"When my father was a young idealist, he let me know that it is not my place to try to "fix" whatever problems the elders, the parents, were having..."
The enmity between male and female laid out in the book of Genesis is real and almost daily between me and ‘my woman’ my inherited concept of collective womanhood. I have whined and complained about this in the past, culminating with “My Three Sexist Assumptions of the Apocalypse” and my poem “void this misogyny.” This is a huge subject that is guaranteed not to get you into favor with the intellectual/political fashion trends of the last few decades—even in so-called “afro-centric” circles. Standing on the foundation of this writing, I’ve experienced what must be “closure” on this ‘area’ and have really moved on… but then my young cousin, my paternal uncle’s youngest son comes out with this:
/////"It’s sad: [there’s] no need for the thirsty crap she does and has done my whole life… that’s prolly y I’m with a white woman now… my moms drove me away from my own woman…"/////
First of all I’m a poet so I’m going to have a poetic view of every-mufukkin-thang. So, from jump, let’s look at the word mufukka—the word motherfucker. I’ve been a motherfucker for almost two decades. I am not a husband. Let those last two sentences stand out:
/////"I’ve been a motherfucker for almost two decades. I am not a husband."/////
Do you have a renewed understanding of what the word “motherfucker” means? It means that I am “good” enough to impregnate a woman but I’m not “good” enough to be her husband. Why is that? Now we need a lot of discipline and a little street education—first of all: in the segment of society where we Wilhites come from, a man has to gain access to women almost completely under his own power.
It sounds like every young man in America has to do this in one way or another but this is an illusion. Many males of all skin colors gain access to females though third-party influences. For example, when I was a kid, I could see that one sociable family in my neighborhood that had a lot of functional connections—gave a lot of parties, cookouts—brought in a lot of little girls for the boys of the house to play with… (Another often forgotten third-party influence is the college campus; my first and only wife [who was quickly my ex-wife] came from this place…)
When your society is not working correctly you don’t have such vibrancy and diversity. When your family dysfunctions, there are other priorities—many of them warlike, isolating, mentally ill. So, whatever and blah, blah, blah: the bottom line is you got this young brother, my cousin, from a working-class family (just like me) who has to go out on his own and make a life for himself without proper introductions. Without even asking my cousin, I will “arrogantly” make the following assumptions about what happened to him when he set out on this task:
>> He was mistaken for a thug and profoundly underestimated. Many would never have guessed that he went fishing in his father’s boat. He learned how to take cars completely apart and put them back together again under the direct tutelage of his father. His father was there.
>> When his father divorced, he effectively gave his mother a house—and not some rinky-dink house either…
>> When too many people find out more about my cousin they were jealous and mysteriously competitive—almost like a sibling possessed with self-centered, warlike rivalry. Instead of being a “peaceful” educated observer truly relieved and even pleased that not all is born into abject poverty—especially us Black men.
Now more of my “arrogance”—this is why you will never see me “blogging while brown” even though this is clearly the case—as assumptions: too many of the people that reacted so strangely to my cousin as he tried to set out in the world were Black women—let’s be fair: Black women born and raised in Los Angeles under the deadly radiation of the Hollywood sign. First of all, the Black middle class as an enclave in California is almost completely gone. Most of us migrated back to the Southern United States (like my father). What this means is that a brother can:
>> Do something passionate and creative with the last of his childhood innocence in the cocoon of college with the white-washed remnants of Native America. This is how my eldest child, my son, nature boy #1, was born.
>> Find a Black woman from the upper classes, fail to respect her at face value and tolerate her condescension and fears with white-liberal guilt. This is how my youngest son, the nature boy, was born.
>> Find the best home-/school-educated Black woman from the lower classes and wrap her up in what remains of your idealism. This is how my youngest child, my dear daughter was born.
>> Let the non-Black woman find you: forget the political rhetoric, the social theory and let the system take its course.
I fought the system and succeeded as a 21st-century, post-modern father—and failed as a husband in a new-age-African communal adult partnership. (The ‘system,’ by the way, is the one in which Blacks were systematically disenfranchised, our social institutions corrupted/eroded/destroyed. This is the same system, by the way (again), that leaves constructive youth no other choice but to join the armed forces for lack of other opportunities.)
I am not ashamed of this outcome at all because I when I write the words “Black women” or speak of women as a collective, I do this knowing that I inherited my view and magnetism for women from my family tree. The women that my father chose, leading toward my mother,—and the complex psychological reasons why he chose these women—has a direct and indirect impact on my choices. I’m not passing the “blame.” I’m just recognizing that ideas come from somewhere. I am free to distort or modify the root—but there is a root.
I would feel like there was something way, way wrong with me when it’s clear that my mother and father are happily married and somehow I’m still just some motherfucker. But this is not the case. There is something else going on…
When my father was a young idealist, he let me know that it is not my place to try to “fix” whatever problems the elders, the parents, were having. He was very clear about me establishing my young family first and not to worry about the happening with the old folks… The establishment of this new family unit was the top priority and my father expressed no real concerns about its “racial composition.” Once you got Wilhite blood or once you bear Wilhite children you are one of us. Period.
