I know some bw were a bit hesitant and wary about this book when it first came out, but I would suggest that some of us look at the larger issue here and that is, how this book could have a far reaching effect because sadly people are the way they are and many black women will only receive counsel from a black man on these issues. Indeed I kept coming across comments like, ‘If he is a black man he wouldn’t be saying this’, or people mistaken him for white because the truth is that black men have long since adopted a selfish and self centred posture towards the whole issue, in fact people are almost having heart attacks at the thought of a black man not going the usual route of defending black men and the image of black men even at the expense of the well-being of the group!
Buy a copy, request one for your library, get it in place of that gift you were already planning for your sister or friend (Christmas is round the corner), or recommend if for your book club. BWE have so much power of influence that they often don’t use and which often doesn’t cost them much or extra. Write a review. BWE activists (which means all of you), need to commit at least one hour a month towards pushing forward the BWE philosophy. JUST-ONE-HOUR-A-MONTH. How hard can that be!
'Should black women continue to be held hostage to the failures of black men'- R Banks
This can involve dropping a link in a discussion (wont take you more than 10 mins!). I have aggregated a whole lot of BWE work on the following website www.tellingblackwomenthetruth.com feel free to drop it all over the web. I have seen many do it and I thank you for your efforts to liberate your fellow black woman.
Put this hour down in your diary and decide what it is you want to do. Remember this hour is about spreading the message to new territories not just writing a blog post for instance to your usual audience. I used to print off leaflets and drop them surreptitiously on buses or train seats (in areas with a high population of black women). Even dropping a few leaflets on the sly in your hairdressers (who is to know it is you), even handing a leaflet to a bw and feigning ignorance saying ’someone gave me this leaflet I wonder what its about?’ Imagine how many people will come across this book in a public setting like a library or as a request for a book club.
In the UK the book is not yet available so I have been reading a listening to Richard Banks commentary on different online pages. I was impressed with some of the answers highlighted below:
Re Owing it to the black race:
‘Another concern is that black women feel they owe it to the black race to marry a black man and have a black family that is strong and does the race proud. Many college educated black women have cousins, fathers and brothers who have been to jail or unemployed. They've seen this struggle and feel like they want to help and be part of the solution rather than be successful on their own.’
Re academic theories and intellectual analysis need to have meaning to the person on the ground and not be disconnected from their personal desires aspirations
‘When I teach family law, we spend a lot of time on the question of: If we didn't have the institution of marriage, would we need to create it? What would life be like without that? When you ask people on the street if they think marriage is oppressive and has been a tool to consolidate male control over women and maintaining property relationships, those ideas don't connect with regular people at all. If you talk to mainstream gay leaders about destroying gay marriage, you have no constituency for that among gay rights advocates. Ten or twenty years ago, there was a constituency for that argument.’
Re the charge that 'Marriage as an oppressive institution'.
There's a lot to the critique of marriage as an institution, but in the book, I'm not critiquing what people want. When a black woman tells me she thought by the time she was 39 she'd be married with children, I don't begin to query her about why she wants to be married and whether marriage is necessary. I put myself where they are, and that's a choice I made.
(My choice here is not to critique people's norms, expectations, or values, but instead to take for granted that in our society people do still have gendered expectations of men and women. If I were creating a society, I might get rid of those, but I'm taking people as they are rather than remaking them in the way I think they should be.)
I was impressed with this answer given by Richard Banks to Salon.com because for a long time I have watched ‘intellectuals’ and assorted black intelligentia and activists query black women when they say they want to be married and say that black women are buying into an oppressive institution etc etc we should look at 'new' forms of relationships and partnerships etc etc. Indeed these folks decided they would rather challenge black women's desires than accept what black women say they want as valid and that they have a right to this desire. Indeed if black women say they want to be married why are such folk now suddenly beginning to 'question' it and this desire for marriage and make it out to be abnormal? I guess this questioning has become necessary now because of how hard it is for this ambition to be realized within race, so invalidating this stated desire as wrong headed, abnormal or black women wanting to be like whites instead of accepting new ideals, becomes the only way to ensure black women abide by the situation as it stands!
Re marriage is shorthand for committed relationships
In some ways it's a matter of shorthand. It is the case that for most couples in the U.S., a serious, committed, monogamous relationship is going to be a marital one. Most cohabitating relationships are not long term. People either break up or get married. Maybe that will change 10 years from now, but right now in the U.S., that's where we stand.
Re feminist wanting to manipulate black women’s issues to further their agenda
‘I've talked about this with a lot of academic white feminists at Stanford, and I've heard a lot of them ask, "Why do women need to be married? Why can't they have children on their own? And who am I to impose some moral code on women?" My response is that when I went out to interview people, I thought I was going to find a lot of black women who were so happy they didn't have to be married. But I didn't find that. To the people who say black women are leading the charge in being unmarried and we should applaud them rather than subject them to scrutiny, I would say they're really missing the experience that a lot of black women are having. A less charitable take is that it's doing a disservice to black women to manipulate their experience for the ideological ends of feminism.
See more http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/09/04/marriage_and_race_interview
I was also impressed at how he also essentially debunks this myth and chanted mantra of there are ‘Good black men out there,’ which has essentially immobilized many black women and prevented the dawning of the idea that hey would and should broaden their dating options. How does he do this? Well with the strong case he makes that as long as the number imbalance gives black men the upper hand and indeed so much power in the black relationship arena/market, they will continue to give black women a very bad deal not because they are evil demons, but as a function of this extreme bargaining advantage they enjoy. He says quite openly that black women would likely find better relationship deals with white men!
His is a good response for those who want black women to foolishly trust in the ‘altruist’ nature of black men.
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