Like any good gay man, I have at least two black women friends on speed dial. It’s just something that’s a phenomenon here in Texas. If you’re gay, you know the sisters. They take you under wing and help shelter you from the big bad old white man world. Even if you are a big old bad white man, so long as you’re gay – you’re in, because you share a common element – strong. Or, more bluntly – Bitch. (As captured so well in the recent book of the same name.)
Sure, this post is full of stereotypes, but, like all mythology, stereotypes have some seed of truth at least for some segment of the population, be it geographical or cultural. Of the two, I’m not for sure what links me so strongly to the sisters. Maybe it’s just the Diana Ross fixation. But, whatever the cause, it seems that “strong” still carries a negative component. But, is being a bitch really a bad thing?
Not so, I say. Black women today are facing some of the obstacles which were outright roadblocks a generation ago with ease, grace and fierceness. They are graduating and excelling in social sciences faster than any other segment of the population. They are living independent lives and surviving the fallout of the economy on top of pushing back the cultural drive to marry and get to makin’ babies. As my friend, Jackie, put it, “I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies, but I can get that extra zero for my clients on negotiations. So (snap) there.”
But behind the strong veneer there is often the soft underbelly of self-doubt and lack of life fulfillment. After all, you can only fill your heart with so many dollars before you realize you’ve bought happiness but not joy. You can walk down that graduation aisle, earn the right to be addressed as “Dr.” and get the condo with the downtown views and still not find joy.
Happiness is fleeting, joy abides. And, joy comes from our connections to people, ourselves and our Creator. Until we define connectedness as being something other than in a committed, monogamous, child-rearing relationship, we still find lots of happiness but not a lot of joy. That’s because we cannot control our connection to others, even though we give the quality a very high level of importance. We pick that up from our culture: married equals correct. Worse yet, married equals joy.
It’s time to put a different spin on that. Rather than the focus on getting the ring on the finger we need to focus on getting a ring on our inner self. Loving ourselves completely and without reserve, accepting ourselves, celebrating our path and finding a connection to our Creator. That is the relationship which deserves the attention of our culture, but, alas, it’s not going to come from the neighbors. Not just yet.
So, go one being strong! But, be sure you are being kind to yourself, even if you gotta be a bitch to the world to make it sometimes, being a bitch to yourself is nothing but wrong.
Causes Reece Manley Supports
Feed the Children, Amnesty International, Lambda Pride