All For One And None For All?

**It’s World AIDS Day and let us not forget how far we’ve come but how far we have to go. HIV/AIDS is the#1 killer of (cis) black women age 25-44. Yes, in the United States. Right now. The time for wishful thinking and compromise when partnering needs to be over. Better choices must be made.

Now that Turkey Day is over, people have stopped gorging themselves and the week returns back to whatever normal is defined, I’ve been making some interesting observations. Those labeled conservative who may or may not be intolerant, along with the truly intolerant and controlling types are usually quite frank about their positions and they honor them with extreme loyalty. Those who consider themselves liberal or are called progressive are somewhat suspect. I call it liberal for pay(off).

It’s when the bottom line becomes the bottom line. In other words: what’s in it for ME ME ME? Now I’m not going to judge whether that’s “wrong” in and of itself because it’s something women especially need to pay attention to. When we give our resources and talents away freely trying to help and do good, others will take them but there’s no guarantee of a return on investment. Not even so much as a pat on the head. This is a little different.  I suppose I can blame it all on Twitter.

The micro-blogging site has seen unprecedented growth but it actually has a small number of hardcore users. One of the interesting aspects of using a public forum to discuss personal issues and other matters of importance is the way people engage with each other. Some will assume an air of familiarity immediately forgetting people don’t actually know each other. This isn’t about Twitter though but how it’s used to find like-minded people or to discuss perspectives.

For example I had someone send me a message castigating me for writing for the Examiner dot com because the owner is an arch-conservative. Honestly, I could care less and that may be surprising to some but as long as my work isn’t being infringed upon what difference does it make in the end? Newspapers and magazines have a long and current history of having NO DIVERSITY WHATSOEVER. Even the “liberal” ones – which is why I’m not crying over their demise as they insist on maintaining the established status quo of exclusion. Lest I remind people of the outrage some felt at the New Yorker presenting the First Lady as an afro-sporting militant as character indictment? I cannot dictate how another person lives their life, spends their money, what religion they practice and so on. Nor do I have to support them if they are ignoring me or harming me.

Now if I noticed something particularly heinous I would of course decide how to engage a response but my point is we have to learn to get along with everyone – not just those we like or agree with. Anyone who has actually lived in California knows for example just how conservative the state really is despite it’s granola crunch, yoga and Hollywood trappings. In other words – the liberal, “gay” land of LaLa is a fallacy, a marketing ploy if you will. It draws creative talents here but make no mistake, only a certain class of people can afford million dollar homes. That’s usually not an activist living a more conscious or frugal lifestyle.

I was also annoyed that someone who had never bothered to speak to me piggybacked off someone else’s message of congrats to rain on my parade. In my experience I have found many people who fight for causes are fighting for their own particular interests and once that’s met they go on with their lives. That’s not an ally or a person seeking justice across the board. That’s just a self-involved agenda seeking person hogging up the road while you’re on it.

I find it far more telling when those who had been conservative suddenly find “liberalism” in vogue. I look at sites like Daily Kos and Huffington Post and those that helm them with a side eye.  Neither site pays those who provide content but they charge advertisers and are making a very, very comfortable living for themselves. It’s the oldest ploy in the book to build wealth on free labor. So why would I be upset about one and not the other? Exploitation by “liberals” is not something new. Not to mention the fact they’re just as exclusionary as the conservatives albeit in a different way.

I observed two interesting exchanges this weekend as well. One was between a trans woman who makes valid points regarding trans phobia and misogyny but often alienates many in the process – and a gay male. There was a disagreement about a statement that was made. I could see validity on both sides perhaps leaning more towards the reprimand but not with the way it was executed. I am neither trans nor gay but I see the intersectionality of oppression by the oppressed. Many could be allies but don’t meet the criteria set by this person. I usually stay out of the fray but continue to make my own efforts at calling out injustice.

We may not do it perfectly but I do believe many of us try and are sincere in our efforts. I just never assume I know it all or try to dictate to others what their personal agenda or response should be. I do suggest we seek to pursue our best lives and that may require a shift in perspective. There’s something quite paternalistic for a person to make a blanket assessment regarding someone else’s struggles by imposing their perspective and their “solutions” unsoliticited or in assuming they know best. I will hold my ground with what I believe to be true though.

