• Carla Arvie

Not All Black People Support Black People

If watching Queen and Slim taught me anything, it would be that not all black folks are rooting for you my fellow black people. One outstanding memory that made me realize this was when I was in middle school. I remember attending a new school in a suburb outside of Dallas.

Naturally, I thought I could count on my fellow black people ( #WakandaForever ) to make this transition easy and that we'd become instant homies because of the obvious lack of blacks. BOY was I wrong -these folks made my life miserable! I can laugh about it now but sure as heck was crying about it then. I was so hurt at how "my own people" were treating me. Couldn't we all just get along?

My mom had to school me on how more than few black people suffer from the "crabs in a bucket" mentality or as I like to abbreviate it, the C.I.B mentality. The idea is that if you were to capture a bunch of crabs in a bucket, one crab at a time would try to escape, and ultimately all its efforts would be undermined by other crabs; to the group's collective demise. In other words, this is an unfortunate learned habit that we've allowed to thrive in black culture til this day.

Why were my own people hurting me? I was forced to the realization that my expectations of kum-ba-yaing with every black person I met were unrealistic. I needed to stop focusing on color. Not all black folks are alike so of course we aren't all going to "vibe". Yet, there was so much more to learn about this C.I.B ideal. Another aspect of this is that it applies to your actual black friends too.

Let me tell y'all about my fellow black friend, Sharlene, yeah we'll go with that name for this story. Sharlene and I worked at the same company together. We'd laugh about hilarious work situations daily, eat lunch together, even hang out outside of work from time to time. One day I asked Sharlene for support with a minor work issue and thought nothing of it as I'd helped her many times before. Sharlene didn't even consider helping me with this issue.

She boldly told me "NO"! She responded this way despite me going out of my way to mentor and support her as a fellow young black professional (what the heck happened to #WakandaForever ) because she "didn't feel like it". I wasn't even surprised with this situation because I remembered the many Sharlenes who'd disappointed me before.

These Sharlenes showed me that I had to be careful with who I call my friends. Black "friends" like her are the kind who's actions don't match the homie title that they're given. I'll be honest and say that this put me in a bitter head-space for a time. After much reflection, I gained the perspective that it was okay to feel disappointed with my people.

The healing began with the saying, "Hurt people hurt people" and the scripture, "Above all these put on love" resonating within me. What I find most beautiful about black history and black people is how resilient we are as a people. Reminded of this resiliency, I was able to come to terms with the fact that many black people are hurting and only know the C.I.B mentality.

With this is mind, I've learned not to take things personal in dealing with this mentality with black peers. I've made the decision to still root for black people even when they're not rooting for me because that's what we need to see more of in this culture.

There's no bad blood between Sharlene and I - I just know what to expect from her now. I won't get along with everyone who's black and that's totally fine. I'm grateful for these lessons because they are what make the black experience beautiful.

I hope this message meant something to you guys. Let's keep the conversation going in the comments because I'm all for dialogue!

Happy Black History Month!

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