holding hands

… The loud bossy demeanors, quick tempers, and the bizarre things that Black women do their hair (weaves, wigs, relaxers) is something that I find a turn off.  And the obesity epidemic has really hit Black women hard.  I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen so many fat black women.  If you’re looking for a peaceful relationship, the American Black woman is not your best bet. There are exceptions of course.  I’ve dated women of Australian, Russian, Czechoslovakian,  Romanian, New Zealand Maori, Chinese, British (Black), and Italian descent, and had all of them angry at me at one time or another, and none of them had the temper, or yelled at me as viciously when angry like the American Black women I’ve dated in the past.   Not even close.  All of those other nationality women were much easier to get along with even though there were ups and downs as there are in all relationships.  Even the British Black chick was mellow.  Interestingly, only Black American women have called me a Nigger during an argument.  I used to feel that they brought out the worst in me, not the best, and I haven’t dated one since 1993.  But they claim that they are “strong Black women” and confuse being hard with being strong.

Anonymous black male

I really debated about whether to address this topic, but alas, I couldn’t hold back.

The previous comment comes from a black male (who’ll remain anonymous). His comments refer to a website that has compiled various photographs of black men (many of them athletes and entertainers), who are currently married or dating outside of their race. http://afieldnegro.com/photos.html

It was not the website that upset me as much as the blatant generalizations and stereotyping that black women, and black men for that matter, undergo at the hands of one another. I see it happening more and more lately. Recently, I read a very interesting, albeit depressing study about how black women have a higher chance of spending their lives single, unmarried, or childless because they have a hard time finding or attracting a black male of equal educational or career footing. According to the article, “Their marriage chances have declined… This may sound trivial but one reason is that they outnumber men in this education group.” They also state, “Highly educated black men tend to “outmarry” (marry outside race, religion or ethnicity) at a higher rate than black women.”

I couldn’t help but to acknowledge that I was a part of this study’s research pool. Statistically, my chances for finding a black mate who possesses a similar educational background are slim. Though I tend to disagree that one’s educational background is indicative of how they’ll function in a relationship, this study saddened me because it comes at a time when explosive stereotypes and generalizations greatly impact the way black men see black women, and vice-versa. As the comment above illustrates, there are people who would rather revert to misinformed caricatures of black women, than to acknowledge us as distinct human beings. Their ideologies are informed by a racist historical context that once placed black women into rigid categories of mammy, sapphire, breeder, jezebel, sexual deviant, among others. Past stereotypes have now morphed into modern ones: welfare queen, the “loud” black woman, video vixen, confrontational, ghetto, and argumentative about everything.

Like the writer above, some seek to place a particular blame and guilt on black women, without realizing that they are simply recycling the same views that slave masters once held. This black man wasn’t the first to claim that relationships with black women couldn’t be “peaceful.” In 1965, a white New York senator named Daniel Moynihan, wrote a government report, entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” otherwise known as the Moynihan Report.” In it, he detailed the extent to which the “black woman” was emasculating the black male, and thus breaking down, and ruining, the structure of the black family. This report contributed to the long legacy of the vilification of the black woman, and I can’t help but refer to this when I hear people express sentiments that are infused with this rhetoric.

To see this tarring of the black female image perpetuated in 2009, by fellow black men, whose image has also been considerably tarred over the course of decades, is extremely unfortunate. I’m not going to entertain arguments that do not consider the wide array of nuances within the black female spectrum, just as I don’t subscribe to the rampant criminalization of black men’s identities. I know that racial, sexist hegemony within this country has enabled these backward representations to emerge and take hold. Through out my life, I’ve been encouraged to define my womanhood according to someone else’s terms. A boy in high school urged me to get my hair straightened so it would be “pretty,” a guy on myspace told me he’d like me if I was “lighter,” a high school teacher told me to “get rid of my urban attitude” when I attempted to speak with him in class. If we can’t see how the black female existence has been affected by racist, sexist notions, and we adhere to them, we are no better than those who we label “racist” or “sexist.”

So instead of stamping all black women with the label of “angry, loud, drama-queen,” why don’t we take that same energy and attempt to shift the narrow paradigm, for the sake of our friends, family, daughters, sons, and the world. As a black woman, I can agree that there is a lot to be angry about when it comes to my existence, and those of other women, and rightfully so. Here in the United States, young women and teenagers are being prostituted and sold into sexual slavery, like property. Black women have some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Many mainstream Hollywood films seem to show a rigid scale of black female characters. I could go on and on. But while these instances fill me with emotion, that does not mean I’m a “loud, angry black woman,” but instead shows that I am a passionate human being who reacts to the pressures of life and the issues at hand. My complicated existence renders me unique, as does the existence of any person.

I believe the key to a healthy dialogue between black people, and all people ultimately, is a careful attention to how historical, racist, and/or sexist rhetoric informs the way we interact and interpret one another. It is only from this vantage point that we can break out of this, and put our energies into fighting against current issues-the prison industrial complex, health problems, educational erosion- to begin to see how we can better understand each other, heal, grow, and move forward.