The following piece is from EBONY. It was written by Tiq Milan.
By: Tiq Milan
My father once told me that the worst thing to happen to Black people is that we were convinced that Black men and women hated each other. This intentional complex task caused a great schism in the Black community and was put into motion centuries ago. An intention that has morphed with the change of times into nuanced coded language and messages about which women are worthy of our love and what beauty looks like. Many times, we devalue our relationships with one another as nothing more than a chore or a hassle. I’m not necessarily convinced that there is an unseen hand at play but the animosity between the sexes is palpable and heartbreaking.
I found myself in several heated exchanges online with misogynist knuckleheads about the catcalling video that went viral last month. The video shows a young White woman walking down 125th st in Harlem and around Port Authority in midtown Manhattan being bombarded by a barrage of hello’s and unwanted compliments. A young Black woman on the thread said “I wish someone would call me beautiful instead of, ‘damn you got a fat ass’ or ‘let me fuck’ while walking down the street.”
While this young lady was disagreeing that the women in the video was indeed harassed, she inadvertently pointed to the fact that the misogyny and entitlement that is hurled at Black women is often more violent and antagonizing. White men have offered my wife money as she passes in the street. She’s been chased and slapped for spurning men’s advances. This happens because culturally there is a universal lack of empathy towards Black women rendering her pain invisible and struggle self-imposed. The President started an initiative for young Black boys, leaving behind all the girls from the same broken neighborhoods who are also hitting their heads against the matrix of systemic racism. They, too are filling up the prisons and mental institutions. T.I breaks his neck to come to Iggy’s rescues and makes Snoop apologize, hat in hand, for hurting her feelings when Black women are shut up, roughed up, and humiliated regularly in hip-hop circles and no one bats an eyelash. Who is left to love and defend them?
It’s no secret that I’m a man of trans* experience. My manhood was not given to me by birthright. I’ve had to work hard and sacrifice so much to be a man of my own design. I had to take a step back. I had to look at the broader picture and piece together how to build sustainable and healthy relationships with Black women. I didn’t want a cookie cutter replica of misunderstanding and miscommunication packaged as everyday gender idiosyncrasies. I didn’t want to obsess over Indian hair, Asian eyes, redbone and wavy because that is constantly being touted as a Black man’s ideal. I didn’t want to get put on, “and leave that ass for a White girl” like Kanye. If I looked to the media for cues on how to create relationships with Black women I would run across the usual tropes of “Black women are too difficult” and “Black men are never satisfied grown boys.” I wanted to create Black masculinity for myself that wasn’t resentful or afraid of Black womanhood and femininity but one that works in rhythm with it; one that is constantly open to finding points of admiration, where our differences aren’t antithetical but co-exist in a mutual exchange of reverence and recognition that values the need for each other with no reservation or apologies.
I absolutely unequivocally adore my Black wife. She’s a Trinidadian woman who has introduced me to black peoples and culture throughout the diaspora. We find pockets of commonality and tension in the ancestry we share that has been split abstracted and layered with indigenous people and Africa. She helps me navigate the micro-aggressions I have to deal with on a daily basis with care and patience. I don’t have to censor my language or my frustrations because that’s my G, for real. It’s the way she can rock a bone straight sew-in, dookie braids, or her natural curls like a boss. It’s her smooth toffee skin and the familiar cackle and cadence in her laugh that I’ve heard my whole life from the women that raised me; my mother, aunties and sisters. She’s the most beautiful and the most amazing woman I know.
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