Tag Archives: black men

Is Your Perception of the Opposite Sex Based on Reality or Internet Responses?

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.

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One Small Step for Me, One Giant Leap Backward for Womankind

You know the saying every little bit counts? If everyone would donate such and such amount to such and such cause, then an organization could do such and such?  Although there is no realistic expectation that everyone will donate to the cause, the point is to encourage people not to focus on the fact that they’re only donating a small amount but to see their contribution as a necessary piece of the larger pie that, combined, will have a huge impact. Lately I’ve been thinking about this interconnectedness on a more interpersonal level and frankly feeling like I have the weight of black women on my shoulders. 

Recently I came into my apartment building and a black guy from the neighborhood was talking with one of my neighbors in the hallway. My bag got caught on the outside door so it made the door accidentally slam closed. He remarked, “Somebody is in a bad mood.” Truthfully, I wasn’t in that bad of a mood, but did I smile, did I correct his statement, or even acknowledge it or him? No. I walked past him, went into my apartment and shut the door. Afterward, I sat thinking, “he probably thinks I’m just another angry black woman,” which I’m not (most days). The point is, I couldn’t tear myself away from thinking about how that one small action may have negatively influenced not only his view of me, but black women in general.

So often, we talk about perpetrators of crime on a national scale and the misogyny of women in our music and the detriment that this has on the image of the black community, but I wonder how often each of us thinks about how our little day to day interactions affect the perception of black women within our own community.

I know how to act in the office, I realize that the man is watching and I have to represent for my people, but somehow when it comes to the black man, the same rules don’t always apply. I realize at work we have to be “on” so to speak and sometimes after that 9a-7p is over, you just want to be at home in your bed, but is that an excuse to be “off” with one another? Is it that we expect the next black person to understand the unspoken frustration of white supremacy in corporate America that is written on the scowls of our faces, or are we just plain rude and nonchalant about how we interact socially?

Recently, an ex of an old friend of mine (and friend of one of my past ‘interests’-complicated, I know) approached me with a level of interest that I’m almost certain was beyond friendship. Initially, I brushed off the advances, but at some point I began to engage him, still on a respectable level, however I found myself wondering, how am I affecting men’s perception of women by even entertaining this man? Am I adding to the already-skewed mindset that all women are scandalous, sneaky, and down for whatever? Or if I accept unacceptable behavior from a man from whom I should be demanding more, am I providing men with permission to treat us all any kind of way?

Of course, my behavior has no true global impact, but it could be significant enough to sustain previously held notions about women in general. The reality is, most of us aren’t famous, what we do won’t go beyond the conversation of maybe three to five people, but when your negative behavior matches the stories of  others in the group, then we’ve got a global perception crisis. The minority that behave a certain way come to represent the whole and then statements like “all black women are like this and all black men do this” become dogma and the way that we engage one another begins to change based on these assumptions that get proven true every day.

Perhaps each of us should look at it as our personal responsibility to represent for the perceived minority of our minority. In the same way that we “put on” for black people when going up against other racial or ethnic groups on a national scale in business, media, or any other venture, we should put on for one another and not be so lax about the stereotypes that we perpetrate amongst ourselves.

A lot of people talk about feeling the weight of their ancestors on their shoulders as they face life’s challenges, but I think it’s also important to feel the burden of womankind as well. It may not feel good to immediately resist whatever urge you have to frankly not care and do whatever it is you want to do in the present moment, but if we all could think about one another before we do such and such to and with such and such, our social interactions might really be a little bit easier to navigate.

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Money Over Brothers

Money over b*#@$es has come to be viewed as a derogatory statement by most women because, in addition to the use of the b word, the phrase implies that money has more value than we do. I too felt this way at one point, but the more that I see the fruits of this way of living I’ve actually come to admire the stance and want to suggest that women adopt a similar mindset, a money over brothers, way of thinking, if you will, in which we put ourselves and our desires before men.

I hate to quote Lil Wayne, but I can’t get his line from Get That Money out of my head, in which he says, “Money, money, money is my intuition. Money over b*#@$es, such an easy decision.” The truth is, for men it is an easy decision to put themselves first. For the most part, men are singularly focused. They identify a need, determine a solution, solve the problem, and ignore anything that attempts to distract them while in problem-solving mode. If a man’s goal is to be financially stable, nothing will get in his way—not even you in a strapless, backless and 4-inch heels. Sure, he may take a break from work for the night, but if he isn’t where he wants to be with work, money, or anything else, he won’t add yet another thing to worry about to his plate, i.e. a woman.

