A sisterhood with a PhD (Pull her Down) syndrome

2014-05-30 07:20

Over the past ten years I’ve been working hard to establish myself as a brand while pursuing my passion-African girls’ development. The one thing that has stood out on a number of occasions is how lonely the journey is. It doesn’t matter how ambitious you are, how well spoken and educated you are or how connected you may be. The latter being the subject of my frustration.

I am networked into quite a few ‘high flying’ black women who have worked hard to get to where they are. On the few occasions I have reached out to my ‘sisters’, who are climbing their career ladders at a rather fast pace, I have experienced rejection often times contempt for even trying to ask for help. There seems to be a kind of resentment that says: “how dare you ask me for help when no one helped me get where I am today”. What this sentiment betrays is the lack of solidarity in sisterhood, the fear of failure eclipses the need to give a helping hand. The fear that, if you help a sister out, they may end up eclipsing your success. By refusing to assist, we inadvertently engage in the infamous PhD (Pull her Down) syndrome where women (in) directly are jealous of another and go out of their way to belittle and down play a sister’s success.

As black women, we disenfranchise each other instead of building and supporting one another. We lack true solidarity. If an opportunity is presented, I find that my white female friends will talk each other up. For example, if it’s a consultancy position one will say: “I have a friend who…” or “I know someone who would be perfect for….” and thereby opening doors, monopolising on the social capital and trust leveraged through relationships. I am yet to hear such statements coming from my black sisters.

We need to build true solidarity amongst the sisterhood. True solidarity means being supportive, speaking each other up at every opportunity we get and definitely opening doors for the next person wherever we go. We need to understand that our success cannot be eclipsed by another if we truly lean into our gift and understand that taking a sister along in our success makes long term sense. That is the solidary we need.

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