A recent article I posted called on black women to continue the tradition of our great grandmothers.
The tradition of advocating for the family and putting the welfare of the community over self is central to the success of our struggles. The personal and cultural values those Fore Mothers instilled in their daughters imbued them with the courage to stand up to the slave master and later march in the face of snarling dogs and hateful policemen.
This is a modest request I think, considering all our Fore Mothers have done for us. Considering all the sacrifices they made to help steer us through centuries of turmoil and strife here in America, how can we abandon the path they paved for our liberation?
With all the back and forth we hear and see these days about twitter wars and instagram battles between some of our Sisters, especially from some of the younger generation, I was worried some of them were starting to become too immersed in the trappings of personal aggrandizement, notoriety, and materialistic pursuits. As a community, we need our beautiful Sisters to send out messages that tend to uplift rather than degrade.
THE MEDIA MONSTER
Hardly a minute goes by when mass media isn’t bombarding us with messages that tell us it’s not our fault, to have it our way, to be an Army of one, or to just do it. Little regard is given to the welfare of others, or the consequences of shirking responsibility. By discouraging personal responsibility and encouraging individualism, mass media has turned us into unthinking automatons, making us afraid to unfollow the herd.
I understand that we live in a youth-oriented society. I also understand that when we live in a society where we are constantly fed the false notion of the natural superiority of youthfulness, fealty to the old ways can be considered quaint.
The cacophony of voices urging us to walk to the beat of our own drum has become so loud that the voices of our Elders can scarcely be heard. When that happens, we lose the moral authority that has undergirded our struggle for centuries.
But, let me remind you it was the wisdom of our Elders, or the “old ways” as some call it, that got us out of slavery and to where we are today. It was the old ways that made us who we are. That kept us strong and resolute through unimaginable horrors and atrocities.
Sometimes old school is the best school.
Egoism, selfishness, and personal vanity are not the building blocks of a successful life, much less a united community.
Let’s remember, that in our mad rush to be young and to stay young, we can’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with changing with the times. As long as we don’t lose ourselves in the process.
Tearing each other down, dissing each other, calling each other names, or allowing personal vendettas to get in the way of facing up to our own failures won’t do any of us any good. If anything, it only reinforces the belief among our detractors that we’re not ready to govern ourselves.
A STOLEN LEGACY
In other articles, I explained how both Aryan and Arab invaders used this same excuse to rape and pillage the entire continent of Africa, and take the land, resources, and bodies of our ancestors for their own personal advancement.
This “not ready for prime time” argument has been used over and over again by racists and colonizers the world over. Not only was wealth and resources taken, but cultures. Names… Languages… Customs… Entire ways of life were destroyed. All in the name of “civilizing” indigenous peoples.
Sadly, the irony of bringing “civilization” to savages, while lying, cheating, stealing, and brutalizing indigenous people was lost on those men.
In my article I explained that some of the divisiveness between us go all the way back to slavery. Back to a time when it was in the best interest of slave owners, and other racists, to keep us divided and at each other’s throats. The ploy was to play up the differences between slaves, be they differences in skin color, hair texture, height, strength, gender, plantation size, etc. No difference was too small for them to exploit.
Over time, this type of pathology can become ingrained in a people, and last for generations.
A CALL FROM AN EX-WIFE
After the article was posted I got a call from an ex-wife who wanted to discuss the subject. Knowing my ex, I knew this would be a subject I had to approach with caution.
Apparently, my views had touched a nerve with her, and I certainly understood why. Truth be told, some of the same pathologies plaguing black male-female relationships today had played a part in our divorce after twenty years together.
It should be noted that this ex and I have been divorced for twenty years, and for the first fifteen years after our divorce we didn’t communicate with each other. This, though we still lived in the same city, and she maintained a casual relationship with one of my brothers and his wife.
About five years ago we we got back in contact with each other through another of my sisters, and have maintained a cautious relationship since then.
No, this is not a feel-good story about two ships passing in the night, suddenly recognizing each other, dropping anchors, docking together again, and sailing away… happily ever after. The biggest reason there would be no happy reconciliation, aside from the long separation, was my ex had remarried. And though I have never remarried, I was in a relationship myself.
My sole purpose for reconnecting with her was this quaint notion that two people who’d loved and argued so hard for twenty years could still be friends. I should have known this was an impossibility, given the way we had parted, and the toxic brew our marriage had become at the end.
Of course, she blamed me, and I her, and it took us many contentious conversations before we were able to admit we had both played a role in our breakup.
This was especially hard for me to accept considering I had always tried to bring honesty to all my relationships, be they family, friends, or romantic.
WHEN KEEPING IT REAL GOES WRONG
Remember the old Dave Chapelle bit about when keeping it real can sometime go wrong? Well, I’ve learned a similar lesson over the years. Sometimes it’s just not in the best interest of all concerned to be perfectly honest.
When I think back over some of my past relationships, including an earlier wife before my recent ex, I have finally learned my lesson about putting honesty above the feelings of others. Over the years, when I left exes crying at the door, I always took solace in the fact I’d been honest about my abhorrence of being tied down.
I mean, I had places to go and people to see. It was my sole responsibility to save the world, educate my people, stamp out racism, cure sickle cell, save all the starving children in Africa, and learn ebonics… all before I was twenty.
If those women weren’t willing to be with a struggling writer who hated working for “da Man”, then they couldn’t say I didn’t warn them.
