Do you like Black men?
That’s not a trick question, and there’s no right answer. Just whatever comes to mind.
I realize the fallacy in that question. It’s not like I’m asking about chocolate chip ice cream, which no matter the brand has a pretty uniform taste. Black men are as varied as, forgive the analogy but it’s apt, snowflakes in that no two are entirely the same. But in general, when you think of Black men, what do you think of? And is that something you like?
I expect the knee-jerk response from most Black women will likely be, “yes,” if only because it’s the answer you’re “supposed” to give and to say “no” opens the door for accusations of self-hate and possibly to hear, “Well, well, we’re not too fond of you either, you know?”
But I ask, even if I’m expecting a chorus of “yeses,” because it doesn’t seem as so many Black women do. I’ve noticed — perhaps you have too — that conversations about Black men, or even boys, often devolve quickly into a theme of “why don’t they have any act right?” as if every Black man has gone to hell in the proverbial hand basket. When I hear many women speak of their proclivity for interracial dating, I often — but not always — hear the reason is because Black men can’t do right or get it together, to put it nicely. Even from the Black women who swear up and down that they’re not into interracial dating and only want a Black man, I still often hear a litany of angry complaints that generalize them all as liars and philanderers, who can’t be trusted to commit to education, much less one woman or stick around to be a daddy to the kids they fathered.
If you’re a woman who thinks that way — and I don’t expect that anyone will admit it — I don’t blame you. That’s not to say I think Black men are generally bad, just that I understand it’s partly a result of the undercurrent of the popular American story that goes Black women are lascivious, angry, and big. And Black men? Well, to sum it up, they ain’t $@!#. We’re practically bombarded with these messages so it can be a hard narrative to escape internalizing for even the educated and deemed sensible, and especially so, if your personal story includes a father who didn’t stick around, a series of men who did you dirty, or you grew up in place where you looked around and didn’t readily see any man hardworking or upstanding enough to disprove the stereotypes. I get it.
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