This is for those who don’t seem to get it:
CHRISTOPHER MAURICE BROWN, AKA CHRIS BROWN WAS WRONG AND SHOULD NOT HAVE HIT ROBYN RIHANNA FENTY, AKA RIHANNA. NO EXCUSES, NO EXPLANATIONS!
That being said, here goes.
As our respective Twitter followers discovered last Friday night, me and Thembi of What Would Thembi Do? got into a discussion surrounding the Chris Brown and Rihanna domestic abuse situation. As I understand the situation, Chris Brown was wrong. There’s no way he should have beat his girlfriend the way he did.
And that’s usually about where I get off on the bandwagon with people.
I get off because generally I go elsewhere with how to address the situation. First for me, I always ask what did the woman do to provoke the man. Yes, by far there are some crazy men like Blair Underwood’s character in “Madea’s Family Reunion” but then there are some men who are henpecked and just snap, or their are other men who seriously have been provoked by the woman beating on them or hitting on them unnecessarily. Usually when I bring up this subject with black women in the blogosphere it somehow causes some of them to go into angry black woman territory.
And as a side note, I have a history of falling out with black women in the blogosphere. Just ask about Christian Progressive Liberal over at Jack and Jill Politics. Had to do a whole blog about that. And believe it or not, we fell out on the same subject of Chris Brown and Rihana.
It seems that when I admit a fault about black men–those who can’t keep their hands to themselves–that the women acted as if, pardon the pun, their shit don’t stink. I’m not at all advocating a black woman who should be docile and quiet, but there are times when black women I think ought not be so provocative.
From hearing younger black women and older black women at my school, black women have been severely hurt and traumatized by the society we live in. They’ve had the double negative of being black and being a woman in a world run by white heterosexual men. You easily hear stories about black female angst however. Take Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” or “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman” or even the famous choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” and not to mention the world famous “The Color Purple.” But often times, those works of art that we in the black community hold near and dear to us elevate black women at the expense of black men.
I remember my mother when I was about nine or ten and watched “The Color Purple” for the first time that my mother was quite clear that she had a problem with their being not one good black man in the entire movie–not even Shug’s daddy who was a preacher because he put her out when she was a young girl. Now, as I got older, I see why the black feminist and womanist movement exist, but this idea that “we don’t need men” is detrimental to the black community and ultimately the black family.
Usually the black trumps the man when they say “we carry your babies for nine months and go through labor. If it wasn’t for us there wouldn’t be you!” and storms out the room.
What kind of asinine thinking is that?
Hell, what’s wrong with saying that we both help in the pro-creation process and that we need each other? I guarantee that if there weren’t any men, women wouldn’t be falling on each other expecting babies to magically appear.
Black women have their own set of issues that, from my point of view, generally some how come around to placing blame on someone. Namely the black male. I’ve never heard an argument here in grad school or undergrad that spoke about the powers that be or anyone else, but generally spoke to how black women have to go it alone with jobs, kids, and other issues and that if the black man stepped up to the plate everything would be alright.
Well, I have news for you sistas: even if more black men stepped up to the plate, we’d still have issues because both genders have their own specific issues that need to be addressed communally and not individually.
#1 First for me is the idea of gender roles. Black women still want to be Miss Independent, but then still want a man to open the door for them and pay for their meals–without questions. I’m all for equal pay in the workplace and that sexual harassment is just abominable, but then attractive women know how to play the game and use their beauty to get what they want.
Let’s just admit it’s a double standard.
Which brings me back to the domestic abuse case surrounding Chris and Rihanna. We easily take on Rihanna as some petite, fragile creature who’s a woman = she can’t defend herself and how dare the big bad and burly Chris Brown hit and such a delicate and beautiful young woman. Well, I wanna know what happened to the women’s empowerment platform? Couldn’t she have knocked him back or scratched him up or something?
And I know the black community had a totally different reaction to the Juanita Bynum and Bishop Charles Weeks III incident. It was much more common to hear on the morning black radio shows of Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey and Ricky Smiley about Juanita Bynum possibly having incited her husband to pushing her to the ground. Seriously, what’s wrong with that image?
