“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.
A young man I was mentoring called me to vent about what he perceived as a negative experience. He was FURIOUS!!! He was leaving a job interview in a building downtown when he was joined on the elevator by an older white woman. Though he was professionally dressed, his “swagger” still seemed to show.
According to his account, when the elevator door closed the lady moved as close as she could on the other side of the elevator and clutched her purse, being sure to not make eye contact with him. He said it was obvious she was afraid. She honestly thought he would do something to her or try to take her purse.
He was livid that she would think that of him. “Don’t nobody want that ol’ woman, her p***y, OR her dayum purse!” he said. He rode the bus and walked home from his stop insulted that someone who didn’t even know him would thing that about him, and would make it known with their actions.
When he finished venting, I asked him to listen to what he told me. I repeated, “The white woman got on the elevator. When the door closed, she retreated to the opposite side and clutched her purse. Why? Because she was afraid of you.”
“Yeah”, he said.
I asked him, “when are you gonna realize the power you have?” When will you glory in the fact that as a young black man, your very presence is so intense that it intimidates people who aren’t as strong as you are, and it challenges their ignorance?”
“Dayum! I didn’t think about it like that,” he responded.
Even though I was in a position to minister to him, this entire scenario was a lesson to me as well. I should no longer view my blackness as a hindrance or curse. I should embrace and glory in it. Hell, my blackness is more than beautiful…it’s downright powerful! The fact that I’m a black man is a gift. It’s a blessing. It’s an honor that God saw fit to bestow. It’s a reason to celebrate. I also realized that my blackness is a call to responsibility. The power that black men possess is one that should be used to bless the earth. When I think of the intelligence and talent we possess, it makes me so proud to be who I am. I just wish there were more black men who were vocal about their Black Pride.
The funny thing is how white people get afraid, offended and worried about black men having, vocalizing and displaying their pride. It truly incites fear within their very souls. I think that fear is a response to their internalized guilt for how we’ve been treated in the United States of Amerikkka. I think Black Pride is such a bright light that it shows them their inferiority. Maybe they are afraid because they know if we ever start to walk in all the greatness that lives within us, the white privilege bullshit will end, and the chickens will TRULY come home to roost.
It’s sad to think an entire generation of black men know nothing of their history. They have no clue of the greatness that is manifested on the earth because of their presence. I think knowing how Benjamin Banniker, a black man, contributed inventions that changed history would make them proud. Knowing of Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, black men, giving us literature that transcends time would get them excited. To know how the athletic accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Arthur Ashe, Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan revolutionized sports forever is simply amazing. To have knowledge of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Dr. MLK, and countless other civil rights icons would make them proud of their blackness. To know of men like Thelonius Monk, James Cleveland, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince and countless others who personify musical excellence and genius, would be an inspiration.
Having the opportunity to mentor younger black men has helped me realize that we, as a black men, cannot allow the fear or ignorance of others to make us think negative things about ourselves. We cannot allow anyone but us to define who we are. We cannot accept what the media says about black men as our personal truth, but rather present such a positive and powerful image they can’t help but tell the truth we want told.
It’s time we get back to teaching our sons, nephews and cousins about the greatness from whence they come. We have to embrace the beauty in our diversity. We can no longer use the evil perpetrated by white men as an excuse to dwell in mediocrity. We have to accept our blackness as a “something extra” that God gave us to succeed, whether white men are afraid of it or not.
Who knew that having a black President of the United States would wake up Amerikkka’s true feelings? For years, where racial slurs and “off color” comments about race were consideredpolitically incorrect and downright ignorant, to speak hate speech is now allowed because it’s our “constitutional right”.
Now that the Congressional Black Caucus and other supposed civil rights organizations have had their fill of the racist kool-aid, what’s next? I’ll tell you… the senseless killing of black men in the streets of the “greatest country on earth” and not even leading blacks are saying anything about it.
According to police, early on the morning of June 26th, James Craig Anderson, a 49 year-old African-American auto plant worker in the city of Jackson, Mississippi, was set upon by a group of white teenagers who beat him while screaming “White Power.” Then one of them got behind the wheel of a Ford F250 green pickup and ran Anderson over, killing him. And what did the the 7 white boys get? NOTHING! The ring leader is out of jail on house arrest AFTER an area pastor told police this sort of thing would happen if he wasn’t taken off the streets. The 2nd hatemonger was charged with only simple assault. And the rest? Well, we have yet to hear about what will happen to them.
