Monday, July 27, 2009

Do Black Men and Women Hate Each Other? (Love Is the Root Politic)

Welcome to relationship week here at soulbrother v.2. This week I am conducting an experiment of sorts. I am going to devote the entire week to discussing a single subject—the relationship between black men and women. Let me preface the week by stating that I am not a counselor of any kind. And I will be writing from my experience which may or may not coincide with your experience; however, I am counting on you to fill in those blank spaces that may irrupt when my experience and knowledge break down and fail to adequately address the subject at hand.

I just got on Twitter last month. And you meet a lot of interesting people through Twitter. Von is one of those persons. Von blogs over at Black Conscious Thought.

She checked out my blog, and tweeted her approval, and then we entered into a conversation centered around issues pertinent to the African American community. We were not that far into the conversation when she asked me what I thought to be a very strange question:

“Do you think we really hate each other?”

Confused, I quickly tweeted back, “Who?”.

“Black men and black women. Do you think we hate each other?,” was the answer. “Sometimes it seems we hate each other.”

I must admit that I hadn’t given it any thought before Von posed that question, and I’m not sure what answer I gave her. But now having had time to sit and ponder the question for a bit, I can give a more well thought out answer.

And that answer is no, I don’t think we hate each other. In fact, I think black love is alive and well. Perhaps, the issues affecting black love seem more dire, more real because of our proximity to them, but no more dire or real than in the larger populous.

However, there are still a number of issues we must deal with. There are still some obstacles to us being where we desire to be, namely we often find ourselves at different places at different times, and we are often not honest about what we are really looking for, but perhaps the biggest impediment is that we look outward as opposed to inward in defining how we conduct our lives and affair.

Let’s begin with this personal story. Recently when out and about, I ran into a lady I dated perhaps twenty years ago. I was genuinely surprised and glad to see her. But when I called to her, she just gave me this blank look and then turned her head. Thinking that perhaps she did not recognize me, I went over to greet her.

What I got from her was an angry, spiteful grimace. I went in for the obligatory hug, but she gave me the stiff arm. Of course, I was a puzzled as to why she was acting this way, but soon through clenched teeth, she gave me an answer.

“You hurt me!”

But that was twenty years ago! What happened to time heals all wounds? Perhaps I should give you the back story.

We met after we both had just gotten out of unhappy, tumultuous marriages. During our initial meeting, she told me she was concerned only with raising her two sons. She only wanted companionship, someone to kick it with and have a few laughs every now and then. We both seemed to be on the same sheet of music, so we entered into an agreement of sorts.

But about a week into this thing, she had cleared drawer space and one side of the closet for me and presented me with a key to her apartment. Perhaps, I should have recognized the signs and walked away at this time, but I chose not to.

As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that she was looking for a bit more than mere companionship; she was looking for another husband. So, I decided to just step away from the situation before either of us became overinvested in something that was not to be. And she pitched a fit—an absolute fit.

But I don’t blame her. I should have decided to leave even earlier. It was unfair to her that I stayed as long as I did knowing that my idea of where the relationship was going did not coincide with hers.

And she was a very nice person, a very desirable mate. Had we met at a different time in our lives, who knows the possibilities? And if she had been a bit more honest as to what she was looking for, perhaps if she even knew what she was looking for, it would have saved a lot of hard feelings in the end.

But keep in mind, she has been walking around harboring these ill feelings for twenty years or so. How has this affected her views of the opposite sex and how she has dealt with the opposite sex? Remember the ripples caused when you throw a rock or some other object into the water. How have these ripples caused by her hurt and anger affected others who have in turn affected others?

Now, let’s take a look at African American men and women in relation to the larger society and culture. How much do you think the images posited by the various media affect the ways in which we deal with one another and live our lives?

