Monday, September 28, 2009

Black Men, Women, Relationships

This month in Essence, there is an article called “Where Is the Love” about relationships between Black men and women.

Hill Harper, author of Letters to a Young Brother and Letters to a Young Sister, has just brought out a new book entitled The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships.

One point he makes is that single-sex conversations will not bring about progress – in other words, men and women need to talk to each other.

I would argue that single-sex conversations are important, and may feel like a safer place to start. But in the end, we are a complete race and brothas and sistas need to connect and communicate with each other.

I would argue further that it’s not just a matter of talking – it’s also about how we talk and listen to each other. When there are forums for men and women, there tends to be a lot of judging and blaming, a lot of accusations. We need to learn a new language for communication – the language of Nonviolent Communication.

We have learned toxic ways of relating to each other and we are paying the price with broken relationships.

Did you know that:

Only 38% of Black children live in two-parent homes.

In 1966, more than 84% of all African American children were raised in two-parent households. By 2006, that number was at just 31%, compared to

  • 80% of Asian American children and
  • 70% of white American children?

The article lays the blame for problems between Black men and women firmly at the feet of internalised racism, i.e. self-hatred. I couldn’t agree more.

For more about this, see The Key to Confidence.

Hill also argues that many Black women are looking for a man who is financially well-off. I’ve heard this so many times before. I think this is probably because many of us yearn for material security. But we need to learn to provide this security for ourselves, while still being open to a loving relationship.

Hill adds that most of us would not have dated Barack Obama.

I say: If we define a potential partner by his paycheck or bank balance, rather than the qualities he is bringing to the relationship, we are selling ourselves short.

This is about core values. Are you looking for someone with whom you feel secure, with whom you can share yourself and express yourself freely and openly?

Hill finishes by talking about authenticity. If you feel like you have to put on an act when you are with men, how are you going to be happy in a relationship?

My work is about solutions – building happy, healthy relationships, families and communities. Check out my communications course October 10th-11th.

See also: This article about empathy.

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