In keeping with my latest theme of "pet peeves with the IR community," I must mention an ongoing irritation with an almost knee-jerk, negative reaction expressed by many IR sisters to any and everything black. It's almost as if in embracing the freedom to experience life and love wherever it may be found in the global village, many sisters have had to cope with a tremendous, heretofore suppressed, rage against the bc, which they feel has made every effort to encourage them to sacrifice their own happiness and prevent them from achieving the greatest possible joy and satisfaction in their lives--a perception that is, unfortunately, often true.
I've been loathe to address this issue, primarily because I think that the increased willingness of BW to challenge and criticize DBRBM in the same way that they would any other group of people who have done us great harm, is a healthy, positive, and necessary development. Even if no BW was dating IR, ALL BW need to abandon the Cult of Black Manhood, with it's periodic ritual sacrifices of BW, that has gripped the black community for decades--and arguably done us as much harm as any other identifiable force in our society as a whole. This Cult has left too many sisters struggling to raise children alone in poverty: denigrated, unhealthy, vulnerable to exploitation and violence, bearing the burdens of an entire people on their shoulders without acknowledgement, but with plenty of blame to spare. Anytime it is exposed, I am happy.
However, that doesn't mean that a sister's willingness to criticize BM when the criticism is merited justifies a wholesale descent into stereotypical attacks on blackness itself, which is frankly what I have witnessed among many sisters all too often on IR blogs. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from honestly exposing their own painful experiences within our community, or from reaching whatever conclusions their own reason lead them to reach about those experiences. Clearly, sisters have and do put up with way too much, and frankly, a lot of us have simply had it. However, statements about how "all" or "most" black people are stupid, fat, impoverished, ignorant, criminal failures are simply false-- and the fact that black people are making these statements does not make them any less racist.
In the same way, pointing out the destructive havoc that DBRBM wreak in our community does not mean that we have to join the mainstream amen chorus that deems them white America's sole bogeyman. Do I think O.J. killed his wife? Despite having purposely avoided the media circus surrounding his trial (just I did with Robert Blake's, and am doing with Phil Spector's), I'm pretty sure he did. Do I seethe with outrage that he used money and celebrity to buy his way out of the prison term he deserved? Not really. People have been buying their way out of the prison terms they deserve since the inception of the American criminal justice system, and they will keep doing so. I don't believe for a minute that all of the white Americans so outraged by the injustice of O.J.'s acquittal (or Michael Vick's dogfighting, or Barry Bond's steroid abuse) are really so invested in the value of human or dog life, the faults of our criminal justice system, or cheating in sports--if they were, they would be just as outraged when the victims are black and the perpetrators are white. Pointing out this hypocrisy is not the same as "defending" DBR behavior. It is realizing that most DBR behavior--which is perpetrated against black women and children--is only enabled by focusing exclusively on such behavior when it touches white victims or offends white sensibilities.
As a black woman, I can't afford to prop up a system that is based in part on the idea that human life has relative value--and that deems mine, my mother's, and aunts, and cousins, and friends, and all of you sisters who read these blogs and deserve only the best--as less than worthy. Quite frankly, this is the clear and unmistakable message when 13 years after Nicole Brown's death, we are still supposed to be mad at O.J., and the police haven't even bothered to figure out where Stepha Henry is. For every O.J., there are 100 DBRBM abusing, exploiting and abandoning black women and children--where is the hourly CNN update for them? Too many of us seem comfortable with the explanation that those sisters deserve whatever they get--even as we weep for Natalee Holloway and Jesse Davis, women who hardly conducted themselves with perfect seemliness--but who still didn't deserve to have their lives stolen from them.
Sisters, all I'd like to see is a little consistency, combined with a lot of self-preservation. Wrong is wrong, whoever does it, and whoever they do it too. But our first consideration must be ourselves. If sisters are engaging in self-destructive, mulish behavior, I'm the first to say so. But I'm also the first to point out how simply spectacular most of us, and I always will be. Let's not forget the former even in the face of the latter.