Sunday, December 28, 2008

Black Uplift?

I was having a conversation with a friend about the latest profiled criminal attempt against a black women

in which a black man is the main suspect. She made a comment that in essence boiled down to, 'Black women should never have to be victims of black men.' Another friend was in earshot and responded, 'Well there are evil men in all races, white men kill white women all the time, so why make this a race issue?' The first friend tried to explain her view in more detail, but was having a bit of difficulty. Somehow the 'this shouldnt be a race issue because every race has its bad elements' angle seemed much more reasonable and rational.

I however knew what the first black woman was getting at but with much difficulty. Within the complex belief system upon which the concept of 'black uplift' (or black unity/black advancement/black empowernment) as black people understand it, is founded, black men do not have the option of victimising black women. I knew she was trying to put in words the view that within the black uplift context, black men cannot be harming black women even if all other groups of men saw nothing to cutting down women of their own race. She was experincing a tension with the idea that black men could do like every other man, and be allowed the same choices and attitudes towards black women given what black folk where trying to build/achieve.

In the same way when black women see and experince black men's mate selection based on very superficial even anti-black criteria they experince this tension, knowing that these are not the choices that black men commited and participating in the 'uplift' push should be making, and that they are transgressing the very fundamental articles of the black advancement belief system. Many black women cannot express the tension they feel in as many words but this is the essence.

Black women recognise that under the the belief system of 'community uplift' black women have a more critical role to play than what they are beeing selected for. This is why many black women become alarmed that black men are increasingly and overwhelmingly making their companion choices based on criteria that are more suited to other groups of men who do not have a job of 'community building' on their hands. Indeed it is for white men of choose their women according to hair grade or colour and waist measurement and whatever other trend takes their fansy. For black men however who should be connecting with the grand notion of 'black uplift' in their choices of mate, it all seems out of place to be preoccupied with hair grade and complexion, when they should be focussed on qualities that would fascilitate the black empowernment agenda eg college education for family wealth building.

I have said that the grand evidence of the fact that black men have essentially disconnected with the 'black uplift' agenda, is to be found in the criteria and specifications they have for their women. Indeed when black men can put together such self-focused books as the below

in which you scan from one end of the book to the other to find something, anything that would show some kind of link to and concern for the higher agenda of black empowernment(as opposed to the self centred 'cater to me the black man'), you will begin to recognise that sadly black women are running with a illusion that they are in partnership with black men on this 'community uplift' journey.

Oh dear, you have black women who are fashioning themselves and focussing on qualitites that connect to the black uplift agenda and on the other hand black men are selecting women for reasons that have very little to do with this grand plan, a fundamental mis match if there ever was one.

So in terms of the discussion I was having with the two black women, there is a 'black uplift' context within which issues can be considered and there is the more general often seemingly more sensible reading of the issue like, 'There are bad men in every race'. Indeed sometimes the logic/sense of concepts within black uplift philosophy sound entirely bizzare and can loose out in general debates(think about how black women often end up looking foolish when they come out on TV to insist that black men should marry only black women as opposed to 'love knows no color'). As a black woman who is aware of the context of black uplift, I understand where they are coming from (I might have other ideas but I still understand their point), but I can see how ridiculous they are looking to mainstream audiences (with their lack of awareness, understanding or indeed endorsement of such an ideology) particularly when the black man in question doesnt appear to be in support or favour of this 'black uplift', perspective.

What happens when a large/significant portion of black men disconnect from the fundamentals of the black uplift doctrine? Well the philosophy of 'accomodation' kicks in. This seeks to justify the activities of black men whatever they may be or to put it in another way, seek to not be critical of whatever choices black men make. This requires, as in the case of the third woman, flitting back to a general context for viewing the issue as opposed to the black uplift context. When I see back women shifting their frameworks in this way it often points to the fact that they have sensed a need to 'protect' black men, who might have come under some form of criticism for their activites and actions these being in direct opposition to the community uplift agenda.

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1 comment:

JESS said...