Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
What is Black Manhood?
Unfortunately, I managed to make it to age 25 and still not understand it completely.
All that I know about Black Manhood is that its tough--but so is Black Womanhood.
What do you get when you mix Black Men & Love?
In a recent conversation with another close friend of mine, we talked about our experience with our fathers and its impact on relationships we have with men--platonic or romantic. The conversation was somber towards the end because we had so many unanswered questions and left the phone line reflecting on our own experiences with Black Manhood.
One of the most profound illustrations of Black Manhood was described to me in Steve Harvey's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Somehow, this brother was able to break down the essence of being a man in a way that I actually understood. In Steve Harvey's book, there is an entire chapter where Harvey explains how men show love towards women in ways that women may or may not be fully aware. He spends a whole chapter describing three things that men will do if he is really into you and wants to show that he loves you.
1. Profess: meaning that a man goes out of his way to make sure every man in the room knows you're his woman and not "just a friend" or not just " (insert name here)."
2. Provide: bringing home the bacon to provide for the family. He talks a LOT about bills and their priorities. You have to pick up the book yourself to get all he has to share on this one.
3. Protect: self-explanatory. A "good" man can recognize you for the strong independent woman that you are but he feels its necessary for him to be able to protect the woman and family that he loves. So, while he understands that you are a strong Black woman, taking out the trash, carrying the groceries, and mowing the law are things young black men were taught to do at an early age to prepare them for providing and protecting their woman in manhood. NOTE: This is a totally different conversation but I will keep it moving.
Later in the book, Harvey mentioned that in return, Black men only need 3 things: loyalty, support, and "the cookie." With these six ideas, we learn that once "good" Black men know what they want and believe to have found it, they will do what is necessary to keep it. Now there is a lot of work to get all of these pieces to fit together, but the basics are there.
On top of reading Harvey's book, I happened to be working with a client recently who was seeking counseling primarily due to the bruising of his dignity and pride in his ability to maintain a certain definition of manhood.
This client broke down the significance of how it feels to be a man and provide for a family. He talked about the importance of being able to connect with the woman he married. He explained that he promised her father that he would do whatever necessary to take care of her when he asked permission to marry her. For various reasons, he felt he had let both her and her father down. He was hurt. While I cannot explain the nature of this client's predicament, please believe that whatever happened to this person was sincerely not a situation he created.
Now for all the people who really know me understand that I can be a bag of water at times....this was one of those times...but I held it down.
I was really moved because for the first time in a long time, I witnessed the true love of a Black man. I felt the tension and emotion in his voice. This man had to humble himself and ask for help. He was a man that did not believe in going to see "therapists." He always takes everything to GOD. However, this "situation" was one that brought him to a place he had never been before and it scared him.
The fact that he was not only physically distant from the love of his life and they were having issues was enough to deal with; but he was seriously hurting because he felt that he failed to be the man that he always believed himself to be. He cried--perhaps for the first time.
Its sad that it took me 25 years to witness the power of romantic love within a black man. Whats even more unfortunate is that it did not come from someone I know--a family member. I first felt and understood "real" romantic love of a Black Man from virtually a stranger.
There was so much to his story but I think you get a snippet of the raw emotion coming from this client and the significance of upholding manhood and his love for his family.
The picture in this post is my favorite picture of Barack Obama. My interpretation of this picture could go on forever. Yet, the words that come to mind is Black Manhood. I see love in that picture.
If only we can see brothers love on each other like this everyday....
If only we could see Black men love Black women as my client loves his wife and respects her family.
If only black men could begin to love themselves and seek God in everything they do...we all would have a more firm understanding of Black Manhood.