In my last post, I wrote “I place black men on a pedestal. If I had poetic abilities, I’d write an epic celebrating their power, their sexiness, their resilience and determination. No one could ever hope to duplicate the swagger of a black man in a well-tailored suit and freshly-groomed beard. There is no other set of arms that brings the security and safety that a woman feels when she crawls into the arms of a black man. There is no challenge that a black man will face where a black woman will not stand beside or in front of him.”
I feel every word of that strongly, even more so after the events of the past week. As a black woman, I feel this overwhelming responsibility to step between the black men in my life and those who dare to harm them. Black women will lay their pride, their very lives, on the line for the security of black men. We are raised to exalt them. My brothers are so spoiled that when they visit me, I have to remind them to clear their own plates because in my family, men aren’t required to ever enter the kitchen. I’m the oldest of six and though my sisters were expected to be self-sufficient, the well-being of my brothers were my burden. I’ve written before about how my mom catered to my stepfather, and when she was not around, I was expected to do so. It was the same when my cousins or uncles visited. We feed. We nurture. We hold.
We are raised to be the black man’s safe haven from this cruel world.
So how do we not feel the failure when the world is not allowing them to make it home to us?
As I am sure has been the case with every person of color this week, my emotions have gone from anger to disenchantment to sorrow to anger. I’ve cried. I’ve raged. I’ve hid. How do I keep my brothers safe for my mother? How do I ensure my nephews make it to their college graduation? How do I sleep not knowing if my male friends made it home safely? What duty am I not doing as a black woman to keep our men safe?
Then there’s this doubt demon in me which rears its head. “What is this enduring love you have for the black man with so little evidence of its reciprocation?” Black men have dominated the media (television and social) in the past days. They’re standing in solidarity. They’re being interviewed inside barbershops. They’re posting images with their frat brothers as they powwow on how to combat police brutality. Beautiful images. Inspiring sights. My heart swells each time. And then I look at their left hands.
Empty ring fingers.
This past 4th of July weekend, my news feeds were inundated with posts about the hypocrisy of the holiday. The amazing compartmentalization of America during the Revolutionary War. How they fought and declared its independence while enslaving an entire people. How did these forefathers reconcile such hypocrisy in their minds? How could they write “all men are created equal” when slaves fetched the quill?
America is to black men what black men are to black women.
Woke black men ranted about this hypocrisy and I wondered about their own. How are they demanding respect from this world as they are disrespecting those who are willing to die for them? Black men know whatever they do in this world, they will ALWAYS have a home with the black woman. We will never shut that door. We will turn our backs on our sisters before we do so to a black man. With such loyalty existing, why are so many of us single? Why are we viewed as a burden by so many than the “good thing” God says we are? Why are we worthy enough to lie with but undeserving of the highest honor a man can give us? Our hair is too natural. Skin is too dark. Mouth too loud. Attitude too aggressive. Everything about us is too fake. Yet there ain’t nothing real about the racially ambiguous woman he’s liking on IG.
Too many black men will give their last names to their children but not the woman who brought his children into this world. Yet we stand next to or in front of them when they are fighting for their respect.
The media always finds the worst image of a black man who has died at the hands of the police – a former mugshot, a photo of him acting up with his friends. They resurrect his criminal record, his many children, his delinquent child support payments. All of this in an effort to show this victim is not deserving of sympathy or respect. Does that sound familiar to black women? Has a black man ever brought up irrelevant things about you to excuse their most recent bullshit? Do you feel mandated to achieve some respectability standard simply to earn his time and reverence? A standard that will change if a woman is successful in her quest? Black men hit us with a poll tax as quick as Jim Crow. “Oh, you’re educated, successful, and your own place? Yeah, but back in 2013, my boy bought you a drink. Sorry.” Only to catch him with a woman who is the exact opposite of his requirements.
Hearing a black man call a black woman “bitch” has the same effect as hearing a white person call a black man “nigga.”
Yet it remains that the soul and passion of black men must be protected. So I forgive. I’ll read him for filth behind closed doors, but stand next to him prepared for battle in this world. Because as a black woman, I do not want to exist without him. Black men are necessary. I need his arms. I need his strength. I need to lie on his chest and hear his heartbeat and be comforted knowing he is safe, and thus, I am. I need him to guide me. I need him to be the leader my grandmother assured me he was.
My faith in the black man will never waver. My love will always endure. My protection will always be available. I have hope the day will return when we black women are as certain of its reciprocity.
Today’s Soundtrack: Heather Headley – He Is