I’m feeling a little Angie Stone-esque with this post. I concluded a few months ago that I really don’t show enough outward appreciation to my black brothas. In fact, I flirted with the line of hate and disdain. Why? Mostly because I held onto the negative advertised image of black men these days. I believed and perpetuated the lazy, violent, non-kid-raising, womanizing stereotypes that I’d seen and heard from the black men around me. But that’s not who the black man is at his core. And that’s not the only story I saw once I opened my eyes a bit wider. To all the black men I know who have touched my life positively, I want to say truthfully from the deepest depths of my soul, I Love You. I need you. I respect you. And I appreciate you. But that’s just the problem isn’t it fellas? I’m keeping it locked up and tucked away. Well, it’s time to let the world–and you–know how I feel and why. Because Love locked away and unexpressed might as well be hate. So consider this post a proverbial embrace–a kiss on the cheek just for being you.
I Love black men…
13. … for their cool
I’m going to tell you guys the real reason I voted for Barack Obama. Although I read up on them, it wasn’t completely because of his policies. It wasn’t because he reignited a belief in Hope or Change. And it wasn’t because he is an attractive guy. No. I voted for Barack Obama because he’s just so damn cool. There is something in the walk and talk of a black man that the world finds definable only by the word swagger. And even that word doesn’t quite do you justice. It is an indelible and endearing quality that’s got the world wanting what you’ve got in your back pocket. From politics, to sports, to entertainment, to business, to the pulpit–when a black man leads, people follow. He is the ultimate trendsetter. And it’s this cool that will continue to change the world.
12. …for staying good men even when we don’t believe you exist
You know how they say good guys finish last? That goes for brothas too. If black women are honest with ourselves, we laugh at the ones that are too broke, too short, too unendowed (or unblessed. Hmmm?), too ugly, too emotional, too nice, too Christian, too etc. Even if they are good men! As the black woman increases her education, gets a bit of money in her pocket, and navigates her dreams and goals, we find ourselves looking over the good ones while complaining about how lonely we are and how we’re the least unmarried. Because a lot of us women don’t know what we want. And I know a few good men out there who fight through the slew of black women who think they’re ready for commitment but always date the same kind of black man and then complain about black men as a collective group. I can only imagine how frustrating that has to be. Thank you for hanging in there with us and for putting up with our ignorance and misinformation.
11. …for your persistence in the face of an unjust system
I would like to propose a toast to the ones of you who know firsthand being black on a Tuesday is grounds for police harassment, having a car that’s a little too nice will get you in trouble even if you worked hard and honest to get it, and simply walking into an elevator can cause the old woman next to you to clutch at her purse with every bit of force in her feeble existence. There are parts of this so-called “black experience” that are uniquely yours. And I want to thank you for dealing with the facts of black American life with poise, grace, and a whole lot of comedy. And I give even more kudos to the ones of you who have managed to avoid jail time in spite of a system bent on giving you some.
10. …for your humor
Speaking of comedy, black men are hilarious! From listening to Steve Harvey in the morning to watching old comedy specials of Richard Pryor, I’ve watched and laughed with the black men who choose to fight injustice and racism with politically relevant jokes. Comedians have the right to do and say anything under the guise of humor. And some of them use those opportunities to talk about taboo subject matters. But as we laugh, bonds are broken, stigmas are torn down, prejudices are made light. The best part about it is, when everything’s all said and done, the only thing that hurts are our cheeks from laughing so hard. Thank you for lengthening my life with a much-needed laugh.
9. …for your enlightenment and spirituality
Black folk Love them some G-O-D. And at the head of nearly every church congregation or mosque meeting in our community stands a strong black man. Not every religious leader gets it right. Some are clearly called while others are made. But every once in a while, you get a truly blessed black man using religion as an opportunity to do some things in his community. One such man heads Zion Church in Glenarden, Md–Pastor Keith Battle. Keith Battle gives away offering money to the people in need in his church, makes services accessible and applicable for young people, and talks about topics that other people in the church don’t want to talk about. He is truly an inspiration to me so thank you.
