Real Friends

Friends… how many of us have them?

-Whodini “Friends”

This past Monday, Kanye West tweeted his mania and on Sunday he displayed it for everyone to see… moments of intense emotion, yelling, wild and disorganized thought, and then moments of just staring blankly while being spoken to during his rally in SC. I’ve seen people joke about it, and there is nothing remotely funny. I’ve also seen people mistake questions about his wife’s protection of him with calls for her to control him. Protection does not equal control.

No one is blaming Kim Kardashian for Kanye’s mental illness. He is responsible for seeking and following his treatment. However, to characterize questions about his wife’s whereabouts during his recent episodes as misogynistic… that’s a big nope. Her entire family has became more famous because he is present and such a polarizing figure. They crave the media and the media craves him. Match made in heaven. Today Kim Kardashian put out a statement asking for grace for Kanye and his loved ones living with his disorder… herself included. She too led with the premise that he cannot be forced to seek medical treatment. And while I understand that premise, that’s neither lost on me or some new information to me, it doesn’t negate her absence as his spouse. She has previously downplayed his disorder, tweeting “your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary. So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself.” His disorder is not a media ploy or a media toy. And it’s real AF!

Control and protection are two very different things. No adult is responsible for controlling another’s actions. But when I put myself in relationship with someone else, I should be expected to take on some responsibility to protect them, from others and themselves if necessary. There is NO way my dude’s episode of mania would be broadcast live… first, how he get outta the house to go do that shit, but beyond that everybody gotta get out! I’m buying all the cameras and the footage, fade to black, NOT on my watch. As wild and reckless as Kanye’s mouth is, he is still clearly suffering and in need of protection. Sadly his circle of protection is worthless.

To love someone is to provide the safest place possible for them in your presence.

A short story: Many moons ago, I was once in a relationship with a horrible person. I was living in Oklahoma, a few months before law school started, with him. He got worse when I got further away from my family and friends. I had shared some of behavior with my three closest friends. That very Friday, I got a call after work to pack a bag and come to a hotel by the airport, I thought, oh goody a surprise trip. The three of them lived in Detroit. One had a two month old. They were in Oklahoma, the weekend of my call, just RANDOM! It wasn’t a surprise vacation, it was a true labor of love. They basically told me I could come back with them or not but they had to show up… to let him know they could show up at any time. That’s protection. I only stayed long enough to sell everything including the bed and leave him in an empty apartment… I even gave away the food.

Dave Chappelle showed up to support Kanye in that way… he just showed up in the flesh. Sometimes a text or FaceTime don’t cut it. That kind of support is necessary when you aren’t sure of how to help yourself. He didn’t come to force him to do anything, but to stand in the gap. And the gaps are huge for Ye. Big King Kong gaps. Kanye’s family by marriage, his only family to speak of, was nowhere to be found during this moment that he became unhinged on camera. Yet they are at Sunday Service in the flesh. They are at the award shows in the flesh. He’s on their show. They are at the fashion shows. So they know how to be present when it matters to them. But they aren’t his real friends. He was having a whole presidential rally with a bad mic and no agenda or platform to speak of, DOLO! I’m not suggesting they force him to take meds or any such thing… Just protect him, in the flesh. That’s all.

Protection is not control, be clear. It is guarding, defending, and honoring. It is letting someone talking shit about your folks know that in your presence, that doesn’t fly. It’s keeping information that other people don’t need to know under wraps so your people aren’t charged with managing other folks emotions. Just like Kool and the Gang would have pulled the amp plug the first sign of water on the Titanic, everything is cancelled if my spouse is coming unhinged on something being nationally broadcast, forever archived to see. It’s buying all their masters as a gift. It’s the opposite of control, it’s freedom. When they aren’t able to control themselves or the narrative in a moment, it stands time still to allow them time to rewrite the script.

I blog about Kanye a lot. I am a fan and also I am concerned. Black Minds Matter. He is a musical genius fading into a meme and social media fodder because he lacks real support and protection. I’m not a Kardashian fan, but I believe her statement was typical of the type she makes to maintain her image, as genuine as she can likely be. I also believe the whole lot of them are bloodsuckers and you cannot tell me that they don’t prey on famous Black men and aid in the destruction of their character in the media, because they do. So they don’t know how to protect. Their own mother pimped her daughters sex tape into an 18 season show. She’s good… but not at protecting. He was doomed from the start of this episode.

Kanye has likely been bipolar…but the old Kanye had protection and support. The new Kanye is bipolar, off his meds, and on his own.

