Almost 3 years ago, Gabrielle Union took over national airwaves with the character Mary Jane Paul (MJ), and all but commanded the attention of every Black woman that took at least fifteen seconds to watch her story unfold. Being Mary Jane, in my personal opinion, has been one of the most captivating viciously honest pieces of work in an American drama series, that I’ve seen in a long time. The show started out with no fluffs and never promised to please any particular audience or point-of-view. We got so lost in her affair with Andre, her feisty unapologetic tone, and self-righteous temperament, that we let it float over our heads that we just might have been looking into a mirror.
Mary Jane embodies that Black woman struggle that is only seen in our living rooms and behind the big oakwood closed doors of an expensive therapy session. This isn’t the stuff that we like to talk about. These aren’t the issues that we like to admit to others or ourselves that really do exist. The blue-print of ‘Black Girl Magic’ has become the ability to abandon transparency and just pretend that everything is ok. The strong Black woman should probably keep her mouth shut, mind her manners, let family walk all over her, put on her white face for her career, be a Super Hero to all of her friends, and still find the time to just fall her unstable behind into the arms of the perfect man that she can actually call all hers. How adorably oxymoronic. This is not real life for the Black woman, or any woman for that matter. If you can manage to shoot beyond the dissenting propaganda, her fly wardrobe, and the obvious metaphoric symbolization of her dope ass glass house, you would then be able to see this masterpiece for what it is. Every woman that I know is entombed inside of this person created by Mara Brock Akil. The Black Woman is Mary Jane Paul’s ventriloquist, if you will, and here’s why…
At Some Point You Probably Dated a Man That Wasn’t Yours Either and You Had No Idea What to Do About it – Let’s just call out the spades before we even start the card game. While I do not condone or promote extra-marital affairs, I’m not so aloof and bourgeois to realize that they do in fact exist, and that it’s a lot of women out here who think it’s ok! Y’all watched Mary Jane’s mess unravel and had all types of fire to breathe her way, but you forgot about that one time in college with the married professor, or who your illegitimate child’s father is. Yes, I went there and I’m going to keep going. This woman was a whole entire discombobulated tacky ball of mayhem, and what’s more important is that she was forthright enough to just go ahead and be honest about it. Guess what, she eventually got over it, and him too…just like you did!
You Have Gotten to a Certain Age and Become Severely Depressed Because You Don’t Have Kids Yet, and Have No Idea Who in the Hell the Daddy Would Even Be if You Did – Let’s be real. As most women creep through their thirties, this is a one-on-one conversation that you have with yourself. Of course all women do not want kids, but I’ve heard this story too many times to ignore the relevance of such. The fact of the matter is that it is Hard to have and then balance it all. Even those of us who have it are still trying to work out some kinks. Corporate society has always shunned the idea of placing motherhood over career, which is why most women wait. Corporate society has no idea about the silent personal struggle these women go through to put something so imperative to themselves on the back burner. The scary realities of fertility is something I could discuss all day! Then we have the women who are not in long-term solid relationships at the moment, but want a baby. Your time is ticking away! I’m not saying to go pilfer your next one-night-stand’s sperm, but you can clearly see the bigger message here.
You’re Tired of Being the Loyal Heroine for a Family That Thinks You Owe it to Them to Fix Their Chaos (But You Still Love Them Though) – Let me paint the picture for you. You’re the successful one with a stellar education, great job, nice income, and seemingly stable lifestyle. Your family resents you for this and has no problem letting you know how arrogant or selfish or rude you are, but then they end the conversation asking you for a couple of dollars. You play every role from therapist, to referee, to Mom, to big/little sister, to financial advisor and beyond. Your everyone’s whipping boy but they always call you when they’re in a jam. You feel strong guilt. This becomes emotionally draining and takes a toll on your entire life (read my second point again).
You’re the Strong Friend That Sometimes No One Realizes Needs Her Own Hug and Time to Just Fall Apart – You’re the alpha female in your group of friends that seems to either have it all together, or keeps them all together. You rushed to your girl’s side when she passed out in the street over a break-up with her guy, and you nursed her back to life after one too many dips in the vodka bottle, over an argument with her mom. Most friends just expect that you are always ok and assume that if you do have an issue “she’ll probably just work herself out of it.” Not so much! You have your weak moments as well, men do you wrong too, and you cry in the shower more than you would like to admit. Work is stressing you the hell out but all of your inner circle thinks that you have the “job a million girls would kill for.” So you resort to your own little rehabilitative idiosyncrasies and become your own darn support system (there is a method to the madness of MJ’s infamous Post-It notes!!!).
Everybody Self-Medicates Under Pressure. Yours Just Might Be Worse Than Tequila – We were enraged when the writers turned MJ into an under-the-cabinet alcoholic. Hmmmm, Wake Up Black Girl! That $700 that you just spent on the new red bottoms and called it “retail therapy” is no different than downing a glass of Mexico’s finest after a bad day at the office. Everyone has their vice. You picked yours. Don’t judge hers.
You Aren’t Perfect But You’re Still Trying – This one goes without needing to say very much. Every conflict in life knocks you ten tiers down from perfection. You know this, you’ve accepted this, and at some point you learn how to gracefully keep going. This, My Loves, is the quintessential essence of exactly why we are all just “Being Mary Jane…”
About a week or so ago Viola Davis won an Emmy over Taraji P. Henson. Not only did Taraji leap in celebration of her friend, she sincerely supported her success and was genuinely happy for her. No jealousy. No spite. No resentment. Consequently, this popular televised event has caused women Worldwide to now began questioning their own friendships with their girlfriends, giving birth to the quickly coined catchphrase “Who’s really clapping for you when you win??”
I think as women we tend to be a bit more loaded in our intentions with each other. It isn’t always purposefully, but it is indeed something you can catch and check real fast; that is if you actually want to! Some of us will go years fighting the same battle with the same chick and then keep wondering why the friendship sucks. Going through the maze of several friendship zones, I’m going to go ahead and just let you in on a couple of reasons as to why your friends probably aren’t supporting you.
You have what she wants and she has no idea how to get it – This one is tough and falls into the unintentional category. Let me say this though, the green-eyed monster is a very dangerous thing, and it will fester! — She got a slight nervous tic when you finished Grad school before she did. Her migraines came back when you called her in happy tears about getting engaged a year later. She flat-out had to call her therapist and request an emergency session when you instant messaged her the picture of your positive pregnancy test! — She’s still trying to figure out how to tell the Starbucks barista that she thinks he’s hot, and your ass has fulfilled the “American Dream” before 30! She’s frustrated and annoyed by your successes, but she can’t help it though. The old saying rings Very true here: “It’s hard to be happy for someone else when you aren’t completely happy with yourself!” If you all are true friends however, this won’t break you and it will eventually work itself out.
She’s holding on to old pain that just won’t allow her to celebrate you – This one can go pretty closely hand in hand with the first one, but there’s a slight difference. This may be the friend that isn’t necessarily jealous of you, but instead really resentful about some sort of hurt you may have caused her in the past. She hasn’t let this go. Not sure if she truly ever will. She has to want to, and You have to know that all of the ‘I’m Sorry’ affirmations in the world may just not ever be enough. Some people live their lives dwelling on negativity and pain. It’s their defense mechanism against actually solving the problem at hand, being an adult, and moving on. It takes a rather strong person to be able to do this. Your girl just might not be the one who knows how.
You’re boastful about all of your wonderful accomplishments and she wants to punch you in the face – Now this friend can be pretty damn funny! This is actually probably going to be your Best Friend, and the most valuable asset in your life. Why? Because she is going to tell your little snooty butt the truth! She could care less what pedestal the universe has placed you on, and she will keep reminding you of who you are and where you really come from. She already knows that you’re her ace in the hole regardless, so she may not necessarily do a cheerleading routine every single time you get a gold star! Keep her! She’s irreplaceable! 😉
She’s just not on your level– Plain and simple. People grow and evolve in life. Everyone doesn’t do this at the same pace, and you have to realize that some just won’t understand the things you’re tying to do! Some people are fine with being stagnant and you need to let them stay that way! Know that your friendship had a good run and that it’s probably time to let it go. Remember, you are the company that you keep!
She doesn’t actually like you – Don’t laugh or get upset here. There is more truth in this one than them all. Do you know how many women you have occupying your space that probably don’t even like you for real??? You have to be careful with this one. She won’t be as obvious as the rest. She will be the friend attached to you like a leach, but also the same one that secretly pokes holes in your rowboat right before she knows you’re about to sail off! There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why she continues to stick around or what her intentions are. Just know that you gotta get rid of her. I’ve met up with this kind one too many times in my life and can tell you exactly what to look for…
She’s always in your damn face! It’s actually an oxymoronic pretty creepy issue.
She’s always in your man’s damn face! Super Side Eye.
She always has some smug comment or sideline jab to throw your way as an indirect insult.
She plays all of the sides in several different friendships (i.e. She’s friends with all the friends, of the groups, who can’t stand each other). You cannot trust her!
Drama and unfortunate circumstances always seem to manifest when she’s involved or comes around. Negative energy!
So pay attention and keep your eyes open! Now that you have a bit more insight into some of the characteristics of the non-clappers, you can act accordingly, make appropriate decisions, and move on with your life. As I always say, people can only affect you when you allow them to. That woman who isn’t in your corner really shouldn’t even make your stride skip a beat! If she does though…Fight your fire, Fix your collar, Fluff your fro, Clap for Yourself, and Keep It Movin!!
~Those are two of myAWESOME clappers pictured above by the way!! 😉