Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Black Man and the Black Woman

FLASHBACK

I remember my heart pounding. We're sitting ducks. I'm a sitting duck. It was just us kids around, me, my oldest, but suicidal brother, my one-year older than me brother, and the twin babies. There were no adults in the house. Save Mr Perp. Mr Perp always waited til we were alone to make his move. He just loved to 'babysit' us. That way he had good access -to me!

My heart pounded as I waited in hiding as he searched around the house for me. He kept calling my name out. My good little girl sense kept telling me: "an adult is calling, I must respond!" but at the same time my lone survivor voice kept saying, "don't you go to that weirdo!" and so these voice raged on in my head with every room Mr. Perp ransacked looking for me. He was getting angrier and angrier at each thrashing!

All my siblings were downstairs outside playing. How could I get to them, I worried. Finally, the moment I feared became! With a quick swift push of the bed, he found me cowering under there. With vengeful anger he grabbed my arm and dragged me to my parents bedroom. "no!" "NO!" I cried. Bitter bitter tears. Tears of an angry child unable to help herself, tears of frustration that this happens time and time again, Tears of anguish, where are my caretakers?! Where are those who love me?! I wailed unabashed! Perhaps a neighbor will care, I thought wildly.

In my parents room, he began to scold me for hiding from him. He called me all sorts of names. Then he raised that big ugly hand to strike me. I cringed in preparation. Somehow I wasn't as angry anymore. This, I could handle. I had trained myself so many times to be able to withstand physical pain. I used to hit myself over and over with anything I could find, anything that struck me with fear. Just so I'd get over my fear of pain. Somehow at 13 or 14, I knew in order for me to get anywhere in my situation, I had to be able to do it THROUGH or despite the pain.

His hand rose high. But that's where things changed.

"Don't hit my sister!" boomed a voice.

It was my brother. The one year older than me brother. My dear brother who hardly talks. He hardly spoke, I think, because of all the insults of how stupid, wrong, bad, etc that he is that gets thrown at him daily. When he did talk, you could tell it could be loud, but you would always hear the suppression of that loudness in his voice. But this time, there was no suppressing it.

"Don't hit my sister!" He said again, more fiercely.

My tears became tears of joy. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I got the strength to twist my arm out from Mr. Perp's as my brother dove in for the attack. they fought. The struggled moved on into another room. That day, I loved my brother with a love I never knew existed. It wasn't sexual, It more part motherly, but not. Part sisterly but more than that. A mixture of pride, love, surrender, confusion. I can't even explain it.

Then I usually remember myself and snap out of the flashback and try to live my life like a normal person. I'm a wife, mother, friend, sister, BW, Jew. No time to think about the past. I step up my pace in whatever I'm doing and flick away the insistent tear in one eye.

This is my life.

DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR BLACK MEN

This flashback came, courtesy of reading Black Women Vote! blog where in the comment section people were debating how should sex offenders be treated vs too many BF in the American (racist) prison system.

I couldn't put any real thoughts out because it was just too close to home. What to do with these people. Shoot them. Throw them to the dogs!

Indeed, it is a great problem, if not the number one problem in the black community. Too many crimes on the black women and children! Its exacerbated by a racist system that doesn't bat an eye when such reports come, and even barely report them to the general media.

Not to mention the subtle crimes that men do. Slithering into women's lives, as if. And the leaving them for another women -creating such an upheaval in the social structure of things, and not to mention babies in their wake.

The problem has escalated to the very degree that women need blogs to be "taught" that some men really ARE damaged beyond repair and are not worth entering their lives!

This reminds me of a saying. I don't remember exactly but something like: 'to be so in the dark, that one doesn't even KNOW that they are in the dark, is true darkness indeed!'

So, yes I must say that I am a firm believer of that term "Damaged beyond repair" (although, I must say that I think this could apply to women as well!). And its good to have this term for those who are still too involved or too close in such a situation, so that they can have a special name that reminds them exactly the essence of their 'problem'.

I know that those who are farther removed from the situation, feel a bit bothered by this term. But please; let me assure you, its a needed term. Just like rapist, abuser, killer, etc. Its something that's needed to counterbalance the overly used, and exhausted "brotha".

Many incidences like the one I mentioned above, led me to resolve that I didn't want to marry. Ever. All men were dogs and were out to hurt me. But the only flaw in my thinking was how to fit my brother in my hate theory.


THE SAINTS

Thank God for my brother. I truly believed that through God's mercy, and from reading and being changed by the Torah, the other positive thing that happened to me was remembering the deeds of my brother. All these things combined, gave me the strength and courage to want to marry again!

I could never know quite how to place my brother in my hate theory. All men are hateful. But how do I explain my brother? Where does he fit? So I came with an initial solution. I decided all men are hateful -EXCEPT my brother. lol Talk about mind games to keep a girl sane!

As life went on, I met more and more guys that I had to put into the 'My Brother the Exception' category. Finally, my theory just didn't really hold anymore. I had to -and had healed enough to be able to-say it: there are some pretty good guys out there.