This is where the lines between advocating and displaying unresolved anger or emotional trauma can become blurry. It can be a very fine line to walk, one which I am familiar with when I wrote extensively about DBR (damaged beyond repair) black men (and women) while I was still processing it. For me I had to write about it as I was living it in that moment but I was aware I was in the middle of a proverbial emotional cesspool even as I was moving away from it. I had to make sure I was continuing that journey, which meant recognizing it and calling it by its name as well as identifying the behavior of those males who engaged in it. Yet I am a person who wants to “hug it out” and get along with others, but make no mistake I have a sword and I know how to use it!

The other exchange was from a few black women who took issue with the Disney movie, “The Princess And The Frog”. Not with the fact the “princess” is a friggin’ frog through a significant portion of the film (some progress for the “1st black princess”) but with the fact she’s not with a black prince. I could hear the longing and wistfulness contained in their outrage and know it has far more to do with them as black women and what they’ve been missing (lack of love or respect) that’s manifesting itself by their complaint. I wondered if these women have approached  the numerous black men in their lives as well as those in the public eye about their mass devaluing and abandonment of black women. Brown-skinned, “regular” black women. I specify that because they discussed skin tone as well as race. I also noticed some of these women may have been divorced but some had never been married and they had children.

Now I’m not going to rehash my argument about how harmful it is for black women in particular to be left at that level of vulnerability and the impact of mass fatherlessness on entire generations of blacks (in particular African Americans). It’s just another example I see of deep wounds that need to be recognized and healed – but also moved away from.  Black women who still see themselves exclusively in terms of being tied to black men emotionally and physically are shooting themselves in the foot and lowering their prospects for a full life. Black men as a collective have already made it clear that they elevate other women as the desired ones and seek  their wedded bliss – if they ever get that far – with non-black women. Instead of focusing on these men and how much they are lacking, it would be far better for this collective of black women (who are hetero) to seek out (and be receptive to) other men. Men of any ethnicity or even nationality who are ready, available and eager to love and care for a “regular” black woman. Problem solved!!

A man (and woman) of substance is worth the effort it takes to find and build that relationship should there be core compatibility. All others must be left behind. Even if they’re famous, but that usualy isn’t the case. It’s some marginally employed, emotionally unavailable or highly critical male who is unable to commit. Of course we see another sorry example in the case of Tiger Woods who married his version of bliss but is still not satisfied. That’s because it has to do with him, his character and his desire to escape his blackness. Not to mention being a superstar athlete who married a woman with no significant career or life achievements of her own. Looks are not enough to sustain a relationship. Self-hatred cannot be contained even with the “perfect” person. The discipline it took to achieve dominance in a sport is also one that could have been applied to his personal life – which it clearly hasn’t. Obviously his ex-nanny wife is not the type to take being cast off her pedestal lying down either, but he put her up there to begin with. Also we can note Woods would be yet another man with (some) African DNA  who leaves all of his worldly possessions to white people and racially ambiguous children.

Which brings me to my other point. Some black women really care about this story as if Woods would ever marry a black woman to begin with.  Or they were reliving a sense of “betrayal” for black men marrying the whitest women possible. Doesn’t this example show someone may have prominence but cannot provide stability? Quality, caliber and shared goals win out in the end. A man who betrays his marital bed has some serious issues at hand that must be resolved or else the marriage is going to be one where that woman is constantly living with a high-level anxiety. It’s just not worth it to me and these things are usually revealed ahead of time. Now some want to turn this into a “race” issue where Woods is being singled out by the great white racism. Oh please! That’s the mentality of conquered people who think of themselves as victims. He has business partnerships with huge conglomerates that have a vested interest in anything that would disrupt his career. I don’t care one way or the other but I find these very public displays of dysfunction great teaching moments we can learn from.

1 comment to All For One And None For All?

  • Nia

    Wow, the princess is actually the frog in that movie!? I had no idea -- I haven't seen it and I don't intend to, I have just heard and read so much about it.

    That aside though, I really found this post to be thought-provoking, and it hit home for me in so many ways. Especially when you spoke about allies -- I think you can never get it 100% correct when trying to be an ally, but if you are sincere in your efforts, willing to listen and learn and admit when you mess up, I think it can make a positive difference in the end.

    I also completely agree with you that when it comes to getting our work, our thoughts, etc. out there, we must use every available resource to us, PROVIDING we don't allow them to dictate to us, infringe upon our rights or compromise our values and morals in any way. I just returned from Europe where I was helping my sister promote her new book. It's a historical book so we were targetting a lot of museums. Many of these museums are very conservative and don't really want to know or discuss anything about ancient Black history. Of course we knew when not to even bother with some of them, but others we met with and did listen and agree to carry some of the books. Once it is mutually beneficial to all parties you can agree to work together and then move on.