Category — low-negativity diet
NUANCES ASIDE, THE “MAINSTREAM” OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INVOLVES MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN WHICH RESULTS IN INJURIES, MAIMINGS AND DEATHS
There are nuances to the issue of domestic violence. I’ve seen them during my work experiences both as a former prosecutor and defense attorney. An ugly truth about many of these situations is that I’ve watched many women use allegations of domestic violence (as well as sexual abuse of the children) as “cards” to play during divorce and child support proceedings.
I’ve also watched many genuinely battered and abused women (some of whom were my clients) play games with the Orders of Protection that they get. They call the police to enforce the Order, and have the abusive man arrested, when they’re angry with the abusive man for a reason other than the abuse (cheating, and so on). And then they invite the abusive man back into their home (in violation of the protective order) when they’re feeling lovey-dovey again.
Seeing all of this at work has made me leery of trying to help such women. Truth be told, they have hardened my heart about this issue.
However, none of this negates the reality that the “mainstream” of domestic violence consists of male violence against women which results in injuries, maimings, and fatalities. The vast majority of seriously injured, maimed, and murdered domestic violence victims are women who were killed by men. Also, most physically mature males are physically much stronger than most physically mature females. So, with rare exceptions, there’s no real physical danger to a man in any weaponless confrontation with the vast majority of women. The man is physically stronger and can get away from most women. Women with the kick-buttocks physical abilities of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are rare, indeed.
Whatever nuances exist don’t erase the above realities. Because of our historical experiences of suffering racist court system atrocities such as the Scottsboro case, lynchings and other horrors, the African-American collective functions as a support network for accused Black male criminals. But we take this knee-jerk support of Black male criminals several extra steps when it comes to Black males accused of harming Black women and girls.
THERE’S A WIDESPREAD SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICANS THAT SUPPORTS DOMESTICALLY VIOLENT BLACK MEN
When people speak of domestic violence, they usually focus on the people directly involved in domestic violence as perpetrators and victims. However, there’s a permissive social atmosphere that helps makes domestic violence within the context of an intimate relationship such a common event. Things don’t happen in a vacuum; and people tend to avoid behaviors that will cause them to be shunned. Unfortunately, among African-Americans, there’s no social penalty to pay for being a man who beats or rapes women. Nor is there any social penalty among African-Americans for being a Black male pedophile who preys on underage girls.
JUST LIKE THE ARAB WOMEN WHO SUPPORT THE SO-CALLED “HONOR KILLINGS” OF THEIR OWN DAUGHTERS, MOST AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN ARE DANGEROUSLY MALE-IDENTIFIED
It’s not enough for a woman to avoid domestically violent men. It’s best to also avoid allowing dangerously male-identified women into your inner circle. Unfortunately, most African-American women are dangerously male-identified. Too many of us are the same as the Arab, Pakistani, and Afghan women who support so-called “honor killings.” We support violence against other Black women and girls—as long as these attacks are committed by Black men (and not White men).
If I hadn’t already become jaded by working in the court system, I probably would have been amazed by the widespread support given to individuals such as R. Kelly and Chris Brown from the masses of African-Americans. Including, and especially, support from African-American women. I’ve chosen these two individuals as examples because there was corroborating photographic and video evidence in their cases that took the situation outside the realm of being characterized as solely “he said, she said.” In evaluating R. Kelly’s situation, there’s also his observed, long-term behavior pattern with underage girls. [So many of us are so quick to ignore and forget what he did to Aaliyah when she was underage. Starting with her parents, who let all of that go instead of having him arrested.]
I will note that many cases—of all kinds—are decided based on verbal testimony only. Not all crimes leave a physical trail. There are some pedophiles who restrict their sexual assaults to fondling children over their clothes. I’ve represented more than a few pedophiles. From conversations with them, it was clear to me that some of them knew that: First, many people (particularly other African-Americans) will dismiss verbal testimony as “he said, she said.” Second, most African-Americans will try to play defense attorney when they hear accusations of child molestation. And third, many African-American women believe that it is sufficient to break up with a man who propositions or molests their child, as opposed to also calling the police on him.
STOP TRYING TO APPLY COURT RULES TO THE OUTER WORLD
Rules about hearsay evidence and due process only apply to court proceedings. It’s foolish for people to apply the rules of court proceedings to public safety issues. It’s downright crazy for women to apply court rules to matters involving their own safety. It’s crazy to be more worried about being “fair” to a potentially dangerous person than your own safety. Court proceedings have little in common with real life or the outer world. The most important difference is that there’s armed security in court buildings. There is no armed security automatically at hand when you’re walking around in the real world. You’re on your own. The police generally arrive after you’ve been harmed. It would be good to remember that.
A MALE-IDENTIFIED WOMAN WILL GIVE ADVICE THAT CAN GET YOU (OR ANY OTHER WOMAN YOU CARE ABOUT) KILLED
A male-identified woman (even one you consider a friend or relative) is not going to react appropriately if you’re in physical danger from a violent boyfriend or husband. She also won’t react appropriately if your boyfriend of husband rapes or beats you. She’ll ask what you did “to cause him to react that way.” She’ll advise you to “hang on to your man.” She’ll advise you to “fight for and not give up on” your relationship. If you had the common sense to leave the violent man, she’ll advise you to return to him.
In short, a male-identified woman friend might get you killed—especially if you listen to her advice at a vulnerable moment.
TO IDENTIFY A DANGEROUSLY MALE-IDENTIFIED WOMAN—LOOK AT HOW THEY RESPONDED TO THE CRIMINAL CASES INVOLVING CHRIS BROWN AND R. KELLY
I won’t spend much time addressing what’s wrong with these statements. I figure that any woman who’s part of this audience already knows what’s wrong with the mentality behind the following sorts of reactions to these two cases.
About Chris Brown, did they say any of the following types of statements (this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, I’m sure you can list some more male predator-enabling statements you’ve heard from Black women):
(1) I don’t think he “really meant” to do what he did.
(2) We don’t know what he went through with Rihanna.
