(ThyBlackMan.com) Before we get into this, I want to set the record straight. I am a 14 year full time veteran business owner. My business has paid my bills every year and I do not have any loans. I neither need nor have requested handouts. My vehicles and home are paid for. I help one son in college and helped my other son until he finished. So when I speak about the value of unemployed husbands, do not dare assume that I am one who is taking up for those who choose to do nothing.
Simply put, as a marriage, family and relationship counselor, I see the value and contributions of a great many unemployed African American men. Such contributions are often being demeaned, ignored or crushed below the feet of double standards regarding wives who are unemployed and stay at home moms. What am I saying? I am saying that a stay at home mom or unemployed wife is often judged by a different and better standard than a man in the same position. I am not saying men should stay at home but I am saying double standards are flat out hypocritically wrong.
Strong African American fathers and husbands have been devalued, undermined, scape-goated and stereotyped for too long – especially by too many African American women who have issues themselves. If you tear down the African American man, you tear down the African American family.
Let me give you an example. A stay at home mom is valued for the “priceless” contributions she makes in keeping the home, looking after the children and in effect saving money the family would otherwise have to spend (and she should be). But a man in the same situation is seen as lazy, sorry and/or irresponsible. He is not valued for how much money he is saving the family by keeping the child instead of paying high daycare costs. Nor is he is appreciated by society for the immense amount of time he spends with his children daily when he is out of work. Nor is he judged by why he is unemployed.
Women want equal rights and I agree with them. But then the standards should also be equal. Our women despise when they are the victims of double standards so they should both overstand and despise when their husbands or male companions are victims as well.
African American husbands and fathers, even many of whom are unemployed, still make major contributions to the home and the family. I am not making excuses for sorry, lazy little boys who are users. But I am also not willing to place the majority of our unemployed brothers in those categories. They are still protectors. They are still disciplinarians. They are still problem solvers. They are still intimate partners for their wives and compassionate men who encourage their children. Women are not the only ones who can help with homework, give baths, iron clothes, meet the plumber, set alarms, resolve problems etc.
When our women fail to see the value of strong African American men, they see how hard it is to do everything alone. It is then that they realize the value of our brothers. Yet for a great many African American women, they end up bitter because the man was not what they wanted him to be or did not do things the way they wanted him to do. So how do you measure the value of a man?
One more time, I am not excusing lazy men, users or men who refuse to grow up and be responsible. But those traits do not fit the majority of African American men. Nor do they fit many of the men who are unemployed. Two men can clearly be in the same situation yet for two different reasons. I know that to be true because as a counselor I have seen hundreds of cases as such. I am not making excuses but rather giving you more of the reasons instead of just placing all of our brothers in the same box.
When it comes to dating or looking for a husband, a great many African American women want the many to have a “Christmas list” of everything in order – house, car, job, not too many kids etc. And I do not speak against those things. But material things are not the measure of a man and its time our sisters learned that. Ironically, many of these “sisters” lack the very things on the list they want the man to have. Wow is that a double standard or what?
Ladies , if you cannot bring it, what gives you the right to demand it?
If an brother is unemployed, is he about to start a new job? Is he looking? Was he fired unjustly? Was he forced to resign after taking a stand on a critical issue? Was his position or entire department dissolved due to budget cuts? Was his employer bought out by another company (hostile takeover) whereby the larger company cleaned house? You see the “WHY” is just as important as the “what”, if not more so.
I know an African American man in his late 40s who rides the bus, has no car and lives with his dad in a small two bedroom apartment. While he is employed, the situation is much more than meets the eye. Yet I have seen women turn their noses up at him or look down on him because he does not have what they think he should have.
What they do not know is that Carlton is a corporate law attorney who makes an easy six figures a year. He doesn’t have a car because he doesn’t want one and he enjoys walking a few blocks to work for exercise. He stays with his father because his father is not well. He sold his house and took a loss to be there with his father because he is a dedicated son with strong character and loyalty.
Carlton is just one example of why we must realize the measure of a man is not based on material things nor what someone else thinks he should have. And while Carlton (the man in the example I just gave you) is not married, my point is the same. Yet women looking for a “good man” or a husband will likely miss him entirely. For a while, he was even unemployed until the new law firm brought him in.
Husbands and fathers contribute so much more to the family than material things – though material needs of course must be met. I do not deny that. But I simply say we should be looking at more of the big picture. Ironically it’s hard for some to look at the big picture when those looking are really small people. Maybe that is an even bigger problem.
Staff Writer; Trevo Craw