Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some black men, and I would go into great detail as to why but I think you get a sense from this week's podcast, that Trenelle and I were wrong about Black men...okay emphasize the "MAY" in the title. You see...living in Portland it just depends on the day. I sometimes wonder why we have such a hard time being friends or engaging in conversation with one another. Like is it really because of bad experiences with one another? Or is it that we all don't feel worthy enough for one another?
I feel like love is sometimes something you grow into, you can see the potential of it in a small amount of time, but it's something you often have to cultivate and foster. I say that to say, we need to give our brothers and sistah's a chance more. If we write one another off because of the misconceptions we've created in our own heads, we miss out on the opportunity of love. That doesn't mean you should settle for someone who is not quality, but there is a lot of quality out there. However, I think we (meaning black men and women) single folks need to do a better job of at least acknowledging the humanity in one another. We have to ask ourselves, why do we carry certain preferences? But more than that what guides those preferences? Are they good or bad experiences? Or do they come from societal ideologies that seeped into the negative ways some of us now view one another?
One area where God has been working on me and speaking to me about deals heavily with my thoughts. I've been feeling that I need to place my thoughts and attention on more positive things, and although that is often associated with dealing with our sin. I'm beginning to see it as meaning much more and would go as far as to say that it also a charge for me to look at how I deal with others, including the difficult people in my life. The verse that has spoken to me in this area of my life is Phillipians 4:8-9, it reads:
Emphasis on, "whatever you have heard and seen in me--PRACTICE these things, and the God of PEACE will be with you". I don't know if it's the lack of folks following Jesus in PDX that makes it impossible for true connection across racial lines, but I do think if you're a believer, and even if you're not a believer there is something to be said about humanity and most importantly Godliness and choosing to see the best in all people, including those who don't deserve it. What did Jesus do? He approached people and risked getting rejected, in fact he ultimately did get rejected. He saw the best in people even at their worst. He forgave his own, even after they betrayed him, and all but a few of his disciples acted as if they knew him on his way to the cross and in the few days following his death. The verse goes on to say we are to practice these things, which to me means it won't come easy and without work. Therefore, thinking about the positives and seeing the best in people when we've been rejected and hurt requires practice, but catch this...the result of that practice according to this passage of scripture is peace.
The two poems I wrote below are from two very different stages in my life. The earliest one was written after I had a piss poor interaction with a Black guy friend I liked in college. The second one I don't know if you'd call it a poem, monologue or whatever, but it's where I'm at today as a grown black woman. I've dated across racial lines, but something about the strength and heart of a Black man who loves Jesus and is confident in who he is will always captivate me. However, when you live in a city like this, it's hard to live out Phillippians 4:8-9 every day, and I guess these two pieces below would be pieces written on the harder days. One line of Hypocrisy reads, "I thought one black man would change this all for me but hypocrisy among the "brothas" I'm not sure if he'll see. See you and see me how it hurts the soul within me, that being with a black "brotha" is now more like a dream". Now, just to clarify, I wasn't talking about Jesus when I said "He'll see", I was talking about having a Black president in office and how I had doubts that him being president and married to a Black woman would help change the relationship between Black men and Black women in Portland. I could on and explain what I meant in other parts of the poem, but art is best left to be interpreted by the reader, so enjoy! I will say, that although I don't sound hopeful I am. I'm surrounded by Black love everywhere in my life and although Portland is a special place, it still exists here even midst us youngin's looking down when we cross each others paths.
Anyways, be sure to check out our latest episode, "We may have been wrong about Black Men" after you read the two pieces below, and remember, a new episode drops next Tuesday.
I’m tired of hearing, and watching, and seeing,
I’m tired of hearing all that I should be being,
The fact that I’m black not white in this world,
Or the fact that I’m a colored female now seems so absurd,
Not in the white girls or boys eyes,
But the fact that the only people seeing the color of my skin are the brothers I call mine,
Can no woman be hurt, or be angry or loud?
Can no woman be free to express to the crowds,
Yes, I am black but don’t let that be all you can see,
Because I hope you see more than my skin when you’re looking at me,
Cuz I see your heart but do you see mine?
