Thursday, July 15, 2010

On the El: Not another Interracial Relationship Rambling (Through Urban Ethnographic Eyes)

"Dissecting their own desires": A Haiku

Black Women can Love?
Oh no, laughs all the OTHERS
Domesticate? Yes!


4/3/10 5:12pm: With the hopes of picking up a package from the post office on 30th street, during a rushful Tuesday afternoon, going eastbound on the Market-Frankford El train, I had my head sustained against the window of the train.

5:15pm: My attention was refocused on a Black man with a White woman sitting in front of me. Oh, not another one! Before I could even finish my complete thought, he lovingly brushed his hand across the back of her head. Very gentle. Delicate. Almost like you would handle a baby. Careful.

I could just sum this moment up as a sincere, loving gesture between a man and a woman, but it’s not that simple. Not from the eyes of a Black Woman anyway. As many times as I have rode, up and down the trains in Philly (or elsewhere), I have very rarely seen Black men show the same gestures towards Black Women. Usually, Black men and Women engage in the worst of non-egalitarian, vicious and highly unbalanced relationships on the subway. I have bared witness to Black men cursing their spouses out, silencing her in every possible way with venomous comments, and even acts of physical abuse.

Mental Reflection:
8/12/09 1:07pm (last summer): Heading out to the Northeast, a man takes a long freeze pop and dumps it over his girlfriend’s head after she refuses to give him ten bucks. Pre-popsicle incident, he called her every insidious word that my ears have ever blessed with hearing. “Nasty bitch”, “dirty hoe”, “stupid slut”. Eventually, the female runs off the train and he quickly follows after her. Us, by-standers, watching glumly and very guilty, as the train pulled off; the boyfriend attacking her on the platform.

5/27/10-Today in Essence, Jill Scott has an article on interracial relationships and I like her stance on the subject. “Our minds do understand that people of all races find genuine love in many places. We dig that the world is full of amazing options, but underneath, there is a bite, no matter the ointment, that has yet to stop burning.”—Jill Scott

I am not immune to ethnicities seeking reconciliation and living in a society that looks at people as equals and the loving moving outwardly towards each other without restrictions. But we do not live in that world nor are we moving in that direction. The “love” politics of Black men and White women in relation to each other are writhed in the devaluing and degradation of Black Women. In Celestine Ware’s book “Woman Power: The Movement for Women’s Liberation, she notes that “Black Men pursue White Women not simply as the most beautiful, but also as the symbols of the white man’s privileges (Pg. 278).” This argument is not new at all. I could run down a list of the books, articles and essays that conjure up the analysis of the mating experience between White Women and Black men. My concern lies in the ways that Black women have been accepting this without much criticism. Scott said herself in the Essence article that the Black man/White woman dynamic is something that Black women are coming to accept but the pain still lingers. But why? Scholar Jean Piaget says that learning occurs through personal perceptions of the world. But everyone is talking about this but Black Women. Yeah, we make side comments in our homes amongst our sistah friends; “girl, he got him a white chick”, but do we confront Black men head on about this matter? Do we just accept, dazed and confused, when Black men flee to bodies that look foreign than our own? Martinique scholar Frantz Fanon calls these retreating moments of the Black msn to the White woman, the “abandonment neurotic”. Noting that Black men who have felt devalued and diminutive, lack a self-conception that leaves them fleeting. In his thoughtful analysis of the Black man/White woman relationship, in “Black Skin, White Mask”, Fanon states,

“Lack of affective self-esteem always leads the abandonment neurotic to an extremely painful and obsessional feeling of exclusion, to never fitting in, and to feeling out of place, affectively speaking.” After awhile, the abandonment neurotic demands proof. He is no longer content with isolated statements….[when he is accepted by the White Woman], the abandonment neurotic has quit. He is called for. He is needed.”

6/6/10 5:07 pm: Another long day at work, I hear loudness. I turn around and see a Black Woman crying and a Black man arguing in her face, finger extended, about how he is tired of her going through his phone, not fixing dinner every night like she is suppose to be and hates that she talks so loud. It’s not so much the content that I am focused on but rather the punch that lays in every word that he smacks her with verbally, every syllable, going upside her head. Just the mere performance of belittling her on the train, let’s me and the other passengers in the car, know that he could care less about her, even if she croaked over tomorrow and died. But then he validates my thoughts by saying: “I never wanted to be with you, and you know the only reason we are together, is because you paid my bail to get me out of jail, and gave me a place to stay”.

Feeling embarrassed for my Sister, I look around at the other Black Women faces on the train car to meet the sympathy in their eyes. Emotionless, and non-expressive. Damn. As a unwillingly participate of the Black Women’s club of being victimized by Black men, I wonder if my argument isn’t about Black men and White women at all and more so about the ugly, grotesque, relationships that heterosexual Black Women and men negotiate within, while staying afloat in an ugly and grotesque society?

I guess to see that Black man on the train that day with the White Woman was to not simply observe a relationship between a Man and Woman, or even an interracial relationship. Maybe it was to see what Black women have undeservingly been shunned away from for years; warmth and touch or warmth touch. A reassurance from our brothas that everything will be “ok” after today. Love?

So to see this Black Man touch this woman, this white woman so thoughtfully, so considerate, so nice.

I cried.

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