Book Writing Adventures

Question of the Week: Is it Wrong for Me to Associate Black Men with Drama & Heartache?

I have been in relationships with blk men and have been treated like crap by them. I always thought that because I have 2 blk boys I would need a blk man to help raise them until my friend told me all I need is a real man to help raise them. Is it wrong for me to associate black men with drama and heartache?

Personally, I associate the Young & The Restless, Twitter and teenaged girls with heartache and dram. But you’re not here for MY opinion, so here goes the expert:

Linda R. Young, Ph.D.

This is a great question because it speaks directly to something we ALL need to address to one degree or another. Sure it’s wrong to immediately associate black men with drama and heartache. Just like it’s wrong to associate any entire group with some negative (or even positive) trait or behavior. Intellectually it’s easy to recognize this as stereotyping but at some (and probably many) points in our lives we have all stereotyped others – often without even being aware of it. Anyone who has been mistreated by a member of a group or gotten negative messages about that group from family, friends, peers, media or even their faith community without enough positive counter-examples is prone to stereotyping others. So let me first just say there are LOTS of “good” black men in the world and it’s SO helpful to keep noticing, supporting, blogging, making movies and writing about them to keep a balanced view! A couple of my favorite blogs for this are:

Black lawyer Jarrod Jenkins’ website in support of monogamy

Married black couple’s happily married blog

Now what this commenter is dealing with is more complicated than just stereotyping. It’s called INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION. Internalized oppression is one of the sad legacies of slavery. Members of any group that has been systematically oppressed by another group that has total power over them are powerless to assertively resist or overcome their mistreatment. They must find creative ways to survive or subvert. Slaves used “shucking and jivin’”, “clowning”, “the cool pose” and acting like “Uncle Tom” because they didn’t have other safe options. We can still see some of the legacies of those ploys in our culture today – and they hurt us today because we DO have other options!

When there is no safe way to discharge anger, hurt and invalidation against an oppressor, some people turn those feelings inward against themselves or outward against the only people who have less power than they do – their own women and kids or members of another group that have even less power. Calling each other “nigger”, hating our own skin color, noses or hair, black men mistreating black women, gay men denying/hiding their own sexuality while gay bashing are all examples of internalized oppression. This commenter sounds like she has been the object of some black male internalized oppression and may also be invalidating herself. Christelyn edited some lines out of this reader’s original question, including: “I know you are reading this like “get to the point heffa”. That is also internalized oppression!

For some great examples of how internalized oppression operates and some things we can do about it please take a look at a terrific resource at

Some people deliberately seek interracial or intercultural relationships because they overvalue people outside their own race or culture while undervaluing their own. These folks are seeking validation or power or a better place at the table through their partner choice. That’s internalized oppression. Other people become open to interracial or intercultural relationships because they realize good partners come in all kinds of packages and they are open to finding a healthy, respectful loving relationship without limiting themselves to one group of people. That is not internalized oppression – that’s a mature view of love!

For more on the lovely and fantabulous Dr. Young, see her blog on Psychology Today.

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