Posted by our guest blogger, Jemmel Roberts
Jemmel Roberts is currently a student at Northeastern Illinois University majoring in Inner City Studies and minoring in Justice Studies. He is the proud father of 4 boys and is a veteran of the United States Army.
Is the value of a black man diminishing right before our eyes? More appropriately, is the role of a black man as a provider and head of household shifting to one day being distinguished as an antiquated rune? To be clear, I am not speaking on the disparity of black males incarcerated or the staggering number of black males who are killed as a result of police brutality and senseless black on black gun violence. Rather, I am focusing on the fact that 67% of black males are in the workforce yet an alarming 51% of black men have never been married, leaving an even greater percentage of black women alone, unwed, and forced to thrive as head of household (Wolfers, 2015). Behold, black women have risen to the occasion topping the list as the most educated group in America and very well capable of taking the reins in black households (Holloway, African-American Women Now Top the List of Most-Educated Group in the Country, 2016). As a black man, I often wonder how did we get to this (dis)place and address what black women are doing to work around our absence.
Grannies around the world love to share stories about grandfathers – stories of him being head of the household, hardworking, dedicated, disciplined, loyal, selfless, stable, respectful, chivalrous, understanding, thoughtful, loving, and strong. He wore the title like a badge of honor, never to be confused, outside of God he was the provider for his woman and his family.
Something that troubles me is how black men, myself included, have evolved to become emotionally one-sided, abusive, unstable, unreliable, uncompromising, and lack the sheer ability to suitably care for the woman that we say we love; at least not the way Granny said things would (should) be. The serenity of being in a healthy monogamous relationship is interrupted by blurred lines where girlfriends are valued as wives and wives are treated as girlfriends. We have become like demolitionist in some ways, tearing her down but not restructuring the damage in meaningful ways, thus leaving her emotionally dysfunctional and with voids filled with hurtful disappointing memories. Our reckless friendships, with both genders, have endangered the future conversations of grannies sharing stories of love and protection. We are either incapable or unwilling to settle into the conventional family structure. Instead, we have become complacent to philosophies of relationship and sexual fluidity and the resultant instability, selfish and egregious behavior that is driving black women to discover alternative means of accomplishing relationship satisfaction.
Now here we are in a time where black women are gaining momentum with increases in earnings, having already surpassed all other demographics in education. All the while, still desiring to be in committed relationships, have a family and children, and acquire all other stereotypical attributes that comes with life. Their innate selflessness does not diminish because they are scarred from previous relationship or desire to abate the hurt and pain that they have experienced either first- or second-hand. Black women are being more proactive in solidifying their position in life with soaring rates of women seeking alternative family structures by choosing same-sex marriages (both in homosexual and heterosexual relationships) or by fostering partnerships with other women including sisters, grandmothers, aunts, and friends, creating either multi-generational or woman-dominated households. Black women are no longer seeking to just co-exist with black men for the sake of saying they have one and in hopes of living happily ever after, but rather to garner similar emotional, social, and economic effects of conventional marriage.
Granny definitely didn’t say it would be like this.
Black men, how do we intend to respond to our diminishing role and value?