Apr 5, 2019 Role Reversal: Women Had To Be Stronger, Now Men Have To Be Nurturers
“I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women”
– Tupac Shakur
Too often we play the blame game. I’m guilty of it too. In our community, the BLACK community, where the most beautiful diamonds came from the most pressure and pain, we blame each other a lot. I’d like to think, when I am guilty of it, it’s in search of answers, not vindication. No matter the case, I know I’m guilty of it. But what I’m learning is… we can have accountability without blame. It’s all about delivery, combined with intent. Intention, alone, is never enough.
It’s a war going on outside. In our neighborhoods, in our phones, and in our hearts… we are at war with each other. A major civil war. Growing up in school whenever we talked about the history of wars, they typically gave us the beginning of the war, the key battles, the end, and the lasting effects and lessons. Too often now I feel we get stuck at the beginning and whatever the current key battle is. We know that we were slaves when we got here, and we have seen every remix of it since. People who really care about black love and black families know how the federal government systematically attacked the black family in the late ’70s and ’80s, but then what? We know the root of the problems, but we still haven’t really addressed the problems properly. My son told me a few weeks ago, “Dad, some of my friends in my class want to know how you’re really my dad if you and my mom didn’t get married.” I think about how painful that was for me. Then, I think about how painful it must be for a generation of WOMEN who get that question from their kids who don’t even have the dad in the picture at all. For most of my son’s 9 beautiful years on this earth, I had blind pride in the fact that no matter what happened with his mom, I still take care of my kid. I still go above and beyond consistently. I’ve known for years that I cursed my son by being so selfish that my decisions made him have to pick who he’s going to spend weekends with, birthdays and holidays with, and how he has to be the one trying to accommodate us with the right amount of time. There’s no guilt like coming to that conclusion. But It wasn’t until a few years ago I realized that I cursed his mom. And I continued a curse for her friends, her female cousins, and every other woman that gave a man years of her life, only to not get married. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that we have been so miseducated with the “you don’t have to get married / it’s just a piece of paper / it’s just for show for other people” mentality. I’ve addressed that in prior blogs. I’ve preached the importance of marriage, but what’s more important is addressing the fact we have to nurture the pain caused. That’s what gets the marriage and/or divorce problem fixed.
Outwork Everybody. Philosophies vary, but mine is pretty consistent with my upbringing. I’ve always been around alpha men that worked until their hands bled whenever the pressure was on. I’ve watched my dad work “swing shifts” for years. Swing shifts are when a worker rotates regularly from day shift to night shift. My dad worked those, 12-hour shifts, for a decade. They didn’t have an overtime limit, so every year my dad turned a 48k base pay job into 90 to 100k and it was honorable. In the physical sense, men have always been respected around me for their work ethic. It’s never even been considered for the women to work harder than the man in my family, but when it comes to emotional work, that never has been pushed. Be clear, this isn’t even a pitch for men to “be more in tune with their feelings”, it’s about doing the work to repair emotions. Deep-rooted emotions. It’s at a point now where I’m understanding that men have to accept, for the foreseeable future, we have to work harder to get inherited or experienced pain out of the forefront of the minds of our women. Let me be the FIRST to say…. this is extremely hard for me. But apply that logic I just conveyed. I don’t even second guess working the longest hours and getting significantly less sleep than my kids or someone I’m seriously dating so why do I feel like it’s beneath me in this instance?
Our Lemonade. Every black man shouldn’t have to pay for the pain of every other black woman that was caused by a man. Black people shouldn’t be subject to racism. Veterans shouldn’t be homeless. There’s a lot of different cases where we can say, “_____ shouldn’t be this way”. But they are. These are the lemons. We have to make lemonade. Ironically, Beyonce made an amazing album about healing from the pain of her husband, who just so happened to be the best rapper ever. The significance of this is, after that, HE had to fix it. The world watched, some were triggered, and some were happy they made it out on the other side. The thing I’m accepting is that even when I didn’t cause the pain, I’ll be hard-pressed to find a woman that hasn’t been hurt. I’d be selfish and arrogant to believe I’m the one person who shouldn’t have to heal, shouldn’t have to listen, shouldn’t have to prove that I’m not here to dismiss or increase the pain of so many women in my community. A lot of times I look to let my actions speak because giving consistent words of reassurance when I don’t think I’ve given reason for doubt has been hard for me. It isn’t in our nature or our training to be the nurturers, we’re the hunters, the protectors, the workers, the providers, but a lot of “US” dropped that ball last generation. So nurturers are exactly what we must learn to be. Our community has the least married and highest divorced number of women. I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m sure we have the highest number of single-mother homes. I salute the fathers who didn’t abandon their kids when the relationship didn’t work, but I think back to my son’s comment. Then I think about it, when I was growing up it may have been 2-4 kids in my class who didn’t know their dad, now it’s 2-4 black kids who do in his classes. We have to address that. Not just in being in our kids’ lives and demanding that the men we call friends and have around us do the same, we have to do more. We have to show women that, now, the majority of us will prioritize family. Now we will hear their issues and see their flaws and not get off on the next exit. Now when we have good relationships, we won’t drag them for 10 years, we will get married. We will honor them in words and action. We will not “have them looking stupid” for being devoted (I hate using ‘loyal’ now). We will build the metaphorical wall around our homes and protect them again. That we won’t sit back and ignore their pain until we cause more ourselves. That their devotion won’t be taken for granted until we need forgiveness. In the event that the blame may not be yours specifically, we still have to take responsibility. When are we ever allowed to let anybody outwork us? Let’s make lemonade.