Sometimes, just as I’m casting about for a topic, instead of a trickle, there’s a waterfall. And that’s how it was today. First, on Wednesday morning, I read a letter to the editor in response to my Monday article on God and feminism; then, that afternoon, I opened an email directing me to a certain website; then, that night’s episode of Law & Order: SVU gave me the final piece of information I needed to write. Isn’t God good all the time, Sisters?
Now, second things first: The website to which my good friend, the doc, directed me was called http://afieldnegro.com/photos.html and opened onto a spread of photos. Of whom? A slew of “successful” black men – in film, sports, and politics, mainly – who had married, or were having relationships with, white or Asian women. And I’m talking dozens and dozens of fellers, here. But while that piqued my curiosity that was not what got my goat. It was this preamble to the photo spread: … I’ve often heard Black men complain about Black women’s hot temper and their attitude. A few weeks ago I was talking to some brothers and they said, ‘Man, I love sisters, but it seems like they are never satisfied.’ With that being said when we look at these pictures, then we have to ask this question – Is it possible that some sisters are driving brothers away? Somebody, anybody, pass me two Midols, please. …
Now this sentiment took me right back to the said letter to the editor, in which that writer declared she had come out of lesbianism and the feminist movement ostensibly because she “was tired of the anger towards my black brothers for the evil they had done to me and my fellow women.” And, finally, her statement was capped by the Law & Order character who hailed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who testified that, yes, she “saw rape everywhere,” having been rejected by her (black) husband after she had been raped by rampaging (black) soldiers, and subsequently raped again, so many times by so many (black) men, in a militia camp.
I’ve put these three seemingly disparate incidents together because they actually form part of a whole; a whole that says – like it or not – that black women have much to be angry at black men about. Not wanting to drive deeper wedges between us, this is not a road I had planned ever to go down in this column; but here I am, nonetheless. And having arrived here, I am saying, plainly, that too many black women, too often, have gotten too little from black men. Mothers, wives, girlfriends, and daughters, evil has been done to us.
Looking at the pictures of these men who look like my father and brothers, my husband and friends, and staring at their companions who do not resemble me or my mother, my sisters or my girlfriends, all I felt, truly, was a deeply rooted cynicism. I could not help but wonder whether, in the absence of their fame and their money, any of these black men – some good-looking, some athletic, some talented, some bright – would have caught the notice of these women; and if, having caught their notice, these blonds and brunettes and redheads would not have clutched their purses to their bosoms and crossed to safety on the other side of the street.
I imagined, with a cynical chuckle, one of them, say Danny Glover, cooing to his wife, “Honey, what would I have done without you in my life? I’m so glad I’m famous and rich so you could have met me. …” Then I recalled, with an even more cynical laugh, the dozens, the scores, the hundreds of stories I’ve heard and seen, firsthand, not to mention those I’ve read, of women who look like me and have been abused – physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially – by men who look like Taye Diggs and Charles Barkley and Wesley Snipes and Vernon Jordan. And I think of all the accusations that have been levelled against us: that we whine and nag; that we’re aggressive and bold; that we don’t take no “four-letter-word” from nobody; that we’re too independent; and so on and so forth … and wonder where it all comes from. What came first, I wonder: the mangy chicken or the tainted egg?
Trust me when I say I don’t believe in using slavery as a crutch; but, often, in these unions, all I can really see behind the zebra façade is the field Negro wanting to get into the Big House. And whereas I might, with a push, be inclined to excuse this behaviour in the proverbial “man on the street,” I abhor it in men of achievement. You know why? Because there is no shortage of talented, bright, beautiful, accomplished, successful and good black women out here. In fact, there are more of us than there are of them. That’s not an opinion; that’s a fact. So, obviously, these fellers have been overlooking – rather than looking over – our kind. They’re not in search of a partner; often, they’re in search of an appendage; a designer accessory; the last thing to complete the picture that says, “Look at me! I have arrived.”
Given all that, I will tell you frankly that I despise those black women who make less of themselves in order to get, or to keep, a man. I’m tired of sisters finally hooking a feller and gratefully feeling the need to “testify” that they got him because they “let go” who they had been and embraced their “rightful place” in a relationship (or some such nonsense as I once read from Mary J Blige). When you let go who you are, Sister, exactly who do you become? And remember that the person who determined your rightful place could, one day, wake up and decide either that the place is wrong or you’re the wrong person in the place.
I don’t want you to leave me today feeling that I have no soul, no sense of romance, no appreciation for love between all kinds of people. All of those things are intact. But, after having written last week about kind choosing kind, what is fractured is my sense of respect for those men who, wittingly or otherwise, are teaching a race of little boys not only what a “successful” black man is, but what a successful black woman is not.