For most African-American women, those individuals who have lived through the experiences about which they claim to be experts are more believable and credible than those who have merely read or thought about such experiences.
Patricia Hill Collins
Patricia Hill Collins’ statement has held true in studies of African-American women, but there is reason to believe that experience leads to credibility for males and members of other ethnic groups. The importance of “reality” in popular culture is reflected in everything from our language to television shows. “Keeping it real” gives deeper meaning and significance to the events of a person’s life and suggests a continuous effort to represent the values that one has embraced.
Making hard decisions, facing crisis, and surviving hard times are things that everyone must do at some point in their lives. How we define those things are just as diverse as how we approach them.
This article introduces the patterns that were discovered from a group of women who were interviewed for the book, God Provides The Sacrifice: Women Discuss Making Their Hardest Decisions.
In God Provides the Sacrifice, making a hard decision was preceded by a stage called Crisis. The crisis began the moment a woman realized that the problem existed. During the crisis the women experienced an overwhelming sense of responsibility for the situations they were in as well as a sense of danger, terror, or anxiety.
Tammy described this stage as the “the light started clicking” in her brain. At this point the light flickered, but did not remain lit until the women had acknowledged that the situation needed their attention and were ready to go the next stage.
The second stage, Confession, involves telling someone about the crisis and getting feedback. Every woman in God Provides the Sacrifice confessed to a family member or friend, but talking to professionals and clergy is also common during this stage of handling a problem. The anxiety and fear that are a hallmark of the Crisis stage is often relieved by the feedback and support that is received during the Confession stage.
The third stage found the women making plans and arrangements to take the necessary actions to resolve their problems. When Evelyn found herself at this stage, Preparation, she relied on the friends that had replaced her estranged family in her affections. Evelyn described a deep confidence that she would be alright no matter what she chose to do. Tammy’s experience in the Preparation stage involved getting a new Bible and Concordance which she would use to help her define her role as a wife.
The next stage involves taking action. In God Provides the Sacrifice, Dana describes taking an inventory of her house to prepare for her unplanned baby. Having the baby was her hardest decision. The lack of support from her husband did not stop her from figuring out how to care for her infant when he arrived. Execution, the fourth stage, involved taking direct action to solve the problem. In a manner that was surprisingly candid, each woman moved forward with the plans they made in the previous stage.
In the final stage of making their hardest decisions the women thought about their own behavior and motivations that led to their problems. Consistent patterns of behavior were discovered. All of the women admitted to having destructive behavior problems that led to their hardest problems.
This artcle reviews some of the ideas in God Provides the Sacrifice: Women Discuss Making Their Hardest Decisions. Biographies of the women who were interviewed and details about their hardest decisions can be found in the book.
Hill-Collins, P. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.
LaMar, Y.L. (2004). God provides the sacrifice: Women discuss making their hardest decision. Maine: Booklocker.
GOD PROVIDES THE SACRIFICE: WOMEN DISCUSS MAKING THEIR HARDEST DECISIONS
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