In dealing with relationships with the opposite sex, my greatest teachers have always been my parents, my grandparents, and my in-laws. From them I learned that every day cannot be a good day; the secret is to control that which is within your control so that the good days outnumber the bad. From them I learned of the joy in struggle, and what two people can achieve even when the odds are arrayed against them just by being of one accord. But perhaps most importantly I learned that when in a relationship, each party must unselfishly give of him- or herself if they desire the relationship to move forward.

But how many people don’t have these role models to draw from? More and more people are taking their cues and lessons as to how to conduct themselves from the various forms of media. And often the information gained from these various media are false, based on the cultural imaginings of writers who are themselves often the product of dysfunction.

But for those who have no better frame of reference, these false images become real. For those who have no greater frame of reference, the images become scripts to be lived out in their own lives. And the result is a replication of the very dysfunction we witness on television, in the movies, on the radio each day. The result is that we are convinced that somehow we should hate each other, that somehow love is a game, a competition between the two sexes to see who can get the upper hand, and we act accordingly.

But this is what it all boils down to: Love is the root politic. One cannot truly love another until they love themselves first. And love of self allows one to pursue those ends which will nurture that love, which will celebrate that love, which allow that love to flow freely between oneself and another.

What do you think? Do you think black men and black women somehow hate one another? What can be done to make our relationships stronger?

Also, later today Charles J. will join us with a guest post, and join us tomorrow when the question will be, can men and women truly be platonic friends?

12 comments:

A. Spence said...

I don't think we hate each other.

But, I agree that good role models for relationships make a difference.

I look forward to this weeks relationship posts!

CiCiWryter said...

Really glad that you started this conversation and hope many people will participate. I don't think we hate each other at all but I do feel that too many, male and female, are hugely disappointed and nursing hurts and wounds like the woman from your past. wow, she has spent 20 years??? holding on to that hurt? really? But there are just as many men who do the same except they move on from woman to woman 'proving' why they shouldn't commit or whatever but hold it inside and would never say anything if they saw you again.(but you didn't say HOW you ended things so that could have contributed to her hurt as well).But that's my opinion and speculation. Personally, I find it really challenging that Black men will not address how unwilling they tend to be in redefining male roles in relationships because they wholly except/expect patriarchal privileges which often leave Black women dealing with racism/sexism outside the home and sexism in the home when your home should always be a haven from the world. As for lacking role models, really I think we are 'canaries in the mine' because relationships in most groups are troubled because there is a 'group-think' mentality that tries to normalize how relationships should look and while I understand guidelines I don't think anyone can define marriage/relationship roles for another. And now there is so much 'chatter' from everyone being an 'expert' and having opinions on what worked for them that people get confused like they are following instructions and part b didn't fit with part a correctly and folks are confused. Our society has had major changes yet we expect to have traditional relationships which are based on a model that is really outdated.I like your definition that all days will not be good but you control your actions so that you are contributing to the union having more good than bad days. Ok-not sure if I'm offtrack now and my comment is getting way too long. Looking forward to this week's series.

OneChele said...

We don't hate each other but we sure all do need a group hug :-). Both men and women (of any color) need to learn to relax, relate, release.

I had a similar experience with an ex in an airport not so long ago. I went over to say hello and he was cold to the point of Arctic. He was still "tart" over a perceived slight from 14 years ago. Wow!

This is one of the many reasons I wish we could eliminate some of the idiotic negative stereotypes and images coming at us. Anytime I hear someone start a sentence with "Black women/men always" I cringe. Those type of sweeping generalizations cut us off at the knees.

We can't step up into a relationship when the past and the images and baggage are weighing us done.

I, however; remain guardedly optimistic and look forward to your week-long series.

Von said...

Who knew my rants would be inspiration for others. I'm getting a helluva lot of attention from just ranting my frustration....I'm truly blown away with some of the responses. It's interesting to read what other people gather from my deranged thoughts...LOL.

I don't think black men and women hate each other. I think we're frustrated and don't know how to communicate our problems with each other. But then again there are some of us who just don't care.

