SILENCE = CONSENT

Posts tagged “female

Who is Left to Love the Black Woman?

“All the good black men are either dead, married, gay, in jail or waiting to be born,” is something I heard a young lady say in a bible study once.  We were discussing the possibility of some of us in the class never getting married.  Before making this statement, she told the pastor he needed to come up with some programs so some of the women in the class could have the hope of getting married.  She then went on to give a dramatic speech called “Who Is Left to Love the Black Woman?”

I was very offended.  And the whole time she was giving her lil’ speech, I was lookin’ at Mz. Lady like she’d bumped her head.  After her speech, the pastor asked if any of the men in the class would like to respond.  So, you KNOW I raised my hand right?  And the pastor just shook his head, because he KNEW what was coming.

I stood up in front of the class, cleared my throat, and said, “I don’t think the problem here is ‘who’s left to love the black woman, but rather who is qualified!”  I also told Mz. Lady that she owed every man in the class an apology because ALL OF US in the class thought of ourselves as good men.

These days, what IS a good man?  Everyone has their own idea of what makes a man “good,” so it’s difficult to set a concrete definition.  When asked that question, most of the single men I know say they consider themselves good men.

So, if so many people (straight women and gay men) are looking for ‘good men’, why are so many presumed good men single?  Maybe the people who say they are looking for a good man, aren’t  really looking for a good man at all.  Most are seeking out “good-looking men” and are disappointed when they find that those who they think are good-looking often lack the characteristics they say they want in a man.  The truth is, most will totally overlook a man of character if he doesn’t personify what society says is beautiful or successful.  Even if the man is only trying to be a friend, he still faces rejection based on his looks.

My late Big Mama used to say, “baby, you don’t throw away a diamond because it’s given to you in a paper bag, and not a velvet box….a diamond is still a diamond no matter what it may be wrapped in.”  Big Mama knew that a good man couldn’t be measured or judged by what he has or how he looks.  A good man can only be judged by his character.  Now I’m not naïve to the fact that what we see gets our attention.  But it seems that what we see is the most important thing.  We value things that are temporal.  Good looks fade or can be destroyed.  Money and material things are fleeting and can be taken away.  But a strong and noble character is something that is invaluable and will stand the test of time.

So to all those women and men, who say they’re looking for a good man, remember that a good man (a diamond) is still a good man (a diamond) regardless of how he may be wrapped.  Think about it, that man of character that you’ve overlooked because you’re “just not attracted to him” may be the friend or partner you’ve been looking for all along.  Learn how to see people with more than just your eyes.  Maybe the problem is not a shortage of eligible candidates, but your inability to recognize a good man when you see him.

 

Tuan N’Gai is Co-Founder of the Operation: REBIRTH Movement.  He’s the author of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma,” “Little Brown Boy’s Blues,” and a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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Operation: REBIRTH

Since 2004, I have been proudly working in social justice ministry.  Being the co-founder of Operation:  REBIRTH (www.operationrebirth.com) has been a joyous (and sometimes frustrating) labor of love.  Over the years, I’ve been blessed to meet hundreds of people, speak on countless panels, conduct workshops, appear at book signings and preach at churches all over the country.  I have been adamant that Operation: REBIRTH would not be an organization, but a movement whereby homophobia is defeated, and justice reigns for all people.

The first thing we did with Operation: REBIRTH was to call the churches who preach and practice homophobia to the carpet in hopes of creating dialogue that would bring the community together so much needed healing could begin.  We learned early on that as marginalized people, if we are ever going to make ground in claiming our rightful places we will have to work together to make it happen.  Unfortunately, the church seems to be uninterested in embracing diversity.  So, Operation: REBIRTH took the stance that we would support the LGBT affirming or “radically inclusive” churches to build.  Once again we found that in most cases, the affirming churches were more interested in building big churches vs. building strong communities.

So, here we are in 2011.  After years of not updating the O.R. website, we are still seeing thousands of hits per month.  We are still getting hundreds of emails from all over the world asking for support, pleas for prayer, and asking if there is anything we can do to help people gain momentum in their communities.  We are proud to say we have helped people and are still regarded as leaders in the fight to kill homophobia and injustice.  Me and my partner in crime are amazed that something started seven years ago is still relevant work.  And no matter how badly we wanted to just let it go and be whatever it has been, we can’t.  The need for Operation: REBIRTH is too great.  This is something that is bigger than we thought it would be.  The work is bigger than us.

So, as co-founder of this profound movement, I would like to reiterate that YOU are Operation: REBIRTH!  I also ask what are you doing… what work CAN you do to help take the movement further?  What can you do to make Operation: REBIRTH a living and breathing organism, and not just a website or group on Facebook?  And since “silence equals consent”, what is your voice saying?

I promised GOD that I would honor the ancestors and the loved ones I’ve lost over the years by fighting the good fight of faith by empowering as many people as I could to lift their voices and cry out against injustice or abuse in any form.  Join with me and countless others all over the world.  Together, we can continue the legacy of those who came before us and make the world a better place for those following in our footsteps.


Is My Living in Vain?

