Colonial oppression e.g. the institutionalization of the system of white supremacy, has impacted how we see African women. It has trained everyone on Earth to devalue them. It has created these same dysfunctions in how we as African men see ourselves. It has made us as men see our African women and non-men as threats and competition to us. Its far past time that we acknowledge and recognize this so that we can deconstruct and reconstruct the damage to our relationships. If we don't revive and respect the condition of all non-men within the African nation, I'm telling you right now that we as a people will never taste the nectar of freedom and liberation.
This colonial thinking has impacted me in very serious and subtle ways. After having unsuccessful, but generally healthy long term relationships with African women, I found myself in a completely different place 10 years ago. The battles of self worth that every colonized person struggles against became much harder for me to overcome. And when I started to experience severe personal challenges on a financial level e.g. losing my job and much more, in 2010, my grip on reality, and especially my sense of who I am, I discovered that I had serious trauma with an inability to pick myself up. Previous to that period, whatever challenges I had faced, I was able to mow right through them, but suddenly, that was not my reality. In fact, things piled up. I lost virtually everything I had and my strong sense of self, my solid self confidence, began to waver at first before eventually being seriously shaken.
I spent the next couple of years piecing things back together. I had success, but one area I really struggled was in pursuing a relationship with an African woman. I dated a few African women who had advanced education, but none of them were that interested in my radical politics and my lifestyle of revolutionary struggle and organizing as a priority. I realize now that I coped out during that period. I allowed myself to believe I would not ever be attractive to the type of African woman I desired, so I stopped pursuing them. I went through a period of dating whomever. I met some wonderful people during that time and I also encountered some serious Beckys. I struggled mightily. I was super sensitive to the criticisms I heard, real and/or imagined, from African women. I wanted to tell them that I was not that man they talked about who only wanted European women. I was not that man who hated African women. I loved African women! I just didn't know how to deal with where I was in my life at that time. I had an advanced degree. Many years of strong activism. I had positively impacted countless people's lives. I'd written and published books. Been a sought after lecturer. Mentored dozens of youth. Traveled the world. People always told me I was attractive, but I still didn't believe any of it. To me, I was just a guy who just didn't have any game. At least not the right type of game. I was dejected, but I tried to make the most of it.
When I moved back to California in 2017, I thought about this everyday. I would often see African women and imagine if they were my woman. I dared not ever say anything to any of them though. The possibility of rejection was too strong. I couldn't handle it. I lived in the paradox of being self conscious about not having the African woman I wanted while being terrified of trying to get her. I tried to reconcile with the situations I found myself in, but that usually meant other women who never quite wanted to connect with me either. Maybe because they sensed my dilemma? Maybe they knew my mind and heart was pointed in a different direction? Regardless, those experiences only served to further reinforce my lack of confidence. Depression.
I spent several months just basically being by myself. Trying to think through how I went from a strong and confident freedom fighter to a guy who struggled to feel like I had any worth at all. I decided that the man who had overcome all the challenges I had come through was still here. Even if no one else ever noticed me or wanted to talk to me, I was still me. I decided I was again going to believe in myself. I resisted the urge to internet date or do anything to "force" the issue. I felt that I should respect myself and in doing so, I would be in the position to respect whatever healthy situation that would be in store for me.
I wondered though, but I tried to stay true to my principles. And, it wasn't until several months ago that something wonderful happened to me. The absolute African woman of my absolute dreams, someone I'd known for years. Someone I had a strong working relationship with (who in my present state of mind completely terrified me beyond our political work together) approached me. This was someone I had spent significant time together - one on one - in Africa. In one visit to Africa, we were even mistakenly placed in the same room. We handled it professionally, but I sure did think about her every second we were in that room together, but in my lost state, I was never going to say or do anything. Plus, I never wanted to be that man who made moves on the women in our political organization. At least that's what I always told myself when I was with this beautiful woman. I know now that the truth was I was convinced she would never be interested in me. I wasn't worthy. Well, a few months ago she shocked me out of my shoes by asking me spur of the moment if I would ever consider being with her? I realize now that I was in such a damaged state that even though she asked me if she could ride with me that day, and she asked me if she could ask me a question about dating, until she asked me the actual question, I was convinced she was just asking me about her dating someone else. I have always loved this woman so if that would have happened, I would have advised her as best I could and then I would have mourned it afterward. Sad, I know.
Today, I am so so happy she asked me that question that day. She is the answer to my dreams. And, just to clarify for anyone thinking this is all some sort of "game" talking, I only needed her to take that initial step. It was like the spell that had dominated me for years was suddenly broken. The intellectual, spiritual, and physical African woman of all my dreams was mine and since that first day I have taken the baton to the best of my ability to honor her and make her happy because she makes me oh so happy. She does because she understands me for who I am. She honors my strengths and really, truly, accepts my weaknesses. My soft tendon has always been feeling like I'm never good enough. I've fought hard against this one since I was a little boy, but its still a major struggle I have to fight through. She recognizes that and gives me space to continue fighting against it. I love her for that. I worship the ground she walks on for giving me that gift.
As I said, I'm far from perfect. Patriarchy is a beast and we have been challenged while dealing with it here in Africa, but I will keep swinging in the right direction. Before that wonderful day several months ago I had built myself back up to the point where I felt stronger, but now with her by my side, I know we are invincible. By that I mean this system that causes us all this pain and trauma will never be strong enough to stop us. I know I can never let it be strong enough to stop me again.
I have a great deal of work I need to do in this world and I'm going to do it. She has her contribution and she's going to make it. I'm going to support her in making it to the best of my ability and I know I have some abilities. We have a lot of good work we are going to do together. African men, don't give up on yourselves to find that wonderful African woman, but you have to do the work on yourself. Had I been in the same place I was in 8 years ago, I would never have been in the position or the condition to be what this angel wanted. I had to realize my value and once I did that, now I am able to project how good we will be. I haven't felt this way in a long time people. This is the beauty of having that person who will stand with you and meet any challenge together. There's nothing like it and there's no one on Earth who is better qualified to play that role than our African women. We have lots of work to do to earn our place with them, but once we do, there's really nothing better on the planet Earth. That's the place we as men need to get to and Lord knows that African women deserve nothing less.