Along with the existing dominance of patriarchy, 500+ years ago the devastating systems of colonialism and slavery were introduced into Africa. These systems have changed the balance of relations in a way that we not only have not even figured out how to understand yet, but we have made only token progress in addressing. With all of this trauma, not only has the systemic oppression of women been institutionalized, but along with that, Africans have been dehumanized and the African family attacked and discredited. The focus of these attacks against the African family are not coming from the LGBTQ movement, as many of our confused people would have us believe, but from the same sources that have caused our problems for hundreds of years - the ruling classes within the capitalist/imperialist system.
Its important to restate that patriarchy didn't start with colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade in Africa, it was certainly already there, but it was further strengthened and institutionalized by colonialism and slavery. Today, those two elements are responsible for shaping the entire worldwide capitalist system. And, the fuel for that process is the continued theft of resources from Africa. The people who are benefiting from this system today - the capitalist classes - will never admit to all their death, destruction, and terror against us. So, to justify their savagery, they grafted the myth of white supremacy, and male supremacy. And, they have used all of the so-called educational, religious, and social institutions throughout the world to program those messages into the consciousness of the masses of humanity.
The results of their work today is that rich European capitalist men are on top of the world and African women all over the world are on the bottom. This is born out when you analyze data on physical health, mental health, stress, and quality of life. And, looking specifically at African people, the damage between men, women, and those within our people who don't identify with either gender, is absolutely devastating today. Most of our people don't have much understanding about any of the above. We don't understand how capitalism started, what it is, and how it has impacted us as a people. We don't know what matriarchy or patriarchy is. We don't even really understand white supremacy as a system and how it operates. We are unclear about how systemic oppression works. We, like most people trained by bourgeois institutions today, view oppression through individual lenses where actions are gauged subjectively and not systemically. That all brings us to today where African men are lost for the most part and our non-men partners in society are left struggling to survive under capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy (the triple oppression), mostly without our support and help. This has created some understandable frustration on the part of non-men Africans towards African men. And, since we as men are unable and/or unwilling to understand and accept the hierarchy of oppression against us as a people, we primarily react to the frustration of our women and non-men community with defensiveness and a doubling down of the savage behavior against them that this backward system has ingrained within us.
Just so its clear what I'm talking about here, I'll use myself as an example. I started out in this work in my teens and at that time, along with my commitment to African liberation came an equally strong commitment to African women e.g. being with them, supporting them, and sharing my life with them. Over the years, like most people, I've struggled to find my place at times within this system. I've gone through lots of things trying to figure out my place and my path. In the course of that journey, I survived two subsequent 10 year relationships with two African women over a 25 year period. Those relationships ended. Each of those women, like me, had a consciousness of our struggle as African people to regain our dignity against this system. So, we resolved our divorces without having to go to court each time while maintaining civility. In the case of my first wife, my daughter's mother, we were able to co-parent our daughter for all of her life and we continue to do that collectively in a socialist fashion today. I have always maintained a healthy and consistent relationship in my daughter's life and we continue to maintain a very close and positive relationship today.
