How [Our] Men Learn: 4:44, Colored Girls and Other Reflections

“Girls are trained to behave. Boys are praised for rebellion. And thus, the Great Dilemma begins, for neither is the foundation of relationship; rather, it’s a set up for power struggles.”

~Asha Tane

Relationships are everything.

I’ll never be convinced otherwise. And so, much of my growth and development is rooted in my relationship with others. Women are more relational. I believe men would do well to follow suit.

This week has been one of deep feeling and contemplation. I’ve watched more sunsets this week than I have in any one year of my life. And this has been restorative. From moment to moment, I feel a myriad of emotions and sensations ranging from hope to jarring loneliness, rage to release. Feeling what I feel is nothing new; speaking, writing and acting HONESTLY and FULLY on how I feel … is.

This week I’ve

  • cried more tears than I can count
  • released without giving up
  • started forgiving my father
  • been told that I may be infertile
  • stood at the gates of forgiveness, deciding whether I’m really going in…
  • and finally surrendered to what is

There is nothing that soothes me now more than a good hard rain, and thunder. Oh! And being in my own company watching a sunset.

Upon hearing the murmurs and kudos on the release of Jay-Z’s new album, “4:44,” I still cringe, viscerally. Instinctively. He is being praised profusely, not only for his skill (which I don’t deny), but also his vulnerability. Specifically, there is a huge focus on his taking responsibility for mistreating his wife, after all the years of being (I’m assuming) unaccountable for his actions.

And while I want to feel the celebration with the masses, I’m disgusted by what it took for him to learn (the same it took for my father and certain exes to learn). And I knew my theory was true:

Men learn through ACTUAL loss of something or someone valuable. They often times don’t recognize what something is worth until it’s no longer there.

And that saddens me.

Especially in the case of Black men.

Because truth be told: Black men and women don’t have the luxury of being on opposing sides. We just DON’T. And the longer we play these power struggle games, and indulge in the egoic fuckery, the more time we waste in healing the wounds our parents never could.

I feel for Jay, and his recognition that loss is loss. Sometimes, there’s no way to go back to how it used to be. It’s done. That’s why it’s called LOSS. We seldom regain the fullness of what is gone. And when one loses, ALL do.

He admits it:

“I seen the innocence leave your eyes/I still mourn this death/ and I apologize for all the stillborns cause I wasn’t present/your body wouldn’t accept it…”

I just shook my head as I listened, and wondered how Beyonce feels.

“Lemonade” was more than a cultural reverie: it was the skeleton of black women made flesh. It was unapologetically for colored girls — the girls that live in the women who’ve been made to swallow their hurt, and ignored because our screams are so loud and constant. And we tend to devalue what’s always there.

But then again, we’re ignored in our silence too.

Simply put: we’re ignored. Uncelebrated. Largely unloved. And desperately wanting…and deserving of what doesn’t fill the void. Beyonce made beautiful, and painfully evident, all the ugliness put upon us in so many ways…

“So what will you say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me…”

Was no one listening? Or maybe that truly was for us … the women … the colored girls.

Now, men proclaim, as though with new eyes and minds, as if they never imagined their actions could devastate. As if they just now realized that they aren’t an island unto themselves, and maybe they should practice honesty and vulnerability. Jay-Z’s admission has (seemingly) baptized them in a knowing that has been too obvious for so long.

And I’m … speechless.

I can’t help but to wonder what kind of apology admits:

“I’m never gonna treat you like I should…”

It really runs this deep, huh?  So, now what?

But, I’ve heard it’s a story, so I guess I’ll just give an honest listen to the whole thing, to the best of my ability. Perhaps, it’ll baptize me too.

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