One thing led to another and soon I found blog world.

FIGHTING BLACK WOMEN

I had distanced myself from people in general, because of my past. I had too many secrets to hold. Too many distrust. And I saw things too 'in reality' to be accepting of lies and hypocrisy. But the problem was: a bit of lying and hypocrisy seems to be need for society to function. And that made me a bit of an outcast. But I loved that position because it always gave me a good perspective, an objective perspective. I was free to question and think on my own, because I didn't belong to any clique or group. I had no loyalty to anything, save God.

From my observation, I see many struggling black women. Struggling with so so much. Forces outside: fighting negative images, control of incoming information, racism, colorism, social injustice. Fighting forces within: trying to learn to put Black Women first, struggling with what does that mean, what does it entail. And fighting each other over who's right.

All this fighting together to head in one beneficial direction for BW, and at the same time I hear that 'we are not a monolith'. I see borg behavior (we are the borg, prepare to be assimilated) and I see individualist theorist (there is no black community!). This is the 'energy' that is supposed to bring BW to their beneficial direction.

Anyway, one big topic these factions are all debating is: where does the black man fit into all this. Should we hate em?! Should we coddle him no matter what?! Should he be brought into the picture?! Should he be thrown in a jail without much sleep lost on our parts?!

ANSWERS

I wish I had answers. I have learned the hard way that joining cliques doesn't give the answer. It only takes away objectivity and the right to question and observe. Basically, it leads to a fear of man because one must fall in line with whatever label and definition of the label one is 'crowned' with for joining whatever group. Or loyalty will come into question if any questioning is made -thus effectively ending the exploratory and thinking part of a person.

I do know that I have a son. yes, he's in Israel. But one day he may choose to live in America. The chances are pretty likely. How will things be for him? Shouldn't I do my part to make things good for him as well as for my daughters. Does taking care of my daughters and myself, precludes caring for what happens to that dear brother of mine or my darling son?

Granted, I would want all Mr. Perps shot and killed. Okay sorry. I'd like them all put through the justice system. Oh, I'll be honest: shot and killed. LOL. But I do acknowledge that he's not the only type of black man out there.

So what to do? Fight for ourselves and throw a "bone" when no one is looking to our dear male ones?

THE JEWISH STRUGGLE

One thing that I hear in Judaism is that we should all write our own Torah. I have always mulled over that and wondered what it meant. Yes, there are rabbinical translation and interpretations already set for me to read and nod at (some say this means literally finding a sofer and having him write a sefer Torah for them, etc). But I still wonder what other interpretation could there be.

Women have not "written their own Torah" yet. For this reason, there are no formal prayer for being in labor, no formal prayer for when our menstruation comes or when it goes. That may not be a big deal for the non-Jewish world, For a Jew, that is a big deal because it decides when you can be with your husband or not. And, I must add, its pretty exciting when you know you can be together again! A prayer would seem fitting -as we pray about everything else -even just to put an apple in our mouths there is a prayer. There are no formal prayers when three women eat together as there is for Jewish men (these were noted by Chana Henkin, dean of Nishmat Yeshiva -a seminary for girls).

And rightly so!

I don't believe that all the men are sexists animals. I do believe that they felt very very VERY out of place to formulate a formal prayer for events they knew absolutely nothing about!

According to a book I read, Expecting Miracles, a Jewish book about the spiritual side of childbirth, one of the most widely bought book in pre-holocaust Europe was a Yiddish book made by women for women with prayers that they invented for themselves!

THE WANING MOON REVISITED

Previously I wrote about a saying. About the moon and how it complained to God that she and the sun could not both occupy and rule the sky. You can read that story here.

Well, that moon represented women. Yes, women who was made not from dust -like man- but from living flesh and bone. A very alive person so alive that they can bring forth more life. Like a portal between spiritual and physical! But she was diminished, as the story goes. But listen: God did not diminish the moon!

He simply said, 'okay so diminish yourself, if you think you can't rule side by side with the sun.'.

And as the story goes, It diminished itself. ITSELF. But one day, it will realized that it does need to rule. At least itself if nobody else. LOL. At that time it will blossom again to its full God-given Glory and rule! The story doesn't exactly say what happens to the sun. But that doesn't matter. Because once we begin to see that WE MUST RULE OURSELVES, the sun will take care of itself as it always did.

Anyway, I hope that made sense.

21 comments:

Grata said...

Miriam,

OMG! I am not sure what to say but I am touched by your entry. And can tell that you have done a pretty great job recovering.

I am one of those that is quite distanced from the DBR label but do not deny their existance. Some of what you wrote I have been thinking about but not ready to write.

I think you now understand why I am excited about Brenda. I think the future of Africa is with the women. There are no two ways about it.
And yes even if people find the black woman's role in the BC community questionable, the future of the community is too, largely dependant on BW unfortunately.

Its the time for the mooon to wake up.

Miriam said...