When I was young, I was very close to my grandmother, who I affectionately called Big Mama. This smooth, dark skinned woman was the most beautiful and wisest woman in the entire world in my humble opinion. She possessed a strength that was unmatched by anyone I know. She had so many anecdotes and sayings, there had to be a million of them. Sometimes when she’d say something and I’d get this quizzical look on my face, she’d simply say “Keep on livin’ baby, keep on livin”. And I knew she was telling me that though I didn’t understand her right then, one day I would. Today, I often find myself quoting her words of wisdom.

Not too long ago, I was bellyaching about how in spite of all our strides, black people still have to fight for everything. It’s so hard when you are fighting a battle of race, but then on top of that never-ending battle, you have to fight with your own people in an effort to enjoy your rightful place in the community at large. And as continued to bitch and moan about the black church, gay-bashing, apathy, etc., I could distinctly hear my grandmother’s voice interrupt me saying, “It will be worth it by and by.”

I stopped cold in the midst of my pity party, and thought about the power of that statement. Big Mama was of a generation who knew what it meant to struggle. They overcame poverty, lack of education, police dogs, water hoses, billy-clubs, segregation and Jim Crow. They pressed their way and made history by their willingness to fight and sacrifice for equality. They knew that their struggle and their victory would benefit the generations coming behind them.

Today, we are in a place where history is repeating itself. Black people, again have the opportunity to change the course of our society, much like our ancestors did. In spite of the strides we’ve made and obstacles we’ve overcome, blacks seem to be still lagging behind, and if the masses of us would just stand up, we can do more than what our ancestors did during the civil rights movement. We have the benefit of being more educated, having more resources financially and socially. We have so much more that
they did and that makes us a very powerful force. We have access to more information than our ancestors did. We have opportunities that they couldn’t fathom. So why are we not further along than where we are? Why does it seem like we are missing a valuable opportunity?

I venture to say we lack the vision that our ancestors had. We don’t have the fire and faith that they used to guide them. We lack the true sense of community they had. We don’t have the resolve and the strength they had (or at least we don’t know it). It almost seems as though we are so cute, so intelligent, and so spoiled, we don’t think we have to struggle for anything. Like one day the social equality we want will be handed down to us on a silver platter.

So many of us see the need for change, and realize our power to make it happen; but we won’t do what is necessary to fight for it. We are afraid. We’re afraid of challenging the status quo because we know it will cost us something. Our fear of sacrificing anything we have for the benefit of anyone but ourselves has paralyzed us. It’s like we’ll refuse to help anyone or stand up for a cause if it doesn’t benefit us directly and instantly. We all know that even though we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go.

One thing our ancestors realized is their sacrifice was not for naught. They understood that if their children or grandchildren were able to live better lives, have more opportunities, have access to what they were denied, then their struggle and sacrifice was worth it. They knew that lifting their voices and standing up for what was right would not only help them, but it was the best thing for everyone around them…even the people who were oppressing them. Their indomitable spirit still lives on. They knew that even if they didn’t see the fruits or results of their struggle, the generations following would.

To struggle isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it is most definitely necessary if we’re going to make progress. Struggling and making temporary sacrifices doesn’t make us weak, but it strengthens us. We need not be afraid of struggle or sacrifice. If we must struggle, it’s not just for OUR progress; it is for the benefit of the generations to follow. If we must struggle and make sacrifices, it is merely paying homage to our ancestors who paved the way for us. We’ll be taking our legacy of greatness to the next level. Our names, like theirs will be forever etched in history. If our struggle and sacrifice makes it possible for our younger brothers and sisters to live unashamedly in the full truth of their lives,
being black, male, female, straight, gay, or lesbian, it was well worth it; our struggle wasn’t in vain.


Lessons of the Elders

Today I discovered I am officially “older”. After sitting in on a workshop and being inspired by college students who are passionate about changing our society, I realized that in alot of ways I was just like them when I was their age. I think I more ways than one, I am still just like them. Watching them interact with one another ignited a fire in me that I thought was long gone.

I walked away from the experience with one glaring realization…the difference between me then, and them now is my respect for my elders. My realizing that people who were older than me; people who had more experience than me were (and still are) assets to me. They are an invaluable resource. Whereas these young men and women feel like everything they need to know, they already know. They feel they need no input from people who have “been there, done that”. In their operating with this attitude, they make their lives harder than they really have to be.

Back in my day, we were taught to respect our elders. Most of that was because the elders weren’t afraid of us. They didn’t fear reminding us what “a child’s place” was. They told us when we were wrong. They demanded their respect. And if need be, they most certainly didn’t mind opening up some SERIOUS cans of whoop-ass.

They taught us the importance of humility. They showed us what it meant to walk in integrity. We learned that community was a necessity. More than anything, we learned that when we were in public, we represented more than just ourselves, we represented THEM.

This all leads me to question whether or not we have failed our young people. Has our trying to empower them actually crippled them? Does our unwillingness to be strong disciplinarians send a message that we are weak? Have we created an environment where the next generation is raising themselves?

I think we need to revive the spirit of Big Mama and Pops. We should remember the lessons they taught us about having noble character. We need to start passing along what the elders put in us…the knowledge that above all things, it’s our responsibility to be honorable people.