Black Matriarchy

..and it has been since Reconstruction. The Matriarchy is bolstered with every crisis that is endemic to the Black community for it scatters the ambitions and loyalty of Black men who fail to recuperate their sense of self worth. I don’t really blame them. There’s a system of White Sexual Paranoia that is so intense that it makes being a Black man the hardest thing to be, and yet on some levels, the most desirable. The oppression Black men specifically, resulted in the masculine role of breadwinner to be adopted by Black women.The success of this shift varied greatly and reached its peak in the post-Jim Crow period. Segregation was over and the misogyny laws were lifted. It took a bit of time to take hold, but it happened: the last ethnic group to spread their genes to other ethnicities were free to do so. Black men are wild’t attracted to naturally straight or loosely curled hair, which Black women don’t have,  and they beelined for it. Unfortunately, the caveat is the turmoil of growing up in broken homes and underfunded parenting that prevented a smooth transition for princess cancer is is potent social construct. The generation of the Black community in question is GenX. Overall, the young, Black men of GenX went to jail and the GenX Black women went to college. Granted there are a number of aforementioned external factors, of course, but the context of this essay will concentrate on the internal conflicts in the Black community. 

“What part of the problem are you?”

As a Black woman, I grew up hearing the wish list of American Black men repeated as nauseam since the 5th grade: “I want a light-skinned girl with long black hair”. This impossible standard enraged my dark-skinned girl friends, but really didn’t effect me. I was aware of Colorism which determines how you are treated in POC communities in general, but as a late bloomer, it did not effect me on a sexual selection level until my late teens. Regardless, the light-skinned, mixed race standard was still hurtful to my friends who lashed out at girls like me who came somewhat close to it. I’m honey colored. The mid-level status my shade granted was a bone of contention with other Black girls who resented me for not bothering to use the asset and a threat to those who feared my coming into my bloom. As a tom boy, I wore my easier to care for hair in the simplest on-the-go styles as possible and carried on my platonic relationships with my guy friends. As “one of the guys” I was privy to a lot of locker room speak that vaccinated me against developing princess cancer. I may have been a late bloomer, but not entirely socially awkward. I noticed that all of my Black friends were raised by single mothers and only Blacks populated the local housing tenements filled to the gills with abandoned Black mothers. I left the boys alone and changed cliques to escape these survival of the who-can-fit-into-the-Western-standard-of-beauty politics. Adolescence was much easier as a fantasy geek Goth.

Observing darker skinned Black girls flattered by heat-seeking bachelors just long enough to be impregnated by these assholes turned me off of Black men as romantic partners for life. I would later that that abandoning pregnant women is a habit of poor, but not just Blacks, but the imprinting still sticks. In the U.S., Blacks just get the most publicity for teenage pregnancies, but being aware of this media bias doesn’t make the stigma any easier to live with. Furthermore, the social status of Black women made me extremely wary of any man outside my race who showed an interest in me, as well. I tried thrice and that was quite enough, thank you. Black women are considered conquests by The Other and I had invested too much in my ambitions to become an animator to be waylaid by some fucker’s curiosity before he married a blonde. I was not going to live a life of being used. I am more valuable than that. Black women are valuable than that. Thus a number of us turned poison into medicine: If we are so masculine as the writer of Psychology Today, observes, why not use that power to lead instead of follow the path of victimhood?

Disney and MGM’s depiction of marriage is about love, but in reality, marriage is about upward mobility and so is sexual selection to a lesser extent. When a woman marries, it is common to accept the husbands family name over one’s own. However, in an interracial marriage it’s the partner who carries the most socioeconomic power who gets this honor….at least they do in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s no secret that the darker you are, the less of this sort of power you have. Therefore, a Black man married to a white or Asian woman becomes part of his partner’s community and leaves his own. He may retain nods to sports and music, but these nods will be gestured from a non-redlined neighborhood. 

With Black women left behind the Red Line, the power goes to the most capable. Women outside the race take the best and brightest of Black men (for the most part) leaving the scrubs and the militantly Afro-centric behind. So, with no male breadwinners, we women took the mantle and established a matriarchy. The following adage can be true of all single mothers, but it started in the Black community: Mother’s raise their daughters and love their sons. Therefore, without a stern father to urge sons through a rite of passage, Molly coddled GenX Black boys were left to run amok once they became too tall for the strap. Sure, there are plenty of young Black men with an inner will to behave like responsible and adults, but once again; they marry outside the community. But, let’s not dwell on that. For like the Hebrew tradition, Blackness is becoming a lineage passed on though the mother. Black men have moved on and so have Black women in the Millennial generation. We wish them well in their Brave New World, while we roll up our sleeves and move on.

Let’s fill in the gaps.

It pleases me greatly that this transfer of power has not gone unnoticed. Black women are recognized in leadership roles outside the home by the current Patriarchal hegemony. These representatives, once the exemption to the rule, but now the new normal, prove that women are capable as leaders in a variety of respected fields and government, whereas before, Blacks were only respected in sports and music. For example there is Titi and Zakiya of Dope Labs. They are scientists and educators who have a charming, low key podcast about science in popular culture and science education. I’d like to think that  Black women of GenX were inspired by Claire Huxtable; a character portrayed by Phylicia Rashad on the Cosby Show. She was the lawyer and mother of five who shared equal power in her marriage to doctor Cliff Huxtable, played by Bill Cosby. She definitely inspired my Black girl classmates to go into law and medicine and are now doing just fine in life. They defied the Bell Curve.