Where the hell is Al Sharpton, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, the CBC, NAACP? I guess the kool-aid they’re drinking is spiked with some BS that has them asleep now. Or maybe the photo ops aren’t big enough for them to say anything about this case. They sure didn’t think the POTUS being referred to as a “tar-baby” was important.
But then again, why should they? They have arrived. They are the leading blacks. And no matter how passionate or apathetic they appear to be on camera, black folks will eat up whatever they say. It wouldn’t surprise me if they are being paid by Republikkkans to say nothing. And they have the nerve to wonder why this generation coming up has no respect whatsoever for them or what they claim to stand for.
I’m not discounting the work they’ve done. I’m not even saying they haven’t done good for Black America or the country as a whole. I AM saying that the struggle isn’t over. And since these people have been elected and/or anointed “black leaders” they are OBLIGATED to continue to speak out against hate speech and violence against people of color. If not, they need to pass the torch to people who can and will stand up for justice. My late grandmother would say “shit, or get off the pot”!
To the CBC, NAACP, NAN, NBJC and all the other “civil rights organizations” who have a national platform I ask, “How many more James Craig Andersons have to be run over and murdered before you say anything? Or does your silence equal consent?
SEE THE VIOLENT VIDEO OF THE MURDER HERE… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPbMsZM-eO4
RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite shows on television. Anyone who knows me will be able to attest to that fact. I’m always intrigued by the Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent that most drag queens possess. Their being able to transform and create the female illusion is the ultimate for me. One of my favorite contestants this past season was Mariah Balenciaga. HUN-T WAS FIERCE!!! Mariah captured everything that is femininity and presented it with class, elegance and REALNESS. To me, she pays true homage to the feminine. To me, the realness factor is paramount.
One thing most drag queens have is quick whit and sharp tongues. It’s really an endearing quality. And I love the ones who “keep it real”. Keeping it real, one would assume would be defined as one always having the courage to be truthful, to walk in integrity. “Realness” would be a good thing. In a perfect world, whether in full geech or in real life, being able to truly serve realness should be something we all aspire to. But more often than not, like good drag, what is perceived as “realness” is just an illusion. For some people, their realness is just as deep as the makeup and costumes they would wear to lipsinc for their lives.
In this day and age, it seems like people actually prefer illusion to realness. What does it say about us? Have people become so jaded that we’d rather present and celebrate illusions than living authentic lives? Has “keeping it real” become an illusion itself?
Too often in gay culture, we see people say and do mean and hurtful things to other people. It’s normal. In fact the arrogance and cattiness is expected and seen as just a part of being gay. But does it really have to be that way? It’s one thing to read someone for pure filth because they are coming for you and you haven’t sent for them… that’s merely self defense. But it’s quite another to just be mean and hateful.
Usually the mean and hateful queens are truly insecure little boys (or girls) who are trying to present the illusion that they are grand. People who are ALWAYS in “reading mode” or are always catty are trying to hide something. They are trying to hide the fact that what they are presenting is not reality. In fact, their reality is too hard for THEM to deal with, so they treat others badly trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives. It’s really sad when you think about it. When it’s easier for a person to attempt to live their illusion than present a real person to the world, there’s a big problem. It’s dangerous for the lines of realness and illusion to be blurred.
One thing about drag, when it’s done well, it’s very entertaining. Being able to serve realness is indeed a beautiful thing. And from what I understand, one can make MAD coins. But when the music stops, when the deejay and the crowd goes home, and the lights go out, the illusion stops and real life begins. Sure, we all have a persona that we present to the world. Thing is, what we present to others should be the real us, not an illusion or a character we’ve created. If one truly has the courage, keeping it real is more beautiful than any illusion will ever be. If only more people understood that.
In the classic movie “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, the late Ms. Vida Boheme taught us one valuable lesson that everyone must learn to live… REAL queens always use their powers for good, and in every situation, seek out the opportunity to help others. THAT my dear, is better than the best illusion. It’s realness at its finest.