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Black Male Misunderstood?

This will be the third day in a row I've written about race and relationships. For a blog that has at its essence self-deprecating humor, I haven't really been any fun this week. And this may be more serious than most stuff I've posted, period.

I've been celebrating the sistas for the past couple days, but now I'm going to throw the ball back into my own court.

I blog about being a dad and a husband and a dude living in New York City trying to keep my wits about me when it seems as if everyone around me is losing theirs (Invictus, y'all). There's absolutely nothing special about this and I shouldn't be celebrated for it. It's my job and the role I must maintain based on the choices I've made. I'm just a regular guy. But there are many days when I wish I had the abilities of the comic book heroes I've grown up on. There are days when I wish I was merely more than I am. I have goals of being well-off/rich and maybe famous, but as a pastor of mine once stated, in order to be great one must come to serve many --- McDonald's is a perfect example of this. And because this passion hasn't yet collided with my reality, I find myself in a bit of a quandary on a daily basis.

I know when my parents had me it was because they wanted a child. Because of their faith they wanted this child to be a gift from God, but a gift unto Him as well, and the world. They filled me with as much as they could for the eighteen years I was with them before I high-tailed it off to college on the East Coast, never to return home. I struggle with being away from home. Especially when I read or watch the news about everybody and their mother getting murdered in Chi-Town. But I also shake my head that the state is currently being run by a crazy man named Blagojevich. Additionally, I struggle with the reality that I am me, not happy with what the world dishes out, sometimes introspective and sensitive to a fault, constantly in pursuit of more than what I can see with my eyes, rarely satisfied, tough to please and often wondering: why was I put on this earth to be these particular people's son, and these other people's father and this other person's husband? What is my role in the bigger scheme of things? Do I even have a role in them?

Over the past several years and especially since getting married, the friends I once called friends are few and far between. Some are busy with their own lives, some have fallen by the wayside and I owe them phone calls, the rest I've kicked the hell out of my life.

I'm a father to a thirteen year old boy and as of today a three year old girl. I strive to do right by them and am tortured with guilt when I feel that I'm falling short of this. This includes everything from picking a kid up late to being impatient with them when I know patience is what they need.

As soon as I leave my house I'm faced with the world, one that doesn't understand me and often attempts to size me up because of my permanent tan. Sometimes on the train, white women look at me as if I want to rob and brutalize them, no matter how well I'm dressed (and how much I'm ignoring them). Many white men for the most part don't even acknowledge my presence unless they slam into me while walking, and are taken aback that my body didn't give when they sought to barge through the space containing me.

In the work place I'm an anomaly. I went to Cornell for my Bachelor's degree and I got my Master's Degree by the age of twenty-three. Because both my parents are educators (mom - public elementary school, dad - med school) being able to put a sentence together both orally and written was an unspoken must. I see the eyes around me widen when I include ten-dollar words in three dollar sentences. I pick up on the palpable shock and occasional disdain that comes from my boss when I question her. Although it's the very strange to me, considering that one of the reasons I was supposedly hired was to bring new ideas to the table.

Starting with the beginning of my day and continuing almost to its end, being misunderstood is about as everyday to me as the sun rising and setting. And I do believe that this is many African American men's dilemma. How do you fit in when you don't fit in? How do you get people to believe in you when they are too busy trying to categorize you or they just straight up fear or dismiss you?

In my mind this is what I see when I look in the mirror:

  1. A Man
  2. A Black Man
  3. A Child of God
  4. A decent looking guy
  5. Someone who needs to hit the gym
  6. Everything else
Although a Child of God should be first on this list, I've gone a bit off course in my Walk (for those of you in the know about these things) and am doing my best to get back there. And let me clarify, when I put Man at the top of my list I mean literally a man, a.k.a a person who is male. Meaning I am a person.

It is person-hood that I believe most (women) who view men (of all nationalities and ethnicities) overlook or don't bother to consider because, why would you? He's a guy! And guys don't...

Don't what?

  • Have feelings?
  • Have dreams?
  • Have expectations?
  • Have fears?
  • Need a damn hug every once in a while?
Now we men don't exactly help matters by perpetrating like we're invulnerable. I'm sure this list could go longer, but I've said enough to make my point. Any real man (or a seriously drunk one) will confess the same. Out in the world I'm constantly on guard and standing as tall as possible because of all the stuff I just detailed --- for better or worse. So when I come home, it would be nice to be taken as I am: a person with a lot of shit on my plate. And some days it is exactly that: a lot of shit.

The other day --- the same day I wrote about loving my Black woman --- my Black woman came home and thought I was in a bad mood. I'm not sure why when all I was doing was having an in depth conversation with babygirl about Dora the Explorer. This impression I gave off apparently set the tone so that when I eventually did ask her a question and didn't get an answer I wanted, she was loaded up and ready to shoot me down and shut me down before I could even get started.

But here's the thing: I wasn't trying to get started. At the start and in the end it was a misunderstanding where no understanding was sought. I still don't know what I did to warrant the reaction I got and because she hasn't discussed it with me, I suppose she still feels the same as she did then. Being misunderstood in the world, at work and at home doesn't leave a man with many options. No matter who he is. No matter how many responsibilities he has. I've listened to crumpled men talk about how lonely they are and how there's no one to talk to --- especially their wives. This isn't to justify infidelity or even promote it, but to point out that when someone feels they have nowhere to turn, they forcibly and sometimes brazenly create a comfort zone. This can take the form of a wall, depression, infidelity, drugs, even suicide.

I would imagine now would be the time for someone only glossing over what I'm writing to sharpen their claws and dig in. "Men are this and that..." "Men don't get this and that..." "I'm sure whatever you did..."

No, not really. Seriously.

A man like Michael Baisden will never go out of business talking about black love because too often black love is too concerned about who's wrong, what's wrong and never being wronged again versus just doing right --- in spite of wrong. During a very chaotic moment prior to my wedding a cousin-in-law(?) told me that when things are going wrong there's always an opportunity to do right. The Bible teaches, "Hate the sin, not the sinner." But let's be real, it's easier to hate the face, the name, and the physical embodiment than actually address the cause of the problem: tension on the job, financial problems, a bad report from the doctor, general fear about this life? Who knows? Does anyone bother to really ask in a form other than "What's your problem?" or "What's wrong with you?"

More times that not when I'm arguing, I'm not arguing about being right, I'm arguing about the fact that I'm arguing. Because in my mind if we're arguing, both of us are wrong. I'm not suggesting that I or anyone else, man or woman, get off the hook from being wrong when wrong. To err($5) is human. And some wrongs are dealbreakers, plain and simple. I'm just saying there's gotta be a better way to get to a resolution.

So what options do men as well as men who are black have? What does a man who is very flawed do? Should he suck up going home to hear about everything he probably knows about himself in the name of love? What does a man who spends his day getting a chip knocked into his shoulder do when he comes home with a fresh wound in need of salve? Does he have to get it together and put on the best face he can cuz he knows wifey don't play? What does a man do when he's a little to a lot off center from the day because he's spent all day fighting for his place in it and rushes home hoping wifey can take the edge off? What does he do when all wifey sees is that edge?

If I had an answer to these questions and any other ones regarding this conundrum($10) I wouldn't have written any of this.

Any suggestions, ladies?

And please, no men ain't s%^ rants. There's plenty of other places on the Internet for that. It's a new year and we're days away from celebrating history. Let's celebrate ourselves as well. I'm not saying men are perfect or martyrs/victims or even victims of their own decisions. But isn't everyone?

Sistas? Ladies?

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