Black women in America stand at the crossroads of one of the most monumental decisions they will ever make in their lives. And this decision is as to whether they will expand their horizons on the inclusion of non-black men into their lives as husbands, confidants and lifelong companions.
For so long, black women have been the bearers, nurturers, protectors and saviours of black men and boys. We have stood by black men with a loyalty that is the envy of the world.
No one can love like a black woman.
No one can be as faithful as a black woman.
No one can be as protective as a black woman.
No one can forgive like a black woman.
But, with the numbers rising in the marriage rate of black men marrying out; with many black men losing their lives to homicide; with many black men being incarcerated in alarming numbers in jails and prisons; with many black women graduating in record numbers from institutions of higher learning and with less and less black men attending colleges; with the numerical numbers between the sexes approaching a ratio of 8 black men for every 10 black women (according to the 2000 Census, there is approximately 16,581,00 black men in America, and 18,927,000 black women in America). Close to 3 million black women will never marry a black man. This does not include the black women in an evened out scenario [say, 16,ooo,ooo black men and 16,000,000 black women] with many black women still not being able to find a suitable marriageable partner, especially if you factor in black men who are homosexual, black men who are unemployed, black men who have sporadic, poor or non-existent work histories which do not enable them to support a wife and children), and black men who are not interested in marriage. Black women have to make a decision that will affect whether or not they will have a husband. And black women will have to consider that their need to look outside of their race may well include the inclusion of non-black men in their lives. In dating and in marriage.
And that will involve reconsidering their outlook on white men especially. In America because of the large population of white men in America, there are at least 7 white men to every 1 black woman. Add also to that, there are approximately 2-3 Latino men for every black woman. Also, cultural barriers will have to be taken into consideration if the non-black man is a first generation Latino or Asian, or even if he is a second generation/native-born American. But, since there are more white men in America, now, than men of other races, white men as a majority would be the pool of men that black women would be able to consider choosing a compatible, suitable marriageable mate from for a black woman’s life and for any children she would desire to have.
But, first, and foremost, black women must confront the demons of our past history in America at the hands of white men’s mistreatment of our foremothers.
During slavery, when we had our first experiences of sexual intimacy and pregnancy forced on us either by the white slavemaster, or, by the black slave chosen by him to mate with us, we knew then that the sanctity and dignity of womanhood was cruelly denied us because it was to be so decreed by white America.
With the abolition of slavery came not the end of the horrific subjugation of black women. Instead, it continued unabated for almost another 100 years with the institution of Jim Crow segregation. White men who had seen firsthand the ravaging effects of the destructive devaluation of black womanhood, had a chance to stop the continued mistreatment of black women and girls. They had a chance to say:
“Look, men, these black women are women and human beings just like the women of out race. Let us be men and treat them kindly. No more shall we sexually abuse them anymore. Starting this day, we shall be the men to them in that way that all men should be towards all women: kind, humane, loving, respectful and protectors of their virtue and honor.”
But, it was not to be so. The pillaging of black women’s honor and chastity continued for almost another century, well up into the 1970s. And this continued mistreatment of black women left a bitter legacy of fear, terror and distrust of black women towards white men.
The devaluation of black women and girls, with laws enacted under Jim Crow segregation, were the most vile and hated insults that could have ever been done to any one race of women.
Laws which forbade the intermarriage of black and white; the denial of the title “Miss” or “Mrs.” to any black woman; the socially sanctioned taboos against any respectable social mixing between black women and white men, unless it was done under cover of the night; the refusal of letting black women customers try on clothing in stores before making a purchase; the assigning of single toilets for both sexes of the black race, as opposed to separate toilets for whites; and most cruel of all, was the creation of the myth of the bad black woman.
This myth was created during slavery, and upheld and enshrined into tradition throughout the segregated American South, that black women were made to personify sexual freedom and abandon. Thus, the myth was created that all black women were eager for sexual exploits, completely “loose” in their moral character, animalistic, and hyper-sexualized, deserving of none of the consideration, respect and kindness that white women were granted. Thus, every black woman in America, was by definiton, a slut according to this racist mythology, therefore, to rape, batter, abuse, break her jaws and bones, to destroy her in body and spirit, carried with it none of the community and legal sanctions that was accorded white women under the law.
Thus, a black woman was deemed, unrapeable.
Because of this continued devaluation of black women by white men, the legacy of this mythological lie was to be detrimental to black women in so many ways on so many levels. Even unto this day, black women are still looked upon as less than women, as less than being in need of having doors opened for us, as less than in need of having a shoulder to cry on, as less than in need of emotional support and succor, treated as if we have no human feelings, hearts, spirits or minds.
In essence, we have been treated as the mules of the world.
But, black women during segregation did not sit back and take this hateful assault against their honor without putting up a fight. Many black women championed the honor, the tenacity, the resilience and fortitude that was indomitable in the strivings of black women. Many black women fought constantly against the practices of these assaults upon black women’s dignity, and many black women fought against this myth which sought to tear down black women, and throw them and their honor and integrity into the gutter. Many black women fought to raise black women up, and keep them out of the gutter that white America sought so hard to put and keep black women in.
Anna Julia Cooper
Mary Church Terrell
Fannie Barrier Williams
To name just a few.
And the many unsung and unknown black women who through grassroots efforts fought against all the malicious lies and slander that attacked the morals and integrity of black women.
Many people out there are not championing the happiness of black women.
If anything, we are under constant attack.
Today, in 2007 America, black women are still considered as less than women in America. We are vilified in videos as “bitches” and “hos”. But, we all know that we are women worthy of human kindness, respect and adoration. We know that we are women who have overcome some of the most cruelest atrocities ever committed against one race of women.