Hi Grata,

I don't know what's going on. I've been baring my soul more and more on this blog.

I look forward to your take on some of these things when your ready to write. I am sure it will give me food for thought.

May God bless Brenda. And my her girl friends all be right behind her!

Miriam said...

May her girl friends all be right behind her!!

*correction*

Amazing said...

Wow Miriam. That was very brave of you to reveal that.

Soila. said...

Oh wow Miriam. That was something. I dont know how to respond to that.
"Sorry" doesnt cut it... If I were next to you I would give you a huge warm hug.

Grata said...

'"Sorry" doesnt cut it... If I were next to you I would give you a huge warm hug'.

Soila,

No offence but I am not a hugger. Men and children, yes. Women No! Sorry guys.
But Miriam, I will have you in my prayers.
Just had to put that out there so people understand that some of us are different in that way.

Miriam said...

Amazing, Yeah it was personal. lol

Soila, Thanks for the hug!

Grata, I know the type! my mom is a non hugger type. But she was extremely efficient. She always knew our little preference in things and gave it. That was how she showed affection.

Grata said...

"Grata, I know the type! my mom is a non hugger type. But she was extremely efficient. She always knew our little preference in things and gave it. That was how she showed affection."

Thank goodness I am not the only one.

Speaking of abuse, I have seen alot of it happen to others around me. I was just very lucky it never happened to me. The damage is quite severe. I sometimes avoid those the victims close to me because their pain rubs off onto you. I could take it for a while but at a certain point I resented the buggage being down loaded and feeling guilty for what happened to them.
I know that if I ever have girls, I will not trust any male relatives around them.

Soila. said...

Grata sd:
"No offence but I am not a hugger. Men and children, yes. Women No! Sorry guys.
But Miriam, I will have you in my prayers.
Just had to put that out there so people understand that some of us are different in that way."


Whatever Grata!!! When I meet you for the first time, I am giving you a HUGE BEAR HUG and a HUGE KISS on your cheek (face) so deal with it ma!

Miriam said...

"I know that if I ever have girls, I will not trust any male relatives around them."

Maybe i'm paranoid, but I really commend that!!!!

Say Grata, a site you may (?) be interested in. Its

9 types

My mom is a One!

Mes Deux Cents said...

Miriam,


HUG!! :)

Grata said...

Hey Miriam,

I am a combination of 1 and 5.

thanks for the link.

Miriam said...

You're welcome! My husband is a 5. I'm a 2. Can you imagine that combo?! emotional meets cerebral.

classical one said...

Hug and a smooch for you! :)

Tania said...

I really enjoyed reading that Miriam! I don't have time to write more but I am glad that you are putting this stuff out there in the blogeshpere! our stories need to be told. Thank you.

Grata said...

"husband is a 5. I'm a 2. Can you imagine that combo?! emotional meets cerebral".

Yeap, I attract emotional types too. Even as friends. 2 of my sisters are 2s and are older so I end up playing the older role.

Gorgeous Black Women said...

"So a lady was raped, big deal," she said. "There's too much other crime happening here."

This is what one of the black female neighbors said of the Dunbar Village case. It's heartbreaking to me to see how much physical and sexual abuse black children and women suffer in silence. I have very strong views about punishing sex offenders and violent child abusers or predators. There are too many jail cells full of non-violent offenders who can be rehabilitated. Every time I read about some rapist who was released just to go rape and kill someone else weeks later, I'm sick to my stomach. Why were they out? Jail crowding! Jail also turns people who could be rehabilitated into violent offenders since the system itself is so violent. While I think it's wrong for anyone to be abused, it's hard for me to gather the sympathy for men in jail when they've hurt others. Sadly, some were sexually abused as children, but that is not an excuse for ruining someone else's life.

I live in Massachusetts. I'd feel safer with the crackheads running around than with the priests that have been charged with abuse but I suppose that has more to do with statute of limitations.

Grata said...

"I have very strong views about punishing sex offenders and violent child abusers or predators".

Some very vocal feminist in my country advocates for castration. Frankly, I don't disagree.
Death to those that are HIV positive!

Liz said...

I had guests so I haven't been by to visit for a few days. But gosh, this made me cry. I definitely believe sex offenders should be getting harsher sentences than they are.

You have such patience, such kindness in the words you type and you truly have experienced such hell. It is only through God that such things are overcome. I offer you my hug as well.

SheCodes said...

Miriam,

I'm sorry that this is so late.. I was out of town and spent very little time online.

I am deeply, deeply sorry about what you went through. I have a hellish incident in my life that I recall every single day, and I can't imagine what it would have been like if I had experienced it as a child.

You are an amazing spirit to have been able to recover enough of yourself to love and receive love from someone else.

I will pray for you tonight.

Miriam said...

C-1, Tania, Gorgeous, Grata, Amazing, Soila, Mes Deux Cent, Liz, SheCodes! Thank you all so much for the hugs, the support, and the comments. I really appreciate it!