We frequently get the admonishment in black woman’s spaces to never say anything negative about black men. This is usually followed up with the laundry list of past and current racist actions and attitudes against black people as a whole and black men specifically.
There is one problem with this. It shuts down the discussion of racio-misogyny, abuse, harassment and black male patriarchy against black women. Black women have created spaces like this one in order to freely have these conversations as well as discussions on improving their circumstances and opening their options when it comes to dating and marrying non-black men.
The reason so many black women have taken to the blogesphere is because black women for decades were shouted down and told to shut up about their concerns when they were brought up in black centric spaces on line and in real life. So now here we are gathered on sites that we control and that cannot be co-opted away from our own agenda and we get the call to check ourselves when it comes to discussing the very issues that these sites are meant for.
Why talk about Black men at all?
This question is as old as BWE and IRR blogs. It has been answered many times. Here is a link to a discussion from 2007 on the blog Black Girls Heaven which I feel answers it best.
I would encourage readers to not only read the full post but also read the comment section that follows with particular attention to this paragraph. I have boldfaced the key point:
“It would also be dishonest of me not to address the social pressures that BW who date and marry interracially often face, and to confront the source of those pressures and point out some of the key reasons they are illegitimate. There are lots of wonderful men out there; if you want to maximize the number of great men available to choose from, race is criteria that it would be wise to discard. This is not a statement of judgment or a statement of blame: it is a statement of fact.
Will there be people who see such a statement as “BM-bashing”? Sure. Will there be people who will decide that women who articulate such considerations must be “desperate”? Probably. But to my mind, desperation is a fear response, and nothing is more desperate than someone who refrains from speaking what she knows is true because she is afraid that people will call her false names and think false things of her. I know who I am. I know what my motivations are. I know that I am not an angry or embittered person, and that I have no interest in bashing anyone.
Therefore, I sometimes discuss BM here: because BW who date and marry interracially are constantly confronted with the question of why they are not with a BM (see my prior post, “Questions and Answers.”) To simply answer honestly “because I met this non-BM and fell in love with him” is rarely satisfactory to questioners, who will take any inclination to ignore them as a sign that you have been intimidated into silence by “shame” over your “desperate” choice. As a haven for sisters who are attracted to all kinds of men—and who refuse to be controlled by the fear of rejection, or the fear of being called a “sell-out,” or on the basis of any other fear—I am more than happy to provide a forum for us all to express our own reasons for our choices: because ultimately, it is all about us.”
This is the mission statement of a lot of blogs that exist for black women who date and marry non-black men and who are active in the BWE community. Since our choices are constantly questioned and mis-characterized by black men and black women do not agree with our choice, and since silence when this happens is seen as agreement with that criticism our answering back at anyone including black men is necessary.
The Disclaimer Wars.
It would seem that for a lot of black women visiting Black Woman and IRR spaces the subjects of dating and marriage options,entertainment,sports,food, maximizing health and physical appearance, education, finance, employment are all fine. Resulting in lively, disclaimer free exchanges on the sites. In fact as a moderator I find that I have to deal with little to no troll attacks with articles and threads written on these subjects.
The same can be said when it comes to discussing limited options and experiences that black women have on the job, the status of black women in the general media and general society, black woman’s views on feminism, womenism politics and our oft times tense interactions with white and Asian women. Again a heated yet disclaimer free debate.
So why is the subject of black men in these black woman’s spaces, spaces that had to be created so that black women could talk freely of these matters, always the exception? There has never been a discussion anywhere on line and in real life where a discussion about black men that is anything less than positive has not had to pay the toll of the disclaimer, “Not all black men are like XYZ.” Further these discussions receive troll attacks that are numerous and vicious. The language would make your hair curl. Fortunately most of our readers do not see these posts since they are blocked before they make it on the site or are removed shortly afterwards.
Now I get where the trolls are coming from. This is a continuation of the shout down and STFU stance that black women, who dare to bring up their negative experiences with black men, get in life and on many black centric sites. The solutions is to either shut down comment sections, which unfortunately disrupts the discourse on the site and is the ultimately goal of the troll or moderate the site. As you know this site is moderated making it none too popular with the trolls since we seem to be ever present. That’s the plan.
I can also see where many black women who visit these sites are none too comfortable with discussions of black male on black female crime, abuse, harassment, colorism, sexual exploitation misogyny and denigration. Black men are our skin folks and kin folks. They are our dads and brothers, our uncles and cousins and sons. They are the men we went to school with, the men we live with, dated once and work with and most are great guys who are doing well despite all of the challenges they face day after day, year after year. What woman with any kind of heart would not what to stand up and defend these wonderful men when they are publicly criticized?
Those women are few. Of course black women stand and defend these men. The threats to the black man’s well being, safety and success are well documented and continue to exist. We black women live this along with the men we love and grew up with. So yes we must make a stand and state firmly and in a clear voice “Do not disrespect and denigrate these men we love, for they are great”.
Why aren’t these same good men returning the favor when it comes to black women? Just a word spoken. Some keystrokes on the keyboard then press send. An article? A website? Video? Anything? We see black women doing this all the time for black men. How hard can that be? We have trolls who are able to find their fingers when it comes to attempting to derail threads? Why not a few key strokes in support of black women?
Aren’t black women worth the bother? Are we not your wives and sisters? Your mothers and aunts and cousins. Aren’t we those girls you went to school with and the women you work with? Aren’t we the women you once lived with, the women you dated once? The women who held it down for you for centuries.
More to the point how come we don’t get the disclaimer “Not all black women are XYZ” on black-centric and black male centered sites when we are ripped to shreds? Anyone over there insist on that?