I'm working on a blog as we speak titled, "Where Have All The Black Men Gone?" It's inspired by a conversation I had with a friend last night. Though it doesn't directly hit on the issue of black love it does highlight what I consider a major problem (at least on the side of black women).

Kim said...

I would hope that we don't hate someone, but it's really hard to tell sometimes. This horse has been beaten on message boards and blogs for years and it's not even wounded, so it's not going to be dead anytime soon. Obviously theres a issue but there are so many conduits: by product of slavery, no relationship models, no dad in the home, and each one wants to blame the other,etc. So I look forward to the discussion. And @ Max as far as your ex-girlfriend, a wound to someone's worth is really very devastating but in fairness, time heals nothing, it's what you actually do within that time that brings about a healing.

RainaHavock said...

No I don't think we hate each other. I think we just have the battle of the sexes moments like everybody else. Of course some of us take it to a whole other extreme but that's a whole other story.

Anonymous said...

I don't hate black men. I did used to wonder if they hated black women because of all the abuse I used to see coming up as a kid. There were a few black men in my life at the time that made me feel very loved. My mom's ex husband was the best man I ever knew black or white. I hate that they divorced and I while I have not found my Mr. Right. I always watch for men like him. He took care of us, protected us and loved us. He took the time to sit down to read to me and my sister. He took us to the park to skate and have ice cream and always told us he loved us. I cried like a baby when they split. Haven't met a whole lot of men like him since. Few and far between. So no I don't hate black men and it's because of him. I also realize that alot of the reason black men and women are the way we are towards each other has to do with our history. Low expectations of each other because the majority had low expectations of us. We learned from who made us. I think we should have gotten past that a long time ago. We need to move forward for ourselves and our children.

Marilyn

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

Nope, we don't hate each other...the birth rate has decreased...lol.

Seriously, I agree that the lack of good relationship role models has taken a toll on this generation and will continue until it's repaired. I think the lack of communication if pervasive and not attempting to truly understand one another is yet another problem (that I've learned the hard way).

I like OneChele's group hug remedy :-). A dose of dialogue will help put us on the right road.

Charles J said...

@CiCiWryter,

Personally, I find it really challenging that Black men will not address how unwilling they tend to be in redefining male roles in relationships because they wholly except/expect patriarchal privileges,

Cici I agree with you wholeheartedly. As I said in my own post I Need You To Teach Me How To Love. We as Black men are priveleged due to be being born men and often like most dominant groups we don't acknowledge it and we expect to be catered to by women.

I have been pondering this question do we hate each other for almost a year when I read this quote by Nathan McCall in his book , Makes Me Wanna Holler , ...

I realized that we thought we loved our sisters but that we actually hated them. We hated them because they were black and we were black, and on some level much deeper than we realized, we hated the hell out of ourselves.

Lyn Marie said...

I will have to join the chorus and say no we don't hate each other. I think we are confused by what we think we want, or we fear the rejection we may receive once we let our guard down. We get caught up in roles or how we think we should act in a relationship.

I to am optimistic, I think we'll get there as long as we are willing to do the work.

Denisha said...

I agree with everyone that we don't hate each other but I do think we need that group hug OneChele mentioned along with some compassion for each other. I think we get our defenses up, our gaurds up, trying to protect ourselves not knowing that we are likely our best remedy.

Who knows us better than us? We know how hard it is to grow up, live, love, and struggle through so many different things in life. Most black women understand our black men and vice versa. I don't mean to say another ethnicity can't possibly have that understanding but it comes natural for us.

Instead of pointing out the woman who has been holding on to the hurt for 20 yrs just let her know it's ok. We all heal at our own rate. We are hurt differently. We all seem to love and communicate different. If we'd just let each other in flaws and all then we might be able to heal and love as never before. I'm not perfect by any means so I need someone to love me as I am until I get to where I want to be.

williedynamite said...

No I don't believe that black men and women hate each other, but we do have some significant problems communicating with one another.

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