(3) What if Rihanna threw the first punch.
(4) I can’t judge Chris Brown.
(5) We don’t know what really happened. We can’t just go on photos.
(6) We don’t have all the evidence. [Khadija: This always tickles me. Nobody except God has “all the evidence.” The rest of us mortals go on whatever evidence we have, and the application of common sense. Which is scarce when people are looking to defend their accused-Black-male sacred cows.]
(7) I believe in redemption. [Khadija: Fake-religious African-Americans love this word, “redemption.” How can there be “redemption” when there’s NO sincere acknowledgment of wrongdoing? Not to mention that any redemption is between the predator and God. Redemption has nothing to do with common sense or public safety issues. “Redeemed” or not, it’s not safe to hang around predators.]
(8) I believe in second chances. [If a domestically violent man kills you, you don’t get a second chance.]
About R. Kelly, did they say any of the following types of statements (again, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, I’m sure you can list some more male predator-enabling statements you’ve heard from Black women):
(1) We don’t know what really happened. We can’t just go on videos. Remember Forrest Gump.
(2) We don’t have all the evidence.
(3) I can’t judge R. Kelly.
(4) That girl (in the sex tape video) knew what she was doing; she’s (sexually) experienced. [This statement is shocking. Even for people lacking in human decency like most modern African-Americans. It’s been my observation that many (if not most) of the underage girls who are sexually active with grown men have a personal history of suffering prior molestation. Being sexually molested is how so many of these girls became sexually “experienced” in the first place. So, because a previous pervert was successful in molesting a girl, that makes it okay for a new pervert to molest the same girl? That’s an amazingly evil point of view.]
(5) I believe in redemption.
(6) I believe in second chances. [When your child’s innocence is stolen by a pedophile, there is no second chance to get it back.]
LET THESE SORTS OF STATEMENTS SERVE AS A WARNING TO YOU
Let these sorts of statements serve as a warning to you. Some things are matters of common sense, public safety, and are beyond all reasonable debate. Non-attorneys trying to apply (what they believe are) courtroom evidentiary rules to public safety issues get women killed and children harmed. If you value your own life, you’ll err on the side of common sense and preserving your own safety. And not worry about trying to apply courtroom rules to the outer world (such as hearsay and due process). After years of defense work, let me give you my overall impression of the percentage of guilty people who are in the court system. I’ll put it this way: From what I’ve seen, where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
Instead of considering their own safety, so many African-American women are brainwashed into trying to think like defense lawyers regarding any and all accused Black males. This is a gamble. One that can cost you your life.
If you have female acquaintances who knowingly socialize with, befriend, date and make excuses for men who are accused of being domestically violent, it’s best to purify your social life of these women. Such women will make excuses for a man who beats YOU into the ground.
If you have female acquaintances who knowingly socialize with, befriend, date and make excuses for men who are accused of being sexual predators, it’s best to cleanse your social life of these women. Such women will bring these predators around YOUR children. And they will make excuses for the predators if (actually, when) they proposition or molest your child. These women will also counsel you against calling the police on any sexual predator who attacks your child, especially their boyfriend-nephew-uncle-cousin. These women believe the sexual molestation of children should somehow be handled “in house.” “Handled in house” means ignored. While the sexual predator roams free and goes unpunished.
Keeping male-identified women out of your inner circle can be a matter of life and death. For you and your children.
May 6, 2010 63 Comments
Ever since I woke up from “the Matrix,” I’ve been uneasy whenever I hear African-American women speak variations of the phrases “fighting White hegemony” and “fighting White supremacy.” I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I have had that reaction until I read Evia’s comments during this conversation in the comments section to her recent post at her blog, Black Female Interracial Marriage Ezine.
Well, she explained it all quite clearly during that conversation: That notion of “fighting White hegemony” is deadly, mental poison for African-American women! It’s definitely a Fantasy Island-based, SELF-defeating notion that African-American women need to purge from their minds.
I don’t want to repeat Evia’s comments, but I will highlight a few of the many, many key points that she makes:
White hegemony is currently feeding all African-Americans. To put it bluntly, White people feed all of us. Directly or indirectly. We need to stop “tripping” about that. Very few African-Americans have ever been serious about building the infrastructure needed in order to be a self-sufficient people. Only marginalized groups among us like the Nation of Islam went so far as to actually cultivate farm land, and create grocery stores and restaurants to feed African-Americans.
Nobody except African-American women is sacrificing anything in order to “fight” White hegemony. Including the Black men who flap their lips talking about White hegemony. Many of the Black men talking that stuff are busy dating, sexing and marrying the so-called “evil White man’s” daughters. These men are busy transferring whatever wealth they can accumulate back to the so-called “evil White man” through his daughter. If not the so-called “evil White man’s” daughters, then these Black men talking that stuff are looking to transfer whatever wealth they get to other types of non-Black women.
No other race or ethnic group of women are even worrying about “fighting White hegemony,” except African-American women. When you’re the only one doing something, that’s usually a clue that whatever you’re doing is a bad idea. Other women, including other types of Black women from around the world, are too busy making sure that they (directly or indirectly) get a slice from the current, status quo “White hegemony pie” by marrying whichever man will bring the most to their table. Including qualified White men.
I would suggest that anyone who’s conflicted or confused about the idea of dropping this phrase from their mind consider the following observations I made about activist Black women’s lifestyles during this post.
For Black men, political activism is a vehicle for getting their personal needs met—a source of getting paid and getting laid. Much like the ministry. All on their terms. For example, has Rev. Jesse Jackson ever worked at a job?
Think about the roster of married Black male activists who were promiscuous womanizers such as Dr. King, Elijah Muhammad, and so on. These men had the pleasures of a home life with a wife sitting at home waiting for them, and plentiful sex on the side with female groupies. Think about the single Black male activists who were promiscuous womanizers such the Panthers and others who had a steady, non-stop supply of female groupies they were having sex with. On top of this, Black male activists are typically treated as celebrities and showered with adulation. For Black men, activism is often a vehicle for fulfilling their (financial) safety and belongingness and love needs (intimacy of all sorts, including sexual intimacy).
