A Few Good Black Men: Can A Sister Talk To A Brother?

By Tracy Renee Jones

It seems like Black male egos are bruised and in need of some soothing. When I wrote my piece last week about the sexual harassment that I’ve experienced throughout my life at the hands of Black men it wasn’t a blanket condemnation of all men that look like me. Of course I know a few good Black men; and when I say a few, I mean a dam few….at least up until recently.

Initially I thought it quite typical for the few good Black men to cry foul; apparently they’re tired of having to maneuver through a world made more hostile and less civilized due to the behavior of the ones that behave like barbarians. I’ve been having this discussion with a (Good Black) male friend of mine for a few weeks prior to me writing my piece. I can understand the frustration he and other men who go about their lives trying to be the “GOOD” man that’s needed feel.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that just like there are women who do what they can to remain open hearted, to behave lovingly toward others, and who seek to emulate the strength and beauty that Black women are there are also Black men who though not perfect, try dam hard to be that father, that brother and that “Good” man to that Black woman.

I wonder if these ‘Good Black men’ speak out in defense of women for the wrong they see their fellow Black men do? Is being a ‘Good Black Man’ an individual mission or is there some consensus on Good Black Man behavior as part of a culture of people? I’m curious. Because if there is a consensus; I would expect to see more Brothers checking the behavior of other brothers.

From my experience it’s simply safer to mind one’s own business for fear of retaliation by the Black Men so hell bent on self hatred and destruction they would gladly take another Black Man to the grave with them if given the chance (so the Good Black men may want to intervene but don’t for their own personal safety).

I won’t apologize for anything I’ve said or any ego I have bruised. I shall not apologize for feeling frustrated, angry and disappointed in those Black men that refuse to live up to the expectations established by men like my father. Big Jessie was a good man; simply because he took me into his home as a foster child and adopted me; giving me a permanent home and his surname. Though he was illiterate, my Dad worked nearly every day of his life since he was 7 years old to provide for his siblings and later on in life, for his wife and children until death.

His insistence that I receive the best education his money could buy so that I would not have to work as hard as he did is part of what affords me the opportunity to write these words to you right now. My Dad gave me smiles, he gave me giggles, he gave me confidence, and my Dad fed my curiosity with explanations that came from his heart and not from Google.

My Dad is where I learned to be comfortable around men, where I gained my affection for easy going men who are capable of holding a conversation with me. It is from him that learned how a man should behave (competent even if not, confident even if not, courageous even if not and spoil me….but not too much) ; and how a man should treat me (not like glass, but like one of the boys as much as possible).

I feared nothing when my father was alive; he created an environment of safety and security but also taught me how to be self sufficient. I was told he wanted a son, I only hope my aptitude and enthusiasm for boxing, fishing, wood tooling and the cross bow satisfied his desire for a son. I appreciate him for treating me like a person and not insisting that I adhere to a sexist gender role and ‘act like a girl’…I acted a kid and that was perfectly acceptable to him if not my mother.

I am fortunate to have met my entire natural family three years ago. Not only is my real Dad handsome, he’s charming and such a sweet, sweet man. Sensitive with the most peaceful spirit I’ve ever come across. I need only to hear his voice to feel calmer; I’ve cried to him in frustration when dealing with my daughter. His words soothed me. His advice lifted me. I may no longer have shoe laces to tie, no longer do I have scraped knees to tend to, no longer do I have a million questions about why, never the less, I need this Black man; his presence gives me hope and proof that all is not lost when I look for compassion from the men who look like

I have brothers…so, so many brothers…I come from a large family. Some are married, and those who are not are actively co-parenting their children. My big brother , the eldest of ten children, dug through the maze of life and located me as I was staggering though my life; it is he who reunited me with my family. He said finding me has been his obsession since he was a child and the little sister that he loved upon sight…went missing. He’s only nine months older than I; but this Black man loved me so much he moved circumstances and Earth to find his baby sister.

What other example would I need to realize that there are good Black men in life? I have a younger brother who, though he didn’t know me from a can of paint three years ago received a phone call alerting him that his big sister had been found. Only days later, I watched, in horror at the greatest display of generosity I’ve ever seen from a Black man. He spent nearly all of his savings buying me clothes that fit my slimmer frame, proper boots and a coat for my daughter and I, he filled our kitchen with groceries so that my child and I could have food to eat. He paid thousands of dollars on a long overdue electric bill after my service had been disconnected. Yes, he’s a Good Black man, and I’m hoping he can find a girl to appreciate him and love him honesty. It’s my hope that he finds a Good Black woman; because I know they are out there and he deserves nothing less.

There is Jay, who lives in Detroit. He gladly works like an animal to provide for his wife and two boys. Since known him, I’ve never heard him complain, even though his safety is compromised daily by people who sic dogs on him or use him for target practice as a way to convey their displeasure at having their cable disconnected. He loves his sons and he adores his wife. Sometimes it seems like his feelings aren’t real; it is foreign to me to witness a young Black man this serious and this intent on providing and nurturing his family. I am in awe of him.

There are the Black men I’ve met in college. Those intelligent, assertive beautiful brothers who found their way to higher education after traveling from working two menial jobs, those who came to class unable to afford text books but after traveling from cities miles away would sit and manically write notes to keep up with the lessons, those Black men who traveled from far away continents in hopes of obtaining an education, that it would allow them to kick open the door of opportunity for their family and future family members here and in their home country. Those are Good Black men.

There are the Black young men I’ve befriended over the years, who’ve come to move furniture for free when I was no longer able to pay my rent and the time had come to move on; or to have conversations with me on my stoop and refused to allow me to dominate it just because I’m cute. Those men who tell me what I want to know and, sometimes, what I didn’t want to hear….but needed to be told. Those guys who accepted me and offered me friendship and never came on to me regardless of the rumors both guys and girls would spread about me in our exaggerated juvenile social circles.Those guy friends who could have taken advantage of my desperation, but didn’t. Those guys who protected me when they could have just walked away but didn’t.

I think of my guys at UPS, who would put their change with mine to make enough to buy a soda, as I would agree to steal a hamburger so that we may both eat. There was, my dude O, who walked three cities with me after the buses were done running for the night. He bought all of the food out of the ‘over night’ store so that I and my daughter would have food. I think of when the guys would complete unloading their trucks and then jump in mine to dig me out; they could have rested but instead they reached back to pull me forward. These are the Good Black men I’ve seen.

Though they are not perfect, they do their hardest to not allow their children and women to see their imperfections. I’m not asking for perfection. I’m asking for intentions, counsel, and genuine interest, and consideration, and the willingness to sacrifice, and to defend me, and to provide security. The world is a scary place, but as a Black woman, I shouldn’t feel like I’m the lone warrior of my people. My guy friends, my brothers (and many, many male cousins and Uncles and grown nephews) make is quite clear that I am not alone.

My only wish is that the Good Black men speak out; your silence is deafening. Meanwhile, the Pimp, Felons, Gang Members, Thugs, Baby Daddy’s, Niggas and Street Soldiers are taking over our (and the worlds) perception of what a Black man is.

And your not gonna let that happen, are you?