Having been born and raised in another country (Botswana), I often have a different perspective of my life as a Black woman living in America. I grew up in a society that is almost the polar opposite of American society. I grew up in a country where the most loved, respected and respectable person in society was the Black man. This gives me a very unique perspective in that I am able to see how a community of Black people can function when the women and children and even the men are not bombarded with images, news and “statistics” that all emphatically state that the Black man is the greatest threat to their lives. Let me be clear, I am not saying that Botswana is somehow “better” than America or that I , a Motswana (person from Botswana), am somehow “better”, than an American Black man or woman. I am just offering a different perspective.
Having lived in America for about a decade and a half, I have grown to understand how important it is to always think for myself and to seek understanding in matters that are heavily overlaid with confusion, manipulation and ulterior motives. There is only one outcome in a community that does not hold their men in high regard: it will fall apart and it will devastate every member of its community.
I just listened to a speech by Louis Farrakhan in which he talked about The Willie Lynch letter/theory-The Making Of a Slave. In my first exposure to Farrakhan, years ago, I dismissed him as being a “radical” and an “instigator”. Sadly, I am now becoming increasingly aware that my judgment was made hastily and made because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complexity of being Black in America.
I still don’t entirely agree with everything Farrakhan says, but sadly, I don’t believe that he is wrong when he says that we can still see the devastation of Willie Lynch’s work in our communities today. All you have to do is interview Black women and find out what they think of Black men and then ask Black men what they think about Black women. They will all say a variety of things, but what I have observed is a thread of mistrust, contempt, judgments, frustration, suspicion, paranoia and so on. Of course, not ALL black women or ALL Black men feel the same way about each other and some may speak in direct contradiction to what I am saying. That being said, even if they said that everybody loved everybody else and everything was perfect, we can still look at the state of Black communities across the country. There are more little Black boys and girls growing up in homes without both parents than there are those who have the safety and security of both of their parents. Even among those who have both of their parents, there are many who are still exposed to unhealthy and dysfunctional ways of living. The devastation can be seen in so many ways; just take a trip to your local jail house and tell me what you see. Take a trip to an “urban” public school and tell me what you see. I could go on, but I think you see where this is going.
The only way that this unfortunate set of circumstances, to put it mildly, will begin to change is when we, Black women and Black men begin to show up as Heroes. Our heroes are not the next President or the next policy or even the next pastor. It is each and every one of us.
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