The other day, I was talking to a brother about the rift between black men and women. My point was not to participate in the latest man-woman "Who Shot John?" episode. I wanted to learn what is it that black women do to break brothers down. And yes sisters, we can break a brother down.
His primary beef was the number of black women that claim to love black men and have respect for them; yet as soon as they get a man, they can't fix their mouths fast enough to tear him down. As a woman, I wanted to defend. I wanted to tell him he was wrong. Then I remembered a family member. I'll call her "Elle." The only time she discusses her husband is to talk about how stupid he is, how unsatisfied he leaves her, and how she works him essentially to death, and that's why she stays with him. I lost count of how many times they have separated, however, I do remember her going to retrieve him from his new woman's house, only to dish out more of the same.
He also touched on our buying the media's portrayal of black men. They're either dogs, gay, or bumbling morons - lovable, but bumbling and moronic nonetheless. I feel as though I need not mention the not so subtle nudges away from dating brothers altogether. How many movies romanticize relationships between white men and black women. After the obligatory obstacle that is the sole racist family member, they go on to live happily ever after. The lack of realism is astounding. For starters, when you wade through the pile of interracial relationships, black female/white male is close to the bottom of the barrel. I'm willing to wager that if you get down to the brass tacks of white males that are not impoverished or "PWT" as it were, I'll be the percentage is even smaller. So sisters, we really need to stop banking on the white Prince Charming.
I was fortunate enough to have a mother that kept me away from negative influences to the extent that she could. Additionally, she taught me how important it was that I respected black men. Eventually, my own experiences caught up with me. I became so used to being hurt and disrespected, that I started out on the defensive. I was tough on men that I attempted to date; insufferable to those I didn't. My friend mentioned the need to deal with each other on a human level. I thought about how many times we as women bristled at a man who only had use for women in bed. What can be said about a woman who only shows respect to men with whom she may be involved? Respect has to start prior to the relationship. After ti starts, it's too late. I had spent so much time with the wrong type of man, I became terrified of all men. I even avoided men that I thought would want to pursue a serious relationship, because I couldn't bear the thought of becoming attached to someone, then having it end.
Once I was told by someone that I cared deeply about, that maybe I should be with someone more suited to my relationship style; someone who could love me for the way I'm used to being loved. I realized the way I was used to being "loved" was non-existent. I crafted this amalgamation of my outside view of other people's semi-functioning relationships, combined that with a couple of "black-love" movies, and created for myself quite the cluster-fuck. I knew how to be disappointed; I knew how to have fun and bounce when it wasn't fun anymore; I knew how to be single. I didn't know how to be loved, so it went without saying that I didn't know how to give love properly. What is unfortunate is that I had a hand in messing up what could have been a good thing.
My friend said that we lie to ourselves. we say we love and respect black men, but our actions say otherwise. If I spend half of my relationship on pause wondering when (not if) I'm going to be hurt, am I really respecting my man? I can't say that I have the answers. I can't say that I'll be perfect. But what I can do is pledge to be better.