BW in interracial relationships can often cite a number of incidents during the course of their relationships where BM have responded to their choice of partner with puzzlement, contempt, hostility and even aggression. For the most part, we understand the racial/sexual politics of American society, and recognize that the effort of strangers to make our personal relationships part of their larger battlefield is simply one of the expected complexities of choosing a life unrestrained by the prejudices of others. However, we often have more difficulty coping with the judgments that we sometimes encounter from other BW, who often seem especially eager to establish their "pro-black" bona fides by making it clear to BM critics that they are just as angry about BW/WM IRRs as they are about BM/WW IRRs.
Why would our own sisters turn on us? They live in our communities. They see the women struggling to raise children alone--they often ARE those women. They go to the churches where the only men are the preacher and the deacons, i.e., the one's collecting all the money and making all the decisions. They feel the fear of walking down the street alone, of being harassed like dogs, of locks on windows and doors, of never feeling safe. They turn on the radios and the televsisions, where we are invisible except as objects of derision and ridicule. They know the drama and the pain of "hood romance," where not only marriage, but fidelity, mutual respect, trust, and honesty are all considered absurd "bougie" conceits--where relationships are open warfare in which the goal is to play them before they play you.
If they're lucky enough to have mothers, aunts and grandmothers who struggle and sacrifice to get them to college, they know that the "brothas" start opening up their options right there on those college campuses where they're outnumbered by sisters 2- and 3- to -1; today, those same "brothas" probably started opening up their options in junior high and high school. How often were they mocked and ignored for not having long, "good" hair like the "Spanish" girls? How early did they learn to accept their place: to be first in line to attack other BW for being too obese, having too many OOW babies, having too much fake hair, being too picky in our choices of men, being too lax in our choices of men, being too ________________?
And yet, these are the very "sistas" who now warn that the "black community" is in danger of disappearing due to the threat of IRRs. So this "community" will somehow thrive if the majority of its women continue doing what they're doing now--spending their lives sporadically alone? Forgoing love, companionship, security, stability--and not incidentally, depriving their children of these crucial elements of healthy development? Remaining silent in the face of their own obsolescence?
The answer that these sisters give when pressed is typically a variation on the theme that "Black Love is what continues the Black race" and IRRs = racial suicide. As one sister recently described it, "IRRs are a plot by the white man to eliminate Black love and eventually the Black race." I addressed the irrationality of this argument in Point 5 of my "Questions and Answers" blog from August 5; but the bigger issue to me is the extent to which black love continues to exist independently of IRRs. After all, if the continuation of the black race is dependent on BM and BW marrying one another, than IRRs are essentially irrelevant--even if we accept the logic of this rationale, IRRs don't equal racial suicide, the unwillingness of BM and BW to marry each other equals racial suicide. Why then do these sisters point to US as the "problem," instead of addressing all those complaining, unmarried "brothas" who have suddenly discovered the critical importance of "black love" to the health of the race? Isn't "black love" not only about marrying BM, but about our relationships with each other, and ourselves?
We are indeed in danger now. But that danger arises from us marching like lemmings to our own demise by trying to police each other's behavior--for whose benefit? Our own? Our children? The "community"? Sisters are dying of AIDS, diseases arising out of sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and stress, domestic violence and violent crime--we are dying from lack of care. Has the "community" stepped up to provide that care? The "sistas" who choose to put their energy into mourning the "black prince who got away" and chiding BW who won't stay in their place will unfortunately end up on the dust heap of history. It is WE who choose loving partners and who choose to care for ourselves, who set a positive example for other sisters. It is in providing that care and leadership that WE will survive and ultimately insure our survival as people.