Dr. Boyce Watkins; Essence Magazine – Black Women Bitter? Single?
(ThyBlackMan.com) Essence Magazine’s Demetria Lucas (who I consider a friend after having her on my show once) recently hit on her oft-discussed topic of black women and relationships by questioning whether or not the stereotype of the single, bitter black woman is true. Her words were a reflection of comments made by Ralph Richard Banks, a Stanford University Professor. In a recent article for the NY Daily News, Banks said that “Stereotypes of Black women as angry or bitter are pervasive. They are also more accurate than many people would like to acknowledge.”
Of course Lucas takes issue with Banks words, even though she seemed to like him the week before. Lucas had applauded Banks’ book, “Is Marriage for White People?,” stating that Professor Banks “revealed he’d had an internal struggle as a Black man writing about how so many Black men aren’t measuring up and are too often doing Black women dirty.”
But Lucas’ newfound love for Dr. Banks died once he stopped asking black men to do introspection and turned the mirror onto black women themselves. That’s when Dr. Banks became just another author who was “under pressure to earn their royalties and that will make you do and say outrageous things to get attention.” How quickly admiration can turn into disdain when someone stops saying what we would like to hear.
Though you can’t categorize an entire group of people, the truth is that the bitter black woman does indeed exist. I once heard a therapist say, “My father was my first boyfriend, and when he broke my heart by abandoning me, I had a hard time trusting men ever again.” In light of how many little girls are growing up without their daddies around, it’s inevitable that there are going to be millions of black women in dire need of a psychiatrist’s chair. If my mother had abandoned me as a baby, it might be tough for any woman to gain the trust that my own mother (the ultimate woman, in my mind) had thrown into the garbage.
Whether their fathers were deliberately excluded from their lives or not (I’ve heard from a lot of men who were pushed out of their kids’ lives), the impact is the same nonetheless. Additionally, there is a culture of hyper-masculinity among segments of the black male population, partially fueled by hip-hop music, that can lead us to treating women in ways that are everything but honorable (I still wonder why so many women are attracted to Lil Wayne, who rarely uses any favorable adjective to describe a woman). So, in many cases, the bitter black woman can be the product of an insensitive black man, but the insensitive black man is often a product of dealing with bitter black women. So, at the end of the day, they actually deserve one another – they exchange glances at the club, get sexually aroused, create a baby, get into a fight a few months later, and start a new relationship a few months later. The dating-mating pattern is as predictable as anything you might see on the Discovery Channel.
We are all clear in understanding that there is something unique happening in the world of black love and relationships. Couples are either not getting married at all, or staying married for 10 minutes, creating a chaotic cesspool of drama, dysfunction and severe baby-mama-itis. What’s interesting to me is that nearly all of us play a role in the reasons that this chaos has come into existence, yet no one is willing to take responsibility. The unhealthy state of black relationships has even added to the spread of venereal disease, since a single person likely has far more sex partners during a year than someone who is married.
Every love-seeker in the dating pool claiming that they can’t find the love of their life wants to believe that it’s always the other gender’s fault. Some folks seem to enjoy sitting around and complaining about relationship drama, while spending almost no time wondering why they are always aiming their pole toward the contaminated fish. Our friends tell us that there’s nothing wrong with us and that the rest of the world has become the problem. But sorry, that’s just not good advice – a true friend can recognize your dating patterns and will tell you when you’re being stupid.
The truth? If you’re not getting what you want out of life, there’s a good chance that you’re doing something wrong. It’s not that the world has suddenly become horrible, that everyone is conspiring against your quest for perpetual happiness, or that you’ve somehow been the victim of a cultural tornado that is sweeping away all of your opportunities. While the world can be a strange place sometimes, the reality is that most of us fail because we are not willing to make adjustments.
In all relationships, there are at least two minds, two lives, and two spirits trying to merge into one. When that merger doesn’t happen in the right way, it can be heart breaking and debilitating. Watching a chance at true love slip away is hurtful beyond words, and it also fills our hearts with regret, bitterness and rejection. When a woman once ended my relationship for no good reason (other than being interested in another man), I temporarily felt that I’d been born on the wrong planet. After all, I’d done everything right, so I couldn’t understand why this was happening to “poor little old me.”
But when you’re sitting alone and dealing with the person named Y-O-U, you ultimately have a choice. You can either give up or you can keep trying. You can remain stagnant or continue to grow. You can moan, whine and wail over internal damage and give yourself an excuse to become a wretched human being, or you can elevate your spirit to find productive ways to seek out the love that God has intended for you. There are millions of people around the world who have found the very thing you’ve deemed to be unobtainable, and in all likelihood it’s because they made a sacrifice that you were not wiling to make.
As most married folks will tell you, true love is not a blissful and marvelous fairy tale – it is a series of stressful, challenging sacrifices being made one after the other, all for the sake of maintaining the thing that you’ve chosen to build together. This goes triple when you have kids. The realistic description of the “marital fairy tale” doesn’t go over so well in the generation of “ME.” Relationships have become like pieces of bubble gum that are spit out and replaced as soon as the sugar runs out.
No matter what choice you make (I personally believe that it’s OK to walk away from marriage), you have to keep in mind that the choice is always yours. Your decisions are the only factor that you can control in this confusing process called “life.” Blaming the rest of the world, presuming that an entire gender has conspired against you or burying yourself in a shell of scorn is not going to help you find true love. In fact, you’re likely to attract the thing that you have chosen to become.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins