It is a thing of immeasurable ugliness that the Black male image is besieged to great proportions, yet we are supposed to join in and rage against ourselves, ostensibly, in support of the Black woman’s empowerment.
We are asked, in essence, to bow down to the Black woman.
It would be one thing if we were bowing down in praise to the beautiful women who uplift and stand with Black men to create loving partnerships and families. However, in many cases, Black men are asked to bow down to Black women in an act of self-deprecation and self-destruction.
We are asked to ignore our own pain in deference to the pain of Black women, allegedly all caused by us.
Some sisters are even offended that we speak of our issues with Black women, even though the air is loaded with their complaints about Black men.
It is as American as apple pie to deride Black men, but let me say it now: I will not participate in the decimation of the Black male image.
Black men do not have such sophisticated vehicles as Essence and Oprah to rage against our adversaries, lament our woes, or declare our power and might-real or imagined. We have few arenas to discuss any of our issues outside of politics and sports.
While so-called Black feminists rage against Black men for the oppression we supposedly dole out, we are still the last to be hired and the first to be fired; yet, we are the only group without a vehicle. There is no Black man’s movement, or even a masculinist movement at large for us to take part in.
The movement we led in the turbulent Sixties has now been rewritten as oppressive, yet co-opted for everyone’s retrospective use except our own.
As noted author Ishmael Reed put it: “The groups…women and gays have placed their oppression front and center and have even made villains of the former Black male machos who fantasized a revolution (while borrowing their strategies). These groups could even be accused of trivializing the oppression of the white and Black underclass, because once you propose that all women, including Queen Elizabeth, or all gays…are oppressed, then everybody is oppressed, even white males with Ph.D.s, whom the media would have us believe are being set upon by a politically correct multiculturalism.”
In addition, I believe that the fire and brimstone of the revolutions in the Sixties served as a precursor to the new feminist movement, which gained new life after embracing Black women.
Black feminists assert that they were oppressed by being left in the backdrop of the revolutions of the Sixties, an era defined by violence of white men and hatred of Black people, especially Black men. Revisionists want us to swallow the notion that Black men stood up and forced Black women to sit down. Was that about television coverage? I don’t know, but I ain’t buying it. Black women were there, from Rosa Parks to Fannie Lou Hamer, and from the throngs of Black women who organized to the throngs of Black women who marched alongside Dr. King.
In this column (“The Bridge”), I discuss racism, sexism, elitism and a host of other “isms.” Often, my criticism turns to the evolving woman of color when she embraces false slogans of empowerment (“I don’t need a man”), false labels of empowerment (Independent Woman) and false tales about Black men (“Down Low,” “beneath their level,” lazy, etc.), but I speak of far more than the failings of Black women.
I have also taken Black men to task for specific failings (see “Just Be A Man About It,” on www.bridgecolumn.com), but I am not willing to diminish my own difficulties in favor of the difficulties of another group—real or imagined—unless that group is directly tied to my own immediate survival. That having been said, I would be willing to periodically diminish my own difficulties in favor of Black women, but only when certain circumstances exist.
I meant it when I said that if Black women create their own movement, I would be the first man to step up and join, but today’s Black women must recognize and respect the plight of the Black man before forcing their plight down our throats. Too many Black women scoff at the notion of the Black man’s challenges in today’s society, yet want us to respect and embrace their own, even when they are not mutually exclusive.
Black women have not cornered the market on pain. We are both in pain and both in need of understanding. Once we stop comparing oppression sets and just embrace each other, there won’t be a battle of the oppressed to see who is the most downtrodden.
It’s a thing of balance. If you hear us, we will hear you and then we can go about the business of making things better for us all.
I write on the subjects I choose because I know my voice is divergent, even if everyone isn’t intelligent enough to realize it. When I write about the difficulties men have with women, I am not writing them from some sexist point of view, I am writing these things out of love, because I date Black women exclusively and because I love them singularly. I am writing with recommendations, not with oppressive demands, nor with detached condescension.
I write to create dialogue, even if filters of unresolved pain, hatred and ignorance make it appear otherwise. If we disagree, there is no reason to do it with hatred and venom, while still expecting respect.
Only love can breed love and respect. And my love for Black women drives me to tell the truth, as opposed to spreading unsubstantiated rumors and destructive myths.
I believe only God loves Black women more than I do.
But I also have to admit that I don’t love them all. In fact, I deeply dislike a few Black women, for one simple reason: I know they don’t like me, either.
All of us—men and women—will have to admit that there are those among us—men and women—who do not like any of us. I recognize them, and when they appear, I have no love to give to them.
I am not as beautiful as Jesus, Gandhi or Dr. King. I will turn no alternate cheek, save for the cheek of my Black backside.
So, if my writing offends thee, pluck out both of your eyes but please don’t pluck out hate mail on your keyboard. See your doctor and ask him to increase your dosage of Lithium.
But do not ask me to bow down.
Darryl James n is an award-winning author who is now a filmmaker. His first mini-movie, “Crack,” was released in March of 2006. He is currently filming a full length documentary. James’ latest book, “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” is the basis of his lectures and seminars. Previous installments of this column can now be viewed at www.bridgecolumn.com. James can be reached at djames@theBlackgendergap.com.