Black women are too quick to not only forgive but also forget injustices committed against them. That can be very dangerous.
I've been wanting to write this post for some time now, but wanted to take my time getting my words right. Reading Kimberly Foster's recent article on her beautiful For Harriet site entitled "On D.L. Hughley and Others: My Official Withdrawal From The Battle For Black Manhood" inspired me to finally get this out.
I was raised to be a giving and selfless woman by the older black women in my life, so of course I also had the tendency to be ultra-supportive, nurturing and loving toward my black brothers and men in general. The message of my elders, whether blatant or implied was to support black men NO MATTER WHAT.
But when I now look at pretty much all of the older black women I know, all I see are long-sufferers. They gave up a lot of themselves holding onto this philosophy of continued unwavering support of men -- even if it was not requited.
Now as a grown woman who has largely left that influence, who has now been able to experience the world, relationships and life on my own, I have to call to the carpet this philosophy that has been passed down through so many generations of black women. That we are somehow beholden to support black men NO MATTER WHAT. This is a part of the reason why black women are the most abused group of women in America.
One lesson I've certainly absorbed after years of observation and experience is that you should only support and defend people who truly DESERVE it and APPRECIATE it. It is unhealthy to throw all of your support behind anyone (or any group of people) who would not do the same for you.
A Recipe for Dysfunction
The current relationship between black women and black men in the U.S. is severely imbalanced. It's time we all come to admit this. Black women often loudly defend black manhood, even before their own womanhood. Black men shout a few hollers back "hey we love you too" but for the most part in 2012 they aren't truly prepared to lay everything on the line in a similar show of loyalty and commitment. At least not yet.
To be fair, this is partly due to the general traits of women and men. Women are usually nurturers and gladly take action when needed without expecting something in return. It is why you see so many long suffering women of ALL races.
On the other hand, I tend to believe men are less likely to act on impulse to come to the assistance of anyone, whether man or woman, unless there is a clearly defined benefit to do so. They are much smarter when it comes to protecting themselves and their feelings.
But this imbalance is amplified in the black community where the women are too often regarded as mules to be used and have even been taught to accept or justify this treatment.
White women have their issues with their white male counterparts, but when it comes right down to it, they know that they are protected. That inherent belief in the continued protection of women is simply not present in the black community in 2012. That can be clearly demonstrated by looking at how black men either sat by silently or joked heartily after watching a black women get beaten and stomped by a young black male (Lil Reese) on camera. White men would not have stood for witnessing that type of crime committed against a white woman and would have called for the assailant's head.
Forgiving and Forgetting?
Sisters, forgiveness is awesome. Just about every motivational speaker, conscious leader or person of God can tell you the importance of forgiveness.
But forgetting can be dangerous. Forgetting keeps the same destructive cycles and patterns going strong. I recently read a statistic that African American women are 35% more likely to be victims of domestic violence. 35% more likely! Think about that.
Black women frequently forget how rap music has sold them down the river, and continue to listen and support it. I still see some dark-skinned black girls quoting Lil Wayne lyrics, even though he has time and time again told them they are ugly and inferior in his music.
It's not good to forget and even worse to ignore the major issues that some black women experience at the hands of some black men. Even the black men who do not perpetrate these crimes against black women are guilty, because they too often do not provide ample LOUD protection for black women and girls.
In his 1962 speech in Los Angeles, Malcolm X said "The most unprotected person in America is the black woman." He also said of his brothers, "We will kill you for our women." That is the type of loud protection I'm talking about. Something has definitely changed over the past 50 years.
Black Woman, Put Your Needs First
I still have love for black men and as the saying goes, if you truly love something you must let it go, and if it's meant to be it'll find its way back. We must let go of this knee-jerk reaction to defend black manhood at the expense of our own womanhood. Let go of that and let men be men -- allow them to figure out how they can best contribute to providing a better future for the black community, which I believe they can do.
Instead of stating this final point in a negative way I think it is much more productive to make the following positive statement: black ladies please spend more time concerning yourself with issues that affect you as a black woman and support only those men and women who show the same unwavering support for you.
Now, onto more issues that very specifically affect the empowerment, growth and encouragement of black women and girls -- the original purpose of this blog.
Please watch the 2012 Black Girls Rock Awards on BET tonight at 7PM EST and don't ever FORGET how important YOU are!