Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hating Black women

I recently came across a book written by a self-described “touring stand-up comedian, day trader, filmmaker and lecturer” named Rajen Persaud. The book is entitled “Why Black Men Love White Women.” I found the book’s title startling, primarily because it explicitly acknowledged a fact of which many in the black community are acutely aware, but that is rarely openly discussed: that black men love white women. Not only do individual black men love individual white women, but the collective Black Man loves collective White Womanhood. Accordingly, it was not the assertion that black men love white women that in and of itself startled me; it was the fact that a black man was openly and unreservedly admitting as much.

While many black men actively express love, admiration, and desire for white women, that loving white women is an inherent part of black manhood in the West is not something that black men like to openly admit. Their adoration of white women is an uncomfortable fact for many black men to face, since this love seems to play neatly into stereotypes about uncontrollable “animal” lust for white flesh that black people, especially black women, have actively campaigned against. Lynching, Black Codes, Jim Crow: all were strongly premised on the stereotype that black men want white women so badly that unless severely restrained, they will force themselves on any and every white woman they come across. Additionally, and perhaps more significantly, black men are deeply uncomfortable with the conundrum presented by loving the daughter, the sister, the very womb that produces their declared enemy. Even Mr. Persaud seems incapable of facing the centrality of this latter issue, since, despite his refreshing candor in titling his book, its gravamen has as much to do with hatred for black women as it does love for white women. As a sampling of his chapter headings suggest (“Soiled”; “Media: Hollywood, Phillis, and Halle”; “Black Women are Gold Diggers”; “Sisters Have an Attitude”), facing the significance and practical implications of their love of whiteness is difficult for many black men. Instead, these emotions are channeled into loathing of black women, which is justified by cataloging black women’s myriad “shortcomings.” This allows black men to claim to be proud and self-loving, while simultaneously adoring and esteeming all things white.

Mr. Persaud begins his book with the contention that any exploration of black male love for white women must begin “with the white man.” This is a common-place tactic; it is difficult for black men in the West to begin any discussion or critical analysis of any issue without circling back to white men, especially if the resulting discourse will be less than flattering to black men. It is not that white supremacy is irrelevant to the Mr. Persaud’s analysis; it is that such a focus provides little insight into why black men have so passionately and heedlessly embraced this particular element of white supremacist ideology. This vagueness is reminiscent of Betty Friedan’s “problem that has no name.” Except this problem does have a name: racio-misogyny, i.e., hatred of black women. It is simply a name that black men refuse to face or speak aloud.

Whether denominated as racio-misogyny or not, the root of black male hatred of black women (and the fruit of their wombs, black children), is the conceptualization of women as objects. Objects have relative value, and in the hierarchy of feminine objects in the West, the value of black women is low. As Mr. Persaud puts it, black women are “soiled,” stigmatized by a history of oppression and exploitation as used, valueless goods. When black men look at black women and children, they see the shame of emasculation, of inadequacy, of the inability to protect and provide. And rather than being enraged and inspired by this experience of being unmanned to fight for their dependents, black men seek to escape them, and the pain of feeling like less than men. Instead of confronting white men (which would be dangerous and possibly lethal,) they focus their frustration on the defenseless that no one will defend.

White women, on the other hand, have the highest value as objects. To men who feel like nothing, a white or white-skinned woman is a tangible accomplishment; a thing that they can point to which immediately frees them from the burden of blackness. In the words of Frantz Fanon “By loving me she [his white woman] proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man. I am a white man. I marry the culture, white beauty, white whiteness. When my restless hands caress those white breasts, they grasp white civilization and dignity and make them mine.” (Emphasis added). White women are the prize, and black men are eagerly claiming that prize after the exhausting struggles for manumission and Civil Rights. They may not have gained real access to equal work, equal pay, equal wealth or equal opportunity; but black men have gained access to the bodies of white women. In the face of so many losses, possessing a white or non-black woman feels like a sufficient win for many black men. Thus, black men embrace the pornified Big Black Brute role that at least grants them psychological dominion over women in search of titillation and sexual adventurism--all while the “community” languishes, and, ironically, black boys and young black men pay the greatest price for the neglect and escapism of their fathers.

But racio-misogyny does not only ensnare and victimize black men. It also controls the hearts and minds of the “loyal opposition,” i.e., brainwashed black women, who play a crucial role in enforcing the “community’s” Anti-Black Woman agenda. It is black women who actively degrade and insult dark-skinned black women while treating light-skinned women with almost worshipful admiration (go to any black “entertainment” website to see examples of the mocking belittlement that the Williams Sisters, Naomi Campbell, Tamika Raymond, Foxy Brown, etc. are subjected to, vs. the unquestioning adoration reserved for Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, or the latest “exotic” video vixen/“jumpoff”). It is black women who attack and demean black women who seek child support and active fathering for their children as “gold diggers” and evil nags. It is black women who denigrate unwed black mothers for their OOW childbearing, as if such women conceive through the process of Immaculate Conception. It is black women who attack black women who date/marry interracially, while defending the interracial mating prerogatives of black men Thus, we witness the sad and bizarre spectacle of black women (most of whom are not and never will be married), living vicariously through morally questionable white women like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kendra Baskett, Nicole “Coco” Austin, and Vanessa Bryant, based solely on these women’s relationships with black men. Black women can even be seen taking sides in the disputes manufactured by the celebrity media between these women, excitedly proclaiming themselves “Team Rihanna” or “Team Kim.” Just as DBRBM long for white and “exotic” women to fill the void within, mulish black women long for the love of black men, even if the only way they can experience it is to fantasize themselves in the real-life positions of the non-black women that these men actually want. How else to explain the predominately black female audiences for VH1 “reality” dating programs such as “For the Love of Ray J,” “A Real Chance at Love,” the “T.O. Show,” “Ochocinco: the Ultimate Catch,” etc., in which black women watch black men romance dozens of mostly non-black/biracial women, while the audience chooses their “favorites” among the female contestants to cheer on--in a competition in which no one who looks like the audience members, no matter how beautiful, would ever be chosen to compete?

It is black women above all who are the most entrenched and active promoters of the “Black Love Paradigm,” which both esteems any and all relationships between black men and women (regardless of the quality or functionality of said relationships) above all others, and contends in the face of all objective evidence that there are multitudes of worthy, functional, black-women loving black men ready and eager to marry black women, father black children, and provide for black families. This belief is the dearly held meme of the mule crowd, the lifeforce that sustains them, and the only way it can persist in the face of reality is for the true believers to continue a sustained assault on any and everything about other black women, from their hair to their complexions to their figures to their very characters. At the root of all of this denigration is the need to bolster and justify black men, no matter what they do. Mules understand instinctively that the only way that the conduct of black men vis-à-vis black women, children and the precious “community” can be legitimized is if black women are utterly demonized. And like loyal mammies, they reflexively cradle black men to their bosoms, while simultaneously undermining other black women at every turn, understanding implicitly that this is what they must do if black men are to reclaim their tattered and prized “masculinity.”

It is absolutely crucial for black women who want the healthy, happy lives that they deserve to recognize that the very foundation of the currently formulated black community is constructed around the devaluation of black women and children. It is no more and no less. Loyalty to this community requires disloyalty to your own well-being and your very survival as black women. This is not simply a matter of who you date or marry, though one’s choice of mate is a crucial factor in the ability to escape this quagmire. The same caution and discretion must be exercised in one’s choice of friends, acquaintances, neighbors, business and professional colleagues, and even those members of your family who you choose to include in your life. Detaching from this dysfunctional, pathological community must be job one!

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