In short, Black male activists routinely get their personal needs met. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Meanwhile, activism does not provide the same perks for Black women who are working as hard and facing the same pressures and dangers.
ACTIVISM DOES NOT PROVIDE SIMILAR “ROCK STAR” PERKS FOR BLACK WOMEN ACTIVISTS—NOR DOES IT DO ANYTHING TO MEET THEIR BASIC PERSONAL NEEDS
Activism does not provide the same perks for Black women. While it may provide higher-level needs for women, it generally won’t do anything to provide the foundational second and third-level needs.
While keeping the hierarchy of needs in mind, I invite you to do what we rarely do: Consider some of the inner lives of the crusading, activist African-American women that we hold up as Black History Month heroines. If your thinking is similar to mine, you won’t be pleased by much of what you see. I’ll just name a couple of examples. Dorothy Height has never married. Mary McLeod Bethune separated from her husband (who died in 1918). She never remarried, and she passed away in 1955. These women came of age during an era when marriage was the norm for Black women and readily available within the African-American collective. Who, if anybody, did these women come home to for all those decades?
Consider the personal horrors of being married to a Black male activist like Dr. King. He was often away from home. Coretta Scott King was also in great physical danger—and living alone for long stretches of time with their children. She was responsible for holding down the fort, and child care while he was away. If she was faithful in her marriage, that meant she went through long stretches of not having sex while he was away. Meanwhile, Dr. King was having sex with his women on the side. I won’t even mention the female Black Power activists who apparently served as “booty calls” (and worse) for male Black Power activists.
For Black women, activism does not provide the perks it often provides for Black men. No free money. No husband to remain faithful to you while you sleep around with other men. No adoring harem of male groupies. The only woman I can think of that “had it like that” was a White author named Ayn Rand. Apparently for a number of Black women, crusading activism was a dead-end leading to an asexual, ascetic lifestyle. Who wants that, except a nun?
From what I can tell, one of the relatively few “Black History Month Heroines” that appears to have been involved in activism while also making sure to get her personal needs met (the way she wanted) was Lorraine Hansberry. She was a bisexual or lesbian who married (either out of genuine love for her White husband, or to use him as a voluntary or involuntary cover story), while still dating and sleeping with women.
Dorothy Height has passed away (at age 98) since I wrote that post. She never married.
A final note about justice. I can’t think of any group of women that are more justly deserving of abundant life than African-American women. Justice is for more African-American women to start reaping the benefits of all our centuries of hardship and struggle. Right now!
**Reader’s Note** I’m not going to publish comments that: (1) recount yet more damaged Black male horror stories, or (2) seek to analyze damaged Black males and the origins of their damage. I’m trying to wean some of you away from fixating and focusing on damaged Black men. I notice that some of you disrupt conversations at other blogs by dumping news story links to the latest damaged Black man horror story into the discussion. I’m not going to let that happen here.
If I mention something about damaged Black men, it’s explanatory and kept to a minimum. I don’t care about what’s going on in the minds of damaged Black men, or what they’re doing. I’m only interested in what’s going on in African-American women’s minds that blocks them from seeking abundant life. My main point in all the conversations here is on what strategies savvy, self-actualizing African-American women can use to maximize their enjoyment in life. In this post, I’m suggesting that we drop this particular phrase because it’s an obstacle to abundant life for African-American women.
April 28, 2010 98 Comments
Many Black Women Treat Probable Black Male Predators Like Normal People
When watching online interactions, I’m often mystified by watching women repeatedly try to dialogue with Internet Ike Turners™ (a descriptive and handy phrase coined by Gina, blog host of What About Our Daughters) as if they are normal men. I often have to remind myself that other women haven’t had the mass exposure to abusive men that I’ve had while defending them in the court system. Women aren’t catching the warning signals these men are giving off because they don’t recognize them. I worry that women are most likely carrying over this same behavior into their offline lives.
Most Domestically Violent African-American Males Are Not Subtle In Their Hatred of Women
Over the years, I’ve represented hundreds of domestically violent men. [Like many law firms, my firm cynically knows that it sometimes helps to assign women attorneys to defend accused male defendants in domestic battery and rape cases. It can sometimes help these men look somewhat less menacing to jurors.] Unlike wife beaters from other ethnic groups, most of the domestically violent African-American men that I’ve represented are not subtle. They’re not Dr. Jeckylls who suddenly transform into monstrous Mr. Hydes. Most of the African-American male woman beaters that I’ve defended are transparent in their hatred of women. They couldn’t hide their deep hatred of women if they wanted to. Their everyday conversation is enough to give “Stay Away” warning signals to any sensible woman who recognizes these signals, and who’s even halfway paying attention.
Many Black Women Ignore Violent Male Predator Warning Signals
But I see that so many African-American women either don’t recognize these signals, or have trained themselves to overlook them. They continue to interact with these men as if they’re normal people. When women have unnecessary interactions with these males as if they are normal people, they are supporting these men’s statements and behavior. When you try to dialogue with these men as if they’re normal, you are helping to normalize their twisted viewpoints. You’re validating them even when you call yourself disagreeing with them. To even discuss their rantings with them gives them the message that their rantings are worthy of discussion.
Some viewpoints are so far removed from human decency that there is no dialogue to be had about them. Would you debate and dialogue with a child molester about why he feels it’s appropriate to molest children? No, because there’s nothing to discuss about that issue except how to more quickly apprehend such creatures. Well, the same principle applies to abusive males.
Domestically Violent Males Interview and “Screen” Prospective Female Victims
The other thing that I’ve noticed about the domestically violent males I’ve represented is that they are not brave. They generally won’t attack some random, unknown woman. Nor do they attack a woman who has made it clear by her behavior that she would never put up with any of that. The physical, legal, and career risks of attacking such women are too high. Domestically violent men are not trying to end up with boiling water poured on their heads while they sleep. Or a bullet being put in their brains. Or their employment and career prospects destroyed because of a woman seeing their prosecution all the way through. Or some other unpredictable negative reaction from a woman who won’t tolerate abuse.
