Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
It just happened; as of a few minutes ago, I just turned another year older. One more year to go before the Big Fifty, and I'm looking forward to the adventures ahead.
Thanks to all the 'fans' and lurkers for your encouragement and support. Hopefully there will be better news later in the year, but we shall see.
Going to enjoy this big day the right way!
I’ve heard so many comments from Black women telling black men what they want and need, I believe it’s time to switch it around and reveal the other side.
Ladies, we appreciate all you’ve done and will continue to do for us. For the men who truly understand, we appreciate and admire you carry life for nine months and as part of your nature, continue to care for that child until he or she is full-grown. We cannot share the pain you experience at birth nor will we discover the true bond between you and the new human being that emerged from your motherly womb.
But what we can do is ease your burden by being there for that child. Sadly, a great majority of us haven’t accepted that responsibility and we should. We should realize the same baby you held in your arms squealing for all to see is our creation too. Because of our arrogance and ignorance, we need to remember that fact.
However, we notice the men who have wronged you in the past, taking advantage of you breaking down your defenses by making you believe you finally discovered Prince Charming, was in fact an impostor and ruined the chances of good men everywhere to eventually get to know you and be closer with you. Because of these impostors, these good men were cheated out of their dream of sharing a life that could have been the greatest you two ever shared, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Ladies, we black men know what it means for you to work at a job many hours during the day with the responsibilities at home. Therefore, we find it offensive that although we may not possess the salary you do, to deny us the opportunity of knowing you based on our lack of height, educational degree, or social status. Although we did not create the standards on which you judge us by, it is nevertheless disappointing when the words of ‘there are no good men out there’ are said over and over again and we vainly defend ourselves into assuring you there are. Still, the good man who may not be six feet tall nor obtained an M.A., much less a B.A., but tends to his children, attends church, seeking to grow closer to the Lord who will never reject him, while you reject a good man based on a standard…is why we go to our own private rooms and weep.
The truth is, good men cannot approach you because we’re afraid you may reject us. Yes, in spite of all our attitude and braggadocios, we’re still frightened that you will spurn our advances, leaving us no choice but to continue the prideful roles we’re accustomed to playing. We hear how much you love the ‘bad boys’, so we act that way. We believe it’s what you want. We read many attributes you look for men whether it be physical, mental or spiritual and we work towards that end within our own personalities to be that man whom you seek, but we do not own the dual nature you ladies are adapt at due to your inner core. We become different individuals trying to reach the same romantic level with you and yes, while there are many wolves who also use the same strategies in getting what they want, we men only hope you see the attempt, and take it further.
We Black men have a long and proud history. We shake our heads when we’re compared to a pile of feces, an animal or any word that describes your past with a man who accurately fits those categories. For the rest of us, we hurt because we know we’re greater than that. We don’t have to sag our pants or speak slang as part of our vocabulary to get your attention. Once upon a time, we used to be gentlemen and can be again if you understand we also have our limits with silly women who are the reverse of the less than flattering names you use for men who’ve let you down.
In a manner of speaking, it goes both ways.
We men are not perfect, never will be. Our Lord walked the earth and was challenged by every turn by those who didn’t believe, constantly doubting. We know because we are not as perfect as He, we will have our faults. We will cause you to be upset, disappoint you, but judge us by our actions over time. Judge us by how much we love you and need you in our lives. Of course, there are men who seek mates of other races and creeds, but for the rest who yearn the touch of a black woman, do not deny us that right. Don’t turn us away.
We love you Black women. All we’ve ever asked is for you to love us in return.
That’s all we ever needed to begin with.
Note: written on May 22, 2009
In The Depths of My Soul: Poems From The Heart of a Man, I have two poems that would be securitized, dissected and rejected by our society today: I Am A Man and A Message to Black Women. Deep within the archives section, you see the reactions of women in multiple chat rooms who when A Message to Black Women was presented, gave their notes of appreciation and thanks that finally a man, a Black man was finally able to articulate the challenges of both our sexes. I had no problem writing the poem, and gladly stand by my words. However, in both poems there are passages within them that speak to issues that affected our community. Ten years ago in 2005, they wouldn’t be a problem but in 2015, an issue and perhaps a demand for them to be removed.
I think I speak for writers who have written conscious, critical work and had to face backlash from individuals in society who may not agree with certain lines relating to panty hose or a king announcing he prefers another gender over a queen. I have members in my own family who would take me to task over those lines written over a decade ago or would promptly disown me without a thought. However, in previous posts, I shared my thoughts on what a writer should do and now I want to share more of them with you.
If as a writer I am ‘handcuffed’ and not allowed to speak my mind on certain issues of the day affecting our Black community, then where is the freedom we often talk about? Critics have the privilege to disagree with any poem, line or development of the pieces I create. Of course, as that poet I have the right to agree or disagree with that criticism and either move ahead with the poems I plan to write anyway or take that advice and reconsider what I wrote. I hate that in this 21st Century where the word ‘freedom’ is thrown about, I find I have to be forced to tiptoe around feet instead of stepping on toes to make people think and provoke real change. I was told over thirty years ago when I started writing poetry, or warned, that people don’t like to think. Without realizing it at the time, I have seen examples in media and in my personal life where people are not thinking critically like they should or if they are, it’s over unsubstantiated topics.
There is a real desire for good stories, for conscious meat in our community, but the larger dominant society won’t allow poets, writers or even men and women with intelligence (without a doctorate) to speak their minds without backlash or outright expulsion from society. A writer, poet and critical thinker must always take that chance, always seek to challenge each other. Our society is too passive, too lax in not permitting even another point of view to be examined. This has to stop and allow ourselves to see that other side.
As writers and poets, we have to be willing to accept whatever consequences come our way. Writing for the sake of ‘getting along’ or hiding the truth will always set us back - no matter what the age.