Where I somewhat lost my way was in my personal and romantic relationships with African women. Somewhere along the way, in my own personal struggles, I developed the unhealthy mindset that I was deficient in ways that would make it impossible for me to have a successful relationship with an African woman. I lost my confidence in that area and I succumbed to the easy route of responding to those who made an effort to reach out to me. Often, those were not African women. I've met and shared life experiences with wonderful women during this period who were not African, but I always struggled. I had tremendous guilt, especially in the presence of African women. I told myself to move past it, and I still basically believe that people can fall in love with whomever they fall in love with, but every article, every statement, every element of frustration that African women expressed around this question, I paid extra close attention to. I heard them express their desire to support African men, despite our lack of support for them, and I'd seen them do that countless times, but I still struggled. During this period, I never saw myself as someone who didn't want to be with African women. I have always loved African women. Dark, light, long hair, short hair, natural hair, "permed" hair. I've always loved them, but I was lost. I heard my sisters when they said they didn't care if African men loved other women, but they wanted us to stop contributing to patriarchy's characterization of them as problem children. I write often and even in my novel series, where my primary characters are all women, including the European woman in my stories, I believe I took great pains to depict African women as her leaders. Still, I knew I was falling far short of where I needed to be. I saw myself as a part of the problem and that damaged my confidence even more. When it was clear that my last relationship with a non-African woman would not grow beyond the level it was at, which wasn't what either of us needed it to be (the conditions of this system made it impossible for it to be anything more), I told myself I wanted a sister next. I knew I needed to work to regain that confidence. A year ago, when I listened to a speech I gave in 1990, I was shocked at how much more confident I sounded then. Don't get me wrong. I have plenty of confidence today, but when I heard that speech I realized that what I didn't have today is the fusion of confidence and wisdom that all my years in this struggle should present. I knew the difference was I had a strong African wife then and I heard that in my voice in that speech. I've spent several years struggling and I found myself having done that for so long that I didn't know how I would find this African women. I rarely go to clubs and I had no desire to go. My weekends consisted of writing, biking, traveling. I'm focused on going to Africa as much as I can. I hadn't met any African women who seemed to have much interest in any of those things. I wasn't meeting anyone who generated any buzz within me. I told myself that my commitment to activism and Pan-Africanism, as opposed to focusing on buying a house, etc., made my chances slim at best. I remember telling myself that if I was going to ever meet her, I would need some help, but I had no idea how or if that would ever happen. Recently, that help did happen. An African woman who meets every category I could ever think of approached me! We already had a strong relationship on a political level, but never romantic. Now, we do, and it will get much, much, stronger and it will inspire many, many Africans. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have found exactly what I was looking for and what I needed.
The reason for going through my personal story is as African men, women, and non-men, I know I wasn't the beacon of determination I wanted to be, but what I've learned is we cannot give up on each other. A wonderful African woman, who like so many of them, has been repeatedly forsaken by African men, saw qualities in me that she felt deserved attention. She certainly had experienced much more trauma than I had, yet unlike me, she overcame it to approach me. I have to learn something from that in appreciating African women. We must maintain hope that we can find ways to be there for each other. Believe me, I may have needed that initial help, but I've got it from here forward. She will always know how appreciated and respected she is. She will receive boatloads of support. As men, we have to face our role in this trauma. I should have reached out to African women I knew when I veered sideways. I should have done a better job. I didn't, and I as a result, I permitted all that dysfunction to institutionalize itself within me. That wasn't fair to African women, or the other women I encountered, or to me. We as men have to own all of that and those of you who are engaging in abusive behavior against African women must cease and desist that behavior immediately. As men, we have an awful lot of work to do and now that I'm back on my personal horse, I plan to play my role in helping us grow and develop in that capacity. African women and non-men only need to do one thing in my humble opinion. Continue to do what you have always done. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, don't give up on us. Some of us are just lost right now, but we can be steered back home. Others of us need other types of help, but as difficult as it may be, try your best to avoid painting all of us with a broad stroke. That African man you see with a non-African woman doesn't have to be a committed traitor to our people. Certainly, us calling each other out is not an effective way to communicate over these issues. To the African women who are writing about this in balanced and truthful ways, we are out here and listening to you. I thank you for touching my soul. Since I'm not elitist, I know that if I can be touched, so can many of my brothers out here. Let's go and get them. I want to wage a cultural revolution for the hearts and minds of our people, and that process has to include a special focus on our African men. We are fighting against a worldwide system that controls every aspect of our lives. We cannot win this fight divided and fractured as a people. This work to bring us together is essential. If you are disparaging African women, LGBTQ Africans, poor Africans...If we are not creating space for African men and women to heal and reclaim ourselves. We cannot win this fight. There's a lot of confusion and silliness at work out here. My question is who can refute that there is very likely nothing else that requires more of our attention than this question.