8. …for your Fatherhood
You always hear about the good for nothing brothers who have as many kids as Samuel L. has movies. But you know what? That’s not always the case. Some black men know the truth–parenthood isn’t a choice but an obligation. I work alongside two very dedicated black fathers. Both of them have sacrificed time at work to be nearer to their households and help their wives out with their kids. They truly speak the language of the new black man, the 21st century black man, who does more than bring home the bread and butter. They are ACTIVE and ENGAGED fathers, involved in every bit of the child-rearing process. And I must say, I respect it–so thank you for showing me that.
7. …for your appreciation of us
Although not all black men appreciate black women, the ones who do appreciate us REALLY appreciate us. While mainstream society shuns our hairstyles, our butts, our lips, our walk, and our attitude–the black man has cherished those very same things. The black woman finds herself the object of admiration in many a hip-hop song, R&B album, and neo-soul croon. As Drake profoundly puts it, “…a little attitude problem? It’s all good, it’ll make sh*t last”. The “angry black woman” who might pose a problem for some is a prize for you. I Love it when a black man declares that there’s no other kind of woman that he’d rather have by his side but one of us. And not because there’s anything wrong with any other group of women but just because he prefers the kind of woman who raised him. Because he knows her strength, he knows her glory, he knows her pain, and he shares her story. There’s nothing on Earth like a black man’s Love. Thank you for hollerin’.
6. …for your leadership
From Malcolm and Martin to Medgar and Huey, the revolution has been televised and the Best Supporting Male Lead goes to you. Many of the fallen soldiers on the frontline of this war on racism, have been you. And you’ve lead us with peace, with God, with guns, with words, with art, with Love, with silent protest, with athletic excellence, with academic perfection. Thank you to the black men of the past that sacrificed their lives, their Loves, their dreams, their hopes, so that I could have opportunities not afforded to them. Thank you for always being Kings.
5. …for their entrepreneurial (aka “hustlin”) spirit
As Cassidy raved, a black man could “sell Raid to a bug”. Many a cover of Black Enterprise magazine features the black men who have finessed the world with their business knowledge and innovation. Some of them know how to make money and make it honestly. Although I’m no huge fan of Tyler Perry, the idea behind his monumental success is a brilliant one. Perry found it important to own his movie making studio so that people could never keep him from making movies by refusing him funding. And I respect the hustle.
5. …for your creativity
Andre 3000. Kanye West. Spike Lee. Will Smith. John Legend. Musiq Soulchild. Tupac Shakur. Louis Armstrong. Marvin Gaye. James Baldwin. James Van Der Zee. Aaron Mcgruder. Some say art is more real than life. And the black man has consistently and abundantly contributed to art for life’s sake. Our art forms have transformed the world one canvas at a time. I am inspired and humbled by the beauty in the things the black man creates with his hands. Thank you for your art.
4. …for our shared history
When black women stood up on those auction blocks, it was black men chained next to them. When black women were tired from a long day’s bus boycott, black men were at home to rub tired feet. When black women complained about the itchiness of weave, black men stepped in to take out our sew-ins. We have stood and fought alongside each other since as long as we’ve been on this Earth. I can’t say that about any other kind of man.
3. …for your intelligence
Everyone likes to talk about the brothas that don’t go to college. And I know and Love those black men. But this particular section is for the ones of you that pursued higher education in spite of all the obstacles. This is for the brothas who enjoy reading books and learning about their history, their culture, their contribution to this country. This is for the men who took the things they learned in school with a grain of salt because they understood that education doesn’t always come from a curriculum. I applaud you for educating yourself and for adding to my stimulating conversations–intelligently. Thank you for not being too cool for school.
2. …for your excellence
A person shows true excellence when they succeed in spite of setbacks. Few men in America know setbacks like black men. And yet our people have excelled in all aspects in this country with great help from you. As astronauts and engineers, as professional athletes and hip-hop moguls, as real-estate tycoons and entertainment powerhouses, as men. You have set a standard of excellence that I can only hope to follow. I love you for setting the bar so high.
1. …for being the other half of Black Love
This needs no true explanation. You are apart of me and I, you. To Love you is to Love me. And that’s why I do.