Before he beats a woman, this type of male tries to confirm that he’s not dealing with the type of woman that might put a bullet in his brain, or pour boiling water on his head while he’s sleeping. They “interview” and test the women they interact with to see how much abuse a particular woman will tolerate. They do this by gradually escalating their controlling and disrespectful behavior. They start with “small,” verbally abusive behaviors and escalate upwards. When you continue to interact with them, you are giving them permission to escalate to the next level of attack. You place yourself in the “Safe to Abuse” category of women for these males when you continue reacting to them as if they’re normal people.
My abusive male clients don’t mistreat every woman they are involved with. They abuse the women who let them abuse them. They abuse the women who continue through the abuse-interview-process.
This is why it is so critical for women to drop and stop interacting with a man at the first hint of controlling, disrespectful behavior. If you keep dealing with him after he’s “shown out,” you have (in his mind) given him permission to continue and escalate that behavior. Once you’ve stuck with him that far through the process, then you really will need a gun and the aid of a SWAT team to get away from him.
But African-American women are often raised (and train themselves) to be naïve when it comes to Black male predators. Black women don’t want to seem rude, or be “unfair,” and various other naïve concerns that take precedence over safety.
[Domestically violent males aren’t the only male predators that “interview” prospective prey. I’ve noticed a similar interview pattern with female clients who have allowed their boyfriends to molest their children. They typically hook up with a series of men who are pedophiles. The pedophiles do a similar “screening” and “interview” process to find women with children who will NOT protect their children from molestation. The harsh reality is that there’s a fairly large pool of women who are more invested into holding onto a relationship than their own children’s safety.]
Nuances Aside, The “Mainstream” of Domestic Violence Involves Male Violence Against Women Which Results in Injuries, Maimings and Deaths
There are nuances to the issue of domestic violence. An unflattering truth about many of these situations is that I’ve watched many women use allegations of domestic violence (as well as sexual abuse of the children) as “cards” to play during divorce and child support proceedings.
I’ve also watched many genuinely battered and abused women (some of whom were my clients) play games with the Orders of Protection that they get. They call the police to enforce the Order, and have the abusive man arrested, when they’re angry with the abusive man for a reason other than the abuse (cheating, and so on). And then they invite the abusive man back into their home (in violation of the protective order) when they’re feeling lovey-dovey again.
Seeing all of this at work has made me leery of trying to help such women. Truth be told, they have hardened my heart about this issue.
However, none of this negates the reality that the “mainstream” of domestic violence consists of male violence against women which results in injuries, maimings, and fatalities. The vast majority of seriously injured, maimed, and murdered domestic violence victims are women who were killed by men. Also, most physically mature males are physically much stronger than most physically mature females. So, with rare exceptions, there’s no real physical danger to a man in any weaponless confrontation with the vast majority of women. The man is physically stronger and can get away from most women. Women with the kick-buttocks physical abilities of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are rare, indeed.
Whatever nuances exist don’t erase the above realities. I’ve also noticed that those Black folks who love to fixate on nuances (Black men who are often woman-beaters themselves, and the Black-male identified Black women who support woman beating) always somehow avoid focusing on other nuances: Such as domestic violence between gay and lesbian partners, domestic violence with elder abuse, and so on. The only nuance they care about is the one that would help deflect responsibility away from violent, woman-beating, woman-maiming, woman-killing males.
In short, a man who makes a (false) equivalence between the prevalence of male domestic violence against women and things like false accusations against men, or female violence against men is probably a woman-beater himself. These sorts of statements and attitudes are warning signals of a domestically violent male.
A Quick Checklist of Some Statements and Attitudes Prevalent Among Domestically Violent African-American Males
So, here’s a quick checklist of the typical statements and attitudes expressed by domestically violent African-American males. This checklist is not meant to be exhaustive, but it represents the “highlights” of the mindset that I’ve heard expressed by most of the domestically violent African-American men that I’ve represented. Some of these statements and attitudes are common among domestically violent men among all races and ethnic groups. Some of them are culturally specific to domestically violent African-American males. [For one example, non-African-American men don’t whine about what men outside their ethnic group won’t “let” them do.]
Some of the following statements and attitudes are more immediately dangerous than others. Some of these statements—by themselves—are highly indicative of a man who beats women. The more of these statements you hear from an African-American male, the more likely it is that he’s somebody who, if given the opportunity, would physically beat you into the ground:
(1) He speaks favorably of “controlling” women. Incidentally, for a man to use openly the phrase of “controlling” women is a very bad signal. Most abusive men that I’ve observed try to soften the language they use to describe abusive behavior toward women.
(2) He speaks favorably—without any real points of repudiation—about groups and cultures that are brutally oppressive to women such as the Taliban, Saudi Arabia, and what he claims are “traditional” African cultures. This is a very bad signal.
[For an example of this, at least in reference to the Taliban, see the comments of an individual calling himself “Visitor” during this recent conversation at What About Our Daughters. *Note: I’m not in any way saying that “Visitor” is a woman-beater. I have no idea what “Visitor” does or does not do in his life. However, several of his statements are useful examples of the warning-signal statements and attitudes on this checklist.
What I found fascinating was that so many women kept talking to this “Visitor” individual as if he was a legitimate conversation participant. Even after his opening comment consisted of deliberately mischaracterizing the message and mission of that particular blog. Multiple women readers kept interacting with this “Visitor” individual. Instead of letting the blog host and another man (Blk SeaGoat) who participated in the conversation deal with him.
Let me also note that it is NOT my intention to try to control or embarass anybody about that incident. People are perfectly free to do whatever they want, and interact with whomever they wish. I apologize in advance for any discomfort I’m inadvertently causing other women by mentioning this particular incident (that motivated me to write this post).
I debated whether to write this post. Ultimately, my concern that women are probably doing this same behavior in real life (at their own risk) outweighed my worries about inadvertently causing discomfort. Through NO fault of their own, many women simply don’t know these warning signs. I’m hoping to spread awareness about them, so that fewer women get hurt. And it’s best to use concrete examples. The “Visitor” individual’s statements provided a good example.]
