Recently, a documentary made its way into my Gmail inbox. Frustrated: Black American Men in Brazil expounds on a piece published a few years ago in Essence about Black men finding in Brazil what they “can’t” in North America: love, or a more easily manageable version of it.
It’s the same story about black men taking issue with black women, who are:
a) too feisty for their own good
b) too fixated on income
c) not catering enough
Most notably, this doc carries a presumption that educated Black men who don’t like Black women is normal. Uh-uh.
I’m black with two degrees. Many in my circle are highly educated. My friends who aren’t “educated” have businesses and nice incomes. All regularly dating, some married to, melanated women.
None of us have an issue with dating outside, per se, but there aren’t any discussions of the “black women are a pain, I need to see what they’re talmbout” variety. So why is this bill of goods sold to the world?
The crave for a docile, sexually fulfilling woman is a common sticking point for men in a world where entitlement runs rampant. This extends down into the lens of many black men who haven’t learned to stop ratifying the ideals of Western patriarchy.
(When I say patriarchy, I’m specifically referring to the notion of men being entitled to certain treatment. Men are leaders, hunters, gatherers. We’re the gods of the land. Get behind us and serve.)
Don’t have to be a Mensa candidate to poke holes at that logic, yet that’s a pervasive sentiment.
Women seek security? And that’s a problem? Good for them. A woman wanting to be taken care of is no less superficial than a man wanting his sexual needs fulfilled. According to Abraham Maslow, both needs are physiological and on the same level.
Wah-wah. Black women don’t treat us right…so we gotta go to Brazil because they play nicer.
This evinces more about black men than anything it could about black women. Brazilian women aren’t the problem or the solution. To many American men, they serve as a band-aid to a deeper ill. The cultural war continues to play out through the media, as if this issue rests only within black relationships. Men from all races in the U.S. go to Brazil or other countries for the pleasurable company of women. Not just black men.
Of course, women can be shallow in their preferences as well. But I also know plenty of high-powered women who treat their men — who earn less than them — like royalty. It’s a dangerous game to take one narrative and apply it as the default. There are many relationships where women are breadwinners and the relationships are smooth. These aren’t the stories that appear in the dominant media narrative.
Stories like those are essentially un-American. There are Founding Fathers. Founding Mothers are nowhere to be found. In the macro sense, the successful family unit of the woman as primary guap collector is counter-cultural, an anachronism of a distant ideal that has no place in contemporary life. The Matriarch is lauded as much as the man next to her is emasculated.
The documentary rehashes much of the same dichotomous Black women vs. Black men clash, but it also talks about the familial values of Americans. Some may see it as an invitation to explore Brazil or keep their men from going to Brazil. Others may see it as yet another chink in the Black male armor.
The bellyaching from both sides isn’t necessary…if the goal is to seek answers. Stereotypes get so much play because of its ease of assimilation. They are devoid of nuance, leading to knee-deep reasoning and a perpetuation of the same fatigued debates. Every stereotype contains a glimmer of truth; that doesn’t mean every stereotype is the truth.
Comment boards across the Interwebs are replete with us bickering and finger pointing and chest thumping. I don’t find nearly as much intra-racial relationship quibbling from other ethnicities in the digital space. That, to me, speaks the loudest of volumes.