Successful Black Women in Traditional Disciplines: 

Margaret Henningsen of Legacy Bank (NPR write up) , banker

Legacy Bank

Noelle Santos and Saraciea Fennell, book sellers

 Can a Black woman leave the Black community? She can if she stays single and childless! When you have a profession that relies heavily on living in a specific professional community you must live outside the Black community to keep working for jobs of the creative class are known by world of mouth, they are not advertised.  As an artist, I was inspired by Denise Huxtable who played the well-educated but aimless artist in the Huxtable family. My path was more direct than hers, for I had terrific teachers who knew which college I should be in. Nevertheless,  Denise was still a great alternative to what embodied a young Black woman at the time, which is a stoic beauty with a wall of defense around her. Thanks to Denise, I could be arty and multicultural and have interests outside of the Black community. What more is that I was free to bring Black traditions to the hybrid world of the artist community I became a part of. for fusion is an artist’s job. If I were to rewrite Denise’s storyline, she would transfer out of Hillman to Cooper Union on a full scholarship, which would liberate her from her parent’s safety net—and guilt trips. Then once she achieved a good foundation in fine art, she would go to the Fashion Institute for grad school where she would learn how to be a producer or fashion editor which is a job that encompasses all interests of art that she had an affinity for. The Cosby Show writers simply married Denise off after her photography internship. This shows the limitations of the writers who adhered too closely to Cosby’s true life family experience. A parent with a broader scope of various professions would’ve thought better. Poor Denise. She was not able to leave the Black community, like a Black man, not even temporarily to expand her horizons. Her trajectory is limited because her storyline saddled her into marriage. Her wings were clipped possibly for the subliminal effects of encouraging  Black men to stay in the community with the promise of mixed-race Black women who were coerced to limit their ambitions for marriage. This is an important lesson for Black women who are of a multicultural bent. Not all of the knowledge you need to attain your professional and lifestyle goals will be in one community. Filial obligations are important, but life as an artist takes every resource one can get! Break free. If they can do it, so can you! Like Black men, you need to embark on a Hero’s Journey of your own into the Extraordinary World. Go forth and honor us….but it would be nice if you will someday return with the elixir (open a shop like a cafe or bookstore!). I plan to do so for my retirement.

Black Women of the Creative Class:

Lynne Southerland, producer 

Octavia Butler the first black science fiction writer.

Marushka Andrews, producer

Ashanti Miller, animator

Black women are going to be alright despite the abandonment of qualified male partners. We are learning that it is better to walk alone than in the company of a fool, thus we’re flattening the curve on unwanted births and underfunded parenting. We’re also expanding our horizons romantically. There are more lesbian partnerships and interracial partnerships among Millennials. Thanks to the high visibility of successful GenX Black women, it seems that the stigma of being a descendants of slaves is lessening. Marrying a Black woman no longer ends in social and professional ruin. Thank you, Michelle Obama and Mellody Hobbes for inspiring the populace. Black women have taken control of their reputation, their choices and their bodies and are keeping out of the tenements. The methods of keeping out of poverty is not without scrutiny, however, but there are fewer young adult children becoming a problem to society due to a disadvantaged upbringing. Now if only the police would get the memo…

Poverty contributes to criminality, apathy and anger in those who have the ambition to succeed in life, but are barred from access to the tool of education as social contacts to attain it. An unborn child has no consciousness, but a child living under systematic oppression needs investment. Concentrate on them.

You can not help who you fall in love with and social conditioning takes its toll on all who feel powerless in a hegemony. So, this argument is not an angry critique of Black men who marry outside the race. Marry who you want. No woman wants to win by default, or worse; be a Celie who is beaten for not being Shug. This is argument is an honest observation of change and adaptability in the African American community as it copes with the void the absence of stalwart men create. We can’t ignore that vacuum. So long as people are judged as groups before individual achievements, the women left behind in the African-American community will have to be stronger than what a Patriarchal society will allow. A Matriarchy must take Patriarchy’s place. We’ll have to pull up our socks, stop kissing frogs and open our own bookstores and cafes to serve as seed establishments to build commerce in our communities. We must improve our internal dynamics of abandonment and brain drains. Having an Afro-centric chip of contempt on our shoulders doesn’t win friends and influence people, either. Angry Black Woman, you must do for yourself and be friendly about it. Social isolation leads to economic isolation and no one will buy your wares if if they are afraid to come to your store. Stop asking for pubic assistance, we’ve been given enough to make our start. The men are gone, but left a honey of an opportunity: unlike women of other communities, we can take over! The Matriarchy will work with what we have thrive, govern, and instill a level of self love that will be the envy of the world. Lean In.

No one can do this alone so the following books and link are resources to galvanize the stamina:

Be careful what you wish for

History of the Wife

By Marilyn Yalom

Marriage is not Barefoot in the Park and Yalom lays the institution down in very practical terms.

Goddess in Older Women

 by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Learn about “take no mess” Sekhmet and other world archetypes that prove that women everywhere have been used through the ages.

Ring of Power

by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Learn about how men use women to boost their soci-economic standing in life.

Beauty is Power. Work it (in the office)!

Survival of the Prettiest

By Nancy Epcott

This is more of an analysis on the Western standard of beauty, but it’s still interesting to learn that the mating game isn’t an Easter Parade for anyone.

Stolen Women

By Gail Elizabeth Wyatt

There are four major stereotypes for Black women. I’m a Workhorse. Which are you?

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