About Young BW Determined to Live Well

After being a faithful reader of various blogs dedicated to positively influencing black women, I recognized quite a few young black women in their teens, 20's, and 30's who were touched by the message as much as myself. This blog is my attempt to reach out and connect with young black women on issues we may be facing at a very transitional time in our lives. I encourage all, irrespective of age, class, origin, etc. to participate in the discussions and brainstorming sessions we have. I look forward to the potential of this blog and hope to hear from Young Black Women Determined to Live Well like myself!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Studying Abroad: Covert Tricks and Strategies to Keep You Winning

Greetings Ladies,

I understand that quite a few of you are choosing to venture overseas through the respective study abroad programs offered at your schools or independently. I thought this post would be timely because when you study abroad, if you will be going along with other non-black female students, considering your living arrangements, you may encounter what I call covert tricks used by other non-black females (and sometimes black, although I have rarely heard this to be the case) while studying abroad. The absolute number one rule to follow is to put yourself first! I think the best way to speak on this is to tell of a few study abroad experiences I heard from fellow students, and speak about my own.

While in undergrad, I heard about some of the things done to my black female friends while they were away on study abroad trips that were frequented by a majority of the white students at their school. More often than not, the main culprit in covert tricks were white female students. These "tricks" were just another way of being passive aggressive. A frequent trick was to do things as a group, and deliberately not invite the black female student, or invite the black female student at the last minute, meanwhile everyone else seemed to have gotten the memo well in advance. Some black female students alluded to being treated as if they were the "mammy" of the group. The tag along "mom" that kept everything in order or held the purses, or took the pictures for everyone, basically the "help." If the black female student rejected the mammy role, she was considered a threat, and further shut out from group activities. This turned out to be really negative for some of my friends when they went on study abroad. However, many of them stated the locals did not exhibit the same type of behavior and when they spent their time meeting and getting to know the locals, their experience improved.

I studied abroad in London for a full semester. I was one of only 2 black girls on the trip. The other young black woman did not seem to embrace me early on despite my efforts to forge a bond, and appeared to connect better with the white female students, so I mostly kept to myself. I was cordial with everyone, but was also aware that their extension of inclusion was not being offered to me the way it had been offered to others on the trip. The other students were white. I was from a different school than the university that offered the study abroad program, so some students already new each other. However my main point is this: Immediately upon arrival, the white students were friendly at the onset, but eventually broke away into their own social groups. One way they did this, as I later found out, is they would go to dinner together, or to pubs, etc. and I would never know until after the fact. When they made plans to go anywhere outside of the city or the country, the email that was sent out somehow omitted me and a few other white male outliers in the group. By the time I knew of their plans, they had already travelled out of town for the weekend and Facebook updates would display pictures of their adventures. Thankfully, my experience with living on my own in a few cities where I had to create a lively experience for my own happiness and well being, helped me navigate what was happening, successfully.

Strategy One: Why am I here?
I knew the majority of the other students had disposable income to spend it eating out every night, partying away getting drunk, and traveling to other cities. I, however, was not keen on spending my stipend on those things. Furthermore, I did not want to spend time trying to "get in" with people who didn't really value me enough to make sure I got the memo for their weekend travels or late night escapades. Instead, I focused on finding out about employment prospects in the city for Americans like myself, and networking my head off to make solid contacts. Have those business cards ready! Sounds like fun? Some may say no, but it was worth while to me. I landed not one, but two internships in my short time while there. I also knew I was there as a young single and attractive (I like to think so) black woman who was open to love. I even got encouragement from my mother to open my online profiles and change the city to my study abroad city. That is precisely what I did, and enjoyed every moment. I also joined a few meetup.com groups and penciled in their events into my schedule. In addition, every chance I had free time outside of class and my internships, I was not in that flat. If I had to study or read for class, I was out at a coffee shop, bookstore, library, park, or any establishment with wifi. When I wasn't studying, I was out and about exploring the city. Being in a city like London has so much going on, there is no excuse to be holed up indoors irrespective of the weather. I went to conferences, book signing events, clubs, museums, restaurants, shopping centers, festivals, you name it. Some I did with a few people on the program, many I did with new people I met in the city or while on dates, and a great many of them I did happily by myself (this proved very helpful in meeting other men as they were very interested in helping me with whatever I needed, or flirtatiously chatting me up.)
You do not need the study abroad group (and their covert tricksters) to embrace you in order to have an amazing study abroad experience. You simply need to determine what will make the experience great for YOU, and proceed accordingly. I can only laugh at the perplexed look on some of the other students faces when I chimed in to our professors on Mondays about how much fun I had at a local event in the city over the weekend. It was as if the other students assumed I just stayed at home and did nothing given their disinterest in including me on their weekend outings. lol.

