By: Clive Williams
There’s a pain, a deep searing psychic pain, that even though invisible, it’s palpable, so palpable its vibrations are transmissible to every black person who is aware and mindful of the widening chasm in black relationships. In simple but stark terms, we have serious relationship issues in our black communities; black men and black women are growing farther and farther apart. This seemingly interminable pain is as historically hurtful as it is today, and its bitter residue inhabits our minds and bodies, just as it did our ancestors, but for hypocritical and selfish reasons we are not connecting the dots.
WHERE DID THE LOVE GO? Before I offer you some sociological explanations, it might be initially more prudent to explore the anecdotal evidence we observe on a daily basis; for that, I suggest we apply the wisdom of Socratic thinking and ask some tough questions. Have you observed the increasing strain and tension, particularly between black men and women, black husbands and black wives? Have you seen the rise in competitiveness between black men and women in the workplace? Why are we seeing such a rise in detachment and disinterest on the part of the black male for the black female? Why are black women becoming increasingly self-absorbed and detached from the black man? When was the last time you noticed a young black couple holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes? Have you noticed the anger and aggression among young black men and women, the misogyny and self-loathing, the absence of love and tenderness? WHERE DID THE LOVE GO?
Black women are hurting from lack of respect and admiration from black men, black men are hurting because of their inadequacies and insecurities, our children are hurting from the anxiety of separation, insecurity, and neglect. Black people eloquently profess religion and gospel, filling Sunday services to capacity, YET – THERE IS NO LOVE! Church numbs the pain and eases the brain, but WHERE IS THE LOVE?
If you have been following my column for any time, I am sure you know that I respect my readers and through your emails and kind words I am aware that the feeling is mutual; however I must ask that you take an extra step for me – rekindle the love you have, learn to love again. We can only conquer the hate directed at us through LOVE! Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have the love for one another.”
Is it remotely possible that many church leaders and their congregations are unaware that this particular commandment subsumes all the other ten? What happens if all you do is obey the original ten and ignore that new commandment? Isn’t it revealing that the Rabbi didn’t refer to his new injunction as the 11th commandment?
Please help me understand why black women and black men of every age, are drifting farther and farther apart, help me understand why my friendliest smile often goes unrequited by the people who are black like me? Why is it so daunting to build trust and relationships among ourselves? Have you experienced any of these puzzling anomalies, these incomprehensible attitudes, and behaviors? Then, like me, you must be asking, “when and why did our love begin to die?” At this point, it might be wise to explore some scientific observations made by a concerned group of black social scientists and researchers who are trying to wrap their minds around this Black Conundrum.
The purpose of the study was to explore the reasons black women are disproportionately single as seen from the unique viewpoint of married black men. Some very revealing observations were made which helps us to understand the when and why our love began to wane and die. The researchers made reference to what they called “the depletion effect” echoing a phenomenon that had been taking place in America since slavery. It refers to the reduction in employment prospects for black men. This effect undermines family formation and promotes joblessness and loss of power in relationships” (Clayton and Moore 2003).
These realities have been playing out before us for scores of years. We see the “depletion effect” in our young men who have little or no prospects for finishing school and gaining employment. That depletion effect must be arrested. At the other end of the spectrum, according to (Banks 2011), (Burton and Tucker 2009), (Cazenave 1983), (Chambers and Kravitz 2011) have all concluded from their research that, black women have been advancing in education and job opportunities relative to black men. Further studies by (Dixon 1993), noted that women are encouraged to pursue education, secure employment and be self-reliant in communities where there is a shortage of marriageable men and that women are now less likely to marry solely for financial support. As the growing discrepancy between education and employment prospects for black men and women increases, greater challenges in their formation and maintenance of intimate relationships could follow. (Burton and Tucker2009) (Chamber and Kravits 2011) (Pinderhughes 2002). Research also revealed that the black woman’s upward social mobility may not always be celebrated by black men, who may view themselves in competition with black women for similar educational and employment opportunities or may have difficulty relating to women who might be viewed by them as intimidating. (Cazenave 1983), (Collins 2000) (Marbley 2003).
Black men and black women have been maneuvered to opposite sides of the fence. The woman’s side is getting greener, while the man’s side is growing leaner. So where did the love go? Love’s been sucked in a vortex of despair. The black woman’s love is in pursuit of Self, (self – respect and self – identity). The black man’s reality is, that of – being pursued into despair, self-loathing, futility and hopelessness.
And that’s Whereitzat!