Pay Attention to Nuances When Black People Say They “Don’t Understand What Black Means”

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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

V For Vendetta


I’m not a cheek-turning Christian. Even though I believe that a low-negativity lifestyle is essential for optimal living, I also recognize the necessity of just, lawful retribution. It’s unpleasant, but sometimes retribution is necessary. It becomes impossible to have life at all, much less optimal life, in an atmosphere where predators roam unchecked. Inflicting punishment on predators for their wrongdoing does more than simply restrain the immediate predator. It also discourages aspiring predators from acting out their wishes. This is a matter of common sense and public safety.

So, I’m not a person who has philosophical problems with the idea and practice of retribution. For example, I feel that it’s just, fitting and appropriate that the state of Israel hunts down every surviving Nazi that can be found, and makes them pay for what they did decades ago. I don’t care that surviving Nazis are elderly or sick. When it comes to certain levels of wrongdoing, I’m not swayed by considerations of age or poor health. I’m not moved by tearful claims of repentance from wrongdoers. Depending on what they did, they can repent from their prison cells or the prison hospital. Others of them can repent from their graves, as far as I’m concerned.

Nevertheless, I do have practical concerns when it comes to retribution. It only makes sense to me when it’s reasonably calculated to accomplish the point of retribution: to return an injury for an injury; to inflict punishment on the person or group who wronged you. If the only thing accomplished by the so-called retribution is heaping more injury on the aggrieved party, then it’s just some more injustice disguised as retribution.

I’ve been following an interesting discussion in response to Halima’s latest blog post at Black Female Interracial Relationship Circle. The responses given by one commenter highlight the self-imposed difficulties that many African-American women create for themselves in the realm of life opportunities.

When you look at their statements and actions, it becomes clear that many African-American women mistakenly think they’re pursuing an honorable conflict against the White slavemasters and segregationists who murdered and oppressed our people. This is the emotional terrain underlying the public declarations that they would never date or marry outside their race, the constant references to our past White oppressors and the atrocities they committed, the emotionally closed and hostile demeanor in response to all modern White men, and other behaviors that only serve to narrow their opportunities for personal fulfillment. This is a popular posture among African-American women.

The harsh reality is that the Black women who engage in these behaviors aren’t pursuing some honorable conflict against the Whites who oppressed our people, instead they’re chasing a self-defeating grudge.


Let me reemphasize that I’m not a cheek-turning Christian; and that I’m all for punishing wrongdoers. I want everybody who commits injustice and atrocities against African-Americans to be punished. I want all such persons to pay for what they did. Remember the purpose of retribution: to return an injury for an injury; to inflict punishment on the person or group who wronged you. Let’s measure what you’re doing, and see if you’re accomplishing any of this.


To those of you who are holding onto resentment against all modern Whites because of slavery and segregation: The Whites who committed the worst of what our people have suffered in this country are long dead. And they got away with doing what they did. Whatever opportunities we had to seek retribution against these people are long gone. So, now what? [For this particular conversation, I won’t even go into the question of why you feel it’s appropriate for you as women—instead of Black men—to assume the responsibility for avenging our people. Have Israeli men been leaving it up to their women to seek revenge against surviving Nazis or Arab terrorists?]


I ask you again: Since these people are mostly dead, now what? On what basis do you resent and hate White people, and White men in particular, who haven’t wronged you? If your plan is to seek retribution from people other than the ones who have wronged us (or are wronging us), then you’ve veered off course from seeking just retribution. And into the territory of committing injustice.

Indiscriminately lashing out at people who haven’t participated in wronging you is what terrorists do. Furthermore, I don’t believe that you’re sincerely interested in retribution for what our ancestors suffered. If you were, you’d raise money to hire private investigators to seek out evidence against the few surviving White segregationists from that era. And have them sued and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You haven’t done any of that. In fact, it never occurred to you to do this. This lets me know that what’s motivating your indiscriminate grudge against modern White men isn’t a desire for justice for our ancestors, even though that’s the pretext that you use. You don’t care about what our ancestors suffered. You don’t care about your own suffering, or what other Black women, girls and babies are suffering right now at the hands of predators within Black residential areas, so I know you don’t care about what our ancestors suffered.

No, what’s really motivating this behavior is your idol worship of Black men. And Black men use your idol worship and indiscriminate grudge against modern White men as an instrument of their ambitions. Instead of trying to compete with White men as other men compete with them (Asian men, Arab men, and so on), Black men sic you and your grudge on their White male competitors. To clear the path for them while they’re free to marry, protect, and provide for these same White men’s sisters to their hearts’ content.