Strategy Two: Know my way around the area
I had never been to the city before. But, I knew it was great with public transportation. I could take the tube (underground), the bus, or a taxi. I went on the website for Transport for London and tried to get a good idea of the tube lines that ran close to where I would be staying in the city. I carried a mini map of the tube line and a small notepad with directions I had written down to be sure of where I was going. In my handwritten directions, I included buildings and sites that would help me be confident in finding certain destinations. Use Google Maps! Use your phone's GPS! If you're bold enough, you can always use the "cute lost girl" act to ask the handsome guy how to get to your destination as well. I also made sure that I new which buses had stops near to where I lived, and near to an area that I was familiar enough, to be able to walk the rest of the way home if I had to. As soon as I arrived, I purchased an oyster card (travel card to get around and easily pay for travel fare with the tube and buses) and a cheap cell phone. I also had a list of reputable cab numbers to call and ALWAYS had emergency cash on hand.
While many of you may not have extended family in your study abroad country, it is pretty common for Caribbean or African young ladies to have relatives in Europe and other parts of the globe, particularly in the UK given the colonial history. As such, reach out to them before you go. They may provide another safety net for you as someone that you are tied to through familial bonds who can be a point of contact if there is any emergency or if you need to know how to get somewhere. I did this, and felt even more empowered, as this is a built-in network to your advantage. For those of you without family in your study abroad countries, check in with your professors, colleagues, or friends. Often, the professors we respect at our own universities will have colleagues they know in the city who would be willing to speak with you about your goals, interests while visiting the city, and answer any questions you have etc. The bottom line is maximize your network through who you already know (think: six degrees of separation). Use your Facebook, or LinkedIn, or any other social network you frequent to help you with knowing your way around. Once I knew the city, no matter what happened, or what "trick" was pulled, I always had someone to call and a way to get back home to safety.

Strategy Three: Get your money and budget for the days you will be there, in order
Some of you may not have to worry about having a budget. The rest of you should get an idea of the currency in whatever country you are traveling to. Unfortunately, the U.S. dollar is weaker than the pound in the UK, so it would be very easy to spend a lot more than you intended if you don't keep calculation of exactly what you are spending in American dollars. Again, this is something that is personal to each of you. Step 1 should help you figure out how to prioritize where to spend your cash to maximize whatever you are seeking. I knew eating out would be nice. However, I knew I could cook enough to last through the week, and pack my own lunches every now and then to have more money for doing fun social stuff in the city (this doubled as a great way to watch my figure). Some of you may not have any bills or major expenses to pay. However, others who do may consider subletting the apartment (if your lease allows) so that the monthly rent doesn't have to come out of your pocket. Call up your internet and/or cable provider to see if they will put you on the seasonal status (for however long you will be out of the country) and save expenses there. Prepay the expenses if you can for the duration of your study abroad so you can spend your energy fully present on your trip. A wonderful way to be budget savvy is to talk with locals on where to get the best deals on purchases like groceries. This also doubles as another networking opportunity.

