Black women have saturated mainstream media with real stories about how there are no good black men in society. Many 1990s films portrayed black men with questionable character traits. The trend continues in the 2000s with only minimal change.
Here are just a few critical examples:
Poetic Justice in (1993)
Waiting to Exhale (1998)
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
Guess Who (2005)
Diary of A Mad Black Woman (2005)
The above films suggest that black women desire men with hypermasculine traits. The most troubling stereotype yet is: many of the women portrayed here extend the “angry black woman” aesthetic farther than before. Several questions arise: How can black women respect men better if their experiences did not reinforce healthy modeling of black men? If women are married to men who exhibit poor leadership , how can women effectively know their role in marriage? Finally, how does race shape the expectations of the “independent woman”?
Tim Alexander’s “Diary of a Tired Black Man” attempts a dialogue about the perception that all black men are worthless. It imagines a heterosexual black marriage on the verge of collapse. The man has known his wife for seven years. Four of these years were spent in marriage. They have one daughter. On the verge of separation, the father leaves the home to his wife. The woman isn’t working, and the man continues spousal support.
Do black women carry anger that has psychological, social, familial, and cultural ties?
Most often, the drama that shapes black women’s perception of black men starts in the family of origin. When black boys and girls see the strife in black marriages, they are fed a dynamic that shapes their relational views. Black men need strong, disciplined, faith-based, male figures to emulate. A proper male perspective cannot come from a primarily female example. Similarly, black women need older women to show them a disciplined, faith-based, female framework to emulate. A man cannot teach a woman everything about womanhood.
Culturally, hypersexuality plays a devastating role in men and women’s judgment. We may be attracted to someone on the surface only to discover that the person’s spirit is toxic to our continued growth. Control is often a prime motivation for relationship. Some men believe that if they are able to control their partners, the partners will stay in relationship.
Race also affects black love because some women might think black men who participate in inter-racial relationships are searching for the woman who is a pushover. Supposedly, black men fail at handling the aggressiveness of a “strong black woman”.
The definition of strength is questionable. Is strong black womanhood used as a weapon to wear black men down so they might leave. Is womanhood being used to emasculate the man so that he has no voice. If women are so “independent”? What role are men supposed to play?
The observers of this documentary offer a balanced opinion. Some women believed in shaming men to change. Others believed their anger is just apart of relationship and if men leave, they aren’t “STRONG ENOUGH”.
Some men urged women to seek help from mental health counselors, pastors, and such. They claimed: if men are to change, women must look in the mirror. There is also an implied cultural betrayal because black men who date mixed races are supposedly “anti-black”.
The documentary also highlights many common passive traits of angry women and men in relationship. This official selection of the African Diaspora Film Festival is a critical documentary for those who are ready to look critically and thoughtfully at the lack of black unity in American life. Maybe, one day black women and men can finally “exhale” together.