In Defense of Black Men
There was so much to say in response to a YouTuber’s commentary (Samantha Cooker), expressing that White men make better husbands than Black men, that there was no way I could post it all in the comment section. So I posted it here, in defense of Black men.
The video below has been edited for language, but You can find Sam’s original video at: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1yc7Y9js_o)
Please watch/listen the video first. Otherwise, as you read, you may feel as if you’ve walked into the middle of a conversation. 🙂
My 102-year-old grandfather still has vivid memories of running away from slavery when he was eight years old, while being held by the hand of his mother, my great grandmother. Of course, by the time he had this experience, slavery had officially been over for about 46 years. A White man had been holding them illegally. My great grandfather never knew his father, and my father never knew his biological father. I share this because it helps me to understand why the son my great grandfather adopted at age 2 (my father), was in a nutshell, a crappy dad to his first family, which includes me; and even why my two ex-husbands (both Black) were crappy husbands.
None of these men were ever given the “tools” and “resources” they needed to be better fathers and husbands. In other words, they did the best they could, given the lack of tools and resources they had to work with. And so it is with all of us; all of us meaning, all of us human beings, but in this case, specifically Black folks, whether we are male or female. Regardless, we are all products of our environment and we learn from what’s around us.
I agree with you, that when given the right tools and resources, Black women are magical; amazing. And so are Black men…if given the right tools and resources. When slavery first ended, many Black men flourished. Therefore, Black women and Black families flourished as well. They became doctors, politicians in prominent positions, business owners, etc. But this was a threat to White men. So, White men changed the laws that helped Black men prosper, and literally burned and pillaged everything the Black man built for himself. Of course, I am not saying that all White men did these things, but there were/are more than enough who stood in the way of progress for Black people.
Did you know that in the late 1800s, immediately after slavery ended, Black people made up 19% of the U.S. population, but due to all the lynchings, the Black population was reduced to only 9% by the 1940 census? Around 1939, the welfare system was introduced that promised to provide for women and their children, but only if there were no men in the house. This disproportionately affected Black families, forcing Black men out of the homes. The gift of massive amounts of testosterone is what makes all men, regardless of race, naturally want to provide for and protect their families. But when being the race that you are, prevents you from having a business or getting work to earn a living and feed your family, and the government (made up of White men) steps in and says, we’ll make sure your family has a roof over their heads and food to eat; but you can’t live under that roof….what is a man to do? What are his choices? Stay, and let his family starve?
Sure. You can explain to a child, why his father left so the child could eat, but no matter how it may appear; neither a child nor adolescent brain functions and interprets the same way as an adult brain. So, whether male or female, a child who grows up without a father in the house simply knows that his father was not there. That is now the model they have been given to follow. Any possibility that the child understood why the father left is definitely forgotten by the second generation; then the third, and so on, until no one, not even Black people understand why a disproportionate number of Black women are heads of the household. We start to say that it must be because this is just how Black men are. It’s simply their nature to neglect and abandon responsibilities of wives and children. But that’s just not true. Many have been systematically restrained from access to necessary tools and resources.
Yes. At least on the surface, things for Black people are much better than they were during slavery or the 1940s. But as strongly evidenced by the events of the past couple of years or so, the system that has kept Black people from rising is still very much in place. Those of us who have escaped the worst of it can count ourselves as truly Blessed. But what about those of us who didn’t escape it, and have been on the receiving end of the worst treatment White men have to offer? We end up jailed or imprisoned (effect), due to lack of tools and resources (cause); dead (effect), as a result of lack of resources (cause); or even worse, we end up killing one another in the streets (effect), again, due to a lack of tools and resources (cause).
How do today’s Black boys go back to the days before the welfare system, and learn how to hold a family together, how to treat a woman, how to love a wife, how to listen to the advice of his wife or how to allow her to thrive and be confident without seeing her as a threat? Who is there to teach him these things? And if there is a man there to teach him anything at all; then who taught that man? What did that man learn that he can now pass on to help him raise a male child into a good Black man who has honor and respect for Black women? Or, is he teaching that Black boy everything that he himself learned from having “the streets” as a father?