Strategy Four: Get your health and body in order and/or maintain it.
Depending on where you will be spending your study abroad, this may not apply to you. However, if you are traveling to a more developed country, you may be able to enroll at the local gym for a reasonable price. I signed up at the local gym closest to where I lived and met lots of interesting people while there. I also did a search on natural hair salons in the area. I was able to meet some great women while getting my hair done, and scheduled to do fun social activities with them outside of what I planned for myself. Also, when you go out, make an effort to put your best foot forward in how you package yourself. It is to your advantage as a black woman in any country when you make an effort to present yourself as well groomed in a flattering and feminine way. Smiling is key here. I used this, as well as my lovely American accent, to my advantage because I knew people would be more open and welcoming to an American black woman with a gentle smile as opposed to whatever stereotypes about black women existed there.

Strategy Five: PLAN fun and adventure into your schedule every weekend!
If you are completely embraced by the people on your study abroad and are content with hanging out with them, great. If you are all too often singled out or uninvited with your study abroad group, take the time to research the fun and exciting things you can do while in the city on your own. Taking the time to plan at least one fun thing each weekend will lift your spirits and reinvigorate you for the next week. It will also demonstrate the reality that YOUR fun and happiness is within your control. Reach out and grab it!

I know that every country is different. Take whatever you can apply and use it to your own gain. Feel free to share your pointers for study abroad or how you navigated through some of the covert tricks you saw happening while on study abroad.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Hypergamy: Young Black Women and a Simple Strategy to Start


Hola Lovlies! How are you all getting on? I take it very well, considering we do not waste time focusing on things that aim to impede our efforts toward Living Well! I always appreciate different forms of media incorporated in my posts. I think it makes things a tad more fun, and offers people a glimpse into the wealth of information available to us via the internet. Have a look at the video below. While the study focuses on "sex appeal" the same dynamics are at play in the real world regarding qualities that don't coincide with our physical appearance.




Here, the woman narrating her mate selection strategy seems to parallel what I believe many black women face in this country. Her final comment: "I guess this is... all that's left...okay, I'm stuck with 2" speaks volumes. She was stuck with 2 when her number was 3, higher than his. What is more, her match (another number 3) didn't seem to care to find her based on potential rejections he may have faced being a lower number. There is a high likelihood he may have chosen number 1or 2. However, there is an even higher likelihood he may have lucked out with a 4 or 5? Who knows?


I am certain many of you have read about or seen the article describing the unfortunate circumstances awaiting all black women in the United States who choose to marry down. While these articles are nothing to get worked up about for forward-thinking black women, their mention of deliberately choosing to go against the grain and marry down resulting in burdensome financial consequences, is something to heed. Guess what? Marrying up, or at your level, is something people all over the world have quietly practiced. Below is a clip from the first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, saying plain and clear what some are uncomfortable hearing:


As callous as it sounds, it's true. Marrying up or at one's level goes both ways. There is a reason why the black women in the article who are mentioned marrying down, often end up that way. I believe they are strategically targeted by men who set out to only marry up. Whatever is to become of our less well-off sistren? You know, the ones that are actually at the same level as those men who practice hypogamy? My point is, the men that marry up through black women, know exactly what they are doing. Therefore, it is, and in my opinion, will always be, exponentially better for a black woman to marry up. 

What does "up" look like today? Well, him having a degree is good. However, if that degree does not translate to real, tangible, financial gain... it's not marrying up. How about the family pedigree? Are his immediate family members in a healthy marital relationship? Grandparents? How about his Uncles and Aunts? What do they do? What are their values about child rearing, financial investment and inheritance, or educational attainment? How about the networks he and his family are able to access? Have these networks created opportunities for you? If you are in a serious relationship secretly daydreaming about eventually walking down the aisle, you should already have a few things gained just from your proximity to his familial line. How about his friends? What do they do? How have they improved your life in some capacity? 

