This blog is a bit of a delicate one and because I am not an African American woman its takes on added difficulty. I have been constantly wrestling with the fine line between political correctness and the raw truth. So here we go, but as usual I do some research asking questions from my female family and friends before attempting to explain the phenomenon that only a woman can feel, so bear with me. I will use the strength of my African American mother to see me through.
Too strong is what is what I see when I hear a single mother complain about having to be a father figure to her son. Too strong is what I feel when I see her wake up to put food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads without anyone’s help. Too strong is the song I hear when the 5am alarm goes off signaling the start of a new day to take on all the responsibility without a tender hug from a spouse to make things just a little bit better. Too strong is the cry that screams out in frustration at the lack of a suitable male mate from her race.
I think we get the picture… the African American woman through no fault of her own has had to be the back bone and all the other bones in the African American family. For that sacrifice, she deserves all the praise and thanks we can muster. The natural questions now are asked. Why is the African American man letting the African American woman down? Is he so heartless that he would not even pity his mothers, sisters and even daughters? What phenomena has occurred to make the relationship between man and woman at the most primal level drastically different from their ancestors of only 400 years ago? Why is the African man so culturally different from the African American man? Why are there so many more African American women in college than their male counterparts?
These questions are too complex to handle in a simple blog; however, we can imagine that the systematic multigenerational racism should have something to do with it. The African American male has been under attack since he arrived in the new world. From slavery to practices like ‘buck-breaking’ to the terrorizing Jim crow era lynching’s to today’s mass incarceration, the African American male has taken the brunt of the brute force aimed at his people. If you can emasculate the males the females will also lose hope was the sad reality of the tactics employed by the slave masters.
As I am half African I know how much I stand on the efforts of my fore fathers and their achievements. Their legacy is my legacy and because of that even my grad children will never be poor. Thus, I will always have an undying confidence based on the success of my family and in me being capable of leading my family for another generation. Leading until my Son … Jah willing… will take over from me with what I have left for him. Without the foundation to stand on, being greater than my efforts will not be possible and I can see how hard it would be to be a man to my mate and children. Without the tools to succeed like strong family values and mentors, multigenerational economic base, business acumen and a solid education… I really don’t stand a chance.
The women over the years of fending for the family, making up for the absence of the man who is under constant attack, become hardened and even ‘super women’. Having to be strong externally while longing to be taken care of internally. Many I see give up on the classical idea of family and traditional gender roles. Some tell me its not because they don’t want to be home to raise their kids or keep their homes or take care of their husbands, but they have no choice. Even those with spouses often find themselves being too strong to be the women they wish they could be. An ex-girlfriend of mine has never had a male figure in her life in the sense of a live-in father, husband or pro-longed live in boyfriend and we both joke that she could never now that she is over 40. Where does she start she often says? She has NEVER lived with a man.
In order to be with this ex-girlfriend, this strong African American woman expects me to be way ‘stronger’ than her. After all I’m a man. The issues arise because she really has no experience of living with a man after 40 years. In her being she has had to take on both roles raising her children, so when I come around there is always this feel out period of what’s my manly duty and when am I stepping on her man toes. I learned to just shut the hell up…it was safer…lol. So how much stronger do I have to be than a ‘super woman’ to be a ‘man’. To many its unrealistic… we men simply can’t compete with the ‘super woman’ so we digress, disappear or she learns to live with our major flaws because she knows we are under constant attack.
Is this absolute truth for everybody? … of course not, but many will identify with the Too strong women we have relied on for our very survival? And if you’re like me, you thank Jah for the woman’s strength every day. Love your grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, be tender, caring and sensitive to their needs … learn to lead with clarity, feed with love and provide security like a rock quiet and unmovable and she will ALLOW you to be the man she knows you can be…. once she trusts you.
Stay blessed & stay strong ladies ...thank you.