But, we also know that we live with the many odds against us finding a suitable mate for life which have seriously curtailed the chance for happiness that so many of us seek. Called “gold-diggers” by the some of the men of our own race because we seek to better our station in life, many black women are finding themselves in a dire quandry: “If there are some black men out there who are not in our corner, then what is life to be for us? With so many black men being incarcerated, destroyed by homicide, drugs and AIDS, where will we find the husbands we so desire if the odds against us finding a compatible mate are getting slimmer and slimmer as the years go by? Can we trust the intentions of white men and non-black men of other races?
“Who will love, honor and cherish us if not black men.”
Many black women still love and adore black men. But, just as there are many black women who still will protect to the end the lives of black men, both in and outside of their family, on the other hand, there are some black men who have abandoned black women to the wolves of the world.
Yes, there are still many black men who truly love black women, and who show it in many ways and by committing the ultimate act of love a man can show a woman: by committing himself to her in marriage.
But, still the overwhelming numbers show that there will still be many black women who will not have a Black Prince enter into their lives.
I also know many black women cannot let go of the brutal history of white men’s mistreatment of black women in America, but, this is a different day and age, unlike the one our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers lived in. We live in a world where black women can have the best of everything and it behooves us to take all that life can offer us.
I believe that is what our black female ancestors would want for us to do.
And, I believe our black female ancestors would say to us the following, because of their profound love for us:
“Beautiful black daughters, it is okay to let go of the past. We suffered much during our time, but, we never gave up hope. It is okay to be happy. It is alright to let a man who loves you into your life. Whether that man be black, white, or any other race.
Be happy. Be productive. Never let idle time occupy your thoughts. Always be about doing that which is positive and uplifting in your life. Allow joy into your lives no matter what color it comes in.
“Let that be your gift to us.
“A life well-lived.”
I truly believe that is what our black foremothers would so earnestly want for us if they were able to speak to us.
I guess you could say I practice ‘ancestor worship.’ I guess I do. I owe them, all the black people who came before me, a debt I can never repay, and as a testament to their honor, I will do my best to make them proud of me, especially when that means being happy and content with my life.
Considering all the suffering they encountered in THEIR lives, who am I to lay down and give up when they had faced so many adversities that would boggle the mind? Considering all the many dreams, hopes and aspirations they had, dashed against the rocks of race prejudice that many of them never were able to fulfill, I owe them a life well-lived; a remarkable life.
Women who defied the most adverse of horrendous odds leveled against them.
Women who hid strangers from the lynch mob.
Women who wiped spit from the faces of children beset upon by white mobs during the civil rights sit-ins and freedom marches.
Women who bandaged the broken, torn, dog-bitten hands of children who marched and stood against the Bull Connors of Alabama.
Women who visited the civil rights protestors in jails. The civil rights workers imprisoned who were arrested, beaten and tortured all for the fight for the most basic of human rights.
Women who held death in their hands and lived the belief that all life was precious.
Women who lived under the constant threat of evil in all its most vicious manifestations: the constant threat of starvation, separate but equal sub-standard education; the constant assaults to break the human spirit; the constant threat of rape; the constant unwavering belief in God during the most heartless of persecutions.
Black women whose patience made Job’s look like restlessness.
Elegance when all around was shabby.
I owe them no less.
I know you may think that as black women you are like Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down again, but, believe me when I say this, we black women have survived so many seemingly insurmountable odds. We have survived so many assaults upon our character, our morals, our integrity.
We have survived.
And we will survive this dearth in eligible and marriageable mates. We must. But, we must be ready, receptive, and open to the love that can come into our lives. Love that may be in the package that we least expect it to come in. We must seek to thrive.
God has always loved us, and He has always wanted the very best for us, through all the sorrows and tribulations, through all the joys and triumphs.
If a man comes into your life, be he black, white, Latino, Asian, or whatever, and that man is kind, loving, and supportive, take him into your life completely. Let not his color or race be an impediment in accepting his love for you.
Yes, the cruelty of white men of slavery and Jim Crow segregation left a wedge driven between black women and white men. But, my sisters, know this.
This is the year 2007.
Not 1860 Alabama. Not 1903 Georgia. Not 1950 Texas. Not 1965 Missisippi.
This is the America that is seven years into the New Millenium.
No more are white men brutalizing black women as white men did in the days of slavery and segregation.
The PAST legacy of white men of slavery and segregation is their legacy.
How the white men of TODAY treat black women will speak to generations to come and will be their legacy.
But, only if we “see” those men when they approach us. Only when we look up with our minds, as well as with our eyes, that a man who truly loves a woman when he approaches her in respect, then we must give that man, whatever his race, a chance. No longer should we rwrite off non-black men of today—white, yellow, red, or brown—because of the hurtful degredations committed against our foremothers. They would not want us to repay hate with hate, fear with fear. They would not want for us to turn a man away just because of the color of his skin. We owe ourselves happiness that all other women have and if it comes in the form of a non-black man, then so be it.
Better to have now the love of a man who may be of another race, than to be all alone and with no love, companionship or support of no man.
And black women have more than earned the right to joy, fulfillment and contentment that was for so long denied many of our female ancestors.
Let our testament to them be that we will truly live the life abundant. That we will deny ourselves nothing, nor keep out anyone in our lives who has our best interests at heart.
That we will see the man inside, not the color outside.
That we will find love when it presents itself to us.
That we will be loved and cherished.
We owe ourselves nothing less.
posted by Ann