(3) He is angry about any conversation that does not tie into him, his interests, or African-American males’ interests in general.
(4) He opposes anything you want to do that doesn’t somehow involve him.
(5) With him, you have to “make a case” as to why you should care about any issue that’s affecting you (or other Black women and girls).
(6) He sulks when you mention anything favorable about Black women and girls.
(7) He blames women for his own behavior.
(8) He blames women for men’s behavior in general.
(9) He rewrites history (personal and collective) to make other people (Black women, White men) responsible for his (and other African-American males’) behavior.
(10) He says, “Women won’t let men be men.”
(11) He says women won’t “let” him be a man.
(12) He says, “Women won’t let men be gentlemen.”
(13) He says women won’t “let” him be a gentleman.
(14) He says, “I’m a grown-a** man.” [Thanks to Victor for reminding me of this tell-tale dysfunctional phrase during a conversation at the previous blog.]
(15) No matter what he does to women, he feels that his behavior is justified.
(16) He makes a (false) equivalence between the prevalence of male domestic violence and rape against women and things like false accusations against men, or female violence against men. This is another very bad signal.
(17) He feeds off African-American women’s suffering.
(18) He finds the public denigration of Black women to be funny and harmless humor. He feels that anyone who doesn’t like this is humorless and taking things too seriously.
(19) While sometimes claiming to want to help, he takes pleasure in seeing African-American women suffering. Whatever the type of suffering, he can find a reason why the afflicted Black woman “deserves” it.
(20) While sometimes claiming to want to help, he eagerly presents many “reasons” why suffering is a fitting lifestyle for African-American women.
(21) He feels that he and other men are entitled to assess and critique women’s behavior, but women cannot assess or critique his or other men’s behavior.
(22) He demands that you buy into his version of reality.
(23) He denies your experiences, and tells you that you didn’t hear what you heard or see what you saw.
(24) He’ll use (invented, skewed) statistics to deny your experiences.
(25) He characterizes everything you say as emotional, and everything he says as logical and rational.
(26) He’s uninterested in, and incurious about, anyone’s life experience that does not validate his experiences.
(27) He describes many of the women that he has had relationships with as mentally unbalanced. [It somehow never occurs to him that if this is true, then it reflects poorly on him. If this is true, either he’s deliberately selecting mentally ill women; or mentally ill women are the only women who will deal with him.]
(28) There is no emotional wound of yours (and of other African-American women and girls) that he won’t rip open. Either to score a debate point. Or for pleasure.
This List Is Not Meant To Be Exhaustive
This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. My point is that when you hear a man make several of these sorts of statements, that’s a man that you need to stop interacting with. That’s a man that you need to get away from. Quickly. Normal, nonviolent, loving, and lovable men generally don’t say these sorts of statements, because they don’t hold this cluster of beliefs and attitudes.
April 12, 2010 58 Comments
I’m always mildly annoyed when I hear Black people speak the negativity (and downright verbal poison) of “I don’t understand what Black means.” What’s even worse is that many of us don’t understand that this is poison. Any statement that is anti-self is poison, and a form of negativity to be excluded from one’s mental diet. Rejecting a component of one’s identity is definitely anti-self. It’s similar to voluntarily hacking off one of your fingers. Yes, you’ll still survive and be able to function (more or less). By why do something like that? Why do anything that would hinder your ability to live at an optimal level? African-Americans have been bombarded for so long with a steady diet of poison, that we don’t always recognize it as poison.
PAY ATTENTION TO NUANCES—DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLACK PEOPLE MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS WHEN SAYING THAT THEY “DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT BLACK MEANS”
Another problem is that most African-Americans are tone-deaf, and can’t hear the nuances in various statements. This is one reason why we end up being subservient to, and run over by, most other types of people that we encounter. Most African-Americans have the childish mental habit of assuming that other people, and especially Blacks from other ethnic groups, see the world the same way we do, and think just like us. They don’t. See this conversation at the previous blog that touches on this issue.
When African-Americans make these “I don’t know what Black means” statements they are publicly advertising their general lack of ethnic and racial self-respect. Most African-Americans have no sense of ethnic identity, and only a vague (and negative) sense of racial identity.
When foreign-origin Blacks make these statements they are, at best, neutral statements reflecting normal human patterns of how people set priorities. It’s normal human nature to take care of folks in this order: self, family, clan, ethnic group. With many people in many countries, “nation” isn’t even on that list. For other people, “race” also is not on that list; their concern only extends as far as their own ethnic group. With most people, outsiders are almost never on the “take care of them” list.
Most African-Americans have the “take care of them” list backwards compared to every other group of people. We put outsiders first and put ourselves last. African-American women put themselves dead last on the “must be taken care of” list. Our misleaders have programmed most African-Americans to look to create over-arching coalitions with anybody and everybody else . . . in the absence of taking care of self, family, clan, and finally, ethnic group.
Our misleaders have also programmed us to fixate on being “fairer than fair” to anybody and everybody except ourselves. This is why so many African-Americans will come to Black blogs to fight with other Black people to champion the interests of NON-Blacks (such as the “don’t you dare call me Black” so-called biracials, other so-called “people of color,” and so on). (Note that these other “people of color” generally only use that term to describe themselves when they want something from African-Americans. Many other “people of color,” such as many Latinos and Arabs, are heavily invested in self-identifying as “White” in every other context.)
All the above confused thinking is upside-down and backwards. And it doesn’t work.
A NOTE FOR NON-AFRICAN-AMERICAN READERS
Yes, there are non-African-American Blacks who do the same thing. I just happen to feel that members of my own ethnic group (African-Americans) routinely take this madness to levels that other Black folks generally don’t go in such large numbers—we’re the most infected with this particular strain of insanity. Nobody else thinks like this to this degree. This is why I’m addressing this issue with a focus on African-Americans for this particular conversation.
