“You don’t know what it’s like!” “Oh please, just another excuse not to take care of your responsibility.” Frustration takes over; silence then maybe a crash of slammed door as he exits. She heads to the telephone to talk about their problems with someone else.
I wish I’d never had similar conversations like that one in my past. This was of course before I knew any better. That is, before I knew better than to spout off without understanding the root of the problem or reacting when emotions were too high to have a healthy conversation.
A few weeks ago I shared an elevator with a young, dark skinned black man and a white woman. The woman, like many others in this position, pulled her purse close to her and darted her eyes to and fro. He was clearly a delivery person. I looked at her and shook my head. I wanted to stand really close to her on purpose and say “not all black people are a threat.”
Too often men say they are not heard or seen unless they are on the 6 o’clock news being shuffled away by police or in a body bag. People gloss over these scenarios as just “our way of living.” In a culture sometimes filled with fear and pride all mixed together, it’s hard for people to see ALL the issues others face. According to the CDC greater than 70% of black women in their 20’s have never been married and that’s much higher than counterparts in other races. Where does this leave our sons? Consider this:
- What happens when not just fathers are absent but all male role models?
- Who teaches the man to be a man?
- How will they learn the right way to treat a woman?
- What is the model for becoming a true provider?
Life as a minority is much different than 50 years ago, but that does not mean it’s all good! Even with more black owned businesses and minorities in the workplace what are we not seeing?
- A balanced number of black men & women as CEO’s of fortune 500 companies
- The disproportion of blacks in executive level positions
- The number of highly qualified minorities as a whole still being passed over in more conservative industries and parts of the country
Has the black man been forgotten because workplaces balance their equal opportunity quotas with other minorities instead? It’s no secret that life for black men has never been easy and it hasn’t changed completely. Today’s man still has to work much harder to fit in once they go outside of their communities AND not come across as threatening. At the same time we do see more young black males cross color barriers when it comes to relationships, but how does that help the black man?
- Does it make him more acceptable or more despised?
- Does it open the door for more opportunities?
- Is he only more readily accepted if his skin tone is light like caramel vs very dark like licorice because he’s “too ethnic?”
There are things we should know and do when it comes to our men but we are NOT doing or acknowledging them:
- Being a woman does not absolve me from responsibility of helping our brothers!
- Having a black president is not the answer to equality for all black men.
- Pressures mount daily from things like pleasing the boss, their independent woman and children.
- Men should feel important and needed just like everyone else, especially at home.
- Just because his paycheck is not the same as yours or others you know does not make him less!
- He sees the fearful glances and side looks of disgust all day long but has to grin and bear it while being a harmonious man.
- Each promotion he does not get when he is clearly qualified is yet another blow to his self esteem – but he must eat that because that’s what he’s taught to do.
Beaten down by all the rhetoric of day to day living can cause even the strongest to falter. Certainly REAL men need to step up to the plate and do what they need to do on purpose, but it’s no help when people compete to wear their pants for them or even worse strip them of them!
I challenge you this day to support your men, your sons, brothers, uncles and male counterparts daily. Incarceration and separation should not be the accepted norm in our lives. To be built up so they can step up, we must give a hand up!