I Can’t Tell You What To Do

I am in tears right now after reading This Post from Crunktastic of the Crunk Feminist Collective. In tears. Crying and upset. But you should go ahead and read it just the same. I’ll wait.


I felt her pain because I’ve gone through exactly what she has – what so many of us have. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. You feel for the struggle for your brothers have gone through, are going through and you want to support their endeavors – and you do. You are told from the church to the community to your family how that is what you are supposed to do.

But where is the support back?

Time and time again, I’ve gotten responses similar to what happened to Crunktastic on that panel. The anger. The “how dare you” the intimidation. The forceful show of the need to correct me. To silence me. To put me in my place.

What place is that, exactly?


Each Black woman comes to a certain point on this journey of trying to reach solidarity with Black men, at different times in her life. It is a personal thing and varies widely. Some might never come to that point, but I do believe most of us do come to that point.

And what point would that be?

Why that would be the point at which we turn the corner, away from the Black man and leave him behind, as we concentrate on our own well being, our own advocacy, our own struggle and our path towards a toxic-free life.

For those in therapy, and those who partake even a little bit of pop culture, you’ve probably heard about removing toxic people, and toxic behaviors etc from your life, in order to be healthier and happier on both the physical and mental levels.


Doing things like that is not easy. You can see the love she has for Black people and Black men and how she wanted to see nothing but the best happen for all of us. How gut wrenching is the decision to remove out of your life people you love and care about so much?

It hurts. It’s tough. It is very hard to do. How do I know? Because I’ve done it, and I continue to shore up the layers of protection I’ve built around me.

Because I’m selfish. I’ve already paid my dues. Like so many of us, we’ve spent DECADES of our lives out there trying to work this thing out. And what do we get for it? Threats, dismissal, rage and many times bodily harm.

So I made the decision many many years ago to simply opt out. To turn that corner and move on.

You cannot help those who don’t want to be helped.

You cannot change those who think they need no changing.

You cannot work equally together with those who think that you are lesser than they are.

You can’t fix what’s broken when those who are shattered have no idea that they are in pieces.


Each person has to go on that journey on their own. When they have reached a point of wellness, and have healed, then they will be ready to interact and will be able to work together in true solidarity.

I’m selfish. I look out for Number One now. I work together with people who can come together as equals for whatever cause I’m advocating. I ignore those who can’t or won’t.

I seriously don’t have time for all of that.

I can’t tell you what to do. I believe that you cannot live your authentic beautiful strong and happy life if you don’t look out for yourself.

Think of it like what they tell you to do with the oxygen masks on an airplane. You put yours on first, and then you help others. If you are all passed out from lack of oxygen, then you cannot help anyone else.

Here’s another analogy from when I was taking aquatic life saving courses towards certification. No matter how much you want to save a drowning person, you cannot get close to them until you are able to calm them down, talk them down.

A panicky person will grab you and hold onto you, and you will both be drowned. That is also the reason why when you finally are able to help them, and are towing them to safety, you are behind them using the chin tow – out of arms reach.

You cannot save someone who is combative, grasping, reaching and not listening to your instructions. If you go in without first getting an understanding and have them listening – you will both die.

Either you both meet in the middle where you both can make it back to shore, or you as the helper might die, or you as the distressed swimmer might have to be left to sink.

I don’t let people grab onto me and sink me down. I don’t look out for people without making sure I’m ok first. That’s how selfish I am.

I want to live. I want to be ok. If being around you, supporting you and helping you becomes detrimental to my health and happiness: I turn that corner and move on.


You can view me as if I was just like “the white man” always running down a brother, or never standing up for “the Black man” if you want to. I don’t actually care.

Maybe you care how Black women like me view a brother who’s behavior is eerily similar to that violent misogynistic white male who’s targeting of the Black woman goes back centuries?

If you aren’t part of protecting us, then where actually do you stand? 

Crunktastic and the other sisters were “waiting on the brothers” to come to her aid. For someone – anyone – to step up.

I’ve been there too. The result was the same. Over and over and over. I know the pain and frustration of that. So now I don’t wait on the brothers. I might call them out every know and then on the off chance they’ve stepped up their game, but most usually, I just keep it stepping and stay on my course.

And on that course I do meet in true solidarity with brothers who know and understand the true meaning of that word, and the word equality as well. Because some of you do show up, do stand up, do give back the support and help rendered to you from Black women.


We tell white people that they’ve had 400 years to get it together on the racism front. To step up. To come correct. Like what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?

So too have the brothers had that same time span to get it together on the sexism front. More engraved invitations needed?