Who are you punishing with your indiscriminate grudge against modern Whites and White men in particular? Who suffers loss and injury behind this? Definitely not the surviving White segregationists. You’re not trying to find or punish these individuals. Not the modern anti-Black racists. This is because instead of fighting anti-Black racism across the board, you only respond when Black men intermittently use you to fight the particular White male racists who are blocking their ambitions. Not the legions of violent, Black criminals who are preying on you and your loved ones within Black residential areas. These violent Black criminals don’t suffer because of your grudge. In fact, they use your indiscriminate grudge against Whites, and White men in particular, to their benefit. They use you and your grudge to help them escape punishment for their crimes.

The only one who suffers loss and injury because of your indiscriminate grudge against modern Whites, and White men in particular, is YOU. You’re the one who’s missing opportunities to enjoy what the wider world has to offer because of your indiscriminate grudge. And you’re alone in missing out. Black men have never let anything stand in the way of them enjoying what the wider world has to offer.

Perhaps you should reconsider this indiscriminate grudge that you’ve been carrying around.

February 2, 2010   33 Comments

Think About Your Own Circumstances

Lifestyle optimization requires you to examine ideas from the vantage point of your own particular context and circumstances. This one statement will probably be a recurring theme in the blog posts here. It’s impossible to have an optimal lifestyle when you make critical life decisions based on other people’s circumstances. Listening to other people whose circumstances or interests are out of alignment with yours will throw your life into chaos and ruin.

This is the primary reason so many African-American women are living in misery and hardship. They’re programmed to think about other people’s (read: Black men’s, and the already-dead Black community’s) circumstances and interests, instead of their own. Or they’re taking positions that only make sense in the context of nonblack women’s collective life circumstances.

Several astute bloggers have talked about all of this in some detail. Halima, blog host of Black Women’s Interracial Relationship Circle, has written several excellent essays about this. I strongly urge you to read them, here and here.

I’ve seen the patterns that Halima describes in these posts. Over the years, I’ve watched many confused Black women parrot slogans and agree to follow strategies that have no connection to their own circumstances and needs. They did so to their detriment.


Many of the 20-something Black “race girls” who bash the idea of Black women’s empowerment hold contradictory thoughts about the issues they pontificate on with such confidence. All at the same time, many of them:

(1) Are not concerned about their biological clocks at their age, while they scream at Black women whose childbearing years are coming to a close.

(2) Despite seeing the mass absence of marriage in the African-American collective, they are confident in assuring other Black women that if they will only act right, then they will have their own Black Prince Charming.

(3) Despite seeing the mass absence of marriage in the African-American collective, they are confident that they themselves will be the Black female version of Jackie Robinson (one-in-a-million to be selected) and find marriage with a Black Prince Charming.

(4) While holding and advocating the above beliefs, they are often also hedging their bets and planning on single parent adoption as “Plan B” if they don’t marry their Black Prince Charming by age 35 or so.

Of course, to hear them tell it, it would take some bizarre stroke of fate for them to fail in their goal of marrying a Black Prince Charming. (One might ask why they need a Plan B if there are so many quality Black men available, and if things are so viable on the Black love front. One might also note that women from other races generally aren’t making that kind of “Plan B.”)

And finally, (5) some of them are never-married single mothers who have already been played and burned in the ultra-toxic, all-Black relationship market; and yet are still spouting the above beliefs.

It’s all irrational. And dangerous for anyone who allows these girl-women to bully and pressure them into narrowing their opportunities to find a wholesome, marriage-minded, quality husband.


There are many people telling Black women that they alone must narrow their life opportunities to save the already-dead Black family and Black community. In doing so, they are using slogans that no longer have any connection whatsoever to current realities. But that “small” detail doesn’t matter to the “Black women as cannon fodder” recruiters.

You need to understand that the “Black women as martyrs” recruiters will keep demanding that you martyr yourself no matter what happens. They will continue making these demands until the final demise of the African-American collective.

They will repeat the same slogans as African-Americans become more deeply entrenched in permanent underclass status, and overall disintegration. They will repeat these slogans when the African-American out of wedlock birthrate reaches 90-95 percent. The 1965 Moynihan Report warned about the rising illegitimacy rate among African-Americans. Most of our people didn’t heed the warning. Instead, we recited angry slogans in response.

The “Black love” slogans that are exclusively directed at Black women will be repeated when the African-American male interracial relationship rate approaches 50 percent and beyond. For those of you who think this can’t or won’t happen, I would refer you to the current example of the Caribbean Black male population in the United Kingdom. West Indian Black men’s interracial relationship rate in the UK has reached 48 percent. (See the BBC story from January 19, 2009, The Mixed Race March in Britain.)

Gina, blog host of What About Our Daughters, made an excellent point a while back about the “it takes a village” slogan. She pointed out that many African-Americans are depending on the family stability created by marriages from three generations ago (grandparents and sometimes, great-grandparents)!

