Lincoln Anthony Blades wants Black women to know that there are many Black men who want to listen, understand and make change.
Many people who come from a traditional West Indian home are familiar with the adage, “children should be seen and not heard.” Growing up, my mother taught me one of the most important things I’ve ever learned in my lifetime: Sometimes you need to sit down, shut up, listen, and learn. She made me understand that true power doesn’t come from constantly running your mouth, but rather in opening your ears to listen. That message has stuck with me as an adult, and I can absolutely see the value in being quiet, so I can be taught. That’s why when women, especially Black women, talk about the challenges and problems they face, I find it’s my duty to sit the hell down and really take in what they’re saying because it’s a topic of utmost importance.
And that brings me to the #BlackPowerIsforBlackMen hashtag that was recently started this week on Twitter by Jamilah Lemieux, news and lifestyle editor of Ebony.com.
After writer Mikki Kendall started the brilliant #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen hashtag on Twitter, which exposed all the ways the mainstream feminist movement has overlooked women of color, Lemieux began the #BlackPowerIsforBlackMen hashtag to expose how frequently Black men have overlooked the struggles our sisters, mothers, daughters, and wives face as we solely and selfishly battle injustice exclusively with our own means in mind. Seeing as I’m not a Black woman, I was definitely interested in hearing their experiences and comments, because I want to learn. I have eight godchildren, six of whom are Black girls, and I desperately want to understand their struggles by listening to Black women who have gone through much of what my goddaughters may have to face someday.
But here’s the problem: As a man who wants to genuinely learn as much as I can, I have absolutely zero ability to retain important lessons being delivered through snark, condescension, and divisive language.
I honestly think most of the women who tweeting using #BlackPowerIsforBlackMen honestly wanted to educate others on their struggles, and I believe that most of the comments started to go left once loudmouth douchebag dudes got all in their feelings and decided to start “e-beef,” derailing the constructive conversation. And once the incendiary and hateful rhetoric reached a boiling point, women began to respond in-kind and it made me sad as hell because a great opportunity for education was squandered, as a result of ego and disrespect. Typically, conversations online end up that way regardless of whether it’s about Pres. Obama’s foreign policy or the NBA Finals. This is one topic, though, I actually wanted to be schooled on, yet wasn’t because I literally can not exhaust my mind with that much negative bullshit.
And therein lies the problem with these gender exchanges: When the ignorant minority of men talk over the rest of us, the conversation becomes fixated on addressing unwavering ignorance instead of helping men, who actually want to comprehend the main point. See, the reason I keep using the word ignorant is because I truly don’t think all Black men have malicious intentions towards Black women – I think we just don’t realize what we’re actually doing to them. #BlackPowerisforBlackMen was a great step forward to initiating a conversation we desperately need to have, by taking the all-important first step of making everyone, especially the privileged class, aware that thereis a problem.
Black women, all I’m personally asking is this: When you feel outraged, angered, and pissed over male privilege and systemic injustices, please understand that there are many men who want to hear what you’re saying and help in any way we can. Please don’t let important conversations get derailed by the ignorant, and we men will make damn sure to do our part to keep jackasses from ruining the dialogue as well.
I’m making sure to stand up and meet you halfway – so I can sit down, shut up, listen, and learn.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site ThisIsYourConscience.com, he’s an author of the book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer” and a weekly contributor for UPTOWN Magazine. He can be reached via Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at This Is Your Conscience.
Originally appeared at UPTOWN Magazine
Photo courtesy of UPTOWN Magazine