Black Women Must Follow Michelle Obama; Mediocrity Is Unacceptable

Michelle Obama gives Spelman College's Class of 2011 commencement address and receives honorary doctoral degree

Black women in America have taken on leading roles. From sports to politics, from Venus and Serena Williams to first lady Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, they’ve altered the face of tradition—al Americans in power. They’ve exhibited that women can be successful in multiple roles — mother, wife, caregiver and, sometimes, breadwinner — while hurdling the triple barriers of race, class and gender.

They’ve moved the image and power of black women eons beyond the roles of black women around the world, particularly in nations that are majority Muslim. They serve as examples of what can be done when your priorities are straight and your morals and values are sound.

One pitfall of this progress, however, is the idea that the family seemingly has lost its appeal. Women gradually have found sexual freedom to the point of now feeling free enough to engage in sex with more than one partner.  As a result, babies are being born out of wedlock, which, ultimately, shines negatively on women while men seem to get a free pass. Men are deemed bachelors or “just being men” while the black woman is seen as promiscuous.

Black women protesting in the 1970s.

Black women, we must take the reins and take control of our bodies and our image. HIV/AIDS is spreading rampantly, according to Minority Women’s Health (2006), with the rates of new HIV infections for black women being reported as nearly 15 times as high as that of white women. Those figures have put a noticeable dent in our self-esteem.  But we have the power to go in another direction.

We must refrain from promiscuity and reintroduce the idea of family back into our communities. We’ve had plenty of conversations over the years about how our community is the only one that deems it OK to be mediocre, and that extends to sexuality in reckless abandon. We seem to ignore the need to stir the pot and make a 180-degree turn to  improve our values and morals. The need for that change is becoming more and more critical as we lose control of our fatherless children and our lives.

Let’s ensure our sons and daughters understand that the leaders who came before us and fought the good fight for us to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness didn’t do it all for the sake of vanity, promiscuity and reality-TV celebrity. We owe it to them and to ourselves to live better and wholesome lives… Our lives depend on it. –brandi hart

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