(This post originally appeared at Sex and the Sisters Feb. 16, 2013.)
February is the month of love, marked by Valentines Day–or International Single Awareness Day, International Quirkyalone Day, or Be Your Own Boo Day, or Anna Howard Shaw Day. This week, I’m thinking about love whatever the case because love is surrounding me like a tight embrace on a cold, blustery day. I am writing about love and romance, writing about sex and love on this blog and that blog, studying the art of love and relationships, and meditating on love and courtship.
Not long ago I would have publicly decried the need for love in my life. But my breakdown/breakthrough/coming out over the past six months revealed my own cracks and truths. I never believed love could exist for me. A friend in grad school once told me that every pot has a lid. I figured I was a giant wok or the cauldron that the MacBeth witches toiled over. I have come to believe in love. Not the fairy tale endings, not the stereotypical plots found in most romances circa the 1970s. But a passionate love that binds, commits, shares, engages, fights for each other, sharpens each other. Care, vulnerability, and hope live in that loving space between these two people.
I was asked to write about why I love black men. It’s hard for me to think through that. Thanks to a workplace realignment, a few soul-crushing events over the past weeks, and just general dreary weather-related malaise I’m not in the best headspace to write on this. On one hand, I’ve always loved black men. Black men cared for me, raised me, and told me to be bold and assertive. Black men have always been the ones I have imagined myself with. I have always wanted to be with a man who resembled the men in life: in deed, in spirit, and in word. I am still waiting on that to come to reality.
On the other, I don’t think that black men love and/or even like me with the same strength and fortitude that I love them. I wish I could believe that this wasn’t true. Color me a cynic because after all, as Rosamund and Benjamin Zander wrote in The Art of Possibility, “a cynic…is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again.”
Scratch a cynic like me and find a lover lurking below. I admit it. I am marshmallow soft and gooey for amour, romance, and courting. Burnt on the outside from love’s tribulations, charred by the machinations and frustrations and disappointments.
All of those frustrations and disappointments have come from black men. They have been destroyed and crippled by the pathologies of who and what a man should be: hard, uncaring, unconcerned, cold as ice, unfeeling, unable to emote, unloving. They have bought the dream and myth of ideal masculinity that boxes them out of compassion, tenderness, and the capability to be afraid and hurt. They have been broken down by lack of love and don’t know how to reassemble the blocks of their lives into a stable whole. They are angry and have agendas and manifestos about relationships and women that hurt and disempower. They disguise their sadness in multiple women, multiple drinks, and multiple risks. Not all of them, but so many of them that it startles me. I want to make them better. I want them to get well more than they want wellness.
The choice to love has always been a gesture of resistance for African Americans, according to bell hooks. And so many men I know and love are resistant to admitting that they desire love or resistant to the act of vulnerability required to be loving.
I love black men. But I can’t love them into their wholeness. That is an action that they will have to do on their own. What I can do is be here waiting on them, and I hope the one right Black man for me will be in that number.