THOUGH AS FOR ALL OF THAT…
An unfortunate consequence in the black relationship arithmetic is the amount of distrust on each side of that equation. That statement that my ex used to slander brothers at no time reflected anything she learned through her experience with men. I am not sure that her allusion to philandering was a big factor in the fail she was a spectator to in her parent’s relationship. Why would she grow up thinking the way that she did, having such low expectations that she would be always fearful in our relationship?
First, it was almost universally accepted that black men were not seriously inclined to be in a monogamous relationship. The objectification and debasement of black women through behavior was something that existed well before the hip-hop era built and expanded on the negative caricatures of black women. Then along with the problem of how ‘manhood’ was being defined in much of the black community hinged on a very negative archetypes… the player, the hoodlum, they hustler… none of whom could be considered very marriageable men.
What makes this ironic is black women have persisted in trying to love these caricatures in spite of their obvious shortcomings. The problem is that the attitudes that they represent are mainstreamed into the social interactions between the sisters and the brothers, and I do think that black women feel compelled to try to ‘make things work’ even though their efforts and sacrifices aren’t being reciprocated. Some of the biggest apologists for black men are black women… and when it comes to how black men feel about black women, you only need to listen to any rap song that is played on any media platform to see what the black male collective thinks about black women.
No, it isn’t ALL black men, just as all black women aren’t harpies (my starter wife..? uh, next question, please!). But I do believe that were black men inclined to hold up their end of the relationship dynamic, by striving to be the head of household and more than the figurative leader because of their gender and not actions, then the black man/woman relationship would have evolved beyond the pettiness that serves as the undercurrent for most of its problems.
For instance, basic provider responsibilities are not in the messages that have been disseminated within the male community. It also deprives women with the opportunity to be simply homemakers or child care. The possibility that ‘we are not raising our boys to be men’ is only partly true… because many black men fall short when it comes to the ‘raising’ of their children.
Too much is made out of black men who are able to reach a ‘minimum’ standard… and because the bar is so low, the dating environment is one where each brother has the same potential to be ‘emotional terrorists’ among the women who desperately want to love them.
BUT IF YOU FEEL THAT WAY MARK, WHY DO YOU GRIND YOUR AXE AGAINST THE SISTERHOOD?
Cause I can, that’s why!! You drove a Hyundai to get here and I drove $80k BMW , that’s why!!
Ooh… that was my ‘inner Blake’ talking (I LOVE his attitude..!)! Anywho, as an adult my experience with dating sisters has not been bad at all. But what has happened is that in my more serious exclusive relationships, the fail has been a result of…
Well, I lump it under the broad definition of ‘leadership’. I was unable to provide the leadership in the relationships that was necessary to sustain the ‘loveship’ as it were. And again using the big brush, what constitutes roles in a ‘loveship’ in the black community lacks clear definition, too.
A lot of the problem lies with social values and how they are prioritized by the black community (you know, I think I had better start using African-American…). For instance, I cannot stress how the language in Deb Cooper’s blog does more to create the very tension that makes the minefield of relationships more treacherous. The reason that it bothers me so is that it speaks from a place where she has accepted that ‘all brothers are dogs’ and it is an unavoidable part of dating. The way I read her entries is that women have to make the most of a bad lot and that the best they can realistically hope for is not to get hurt too bad.
I feel that this is a primary choice among approaches to love and that is as poisonous to the environment as the lack of leadership that many African-American men fail to provide. Again, an unconsciously lowered expectation creates results that a performance gap that many brother are all too-willing to exploit.
As harsh at it may sound, there is a lot of predatory behavior by African-American men that makes the pool dangerous. The complication of this contrast is that it becomes more difficult for ‘good men’ to meet ‘good women’. African American women are vulnerable because they are compelled to ‘enter into the waters’ in spite of the kinds of risks that are involved.
AND IT DOES GETS ‘CHAUVANISTIC’, TOO
Like it or not, traditional roles are what men and women use to base their relationships on. When it comes to brothers, in contrast to the ideal that the men are leaders of the household and in the community, I think a lot of the qualities that would allow for a man to be seen potentially as any of those things are openly frowned upon within the community. The qualities that demonstrate things like commitment, discipline, and having high standards are somehow, in bizzaro-world fashion, seen as either weaknesses or as ‘white’, if they lean towards the more tame routes in life. You know, working hard at whatever menial job they can find as a teenager, doing likewise in school and pursuing a career field that does not entail training camp, jock itch, and future spouses that will star in a TLC reality show.
Now, here is where my conflict with my relationships and my personal expectations lie. With my starter marriage, and to a lesser extent with Mookie Dee, I think that I did not provide the leadership that was needed in those relationships. See, as long as the standard approach to relationships remain as the man doing the providing and the woman being required to remain in the home and taking care of the home, there will be a clash between theories and not ‘practice’ but reality. And from here, I will prolly segue back to me and my journey, specifically.