What about the young black women getting ready to head off to an institution of higher education? This is a very simple example of the multiple ways you can position yourself to maximize your potential for marrying up:

I did a google search of highest paying graduate degrees. At least 6 of the top 20 listed all fall under the Engineering major. Petroleum Engineering held the top spot. I then did a search on top schools for Petroleum Engineering. As you can guess, quite a few are located in Texas, some in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, California, and Louisiana. Now, armed with this information, I may choose to look at those specific schools to see where they rank in terms of the major I want to pursue, and take it from there. If you are out of school, and have already graduated, perhaps a job search for Petroleum Engineering in your state could reveal certain companies that hire Petroleum engineers. Where are those companies located? More importantly, how can you maximize your chance of crossing paths with Petroleum Engineers at that company? Befriending one, could open you to a whole lot more to choose from. 

This is just one very simple way of strategizing to position yourself, that you could ,and probably should, use when choosing where you will spend the next few years of your life. Furthermore, it is super easy to do in the privacy of your own home. Also, financial capacity is clearly only one of many factors you must consider when deciding to marry. Even if he makes a sufficient income, his values which will determine how he spends or invests his money matter a great deal. Does he know how to invest his money? And if he doesn't, does he know where to go to get that help? 

In closing, all of us as young black women should be doing things like this on the sly. I guarantee you that innocent "hang-outs" with friends, or people from work, etc. by other groups of non-black women are really the same thing I laid out in the strategy above. Do some brainstorming in your free time and map out a few different strategies that are better tailored to your needs. I hope this helps get the juices flowing! 





Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pressing Forward Lovlies!



Hello Lovelies!

I haven't written a post in a very long time! I hope for the few that continue to peruse the older posts, you are able to walk forward with timeless, helpful, and life enhancing information. I have accomplished some major goals in the time since I last wrote, and am opening a new chapter in my life.

Isn't it wonderful how when you feel you've grown and mastered one stage of life's journey, a multitude of events occur to shift you into a different vantage point, that unwraps another layer to your purpose on this Earth, and you become the student once again. At times, it's uncomfortable and outright intolerable. Other times, usually when you accept things as they are and choose to move forward, while trusting that you are still on track, do you begin to see all of the new possibilities. Then it becomes a refreshing and welcomed change.

In my efforts to manifest a goal, I encountered what seemed to be setbacks and stumbling blocks. However, after taking some time to really slow down and see the bigger picture, I am aware that at times I got caught up in the finite number of ways I could think of to get where I wanted, while completely forgetting the power of the Creator and universe, which has an infinite number of ways to get me to the same goal. Furthermore, slowing down pushed me to re-examine why I wanted that particular goal. Was it still realistic? Was there a better way? Ultimately, I got what I wanted. However, no longer attached to the outcome, I realized there was an even better way to manifest what I truly desired, such that I may reach my goals at a higher vibration. Simply put, I am choosing to move in another direction. Scary may describe how I feel about doing something new, but somehow I know it's going to be better in the long run.

As I work toward my dreams, I encourage all of you young bw to do the same. Several BWE bloggers that have espoused valuable analysis and forethought toward living the best life we can as young bw, have highlighted a number of things happening in the news or mainstream media recently. Keep pressing forward! Remain stealth. Seek out ways to set yourself apart from the herd. How can you assist yourself in creating multiple streams of income? How can you increase the chances of you surrounding yourself with quality men and women that will propel you into networks that will move you ahead? How can you position yourself so that when opportunity comes, you will be ready and available? What skills do you lack, or need to improve? Whatever the case, remember that there are an infinite number of ways available, to get you to the next level you have set for yourself. You can have it! Believe it, and then let go as if it has already been done. Hard work is a given. Embrace it. It builds confidence and allows for better enjoyment when the time comes to reap your rewards.

