By: Kerdisha St.Louis
Listening to a thank you speech for a work function the other day I happened to hear the speaker (a young man) thanking his mother for all the sacrifices she had to make to assist in his journey to the top. While the speech was heartfelt and so obviously genuine, it got me thinking.
We’ve all heard the adage that behind every successful black man is a strong black woman who helped get him there. Now maybe this is the feminist in me but something about this irks me to my core. Why is it that we as a black society feel that it is ok to build up a young man on the backs of our women? Stop me if I’m wrong but it seems to have become part of our culture to coddle black men and push our girls towards independence. There are numerous cases I see on a day to day basis of mothers (black ones in particular) who make allowances or immense sacrifices for their “baby boys”. Now I am not a mother so I will not claim to understand the relationship between a mother and son but looking in objectively these mothers are essentially crippling their sons.
Black mothers are often the biggest enablers of their sons. When their sons do wrong, they make excuses for them and when they make mistakes in life they blame others for doing wrong by “Their boy”. Most significantly when they fail in life, they bail them out. Thanks to their coddling, their sons never grow up learning they have to take responsibility for their actions. Oftentimes, the sons of black mothers grow up spoiled with a sense of entitlement and a belief that the world owes them something. That makes them impossible adults to deal with.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, almost every black woman has experienced hearing their mother, aunt, grandmother or another influential woman in your life ask or say, “When are you going to get married?” “Are you seeing anyone special?” “Now, sweetie, you’ve got to learn how to cook. You know the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…” Or my personal favorite “You have to know how to keep a clean house for your husband!”.” While I do believe this advice is valuable for women so that we can learn these skills for survival and take personal pride in ourselves, I don’t think these things should be valued and viewed as ways to build up someone else. More specifically a black man.
We as a society need to address both of these issues head on. We need to teach our men to be independent so that they can not only take care of themselves but learn to be self sufficient and appreciative of the black woman as a partner and not a crutch. Likewise, we need to nurture a generation of powerful girls who grow up feeling secure in themselves who have an understanding that she does not need to be a stepping stone for any man but is formidable in her own right.