Written by Nicole
The Struggle and Scraps Gospel and the adherence to the Bare Minimum Doctrine has been deeply engrained in black women. If a black woman decides that she wants a little more from a partner than a hug and a smile there will be no shortage of men (and women too!) crawling out their respective crevices to make sure your self-esteem is low enough to accept scraps.
One of the many ways this struggle acceptance is manifested in the language used in these partnerships. I touched on this last year when I said “At least I got a man” is not a clapback. Here are three more “At Least” excuses to throw straight into the garbage before we enter 2021.
You may see this “at least” excuse when a man is cheating on a woman (openly, often egregiously, and maybe even resulting in something permanent, like herpes, or a baby). A woman might say this as some sort of salve – the wound of his infidelity is soothed by him returning to her, perhaps even with some extra “gifts”. To me, “at least he knows where home is” reads like “he has cheated on me with three different women that I know of, but when he is done sowing his wild oats, he knows I will continue to tolerate this treatment”. Him “knowing where home is” is not a prize, but rather, a huge loss. Instead of hanging around and being disrespected, make sure everything is in order from a legal and financial standpoint, and take any actions via the fullest extent of the law.
Is the bar so low that having employment is seen as some kind of bonus, rather than a prerequisite? You’ll see this one pretty commonly in comment sections where black women are decrying other black women for wanting a man who makes enough to support a lifestyle that is just above the bare minimum. You may also see a slightly different version of this, like “at least he’s not selling drugs”. Forgive me if I don’t consider Corey the Coke Dealer a worthy comparison. But I digress.
I’m not talking stays in five star resorts every weekend, or deciding between purchasing a Ferrari or a Lamborghini for the weekend car. I’m talking things like a housekeeper, music lessons for the kids, and vacations to somewhere warm and sunny once or twice a year.
In this here patriarchy, if I’m making pennies on his dollar, not only does need to have a job, but a job making a certain salary or higher, that is recession and pandemic-proof too. Keeping the bar at merely “having a job” will almost certainly lead to difficulties down the line if you have certain dreams and aspirations for yourself and your children.
A few months ago, a photo went viral on Facebook, featuring a black man with several boxes of multiple brands of diapers. The caption read something to the effect of “dada of the year”. All through the comments black men and women were praising the male in the photo. However, when people started asking why providing basic care for a kid he contributed 50% to merited all this praise, they were treated to this “at least” retort.
I don’t think people who use this particular “at least” as a response realize how much of a self-drag this is. “At least he takes care of his kids” and the other reasons on this list, stem from comparing to the worst among their ranks, rather than the best. In a community where absentee fatherhood is the norm, of course a diaper purchase seems like this amazing act. “At least he takes care of his kids” is like applauding a fish for swimming- it’s something that is supposed to be done.
These “At Least” excuses keep the entry for access to black women very low. As we approach the New Year New Me phase in the coming days, add not accepting “At Least” excuses to your list of resolutions. Because then, it might be frustrating, but at least you’ll be screening out the bums from the get-go.
What other “at least” excuses have you seen? Share them in the comment section below!
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.