The African American/ Black (AA/Black) man is majestic. Amidst his revolutionary splendor, the AA/Black man is still in a fight for his life. In recent time society have seemed the man literally fight for his life but remember this is an over 450-year tradition. The fight comes from the top-down, starting with a reluctant government, a prejudiced public, a rebelling household, and his struggling self. With higher probabilities of lower life expectancy, mental health, and coping challenges, the AA/Black man is overwhelmed with a plethora of regimented practices designed for his failure. Despite the racial inequality and continuous confrontments on the AA/Black man’s very existence, today’s society has witnessed his exponential change in self-governing.
Overt changes are noticeable in the increasing trend of AA/Black man’s access to health care, earning degrees, obtaining substance use and mental health services, and even in the way, he wears his clothes. Changes are also evident in the way the AA/Black man provides for and protects his family. This transformation was started by the AA/Black man and has been sustained by him also. There are countless patents of the AA/Black man holding himself accountable, acknowledging that he is responsible for his change. Thus, breaking the perpetuation of an inherited culture of maladjustment and stopping it from passing from one generation to another. Still, the man cannot do it alone. The AA/Black women endeavor to come alongside their counterparts, as advocates. This article offers three structural skills the AA/Black woman can utilize when serving as an ally to the AA/Black man. The implementation of these approaches supports the incessant uprising of the man.
Embolden – Act as His Anchor
Emboldening the AA/Black man may look differently for each man as this would depend on what stage they are in life. Nevertheless, the need for support by way of motivation is necessary for all stages. Support of his career development, his future goals, and his dreams. For some AA/Black men, his goals and dreams are financial independence or business ownership. For some others, their goals and dreams are centered around getting their children a good education or moving them up the socioeconomic ladder, so that the children can get opportunities that they did not or could not. These aspirations may be spoken boldly, indirectly, or not spoken at all. It is important to note that unspoken aspirations do not mean that goals and dreams do not exist.
The AA/Black man’s goal-driven path to achieving may look different as it depends on his intellectual capacity and environmental resources. The AA/Black woman can serve as his anchor as he grows in capacity and resources. To do this without fail, this task should be employed with his buy-in and permission. As the adage says, “nothing for me, without me”. When the AA/Black man and woman are on the same page, both gain a collective sense of direction and where they should be going. Thus, avoiding the historical disorganization, the psychological isolation among counterparts, and spiritual disjointedness that is familiar within the family network.
The embolden strategy entails meeting the AA/Black man where there are developmentally and emotionally, which translates socially. Since a small percentage of AA/Black women knows what it is to be in accord with the AA/Black man this may require a baseline assessment to ascertain his specific type of emboldening. This evaluation is a conversation with the AA/Black man (see article three for a complete break-down). The results of the assessment will undergird contextual interactions specific to that AA/Black man. Examples of what that AA/Black man may need at his stage in life or this moment in his life may include prayers, positive words of affirmation, or reinforcement of decisions made. In other cases, the emboldening of the AA/Black man maybe with his ethnicity and racial-related concerns. The effect of racial prejudice produces deviations in his bonding abilities, his verbal expressive nature, and his overall functioning and cognition. The presents of the AA/Black woman’s support may be in-home, like lifting him when he is down, building up his confidence, and correcting him when he is wrong, behind closed doors. Additional support may be external and might include seeking therapeutic or pastoral services.
To avoid over emboldening, the AA/Black woman should remain in a detached involved position. The ultimate responsibility for the AA/Black man’s change, when ready, is his own, therefore, self-differentiation must come from him and not the woman. This is how you act or become his anchor. Since your emboldening is a priceless service to him, while you are functioning as his anchor, the AA/Black man will be your sword and shield. He protects and defends what he values (you).
Silver – Weaker but Wiser
It is said that money is the root of all evil, but it does not have to be the root of destruction among the AA/Black man and his Queen, the AA/Black woman. The chaos stemming from money is often because the union has differing agendas. Everyone has their money mission and ways to get to the bag of silver. These earning ways are often hard labor. The effort of earning can also be described as hustling, grinding, or struggling. This mindset of earning creates isolative thinking where the individual, AA/Black man, or woman, believes that their money is their money and not the collective. Once the distance is formed in one part of the relationship, the union becomes susceptible to other forms of withholdings. Whether intentional or unconscious process, the result of this distance produces feelings of mistrust, loneliness, hopelessness, and panic. When the AA/Black man panics he regresses into himself and individualized his priorities. Here is another area in life in the AA/Black woman that can embolden the AA/Black man specifically to his finances.