Now, what I notice from my mother has been something very different. But I do this not to turn my mother into some kind of villain. My eyes see that my mother in particular and the Black women of my little squalid world in general are not encouraged to leave their mothers and be a sovereign person with “permission” to be. This is not really a Black thang—this is an American slavery thing. My mother is the daughter of one of the most ruthless, cunning force of classical evil ever to drive a bright yellow Cadillac. It is only “natural” that my mother would expose her children to some of this white exploitation—to carry on the tradition of oppression injected in the missionary position. It looks like my young cousin has a similar landscape to get through. It may not be exactly the same but the regional theme is similar.
Now that I feel like I’m about to go “off topic” in this “rant,” here’s a few points that are “appropriate” to me right now:
>> What I was told frequently by my sisters from elementary to middle school was, “I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you!” Now that I’m older, I understand the import of this direct, accurate, objective message: I am not thinking about you. This is less an expression of hate that requires vengeance than of simple fact that requires respect and avoidance.
>> Prejudice is powerful and often rooted well beyond conscious control. When I was younger, I tried to enter some kind of political campaign that compelled me to make speech after speech to defend myself against the suspicions of others. Eventually I realized I was trying to move too many persons from a deeply rooted position in which they did not even know they were sunk. What made it worse is that I assumed, because these people “know” me, this matter could be resolved with actual investigation. These people don’t know me and have little time for investigation. Remember: “I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you!”
>> Be suspicious of adults trying to correct the behavior of other adults. Have no respect for an ultimatum wrapped in a complaint for a single event. When a person truly “loves” you, they will complain and share with you several “chances” (opportunities) to improve yourself—because they are actually thinking about you—instead of thinking about some experience they had (or inherited) in the past that they are afraid of reliving.
>> I have never been in a situation where I had to choose a woman of one “race” over another—like I’m a judge for two ladies, waiting on me to make some beauty contest decision. This statement is meant to fly in the face of what is quickly becoming the out-of-date story of how some Negro dude explicitly rejects some sister for some swirl.
>> People will do what they are willing to do. It took me a long time to discover the difference between will and want. People might do what they want. But they will do what they will.
>> All of the women that gave birth to my children I have felt were mavericks or stragglers from the main “herd”—I felt I had to scrape and scavenge together these relationships. I associate these relationships with a kind of desperation in poverty under significant pressure of economic threats. This is just another way of saying what my father used to say to me: “I did the best I could under the circumstances.” As I observe from a distance, as these women “move on” I’m beginning to realize that there is more scavenging going on than ever…
>> Another major oversight of my many oversights about some women (which I feel is more North American than “universal”) is not recognizing the high-energy, often dramatic transformation some women have to go through once they “decide” they are going to be in a committed relationship. I am saying that I recognize this. I am not saying that I respect this. The yoke should be easy. The burden should be light. (I am not saying that marrying me is like marrying Jesus—but it appears it can be just as boring…)
>> The media in the United States has been repeatedly accused of nurturing a sick culture of fear. My assertion is that with this sickness comes too many women who are preoccupied with their personal safety (real and imagined) rather than feeling the healthy aggression that fuels creative acts of “love” and outreach. I do not mistake “healthy aggression” for being a bitch. But I must remember: “I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you!”
>> My desire has been to be in partnership with a woman such that this bond of friendship represents the progressive heights of my personal internal development. This is very much in conflict with how many women will their relationships to be. Many women are willing to have their intimate partnership(s) represent the heights of their social external development. There are many dandy guys out there who are no different than these women—they will make very happy political power couples (the political arena, by the way, can be just the local night club or church down the street). My interpretation of my father’s idealism left me with the root demanding that my intimate relationship with my woman belongs to me first—not to some third, social party. So listen and watch carefully when a dandy guy with a metal ring on his finger says the words “my wife.” I have yet to meet any husband from my generation who can say “my wife” and really be talking about the “better half” of his inner being. Remember: “I’m not thinkin’ ’bout you!” (Too many times she’s right: there’s not much to think about…)
>> Here in the rasx() context, Blacks are largely distinguished from whites by being of a more intense, concentrated, percussive form of whiteness—not from any full/partial incarnation of African high culture whatsoever.
That last “divisive” statement is just another way of saying, “we are all the same under our skin.” To be of anything functionally African implies a profound transformation of consciousness that is just not there because some lady from an American city learned how to use Shea butter and pay someone to braid her hair.
So, yes: when my father was a young idealist, he let me know that it is not my place to try to “fix” whatever problems the elders, the parents, were having. I now see that I ‘disobeyed’ my father’s indirect instructions. I actively engaged in relationships with women that were echoes, metaphors, symbols—whatever you want to call it—of the problems of my elders (especially my mother’s internal struggle to free herself from her mother). So when my cousin says, “my moms drove me away from my own woman”—his “own woman” may be beyond simple “race” matters. He might have simply avoided trying to find a woman with a similar archetypical design as his mother—and then interpreted his flight to freedom in racial terms like what so many American “interracial” couples have done. What can be very tragic—especially in Black- and-white terms—is when you realize that you did not escape the perils of mother no matter what “race” your “own woman” may be. Now you face the horror of “we are all the same under our skin.” (source)
Bryan Wilhite (Guest Contributor, The Liberator Magazine)
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