I wrote a blog post, a personal reflection, if you will. I am a journalist, so by nature I am curious, always wanting to know other people's stories and always wanting to tell a story. This time I chose to share an opinion based on life through my eyes, conversations with friends both male and female, my dealings with society, parenthood and all the things that contribute to who I am.
My intention was to share a narrative about the difficulties of raising a black man in a society where the standard of beauty is different from, and at times hostile toward, women who look like him. Women who look like me.
It was not meant to be an academic piece, nor would I consider it to be an "article"; it read like a diary entry, because in many ways it was.
Because I wrote it as a blog post, I was not seeking or expecting the attention I received, both good and bad. But the attention it received at times further illustrated my point.
Many comments I read from black men were some variation of the suggestion that I must be a dark-skinned black woman myself. Why?
I was not trying to change the world with what I wrote; I just sought to express myself and my very real frustration with the way that black women are regarded, not just in America but the world over.
As Malcolm X said, "The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman."
Perhaps I was too upset and impassioned when I wrote and submitted that post. Perhaps it needed more reflection and, admittedly, more proofreading, but I'm not recanting my main idea, and I'm not backing down from or shying away from my message.
My boyfriend's views on black hair are problematic, but no one is perfect. As a friend of mine would say, we are all guilty of problematic behavior; we have all held problematic views. No one is perfect, and on this journey of self-acceptance and self-love, we as black people must unlearn all of that internalized oppression. It's not a quick process or an easy one, but it is one that most black Americans have to undergo. My boyfriend is no different; hell, I am no different. One wrong view about hair texture is not and never will be a deal breaker; I am not my hair.
What I meant to convey, however, is that his wrong view is a symptom of a problem that is much deeper, much broader and far too common among some black men. While it may not determine the outcome of our relationship, the implication that there is something wrong with my hair texture still hurt.
My main point was simple: Misogynoir is real, and, in my opinion, you'd be remiss not to acknowledge that. It's evident in society's quickness to vilify Snoop Dogg for the way he handled his beef with Iggy Azelea, and society's silence when it came to Iggy's mentor T.I.'s handling of Azealia Banks during their feud -- a feud that did not even involve T.I. initially, I might add. There are black men, public figures, defending Iggy. Where were they when T.I. inserted himself into a squabble having nothing to do with him? Where were they when he referred to this young black woman as a "thot"? Nowhere.
I mentioned my degrees and upbringing not to suggest that I'm better than anyone or to elevate myself as some prized black woman but merely to acknowledge that we black women are not a monolith.
I respect that people have dating preferences, but I can't help but be extremely dubious of black men who have a preference for everyone but black women, because we are all so different and varied, from our appearance to our dispositions.
Often the reason for the preference, at least in my experience, is some unfair overgeneralization using stereotypes to define the characteristics usually applied to black women. The rationale usually fails because, again, we are a spectrum in every way, and we can't be pigeonholed as a class.
Let me point out again: I never said "all" or "most" but "some."
These are men that I personally know as friends or acquaintances, some I don't know at all but have encountered through social media, and also ideas espoused by popular culture. This point of view also came from female family members and friends who say they often feel overlooked.
In sum, it was a collection of my life experiences, not a dig at black men in general.
My black man loves me, and I love him. I know black love exists. It existed between my parents.
Another question that I got a lot was why I care about this if I am in a relationship. Well, just because I'm in a relationship doesn't mean I'm blind to what's going on around me.
What I was trying to say is that I'm troubled by the fact that it seems that black women only have other black women to look to when it seems that we help every other class carry their burden and fight their oppression, black men in particular.
At times it seems that we are the only ones who unconditionally value us. I'm not the first person to articulate these sentiments; it's been done a million times before, probably more effectively, by people who are probably in a better position to assess our culture, and it will be articulated again. If you don't see the anti-black misogyny in the memes, if you don't hear it in the music, then I'll stand alone.
I'm not seeking acceptance or solidarity. I'm merely expressing myself the only way I know how: in my writing.