It was late on a Friday evening, in a small intimate restaurant. As I looked around, the crowd was filled with women and some men. The women were in the majority, all inclined to hear the panel. The small make-shift stage held a panel of five men—each from different perspectives of life and varying in age and experiences. There were two married men, two single men, and man who was engaged.
Each gave their own testament on life, in dealing with women, children, and family. In an instant, one question turned the conversation into a natural debate lasting more than 45 minutes of the two-hour open conversation. The question that suddenly grabbed everyone’s attention was the very simple (but age old) question of whether or not men are intimidated by an educated and financially independent woman.
Everyone on the panel offered their respective opinions, but there was one answer that struck a nerve with me. One of the panel guests said, “The white man is using the black woman against the black man, because he gives her all the education opportunities and jobs. Black men are not given the same opportunities.”
That statement was a total slap to my face. I am a black woman with a Bachelor’s, degree as well as a Juris Doctor; I am a licensed attorney. Now, I must say I do not make it a habit of throwing my credentials around and shoving them in the faces of other people. I am very proud of my accomplishments. However, I cannot recall one moment when someone allowed me to walk into any of the law schools of my choice on a red carpet. I cannot recall anyone handing me the six figure job of my choice. I cannot recall anyone allowing me to opt out of assignments because I wanted to attend a party, have a long term relationship, go on a vacation, or simply relax. I cannot remember anyone handing me a single degree that was not earned.
What I do remember is being denied acceptance to various law schools, not graduating with the GPA I wanted ( and not because I did not work to obtain it). I recall missing pivotal family moments, and foregoing some resemblance of a life while trying to obtain the good ol’ American dream.
Imagining myself being handed a degree or a job to put down, berate, or castrate any black man was never the thought I had when I walked across the stage to obtain my degrees.
My thoughts were to uplift my community, to show the world we are educated, articulate, and proud. My thoughts were that I would meet a black man during my educational endeavors. I imagined the two of us would share a like mindedness and we would take on the world — whatever that meant. But, I would have never thought that a black man would attribute my accomplishments to the white man handing me anything to put him down. I would have never thought that congratulations would be replaced with the blame game.
After leaving this enlightening forum, I went home and thought about that comment. The more I thought, the more frustrated I became.
Through American history there has been an issue with blacks in general—the black man being the very lowest form of degradation to them.
My mind went back to the time when crack infiltrated the black community and destroyed the family dynamic.The woman of the house had to care for her children. She had to get more education in order to obtain a better job to care for her children alone. Because of the drug epidemic, black men were incarcerated at alarming rates, or killed.
So, a daughter grows up watching her mother pursue education, and she imitates her mother. Now, there are two generations of educated black women. If that woman has a son, who does he have to imitate, considering there wasn’t a man in the home? Now, this is not the case for every educated black woman, nor is every black man uneducated. This is not male bashing, but rather a perspective, as to why women pursue education.
I know educated black men and though they may have a different experience than I did, they made a choice to continue on the journey of success. The men I know range from engineers and chemists to teachers and attorneys. They will say that they have not had an easy road advancing in their respective fields. However, they will likely admit that a woman’s educational role was not a counter against them. What they would agree with is that they made a choice, as we all do. For them that choice was to further their education and defy the odds stacked against them.
I empathize with black men, because they are always going to be judged before they open their mouths. They will always be looked upon as criminals, thugs, or menaces to society, and yet they may be a hard working, loyal, husband, brother, son, and father. But, I refuse to allow the black woman to be causal connection to a man’s lack of success.
Why would a man feel that he could not accomplish anything, because a woman was in the way or being used continuously against him? At the end of the day, it all comes down to choices.Image Credits: Photodune