As far as I’m concerned, that “village” rhetoric is just some more empty talk. The mass absence of marriage means there is no village. There are only elderly and exhausted grandmothers that many of us want to heap more burdens on. There’s nobody waiting in the wings to replace these grandmothers and great-grandmothers because the generations that followed are not creating the stable marriages that previously served as the family bedrock.

Folks need to stop lying, and most of all stop listening to lies, about this mythical village. We burned the village down decades ago. There are only a few scattered huts left.

All of these slogans are the political equivalent of “dusties” music. They have little to no connection to current realities. The difference is that “dusties” can be enjoyable. As entertainment. Not as the basis for making life-and-death decisions in modern circumstances.

In fact, this pattern is the main reason I stopped listening to the local Black-owned talk radio station. The hosts and callers are repeating the same conversations, nostrums and slogans I remember hearing 20-plus years ago on that station! Whenever I tune in just to check on them, I find that they’re having “dusties” conversations. Ignore people who repeat a political “dusties scratch mix” of obsolete, failed ideas.


African-American women often buy into ideas that have no real relevance to their particular circumstances. This often comes up whenever Black women discuss the importance of marriage.

When analyzing ideas, Black women should keep their own circumstances in the forefront. African-American women are operating in a context that no other group of women are operating in. Other women may face similar issues, but at nowhere near the rate of African-American women. Black women need to stop tripping, recognize that other women’s context is not our context, and respond accordingly.

African-American women are operating in a context of a huge unmarried rate (relative to all other types of people) and a 70 percent-plus illegitimate child rate. In this context, African-American women can’t afford the luxury of calling ourselves “overcoming” the perception that we want legitimate marriage—just like every other race and ethnic group of women on the planet.

To paraphrase some other important points that Halima has made in earlier comments and blog posts:

Unlike the White female theorists who can afford to characterize marriage as a site of oppression, African-American women need to understand that marriage is important as a potential site for division of the hard work involved in raising children. Unlike the current situation where African-American women are bearing almost sole responsibility for raising Black children (as is clear from the 70 percent-plus out of wedlock rate).

Unlike women from other ethnic and racial groups, African-American women are being targeted for male disassociation and social disfellowship.

White women are generally protected and provided for within overall White American society (see the examples of how David Letterman and Kanye West were quickly chastised for publicly demeaning a White woman). White women can afford to talk that stuff about how they refuse to be “obsessed with marriage”—because they’re already reaping the benefits of marriage!

African-American women can’t afford the luxury of characterizing desire for marriage as “obsession” with marriage. African-American women are suffering the real consequences of the absence of marriage within the African-American collective. Consequences like the physical danger posed by legions of (mostly fatherless) predatory, violent criminals. Physically dangerous environments like Dunbar Village are one of many results of an absence of stable, two-parent families created by marriage.

I’m not talking about marriage as somehow saving the African-American collective. I’m talking about how the mass absence of marriage is drastically lowering the quality of Black women’s lives. And sometimes, such as within many Black residential areas, is creating physical danger to Black women.

White women and other women can afford to “trip,” and pretend like they don’t know the reasonable availability of marriage opportunities within their own group is doing something good and important for them (and their children). African-American women can’t afford to “trip” like that.

No, I’m not saying that marriage always results in a stable family. But common sense, and empirical observation of the conditions within Black residential areas, should tell us that marriage greatly increases the odds of having a stable, productive family in which children are properly reared and socialized. So they’re less likely to turn into monsters like the single-parent raised Dunbar Village demons.

When Black women discuss marriage, I think it’s critical that we detangle and separate what I believe is the legitimate promotion of marriage from the disrespectful, insulting beliefs promoted about single or childless women.

The legitimate importance, value and benefits of an “MRS degree” need to be uncoupled from the disrespect of “You and your life ain’t sh*t because you ain’t got no man/kids.” Right now, it’s all mixed together and I think that demeaning message is what causes some Black women to balk when they hear marriage being promoted as something valuable.

I will also note that large numbers of gays and lesbians understand the value and importance of marriage. That’s why they’re clamoring to be able to have legally recognized marriages. In fact, one might say that large numbers of gays and lesbians are “obsessed” with marriage. This is one example of how, as quiet as it’s sometimes kept, other people recognize the value and importance of marriage.

Don’t let anybody trick you into feeling embarrassed about wanting marriage (if that’s what you want). Don’t let anybody pressure you into doing without the lifestyle you want. Don’t confuse other people’s circumstances and contexts with your own. Instead, examine ideas from the vantage point of your own particular context and circumstances. And move forward into fulfilling, abundant, optimal lives.

January 31, 2010   28 Comments