And that’s my opinion on that!

How many of us are real friends?

To real friends, to the real end

‘Til the wheels fall off, ’til the wheels don’t spin

To 3 A.M., callin’

How many real friends?

-Kanye West “Real Friends”

Defeminization

I love men… they get on my nerves, but I love them. Like many men are just in awe of the female spirit, form, and beauty… I love male energy. Hair on the face, muscles in the arms, verified members of the #strongbacksociety, and a lil bravado… a star is born! That masculinity, cloaked in strength and pride, is very easy to break with any feminine reference. If you have ever told a man he was acting like a girl, or worse called him a bitch, you’ve seen the cracks forming as he goes from 0-100 in defense of his manhood and rejection of any semblance of being similar to the softness of a woman he wants so much.

I was talking to a girlfriend and she noted that the break of the male ego, often termed emasculation, had no female counterpart. That no matter what was said to women, it wasn’t looked at as some attack on her womanhood. As if only fractured manhood was problematic.

It got me to thinking…

In that same conversation we discussed chivalry and the general belief that it stems from some patriarchal bullshit regarding a woman being ultimately weak and emotional. Based in feudalism and times when only white women were put on pedestals to keep their feet free from sharks in the life waters beneath… too soft and stupid to defend themselves… it doesn’t lend itself to every woman.

And it dawned on me: the same way the threat against white male supremacy is often juxtaposed against the men they seek to claim are not real patriarchs (black men, poor white men, and the male allies of women), the threat of emasculation is often only socially claimed by men against the very women they seek to claim are less than women… feminists and women of color.

There is a reason why women of color and feminists tend to reject chivalric code… it was generally never meant for us! And our independence, strong sense of self, and rise against the patriarchy is a threat to their manhood. It is only upon our subjugation that their manhood is built.

Defeminization is historic.

It’s the reason slave women were relegated to objects of work. Even when white men desired slave women sexually, they claimed it as simply adding to the slave population. It’s the reason Black women’s bodies were put on display. It’s the reason why white abolitionists such as Susan B Anthony, Sarah Grimké, and Lucretia Mott were never married. Other famous abolitionists women Angelina Grimké, Elizabeth Candy Stanton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe were married to fellow abolitionists and preachers. White businessmen who profited from slavery would never have married them. These women weren’t seen as delicate and feminine, as Sojourner Truth, stated:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? 

More modern day feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Angela Davis, and even Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama were criticized for their looks, compared aesthetically to animals, and despite how attractive they may have been to many, likened to men to somehow twist their powerful and on point messages to male bashing.

Yet it doesn’t end with feminists.

No group of women has been as defeminized than Black women, to the point where many of us don’t feel deserving of the care and protection that a man is biblically called upon to show us. Through the systematic emasculation of our men, we have become the workers of our communities: the teachers, the doctors, the parents, the providers. It becomes difficult to nurture ourselves and allow ourselves to be nurtured. While our men were tilling fields day in and out, we worked, with a baby latched on one hip and one breast, pulling off cotton with one hand and snapping beans into a basket near our feet with the other. When our men were being laid off of industrial jobs, we got jobs and came home with broken nails and corns. While they were filling up prisons, we took care of whole houses ourselves. As they are being gunned down, we mourn them one day and return to a life of toil the next. There’s a whole argument about Black women getting Father’s Day cards… it’s real!

Most of us don’t recognize chivalry, we aren’t totally familiar with it, and we don’t want it encroaching on our independence. Many women reject a man’s coat over the puddle because she isn’t and has no desire to be treated like a dainty porcelain figurine. Hell, we don’t even have that shit as tchotchkes in our house. We work hard at being dope AF… and there is nothing weak about that. But weakness as femininity is a fallacy. Being a woman, is not just one thing, it is as diverse as we are. Tall, short, Amazonian or petite, straight or queer, thin or plus, creative, nerdy, intellectual, goth, bohemian, witty, blond, blond or brunette, girly or androgynous, modern or traditional. All of it beautiful and phenomenal!

Those of us on the short end of defeminization must remember that all men are not white supremacists. All men don’t seek to control women. Some men appreciate our strength and independence, and most men recognize our beauty and power. Despite women of color being seen as too strong, too loud, and too everything and feminists being seen as hairy, braless, men haters, there is someone who wants to give us the space and place to be just who we are, a woman. That isn’t a bad thing!

I have come to accept and appreciate it, because after all…

To my sista … allow him to treat you with all of the tenderness that he can muster, love and honor you as his check mate, the Queen, and to protect you like a lion, the King.