A NOTE FOR THOSE AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO ARE CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT “AFRICAN-AMERICAN” MEANS
I would define “African-American” as being something parallel to the commonly understood (among themselves) definitions of “Italian-American,” “Irish-American,” “Hausa,” or “Jamaican-American.”
In other words, being the descendants of a group of people that are—distinguishable from others—and connected to each other— by a shared set of historical experiences and cultural norms. When I say “African-Americans” I’m referring to those of us who are, distinguishable from others and connected to each other, by our shared historical experiences as descendants of those Africans who were held in slavery in the United States.
Just like every other ethnic group on the planet is—distinguishable from others—and connected to each other—by some shared set of historical experiences and cultural norms. Why is this concept so mysterious only when describing African-Americans? Answer: Because we’ve literally had our ethnic and racial self-respect beaten out of us. As a result, we slavishly look for validation from other people who do have some ethnic and racial self-respect for their own groups. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something will always rush in to fill one. Even if it’s something harmful, such as self-hatred.
Shared historical experiences and shared (general) cultural norms are not the same as the “acting Black” straitjacket. Sometimes an individual’s connections to their heritage, and to others from their group, are loose ones. That’s okay. Sometimes these connections are tighter (as I’ve noticed seems to be the general case among many Greek-Americans and Jewish-Americans). That’s also okay, for those folks who want closer connections with their group.
Many African-Americans say “Black” when they’re actually referring to what they (often mistakenly) believe to be African-American culture and shared historical experience.
This “acting Black” mess that many African-Americans speak is rooted in their ignorance of their actual history and cultural inheritance, and various types of dysfunction that they’ve lifted up (such as African-American gang subculture, African-American prison subculture).
In short, the “acting Black” fools have confused their African-American historical and cultural inheritance with African-American gang subculture, African-American prison subculture, and African-American hip-hop subculture (which draws heavily from gang and prison subculture).
Many African-Americans have surrendered the “African-American” and “Black” labels to these nuts. And then many African-Americans run from the African-American and Black labels out of justified revulsion to the gang, prison, and hip-hop-based madness the nuts have defined as “Black.”
I refuse to surrender the African-American and Black labels to the “acting Black” nuts.
But above and beyond the relatively recent decades of “acting Black” madness, there was much preexisting confusion among African-Americans. We often conflate “African-American” with “Black.” This confusion is leavened with large doses of racial and ethnic self-hatred.
WHY TALK ABOUT SPECIFIC AFRICAN-AMERICAN IDENTITY ISSUES?
I talk about these specific African-American ethnic and racial identity issues because I want you to be as comfortable and relaxed with all facets of your identity as other people are with theirs. I want you to be relaxed and self-confident enough to enjoy all this world has to offer. Right now, most African-Americans can’t do this because we have emotionally charged relationships with various aspects of our identity.
I want you to hold your head high as you travel this world. Just like other people take what is good from the wider world without feeling compelled to discard their own identity. There are two unhealthy and extreme positions that insecure African-Americans take regarding their ethnic and racial identity. The first unhealthy position is to try to:
(1) minimize (“I’m 1/8 Cherokee, 1/27th Irish, 1/58th German, and . . . umm, I’m too dark to deny it, so I guess I have to say . . . Black”),
(2) deny (“I don’t know what Black means”), and finally
(3) erase (“I’m Cablanasian, biracial, multicultural, anything-but-Black”) the African-American and Black identities that most of us are deeply ashamed of.
The second, and ironically equally self-hating, position is to outwardly show fanatical levels of fixation on one’s racial and ethnic identity. Perfect examples of this second manifestation of feelings of inferiority are the legions of “Blacker than thou” Black male leaders who chased, sexed or married light, nonblack, and White women. Elijah Muhammad and his light-skinned, often teenaged secretaries. Many if not most of the Black Panthers; see Bobby Seale’s autobiography A Lonely Rage for the details of the Panther leadership’s exploits while chasing nonblack women. Harry Belafonte. Amiri Baraka.
In fact, there’s currently at least one minister in the Nation of Islam who is married to a nonblack woman. I’m referring to one of Elijah Muhammad’s illegitimate children by one his light-skinned secretaries, Minister Ishmael Muhammad, who is married to a Mexican woman. For more examples regarding a number of Black male Pan-Africanist leaders, see this post by Halima, blog host of Black Women’s Interracial Relationship Circle. The list can go on.
I never understood either of these extremes. My parents raised me to have a healthy and most of all, relaxed sense of self-respect for every aspect of my identity.
It’s interesting. Without being “Blacker than thou” fanatics, they managed to raise me so that it never occurred to me to feel “less than” based on being a girl, or being Black, or being “Afro-American.” (That was one of the popular terms for us when I was a small girl.) While growing up, it never occurred to me to try to emphasize the White ancestry that led to the light skin and brown hair that runs through my family.
As a pre-teen, I was not excited to hear about the White family in the Southern town that my grandfather came from that has the same surname as him. I never denied that these particular White folks existed. Or that they were most likely related to us, but I didn’t feel any compulsion to emphasize them when the topic of my ancestry came up. Without knowing the term “reciprocity,” this concept was the basis for my indifference and apathy about these rumored White relatives. Since these particular Whites weren’t trying to track us down and claim us as relatives, why in the world would I want to chase them down or go out of my way to claim them?
At the time, I knew some other African-American 6th, 7th and 8th graders who were extremely frantic (every chance they got) to point out all the distantly related nonblacks in their family tree. I remember thinking how strange it was that they were so focused on people who weren’t equally interested in them. In fact, it sounded like many of these distantly related nonblack folks didn’t claim any kinship to them at all.
I was only interested in hearing about, and later on researching, the history of those ancestors who cared about having a connection to the rest of us.
My parents raised me to have ethnic and racial self-respect without disparaging other people. It’s possible to reject whatever injustice exists without engaging in stereotyping, or painting other people with a broad brush.