In all seriousness, gender roles really are asking one to define what is masculinity and what is femininity. As I’ve discussed concerning the skinny/fitted jeans and metrosexual fashion, those traditional paradigms concerning masculinity are changing and are being challenged. Fact of the matter is that some black women said they’re not attracted to it–I still think it’s code for “he’s too gay” and whatever else that means. By the same token, some women are. What I will say is that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with communally, not by going off somewhere to address it.
#2 Be aware of outside forces. Yes, black women have gotten the shaft, the ROYAL shaft, but I beg the sistas to be aware that so have the men. While women have the gender privilege of always going off, and voicing their opinion ad infinitum and even being the stereotypical nag, black men have the gender privilege of being quiet and holding it all in. Black men of my dad’s generation and definitely older, can easily count on their one hand the number of times they saw their father’s cry, and still have fingers left. Black men were required to endure just as much as black women were–just different trials.
While black women were forced being raped physically in the antebellum and Jim Crow days of the South, I think it was just as much of an emotional and spiritual rape for black fathers and men to know about it and not be able to do anything–and frankly I don’t know which one was worse or if they should even be compared.
That being said, historically, there’s been tracked pathologies as to the government breaking up the African family, all the way from slavery to at least the 1960s. I mean, in order to receive a public aid check, the black male couldn’t be caught living in the house with the woman. Which means that there was always some kind of cat and mouse game that had to go on with the father whether he could actually live there, sleep there or just come and visit–whatever the case, the black man wasn’t at home like he should have been. And even if he was, it was hard as hell for him to get a job that would easily support his wife and kids. Far as I know, black families have always been double-income families. Don’t know of many black stay-at-home mothers.
I mean, just think in “Good Times” where you had a black man killed by the system and everyone focused on the woman–not saying she didn’t need anything–but it was done so at the expense of the black man: hell he was dead!
So now, when we see the after effects of black men not being in the home, we have this cycle of violence that Thembi appropriately pointed out that must be stopped.
I really don’t have time to go into the details of the crack/cocaine conspiracies, the lack of opportunities, the lack of education, mistrust from the police, the failure of public housing and just how humanity has failed black males to fully give voice to the myriad of concerns surrounding black males. But I will say this, it’s not as simple as it seems.
#3 Be willing to work together. I’ve never heard a black man say that he doesn’t need a woman, but I’ve heard a few black women say “I don’t need a man.” And then black women wonder why some black men are running to white women. Well, why in the hell would I want to get with someone who said she don’t need me?!!?
Commone sense people.
Black women need to understand that we’re on the same team fighting for them; that black men are not the enemy. Stop pushing us away and we’ll stop going to others looking for comfort. It’s true, other races don’t give us as much guff for being men, and moreover for being black men. On a practical basis, again, why would I want to get beat up for being a man? Seriously, I wanted to tell Yvette in “Baby Boy” to “shut the fuck up” in Bernie Mac style (check minute 2:55) a couple of times, despite Jodie being the epitome of an immature black male.
Also, black women need to realise that some times black men marry white women because they actually grew up in white neighborhoods. I have a cousin who went to school in Iowa and he married a white woman–big whoop! I’da been more shocked if he had married a black woman. At the end of the day, they have a marriage that works and they have four kids who are my blood relatives–anyone who sees it as different needs to get their mind checked.
Let black women tell the story over 50% of black men are in interracial relationships. Only 6.6% of black men have married a white woman of the 8.4% of black men total who are in an interracial marriage.
Of the issues that are numerous in the black community, separating the genders isn’t going to address these issues. By telling black men to go off and get their ish together then come back and holla at the sistas is a recipe for disater unparalleled. I guess for me, doing the opposite of what was done to you–the oppressed becoming the oppressor–does nothing but perpetuate a vicious cycle on some phantasmagoric merry-go-round from hell that spins so fast no one can get off.
For interested parties, this was really the timbre of the discussion that spurred from me and @thembithembi from What Would Thembi Do? as we were all watching the 20/20 interview with Dianne Sawyer interviewing Rihanna. Make sure to check out her blog and much love and respect to her.
For my actual take on the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation, that interview didn’t change much of my original take on the situation. To know how I felt check out my earlier posts “Things I Learned From Chris Brown and Rihanna” and “Oh, P.S., On a Final Note…Since I Have The Floor.”
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL