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30 Things Every Black Woman Should Have and Know By 30

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African American Woman 30th Birthday
Last week, the editorial machine behind Glamour magazine released a book called 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30, full of firsthand pearls of wisdom honed by big-name women from Maya Angelou to Suze Orman. The concept is based on an article by New York Times-bestselling author Pamela Redmond Satran, written more than 15 years ago but shared so far and wide among women who read it, it became a tour de force in and of itself—and that was before Facebook and Twitter sharing.

For Black women, I think the standard is different. Not that we don’t have expectations and goals and heart’s desires to chase after, and not that we shouldn’t have certain things checked off the ol’ timeline when we reach that milestone age, but White women operate under a completely different reality than we do en masse. So all of the earmarks of success that usually fall so easily into place for them in their 20s—houses, husbands, booming careers, financial security—aren’t necessarily givens for Black women by the age of 30.

Turning the big 3-0 is a time to get serious, true, but not a time to mourn what hasn’t been done. I fall into that trap a lot myself. I learned a lot on my way to my third decade of life, and I’m still learning after crossing that threshold: about myself, about my community, about what I’ve been put here to accomplish. I think a lot of us are. Still, there are some things a woman should absolutely have by that magical age:

1. A song that immediately lifts her spirits or takes her back to a special, stress-free time, no matter where she is

2. A polite, diplomatic way of putting someone in check and a taste of sister girl attitude when diplomacy just won’t cut it

3. A favorite moisturizer, a favorite hair product and a favorite recipe in case she has to cook something impressive (or a favorite bakery or restaurant to pick it up from)

4. A tool set, a car jack and a refusal to be anybody’s damsel in distress

5. The willingness and resolve to let it go, whatever “it” is

6. Spiritual grounding and a prayer and meditation war closet to sneak off to when life hands her chaos

7. A signature dance and a motivational saying

8. A hot pick-up line—you know, in case she ever needs or wants to use it

9. Dreams and the dogged desire to protect them, even from the people closest to her

10. A greater appreciation for her mother. Not necessarily a greater understanding, but at least a greater appreciation

11. The ability to small talk in any social circle and a two-step to do at office parties and conservative social events

12. An appreciation for Black men, even if she never wants to date, marry or sleep with one

13. An awareness that racism still exists but it’s no excuse for settling

14. An awareness that there’s no excuse for settling. Period

15. A body shaper, a good push-up bra and a sense of humor

16. Empathy for every Black woman's experience, even if her walk hasn't looked remotely similar

17. Confidence in knowing that having a man and children are part of the African-American dream, but they don’t have to be part of her African-American dream

18. A passport, because she should never be caught unprepared should an opportunity to travel arise

19. The humility to apologize without prompting, prodding or any lingering aftereffects

20. A financial plan, even if she only has $20 to her name

21. One thing that reminds her of being a little girl and invites her to feel playful, even if her childhood wasn’t the greatest

22. At least one cause or issue she feels passionate enough to debate (or argue) about

23. A good pair of black heels, a button-down white shirt and a get ‘em girl dress that makes her look like a brickhouse and feel like Beyoncé

24. A list of things that she wants in a house, a career and a spouse and a list of things she absolutely can’t compromise on

25. Peace about being different and respect for what makes her that way

26. An appreciation for diversity, both in and outside of the diaspora

27. At least three things she can love and dote on herself about that have nothing to do with what she sees in the mirror

28. An understanding that not everyone is going to like her, but that everyone has got to respect her

29. The personal freedom to make choices without justifying them to her parents, her siblings or anybody else for that matter

30. A few secrets to hold on to and drop when she gets old
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