We all know how amazing it is to be Black women. We’re in some very elite company and we wouldn’t trade the perks that come with it for anything in the world. But we also know that being a Black woman means receiving some hard truths every once in a while. Our aunts, mothers and other elders can sometimes pour a little salt into our wounds with their unfiltered honesty, so much so that we can be reluctant to heed their sound advice. Because we can sometimes feel judged by older generations, as millennials and Gen Z rule against outdated social constructs, gender roles and organized religion, we can get in the habit of ignoring the old adages that do stand the test of time. So, if you’ve been avoiding your Sunday catchups with Grandma because you know she’s waiting to set you right, here are some old Black woman sayings to put you back on track. 

“Don’t Let A Man Tell You He Don’t Want You Twice”

Though there are people rewriting the narrative of breaking down the walls of a man to arrive at his heart, by in large this sentiment holds true. A man who is willing to lose you or make you feel that you’re not desired by him, at any moment, is a man who does not see your worth. And, honestly, there is very little you can do to change that besides completely walking away and leaving him to lay in the bed he’s made for himself. If he comes back, chances are it’s just to see if he can, not because he intends to be different. 

“Clean Your House Before You Go On Vacation, You’ll Feel Better When You Get Back”

It just works. No trip has been capped off better than the ones where you return to a home that does not need cleaning. Vacations are often times where we rest but also when we turn up a little more—you know the feeling where you need time to recover from the break you just took—so, coming home to less labor to do is a game-changer. 

“Don’t Buy A Man Shoes, He’ll Walk Right Out Your Life”

Now, Black people keep a saying that seems to be our own personal voodoo but this one could have an even deeper meaner. Much ado is made about gender roles and how the things we do for our partners should not be defined by our x and y chromosomes; however, putting a financial investment into a man can have lasting repercussions for Black women who are already making significantly less than our male counterparts. A great deal of Black women rate the end of marriages and long partnerships as one of the highest causes of financial strain as we are often taught to show our love in as many ways as possible in order make ourselves seem more desirable. And what’s more is that many men do not date down…meaning once the financial burden has been laid on the shoulders of a woman and she finds herself in need, her partner may not be sticking around to help. So before you spend those coins, sis, think about how you’ll feel if they don’t buy a ticket to forever. 

“Wash Your Greens”

Usually this warning is given around big holidays where collard or mustard greens will be made but this is actually applicable to every green (and otherwise) vegetable you bring home. Most of our vegetables are sprayed with any number of pesticides to ward off bugs during the harvest season and often times are packaged with lots of others produce. You want to make an effort to properly clean all of your vegetables before cooking them. Bugs can lay flat in between leaves and stalks and end up swimming in your dishes. Wash your greens, boo. 

“Why Buy The Cow When You Can Get The Milk For Free?”

Usually this saying is used as a word of caution to women having children with their partners without being married or even “shacking up” but as we move away from traditional definitions for families and parenting—many new ways to apply this statement have risen in its place. One of the main places this statement can help us stay the course is in our professional lives. As Black women reclaim our time and our earnings, we have stopped allowing ourselves to be overworked and underpaid. We are demanding raises commensurate with our experience as well as refusing to leave important things like sick days and vacation days on the table in order to prove our supernatural ability to show up for others no matter what’s happening in our own worlds. We are not working for exposure or even from a place of lack—we know what we bring to the table and we want to be paid handsomely for it. No free labor. 

“Until You Have A Ring, You’re Single”

Though this has its root in a very traditional idea of commitment, there is nothing more important than Black women learning how to truly keep our options open while dating. There are still lots of hurdles to jump when exploring feminist ideas that are not so black and white—where one kind of woman is a “good” girl if she plays the role of a woman in a committed relationship and another is seen as something other if she is open about seeing several partners, at once—and Black women, specifically, have a harder time breaking away from these constricting opinions. Many of us never learned how to date, in reality. So, when we meet someone with whom we share a deep connection, in our minds, the next logical step is to start showing all the reasons we need to be chosen by them—which usually includes cutting off other suitors. But, as dating has become more of a sport with the advent of social media, Black women haven’t quite learned how to be all in the game, unapologetically. Until there is clear commitment, shop around. 

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