Money is power and in a society that fears the AA/Black man, there is a reluctance to put power in his hands; no matter how hard he works. In some industries, the AA/Black woman is more likely to gain employment or to experience upward mobility in her career over the AA/Black man. Learning this early on the AA/Black woman worked in and outside of the home in support of her counterpart. Somewhere along the way, the AA/Black woman’s intention to support the AA/Black man’s position turned into dominance and a power struggle. The AA/Black woman’s unwillingness to return to her rightful position under the AA/Black man’s coverage stems from her struggles in motherhood and the isolative thinking of dues paid outside of the house. With both the AA/Black man and woman experiencing these polarities the teamship and leadership approach, inherent in their relationship, are obliterated.
There is no yielding. A relationship that was once horizontal, moving from side to side, is now vertical placing one individual on the top and one on the bottom. The given remedy of making the union a “oneness” and for it to have true mutuality requires a head and heart change. The AA/Black women must join in a bloodless revolution to restoring the AA/Black man to their rightful position in their hearts and pocketbooks.
The institution of marriage or any other relationship type can be considered an agreement or a meeting of minds. For successful transactions, this requires understanding the AA/Black man’s most galvanizing financial goals. Once the goals are identified they should be ranked in order in manageable and realistic steps. The AA/Black woman may need to illustrate the financial objective by creating a visual representation of the end goal. Obtaining the desired results occurs within a process which, takes time to secure, so it is often helpful to divide the goal into agreed-upon immediate and long-term phases, using behavioral terms. This living document must include methods and resources to be utilized when appropriate.
The AA/Black man’s identity is partly rooted in his accomplishment. Most AA/Black women desire to help the AA/Black man make good on this potential and become successful but as we know most professional aspirations are not free. The AA/Black man’s hopes, goals, and dreams require money to accomplish. The woman can begin by having a discovery conversation with the AA/Black man. During this time goal identification, solutions, and decisions elicitation should come from the AA/Black man. The AA/Black woman should ask: how can I help? or what is the first thing we need to do to begin working in the direction of your/our goal? This presents a sense of joining together for a constructive alliance.
On the journey to accomplishing the AA/Black woman may find that the AA/Black man is willing to shoulder the bulk of the finances but if a time comes where he is short or fines himself struggling, he should be able to depend on her to make ends meet. During this time, it is especially important for the union to not allow pride to obscure the view or the objectives. By alleviating some of the strain and financial stress the AA/Black woman actively supports the man. This requires equal financial transparency and self-disclosure that may render the AA/Black woman weaker but wiser. When the AA/Black man and woman are in accord with each other this dispels isolative behaviors and replaces them with secure attachment style behaviors. The progressive results reveal the crumbling of the historical walls associated with lack and delay of progress, thus clearing space for their kingdom building to commence. The citizenship created by their union will surpass silver as they strike relationship to gold.
It is not being suggested that the AA/Black woman follow blindly in a subservient manner or hand over to the AA/Black man her entire salary, but she will need to overwrite the indoctrinated thinking of isolation. We commonly hear women saying ‘I can do bad all by myself’ this thinking needs to be transformed so that the AA/Black woman can see the big picture. The AA/Black man is attracted to the independent woman, but this thinking will prevent her from moving into states of intra- dependency with the man. Intra-dependency is healthier for each individual and the union. To shatter the individualistic thinking regarding money requires a relational agreement between the man and the woman. This innovative thinking needs to be three-dimensional: the man, women, and children. This approach assists them to be able to see into the future. The relationship ought to be financially progressive and forward-moving. The relationship should not be two individuals moving money from each other back-and-forth in a borrowing fashion and not going anywhere.
F&F = Fun and Friendship
The world is an overly stressful place for the AA/Black man to exist. The consistent war fought on the battlegrounds of his job and other social environments, and in cyberspace does not allow shelter for him to reload or recharge his mental and physical defenses. When faced with the interplay of the systemic superstructure and when his sheer presence intimidates the masses, coping mechanisms are created by the AA/Black man to fashion navigational fortifications. This is done to assimilate, dispel negative portrayal, and avoid labels of stereotypes. The created armor assists him to recognize hazards and threats to his survival. This armor also fuels his cognitive and motivational processes of resiliencies. Though it is not a panacea, his armor is adaptable in multifaceted negotiation, it withstands changing conditions, and supports his rapid recovery from oppressive disruptions.
