There is nothing on this planet quite like a Black man. My father served as my first example of their resiliency in the face of adversity, their remarkable ability to exude warmth despite experiencing so much coldness from the outside world and the drive to succeed while playing with a hand of cards that would have made most give up and surrender themselves to a world that seemed hellbent on keeping them down. My dad is just one example of Black men who shatter the stereotypes that Black men are lazy thugs who do not take care of their hoard of illegitimate children, and for that I am remarkably proud of him. In a world where Black men and women are undervalued and
underrepresented, it is important that we uplift each other, yet the division between Black men and women is quite astounding and deeply saddening. Of course men and women collectively have struggled with relating to each other and finding common ground on issues such as equality, but when you live in a patriarchal society that is nothing beyond the norm. The issues within the Black community go much deeper than your old everyday “men are dogs” rhetoric. What happened between us that caused such a divide? Scroll through social media and you will see a plethora of harsh comments from Black men regarding Black women, Black women stating how they don’t need a man and how n*ggas ain’t sh*t and both sides recalling instances of how not having a father in their lives has affected them.
Slavery: The Side Effects
Whether or not people want to believe it, slavery still has long standing effects on its descendants. In the scope of human existence, 200 years post slavery is merely a drop in the bucket of time. In fact, it is so recent that you could likely track down the owner of your great great great grandparents. So what does this have to do with the division between Black men and women? Everything. During slavery, it was key for slave owners to dismantle any type of unity between slaves. Slave marriages were not legally recognized and married slaves were always reminded that at the end of the day, they were both property of their master. Rape was a common method used to exercise this power, and the Black man was powerless to come to the aid of his wife, no matter how angry or provoked he felt. This created a resentment in the Black woman, as she had to live knowing that the man she bore children for and loved was powerless to protect her. On the other hand, the Black man had to carry the shame that he could not save his wife from being a victim, while also struggling with the fact that she had been with another man, regardless of the lack of consent on her part. It did not matter that this was just a consequence of the time period; a human being is going to feel the emotions appropriate for the circumstances. The lack of rights for a slave did not make either party feel better just because that was the way things were. A husband and father are protectors, and having to witness your warrior powerless against your attacker will create a lack of trust, be it consciously or subconsciously. He could not shield his wife from being a victim, he could not prevent his children from being sold. Aside from the violent nature of rape, during and after slavery, Black men and women were not typically attracted to each other. Black women were (and often even now) portrayed as the “mammy”, overweight and in a position of subservience, usually around to clean up after White people and nurse their children. The Black man, on the other hand, was emasculated on a daily basis; how was he to respect himself or command respect from others? Not only was his manhood diminished, but he was also put into the role of the jester, the ‘schuckin and jivin’ minstrel. Of course there was still love among slaves, but is it unreasonable to presume that the level of respect and attraction was low? Slavery has had a significant impact on black love, and the black family has suffered because of it.
Fast forward to now, and it is easy to see the continued discord between the Black man and woman. It is almost like we are socialized to not be together. Have relations improved much 200 years post slavery? I would have to say no. I could open any of my social media timelines right now and see an overabundance of disrespectful comments from Black men pertaining to Black women. The negativity spans across hair texture, skin complexion, attitudes, child support spite, parenting, body type, the list is endless. Black women express disdain for the Black man as well, but not at the concerning rates that Black men do. Lack of ambition and the absence of having the Black woman’s back are the main complaints; quite honestly the rest of the dialogue can be applied to any man. Brothas are extremely misogynistic towards sistas, and rap music has been a long time contributor to this issue. When our Black men grow up listening to “Bitches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks / Lick on these nuts and suck the d*ck,” why are we surprised when they lack respect for Black women? The number of male role models in the Black community are slim, so the rappers became the role models. Young Black women who were exposed to this type of music at a young age became desensitized to it; disrespect towards women became normalized for some in the Black community. Just because you are a fan of rap, however, does not mean you go out and disrespect women or tolerate disrespect but it is important to realize that the entertainment industry does have an effect on how we view each other. Each day I witness Black men and women at war with each other, and I always find it so interesting that I do not see other races putting each other down at such alarming rates, or at all. Never have I seen any of my White, Hispanic or Asian social media followers say their own women are trash, their men are deadbeats or put them down while uplifting another race. Is there anything wrong with dating outside your ethnic group? Absolutely not. What is wrong is condemning your people in the process. I have always found it astonishing that many of the qualities Black men shame Black women for, they also possess: darker skin, coarse hair, animated personalities, etc. It is definitely worth assuming that there is some self-hate stirring around within them that needs to be sorted out. Disassociating yourself from your own blackness will not make you less Black. If you hate yourself, you will want to distance yourself from anything that reminds you of the thing you are running from. The divide and conquer tactics used during slavery are still working. Black families in America have the highest rate of single parent households due to factors such as mass incarcerations and poverty, creating further resentment between the Black man and woman. Just like during slavery, many fathers were not present. Whether it be by choice or force, the consequences remain the same. There is a lack of trust between Black people that other races do not experience, because they did not face the trauma of slavery and Jim Crow. Willie Lynch’s method to control slaves was to spread fear, envy and distrust between them, and it is blatantly obvious that these tactics have been tattooed on the psyche of Black people. Fortunately, I have been noticing a slow but steady spread of unity within the Black community.
Spread The Love
Thanks to social media, I have been noticing a lot more positivity spreading between Black people. This is not to say that there has been a lack of Black unity altogether, but I attribute the increase to the alarming rate in which Black men and women are being targeted and killed by police, and to some extent, our collective disdain for Trump. Regardless of the reason, it is refreshing and beautiful to witness. It is very important that we hold ourselves accountable for perpetuating the hate we experience from the outside world upon each other. I frequently see Black women (and men, however, to a lesser extent) on social media call out other Black people who spread false narratives regarding our people and who also perpetuate stereotypes. It is vital that we educate each other about the tactics that were put in place to ensure we never unify or view each other in a positive light. After all, by continuing to remain spiteful towards each other, the vision racist America had for us since we were brought here on slave ships remains successful. Sure, we have accomplished great things as a people and have conquered monumental obstacles, but our interpersonal bonds must be strengthened. Black people have to separate ourselves from the image the media has constructed. Black men are more than rappers, athletes, and criminals. Black women do more than have babies out of wedlock, twerk, and have attitudes with anyone who crosses their path. Our accomplishments are always seen with an asterisk by them, and we participate in the practice of not supporting each other. This can change! Support the ventures of your friends, encourage our kids to pursue their dreams, even if they are not the most practical. Until we let go of the mental chains of slavery, we will remain limited, our full potential imprisoned. The lack of trust between Black men and women needs to be repaired, as it is on life support and has been for quite some time. We are in need of open and honest dialogue, free from any spite or negativity. Communication heals, and it is time we begin this process. Our future generations will thanks us!