The more I’ve written the less faith I have in the divide between black men and women ever being repaired. The slightest mention of a black man doing X or a black woman doing Y in an article can cause a spiral of hate-filled, generalized, I-don’t-need-you comments that remove attention from the true topic being discussed and place it on what’s wrong with every member of the opposite sex. And every time I observe this situation and read the anger in these responses, all I can think is where are you getting your information, blogs or real life?
About a year or so ago I had to take a serious break from visiting black websites. Everything I read basically told me I had no chance in life, particularly when it came to relationships, and the information was honestly starting to weigh on me. Despite understanding the internet balls phenomenon, it was still clear to me that even though a person might not say in person what they were bold enough to type online, that didn’t mean they didn’t really think and feel what their message portrayed. So if a commenter used derogatory language to describe their hatred for a woman like me, in some ways I internalized it and the paranoia followed me into real-life interractions where I wondered if the people around me had the same thoughts as these internet instigators but just weren’t saying it.
It wasn’t until late last year that I had an epiphany of sorts. I had come back to my apartment after being harassed by one of my neighbors who told me he was going to keep bothering me until I gave him the time of day. That’s when I realized my real life experience just didn’t match with the hate men online said they had for women like me. Let internet trolls tell it, an educated woman who could stand to lose a few pounds and hasn’t had the best dating history in the world is trash they wouldn’t even bother to look at, but in reality, every time I left the house a man was trying to get my attention. It could have been something as simple as “hey sis” or a call for my number or someone telling me to smile. But I remember in all of my why-do-men-always-have-to-say-something-to-a-woman attitude, I thought, black men do still love black women and black men still love me.
This is why I have a hard time when the generalizations about black men and women turning their back on one another and not wanting to be with each other get under my skin. Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said before, I’m no “let’s go black man” cheerleader in the sense that they can do no wrong. I’ve been known to cue up Trina every now and then and I certainly have my issues with some of their choices, but when a nod to a black man’s success conjures up a “he’ll probably go get a white woman like the rest of them” response, or a suggestion that doing X,Y,Z, could help you attract a man is met with “I don’t need a black man to step all over me, I’m going to find a white man to put a ring on it,” something is wrong. Why so much anger? Everyone comes with a little baggage but the price for bringing that crap with you isn’t even worth the trip. At some point you have to accept the 1,2,3,4,5 men that did you wrong at some point aren’t totally representative of the whole race—particularly when evidence to the contrary is staring you in the face. The same goes for men.
I think some of us just want to hold on to our anger or incite it in other people and unfortunately social networks and blog sites have provided a huge platform to spread it. What people don’t realize is their not just spreading anger, they’re spreading ideas and stereotypes that some readers are taking for face value and using to build grudges against the opposite sex as well. If we complain when white people do it why are we doing it to ourselves?
It’s OK to speak from the heart and from experience with passion but next time someone gets ready to throw out a negative comment about a black man or black woman, I wish they would think about whether what they’re saying really reflects the experiences they’ve had in their own lives or is what they’re about to say solely based on perceptions they’ve developed of the opposite sex as a result of internet banter.