The Implosion of the Black Family (3/3)

Self-Hate: Putting Down Black Women (or Men) Isn’t Cool

“The black woman is the most disrespected woman in America”.

-Civil rights leader Malcolm X  

Malcolm X said it and Kevin Hart proved it. Lil Wayne proved it. Kodak Black proved it. Gilbert Arenas proved it. Tommy Sotomayor proved it. The worst thing about it all isn’t that Malcolm X’s words proved to be tragically timeless or that I was able to name most of these people off the top of my head. The worst thing about it is that all of these are the names of black men. As a minorities in America, we can’t necessarily bet on White America accepting us with open arms, but we without a doubt should be able to be confident enough that we, Black Americans, as the 13% of the U.S. population that we make up, can count on each other for unity and acceptance. We can’t talk about the black family without discussing black love and black marriage. Marriage is the foundation of the family and a black woman makes up 50% that foundation. How can we talk about fueling black power and black progress and black pride and black unity when every other month there’s another black man coming out to proclaim his distaste for his other half? There is no black family without the black woman.

How what a beautiful little black girl does sees when she looks in the mirror change after she hears Gilbert Arenas explain that dark skinned women aren’t beautiful? How does what a little black boy thinks of the little girls in his class change after he sees comedian Kevin Hart make dark skinned women the butt of his joke on Twitter about credit? Black American’s have had the largest increase in marrying outside of our race when compared to all other ethnicities; a jump from 5% to 18% since 1980 according to Pew Research.  Are we even setting up the next generation to produce black families?

Black Women aren’t only the victims of this trend. As a young black female, I couldn’t count how many nonsensical ways I’ve heard black women justify why they “don’t like black guys” with mundane and hollow reasons like, “ I grew up around white guys”,  and, “it’s what I’m used to”. In 2015, artist Azealia Banks ignorantly explained to the whole world why she doesn’t date black me. Listening to them, sometimes I wonder to myself, don’t they know? There is no black family without the black man. A strikingly relevant line by artist Rhapsody from one of my favorite Kendrick Lamar songs entitled ‘Complexion’, goes like this: Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters Queens. Yes, black lives matter, but black love matters too.

Self-Love and the Vision for the Next Generation

“What does liberation for black people really mean? Does it mean white people suddenly decide to like us? … I don’t care about that… I want us to love each other. I want us to build a community that is economically vibrant and viable. I want to see us educate our own children, I want to see us support our own businesses.”  

-Professor, author and scholar Boyce Watkins

This is The Vision. This is what Black America could look like if we didn’t stop with being “woke” but instead, woke up then resisted as well. Resist the statistics that say our black children are destined for a lifetime of teenage pregnancies and out of wedlock births and crime and substance abuse and mountains of debt. Resist the calculated image of ignorance the media paints for black people every day. Resist the brainwashing messages telling little black girls that their skin is too dark and little black boys that they’re destined to become thugs and gang members. Instead, tell him that the blood in his veins is as precious as the gold lodged in the ground beneath the sands of Africa. Make sure your daughter knows that her skin is more perfect than black diamonds and her smile more stunning than pearls. Self-love starts in the home.

There’s this beautiful YouTube channel I’ve found myself addicted to in the last few weeks. It’s called Beleaf in Fatherhood and it’s a vlogging/documentary channel featuring a gorgeous black family of two loving doting parents and their young sons Theo and Uriah. The video that really got me hooked was one entitled “Father Does Baby Dreadlocks”. On the surface, it’s just some adorable father-son bonding time. It’s one of those videos that you just can’t watch without smiling and maybe even catching a brief bout of baby fever. And don’t get me wrong; the cuteness is a big draw, but there’s much more to it than that. I mean it wasn’t the cuteness of the video that kept me coming back. It’s what the father was instilling in his son that got me addicted to the channel. There’s this mantra he has his little boy (who can’t be more than 2 years old) repeat and it is so incredibly powerful. The four simple statements are: I am strong. God loves me. Black is beautiful. I am a leader.

I am not an emotional person but watching this video for the first time nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. This is a glimpse of the vision I have for my family one day. The intentionality of the present moment is what builds black families and sets the stage for black progress and power.

I imagine what it will be like to take on the responsibility of raising my own black family. I dream of the encouragement I can give my children thought the day whether notes on napkin tucked away in their lunch boxes or whispering in their ear as I tuck them in at night that I hope they dream dreams fueled by imagination as vast as the Grand Canyon. I plan on taking my job as a member of a black family, and role as a black mother so seriously I may just be tempted to waltz out of the hospital with my newborn, hold him up high under the watching stars of the night sky and yell “Behold! The only thing greater than yourself!” You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Just wait.

 

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