Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Ain't Black Love Beautiful?"

How many times have we have we all heard these words spoken (usually by a black woman--isn't it odd how rarely black men express this belief?) in response to the latest candid photo of Will and Jada, Bill and Camille, Holly and Rodney, Denzel and Pauletta? And who could disagree? Black love--love period--is indeed a beautiful thing.

However, what is often implicit in these expressions of wistful admiration for "black love" are some more uncomfortable, often unspoken emotional beliefs--the belief that black love is increasingly rare and imperiled, and that other kinds of love ("non-black" love?) are in some way inferior or even threatening to the gold standard that is "black love."

Very often, the same black women who wax poetic in response to images of "black love" respond more acidly to the vision of black men with non-black women. This particular love is often dismissed as not being love at all, but a false, lust-driven form of self-hatred and self-annihilation, an expression of contempt for black women and blackness itself.

The resentment that many black women express towards black men in interracial relationships is often rooted in their very real experience of discrimination, both in the larger society and within their own communities. Few women have ever had to face the degree of character assassination and disparagement of their womanhood and feminine appeal that black women have had to cope with. When the very same black men who all too often have not only joined in mainstream contempt for black women, but have actively spearheaded the dissemination of hostile and demeaning images of black womanhood (see the essay "Virulent Racio-Misogyny in the Black Community" for an in-depth discussion of this phenomenon at http://dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com/,) simultaneously express their respect and appreciation for the beauty and appeal of non-black women, black women feel doubly betrayed.

However, black women's embrace of the "black love" ideal and resentment of BM/WW interracial relationships is also a product of black women's own refusal to consider pursuing relationships with non-black men. Many black women have concluded that racial loyalty and "self-love" requires that one only love those within one's own race, and they are angry that increasing numbers of black men do not seem to share this belief.

Ultimately, black women find themselves one of the least married demographic groups in American society, and many have concluded that the culprit for their plight is the accelerated abandonment by black men of their "duty" to marry black. What black women must consider, however, is what actions we can take to have the lives that we want and deserve. When healthy, attractive, intelligent, accomplished women are alone while there are available men who want to be with them, something is wrong.

The answers that black women get from the "community" as to what that something is all to often simply fall back on the same knee-jerk scapegoating that has become something of an addiction for the black community over the past 50 years. Whether the issue is single-parent households, rates of imprisonment for black men, the spread of AIDS, crime, poverty, there is always a simple explanation: the problem is black women. Black women themselves have come to accept and embrace this concept, and can often be found hectoring and cajoling their "sisters" to "do better."

In terms of declining marriage rates, the latest version of "do better" typically incorporates two contradictory concepts: black women must stop being so "picky" when it comes to black men and lower their gold digging standards; and black women must become more discriminating when it comes to black men, and stop pursuing "thugs" and losers. That perhaps there maybe some problems with the pool of black men from which black women have to choose is an idea that is rarely if ever seriously considered.

My version of "doing better" and finding "black love" begins with black women loving ourselves enough to pursue our own best interests. If you are smart, witty, charming, kind, honest, pretty, fit, and successful, and you want a man who is comparable and compatible, you are NOT too picky, and you do NOT need to change your standards. What you DO need to do is consider whether the pool of candidates from which you are seeking companions is actually sufficient. If it is not, you need to increase that pool--plain and simple.

Ain't black girls loving themselves beautiful?

11 comments:

Halima said...

My version of "doing better" and finding "black love" begins with black women loving ourselves enough to pursue our own best interests. If you are smart, witty, charming, kind, honest, pretty, fit, and successful, and you want a man who is comparable and compatible, you are NOT too picky, and you do NOT need to change your standards. What you DO need to do is consider whether the pool of candidates from which you are seeking companions is actually sufficient. If it is not, you need to increase that pool--plain and simple.

Thats it right there summed up!

All too often bw are like a monkey with its bunched fist in a cage, refusing to let go of a peanut to gain its freedom.

So here we have sisters moaning about bm yet refusing themselves other options because of lofty romatic ideals of black loving, blindly refusing the rational understanding that black loving cannot happen unless bm are onboard and if bm are not onboard then what the hell are they stubborn over black love for anyway!

“Supposing I wanted to date a White Guy…?”

Aimee said...

