I’m not even sure how to start this. My SO shared a video with me yesterday that brought to mind an issue that bothers me immensely. The video is short, but the information is intense:
It’s a very frank look at how the slave trade and the tactics employed by slave traders and owners served to break down the psyche of the Black Male. I put that in caps for a reason. As a Black Woman, I have high hopes, high expectations and a lot of pride in my men. As a single Black Woman, I’ve been nearly terrified of interacting with them.
I’ve always been fascinated with romantic love. The notion of a man and a woman, falling in love and living happily ever after. I read it in books, I saw it on the television. It’s depicted in art and poetry and with my passion for words it was almost a tangible thing. It was what I expected, what I anticipated, what I aspired to, what I desired. Honesty, openness, inclusivity, trust and forgiveness, friendship and romance all rolled into one big ball of eternal contentedness that stands the test of time, faces and overcomes challenges, fights and makes up and endures…
It took a while before I realized that none of the stories had protagonists of my ethnic origin. After I watched my first movie starring predominantly African Americans, I understood why. The interaction was completely different. The majority of men in those movies were shallow, materialistic, and misogynistic. The romantic relationships were underscored by infidelity, insecurity, deceit or some combination thereof. Many of the women were bitter, cynical and angry.
I just couldn’t understand it. Why did our relationships looks so different? Why were our men constantly hurting us? Why was there so much discontent? Where was the love, the strong, healthy relationships? Where was the happily ever after? Why don’t our men love and revere us? Ours is not the only culture in women are objectified or subjugated. It is however the culture in which women are socialized to be strong, independent and even dominant. In some other cultures, the women are forced to be accepting of a ‘lesser’ role. Those cultures tend to be fraught with violence against women, poverty and social and economic challenges. We are however, taught to have high expectations while our men seem to be taught to place restrictions on their emotions. Take a look at cultures where family values are revered, where women are treated as equals, where romantic love is still celebrated.
In my experience, the typical black woman does not expect love to be a deep, surreal, ethereal, feeling. But art and literature constantly tell us that that’s what it should be. We are socialized to be content with practical, pragmatic love; to not expect butterflies and hearts and flowers; to be content with a man who comes home most nights and doesn’t flaunt his other women in our faces, to accept that there will be other women and ‘love’ him regardless. Our men are socialized to believe that romantic love is a weakness and are mocked by their peers when they display it. We are still caught in the mental trap that sex is for procreation and that our purpose is to make as many babies as possible with whomever is available; that love and affection are punishable weaknesses. The only difference is, we are no longer making slaves, we are making labourers caught in a cycle of financial, mental and emotional poverty who are not educated beyond the notion of reproducing, voting for the next iteration of exploitative governance and showing up for whatever work is available commensurate with those qualifications. Even some who break free of the low wage cycle are still enslaved by their inability to see the value of a stable relationship, to realize that it’s safe now to feel and display love; to see women as more than a receptacle for their semen and a vessel for the carriage of their offspring into this world.
Watching that video provided perspective even as it broke my heart and stole much of my hope. I have so many female friends who are searching for some semblance of the literary depiction of love. Young, strong women who stand at the ready to commit to love in it’s most beautiful state. And we keep getting our hearts bruised and broken and damaged by men who are not yet emotionally and mentally free and mature to receive that love or give it to us in return.
It’s not like we don’t know. I’ve been following the vlog of a young, Black Man who is currently attempting to speak life into our relationships; who constantly challenges Black Men to be more and do more for us. Sadly, the majority of his fanbase is female and I doubt his messages are reaching those who need it most. He has uplifting and encouraging messages that will hopefully herald an attitude change in the next generation of Black Men.
Until that change comes though, my sisters and I will continue to hold fast to our convictions and honour our expectations. We will raise our sons to be the men we did not see growing up and our daughters to not settle for the base treatment being meted out. We will try our best to be the change we want to see in our culture…
One thought on “Where Is Our Love…?”
I am standing, holding tightly to expectation for the King I desire….on my journey to becoming Queen. And when we meet, we will be on one accord. #romanceisrealandlasting