My own experiences aside, harmful media stereotypes of black people don't help. Negative images of black men, and black families are presented as the norm on an almost daily basis. Often prejudiced and manufactured statistics depicting disproportionate numbers of black men in prisons and numerous single mother or broken homes continue to show blacks in a negative light. Harmful stereotypes of black women by black men as being "aggressive," "harsh," and "hard" haven't helped black relationships either. But when did black men and black women become frenemies? When did splintering off to date outside the race, looking for a successful partner anywhere but within black America and proliferating the myths that black men are "players" and black women are "emasculating" become the norm?
These questions plague me now at the end of my 30s, engaged to a black man I consider my equal in many ways, but with whom I struggle daily to make the relationship work. At 44 he's dated a number of white women whom he's found to be more nurturing, softer and a lot more understanding of his struggles as a black man than—wait for it—many black women. Yep, you heard right. I could have asked him why he thinks white women are so much more nurturing–considering so many black women raising their children. Instead, I asked my white girlfriend who has dated a lot of black men if it's true, that even though we're both ambitious and outspoken, that she's so very different than I am.
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What she told me was surprising: She'd heard the same thing from a lot of the black guys she'd dated, but it seemed to her that many of these men weren't interested in working very hard, either in the relationship or in general. It seemed to me that this was something they could get away with, with white women, but most black women just weren't having it. Subsequently, this made us demanding, hard, and emasculating.