So here we have sisters moaning about bm yet refusing themselves other options because of lofty romatic ideals of black loving, blindly refusing the rational understanding that black loving cannot happen unless bm are onboard and if bm are not onboard then what the hell are they stubborn over black love for anyway

This is the clear, unmistakeable message that needs to be communicated to black women. If a sister "don't want nothing but a black man," I say more power to her.

But she better realize that just because that's what SHE wants doesn't mean that all, or even most, black men are going to feel the same about black women; and if she is unwilling to compromise on this one criterion, then she will have no choice but to be flexible about others--such as character, intelligence, kindness, maturity, etc. Personally, I know what my priorities are.

Evia said...

Great blog, Aimee!! You did it!! I'm going to put your link in my sidebar tonight.

But she better realize that just because that's what SHE wants doesn't mean that all, or even most, black men are going to feel the same about black women;

THANK YOU!! And as more and more sistas see the likes of Diddy and others like him--'keepin' it real,'LOL!--with their blondes, a whole lotta light bulbs are going to start flashing on in some of those sistas heads. Bm of that sort are actually becoming the best allies in our effort to encourage bw to broaden their scope.

Felicia said...

Congratulations on your new blog Aimee!

Much success and I'll certainly be chiming in from time to time.

You have a lot of good sense and it's wonderful you're sharing your knowledge and truth on the web.

SO many BW need to be questioning things. Putting two and two together.

Cheers and take care!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Aimee!

I'm a bw married to a wm, living in New England. I've seen a few of your posts on Halima's and Evia's blog. Good to hear from you.


"If you are smart, witty, charming, kind, honest, pretty, fit, and successful, and you want a man who is comparable and compatible..."

So true, but it is important to remember that those should be our basic standards, and there is no pickiness about wanting them!

On the other hand, my husband does not have the same profession as I does--he's a highly skilled tradesman, and I am a college professor. As far as I'm concerned, that is a profession, because I sure as hell can't do what he can: wire a whole house, figure out maintenance problems in highly technical machinery.

Does that mean we're incomparable? Not at all. We are always reading, thinking, talking about current events, the subjects I teach. He accompanies me on research trips. He treats me like a "queen."

He's incredibly supportive, and I'm his greatest priority. He has values I like and admire. What more can I want?

Regards,

Pioneer Valley Woman

Aimee said...

Thank you so much Evia and Felicia! Keep spreading the word, because I definitely plan to!

And I agree Pioneer Valley Woman--"comparable and compatible" are always relative. I often note how black professional women in particular are singled out for critiques designed to get them to "lower their standards" which seems to translate into dating non-professional men.

This critique seems to assume that if educated BW were less snobbish and would give blue-collar men a chance, the marriage crisis in our community would disappear overnight.

This thinking of course ignores the literal ABSENCE of marriageable BM, however broadly defined--employed, healthy, heterosexual, and WILLING to marry a BW and father black children.

But, as your comment reveals, it also ignores the role of simple chemistry. When BW are sent a consistent message that all they should require of a man is blackness, suddenly all the other ways that men and women can (and SHOULD) be compatible become irrelevant.

I think its great for the doctor and the bus driver to fall in love--IF they discover a mutual passion for Frantz Fanon, or competitive roller-blading, or deep-dish pizza. But race is only ONE of many qualities that people can have in common. Too many sisters ignore shared passions, values and interests because when a man isn't black--and what's worse, ignore the absence of these factors with DBRBM, because they've bought the idea that shared blackness somehow means they belong together. I just don't want to see sisters cheating themselves in this way.

Daphne said...

Hi, aimee - congrats on your new blog! I look forward to reading it and sharing it with others!

I do wish more black women would understand that loving oneself doesn't have to equate to black love. And isn't love....love? No other ethnicity feels the need to put an adjective with it. I don't hear "Asian love," Hispanic love," "Latino love," Indian love," etc. It's just.....love, and black women can have it just like any other woman. I'm glad that my eyes were opened, and others are as well. I know it's a journey, and look forward to see other bw realize that the only obstacle(s) to love are usually staring right back at us in the mirror.

Ninabeena said...

Ain't black girls loving themselves beautiful?

HOLLER!:-)

Tha SongStress said...

Black Is Beautiful!
Love is Beautiful!
Therefore Black Love is Beautiful! :-)
I really enjoyed reading this Blog.
Have a Blessed one!

Gella said...

Good for people to know.

Anonymous said...

great read. I would love to follow you on twitter.