I’m never going to marry a black man.
Why would I want to? Why would I commit myself to a lifetime of disappointment and misery? I don’t need a man to ruin my life; I can do that on my own without his help and with much less drama.
I’ve made up my mind to marry a white man because life is too short for you to live it hoping that you’ll find that one in a hundred black men who will be true to his word and won’t turn out to be a deadbeat.
White men are simple. They don’t have mothers from hell who expect you to visit their house so you can cook, clean, kneel and kiss their feet. They have boundaries and understand that marriage means a man leaves his father and mother and becomes one with his wife. Black mothers think marriage means a woman leaves her mother and father and becomes drafted into the family as an indentured slave.
White men are liberated. They don’t feel threatened by their woman earning more or having aspirations. A white man will have dinner ready for you when you come home late from work. He will have the children bathed and put to bed without being asked.
White men are faithful. You can trust that if he’s out late with his friends he’s not going to end the night having acquired a small house. You know that when he dies there won’t be any kids coming out of the woodwork making claims on his estate. White culture values monogamy, whereas black culture puts a premium on how many notches he has on the bed post.
White men value family and financial security. They invest in trust funds and leave an inheritance for their children. And oh the children! The caramel skin, the pretty brown eyes and the big, curly hair… I want gorgeous children! Have you seen those beautiful interracial family photos? I deserve that in my life.
It’s not that I hate black men. It’s that after more than two decades of being in relationships with black men, I’ve gone through enough grief for a lifetime. I want to be happy and for me that means not committing the rest of my life to a black man.
For a long time that’s how I felt about black men and that’s how many young black women feel today. We’ve seen our mothers cry over the hurt of discovering yet another affair and have witnessed them covering up the bruises in makeup. We’ve watched our sisters going down the same path, like history repeating itself. We have borne the wounds ourselves and are left with scars as reminders.
It’s hard to argue with experience when all a person has known is one side of the story. Hurt speaks way louder than platitudes like, ‘There are good black men out there. God has one for you.’ That’s not helpful. What is helpful is looking deeper and exploring why some black women feel like white men are the only viable life partners.
The root is self-hatred
When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves. – Chuck Palahniuk
There’s a lot of hatred being directed at black men out there. The world sees black men as the enemy. We are the hijackers, rapists, robbers and corrupt government officials. We are the gangster shooting up drugs and the good-for-nothing daddy who leaves his babies fatherless. We are the villain, the big bad wolf in everyone’s fairy tale.
I say ‘we’ because as a black woman, the first thing I must realise is that any hate that’s flowing towards a black man is touching me too. We are connected; our identities are intertwined. I cannot separate the world’s perception of black men from what it means to be a black person. My aversion towards black men is really a hatred of self.
When young black people talk about culture, there is a tendency to view white culture as better and black culture as inferior. There is no homogenous ‘black’ or ‘African’ culture, but we do have enough things in common to enable us to say there is such a thing as ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ or ‘black’ culture. Black culture emphasises communality, inter-dependence and defined gender roles.
Black culture is perceived as inferior because it does not give value to individualism, independence or women. Women who think like I used to have been fed so much Western culture from birth that we’ve never developed the ability to see the value of our own culture or critique Western culture.
We know that America was built on the idea of ‘rugged individualism’ and our Western education has taught us that success, even relational success, comes from mastering this in our own lives. Black culture, on the other hand, teaches us that a person is a person because of other people.
There is value in both cultures and we need to appreciate both; there is value in black and white men and we need to appreciate both.
At some point we need to move away from academic discussions and get personal about why we hate black men and, by extension, ourselves. It’s a difficult thing to understand because our feelings towards black men are a combination of fear, anger and disappointment.
If you look back, you can trace those feelings back to your upbringing and what it taught you about black men. Your closest male relative is the person who you taught you about what it means to be in a relationship with a man – that man was your father or in his absence, your uncle or grandfather or uncle.
It is from that relationship that you learnt about love, trust and how to relate to the opposite sex. Some have had the benefit of having been raised by a good, loving and trustworthy black man. Some have had the benefit of a responsible black father. But many of us were raised by broken black men who themselves were never taught how to be a man.
We carry the brokenness of our black fathers. We are the product of their failures. We fear repeating the same pattern of relationship that we saw growing up and consciously or subconsciously we have made the decision that the only way to prevent that is by marrying someone as different as possible to our fathers.
You are afraid. But you need to realise that it does not matter what colour the man you marry is, that fear is something that you will carry in to your marriage. Your discomfort with vulnerability will prevent intimacy. Your inability to trust will make you difficult to know. Your fear will keep you from healthy relationships.
The solution is not found in a white man. The solution is firstly to acknowledge that we are afraid. We need to step away from the mask of anger and strength that we wear. We are not victims of our past or slaves to fear. We must get on the path to healing for our own sake and for the sake of our children.
The problem is not black men, it is broken black families.
To read more from Zola Ndlovu, check out her blog at https://realmukoko.wordpress.com/