step in this five-step guide, take this first word with you:

“They’re out there looking for fast little girls that think they’re grown”, my mother would remind me.

“And if that’s not you, then you have nothing to worry about”.

It took years for me to realize that my mother, like many others, had been infected by the poison of patriarchy. Unfortunately, her acclamation to an environment that reinforced to young Black girls that safety was bought with good behavior, made me more susceptible to abuse at the hands of male members of my community, who were rarely held to such a standard.

Step 2: Sisterhood is Survival

When a community is under attack, solidarity is its’ most tactical tool. Unfortunately for Black women, solidarity has proven somewhat of a struggle, especially when it comes to the conversation on Black men. Much like racism rewards those of us who agree to operate within the confines of its’ oppressive structure, patriarchy has it’s prizes, that prize being male affirmation. And because patriarchy socially rewards women who participate in systems that subjugate other women for the sake of the “greater good” (i.e. the pleasures of heterosexual men), this puts all women in a significant state of danger. Including patriarchy’s “willing” participants.

Sisterhood Says:

Sisterhood also says:

I will hold my sister accountable instead of ignoring unhealthy behavior, particularly the kind that damages the self and/or threatens the wellbeing of other women and young girls.

Step 3: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Is someone in your life suffering from “Nice Guy Syndrome”?

Are you sick and tired of your loved one proudly proclaiming, “World’s Nicest Nice Guy”, just about every chance he gets? Is your male friend constantly complaining about how women fake interest in friendly men, only to turn around and chase the playboy? Have you fallen victim to patriarchy’s version of Punk’d, the faux friend trap? Chances are you have. Haven’t we all.

18-year-old Angela Molden was stabbed and killed on June 21, 2020 by her former case worker. #SayHerNAme

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