The AA/Black man dons or heightens his armor, consciously or unconsciously, shifting into an “on” position. This type of autistic masking occurs in anticipation of an oppressive experience or as the result of. This can be performative and subordinative but the feeling of the AA/Black man’s keenness to thrive course through his veins like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The armor of the AA/Black man comes at a cost that creates elements of contravene. It is only when the AA/Black man is in a safe environment (i.e. home) is when his armor is shed.
To overcome challenging life circumstances and to succeed in their goals the AA/Black man must keep his life in balance. The felt safety experienced by the AA/Black man is salient to his thriving. The need to let down his armor and recharge is important. Relaxing his armor allows for mental and physical restoration. The result from his felt safety and relaxation promotes states of calm and preparedness. In a rejuvenated state the AA/Black man revitalizes his armor and feels like he can go out and face the world again. Once the AA/Black man is disarmed he experiences peace of mind which allows for fun and friendship. To slip into this state of mind to have fun and friendship honesty and trust must be already established. Fun can take a wide array of formats and the AA/Black woman would need to attune their functioning to suit the man she is with. Despite the individual positionality of the AA/Black man, fun and friendship should include sexual and spiritual elements at their base. Other fun things the AA/Black man might enjoy doing include learning about the AA/Black woman to further enhance their growth. He may take on knowing the AA/Black woman as a project. Much like working on a car, the man studies the AA/Black woman a little at a time until he is satisfied. To increase his felt safety, he may teach the AA/Black woman how to shoot. The AA/Black man may want to sit with his back to the door with absolute trust that his woman can put up resistance.
While imperceptible, to most, the AA/Black women’s intelligibility grants her the familiarity of the man’s need for autistic masking and awareness of when is it switched on. This may be recognizable because she finds it necessary to employ the same coping for her survival. The fun and friendship should be diverse yet certain and reliable like the Earth’s satellite. The harmony and diverse repetitiveness experience create grounding for the AA/Black man. The mix of responsibility and pleasure eventually heals self-worthlessness and deep-rooted psychological wounds. For the AA/Black woman to be friends with and have fun with the AA/Black man this requires a solid sense of self. The understanding of the AA/Black woman self includes the knowledge of her boundaries and tolerance levels, which will help her be coherent in their interactions. Techniques to having fun and maintaining his friendship should be individualized to the AA/Black man. A friendship amid a healthy relationship is distinct within the union, but for it to be sustainable it must be consistent. The unchanging nature in the AA/Black woman’s consistent technique acts as an anchor likened to the experiences found in the embolden strategy. This creates a cycle of love and belongingness that is customizable and evolving as the AA/Black man and woman grow together.
Life in the union cannot be all work and no play. The AA/Black woman will lose interest and the man will seek excitement elsewhere. This is a fact for many AA/Black men despite their tolerance and willingness to be patient. The AA/Black man may be reciprocating embolden strategies and actively participating in the consented kingdom-building, but the hunter in his nature propels him to seek out what he does not have. This may be a hard pill for some but once the AA/Black man matures mentally and begin to strive for self-actualization (Maslow and Lewis, 1987) his motivation to fulfill his needs become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. The lack of fun, friendship, and Ludus love from the AA/Black woman creates a deficiency that stunts the man’s growth. To avoid progress disruption the AA/Black man will seek out his unmet needs. Though growth needs do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person. This lack is a distractor that causes stagnation and should be addressed within the union.
This article may read as idealistic on the surface, but if we can shift an inch in any of these three areas, we will begin to see relational change and subsequently a shift in our fractured families. The encouragement is for AA/Black women to take a nimbler approach instead of undermining, resisting, blaming, and fighting against the AA/Black men for a problem that neither of them created. The AA/Black women are not asked to be the dutiful wife/ partner, but she is asked to understand success is not a secret it is a system. Courage and endurance are part of that system. The common enemy is the systematic machine of racism, which was designed to create hate and separation, so the oppressors can divide and conquer. Instead of uniting for peace, we turned on each other. Which is an example of the insanity approach. Dismantling the insanity approach of hate requires love and the willingness to do something different.
Special Note: These three ways of support were a compilation of answers given by 20 AA/Black men ranging in age 21 through 71 years of age. It is important to note this is a very small sample of AA/Black men sharing antidotally from their experiences but none of these men mentioned that the AA/Black woman is supporting him by taking care of his children. This is a major support element that may be taken for granted and would be addressed in the next article.
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Maslow, A., & Lewis, K. J. (1987). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Salenger Incorporated, 14(17), 987-990