Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our Sisters Need Help and Healing by Akindele Akinyemi

Ok. I have to ask people this question.

Are Black women angry at the world?

I am asking this question because I was listening to the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Show from Los Angeles tonight and he was in a intense dialogue with his guest on how angry black women are in the community. One sister called in (angry) and was pissed off at his comments on how Rev. Peterson was discussing how black women need to calm down and focus.

The angry black woman can be identified by her attitude, her conversation and her body language.

We, as men, often see the twist of the neck, or a dismissive roll of the eyes during normal conversation. We hear the sharp tongue that lashes out with shrill, unsolicited criticism or advice, which is typically baseless, negative and sends chills up our spine as brothers.

Our sisters who are angry may refer to herself as a strong black woman, or an independent woman. This woman will refer to ALL black men as weak, lazy and beneath her, while identifying them as the sole source of all of her woes, particularly her inability to find her desired mate. Her conversation with other women is rife with hopelessness and negativity.

Our angry sisters
may be otherwise desirable, but is unable to move beyond past pain and fear, which sits on her shoulders as bitterness and anger, driving most good things out of her life. They hide this by thinking everything is fine when it's not.

Bitterness is present in dating more than any other arena. This leads to fear.

Anger is infectious. When someone comes at us with anger, it is easy to absorb it and become changed. I’ve been temporarily infected by the attacks of angry, negative sisters with nothing productive or positive to bring, who expect me to dialogue in a civil manner. I tune them out and avoid further contact, leaving the bitterness in a box.

I have literally listened to bitter and irate sisters tell me horrible things about myself and after they finish, I have to ask them who they are talking about, because often, not even the situations are relevant to me--its all from their past or conjured up by their fear.

Brothers and sisters, we have choices, and we don’t have to be bitter.

I have been hurt, burned, lied on, set up, deceived and nearly destroyed by black women, but I moved on, convinced that the ones who did things to me may have been weak, but that they were not representing all sisters. I also considered my own choices, and that perhaps I was weak when dating them.

Normally for me is that after each of my painful experiences, I dismissed dating. I also dismiss women on a intimate level. My spirit becomes stronger. I heal myself, become focus and immovable. This is the only way I can keep my sanity. Otherwise, I fall into the anger trap.

Many otherwise decent and kind women become angry and bitter after spending too much time with brothers who disappoint them. Quite honestly, if you don't see what you want in someone, you have to ask yourself why you are wasting yourself on them, allowing them to taint your perspective.

Both men and women have to learn to just wait until something good comes along, instead of trying to see something good simply because waiting doesn’t feel good.

In many cases, anger is simply a reaction to fear, but it can be used productively, as advised by noted author Zora Neale Hurston: “The thing to do is to grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.”

The voices of those who embrace anger and negativity are loud and overabundant, raging in malignant magazine articles, on low budget television shows and in circles of asshole friends. Those voices spread the propaganda that all brothers are out to hurt sisters, are beneath them and/or have no desire to marry them.

Negativity is seductive and is a breeding ground for anger. When we hear negative things and we are already in pain, our hearts are prepped for anything that will mask the pain. Nothing masks pain the way anger does. In fact, anger feeds off of the pain and makes the host believe that there is actually no pain at all.

There is a deep pathology involved when humans begin to embrace hopelessness. That pathology has manifest itself in a masked depression showing up in a great number of unmarried, thirty-something and forty-something black women

Brothers are expected to be strong and assertive, traits that are aligned with being a good leader, but when a black woman falls under those descriptions, it is called having an attitude problem. In fact when they are asserting themselves, the perception becomes that you dare not mess with them. There is no denying that some black women do express themselves in a provocatively angry way, but that does not justify typecasting all of them. It is true that there are some black women who fit the above bill, but it’s not a race thing. It’s a personality and character thing. Just as there are so many quiet, mild-mannered, bookish, sensitive black women out there, there are also many unpleasant to deal with woman out there. But that applies to men too. So once again one cannot generalize and conclude that all black women have attitude.

We live in a world where racism, sexism, ageism, single motherhood, misogyny, and even warped body image prevail contrasted with the objectification and fetishization of the black body, it comes as no surprise that some black women are angry. The truth is some women are angry because they are exhausted or they have been ignored and dismissed or they're not taken seriously, or they are being abandoned or they are being rejected. This anger of course is not justified if it becomes a never-ending bitterness that clouds ones present or future. It is not justified when it is an obstinate attitude which appears angry at everything in general and seems to especially relish demonizing all black men, nor is it justified when it is constantly a source of baseless and negative unsolicited criticism or advice.

However, not all anger is bad anger. Sometimes anger is a signal that something is wrong and changes need to be made. There are numerous cases when anger has actually sparked revolutionary change in history. If as human beings, we're able to harness our anger and use our anger for the general good of society, then we are able to make big strides in our lives. For example, one of the reasons Rosa Parks refused to get out of that seat was anger. The people who tried to get her out of that seat would have probably said that she had attitude in present day terms. Does that make her an angry black woman?

For all of my sisters who are always angry at me and other men, let me say this: why don't we begin to talk—men and women—to each other and not about each other. Let’s remove the resentment as well as the fear that drives us apart.

Let’s focus on the promise of the future and not the mistakes of the past so that we can stand together again. Maybe these are silly dreams that won’t ever come true. But maybe, if you believe as I believe, focus and communication can become reality.

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