That’s a good question. I think on some level they are doing the dance expected of them. I will write up a bit more on these thoughts in the next post but I was actually watching the actions of the white men at the barbecue versus the black guys. Most of the white guys performing any function were well behaved, went out of their way to be helpful and courteous, and assist people without judgement or telling anyone off. It seemed/s to me to be expected that the black guys were going to act 'some kind of way' possibly have outbursts, tell folk off, or transgress the social etiquette and rules of decorum, with people gearing up to make allowances for these expected responses. Even at work they receive patronage and the funding keeps rolling in if they fit the stereotype of the misunderstood black male, or if they play to the 'black men cant help themselves but react angrily', theme. Very sad because it keeps them in the cycle and they cant break out (because it is being rewarded)and be better than all that!
To add to this observation, as a result of work I am exposed to the dynamics of interaction between black men and women. I know a particular woman who has a black man on her team and I am struck by how she, his manager, treats him more like a son or younger brother. Whenever she asks him to take care of a piece of work she is almost up in his face imploring, meanwhile with her black female team members, she issues straight forward directives which she expects them to comply with pronto. I find her body language very revealing; when she is talking to him he is turned away while she is turned towards him almost up into his armpit.
With any other person, his kind of body posture would be deemed rude or would register as insubordination. It appears to me that there is this Caribbean cultural thing, where black women are supposed to be positioned as the pursuers of the affection, attention and the response (and good will) of black men who themselves maintain maintain an air of aloofness to all her efforts. While women adopt excessive obsequiousness, act all pleading and placating towards black men black men adopt a posture of entitlement to black women’s, indulgence, protection and extreme patience.
I find that if invited into an inner circle of black folks you are expected to actually adopt these rules and conventions for relating to black men if you are a woman and they will test that you understand and comply.
Lets talk about the good example of seeking out spaces where you are valuedSummer is music festival time. This year I attended a four day festival of world music. I haven’t camped in such a long while and my poor back complained bitterly after the first few nights. The music menu was varied and sumptuous; Turkish, Irish, Scottish, African, Japanese...you name it (the highlight for me was a Norwegian singer Ane Brun http://anebrun.com/ (absolutely sublime performance of 'Undertow' and 'What's Happening With You & Him').
On the second day I attended an Irish band session. There was no black person in the audience though quite a number could be seen at the festival itself. When the band leader called for some volunteers I put my hand up and I was selected (just as I knew I would be when he announced before hand that he would ask for audience participation). I was so sure that I discreetly put lip gloss on and secured my purse as soon as he made the announce. Why not, I was the only black person in the audience of maybe 100. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the probability of being picked was very high for me. They would definitely love to have me up there on stage trying out their Irish dance routine. I got a signed CD for my efforts!
I don’t think I need to spell out the moral of the story, there are places where your presence would be sought. I contrast this with so many 'black spaces' where black women love to frequent yet there is a pained expression on the faces of the black men when they show up! Where jokes are made about their weave, their 'attitude,' and black men are so eager to show how much they detest these black women and prefer the few white or mixed race women in their midst.
A lot of us have not tossed the idea that black spaces are best for us even though our experience tells us otherwise. At the same time so many of us will swear up and down that white folks are hostile and don’t want us in their midst and will do A, B, C. Yet we don’t know any such thing for certain, (we have heard it second hand) neither obtained it from experience because we have never yet 'integrated' any white spaces to know that such would be our fate. We are cowed and limited by the phantoms we created in our own minds about white spaces and when we enter them we sit huddled together in a conner with other black women because of our fears! We might even have experienced some discomfort or an awkward situation in white spaces but compared to our trails in black spaces these are nothing.
Do you know that off the top of my head I can list 5 places in my local area where I am sure to see one or no black woman, and thus such a venue could be used to my social even career advantage.
I am sure some people (one woman in particular), must have been peeved that I got called up over them, maybe they are Irish and love all things Irish and 'Who the hell is this interloper'. But who cares. In black spaces they would have a ball. Non-black women in particular are given premium value over regular black women even the most devoted black woman who would lay down her life for black unity. Many white and almost white women understand the game in black spaces and play it to their advantage to the very hilt and at the expense of black women, and give no apologies. Why shouldn’t black women find where they 'fit in.'
My Latest e-books are now available to buy from my website book page or from Amazon. Please click on the corresponding links below for more info.
|First Steps to Personal Empowerment|
Buy Here or Buy at Amazon
|Do Black Women in Afros |
Date White Guys?
Buy Here or Buy at Amazon
|Supposing I wanted to |
Date a White Guy...?
Buy Here or Buy at Amazon