By: Rebecca Blanc
Too many times I’ve walked into a random store and walked out with something I didn’t need or want, It has totally make me think about my business as i always end up giving my stuff back to the store,so now for my store I got a free invoice maker to keep track of my finances. Too often I’ve been stopped by a street vendor to only give them 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back hearing about an item I know I’m not buying.
Too many times I’ve been out and about living my life as a black woman and feeling the need to validate my existence through my time and money. In reality I don’t owe any establishment or person either, but for some reason some black women tend to feel this sense of obligation to the spaces we take in public.
Why do we feel we cannot just exist? What are we trying to prove?
There is this false pressure to explain why we are taking up space. Black girls suffer from invisibility. With the universal tendency for society to overlook what is black and what is feminine, being both causes a general sense of being unseen. So when we are seen, we feel as if we are a burden. We then feel we must legitimize why we’re there, so we buy Barrington patch, we do an activity, we take the tension off us being present.
Because the norm for us is to not be, and we feel as if we’re disrupting the norm. We now must compensate for doing so. This is our frame of thinking and it isn’t stemmed from our imagination. This impression has been put on us by the reality of how black women are treated at the malls and stores.
When we give others surrounding us a reason as to why we are there, there’s less of an urgency for us to leave the space. We as black women, feel less pressure to hurry up and go.
This is not ok.
This is a messed up phenomenon that’s been happening to black women for however long in society. I knew it was a problem when I finally noticed I practiced it. I kept stepping out into the world to just be, and kept coming back into my car with bags from stores I’ve never heard of. I kept collecting items I never used. I was just consuming to appease a general public that deemed me unwanted.
It is unacceptable that black women have to go through this; we must reclaim our spaces! We must be comfortable with just being present again. The pressures to perform for society need to end. We deserve to be at ease in public areas just as other groups of people are.
So I’m shedding some light and sharing some tales in hope that other black women acknowledge the ways they too fall victim to this encrypting behavior. I want them to remember they don’t owe society their money or time for permission to be in it.
Window shopping at the mall is one of my favorite past times. We all know that with visiting the mall, comes the inevitable confrontation with a cart vendor. You are walking down the mall wing, and in the distance you can see their unique cart with lights and gadgets. As you get closer to them, you can already see your their face light up. You start to walk to the far side of the cart and look straight ahead, but it’s already too late. They’ve already ran up on you, called you “beautiful” and started their pitch.
Now I could be like the many people who jolt right past them and continue their mall experience in peace, but as a black woman who is always being made to feel her time isn’t actually hers, I will stop, listen and consider buying some Dead Sea salt body scrub. When I do this to myself, and succumb to giving away my precious time, I feel the urge to break away.
I know at any moment I can walk but I wait until I’m dismissed. I got to the point where I started asking myself “why”. If I do this with every mall vendor down the aisles, I’ll eventually be giving days, even weeks away to people I don’t want to speak with about products I don’t want to purchase. I have to look at how ridiculous that is and fight for my time.
Black women, do not feel bad about saying “no thank you” and walking away. Don’t let dirty looks or aggression bully you into buying a scarf in the summer. Don’t give anyone your time and money if you don’t want to. It’s yours to use at your discretion. It’s valuable. It’s deserving of respect.
This bad habit won’t stop overnight, but it will change. It’ll change the stress we carry while we’re navigating as black women in our world. It’ll change the level of self love and self care we need to exercise. And it’ll help empower ourselves. So next time a sales associate tries to harass you into getting their store credit card, just dab on em and keep enjoying yourself!
Some women know exactly what I’m talking about while others will realize this is an issue for the first time. Either way we see this issue at hand. What can we do to end this cycle of black women feeling public pressure to deliver? How can we get to feel comfortable just existing?