I just watched several extended clips of Iyanla’s Fix My Life about black men who have fathered many children and are unable and/or unwilling to take care of them. Initially, I balked at the subject when I saw clips a while back thinking it was another attack on black men. I mean if I want to see consistent attacks on black men I can read the extremely negative posts on FaceBook all day.
Iyanla had an all black audience on the show and when she was talking to the men (who in turn talked about why they have done what they have done and even confronted their demons on the show) I was blown away. No matter how many times I have heard black people speak negatively of Oprah Winfrey for not being supportive enough of black people I have always understood the visionary that Oprah is and why she did what she did. She needed to do what she did to get to where she is, to create a platform where she COULD address our needs and Iyanla is an excellent caveat for that.
Truth be told, I was not even considering that I too was a child who grew up without a father and my own father had 11 other sons (possibly more). He only let me meet one of them, my younger brother Kerry when I was about 10 years old and he always told me the rest of my brothers “weren’t shit” all the way up until his death in the early 90s. Of course, my brothers “not being shit” had nothing to do with my father’s non-existent fathering skills or perhaps he thought we would all get together and talk about him, who knows… but this show, even thought this is my field of study, FINALLY allowed me to see another side of my father that I never gave much thought to. His OWN upbringing.
Like MANY black men who grew up without fathers, my father grew up without a father. It was great to see black men in one room be supportive of each other and allow themselves to feel and express themselves on a national platform. As Iyanla pointed out the original show sparked a national debate and strength does come in numbers and I love to see black people ESPECIALLY black men come together for a good cause.
As Black men we do not show pain and black women have taken on an incredibly unfair journey as the designated glue for the black community. We are certainly witnessing the long term effects of black fatherless homes today by our prison systems, unemployment, drugs and the cycle consistently repeating itself. Black men inherently learn early on that for the most part the world is against us and we have to be incredibly strong and we have an incredible threshold for pain. We will hold in pain, deny it exists and not ask for help until we explode and with good reason, our resources are often non existent, even to the extent of each other. Adding insult to injury is when certain people from other races THINK they know who we are and they don’t and never will. To say that racism does not exist is like saying the sun doesn’t shine. They have to work for a way to resolve it instead of denying what they know is true.
There has been SO much negative news about black men over the last few decades and it’s overwhelming. Then you have to realize who is in control of the media and our legal system. That’s not to say that black men are always innocent but it is to say we are also not always guilty. No TV show in my ENTIRE memory has ever addressed this issue like Iyanla did. Whenever black men have been talked about it’s been an attack, judgement or finger-pointing EVEN from the black church. Rarely and I mean VERY rarely do we ever hear from ourselves ABOUT ourselves sans an agenda. We are not talking about this on radio stations, we don’t have talk shows and we don’t have cable networks where these things are addressed because advertisers rule and the fear is they won’t support segments like this but who could deny OWN or Iyanla. The marketing of this network is nothing less than genius.
The needs of black men in America are deeply rooted in pain. This has been our history and stigma for decades on end from slavery to pre and post Civil Rights to Discrimination, Drugs, the prison system, gangs unemployment etc. We have often been accused of abandoning the black community but has anyone ever considered that the black community has also abandoned black men? This is why I don’t believe in the black church, I believe the black church has helped to turn black women against black men. Black men are very proud and when we can’t work we are ashamed and black men don’t like to appear weak. Being ashamed, in need or wanting help are considered weaknesses. We don’t stand up for ourselves enough because if we did who would care? Who would want to hear what we have to say? We are even often against each other so the problem never gets addressed.
At the Living Legends dinner this past weekend Lee Bailey of EUR web said something that stuck with me the entire weekend. While others would like for us to believe we don’t stick together or look out for our own, he stated “Black people DO look out for each other.” He point was absolute. We may fight, disagree, get mad or even not speak but we WILL look out for each other. Had it not been for black people, I would not have had a career in the music and radio industry. At the end of the day, all we really have is each other. The sooner we learn that the better. This show was EXCELLENT.