I also never understood the second extreme of “Blacker than thou” behavior. This includes the years I spent as a Black Nationalist. I didn’t hate Whites or nonblacks. I wasn’t fixated on outward displays of so-called Black consciousness. I wasn’t a natural hair evangelist who berated and harassed other Black women for wearing relaxed styles. I wore my hair however I felt like wearing it, including relaxed styles.
I was a Black Nationalist because I wanted my own people to have the good things that others have. Things like racial and ethnic self-respect, functioning communities, and so on. When I (briefly) considered joining the Nation of Islam during law school, it wasn’t because they talked about White people. It was because they talked about being a free and independent people like everybody else. It was because they took action in support of providing the “money, good homes, and friendship in all walks of life” that Elijah Muhammad promised for as many Black people as possible. It was because they were the only Black group I saw that had visible, tangible, consistent, long-term achievements in improving the lives of large numbers of African-Americans.
Anyway, both of the above-described extreme positions reflect insecurity and an inner belief that one’s own heritage is inferior. Healthy people don’t have emotionally-charged relationships with the various facets of their identity. They simply appreciate and when relevant, celebrate, their identities and go on with their lives.
AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE THE ONLY BLACKS THAT REJECT HAVING THEIR OWN SPECIFIC ETHNICITY
African-Americans are the only Black ethnic group on the planet that’s so confused about, and often has an active aversion to, having our own ethnic identity.
I’ve never heard a foreign-origin Black person form their lips to disparage their own ethnic group by saying that they “don’t know what it means to be” Hausa, Jamaican, Panamanian, Dominican, or whatever else they are. African-Americans are the only ones who speak that form of negativity about their own group. You’re the only ones who do that.
FOREIGN BLACKS DON’T NECESSARILY MEAN THE SAME THING AS AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHEN THEY SAY THEY “DON’T KNOW WHAT BLACK MEANS”
Too many African-Americans assume that Black people from other ethnic groups see the world the same way we do. We assume that their circumstances are the same as our circumstances. This leads to the (often mistaken) assumption that these other Black folks mean the same things as we do when they use certain expressions. They don’t. Remember, for some foreign-origin Blacks, their level of concern only extends as far as their own particular ethnic group. They only feel connected to: self, family, clan, and ethnic group. Not nation. And not race.
This means when foreign-origin Blacks throw away the idea of “Black,” almost all of them are still proudly hanging on to their specific ethnic identities as Jamaicans, Hausas and so on. It’s important to note that even the foreign-origin Black folks who say they “don’t know what Black means” still hang on to their particular ethnic identity (such as Hausas, Panamanians, Jamaicans, Dominicans). Even if they aren’t interested in anything “Black,” they never say they’re confused about what it means to be part of their own ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, when you as an African-American throw away the idea of “Black,” you’re throwing away the only smidgen of identity that you have! This is because most of you never took the time to develop any specifically African-American ethnic identity. While you’re busy making yourself . . . nothing . . . but a culture-free, “race is an artificial construct,” human being . . . these other types of Black folks are still proudly identifying with their specific Hausa, Panamanian, Jamaican, Dominican ethnic heritage as well as being “race is an artificial construct” humans.
They still (proudly) keep their ethnic “cards” in their pockets when they make these statements, while you completely empty your pockets when you do the same. Unless you develop any sense of specific ethnic pride, you leave yourself empty-handed when you throw away the racial identity card.
Can you see the difference between these two positions? Can you see that African-Americans are the only ones who are so confused about what it means to be part of their own ethnic group? Can you see that nobody else on this planet is claiming that type of confusion? When you’re the only one doing something, that’s usually a clue that whatever you’re doing is unwise.
These “I don’t know what Black means” statements don’t necessarily have the same effect or meaning when uttered by foreign-origin Blacks. This is because, unlike most African-Americans, foreign-origin Blacks are often making these statements in the context of maintaining their own ethnic self-respect. Their context is different from your context of having nothing but a racial identity (as “Black”-Americans).
Lifestyle optimization requires you to examine ideas from the vantage point of your own particular context and circumstances. It’s impossible to have an optimal lifestyle when you make critical decisions based on other people’s circumstances. Parroting the statements of other people whose circumstances (and often their interests) are out of alignment with yours will throw your life into chaos and ruin.
Another nuance that many African-Americans are too tone-deaf to catch is that when some foreign-origin Blacks denigrate the idea of “Black,” they are actually denigrating African-Americans. Many African-Americans are slow to catch on to this because of their own lack of ethnic pride, and their general naïveté when dealing with Black-skinned outsiders. It’s a mistake to assume that Blacks from other ethnic groups see the world the same way we do, and think just like us. They don’t.
Consider that a shared racial identity (“Black”) is the only connection that some foreign-origin Blacks ever claimed to have with you. Aren’t many of them constantly telling you about how different they are from you? And about how differently they do things back on their islands and in their countries? Their cultures are different. And that’s okay. Let me stress that there’s nothing inherently wrong with, or insulting about, recognizing ethnic differences. But too many of you fail to pay attention to the nuances behind various statements.
Sometimes when foreign-origin Blacks make these “I don’t know what Black means” statements they are simple neutral reflections of the normal way of organizing priorities (self, family, clan, ethnic group). However, sometimes when foreign-origin Blacks make these statements, they’re making a point of throwing away the only connection (a racial one) that some of them ever claimed to have to you. They’re not discarding their connections to one another when they say they “don’t know what Black means.” Even when they don’t know anything about “Black,” they still know what Hausa, Jamaican, Panamanian, Dominican, and other identities mean.
When they throw away “Black,” what they’re often discarding is the notion of having any connection to YOU.
Many African-Americans are too clueless to understand this. Just like many African-American men, there are many African-American women who are looking for the nearest exit out of their Black and African-American identities. So they get overjoyed when they hear Black-skinned others make “I don’t know what Black means” statements.
These confused African-Americans mistakenly assume the foreign Black person who makes these statements is joining them in becoming racial AND ethnic blank slates. (Remember, most African-Americans conflate “Black” with “African-American.”) No, when foreign-origin Blacks make these statements they’re not joining African-Americans in making themselves totally blank slates. Unlike the African-American speakers, most foreign Blacks are still holding on to their specific ethnic self-respect when they make these statements. Again, it’s a matter of paying attention to nuances.
