My Dear Readers,
There are times in our lives when you may achieve most, but not all of what you want. In pursuing education, money, status, and success, we can encounter frustration and failure. However, it is okay to want something, and yet, feel pained when it is not achieved in your desired timeframe.
We do not control the journey we call Life; we just walk the journey and learn from our experiences, including those that frustrate us.
Below is such a story……..
Dear Visible Man,
I am an African-American professional woman in my mid-thirties. I hold a PhD in organic chemistry from Harvard, and I am single. That’s why I’m writing to you. I am single!
I am well educated, own my home, am a world traveler and serve as a top executive within a pharmaceutical firm in the Puget Sound area. I am successful, I have a rewarding income and as you may expect, I am very independent. So what is the problem?
Black men! I want to be involved with a black man. Where the hell are they? I can’t seem to find an “eligible” African-American man that is suitable to build a long-term relationship with, let alone grow into a healthy marriage.
No, I don’t want to be with just any black man. I want to be with one that is compatible with me, earns a reasonable income, has his own living space, and is self-sufficient.
All I come across are men who are unemployed, broke, living with their mothers or grandmothers, or have “baby mama drama” that I don’t want to deal with.
I don’t respond to catcalls from off the street, and I am tired of losers. One guy invites me out to an expensive restaurant and expects me to treat him to a meal and then wants me to pick up the tab for his cab ride. Where are the real black men, the ones from the old school, who know how to treat a lady? Where are the gentlemen like my father and men from his generation? Don’t they exist any more?
I want a man, a real black man. I want to be with a man who can be proud of his and my accomplishments, and not one who is jealous or intimidated by our financial and educational differences. I don’t want someone fresh out of prison, and I don’t want to take care of someone else’s problems.
My friends are always suggesting that I cross the color line and date a white boy, but that burns me up. If I want to get my needs met, I’ll just handle that myself. I just do not want to cross the “color line”.
Nothing’s wrong with white guys, but if a black man is what I want, it doesn’t make sense for me to settle for what I don’t want. It especially upsets me when this is suggested to me by other black women. When I talk to women of other races and ethnic groups, that suggestion is never made. It only comes up with black women when the subject of dating arises. It’s like a challenge being thrown down.
I am not a racist. If others want to be involved in interracial or biracial marriages, that is fine for them, yet not for me. Life for black folks is hard enough. Realistically speaking, I just don’t want to spend the time to school my non-Black spouse on Racism 101 or black history, culture and music. I have also seen the hell that these couples and their kids go through seeking acceptance from black and white people.
I would rather wait until the right black man comes around, but where are they? Where do I go? Why don’t black men just man up? I am not seeking a provider, but a partner. Where do I need to go? I am not the problem!
Seeking Answers, Tacoma, WA
My Dear Woman,
Wow. Your letter is powerful. As I read your words, I can feel your anger, pain and frustration. It is clear that in driving towards academic and professional success, you have been unable to achieve an objective that is important to you, which is an intimate relationship with an African-American man.
I want to frame this in terms of the Five Stages of Development in the Journey of Self Discovery: existing, surviving, driving, striving and thriving.
- Existing-the bareness of life. The individual is just sentient, with little or nothing to offer. Death would be a welcome relief or escape.
- Surviving– daily struggle. This individual holds on to life by living in fear…day by day.
- Driving-empowerment. This individual seeks direction, and is motivated to find it.
- Striving-setting the pace. This individual is actively pushing to define success for themselves and achieve it.
- Thriving– enjoying the fruits of what has been achieved. This individual lives with their fear instead of living in their fear.
It is clear in your writing that you are a person who is a high achiever, a go getter. You have worked hard to reach your goals.
It seems to me that you are transitioning between the stages of driving and striving. The more you travel and fail to find black men who meet your expectations, the more frustrated you become.
The answer is to take a respite. Take a break, take a breath, and continue to breathe as you meet the challenges at the “crossroads” of your life. Remember that there are other travelers on similar paths and as “time” and the journey permits, you may encounter the individuals that you seek.
Being frustrated at your friends for encouraging you to date outside of your race is simply a reaction. Own it. It is your anger, and not theirs. What do you expect of them, to find you a black man?
Like you, they are also aware of the “shortage” of available black men. It is clear that they are concerned about your well-being, otherwise, they would simply remain silent. Don’t be so quick to bite at the hand that is being extended as a source of help and support to you.
Your frustration at black men for not being good enough or living up to the values of previous generations requires reflection. Get out of the clouds and come down to reality. Allow yourself the opportunity to balance your mind and your feelings.
Are black men of your father’s generation really stronger or better able to cope with the similar pressures of racism, oppression and discriminatory treatment? There is no research data that leaves us with that indication. Black men today are impacted just as much by “race-related stressors” trauma on a daily basis as black men of previous generations were. The black men you are encountering may very well be at existence or surviving levels of their respective journeys.
How many black men were in the doctorate program you attended? Even now, how many black men are present within the corporate structure of your organization? Be thankful that you had the benefit of wisdom from members of your father’s generation, but understand that such wisdom came at the expense of much blood, emotional trauma and silent tears. You have risen on their shoulders. Do not trivialize the struggle of those who have not had similar benefits.
When it comes to your frustration regarding your past and present dating experiences with black men, give yourself the time to formulate a thoughtful response. When a person does something that is either upsetting or offensive, consider carefully what your reply will be.
What do you say when a person offers you a gift? Thank you, of course. When a person exposes who they really are, they are showing you their true selves. Embrace the action and treat it as a gift.
Having said that, it’s clear that the men of which you speak are not the ones with which you would want to have an intimate relationship, so keep it moving! As one door closes, it provides the opportunity to open another. Let’s place closure on the experience, tend to any emotional wounds derived from the encounter, and keep it moving.
Reevaluate your attitude about your preferences. At the end of the day, this is about you. It is okay for you to know what you want, and that doesn’t make you a racist. It’s your life. Seek what you want. However, review, re-frame, and re-design the way you accomplish your goals.
I would encourage you to revisit your words and its possible traumatic impact upon others. Earlier in your correspondence there was a reference to the following:
“My friends are always suggesting that I cross the color line and date a white boy. That burns me up.”
You may not consider yourself to be a racist, but you continue to use language that is demeaning. Regardless of the ethnic group, your focus should be on seeking a partner; someone who shares your goal of shared equality.
By using the term “boy” in this situation, you risk the misinterpretation of your intentions as well offending others who may continue to recall the traumatic memories of growing up in a society in which regardless of age, education, professional or marital status, individuals of a certain race were referred to as “boy”.
In referring to your feelings about developing a relationship with an adult male of another different racial group, use specific language that indicates what you want to say. Apologies and regrets do well for one’s intentions, yet do little to heal the wound that is often the outcome.
Finally, in response to your repetitive question, where the hell are the black men? The answer, black men are here. It is true that it may be difficult to find the quality of relationship that you are seeking however, as you continue this journey be clear of the following:
- What are the character traits in the person I am seeking?
- Why are these character traits essential to me?
- What are the reasonable actions or steps I am taking to accomplish this journey?
- Where am I looking or more specifically, what activities am I involved in that assist in furthering my goal?
- Who are the allies (of both genders) who can be of assistance to me?
Hopefully we will meet at the crossroads again one day as we all continue to travel our individual paths of self-discovery.
“Intimate relationships should be treated like shoes at a department store; they should be placed on and discarded until there is a right fit.”
-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life
Wanting more, but not willing to settle for less? Then walk the journey of self-discovery!
The Visible Man