And why are Black men so threatened by Black women anyway? I don’t know. But maybe it’s because when Black men look to White men for work, they often find that White men are more likely to hire a Black woman over a Black man. Not only has that Black woman unwittingly become the Black man’s closest competitor; but she is likely to win this competition for jobs. Why? Because the employer can get away with paying a Black woman less than he would pay a White male, a White woman, and a Black male. So, if the law insists that he hire a minority person of color, he would rather hire a Black woman.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, between all the races and both recognized genders in the U.S., next to Hispanic women, Black female workers are the lowest paid. Still, with as little as she is being paid, she can easily equal or out-earn a Black male today; especially if, for whatever reason, that Black male is unable to find gainful employment, or if his lack of access to tools and resources has landed him in jail or prison.
Many Black men cannot find work that pays well enough for them to financially take care of a family without the financial input from a woman. Nor do they have access to the tools and resources needed to start their own legal businesses. This inability to provide for his family goes completely against his nature as a male. Inside the home, the nature of the woman to want to feel secure financially, emotionally, and physically, can pressure or motivate him to step up and “be a man.” Yet outside of the home, the tools and resources he needs to “give her what she’s asking,” are not easily available or attainable for him.
Unfortunately, he often experiences so much stress and struggle as a Black man that he may not have the knowledge or education to recognize that the problem is not his wife, but rather the system that strips or cripples his ability to be the man that deep down inside, he knows he was Designed and Created to be. As she continues to ask for what she naturally wants, the pressure builds within him as he struggles to provide. As a nationally certified Domestic Violence Advocate, I can tell you that this is a recipe for disaster, in the form of physical and or substance abuse.
We live in a society where if you are ordinary, you can thrive as a White male. But if you are an ordinary Black male, you are not likely to thrive at anything except what gets you locked up, killed, or imprisoned; not because this is your nature, but because, this is what you have access to. In order to survive (not thrive) in this U.S. society, a Black man must be extra-ordinary. And if he is to thrive, he must be outstandingly extra-ordinary.
You are so very right when you say that Black women are magical and amazing when given the right tools and resources. But Black men too, are magical and amazing…when given the right tools and resources. It’s much easier to be a better husband when you have the “right tools and resources.” With the right tools and resources, Black men could easily take over the world. And maybe that’s why they are purposely held down; a constant proverbial foot on their necks to prevent them from rising and taking their rightful place in the world. Keep them struggling so hard for the very basic tools and resources they need to survive (like a good paying job for example) that they can never simply exhale long enough to imagine a better way to live and how to achieve it.
Just yesterday while working on a personal project, I took a look at some statistics from my hometown, population 28,327: 61% White, 27% Black. Poverty among Whites: 18%. Poverty among Blacks: 42.1%.
Although I prefer “the idea of Black men,” my best and longest relationships have been with White men, so my personal experience confirms some of what you said. But I can’t help but remind myself that if it is true that “White men are better husbands to Black women than Black men are,” then maybe that’s because generally speaking, in this country, in this society, White men have easier access to better tools and resources than Black men do.
However, whenever the gate opens and Black men are allowed access to tools and resources, and they either find or fight their way in, Black men show their amazing magic too; whether it’s in sports (Jackie Robinson, Michael Jordan, Gayle Sayers/William Brown), comedy (Red Foxx, Richard Pryor), music (Count Bassi, Duke Ellington), science (Edward Bouchet, Neil deGrasse Tyson) or even long-lasting relationships with Black women (D.W. Williams, Dr. James E. Turner [my father: now married to 2nd Black wife 42+ years]). All of these men, including my father, demonstrate what an outstandingly extra-ordinary Black man can accomplish, once he discovers and gains access to the tools and resources available to him.
As Black women, let’s not be guilty of the same flawed memory of many of our White sisters, when it come to the history of the treatment that many White men have inflicted upon us. It’s not just Black men, but Black and White women also continue to feel the negative impact of White men’s-imposed limitations, if nowhere else, then at least where it counts most in today’s society; the paycheck.
Let’s at least have enough respect for our own people, to acknowledge that the race of White men that we enjoy dating and marrying, is in fact, benefiting from a system of White men who make dating and marrying them preferable to dating and marrying Black men. That is, it is that White System of men, that makes it difficult to impossible for Black men to access and benefit from the tools and resources that would allow them to rise into proud positions of leadership in their homes; thus, giving White men the opportunity to date and marry the best Black women have to offer.
Men of all races have so much in common; and so do women of all races. Knowing and understanding the biological makeup of each makes male/female relationships infinitely easier. The answers to the most important questions you’ve ever wondered about the opposite sex can be found in Truth Talk: The Last Dating Advice You’ll Ever Need.