THE DANGERS OF CONSTRICTIVE AND OSTRACIZING EPITHETS


For at least the last two years, over the net, print and broadcast media, the phrase “independent black woman” has gained more momentum than fire in a drought ridden California forest. I decided the phrase warranted an in-depth look and took on the project of exploring the phrase “independent black woman” to see what helpful information maybe could be extracted from the term for intelligent debate fodder. I came away with an astoundingly retooled thought process in regards to the term, the women that embrace it and maybe a few solutions that just might right a top sided relationship and marriage vessel among Black Men & Women.

In the U.S. — relationships between Black men and women have reached a competitive stand still in recent decades. There used to be a division of roles and responsibilities in marriages (not all of them were fair) — but that separation is no longer visible. More than ever, women are prepared to do all of the things men have been doing for centuries. In essence — both men and women are competing on a social, financial and intimate level in an effort to better establish themselves.

This unwavering commitment to competition and self-gratification as a wedge separating Black men and women, prompting each to blame the other for the lack of stability in our relationships. It has also spawned a focus on the  epithet “Independent Black Woman”

Let’s look  at the true meaning of “Independent”

1. free from the rule of another; controlling or governing oneself; self-governing

2. relying only on oneself or one’s own abilities, judgment, etc.; self-confident; self-reliant independent in his thinking

Another misconception behind the word “independent” is that it means or indicates success. Not so in most cases. One could be independent and broke as a joke, and being independent could be the reason they’re that way. Having said that, nothing wrong with the word, it is what it is right? Until you claim it and then on the same hand submit you want or need a mate to share life love and the pursuit of happiness with.. And as a result of defining yourself “independent” the already slim pool of potential mates get even slimmer, because now a simple word has become a self conviction and stigmatism of sorts, that clearly states, well you don’t need anyone. Take into consideration a large percentage of single heterosexual black women reinforce this claim by saying they simply don’t need a man. Now given all of this, why would someone pursue someone that openly admits they don’t need anyone? Thus the curse of the independent stigmatism begins.

I’m hearing some you all before you even start hitting the the comment block “Come on Geo you know what we mean when we say that” Having taken the time and listened to black women, and researched my inquisitive notions, yes maybe I do.

The first thing I came to realize is that “independent” is not the word a lot of black women intend to use, I don’t think. What’s happened is a buzz phrase has caught on and people utter it in relation to themselves without thinking it through a lot of times. So I would submit a change of adjectives to start with. But before we get deeper into descriptive, how about this? Google “independent black woman” then, Google “independent white woman”

A lot of results for independent black woman, virtually nothing on independent white women. Must not be any independent white women . Of course I’m kidding. There are just as many independent white women as it is independent black women I would suppose. ‘We’ll then why can’t Google find them?” I think the answer to that question is simple. If they’re not pursuing independence, the white counterparts don’t claim it. I rarely hear white women boasting they’re independent white women. Now before you all start throwing bricks at me and bailing out of this post, listen to the thing through.

White women, I believe want in regards to relationships and marriage the same things black women want and vice versa. White women and men, tend from what I can see, to get on with the business of building relationships and marriages and families and not bicker over superficial things such as definitions of themselves or getting bogged down by the percentage of men that don’t serve their agenda or community. No, I am not lauding white women over black women, simply making a point. And this is not a Black White topic I’m pursuing, so let me move along.

I do believe, that out of frustration resulting from a myriad of cultural and social issues, black women have unintentionally built fortresses that they are finding a little difficult to tear down as changing times and black male attitudes are becoming more conducive to their cultural, and social needs and requirements.

It’s no secret most single black women have a history of supporting themselves, holding down a job (or two), possibly raising children, attending school, taking care of household bills (probably with a house of their own) and helping out with other family responsibilities involving parents, grandparents and siblings.

In many cases they have handled these responsibilities without a strong or consistent male influence in their lives. Through miscommunication, death, neglect or abuse, many father-daughter, sister-brother, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships have gone astray, oftentimes leaving women to form a support network among themselves in order to get things done, bring order to their lives and accomplish those tasks that were once upon a time more evenly split between the two genders.

This brings me back to Independent. Maybe the black woman has latched on to the misappropriate label of “independent black woman ” to the degree she’s wearing it as a protective fortress against some of the possible perils associated with connecting with a mate and cultivating a relationship. Could that be possible?

In a recent roundtable discussion a black man asked a question that caused the men and women at the table to pause. His question was “How many black soccer moms do you know?” When challenged to explain by one of the females at the table, he stated, black women seemed resistant to assuming a submissive domestic position within their marriages with the focus being that their roles as mothers and wives seem to get  mired down by identity status.

Now I’m not saying black women have issues functioning as wives, nothing would be further from the truth. There have been, still is, and will continue to be a large number that meet their mate, marry, and live happily ever after. In these successfully functioning marriages I have noticed however some common denominators. There is an absence of competition between the spouses. Their unions are independent versus the individual being independent. And there is trust and communication. They are not caught up on superficial labels and roles…they’re simply..well…married.

The female lawyer doesn’t pretty much care that her husband manages maybe a fast food restaurant, or sells used cars, as long as he’s ambitious, responsible, loving, committed, and honest.

On the same hand the male bus driver isn’t intimidated or resentful that his wife is the CEO of a billion dollar a year corporation. Her credentials and business savvy is actually a compliment to his taste in women and he realizes they both have strengths that nurture their relationship. The wife doesn’t feel its necessary to wear her business credentials at home, really, just like work itself..She leaves them at the office. And they realize another important thing….at the end of the day, they need each other in more ways than one and aren’t afraid to admit it.

She isn’t attacked for molding her identity through extended education and hard work, and in case of the lower tiered employed male, he’s not viewed as substandard based solely upon his employment rank in comparison to hers. This is beyond the superficial which is where I believe black women and men need to transcend in order to have successful relationships.

Maybe we need to think more into the personal  billboards that advertise who we really are.

That fortress you’ve built just maybe deflecting the one you’re protecting yourself for.

I spoke earlier about the phrase “Independent Black Woman” being misused to the point that it may just be a repulsive stigmatism to potential mates. All black women should be given accolades for each and every achievement they have accomplished. The label Independent Black Woman can be crippling in regards to securing a relationship in most instances. Maybe single black women should redefine their status and class with a more accurate, less ostracizing descriptive.

Independent, if you truly are not, is simply sending the incorrect message not only to potential mates but to society as a whole. If one is more apt to be a self contained, sustaining individual, not requiring any assistance, society as a whole of course will be less accommodating in assisting you in resolving issues you may have. Maybe we should adorn “successful “, or strong, or something less confining, unless of course, you truly want to function as a self contained, and sufficient human being.

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Author: Geo Gee

I'm a curious one that finds politics, social issues, and diverse progressive solutions interesting. I believe information and education are the most powerful weapons one can arm himself with. Those two dynamics alone open the doors to opportunities. I also subscribe to each one teach one for a better world for all.

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