Christelyn’s new book is on the threshold of release as I’m typing this. And with that news comes the necessary promotion and word spreading you expect while trying to get a product out there to consumers. There was a link to one such feature that had the predictable bit of grumbling and talking points. You know, the lie-filled scare tactics that never fail to come up when black women even think about expanding their dating options.
In any case, one particular sentiment stood out to me: The idea that I shouldn’t be open to IRR because it’s more important to “keep the race together.” I’m familiar with the logic behind this type of thinking. Even though I touched on it a bit in a previous article, it concerns me enough that I think there needs to be a frank discussion on the matter:
What do I gain from working to “keep the black race together”?
A sense of community or belonging? A safe haven? A place where I can be loved and accepted for who I am, despite not fitting a pre-approved mold created by racial and ethnic bias?
What if these expectations cannot be met for me by the race I am working to keep together? How much sense does it make to ask me to strive to keep something together that does not actively work to respect and protect me. Something that as I’m fighting to be part of it at the same time excludes me for failing to meet certain “characteristics”? A person who is an individualist. A person who has experiences and an upbringing that doesn’t make me “relate” to the so-called black identity. How often do we hear about people being told they “talk white” or “need to keep it real” or some other cue that signals that they are straying from an acceptable level of blackness? And don’t get me started on the name-calling if you’re too dark or too smart or too…anything but what someone else feels entitled to think you ought to be.
It seems to me that the only thing holding this meme together is the idea that black women are responsible for keeping the black race together. We all know that it’s not on black men at this point. If there was a male-centric plan of some sort, I must have missed that memo. So it’s on the ladies. You keep your wombs EXCLUSIVELY available for black men, regardless of whether or not they will marry you or even provide for your offspring. You pass on every other man for no other reason than skin color.
And somehow this plan means that the race will be saved, or at least preserved.
Again, I’m looking at this and failing to see what I gain through a one-sided attempt at racial unity based almost entirely on skin color as a black woman. I think African American women, for whom this poison is largely meant, have suffered a great deal due to being stifled by this fear. They’ve been sold this idea that in order for blackness to survive, they need to pop out babies with any black man in their vicinity, no questions asked.
Instead, it seems to me the aim has never been racial unity: It’s been about control and manipulation. Black women, unless they are living in war zones invaded by other racial groups, are more likely to be victimized by other persons within their same ethnic group. Racial violence and harm is a reality, but so is intra-racial violence and harm. We cannot afford to ignore one while fighting the other. And yet that’s pretty much what African American women have been indoctrinated to do.
The only solution for the individual black woman is first, to stop telling herself she’s beholden to other persons because of the color of their skin. You cannot assume someone is your ally with your best interests at heart because you share a skin tone. Allies are made through common ground and a willingness to cooperate for the mutual good of both or multiple parties. It would make more sense to keep together with persons with whom you share concrete values and experiences, who have shown that they are reliable and trustworthy.
Secondly, do not allow the fear and ignorance of other people to manipulate you into a corner. You are not obligated to keep anything together other than your own network of connections, something you create for your own individual benefit and survival.
Question: Do you feel obligated to “keep your race together”? Why or why not?