All the "powers that be" that conspire to hinder,confuse, erase, and distract bw, young an old, the world over, cannot stop you from getting yours! Keep pressing forward ladies. I'm in it with you!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

For all the "Natural Haired Belles" who revert to Perming their hair.

Hello Lovelies,

This comment will be short and direct. I am a natural haired woman with the kinky coily texture that comprises the majority of people who are of African descent. I do not take kindly to women who come up to me, remark at the length of my natural hair, and say:

"I just couldn't do it": (in other words, they stopped using chemicals to straighten for a short while, got frustrated, and went back to perming).

"I just couldn't manage it/handle the length/etc." (in other words, they were not willing to take the time and invest in their hair, so they went back to a "quick fix" and permed).

Whatever, the case may be, don't explain why. Just do it quietly and fall into obscurity. Why you ask? because natural haired women like me are not having problems with our length at all. There are some of us out there who have no issue with taking our time on our hair, detangling, washing, moisturizing, etc. In fact, those of us who are at longer lengths have fairly simple regimens, styling options, and maintenance practices. Perhaps you should ask for our advice rather than dragging our hair through the mud by saying the very same things that contribute to why our hair has never had a real chance of acceptability in mainstream society: Because we who grow it, show open disdain and impatience for it. Thus, why should anyone else give a d*** about being accepting of our hair?

Think about this trend young bw are posting on youtube: Natural to Relaxed. Over and over again, you hear the same thing: as their hair grew longer, they just couldn't bother to put in the time to do it. Hmmm like we just couldn't bother to put in the time to working out, or to improve our social lives, or dating lives, or enhance our careers, or saving up to move out of a poor neighborhood. Yea, seems pretty common to me, that it sounds like another cop out. You can disagree with me if you want. But like it or not, Natural haired black women who proudly display the texture of their hair with pride and refrain from calling their hair "The Struggle" do more for our "image" in leaps and bounds than women who have been relaxing for ages.


I'm finished ranting.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Grass Being Greener on the Other Side

Greetings Butterflies!

I trust all is well and underway for each of you in creating the living well lifestyle you desire. I read a recent post on Beyond Black & White Titled: "Shore to Shore: Is Dating for Black Women across the Atlantic Really that Different? (Find out from Someone Living There)"

In the first paragraph the author states:
"The eccentric, open-minded and tolerant reputation of the British is, in general, accurate...
However, I often read American blogs that advise Black women to go to Europe as it is more likely that they’ll find love with a slight irritation – dating non-Black men here is certainly no easier than anywhere else. "

I beg to differ. Being approached, asked on a date, or simply being able to have a nice conversation in the initial stages of attraction is more likely to occur in Europe rather than the USA. I would go so far as to say the online dating in Europe (UK inclusive) is better than several states in the U.S. While U.S. dating for Black women does happen, the ease at which it happens is not the same as what I can attest to experiencing in the UK.

I am not denying the reality of what this author experienced. However, some of the commenters made a lot of good points about how the Black women in the UK and by extension black women in Europe may hold the key to having better luck. 

One commenter spoke about their observations as an outsider living in London for a few years. Many of the observations they stated about the black women who were partnered and the black women who were not, ring true to what I saw. 

You are free to read the article if you choose. However, I hold steadfast to the realities of more than enough black women from the U.S. or abroad who have gone to Europe and found love with the quickness! If not love, they certainly were not wanting for dates. Ladies, if Europe is in your heart as one of the potential places to meet men who are attractive and who value your features as a black woman, do not let this post get you down. A lot of the headaches black women in the U.S. face (unwillingness to challenge and fight back against the denigration of our image, over indulgence of denigrating music that perpetuates our erasure, and the general stigma of being associated with bm who the world over have not done well by their group) are what black women in U.K. face.  Perhaps the author should take a page out of our book, and reinvent herself as a tourist in her own city. Play the part, act like one, dress like one (the brits in my opinion wear too many dark colors, and girls are rocking the very non-feminine androgynous look), smile at the non-black guys, flirt things up, etc. One last thing, you ladies who are already across the pond have a much more affordable plane ticked to travel around Europe. A flight from US to UK is always over 1000K.  Take advantage of it. There are certainly other places to find men in the entire continent that love you just the way you are.  Till next time Lovelies!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Strategies to Enhance Visibility on Campus: YOUNG BW FRIENDLY!


