Many of the responses to my last blog expressing my disappointment in some of the anti-black commentary I've encountered from BW at IR blogs raised another concern that is shared by a number of sisters in this community: the use of language, and whether what we choose to talk about, and how we choose to talk about it, reflects our sense of empowerment and ability to achieve our goals of a happy and healthy life.
In particular, some sisters have argued vehemently against use of the term "Damaged Beyond Repair Black Man," claiming that it amounts to little more than derogatory labelling that reflects an unhealthy continuing obsession with the very men that the women who frequent the blogs claim to be disinterested in. Why not focus instead on the kind of men we want, rather than the kind we don't want?
Halima, Evia, and many others defend the use of DBRBM with equal vigor, asserting that the word is simply a tool that serves as a means of warning sisters of a potential danger to their safety and sanity so that can protect themselves against that danger, and actually find the kind of relationship they want and deserve: i.e., forewarned is forearmed.
I tend to agree more with the latter position; but what I find more interesting is why certain words seem to generate so much more concern than others. For instance, in Halima's latest post she provides a brief "something new lexicon," which includes, among other concepts, both "DBR" and "Mammy ideology," referring to the mentality which animates black female defenders of DBRBM. Strangely enough, I've noticed that people rarely if ever complain about the use of the term "mammy," though it certainly has connotations that are arguably more "derogatory" and historically freighted for BW than "damaged beyond repair" is for BM. Why then is the response to this term so much more muted?
Additionally, I find it puzzling that because a BW is interested in dating IR, the assumption is that she has no further reason to ever think about BM. First of all, many BW who want to date IR are simply attracted to a variety of men--INCLUDING BM. Secondly, no matter who a BW dates, she is still black, and likely has a black father, black brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, and acquaintances; she will likely live in a community with a large population of BM that she will have to relate and navigate, even if she preferred not to. She will still turn on her radio or TV, open a book or a magazine, and encounter images of BW created by BM--images whose repurcussions she will have to cope with. It's not as if BM simply disappear from the landscape of the universe of a BW when she dates IR.
Some may argue that even if a BW in an IRR may still have a perfectly legitimate interest in BM, an IR dating site is not the place for her to discuss that interest. In terms of my blog, I can only point out that while IRRs are a strong focus here, it is not the ONLY focus--I stated right from the outset that my purpose was to create a "black girl's haven," where BW and all those who love and support us could come to talk and exchange information and ideas relevant to all facets of our lives. In terms of the IR blogs generally, the reality is that the response of BM specifically, and the bc more generally, to BW in IRRs is a relevant experience for many women who date and marry IR. To tell such women to focus on finding the man they want, without focusing at all on the context in which that relationship will evolve, isn't entirely fair. It may not seem like it, but finding men is the easy part. Creating a healthy relationship that will work over the long haul, in an often hostile world, is the real challenge--and it is that challenge that I believe really motivates most of the women who seek out these blogs to seek them out.
In any case, I'm always uncomfortable with the idea of telling others what not to talk about. Even when people say things I hate, I prefer to confront and respond to them (or ignore them, as the case may be) rather than argue that certain discussions shouldn't happen at all. As much as I may not have liked to see someone claiming to be a BW at the BW's IR Circle arguing that BW love thugs, I don't kid myself that if I didn't see that statement being made there, it would mean that sort of mentality doesn't exist. Sometimes an issue is raised as much as it is BECAUSE it has been so powerfully suppressed--thus, it shouldn't surprise us that a group of BW who gather to support each other in getting free of one taboo can't help but struggle to get free of another as well--the taboo against criticizing BM within the community. If we stop saying it here, will it go away? Should it?