Cuz I can see all the pain all the pain in your eyes.
I thought one black man could change this all just for me,
But hypocrisy among the “brothas” I’m not sure if he’ll see,
See you and see me, how it hurts the soul within me,
That being with a black brotha’ is now more like a dream,
You holla at her, don’t even see me,
Why is it we can only be a sistah not a lovah? You feel me?
Is that wrong? Please tell me.
Cause if hoping in something that God promised me is like hoping in something less than a mustard seed then I’m done trying and buying, I’m settling for less, because searching for this is causing me stress,
Making me less of who I want to be…. Aww man you still can’t see me?
Well then if becoming less is what this world wants from me, then please forgive me if I’m following my dreams,
A dream not just for me but a world of all color that I see.
I ain’t angry because I am black,
I ain’t sad cause she white,
I’m just mad that I’m judged by something you feel just ain’t right.
I’m proud to be me?
Are you proud to be you?
Because hurting people hurts people and that’s what y’all do.
Though truth may just hurt it pierces like a knife,
Is nobody willing to put up a fight?
No, no you’re keeping it light, Oh God that’s right.
So I’m now down on my knees praying to God please, help my young boys to see beyond what they see,
What’s now bigger than me,
Cause like in the words of MLK I now have a dream,
That seems bigger than me,
Can’t you see? Still?
Oh God what’s the deal?
I’ll chill, he’s out there,
But I swear,
Done searching, it’s hurting,
I’m moving on and that’s, that.
I’m seeking a source that’s higher than that.
Dear PDX Black Men (2018)
Dear PDX Black Men,
I just wanted to take the time to affirm you. I often see you walking down the street and there is something about you that puts me on that Coretta Scott and MLK Jr. dream (ish). Your swag is unique and different than elsewhere, the way you carry yourself, you have those soft eyes my girlfriends and I like to talk about. Like you’re deep in your thoughts of poetic mystery. Your swag is a cross between Taye Diggs and that one guy of of "Waiting to Exhale", who left his black wife for a white woman, and I often times want to ask you what you’re thinking. Just so I can finally tell you that I see you and appreciate you. That I 100 and thousandth percent affirm your existence. Shoot, I'd put up my fist so high up in the air and play that Mary J. Blidge joint, "I'm going down", just so you really understood how down I was for you. Hoping that it'd put us back in solidarity of living this life and sharing this small big city space we call "home".
It crazy how thoughts of you consume me at times and yet most days I don’t have the courage to say hi. I’ve come to realize what's going on here is bigger than me, and I’m finding out that there is something in this city that makes us feel like we're different. So really I’ve put a pause on some of those dreams as I try and resuscitate my heart and it turns out I may have a dream to a tragic love story that actually puts me as the Whitney to your Bobby in a love song. Which also means that I’m not sure who is crazier, you or me? I just hope we haven’t ruined a good thing. And I’m not sure who we get to blame for being so out of sync.
You see Portland black man, our paths crossed yesterday and I just wanted to let you know that every single encounter I’ve had with you has left me speechless. When I saw you in the distance I felt my heart race, I checked myself, I said, "Okay, Here is your moment to break the silence. You’re looking pretty put together today. Just commit and say hi. Nod your head. Acknowledge him. DO SOMETHING.” I wondered what you were thinking too. I often wonder what you are thinking, and so when our paths crossed and you looked the other way, my stare into your distant face felt like eternity. Maybe this eternity was in purgatory because the more attempts I make to look beauty in it’s face, to give a non committal smile that in its simplest form means I see you...
I stopped smiling...and I don’t think it was you.
You are not to blame. It’s something about these streets.
And so I’m left to ponder...
What has these PDX streets done to us? What has it made us become? What does it speak each time our paths cross? Hands over our mouths and over our eyes blinded and unsure, wanting to ask why but not able to start by saying hi.
You are the epitome of strength and yet these streets silence you. They silence us.
None the less, PDX black man. I just wanted to take the time to affirm you and say that I see you and although you might be a Bobby to my Whitney, I'm still here, and if I'm still here writing this, that means there is still time to change the ending and make a new kind of love song. A new ending to this story.
A PDX Black Woman