She was hella pretty so I told her. I wasn’t trying to harass her or make her feel less than what she is. I didn’t want her phone number and I didn’t want to send her pictures of me aroused in her DM’s. I didn’t want to marry her or one day take her home to my mother either. My statement was not a declaration of the ability of my gaze to validate her beauty because she would have been beautiful whether I told her or not. I was just a black man telling a black woman that she was pretty. I felt like she needed to hear it from me. I felt like I needed to tell her that and she needed to know that I was being sincere. I don’t think she felt that way. I think her day would have gone much better if I would have kept my comment to myself. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye as she walked in the opposite direction and said nothing, and what she said to me is exactly how she made me feel. Somehow I wanted to express to her in a three word ebonical phrase that I had suffered right alongside her and I still faced just as much resistance as she did and yet somehow we both were shinning and she was shining even brighter than me and that I acknowledged this fact, I appreciated her, I honored her, and I never gave up on her. But it didn’t go down that way.
Curse my arrogance for thinking that a complete stranger was obligated to respond to my compliment. Curse my sensitivity for being hurt when she didn’t. Curse my brooding ways for thinking that this non-exchange sums up the greatest problem facing black people in America right now, and that is the tragic hostility that drives the black man and the black woman to hate each other. I love that woman but I fear that all she saw in me was a man that had the power to hurt her. Or maybe she saw a man that was beneath her, or maybe…maybe nothing. Maybe I’m just thinking too hard but I doubt it.
February 28, 2012
Last night I was helping my daughter with her homework. It was a writing assignment in which she had to describe the appearance of her room. After reviewing the rough draft I told her to tell her reader where exactly the things in her room are located instead of just saying they are in her room. For example; Instead of saying you have a map of the world in your room say that you have a map of the world hanging on the wall above your bed. She took my advice and wrote what I thought to be a stellar piece. That was yesterday, today I had to give her back.
Specificity is the focus on small things, the ability to pay attention to details that the average person may not notice in order to positively affect the story at large. I only have about two days a week to spend with my child and I spend a significant portion of that time at work. I know that I am positively affecting her life. I know that I am going against the odds as a black man who chooses to handle responsibility and be a father. Yeah I know all of that stuff. I hear it all the time and that’s great. But it’s hard to feel like a father when the court gives you no more that 48 hours to be a parent. It’s hard to adjust to not having any real say in her life outside of what I say in those two days when I’m with her. It’s hard to not feel depressed every week when I kiss her goodbye and she goes to her real home.
Some men can’t deal with the trauma of having their parenting rights dictated to them and honestly I can’t blame them. I can’t say I never thought about checking out of the situation. It’s strange because everyone wants to judge absentee fathers but no one really wants to understand them. I mean how cruel does a system have to be in order to make a man want to leave his children? How is it that fatherhood has become so dispensable in the court of law? I don’t know. I try not to think about it. All I try to do is make my two days count.