Today, I thank God for finally giving me clarity.
I’ve learned that just because you’re willing to die for your art is no reason to demand a pint of blood from others.
And though I can think of a thousand things some of my exes did to offend or “disrespect” me, I can finally take personal responsibility for my own failings. My own hardheadedness. My rigidity. My unwavering quest to change the world. To change people. To be true to myself.
After all, I’m a Taurus, and isn’t stubbornness (though I prefer strong-willed) one of our defining characteristics? At least that’s what they tell me.
I had no idea that leaving could cause such lasting scars. I mean, doesn’t life go on?
MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Another thing I’ve learned about the female sex is that they love harder than us males. Females seem to express a more heartfelt love, unlike the more possessive type of love we males tend to express.
This may be because we live in a male-dominated society where anything less than full blown machismo is considered weak . Or maybe it has something to do with chromosomes, or hormones, or some other physical or chemical thing. I don’t know.
I’m not a psychologist, but I do like to play one when I’m pointing out the faults of others.
When my ex called me to discuss my article I told her she had some valid points about the general sorryness of black men, but again, just as we’d done for twenty years, we were talking past each other. I wasn’t listening to her and she wasn’t listening me.
Could it be because so many of us are so intent on getting our point across, while tuning out others, that we never hear them?
This, I feel is the gist of the problem between many Black males and females today. We can’t feel each other’s pain. We can’t walk in the other’s shoes.
We’re afraid of losing ourselves by recognizing others. We feel that sympathizing with the pain of others somehow lessens the legitimacy of our own pain and suffering.
We fail to realize that feeling the pain of others can sometimes ease our own pain. Put it into perspective.
Realizing we’re all flawed makes us more human.
Imperfection isn’t a character flaw. It’s a normal condition of the human makeup.
I am merely asking my black Sisters to try and understand some of the unique burdens black men carry from living in a male-dominated society where the Master of the house do not consider you an equal. A modern day overseer whose main goal is to keep you emasculated and thought of as not fit to be a father, a husband, or a leader.
Its sort of like living in your Father’s house and he hates your guts. Your manhood is not a consideration to him. You have no rights and privileges he is bound to respect.
And, as my father used to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”.
I have to be honest with you. I don’t know if my ex and I came to a new understanding. Or even a better one. But I do know we ended our conversation without bitterness or rancor. For once.
Hopefully, we ended with a new found respect for each other.
SISTERS DOING WORK
Anyone who have followed my writing career or read my book “The Clan of Southern Man”, knows I have a deep and abiding respect for black women.
My book is the only one to trace our history all the way back to the time of the African “Eve”, the ancient Black women that genetics have shown to be the progenitor of all humans living today.
This may not be a big deal to some, but it’s a big deal to me. To me, it’s a game changer. How can our detractors continue to say we’ve given the world nothing when they, themselves, carry the genes of a Black women.
I’ve tried to give this same respect to all the females in my life, whether family, friends, or personal relationships. No one who knows me can say I’m disrespectful to women, particularly my elders. I know what black women go through. I know what they’ve been through.
I can feel their pain.
I just want black women to understand we have pain too. Though we may be too proud or stubborn to admit it, the pain we feel is real.
Showing weakness or vulnerability just isn’t manly. Right?
In my book I take black men to task for our sexism against our own women. I also take them to task for their lack of appreciation for the long time struggles and sacrifices of our precious Mothers and Sisters.
Not all black men, mind you, but too many. Especially among the younger generation.
SOME THINGS BETTER LEFT UNSPOKEN?
I also take them to task for the obvious elephant in the room… our love of White women. Our attraction to a long time nemesis of the black woman is a sore spot for many black women, whether they’ll admit or not.
I am not condemning anyone for who they choose to be with. I truly believe love can be color blind. For me, it’s the qualities that a person possess, rather than the color of their skin that attracts me.
And, if those qualities are in a black woman then I’m all in. But if they aren’t, why deny yourself love and happiness? Right?
So, we need to talk.
That’s why I’m calling on my black Brothers to step up and recognize the hurt and pain we cause when we choose a woman of another race over our own. Especially when it comes after we’ve attained some measure of wealth and success. If you choose a woman and she sticks with you through thick and thin, through highs and lows, from the projects to the mansion, then you’ve got a good women, regardless of race or color.
My only intent is to make both sides understand the long and tortuous history of race relations, not only in America, but around the globe. Racism and discrimination against us go back millenniums, not centuries. Disrespect for our “race” did not start in America.
ALL WE NEED IS LOVE
The effort to sow division between us has a long and sorry history. Indignities and injustices have been heaped on us for a very long time. When you’re treated like an animal, over time you may react like an animal.
When you’re denied something while anything you have can be taken at will, you develop a deep sense of hatred. Of resentment. Of distrust.
You learn disrespect from being disrespected. You learn to lie from liars. You learn to deceive from being deceived.
As a race we are far from perfect. As individuals we have many faults and shortcomings. This makes us human. Not monsters. Not unworthy of love.
This is what I’m asking of us, males and females. A little more understanding. A little more love.
I don’t know of a deeper love than between two people who have suffered hardship and oppression and stayed together. Two people who knows how it feels to be disrespected, misused, and abused.
There is no better soulmate than someone who has your back even when you can’t stand on your own two feet. Someone who understands your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Who can empathize with you even in your darkest hours.
This is the potential of black love.