Hi Lovlies!  I decided to post a comment made on the blog: Black Women's Interracial Relationship Circle. The article addressed the state of young black women on college campuses. I am going to try and add more things to this piece with time but decided to post in a hurry. Please take what you can use and discard the rest. Any questions, feel free to send them my way in comments.


This post is something I can definitely relate to as I attended a PWI and could not for the life of me figure out how to break into the general student body. Granted, my experiences are mine alone, but I guarantee there are a great number of black girls dealing with this in college. I tried several things to try and break into the mold:

1) I would have my dining hall dinners alone in the hopes of meeting other students and striking up random conversation.

2) I would do some of the social events my school would routinely email us through the listserv about what was happening on campus

3) I would make it a point to sit next to people I did not know, particularly non-bm and strike up a conversation about interest or class in general.

4) I would show up to off campus parties with a close girlfriend that also lived off campus and was rooming with other girls (non-bw).

5) I would hang out in the library on my own, or in the student union where I knew other people would be.

6) I would show up to the social nights at the local club (on-campus) when they had Salsa Night and Techno night. Nevermind hiphop night because I would be rejected and offended all the time lol. miss me with that.

7) I would try to hang around the law school on campus (they weren't too hung up on the interracial thing as some of the undergraduate non-bm would appear in my opinion.)

8) One night, I was bold enough to dress up and literally walk around each dorm to the parties on campus on a Friday and literally walk in (without knowing a soul lol) and I got plenty of male attention from the non-bm.

All in all, I made an effort. I did not have much luck despite my efforts though. Here is the take-away for me or what I think may have been a better strategy if I could do it again:

1) Do not immediately involve yourself in the "black" things/clubs. Because I did not know how to get past this racio-misogynistic barrier that seemed to only leave me out as a black woman, I naturally went where it seemed I would easily be accepted. I was a leader in the clubs and spent a lot of time around the black students. However, this only remains pleasant if you accept the invisible status. Once you start to show hints that you will date outside your race, you become outcasted. If you only cultivate relations with the black students, once they leave, it is hard to formulate bonds with the non-black students as time goes by. Everyone starts to have their "clique"  and don't feel the need to introduce a newbie.

2) Do everything you can to find one or two hobbies or interests that line up with meeting potential suitors and friends. I started rock climbing toward the end of undergrad. Tons of opportunity right under my nose, yet I knew nothing about it until I actually went out and sought it myself.

3) Try to find a likeminded friend. I had two girlfriends that really made my time in undergrad enjoyable. They were just as open to new things as I was and provided a great tag along to social events where you might feel funny being the only bw and somehow feel strange, while the "black dude" seems to always be considered "cool" lol.

4) Do not acknowledge bm on campus if they do not acknowledge you. In other words, your concern as a black girl on campus is your well-being separate and apart from the general body of bm. It may sound crass, but once you put them on ignore, and do things for your sole happiness, fulfillment, and upward mobility, you reap the benefits as being better accepted in the general student body. In my opinion, the bm on campus were in many ways an obstruction from bw being apart of the social body of the school. Once you removed the undeserving bm from the equation, others started to embrace. Sounds weird, but I believe there is some major truth to this.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reality Check and Necessary Reminder!

Hello Lovelies! As a head's up, this video is about 30 minutes long. Should you have 30 minutes to spare, I encourage all to have a listen. No need for much elaboration, she hits all major points. Her Youtube Channel is also quite informative with lots of helpful information in our quest to become more evolved as young black women. Enjoy!