I was inspired to write this post by the event that occurred during one of Christelyn’s signings:
After the discussion, one of the black girls felt it necessary to stand up for the brothers and asked Janice and I if we made provisions in our book so that black women were reminded about “the good brothers.” The silent boys nodded their heads in agreement, so I straight out asked her, “Why do you feel the need to speak up for these men? Why do you feel like they can’t speak for themselves? This is an open forum and they are free to speak. What compelled you to stand up for people who are welcome to contribute to the conversation? Please know if it is not your sole responsibility to “uplift” the brothers while you’re in college. Maximize all your dating opportunities as I’m sure THEY are.” This was met with a round of applause.
I’m really glad Chris went there and hopefully it will be food for thought for these young women, but the fact that this occurred at all left me annoyed for the longest time, and I didn’t know why. I mean it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with this behavior (Two memos later, I shouldn’t be…)
I’ve written in the past about knowing good black men, and how that didn’t make me want to waste my time waiting ever so specifically for one. Well, the truth is “good” is subjective. “Good” is a word used so loosely, any black man with a pulse and a functioning penis may find himself on the right side of the word in the eyes of a black woman who doesn’t know any better. But more than that, “goodness” doesn’t necessarily translate to a literal, measurable descriptive term afforded your average human being. When it comes to black men, too often, it becomes synonymous with “holy”.
What it boiled down to in the end was the fact that I am just sick of black women carrying on about “Good Brothas” or “Good Black Men” and begging black women who by and large aren’t interested in black men to “spread the gospel” on their behalf. It’s not like when a woman shares her simple desire for a man who will be good, loving and respectful towards her. Because a woman should feel entitled to a life with a man who will be good to her, loving towards her, and respectful of her.
Instead, I had the realization that this behavior was largely due to the myth of the “Good Black Man.” The mythology, the deification, the deference and worship of black men by black women and girls who’ve never been taught to treat these persons as just men. Men who are as fallible as any human being.
These women and girls have been raised to believe that “their very own good black man is out there, and if they wait long enough, he’ll show up and rescue them from their life of loneliness and they will live together happily in their black love nest”. What these black women want is to be enabled to continue to wait for black men to love and desire them with the fevered level of worship and devotion as they have been indoctrinated to feel towards them. If she’s never had a father, he’ll be that perfect paternal stand in-even if she has to “teach him” to be a man and “let him be a man” when he gets around to figuring out how that works.
Or perhaps, like a Pygmalion-esque character, after having rejected every other type of man while clinging to her statue of the perfect black man, our non-memo-reading black woman’s faithfulness will rewarded and the statue will become flesh and blood. Their very own “Good Black Man” will absolutely love and be loyal to them….and not run off with the first white woman he lays his eyes on.
Yes, that was a low-blow, and I don’t apologize for it: Black men have been swirling for millenia. I know it, you know it,
and Yellow Dog knows it. And despite this, some black women have allowed the double-standard to stand. They choose to keep themselves stuck in the corner somewhere, angry at everyone “taking all the good black men”. But especially angry at other black women who are not playing by the rules of the “Good Black Man Religious Movement” by staying perfectly still, utterly available, and seeing their standards drop as decades pass.
You see, letting go of the myth of the revered “Good Brotha” means embracing the reality that you have been duped your entire life. Letting go of the idea that such perfection exists as praised to the high heavens by the GAT-DL. It means not feeling that there is something wrong with you if you meet a man who is black and halfway attractive and you aren’t encouraged to throw your pride and your standards by the wayside in his presence.
Letting go of the myth of the “good black man” means stop affording black men the identity of being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. It means ignoring the compulsion to bring “good brothas” up whenever someone is talking about men as if you will be smote for failure to praise the holy goodness of black men during an interracial relationship conversation.
Letting go means you’re going to have to vet black men as you would any other man: You’re not going to give them a pass for being black, brownie points for being black, nor excuse unacceptable behavior because it’s a black man and “he has it harder than other men”. It means holding them to standards of other men, and not lowering them because it’s somehow ridiculous to expect a black man to measure up (Note: It is a MAJOR red flag should be a man pretty much tell you early on that he’s not good enough for you. Even bigger red flag if said man states this and yet acts like YOU are the one with the problem…).
It means realizing that expanding your options is not a denouncement of your God and religion. You will not go to Hell if you date and marry a man who’s not black. There is no Hell black men can put you in for failing to let the world know that “good black men need love, too”. Especially, as I mentioned earlier, when that word is so subjective, and so many black men who consider themselves “good” are nothing but shady and sleazy. A good job, a nice car, and “swagger” does not a good black man make. The married man trying to hook up with you is not a good black man. The black man who won’t be seen with you in public because you are so dark-skinned is not a good black man. The man who puts you down and makes you feel like you’re lucky he’s not spit on you yet is not a good black man. ANY MAN WHO BEHAVES IN A SELFISH, SPOILED, CATTY MANNER THAT EXPECTS YOU TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP HIM, AND REGULARLY RUBS IN YOUR FACE THE LIE THAT “NO ONE WANTS YOU FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN SEX BECAUSE THAT’S ALL BLACK WOMEN ARE GOOD FOR” IS NOT, HAS NEVER BEEN, NOR WILL HE EVER BE A GOOD BLACK MAN!
Please stop confusing such men with good men. Because if you notice, it’s never good men waiting around for women to coddle and defend them. It’s never good men hiding behind you while you take on the world for them while they figure out how to be their own man. A good man does not proudly admit using other women in order to boost the battered self-esteem of black women who think such men will “come home” to them, after they’ve bedded all the non-black women they can. A good man doesn’t need everyone to SAY how good they are.
A good man is known to be good because of their actions. Their goodness speaks for them. And no, they are not perfect, even with all their goodness. They’re just men, just as human as you are. So put away the prayer beads and stop washing their feet with your hair. Let go of the myths. The most important thing for you to believe is that you have the right to be loved and respected for who you are, and to love and respect someone else just the same, and you don’t need to justify it to anyone else.