A Letter of Apology to Black Men: Just the Thing We Need?

November 23, 2011  |  

I stumbled across “An open letter of apology to Black Men in hopes of Reconciliation” on the web that I found pretty interesting. I won’t post the entire letter here (you can read it on ThyBlackMan.com), but here’s a snippet so you can get the gist of it’s content:

I humbly come to you asking forgiveness. I come to you asking you to forgive me for not supporting you. I come to you asking you to forgive me for not truly loving you. I was taught to hate myself, then hate you. My desire to reproduce you was killed by our enemy. I apologize for teaching my daughters that you will fail them, and continuing the cycle of an illusion of independence with them. I apologize for not encouraging you, for not being more patient with you, for not understanding your plight, your trials and your tribulations.

I apologize for thinking in order to gain strength I had to weaken you. I apologize for disturbing your peace, in order to have peace within myself, or what I thought was peace. My life has been in peril without you. I tried to convince myself that I don’t need you, but you are a necessity. I can’t even continue the cycle of life without you. I apologize for my harsh tone, for using my tongue as a sword, for telling you that you are nothing, when in fact you are everything.

Now before you cry “B.S.” and exit the page, hear me and this author out. I don’t agree with everything she says in the letter, but I do believe the gesture is symbolic of the type of attitude that’s necessary to mend the gap between black men and women. Are we the only ones to blame for the breakdown of black love? No. Have we had a part in it? Yes. Do we need to apologize for it? Maybe.

They say you catch more bees (or flies) with honey than vinegar, but black women for the most part have been dousing black men with latter. I wouldn’t say the intent was malicious from the start, and lord knows we’ve spent a long time being patient and supportive (sometimes of the wrong men; be honest…) but some of our actions have certainly been counter to the effect that we’d hoped for. Somehow we thought telling a man get his ish together, stay off the block, out of jail, go to school, get a job, take care of his kids, etc., was code for, “I want you to better yourself so I can give you my best.” Truthfully, no man should have to be told any of these things, but in doing so the way we have—well, we’re not catching so many bees.

Every message string related to an article on black relationships turns into name calling and finger pointing. Where can you possibly get with that? The end goal starts to look more like proving a point rather than finding solutions on ways to interact better with one another. Think about how you react when your boss criticizes you, or a best friend, or a family member. If they start out with the negative and all the things you do wrong, chances are you will have already checked out by the time they get to the part about them telling you whatever it is because they love you. Black women have, in a lot of ways, come to the discussion guns blazing with a laundry list of things to tell black men about themselves and they never get around to explaining why they’re saying these things because the men have already checked out.

That’s pretty much where we stand now. Men waiting for the next article on single black women so they can jump in with a jab and repay the favor for what we’ve done to them for so long. What this open letter does is keep black men off the defensive because they’re not being attacked. This letter says, I’ve approached things the wrong way and here is my attempt to make it right. I know most of you are probably thinking black men need to write a letter of apology to black women themselves. And you know what, I agree with you. But instead of waiting for them to do something that might never happen, why don’t we take the first step and try to approach the men we say we want with love and respect? (I know some of you are over black men so feel free to disregard.)

In no way is this meant to be yet another article telling black women everything they do is wrong. If you would have said to me a year ago I’d be writing an article like this, I would’ve dismissed it. But seeing all of the negative discourse around black love has shown me exactly why we’re not getting results. A man once told me that men depend on women to set the tone in relationships. If that’s the case, I can see why we’re in the state we’re in now, and that we have an opportunity to approach things in a different way to at least get back to being companions with black men — and maybe even happy lovers once down the line. A slice of humble pie now might catch more bees in the long run.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

 

 

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