This is actually a healthy form of selfishness that women need to embrace themselves. Too often we are sidetracked from writing that paper, meeting that deadline at work, or doing that favor that we promised a friend simply because of the presence of a man. It’s like we re-work the bros before hos mantra in our disfavor, putting brothers before homegirls.

But let’s backtrack for a second because this isn’t about being uncompromising in a relationship, it’s about living this lifestyle before you meet someone so that you don’t allow your partner to become your entire world. If you do, what will you do when the relationship doesn’t last, and in addition to putting your heart back together, you have to rebuild every other aspect of your life, trying to convince your professor to give you a D, pleading with your boss to keep your job, and begging your friends to forgive you?

We need to put ourselves first, primarily because that man may not always be there. There’s a line in I Think I Love My Wife, where the boss of Chris Rock’s character says, “You can lose a lot of money chasing women, but you’ll never lose women, chasing money.” You can lose a lot of time chasing men instead of chasing your passions and capitalizing on opportunities that will allow you to be all that you can be. Furthermore, what can you bring to a relationship if your whole life has been spent preparing for a man, rather than growing as a woman? Part of preparing for a man is becoming a better women, but how can you do that if all of your time is spent on the hunt rather than increasing your own value?

I applaud men’s ability to put earning money, finishing school, and excelling at work, before making commitments to women and even walking down the aisle. It just makes sense. Even in this day and age, women are still being conditioned to want a man before all of these things, and frankly it’s completely backwards.

While you’re single, be single. Focus on you. Get money. Achieve your goals. A man will naturally come along, and when he does, he’ll be an enhancement rather than an encroachment. You can lose a lot of opportunities chasing men, but you’ll never lose men chasing opportunities.

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How Do You Know Someone is Black? They Eff Up.

Remember when we first met Tiger Woods and we knew he was black, but he opted for the unorthodox racial classification of Cablanasian and the black community was basically done with him? Then it all changed in the fall of ‘09 when 10+ mistresses revealed their sexual escapades with Tiger and all of a sudden he was every black man’s nigga? Black men came out of the woodworks to defend and empathize with Tiger’s “struggle” with fidelity or simply applaud him for racking up that amount of booty. It was like a Welcome Home Tiger Parade—we knew you had it in you!

Or remember when Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down and Monica Lewinski in his lap and all of a sudden that was how we really knew we had a black president (pre-Obama)?

Is this really how we define black—sexual promiscuity, lying, cheating, effing up? Sure, some of these things are said tongue in cheek, but there is always an element of truth in comedy. Where is the humor in embracing these stereotypes?

What are we saying about ourselves when we equate infidelity and disloyalty with being black? Can we really be surprised when people of other races assume that all black people do is lie, cheat, and steal when we mock this behavior as a defining characteristic of who we are? At this point, who is responsible for the bad rep?

It’s interesting, while in some cultures, people who disgrace their community are cast out, black people seem to do the exact opposite and embrace the prodigal sons and daughters. This has less to do with forgiveness and more to do with expectation. It’s like a public display of appreciation for screwing up, that way the rest of us have an excuse for what we do (MJ did it) and we don’t have to try to do better. How ironic that the people who we do cast out are the ones who pursue higher education and become upwardly mobile, you know, the ones “who act white.” How backward is that?

Where did we get these ideas? It surely can’t all originate from the scapegoat of the decade—rap music/videos. They had to get it from somewhere or someone had to buy their records for them to figure out that sex, drugs, and violence sells. They give us what we want.

Contributing to the destruction of a family unit is nothing to be proud of; nor is spreading your seed as far as your little guys will carry it. That defines selfishness and whoredom, not blackness. Why are we not holding ourselves to a higher standard and expecting and desiring more? Why do we wear our dunce caps with pride? Why are we not owning our image?

The sooner we let go of the very stereotypes that we claim to hate, not just in practice but in passing the behavior off as “just something that we do,” the quicker the rest of the world will stop looking at us as if it’s true.

[Originally Published Here]

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