Addressing Jealousy in the Black Family

by Friday, January 17, 2014
photo credit:

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“You wasn’t there for me doing my success story.”

-Tamar Braxton-

Have you guys been keeping up with the latest episodes of Braxton Family Values? My mama, sister, and I recently watched the “#Wack #Family” episode . Tamar asked her sisters if they purchased her album. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Tamar’s “Love & War” album had HUGE success, and the song “Love & War” was #1 on the charts. Tamar then asks her sisters how come they didn’t say “Congratulations”. A few said they did, via twitter, which is a whole other issue that I’ll address another time. However, older sister Towanda Braxton felt as if Tamar just wants attention for every little thing she does. We ¬†watched them go back and forth for awhile and came to an obvious conclusion: Towanda was jealous of Tamar. Point blank period. As I watched Tamar apologize for doing absolutely nothing at all, in an effort to keep peace, an all too familiar feeling crept over me.

We’re all familiar with the crabs in a barrel theory right? When crabs are put in a barrel, a few will eventually make their way to the top. Almost out to freedom, but not so fast, here comes another crab pulling its fellow crab back down. Sadly, this method has been used to describe the African American community. I have never heard it used to describe the African American family, but oh I’ve experienced it. Up close and personal.

I was jealous of my brother.

You shouldn’t admit these things, but I’d like to think of myself as the golden child of the family. I never really started any trouble, and was always focused on being the best I could academically be. How was I to feel once my brother started doing poetry for Christ that soon took him all over the world? People began to know his name. When I met folks in the poetry circle, I wasn’t simply Nikki anymore. I was his sister. Of course I was extremely proud of him, but there was a hint of jealousy that lingered in my heart. I felt as if his success diminished my success, which is so dumb, because we’re clearly in two entirely different fields.

Have family members been jealous of me?

This is a question I struggle with. I believe Tamar Braxton’s sisters were definitely wrong for not calling to congratulate her on her success. In my opinion that SCREAMED jealousy. Hear me out: should everyone in her family have called to congratulate her? Of course not, but Tamar expected more from the ones she was close too.

The past few months have been phenomenal for me. I went to The White House with President Obama. Sure did! You can read all about that experience here. Also, I got engaged to the love of my life. I’m still on a natural high. That post can be found here. Those moments were special to me. Am I saying that every family member should have called me to congratulate, and if they didn’t that makes them jealous? Of course not. However, there were some phone calls I did expect, that never came. And although we live in a social media driven society, sometimes a “Congrats” on Facebook, or a simple like isn’t enough.

Getting to the root of jealousy

Where do I begin? There are so many issues that contribute to us being jealous of the ones closest to us. Maybe we’re unhappy with our own lives. Maybe we’re insecure. Maybe us as African Americans are not used to having great things happen to us, so we have a hard time celebrating the good in each other’s lives. Who knows? But it’s sad, pathetic, hurtful, and it needs to stop.

How did I get over being jealous of my brother?

  • Admittance. I had to admit I was jealous. I’d had enough of me getting mad at him over petty stuff. Those issues were never really issues. I realized I was jealous, because I didn’t want him to forget about me as he continued to be successful. I wanted assurance that we would always be brother & sister, and close.
  • Pray. We human beings are SO broken, and ugly, and nasty. Within us lies jealousy, envy, hate, etc. We can’t help it. Only God can help us. I asked him to remove jealousy from my heart.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice. It’s in the bible (Romans 12:15). Be happy for those who are happy. Celebrate their good moments in life. Why? Well, because you love them and should want to see them happy. Also, your moment is coming, so chill and smile :)

Have you experienced jealousy in your family? How was it handled? Sound off below!

4 Responses
  • Erica Avery
    January 17, 2014

    Good stuff sis!

  • Teems
    January 18, 2014

    Great post. I agree. lot of the jealousy has to do with insecurities that make us unhappy thus being unable to be happy for others. We must deal with those insecurities first. About that episode…I understand they gave her a public acknowledgement but that is not the same as personally picking up the phone. My closest friends get more than a Happy Birthday on their FB wall. We all know just because we put things in social media, doesn’t mean they are true feelings. They could have just been maintaining their “supportive” image and eliminating speculations of ill feelings for the public.

  • Briana
    January 19, 2014

    There’s definitely a problem with jealousy in the black family, and it’s very clear from watching the Braxtons. It seems like they struggle with it on a regular, between each sister really. I used to have problems with cousins growing up, and my mom and my grandparents would tell me they were just jealous, but I never wanted to accept that. I couldn’t understand why my cousins would be jealous of me when I never flaunted anything I had. I thought jealousy only came when people were bragging, but I learned that wasn’t true. I know we also have a problem with people assuming everyone who doesn’t champion their cause or root them on are classified as haters. It’s a big ol’ inception of issues lol. But I definitely think it’s a problem, and a hard one to tackle when so many of us (myself included) may get defensive if the problem was brought to our attention.

  • ladypoet
    July 7, 2015

    I have experienced much of this throughout my life and couldn’t for the life of me understand why. I always felt there wasn’t a great deal of wealth or materialistic things but I always stood confidence and strong throughout adversities in life. I enjoy writing my poetry and have shared it numerous times for many situations. I never knew for years some people that I have known for decades was jealous of me until someone told me that she was jealous and a lot of people around me was also. This resulted in she not calling again and I came up with the slogan sometimes jealousy+envy=evil. We are all God’s creations and should love and respect each other as such.

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