Dear Black Men

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, the racial tension that has swept over the country the last few years has been impossible to ignore.  While racism has always been present, the incidents involving cop killings of unarmed black men – and getting away with it- had almost everyone feeling enraged. It didn’t matter which color you were; it was easy to see that the injustice being handed out to people of color just wasn’t right.

Then, if things couldn’t get any worse, the 45th President of the United States was elected, much to everyone’s dismay.  We already knew his stance on immigrants and women (grab em by the… what?).  After each executive order that the new commander in chief signs, even some his supporters begin to regret the decision they made by electing him to office.  They feel like he forgot about them.

The feeling of being forgotten as a people is something that we in the African American community have experienced for far too long; and while we as black woman certainly have our struggles with being respected in the work force and the board room along with being appreciated at home for all we do for our families, our struggle is different from that of the black man.  It’s a struggle that black men have dealt with for centuries; only now with so many broken families, and ignorant images being glorified for money (think any reality TV show) the love for our men gets overshadowed.  Positive images for black men, and inspiring role models for young boys growing into men, are starting to be far and few in between as we praise men that are rich, rude and have multiple children by multiple women at the same time.  We begin to love what they represent, not who they are.

What exactly does that mean?

It’s no secret that the family structure within the African American community is nowhere close to what it used to be.  It is a known fact that there are more baby showers than there are weddings.  Still, as a woman that is a single mother raising two black boys on her own, I try to look at things from all angles.  As a woman, I cannot even pretend to understand how a man handles his life situations.  Nor can I tell him how he should react to them.  I am, after all, a woman.  We are made to nurture, to comfort.  Men are the opposite.  That’s shown in even the smallest ways: when a child falls down and scrapes their knee, a woman will automatically try to tend to the child and make sure they aren’t hurt, while a man will yell “You aight” to the child and keep it moving.

Because I am a woman who loves black men to the core – on top of the fact that I am raising two myself- I do feel the need to express the love that we have for our men.  It is my personal opinion that we don’t do that enough.  We let the complications of the world, whether its financial, personal, emotional, take us away from the common denominator that used to make us great: our love for one another.  Somewhere along the way, impressing friends (then social media) took precedence over sharing, caring and communicating with each other.  We let silly things like pride and ego get in the way of what’s really important: supporting and uplifting each other, especially in times like these.  In this day and age, egos have to take a back seat to what is really important.

Our black men are continuously looked at as a threat simply because of the melanin in their skin.  For them to go out in the world and have to constantly deal with always being under a high beam, then the unrealistic expectations from us is not right.  That is not to say we should give men an excuse to slack on whatever responsibilities he may have.  I’m also not saying that every man deserves king treatment because regardless of race, a man has to accountable for his actions and the reactions he may have caused, the same as any women.

What I am saying is that we don’t show our men that we love them and cherish them enough when they deserve it.  Men and women have become locked in such a power struggle these days.  Everyone wants to everything to be their way with no compromising in sight.  Constant arguing and fighting have become the norm amongst couples; and our fathers, grandfathers and uncles are left to pick up the slack we have caused with our constant need to have things our way or no way.  We don’t show each other love anymore.  We are enraged when a cop kills one of our men, but we make no moves to better our communities so that the violence amongst each other is so devastating.

In a society where black men are frowned upon, we must smile at them.  We must let them know that we are not another enemy, but a place to seek comfort.  We have to make them feel loved.  It is important to give them their roses while they can still smell them.  And it doesn’t take much to make the black man in your life feel invincible when he steps outside to face the world.  A few words of encouragement can go a long way for your sons to your father, grandfather, uncles, cousins, friends, coworkers, whoever!

We have to simply stop being against our men.  This is deeper than just a failed relationship you may have had with one.  We must show them that we love them and if no one else has their back, the black woman does.

-Tiana Grover

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