There are reasons those sorts of hashtags ebb and flow throughout the twitterverse.

America is a patriarchal society. Not surprising is that America is also a Rape Culture. Those two go hand in hand. Also not surprising is finding out a lot of Black males have internalized the misogyny that is so rampant in this country.

What is also not surprising is that I’m not going to stand around and be around you because you haven’t the wherewithal, the strength, the desire, the need to extricate yourself from all of that.

Because you haven’t I am putting myself in harm’s way if I’m around you, supporting you, helping you. Go ahead and be angry at me for saving my own life.

You can hate me for it. You can dismiss me for it. You can call me out my name for it. I don’t effing care. If you are part of the problem and I’m working on the solution why in the world should I even be near you?

You are grown ass men. I am not here to teach you how to behave. How to think. What choices you should make.

But if your actions, your thoughts, your behaviors and those choices come in direct conflict with my personal safety, health and happiness – Trust & Believe I’m ditching out.


If as a Black male you are offended by what I’ve written, or upset about how that brother was “treated” at that panel: I can’t tell you what to do.

But I can suggest that you take a deep look at yourself, and pray on it for a good long while. Or ignore me and keep it stepping. Whatever you like.

If as a male of any other race color or creed you are offended by what I’ve written or are upset about how that brother was “treated” at that panel: I can’t tell you what to do.

But I can suggest that you take a deep look at yourself, and pray on it for a good long while. Or ignore me and keep it stepping. Whatever you like.

If you are a male of any race color or creed who feels that if they had been there, they would have stepped up to stop what was happening, put that guy in check and protect Crunktastic:

Be there and do those things whenever you see that sort of thing happening. Whenever, wherever. Be that guy.

Not the other guy. Not the guy upset and offended at having to think about where he truly stands. Not the guy opting for violence and intimidation. Not the other guys. Not the ones who stood around and did absolutely nothing.

“I do know I am tired. And sad. And not sure how much more I want to struggle with Black men for something so basic as counting on you to show up.” -Crunktastic


I know a lot of white people read my blog. While this post was primarily about Black people – I’m not letting you off the hook either.
You live in America too. Yeah that country with the patriarchal rape culture going on. White women reading CFC’s post, and my experiences probably had some deja vu happening, I think.
And for my international readers, I know your countries are probably not coming up smelling like roses on the patriarchal rape culture fronts either.
This is global. 
However, being that I’m an American Black woman, reading, writing and reacting about other American Black women’s experiences, that’s mostly what you get here on this blog.
But take what you can from here and apply it to your own lives. Maybe this world will end up being a better place.
Oh wait, I forgot. I can’t tell you what to do.

About Awake BW

Like my writing? Support & Donations accepted: paypal.me/AwakeBW Black Celibate Buddhist Nun Insomniac Wordsmith Womanist Our Lady Of The Two Black Cats Educated Bodhisattva This Week in Blackness Podcast FOREVER! #TWiBNation
This entry was posted in General, WELP, WTF and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I Can’t Tell You What To Do

  1. great post, it is crazy how we seem to not have any allies. At the end of the day all we can do is love ourselves and watch out for ourselves and be there for the ppl that are there for us. there are some brothas that are real and do try to understand I appreciate them but the ones that don’t, the ones that treat us like property and disrespect us I don’t mess with. We see it time and time again when the oppressed become the oppressor, the native americans were enslaved and killed off and they turned around and owned black slaves to fit in. What some of these black men need to realize is they are trying to be like white men with some of their behavior and yes some black women may try to act like white women as well. Some say black women need to step back or every one else has control of their women but we don’t. All I can say is we don’t need to step back u need to step up and if she is a real black woman she will allow u your place beside her ,not in front of her, not behind her, but right beside her. U didn’t tell black women to step back and know our place as women when we were marching with u, dying with u, and having multiple jobs to help support the family. I’ll say this as well I also notice some black males complain and say black women left the black movement to join the feminists, well ask urself why, if a woman is happy where she is .she does not go look elsewhere, but even joining the feminists black women were still left out. a lot of black ppl are messed up and we can’t look at everyone as our allies there are sellout black folks among us and they outnumber the real ones unfortunately.

    • Awake BW says:

      “All I can say is we don’t need to step back u need to step up and if she is a real black woman she will allow u your place beside her ,not in front of her, not behind her, but right beside her.”

      That is Everything, right there.

      And also you saying for Black men to wonder why when we go elsewhere seeking support and allies. The instinct for survival is very strong. If the people who are supposed to be in solidarity with you, are the very ones threatening your survival: of course you’ll go elsewhere. I don’t get it when people don’t understand that basic thing.

