Iyanla Vanzant is making yet another splash with a video that has gone viral due to her special brand of wisdom. Calling black women “out of order,” the self-help guru spoke to web site Madame Noire on her concerns with the mental and emotional wounds black women accept from others — and mutually inflict.
Fresh off discussing her OWN special Daddyless Daughters on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, in which she examines the psychological issues of women growing up without fathers, Vanzant made these statements to specifically address the persistent difficulties of African-American women.
“We have such a rich culture, as women in this country, descendants of the parent race of humanity,” Vanzant told Madame Noire. “We have such a rich culture, and in that culture, there are roles and purposes, and powers, and we live in a society now where women are commodities, where women are demeaned, diminished, demoralized in ways that we accommodate. And if we really understood who we are as feminine representations of the creator of the universe, some of the things we experience in life, like crying when the unemployed boo boo leaves us, and we really understood who we are, we wouldn’t be so apt to let other people define us, and confine us. We are out of order!”
Black women rendered spiritually sick
Vanzant decried the fact that black women allow men and other people to treat them in ways that render them “mentally, emotionally, and spiritually sick.”
But, she also called on African-American women to accept responsibility for the fact that, by having children out of wedlock with men who are not ready to be fathers and partners, they are perpetuating a vicious cycle.
“We’re out of order — let me just go right ahead and say it, let me just ask forgiveness now,” she said, “there’s no reason for us to continue to have children with men who don’t honor us and don’t take care of their children. Out of order!”
Betrayals between black women?
In addition, Vanzant chided black women who “dishonor, betray, and defile one another.”
Women have supported her through life’s difficulties, not men, so it is unimaginable to Vanzant that black women so often, in her opinion, are their worst enemies.
“Sleep with your sister’s husband! What? Pluck your eye out right now,” she said of one example of what to her is a prevalent trend.
Strong reactions, from both sides
This video has circulated widely, resulting in strong reactions in the online sphere.
“The thing about all this is,” said one user on Madame Noire, ‘[w]e can’t control what other black women do. We are individuals. What other black women do is on them. I only represent myself. ‘Sisterhood’ is dead. These chicks will jump over their mama to get to a man. I don’t even bother with having ‘friendships’ with black chicks anymore. Too much emotional drama. I don’t have time.”
Yet, other users agree with Vanzant’s message.
“I so agree,” said another person on Madame Noire, “there are many [black] women that are out of order!!!!!! I’m a black [woman] and in my personal life from co-workers, to friends to family the things black women have allowed to happen. How we will justify someone mistreating us and not honoring us is SAD!!!!”
The past sheds light on the present
Vanzant looked to the ghosts of the past to explain these patterns, which may still be haunting black women in their lingering negative attitudes and behaviors, in addition to the bad behaviors many black women consider acceptable.
She spoke of black women previously being the “work horses” and “sexual slaves” of American society, and how vestiges of those histories may be influencing the negativity that persists.
The host of OWN’s hit series Iyanla: Fix My Life believes that black women need to engage in inner study, and revamp what it means for them to be a manifestation of the feminine aspect of the divine.
This could lead to an evolution in how black women see themselves and treat each other, in addition to encouraging an expanded view of what is possible in life.
Vanzant said that problems of self-esteem, respect for other women, and female empowerment are critical now for all women, but more serious for women of color.
“So, we’re out of order, because we’ve allowed too many things to… influence how we see ourselves, how we treat ourselves, what we expect from ourselves, what we expect for ourselves.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.