Sunday, May 08, 2005
“As you worship plantain, remember to worship banana as well.” African Proverb
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
(A Mother's Love Determines How!)
A mother's love determines how
we love others and ourselves.
There is no sky we'll ever see
not lit by that first love.
Stripped of love, the universe
would drive us mad with pain;
but we are born into a world
that greets our cries with joy.
How much I owe you for the kiss
that told me who I was!
The greatest gift--a love of life--
The Enemy at the Gate!
Like most black male urbanites, I need three things: food, shelter and a damn good woman. So, as I made my weekly sojourn to the grocery store, I topped by the magazine aisle to stock up on my monthly reading staples: Essence, Black Enterprise and Ebony. As usual, I did my illegal reading of Jet magazine, which means, I read the whole thing from cover to cover without paying for it. As I drooled over the latest issue of Essence, I noticed the tagline at the top of the magazine: ‘Forget Mr.Right! Create Your Own Wealth’. Nothing unusual, I thought, just the usual rhetoric about sister’s who don’t need a man, which has become commonplace in Essence. However, as I picked up my Cosmo in the white girls section, I noticed that most of their articles had a common thread about how to get a man. They all had taglines such as ‘Find your Sexual Soul Mate’, ‘Date like A Pro’, ‘Build That Relationship’ and ‘Find Him, Marry Him!’ As I looked back at my Essence with three physically, handsome men on the cover that would make any sane sister’ think about settling down, I was curious to know why Essence would go left, instead of right. Hmmm.
Why are sister’s so geared towards accepting the fact that they may always be single? Is this an unfortunate situation that they have been accustomed to? The last ten years have left black woman with “I can and will live life without a man”, tattooed across there foreheads. So, I ask myself this question: are the gatekeepers of the media finally force-feeding sister’s the “single till’ I die” mentality that they have been whooping and hollering about all these years? Singledom is an accepted practice among most blackurban professionals. A recent and interesting conversation with a mixedcrowd of friends revealed some unpleasant truths. Some of us have settled in our minds that we are probably going to be single for the majority of our adult lives, while most of us are knee-deep in the dating game. Sisters are doing the multiple dating things, sometimes all in one day. It’s not unusual for one of my sister friends to hook up with one brother’ for coffee in the morning, another for a quick bit of lunch and then yet another for dinner and dancing later on that night. And, lest we forget, the brother’s are matching sister’s date for date. They are just trying to spend as little money as possible in exchange for some company. This serial dating is supposed to be the in-thing for modern young urbanites. Marriage or even a steady, monogamous relationship is just an afterthought. The media portrays today’s black woman as confident, sassy, independent and most importantly, in no need of a man to run our show. Look at the movies geared towards us. Waiting to Exhale. How Stella got her Groove Back. Two Can Play That Game. All movies that scream, “this is how a ‘real’ black woman should be”. The images of these types of women, who relish the thought of either getting rid of that damn Negro or having a relationship that has absolutely nothing to do with getting married are becoming too commonplace for comfort. Even movies geared towards black couples and families are following this trend.
Take The Best Man, for example. Nia Long’s character, educated, smart and
beautiful, is ridiculed for being too strong in her career, too independent
for any man and eventually she ends up alone at the end of the movie. All
this happens while some ditz with no career rides into the sunset with a
fine football player and a couple of million dollars and another ditz with
too many careers gets a marriage proposal. Let’s look at Soul Food. The
successful, beautiful lawyer played by Vanessa Williams ends up lonely and
divorced while her ex-husband goes off to find a successful music career and the docile, submissive and crafty wife played by Vivica Fox keeps the whole family together. Huh? Isn’t the strong black woman supposed to have it all?
Where is her somewhere over the rainbow? Where is her damn marriage proposal? Where is her knight in shining black armor? Well, one strongblack woman did get her marriage proposal. In The Brothers, Shemar Moore’s character almost made it to the altar, despite the protests of his boys. However, after getting a serious case of cold feet and selective amnesia when he forgot to tell his bride-to-be the change in plans, we see a beautiful, successful black woman turn into a hysterical, gun-toting, neck rotating psycho bitch. Now, let’s take a look at the movies geared towards white women. The Wedding Planner. Sweet November. What Women Want. All movies with strong, independent white women. All are movies that explore relationships with white women. However, I noticed one startling difference between these and movies for black women. All these independent women, even the one that is dying in Sweet November, end up getting them a man. No matter how the character was portrayed, the end result was to show that life just isn’t worth living without the right guy. Interesting, isn’t it? Even music pushes us away from cohabitation with a man. Who was hired to write, produce and perform the sassy title track for Charlie’s Angels last year? Dream? Enya? Celine Dion? No, they picked Destiny’s Child, whose audience, although white, includes a majority if young, black impressionable females, to loudly proclaim their independence from any man, for any thing they need.
The gatekeepers of the media are not people that look like us. Face the facts, the entire entertainment industry is run by old white men. Look at Clive Davis, for God’s sake. He is older then dirt and still turns out black artists. At the end of the day, all these record labels, artists, producers, writers, television executives and publishing houses are owned by the same people and they all look alike. So, if the gatekeepers of the media are allowing and encouraging these types of images to filter into the black community and we buy into it, are we subconsciously helping to justify the lack of strong, loving black relationships?
Dazzling black male urbanites are at a crossroads in our personal lives. We want to settle down, but we can’t find someone who doesn’t make us physically nauseous after six months. We want to find a mate, but we are so scared of losing our independence in the relationship, that we wear our on our shoulders. We want to find love, but we have so many strings and bylaws, rules and regulations, on what our idea of a relationship should be that the love becomes a distant afterthought. Black women and black men, we have to ask the question: is this the society we have created for ourselves or have we allowed society to create it for us? How did we get to the point where we began to embrace the media images that sabotage our chances of finding a meaningful relationship? And, in some way, have we helped the gatekeepers of the media by buying into the drama? If the stereotypes are correct, we might as well accept the fact that we may be single for the rest of our natural lives. Those of us that do make an attempt at finding love will only get burned in the process. Those of us who don’t are considered the lucky ones. Of course, there is the argument that it’s all just entertainment and that in real life, black men really do want a black woman who is independent, educated and sassy.
However, in the world of black love, reality doesn’t fall too far from fiction and isn’t it true that art often imitates life?
Lay laughing in your eyes. Because of you my world still has
the soft grace of your smile; and every wind of fortune bears
the scent of your caress.
Posted by Sawaad Amen Ra at 1:27 PM