      And what you said right before the sentence I quoted. About how everyone else has control over their women except the Black man. That is the crux of the matter right there. If you want to be a part of a society that has control over half of the other, then cool: Please Continue. But don’t expect me to be there supporting you.

      If you can’t come to the same conclusions with gender equality that you have come to with equality between the races, then I really have no time for you. Want to be like the slave holding founding fathers of this nation talmbout “freedom” while still owning people. Nozzir!

      • I think ppl get caught up in proving themselves to other ppl to ppl they claim they don’t care about. Men don’t need to PROVE their masculinity by controlling women, they SHOW it by supporting women and protecting women. If women like Harriet Tubman and Bessie Coleman “knew their place” then they wouldn’t have reached their full potential and used their skills to help the black community. If Harriet Tubman said u know I shouldn’t run away and I should know my place then she wouldn’t have escaped slavery and went back and helped others escape. If Bessie coleman would’ve said u know women shouldn’t fly planes especially colored women and I should know my place then she wouldn’t have become a pilot and opened a flight school for black youth. They went against society and helped others, it seems when black women are not doing things to help black men we are wrong. When these same black women that helped black men and black women did so because they know the black community is made up of black women and black men and black children not just men. The creator uses both genders because both are important. Women use the power of our words and persuasion while men use the power of their strength and both are important. I will also say that women can sometimes use words to calm ppl down like Antoinette tuff did but sometimes a man does need to step in and use his strength to eliminate a threat.

        • Awake BW says:

          Exactly. The idea of what masculinity is, is so very skewed. Why not stand on your own two feet without having one of your boots on the neck of a woman to show how awesome you are? Do you want a partner or a servant? Do you want teamwork or a slave? People’s behavior towards and with me, show me the answers to those questions.

          I love that you mention Bessie Coleman. She is one of my ultimate favorites!

          “…because they know the black community is made up of black women and black men and black children not just men.”


  2. I read an article about a black male that got offended when tommy Sotomayor was saying racist things about black men but when he was talking about black women the guy was ok with it. This is the stuff I am talking about, don’t be angry only when u are attacked be angry when ur sister, mother, are attacked. Don’t be outraged at just the trayvons but also be outraged at the rekia boyds and aiyana jones’ that happen too. Black women do need to leave the black males alone that don’t support us, I hate to say it but a lot are immature and don’t know how to be a man because they may not have a man to teach them and I know they blame black women for that. But it takes two and yes I am with u if it is a woman that holds the kid away from u then yes that is on her but if u decide not to see ur child and the woman isn’t being rude that is on u. In short black women need to start acting like the queens we are and stop waiting on black males, if they act like the kings they are supposed to be then great if not then oh well. We are not Cinderella we don’t need to wait on prince charming to save us, we gotta save ourselves and help the ppl that do want to be helped, everybody else is dead weight.

    • Awake BW says:

      Some of the first stories I wrote – when I around 8 or 9 years old – where turning fairy tales on their head. It never seemed right that the princess, or whoever was just sitting around in a tower or wherever waiting to be rescued. That the sons were the only ones going out “to seek their fortunes”.

      My stories were full of princesses finding their own ways out of their towers, going on adventures to seek out their own fortunes. Later on, as I became an adult, those early ideas and concepts never changed. I found they had names like “feminist” and “womanist”. That I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

      If judging from our entertainments, our media reporting, and yes sad to say how justice is (not) carried out in our society – you could infer that women in general are second class citizens and barely considered even three dimensional human beings in many cases. Multiply that 100 times over for WOC, especially Black women.

      White males are the ones running this country. If Black males want in on that power, they seem to think that joining in on the misogyny is the way to go. Pity that. But as I said before: Please Continue. I’ll just add you to My List and keep it stepping without you.

      If you can’t see and respect my basic humanity, then you are not deemed worthy of MY respect, and I’ll consider you just a basic animal in return. But if you have figured out that walking hand in hand, side by side in the struggle is the way to go, then all you need do is turn your head and see me there – I’ll be stepping along to true freedom and equality right next to you.

      • yeah Cinderella and the other princess movies were kinda wack to me. I liked the cheetah girls song sayin I don’t wanna be like cinderalla sitting in a cold dark dusty cellar waiting for somebody tto come and set me free i’d rather rescue myself. I have no respect for ppl that try to climb their way to the top through hurting others and throwing their supporters under the bus. they say its lonely at the top for a reason, if u burn all ur bridges to get there nobody will want to save u on ur fall down.

Go Ahead, Have Your Say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s