After spending a great deal of effort talking about the joys of being woman last time, I’ve decided that it is only appropriate to shift the spotlight to the men this go ‘round. And although I love men of a multiplicity of shapes, hues, and styles, I’d like to focus specifically on the Black man today. Don’t get me wrong; I am, self-admittedly, an equal opportunity employer…and if a sweet talking, Jesus loving, Purple Label wearing, smell good, hip-hop loving, Matt McConaughey looking brother from another mother wants to get lost in conversation over a cup of coffee, I’m probably down. But a girl has to say, that my predilection for Black men is strong. There is something about the way a Black man walks; it’s as if his presence commands the universe to go into slow mo as he strides along concrete runways with the agility and presence of a sable panther. And oh, the way a Black man talks. He parts his lips to speak and words cascade downward like notes from some dope Bird, Dizzy, Thelonius Monk collabo you’ve never heard, or better yet massage your eardrums like the familiar melody of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. And while the sun shines its brilliant light on all people alike, it is as if the black man is paramour to the glorious star, the recipient of affectionate kisses that leave the skin a gamut of beautiful browns. And on those melanin-endowed bodies, brothers don the freshest attire. They are so fly. And then there are things that you can’t quite capture in words that brothers have, but they got it and NOBODY else does. Not to take anything away from fine Latino guys, Parisian gentlemen, Italian heartthrobs, Caucasians and men from every other persuasion- there just simply is nothing like a Black man.
Interestingly enough, I’ve found that Black women are fiercely loyal to Black men. We are loyal to the point of calling our men brothers. Have you noticed that women of no other ethnic group refer to their male counterparts as brother? Black women, although they don’t always act according to this knowledge, are very conscious of the struggles of Black men. The majority of the women I encounter acknowledge that built into the fabric of our society is the racist and prejudicial treatment of African American men. We understand that African American men fight for equal access, equal pay, and justice on all fronts. I’d even go further to say that a number of sisters are protective of black men and have desires to be the kind of women that create an environment in the home that shields their men from all of the emasculating forces that they are faced with when they are outside of the home. Sisters esteem brothers above most other men and, usually, when asked to describe an ideal mate, African American women make no mistakes in communicating their desires to settle down with African American men. While the number of college educated African American women far exceeds the number of college educated African American men, many women admit that if unable to find a suitable Black man for a mate, they’d rather remain single than marry outside the race.
What is disheartening to me is that, as a whole, Black men do not appear to extend the same kind of loyalty to Black women. I haven’t heard many discussions amongst Black men about the racism, prejudice, and sexism that African American women face daily. Nor have I seen much desire to protect and shield African American women from the struggles that are unique to sisters. The frequency with which numbers of Black men refer to Black women as bitches and hoes is heart wrenching. And, although I believe that people should marry whomever they choose to and am not opposed to interracial dating, I certainly understand some sisters’ frustration with successful black men’s idée fixe with non-Black women.
Fellas, what’s your take? Why does it appear that the affection that Black women have for Black men runs so much deeper than the affection you have for us? Are we mistaken and misguided, or is this the harsh reality we are faced with? I’ve talked to so many women who love Black men profoundly, and that love appears too often unrequited. In When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, Joan Morgan echoes the sentiments of many of the women I’ve spoken to. She says, “Accepting that black men do not always reciprocate our need to love and protect is a terrifying thing, because it means that we are truly out there, assed out [forgive me, her words and not mine] in a world rife with sexism and racism. And who the hell wants to deal with that?”
I guess my question is, then, while brothers are expecting women to be their champions, understand their unique struggles and fulfill all of their desires at what point is it understood that sisters are expecting those very things to be reciprocated? While sisters are holding brothers down, brothers aren’t necessarily returning the favor. What’s up with that?
Just the messenger.