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Shifting…

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A couple of years ago, Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D. wrote a great book titled Shifting – The Double Lives of Black Women. Synopsis: Shifting reveals that a large number of African American women feel pressure to compromise their true selves as they navigate America’s racial and gender bigotry. Black women “shift.” They change the expectations they have for themselves. Or they alter their outer appearance. They modify their speech. They shift ‘white’ as they head to work in the morning and ‘black’ as they come back home each night. They shift inward, internalizing the searing pain of the negative stereotypes that they encounter daily. And sometimes they shift by fighting back.

The majority of us shift back and forth at our jobs daily, especially for sisters in corporate America. But, do you think it’s fair that we have to conform in order to fit in with our non-black counterparts or does it even matter – can we just go and be ourselves? And who even says that we have to conform – is it just something we think we have to do?

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  • There’s a post on the Napps Up! blog (link can be found on my site) that talks about how we Black Women are basically the ish! We just have to start believing in ourselves. There’s no reason why we need to conform and shift our standards, our uniqueness, even our morals. People will learn to accept us as we are once WE learn to accept OURSELVES as we are. In accepting ourselves we gain a self confidence that emits strongly and tells all that we can’t be messed with nor conquered. We really do need to get it down.

  • Vamply

    I don’t think I agree with you Bless. Many black women love and believe in themselves but find they still aren’t “accepted” but both the outside world and even their own friends and families. Because I believe in myself then I won’t have to shift? I’m more of a realist. When I talk to my girls on the phone, I know I can’t speak that same way with my co-workers. That’s shifting. It has nothing to do with loving and believing in myself.

  • My comments were more towards this: “But, do you think it’s fair that we have to conform in order to fit in with our non-black counterparts or does it even matter – can we just go and be ourselves? And who even says that we have to conform – is it just something we think we have to do?”

    I think it has EVERYTHING to do with us on a whole not accepting who we are. We change so much about us (right down to our hair) just because we THINK we have to do this to fit in/to be acceptable. There is only a small percentage of Black Women who, in my opinion, really could care less about what someone says about them or doesn’t FEEL the need to “shift”. We shift because WE choose to shift. Again…this is my perception “in general”/”on the whole”.

  • ceecee

    I’ve been wanting to get this book for a while! I can totally relate to just the title of the book. I’m a ‘shifter’ and I find that it’s easier to ‘shift’ than to stand there and give a 30 min explanation of who I am.