These other types of Black people have another way of identifying themselves (as Hausas, Jamaicans, Panamanians, and so on). As confused African-Americans, YOU’RE the only Black ethnic group that doesn’t recognize any identity more specific than “Black” for yourselves. You’re the only ones who call yourselves “Black” only. Sometimes, when foreign-origin Blacks are talking negatively about “Black,” they’re talking singularly about African-Americans. They’re talking about YOU.
I firmly believe that charity begins at home. Every culture on this planet has unhealthy aspects. Having unhealthy aspects is not the same as having nothing of one’s own and being a blank slate. Healthy people recognize that yes, they are part of the overall human race, and that on one level, race is an artificial social construct. However, healthy people also have more specific cultural identities besides simply human.
African-Americans’ previous attempts to become ethnic and racial blank slates is part of why many of our children are still giving the same responses on the “doll test” that African-American children gave in the 1950s. There’s a direct connection between:
(1) The widespread African-American lack of ethnic and racial self-respect.
(2) The resulting desire to be racial AND ethnic blank slates, which nobody else is doing to the same degree. (For examples, Hausas aren’t saying they don’t know if there’s such a thing as being specifically Hausa within the overall context of being Nigerian; and Jamaican-Americans aren’t saying that they don’t know if there’s such a thing as being Jamaican-American.)
And (3) the anti-Black woman colorism that many of us have been talking about.
AFRICAN-AMERICANS CAN LEARN SOME THINGS FROM FOREIGN BLACKS, SUCH AS THE IMPORTANCE OF ETHNIC SELF-RESPECT
We live in a world of other people who, for the most part, have some ethnic self-respect. At minimum, other people tend to have more ethnic self-respect than the “typical” African-American (including the ethnic self-respect that most Africans and West Indians display when they come to the US).
This baseline of ethnic self-respect is why I’ve also never heard a Nigerian (of any Nigerian ethnic group), Jamaican, Panamanian, or any other foreign-origin Black person use terminology like “pro-Hausa,” “pro-Jamaican,” or “pro-Panamanian.” The unquestioned assumption appears to be that they’re going to be for themselves, whoever that is.
These other Black people don’t have any problem with being for themselves. Meanwhile, there are African-Americans who use the terminology “pro-Black” as if it’s a slur, when “Black” is the only tiny bit of identity they know (because they haven’t developed any ethnic identity as an African-American).
Any African-American who wants an optimal lifestyle needs to appreciate the difference between healthy ethnic self-respect and “acting Black” madness. It seems to me that one set of confused African-Americans (sometimes deliberately) misinterpret “expanding one’s horizons” as “oreo.” While another set of confused African-Americans (sometimes deliberately) misinterpret having ethnic and racial self-respect as “militant,” or “acting Black” madness, or being anti-others. Somehow, this confusion only arises in reference to African-Americans. Others, including other types of Black people, are free to have ethnic self-respect without having it mischaracterized as something negative. Other types of Black people are also free to take advantage of whatever the wider world has to offer. I want you to be free to do this as well; while also holding your head high as an African-American.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time traveling abroad. To say that African-Americans are very Westernized, and specifically very Americanized, after centuries of living here does not negate the fact that African-Americans are a separate, identifiable ethnic group. African-Americans are a people that are distinguishable from others, and connected to each other, by a shared set of historical experiences and cultural norms. African-Americans are not ethnic or racial blank slates.
African-Americans have legitimate cultural practices of our own. Is every single artifact of our African-American culture “legitimate”? No, but I vehemently disagree with the notion that African-Americans have absolutely nothing that’s real. I disagree with the idea of giving respect to everybody else’s cultural heritage while disrespecting my own by saying that I don’t have one. Or by saying that mine doesn’t count relative to other people’s cultural heritage.
For example, I don’t believe that West Indians or the various Black Latino ethnic groups have any more of a “real” cultural heritage than African-Americans. If African-American culture is a hodgepodge—as I’ve heard many African-Americans say in public—then the same applies to other Western Blacks. I never hear the African-Americans who make these statements apply the “hodgepodge” label to the cultures of other Western Blacks. They reserve that particular dismissive term and attitude for their own people’s culture.
The bottom line is that ALL Western Blacks are enmeshed in whichever European culture was and is dominant where they live.
English-speaking West Indians are enmeshed in British culture. African-Americans are enmeshed in British-descended, WASP culture (with pockets of also being enmeshed in French culture in Louisiana). Black Latinos are enmeshed with the culture of their former slave owners, the Spaniards.
Before somebody says that all these other Western Blacks have cultures that are more “real” than ours because they have their own independent countries, please consider the following questions. Are any of these other Black folks’ countries independent in the same way that China is independent of the US? Or are some of them independent the same way Mexico is “independent” of the US? Finally, are some of these countries independent to roughly the same extent the city of Detroit is independent? (For example, note that Puerto Rico is not an independent country.) Let’s be clear about all of this.
Even the straightened hair, green-contact-lens-wearing, skin-bleaching Sammy Sosa is not claiming confusion about his specific ethnicity as a Dominican. He’s not saying, “What is Dominican? I just don’t know what that means.” He simply wants to be any race but Black. Mr. Sosa is a good example of a Black person who has racial self-hatred, but not ethnic self-hatred. He’s thrown away “Black,” but he hasn’t thrown away the “Dominican” part of his identity.
African-Americans’ cultural heritage is no more (and no less) made up than those of these other Westernized Black people.
I’m not going to assign a rank to my cultural heritage that’s less than the rank these other Western Blacks assign to their cultural heritage. I don’t hear these other Westernized Blacks saying that they don’t have any culture of their own, or that they don’t know what it means to be part of their own ethnic group. I suspect this is because these other Western Black ethnic groups never demonized having ethnic self-respect as being something negative.
This is something positive that African-Americans can learn from other Black ethnic groups.
February 4, 2010 74 Comments