A few days ago, a couple of girlfriends and I got together for dinner to catch up, vent and let off some overheated steam. What started off as escapism from our every day battles quickly transformed into a precise focus on those very struggles.
‘Tamika, I want to talk about anything but politics, nothing serious please,’ is what they said.” But before you knew it, our discussion revolving around the men in our lives soon enough was fixated on the economy, jobs, housing, disproportionate incarceration rates – oh, and sex. As these external factors deteriorate, so too does family life, relationships and of course so too does the sex. It’s time to be frank and honest ladies and gentlemen.
It’s no secret that the economic downfall of ’08 and the continued ramifications have affected us the most. With staggering unemployment rates that are double and sometimes triple the rates of joblessness among whites in some areas, a crippling rate of foreclosures, inadequate schools, reduced after-school programs and diminished opportunities overall, communities of color are bearing the brunt of this financial disaster. And not surprisingly, more of our men are sometimes resorting to desperate means of providing for their families — and as a result — an astronomical number are finding themselves behind bars. The many that continually push to find legit work are losing faith as they are often the last ones hired in an environment where employers often look out for ‘their own’ first.
My friends and I, some who are married and some in serious relationships, all agreed on one thing: we’re just flat out tired of trying to encourage these men out here. Even though we fully comprehend the dynamics at play that make it so extraordinarily difficult for our brothers to find work, we are simply exhausted from giving all of our energy and unconditional support – while at the same time holding down our own work. Black men often complain that we nag too much. But what happens when the nagging stops? Does that mean that we no longer care? Or have we matured to a place of understanding what the other person may be going through? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between.
While we try to support our men both emotionally (and these days many times financially), we may be forgetting to take care of ourselves as well. And with more men in jail, we’re clearly not receiving the attention we deserve, and let’s be honest there are also more and more women pleasing other women as a result. When men are broke or struggling, are we just no longer turned on?
The economic crisis clearly isn’t going to be resolved overnight. But as we women continue to find strength to not only motivate ourselves but the men we love, we must also remind these men to get it together in order to keep the passion alive. For not only is the Black family structure at risk, but so too is our physical bond as man and woman. And who in their right mind wants that.