Before the Web, public discussions about difficulties between Black men and women took place maybe every few months via magazine articles in Essence. When the occasional “Why do Black men date outside the race?” article popped up, the piece would impact the community in the most benign of ways. These articles were harmless because, in the end, the community could not talk back. With the explosion of the Internet, all of this has changed.
For the first time in history, Black men and women are using every element of the Internet medium to examine the guts of Black love, vivisecting the problems with the sharpest mental scalpels. Blacks are straightforwardly tackling relationship issues together that men and women had previously hashed out separately. The questions remain about whether this direct confrontation is actually for the good. It depends on how you feel about interracial dating.
In the magazines of old, questions could be raised and Black love experts quoted—but the social ills that lead to 72% of Black children being born out of wedlock were pondered behind the scenes. Usually these discussions devolved into a blame game played in the barber shop or the beauty salon with both Black women and men pointing the finger. By discussing such matters with their own sex in church groups and sports bars, the insane rage between genders that could have been released through persistent blame was kept in check. Nowadays the hippest spot to call out the opposite gender is a message board.
Or the comments area of a blog. If blogs are not your thing, you can “like” the Facebook fan page “i hate seeing black men with white women.“ The point is, now all that anger is out in the open. And targeted verbalization of “what is wrong” with the Black man or woman from the opposite sex is stoking greater ire in the gender under attack. The Internet, unfortunately, facilitates this process in a way that could have drastic results.
One could imagine that these were potentially positive developments at one time. What was absent in previous decades was the ability for Black men and women to conveniently have these critical discussions with each other, and the Web provided this context. It seems logical that having men and women discuss our issues directly could help us develop lasting Black relationship solutions. Yet, this seems to be far from the case. The direct verbal battles between Black men and women over “whose fault it is” that 42% of Black women never marry may be driving the genders further apart. The Web makes it faster and easier to place the blame, and its anonymous nature leads to tongue-lashings akin to cyber-whippings.
The harsh assessments that Black men and women used to hurl privately are now expressed to each other online with the full force of pent-up venom. Go on any message board these days that feature prominent African American discussions, and you will find threads that attack Black men for dating outside the race near others blaming Black women for being fat, loud, trashy and arrogant, thus pushing Black men away. Both types of forums are populated by Black men and women going hard at each other. Our sisters accuse the men of not protecting Black women. Men go for the jugular by proclaiming White women to be universally prettier. And let’s not forget the spawn of recent videos that illustrate Black love issues tragicomically in cartoons. The same themes are echoed in a multitude articles and comments found on Black Web sites.
Black women who are fed up with the whole mess have considered seceding from the Black community emotionally, financially and sexually, using blogs to fight Black men while pondering their future after leaving Black men behind. Black men are creating their own manifestos to justify leaving us. Having these two warring sides finally meet to discuss the bitterness that has been lingering for years has not had a cleansing effect on the Black psyche. The raw contempt some Black men and women feel free to share with each other online is so strong, it is creating more bile than ever in the realm of Black love.
At the same time, the power of the Web makes looking for interracial love much easier. Sites dedicated to Blacks looking for “outside” partners are common, as are new sites dedicated to mixed-race weddings. These developments aren’t necessarily bad. But they do point to the growing possibility of a new reality.
If the war between Black men and women cannot be resolved by open discussions in online forums, we might never be able to heal the growing chasm between the genders. In most emotional situations, dialogue sooths, but in the case of Black love, public communication is revealing greater depths despair. The Web presents Black men and women with a darker portrait of our intense divisions, while creating more resentment in the process. As a result, the motivation for moving farther apart from each other is fanned into flame.
It’s easy for that flame to catch fire in a field of possibility presented by the easy means for Blacks to find partners of different races online. If things don’t change soon, Black love could soon be on a rapid decline, morphing into a totally different form and changing forever.
Of course, not all Black men and women are taking this route, and there is plenty of evidence that African American love is thriving on the Web. But at the same time, evidence of the animosity between the sexes is exploding. Animosity combined with easy exit strategies points to a future of more mixed marriages than ever in coming years—caused solely by events ignited by social media.
Is this an inevitable future we are all prepared to see? Or will some saving grace intervene and mend the rift that the online world has made worse between Black men and women? That is unlikely. Perhaps with all the anger between Black men and women being so shockingly revealed, it is far better that this phenomenon is played out online rather than in real life. Then the coup of mixed-race love can conduct its revolution quietly, finally bringing calm to our Black love war.