Updated: Oct 18, 2021
So after talking to our guest, Mo, on the podcast episode "Black Men Abroad, Real Love?, I could not stop thinking about grievances he described, from some Black men abroad about why they will never date American Black women. I found myself defending American Black women, but then my mind would involuntarily float back to something I read in the book "Thanks for the Feedback", by Sheila Heen & Douglas Stone, about "identity triggers".
Listen to Episode 4
If identity is "the story we tell ourselves about who we are and what the future holds for us", then naturally anything that threatens that story - that sweet, sweet story of love, perseverance and grace-under-fire...that hero's journey of overcoming adversity to rise out of the ashes like a phoenix...a tale of triumph and beauty and strength and vulnerability and...well you get the picture - threats to the story as we know it, are threats to our very identity. And it is upsetting. So sometimes we lash out.
But might Black women have blind spots? The Heen & Stone book would tell us we might have collective "blind-spot amplifiers" that contribute to the gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us. So when, Mo, (Y&F podcast guest) tells The Side Chicks that "Yes, sometimes American Black women DO have bad attitudes.", Heen & Stone might encourage American Black women to get curious about that characterization and why it is a pervasive perception among Black men abroad. Ask more questions. Seek to understand. Even though we might not agree with negative characterizations, Heen & Stone might also tell American Black women to look for patterns or recurring themes over time or from various places. This might help uncover some of those blind spots.
Still - it is sort of a tough pill to swallow, hearing that a group of people (who happen to look like me) have written off people who look like me, because they believe people who look like me (and their mothers) are angry and have bad attitudes and wear hair weaves? Ouch! That is some bull. It is bull, and you know it! You have never even met me! And I am pretty sure Heen & Stone did not mean that individuals like me should take on the whole force of dumb-ass, unsubstantiated stereotypes or prejudgment. It is decisively not the same as feedback. I'd even say it does not apply to most of the American Black women that I know. ...there are a few, though, that are terribly ratchet...but never-the-less...MOST that I know are not.
So what do we do?
In the words of OG Maco, "Fuckemx3".