Over the past few days, accounts and recordings of police brutality have taken the United States by storm. After what was seen as something getting better, triggering video footage of Alton Sterling being murdered by an officer on duty suddenly re-ignited that flame of prejudice and racism in institutions of power.
Of course though, as with anything pertaining to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, claims of only highlighting cisgender, straight, Black men began to rise. In an attempt to highlight the many women of color who are murdered, sexually assaulted, and traumatized by the judicial system and police officers, the hashtag #SayHerName arose.
Many Black men felt, however, that criticisms that the BLM movement didn’t encompass enough Black identities to be valid was “dividing the community”. In a tweet where one Black man proclaimed he wished that cops killed “Black women instead”, many Black men got mad at Black women for being upset instead of at the tweeter for wishing half of the Black population was dead. And don’t even get me started on the Black men that say Black lives matter but condemn and avoid rallying for Black LGBTQ+ in the same breath. These accusations of non-inclusivity brought up the statement, which can be seen at any time Black women criticize Black men, “I love Black women.”
But, I have to ask: Is this love conditional?
Do Black men really love Black women? Or do they love their idea of what we “should” be? In a world where Black women are policed on their hair, their clothes, their lifestyles, and even how they dance, where is the unconditional love? Is a Black man’s love for a Black woman only limited to when she “plays nice” and is behind the scenes? Or will Black men love us when we’re criticizing them? When we’re not trying to please them?
Most times when I see a Black man say something along those lines, it’s closely followed by him stating the titles of women in his life – “I love my mom, my sister, my girlfriend, my wife, my best girl friend. ect.” It seems as though, to these Black men, that loving the Black women in your life must mean that you love all Black women, right?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
If you only love a group of people that benefit you in some way shape or form, it doesn’t transcend to the rest of the masses. Of course, as a Black man, you’re going to love your Black mother who’s helped provide for you (or, in many cases, been the only one doing so for years), or your romantic partner who adds something a little special to your life (romance and sex), or any other Black woman you deem attractive or who acts in a way that correlates with how you live your life.
But do you love the women who don’t please you? You know, the ones you think are ugly, or the ones you think dress too provocative. Or, how about the one who’s politics you don’t agree with? The trifling ass baby mommas who y’all think just get pregnant to trap you? Are you going to rally for that “hoe” you fucked at that party last week? Are you going to advocate for that annoying Black feminist if she gets murdered? Are you going to care if that prostitute gets killed unjustly? Or are they all exceptions for this rule?
A few days ago, I saw the saddest tweet. A Black man said that he only feel appreciated by his family members or when one another Black man gets killed. And while that broke my heart to know a Black man feels unappreciated by Black women, even though as Black women everything we’ve ever invented and done has benefited Black men, I had to agree from my own life experiences. Because I, too, only feel appreciated when a Black man dies – when I’m standing in front of the cops crying and screaming, when I’m putting myself in front of a bullet for a Black man, that’s when I’m a Beautiful Black Queen™. When I’m suffering pain so a Black man doesn’t have to, that’s when I get told I am loved by a Black man. When I spend all day tweeting about how great Black men are, with no criticisms of how they can sometimes hurt a Black woman’s livelihood, that’s when Black Love exists.
But not when I’m living for my own benefit. Not when I say something a Black man doesn’t agree with – then I’m suddenly a bitter Black girl who needs to get laid. If I’m not doing something that benefits Black men, the love is suddenly nonexistent – it’s even frustrating because even after all the insults Black men throw at Black women, we still stand by them and protect them like we protect ourselves without getting the same treatment in return. This type of unconditional love is what Black women scoff at and have no time for – because we deserve better.
When will I be loved for who I am, as I am, as a Black woman – unconditionally?