Imagine for a moment a Black woman, in a nice suit, but practical shoes, catching a city bus to work where she is a valued employee, after she feeds cereal to her 3 kids (whom she is raising alone) and rushes them off to school.
Now imagine another Black woman, this time wearing a designer evening gown, being whisked away by a driver while her boyfriend massages her shoulders and kisses her neck, as they are being driven to a restaurant that her man has rented out completely so he can propose to her.
If you are honest, my guess is that the first image was more quickly accepted and more easily seen than the second. Black women = strong. Black women = nurturers. We take care of business and everyone around us and then are expected to accept whatever scraps are left. Leftover food, money and men.
Accordingly, the world, regardless of race, is not accustomed to, nor mentally prepared for, the Black woman to get her Prince Charming (the world’s definition of Prince Charming — not mine: white, rich, handsome) as evidenced by people’s reactions following the engagement of Serena Williams to Alexis Ohanian, and the official announcement of coupledom of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
I’ve been struck by the comments that accompany the articles detailing both romances. In a completely unofficial poll, I would say that White men have had the fewest problems with these unions. They have been the ones sending messages of congratulations and even questioning those who have had issues with the romances.
White women, in large part, have acted the same way many Black women act when the situation is reversed: rejected, with a bit of unconscious indignation mixed in. They, White Women, are the unofficial chosen princesses. Why shouldn’t they expect it? With one or two exceptions, every fairytale, every romance movie, every book features them—the beautiful girl who not only finds love but IS the princess. It is they who oftentimes get the “on-paper best men” of all races: Hollywood, wall street and sports stars. Even many of our “down brothas,” such as political pundits like Van Jones have married White women. It is an unspoken expectation that the Princes, like in the fairytales, will do well, marry a blond and then live happily-ever-after (hence why President Barack Obama and his beautiful Black wife have literally brought life to women like me).
Following the news of Serena’s engagement, Black men have acted as if they too feel rejected. When I first read through comment after comment, my initial reaction was, “Really Neeeeeee-gaaa-ro. Are you serious? Night after night, my girlfriends and I roll out to events only to see brothers, who refuse to make eye contact with us, booed up with a White girl.” It’s not unusual; it’s typical. So, I didn’t expect to hear much dissension from Black males about Black women getting their swirl on. Love is love—right?
So, what’s the problem? Serena definitely isn’t using Alexis for money: He’s worth 4 million. She’s worth 150 million (following the trend that Black people historically marry down financially when we marry outside of our race). Serena’s fame will most certainly help elevate his social site, Reddit, as she already has announced the engagement on his site. She is known; he is not. She is far richer and her reach his far larger. You must note, however, that most seem to position this engagement as if she is marrying up (innnnn—terrrr-rrressss-sting).
But I can be halfway understanding. Brothas, whether they will admit it or not, have always expected Black women to be there (‘cause we always have been). We are home: the place where when everything flops, fails, or flips they can return (and we bitch and complain, but always take them back). Also, unions like Venus/ Alexis and Meghan/Harry screw up many Black men’s mentalities that White is better—that they have “achieved something” by acquiring the forbidden fruit (that which was withheld from them during slavery). And please Black men don’t start writing in your letters about how love is love. That I believe. I’m all for love between whomever; but the rates in which Black men marry White women isn’t indicative of pure love but rather a tainted mindset (of some). Now that White men are seeing what you didn’t—what?
What I can’t understand is the hateful comments coming from my Sistas. “I’m surprised he’d want a woman who is so manly,” read one. I don’t get it. I’m happy when someone appreciates and loves the pure depth and beauty of a Black woman, even if it ain’t me. I celebrate that Serena found someone who loves her enough to commit to a lifetime with her. Let’s not act like she didn’t try with the brothas (if we are honest, you know a brother may have been her preferred choice.), but they didn’t ask (not Common, not Drake, not the nameless ones I don’t know about). Alexis did. Why are some Black women so angry? Is it just pure hateration?
Don’t hate love. We can’t afford hate. And the thing is: we, Black women, are strong. We are the woman who takes care of business in the work place and at home. We are the ones who have changed history and made history. We are raising kids on our own, starting and running businesses on our own, making it—on our own. But we don’t want to—not if we don’t have to. We’d like someone by our side. And most of us would like that person to be a Black man (Lawd knows a Black woman will take a one-legged, two-tooth, zero-job having Black man over any other if he’d just love us), but if he don’t come a calling, perhaps it’s time we respond to those who do.
See, we, Black women, realized that we were Princesses and Queens a while ago. There are painted nails covered by these practical shoes; loofa-ed skin coated in coconut oil and dressed in lingerie under our corporate suits; and a soft heart under this mental toughness.