You, Me and WE (pt.1)
Relationships fail and succeed every day but black relationships appear to be a bit different don’t they? It seems as if we stand in direct opposition of one another pointing fingers afraid to recognize the heart of the matter because it’s just too painful to acknowledge. We have managed to overlook all the external factors that play their part in our coexistence because we’ve learned to accept them as permanent forces in our lives. It is what it is right? Or is it? At some point, those of us who wish to maintain a black relationship have to face the distressing facts in order to overcome the issues and move past them.
The CDC and CNN have published reports about the failures of black relationships which serve as fodder in heated debates about what’s wrong with black men or black women. What about what’s wrong with “us”? Segregating the root of our troubles is like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. One cause that is undeniable is the systematic interference with the natural development of our culture within this country. Having said that, the power to change the outcome is within each of us as individuals. There are some external factors that unfairly influence the outcome and we may not be able to change them, but we can change the way we think about them.
Right now, the trend is to wait for the other gender to get right before we get right. So what if we as a group could do something to change that? What if we could have an open and honest dialog about it that doesn’t require the other side to do anything else other than listen? A video segment released by ABC news in 2009 cited incarceration as a major cause of unavailable black men. Granted, there are a number of men who have had that experience because of due process but there are also a number who are there because of prejudicial treatment. It is well known that the judicial system is biased against African Americans so if we truly want to solve that problem, it’s time we start exercising our first amendment rights by speaking out against the problem. I am not trying to place the blame on white America. Who’s fault is it if someone does something wrong to us and we don’t do anything to correct it using our given right to due process? Ours! There is a sense of anger in our young African American men that lead them down a path of destruction. I have witnessed this first hand. They are angry about their fathers not being present; their mothers working all the time and not being available, and feeling as if the odds are stacked against them. Does this mean they are using this anger as an excuse? Or does it mean they are stuck and need some help overcoming their anger? As a society these days we are so willing to point the finger at someone else not recognizing that at one point, we could and should offer help. Everybody is not you and can’t do it the way you did. Sometimes, people actually do need help.
What I fear is that we have become so accustomed to bias in our lives that we no longer get angry at the perpetrators of the bias, but we get angry at those who experience it based on their reaction to it. Incarceration is just a small example of what I am referring to. I’ll use another example of black women being successful. This one is more complicated because there is no single culprit. How many of us women were taught that we had to be ten times better when going into professional endeavors just to get as much recognition as our white counterparts? We grew up believing that we didn’t have time to cry or fall apart when things didn’t work out. Is it any wonder that so many women are super achievers? There is no doubt our parents taught us this lesson because of their own experiences. This is an example of an external factor that contributed to our current state yet the culprit today is how WE internalize those lessons. Let’s take some time to put those fingers back into our pockets and examine all the things that contribute to the demise of our relationships so we can begin to tackle them one by one without the anger.