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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ON BEING BLACK, FEMALE, LOVING, AND FREE ON VALENTINE'S DAY


1. ON BEING BLACK IN AMERICA
“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.
When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters.
But we don’t talk about it.
We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for us to even be a couple blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway?
But we don’t say any of this stuff.
We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice liberal dinners like this, we say that race doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable.
It’s true. I speak from experience.” 
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAmericanah
Art: Pierre Jean-Louis


2. ON BEING A WOMAN IN AMERICA
“The only reason you say that [gender] was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. ...
When you are [a woman] in America and you fall in love with a [man, gender] doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, gender matters.
But we don’t talk about it.
We don’t even tell our [male] partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for [you] to even [have a credit card on your own] blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway?
But we don’t say any of this stuff.
We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice [little dinner parties at a friends house] like this, we say that gender doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable. 
It’s true. I speak from experience.  


3. ON BEING A BLACK WOMAN IN AMERICA

I rewrote this dialogue as spoken by an Adichie character, substituting gender for race. I did not do so in order to say that race and gender oppressions are exactly the same. I won't address how they are the same and different here. I made the changes to Adichie's excerpt in order to highlight the fact that for black women* there is a double barrier in interracial relationships with white men. 


First there is the barrier of unacknowledged gender oppression that most men of any race will deny exists in any real way. 

The way this manifests itself in the black community is via black men thinking they are the only ones being oppressed due to race while also denying that black women suffer just as much from sexism too. When white people are 90% of the CEOs  and Hollywood image makers, racism is obvious. When men (of all races) are 80% of the CEOs and image makers in Hollywood sexism is, somehow, not obvious .   

Second there is the barrier of unacknowledged racial oppression that most whites will deny in any real way. 
White men willfully refuse to see the oppression of women just as often as black and brown men. But then there's the additional barrier of race too. 
Point 3: Whether there is one barrier or two, I think the man that is worthy to be called "partner" is the one that
1) admits the barriers to knowing one another deeply exist and
2) is willing to do whatever it takes to see over those barriers.


A fourth thing to consider is that if 1.5 million black men are missing from the black community, then there are 1.5 million black women missing them

And if, due to numbers, black men can afford to see black women as disposable as dixie cups, then a fair percentage are going to be encouraged to dispose of women like dixie cups in a patriarchal society -- because they can.

Each ugly to average looking white rock star and baseball player have tons of  pretty white women looking to trade beauty for money.  And they treat these white men treat white women like disposable dixie cups too.

Too much choice makes a non-woke, ethically(?) weak man behave badly while separating women into "good girls" and "bad girls"

And  white rich man shortage, a black-man shortage, or an X-man shortage sets up a competition between women who want to make a trade or want to feel sexy or want to feel loved. 


So, in order for black women to NOT reap the whirlwind created by a black man shortage, I think black women should diversify their dating portfolio. 

If I could put numbers on love, companionship, and the likelihood of long lasting commitment, I'd have my sisters date 3 black and brown men for every 1 white man. I'd have them be equal opportunity daters leaning toward black men due to common life experiences in a white supremacist country. And, I'd have my sisters looking for "intersectional feminists" first as an indicator that that man is woke on all matters.

A feminist man is a man that's trying to think outside the box he was born in.

Similarities in life experiences do matter. Similarities in education; class; income; politics; respect for children, dogs, and old people; are all things we all look for in a partner in addition to race whether we are aware we are looking for these things or not. So if I had a magic wand I give every black woman in the country an intersecional feminist black man as partner (only one barrier to jump = one man and one woman respecting their differences).

But they say there's 1.5 million black men. And even if "they" are wrong, I can say black feminist men are as rare as hen's teeth. So there's probably more like 4.5 million missing black men for the woke black woman.

Therefore, whether a black woman is looking for a permanent partner or to be a relaxed serial dater, it might behoove a black woman to look for "woke" first and same (racial) life experience second.

I'd see heterosexual black women date more and divorce less.

And I think making sure black men know
they may be the preferred fish in the ocean
but hardly
the only fish in the ocean is the key

to a healthier black community.