Didn’t think so. I guess it is assumed that we black women are not all XYZ so there is no need for said disclaimer. Right? That is what is said when that question is asked. Assume that all black women are not like that. Why cant that work here and on other black woman’s sites?
We sure hear a lot from people on black woman centered and IRR sites who insist that we not throw all black men under the bus and that we must preface every utterance, every article, every discussion, every post about black men that is less than flattering with the good old….“Not all black men are like XYZ.” This can never be assumed. It has to be stated each and every time. My question to those who insist upon the disclaimer is why?
I have two concernes regarding this. The first, why is there a need for the disclaimer in the first place? Why is it not just assumed that all black men do not fall into what ever negative category, subject matter or experience that is being discussed? There are great guys and not so great guys. We know this and we who are on these black women IRR spaces are specifically talking about the not so great guys. Why can’t we leave it at that?
The next problem and the one that most concerns me is the suspicion that most of this insistence for the disclaimer may be rooted in one of two things.
I mentioned in a response to a comment that the soft bigotry of low expectations may be at work when it comes to black men.
Here is that post:
“The problem that I have with attitudes like the one you are posting here is that it reminds me of a very destructive attitudes among some liberal whites.
The soft and slowly destructive bigotry of low expectations.
One is given a pass, the thumb is placed on the scale, a handicap applied and you are graded on the curve.
Allowances have to be made after all because, you poor thing, you really are inferior. It is not your fault dear that you are inferior but you are and since you can’t cut it we are giving you a break.
Too often black people do that to other black people and yes black women are expected do that so much for black men. Black women who refuse and attempt to set standards are admonished as race traitors, angry and sellouts. That pass is our birthrate they say for generations of racism and making life so hard for us so we’ll just snuggle up against the bosom of white guilt.
Now a sub-set of black women are not buying this. Heck with some effort we are getting degrees and jobs and achieving goals. No one is giving us a pass. No one is giving us credit either in fact they want to pile on more. What the heck is up with that? So we question it in black spaces, we got shouted down and told to shut up. “Be quiet, bring your talents and dollars back home roll up your sleeves and clean up this mess and don’t question why the guys are not doing their share. It’s been tougher on them than it has you.”
Hummmm. Now a sub-set of us black women have to question that last point. Tougher on whom? Really? Lets see? Black women get the double whammy of racism and sexism we get the low expectation treatment but we don’t buy it but the guys have it tougher. Check. Got it.
Okay. Tell you what. We are going over here and talk about this stuff on blogs where you can’t tell us to shut up and keep us from comparing notes.
No trolls and enablers allowed.
And the rest is history.
So no this sub-set of black women after much discussion do not do low expectations for black men. It is soft bigotry, demeaning and destructive and we don’t play that.”
Those who come to Black women centered and IRR sites with the goal
of softening, steering, shutting down or derailing all discussion of black men or at least attempting to limit the scope of those discussions will have to search their own hearts and minds to see if they fall into this category. Why the need to coddle?
I get that not every woman who reads such critical posts are comfortable with what they are reading. I get that not every woman who reads such critical post agree with them and could offer a potent rebuttal to what she is reading. I also get that among black women there are varying degrees of disappointment, anger, angst re. their current and past relationships with black men. Why can’t women just allow others to state their truth and leave it at that with out the. “The Black men I know aren’t like that?” Why can’t this woman’s space be for women to speak and share the negatives that have occurred in their lives with out the attempt to soft peddle the message.
My second concern with the disclaimer is that is may be a device that promotes the continued invalidation of the suffering of black women at the hands of black men. Suffering that has and continues to happen. We need to acknowledge that and validate that. Black women have created and participate in black women centers sites in order to share their experiences. This invalidation at the hands of the people who insist on the disclaimer may be un-intentional and again each person will have to search within themselves to see if that is the case. For those women who are attempting to tell their stories it sometimes come off that way.
Black Woman’s Empowerment
No, I am not going to give you all the definitive primer for BWE I don’t have to since it has already been written by Halima Anderson at Black Women’s Interracial Relationship Circle
Here it it:
I am offering link for those new to BWE and IRR blog sites as a way to explain just what the deal is on these spaces. To quote Ms Andrson:
“BWE will debate things that make your first reaction be, ‘This is taboo talk for black women’. But you must be willing to hear the debate out and to push past this block and fear of being a traitor, sell out or whatever term is used. Often the word sell-out are used as a tool to prevent black women from getting at the truth of their situation. We have seen it so many times and it is quite effective because black women take a large part of their identiy from being ‘devout’ black women.”
Of course one of the many subjects that will fall within the category of Taboo are any negative comments and articles about black men and the relationships between black men and black women as well as black woman’s relationship with the black community at large in light of her choice to date and marry outside of her race. This site does not shy away from these types of articles.
While Beyond Black and White is specifically a IRR site and not a BWE site per se many women who read and post here are parts of both communities and there is carry some over that can be seen in the comment sections here. The link below is from BB&W’s owner Christelyn Karazin and is a primer of what this site is about, what it hopes to accomplish and it should be the first stop for anyone who is new to the blog.
The video speaks for itself.
So here we are.
Each person who enters BB&W will have to decide for themselves whether they want to participate in discussions that touch on any subjects they disagree with and that make them uncomfortable. Each person who enters this site does so with the understanding that the likelyhood that articles and comments that some feel warrant a blanket disclaimer will not be discouraged and that removal is unlikely so long as they fall within this site’s terms of service.
Our Terms of Service can be found here:
So now it is your turn as members of this online community to weigh in. Let us know what you think.