“We are socialized to accept less.” This is part of a quote from my friend, Angelina, as we were having a discussion on relationships. She went on to say that as a black woman, she has to give allowances to black men for our bad behaviour. She made it clear that she isn’t the exception, either. That most black women share this mindset.
Where do I even start with this? First, disappointment. Deep disappointment. How have we black men let it get to the point that our women are OK with accepting less? They’re OK with letting us be less than our best selves simply so we don’t feel insufficient.
And as we dug deeper into the conversation, I learned we aren’t even giving them our less than best. We’re giving them straight trash. We’re not stepping up to give them the commitment they need. We’re not reassuring them through our actions that their investment in our lives means something. We’re lying and cheating and telling our women to be OK with it because we’re “good” men and promise some kind of light at the end of the tunnel that makes this mistreatment all worth it.
My question to women is why?
Why put up with us? If we aren’t living up to your expectations, then why stick around? When did this become OK? Listening to some of the responses from my conversation with Angelina, this is a mindset that’s been ingrained in black women for a long time. It’s behaviour passed down from generations of black women having to “mother” their black men.
Now that mothering has turned into a “ride or die” mentality that black women are expected to buy into. It’s a goal and if you aren’t a ride or die bitch then you’re somehow not a good woman.
But I feel you have a choice, black woman. You have the choice to say “NO.” You have the choice to tell us that it’s really not your job to accept all our bullshit. You have the choice to tell us we need to be better and if we aren’t then you’re out.
Black men have a choice, too
We have a choice, too, guys. We can stop pushing this makeshift archetype of the perfect woman being someone who sticks with us no matter what. We can step up and be the man who honours our women like they deserve to be honoured. Guess what else we can do? Just be honest. With ourselves and with our partners. If it’s not working for us, it’s not working. Don’t let the person you’re with hang on to some false hope in supporting your ass when you know it’s just not working for you.
I say black men are privileged because we’re blessed to have these women support us through far more than they should. We are privileged to have this unwavering foundation of love and strength despite us not returning the same gestures. We’re privileged to know we’re part of a culture that preaches a “better together” mentality.
Obviously, I’m not speaking to all black men so please don’t say “not me.” Not having it be part of your direct experience doesn’t mean it’s not a problem deserving of complete attention. I’d like to thank my friend Angelina for giving me this insight. Sometimes, a conversation is all it takes to move someone to action.
Kern Carter is a 2x author of Thoughts of a Fractured Soul and Beauty Scars. His C.R.Y blog touches on the emotional struggle faced by writers and other creatives.