This was a thought I had as I reached the final stages of the research for this article. That love is innate, inherent and, to black women, there is no other. We could start discussing a number of black women who date, marry or "prefer" white men, but that is not really what this is about.
As easily as black women can love black men as brothers and fathers. As easily as black women can cherish their black lovers taking them back every time because they believe that they can do better and that one day they will see the prize before them; their black queens. As easily as our mothers go about their lives after our daddy's leave: to find a job, to find himself, to find himself in another woman.
As easily as we do not blame our brothers who mug us and strip us of our power and our uncles who harass us and look at us as meat. How easy is it for a black man to love a black woman, thoroughly, with all that she carries? The scars of the fathers, lovers, brothers, uncles are all evident on her seemingly impenetrable outer shell.
"Why are black women always so angry", they say.
Warsan Shire, in her book "Our Men Do Not Belong to Us", stated something that I had never thought of before... they do not belong to us. Black men were taken from us to be slaves and miners and garden boys... Black MEN were taken from us.
Settling down with a black woman, starting a family, building strong black communities is not a priority. This is where the mental slavery comes in.
Marcus Garvey tells us to emancipate our minds because only then can we free ourselves. We are no longer physically chained. But when we watch the latest music videos -- and I'm going to have to call out rap music on this one. We see a sea of white women or mixed race or Hispanic or any type of light skinned, long-haired situation that could pass for exotic in an environment that was created around the appreciation of the bodies of black women.
And now these bodies are no longer good enough and so it seems that our men -- when they look at themselves in the mirror and when they look at black women, they [black women] are not good enough. Settling down with a black woman, starting a family, building strong black communities is not a priority. This is where the mental slavery comes in.
We [the black nation] are so accustomed to coming last, being the under dog that it seems that the only way to get ahead and be recognised by the world is to throw away all that is us and take on all that is them. This stretches from not only speaking a foreign language [in a South African context English and Afrikaans], to their beauty standards [small nose, long flowy hear, lighter skin etc.], to actually "becoming" them.
In Fanon's book, Black Skin White Mask, the beginning of chapter three reads:
"Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white. Now -- and this is a form of recognition that Hegel had not envisaged -- who but a white woman can do this for me? By loving me she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man. I am a white man."
The book is much juicier than just this little extract and I'd encourage anyone to have a read. When I read this it made a lot of sense to me and when I read some more I realized that I too was somewhat guilty of wanting to be in a white body.
Growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood and going to "white" schools I always stuck it out, not because I was the only black kid [there were others.] But because I was a bit of an odd ball and always ended up making friends with the white kids: building sand castles or adventuring through some bushes and capturing snakes [sigh].
Back to the matter at hand. In no way am I generalising and saying all black men hate black women and in no way am I shaming anyone who has a spouse outside of their race.
Although when I look back at my time growing up and my transition in high school where the population of black kids was meant to mirror the racial state of the nation [this is what my principal told us] I didn't NOT like black guys, my options were just limited when I was younger and being in a school with 1,200 people made me realize that I just like boys as a whole, the hotter the better.
Back to the matter at hand. In no way am I generalising and saying all black men hate black women and in no way am I shaming anyone who has a spouse outside of their race. Selena Gomez said it best: "the heart wants what it wa-ah-ah-ah-ah-nts" and I am honestly the last person to be doing any finger wagging on that part [not that there is any finger wagging to be done].
We all listened to the beautiful, previously viewed as a mixed race, Jesse Williams at the BET awards telling black people to unite.
Do our black men love themselves as BLACK MEN enough to love black women?
That is a proud black man, married to a beautiful black woman [whom I respect very much and wouldn't want to start any trouble with], raised by a white woman and a black man and as we listen to his speech we realise that at no point was he in denial about who he was, at no point was he confused.
The question I am posing is: Do our black men love themselves as BLACK MEN enough to love black women?
The love of self will, inevitably, flow into the love for black people and then black women and children and black communities will be built on self-love and love for one another, and nothing and no-one will be able to enslave us again. But we need our men back. We need them to focus less on "getting brands on their backs" and instead begin to carry, once again, this great nation on their backs.
It sounds like a tall order, but we're here. Black women are here, ready to rebuild and reclaim that which was stolen from us.