How Do You Want Black Men To Show Up For You?
For work this past week, I wrote about the aftermath of rapper T.I. discussing his daughter’s virginity and the fact that he goes to the gynecologist to ensure that her hymen is still “in tact.” He thought this examination would prove that she was still a virgin.
When the news of T.I.’s overshare hit the internet, the family was on vacation. The rapper immediately went on the defensive. He said that he wasn’t going to allow people to shame him for being himself. Later, when he got word that Deyjah might have an issue with him speaking about her this way, he thought Deyjah should have been the one to come to him and express how she felt about all of it. Obviously, the logic in all of this was off.
As the adult and the one who made the mistake that exposed his daugther’s business to the world, the onus was on him to come to her and seek to find a way to make it better.
It wasn’t until Deyjah’s older female cousins told him how devastated she was that he finally recognized the gravity of the mistake he made.
As disgusted as I was by T.I.’s actions, seeing him hear, for the first time, how his words had affected his daughter, I felt a bit sorry for him.
It occurred to me that T.I., in all of his patriarchy and misogyny, thought going to the gynecologist with his teenage daughter was protecting her. And he viewed exposing personal information about her sexuality and physiology as a demonstration of his protection, a testament to his fathering skills. It was ego.
But it also made me wonder if the reason so many Black women feel abandoned, unheard or unprotected by Black men is because their idea of protection is not what we actually need or want.
Shortly after that, I stumbled upon a statement from writer Feminista Jones.
Asking Black men to protect us is still an example of patriarchy and in Feminista’s opinion, a futile mission.
I can certainly agree with the idea that men are more equipped to protect us than we are able to do for ourselves is patriarchal. But in the case of T.I. and Deyjah, if any Black men should be in the business of protecting Black women, it should be their daughters. That is the duty of a good parent.
Sadly, for far too many Black men, the only women worthy of protection are those to whom they are related or the women to whom they are attracted.
Still, I’d argue that in order for Black people, men, women and other, to be in true community with one another, there has to be a level of accountability and even responsibility for one another.
With that in mind, I asked No Sugar No Cream’s Instagram followers, mostly women, how they would like Black men to show up for them.
When I asked the question, I said that I would share my response later.
One might think that the easiest solution would be for Black men to simply do no harm. But they don’t even perceive their acts against us as disparaging, harmful, or violent.
Black men can start showing up by listening. I think Black men believe they know the best ways to protect and support Black women. And that is not the case.
Black men need to listen like children do in school. For most of us, as students, we didn’t assume we knew more than the teachers. We listened with the intent to learn.
If Black men would listen like students, they would hear that Black women want Black men to believe Black women when they share their lived experiences. They would recognize that to do so could possibly mean that they’ll have to recognize and reckon with the fact that they themselves or the men they call friends and family have consistently behaved in ways that harm women.
And just like White people need to confront their racist family members, Black men need to be willing to do the same.
The question of whether or not Black men, as a collective are willing and able to do that give up their privilege and centeredness in the Black community, is another question.
You can see how other Black women answered this question in the comment section of the Instagram post below.