I recently started spending time with a black man. He is the first male I’ve liked, kissed or wanted to get to know in two and a half years. Let’s call him “95% Cacao” (God knows I like my chocolate dark and just a smidge processed- I don’t know what that last part means, just go with it). He’s part of the West African Diaspora. It’s important for me to mention that for anyone who doesn’t belong to a Diaspora, and might not understand what it’s like moving away from your country of origin as an infant or young child. Growing up and studying in different countries until you are an adult in your early twenties, you suddenly realize you disinherited your place of origin through exposure to contrastingly different societies and cultures. Identity crisis has managed to eclipse all understanding of what you are. None of your best friends live where you do, none of the people you considered family in your childhood are around, and it’s back to square one; an outsider trying to make sense of life in a seemingly impenetrable existence of opposites and contradictions. So two and half years in, it’s nice to meet someone who can relate to it. The familiarity of his lost accent, the content of his language, our similar desires for a much more progressive Africa, and furthermore our desire to contribute to her development- everything about this man made me feel safe. Most importantly though, I must admit, the fact that he is black gave me a real hope that something good could happen between us.
You see all of my living heroes are black men. Bryan Stevenson and Barrack Obama. It amazes me to think that from such compromised heritage and struggle, people of color have sourced a resilience that has refused to submit to extinction or mediocrity, and in some cases, unselfishly fought to oppose the level of inequality hindering the development of persons within the black community. As a black woman I am not incapable or incapacitated because of my color, and yet so often in my growth I have encountered people who view it as a handicap, resigning my worth to nothing more than another living, breathing thing. For me it is simpler to rationalise the ignorance of others, but I have always expected the empathy and encouragement of black men, perhaps more so because I was raised by one. I never thought I would be in the position where I would have to say these very words to another black man, but this week I sadly did.
95% Cacao had cancelled longstanding plans we’d made in a text message late the night before. No phone call earlier in the week, day or evening, no adequate explanation, just a crappy can we reschedule cause I wanna do something else tomorrow. A few weeks prior to this, I made him dinner and took it to his apartment (which was a date we planned as well- I’m no Stepford Wife) where we watched a movie and spent some time together, only to not get a phone call or so much as a text the next day to say thank you for dinner and for bringing it over. I mean, I THREW DOWN for that negro in the kitchen… SPICE LIFE MY DUDE, SPICE LIFE!
At this point, it’s important you know that I’m abstinent. I made it clear the first day we met. I have always made it clear to men I’m interested in because you know what- trousers down, top off there are not too many places to go from there, and no one wants a nasty surprise. My man 95% C told me he was fine with it, he said:
“I could date a woman who’s abstinent.”
Now, I’m no innocent-miss-muffet. I’ll play with some damn spiders even when I know there’s risk of poison, and quite frankly times have changed- women’s panties are not trouser-length anymore, you take one item of clothing off and it’s Naked City. I mean, you really gotta be careful out there. I’m not saying I did anything reprehensible, but I’m sure as hell not holier-than-thou. Point is, 95% Cacao said he could handle it and I don’t think he could. I think he wanted from me the thing many other women hadn’t denied him, and when he realized I wasn’t going to break, suddenly I’d gone from a prospect to too easily replaceable. He’s at least two years older, and I was hoping mature and ready for something real, but alas he’s not a man yet. Mid-to-late twenties and I don’t think he knows that sex does not make love. I don’t think he’s learned that many black women, having been judged either by the way we look; our verbal resistance to stereotype; or for the tears we weep over a reckoning with abandonment from the very men we hope to appeal most to, crave substance. Someone who will wait because he sees her worth.
I would be remiss to say, I was not wrong to let him treat me the way he did and still hang on to hope that something good would come of it. I was wrong to cater to him before I’d earned his respect. I was wrong to decide who he is before I’d gotten to know him better. For this I take full responsibility. I got hurt and I feel disrespected- I guess these are the consequences I must embrace. I only wish he was man enough to sincerely apologise too, instead of offering the half-assed response to my saying, in summary, that I wasn’t interested in being a monkey in his circus.
I acknowledge, after some reflection, that I must earn the effort I want a man to make, and so while I am not even a little ready for marriage (I have like a hundred personal prerequisites), I do plan on making sure when I am, I’m worthy too.
As for 95% Cacao, I’m just disappointed that neither one of us seemed to rise to the occasion and earn each other.
PS: Suffice to say, part of me is still kind of hoping his childhood tree-house is accidentally set on fire by a smoking drunkard passing-by, destroying all of his memories of youth and innocence, causing him to reflect on his bad decision-making and general dickishness. But that’s just a very small part of me, the rest is mostly sad.