I randomly came across this video while trolling facebook out of sheer boredom so no, I wasn’t searching for it neither was I looking out for it when I stumbled upon it and IT found me. I say it found me because I woke up this morning in a helluva funk and I was being a little extra hard on myself than I usually am about my commitment, or lack thereof, to my writing. I was interrogating myself about why I haven’t written anything just this morning and my response to that was “because I don’t have anything I want to say” which in itself was a lie because there are a lot of things I want to say to a lot of people but I will not allow myself to do so right now. Then I saw this video clip and I was moved by this man. Moved by a man I had never heard of until today and will never ever meet in my life to say something. Also, writing a blog post on this, right now, at this very moment helps me to justify (to myself) why I am crying in the office, albeit no tears are being shed but I am practically sobbing nonetheless. *Crying on the inside when you don’t have the luxury to be in a (concealed, bolted and secure) private space is a skill I mustered and perfected many, many years ago*
In a way I guess I am also a victim and subsequent perpetrator of the same nonsensical filth that is regimentally administered to men, and in particular, Afrikan men, from a young age and that is crying is a sign of weakness so I kind of get it. Our Afrikan brothers are told it’s not OK for a man to cry and our Afrikan sisters are taught the same thing: “it’s not OK for a man to cry”. Today though, people are going back to the basics and the message is changing and it is “real men do cry” but after generations of both brown women and brown men being oppressed by the system of patriarchy as well as that of colonial and racial oppression it is that much harder for us (Afrikans) to unlearn the falsehoods that were taught to us for so long and relearn the truth: “real men do cry”.
However, just because it is harder it doesn’t mean it is impossible because it’s not. It is happening. We are relearning our (real) old truths and it is starting to show little by little in little spaces, nooks and crannies in our communities. Our men our unlearning the lies and becoming real men and Anthony Griffith is one such real man. It is time we also start doing the same as Afrikan women. We are more accepting of non – Afrikan men crying and perhaps even yearn for these “sensitive guys” but most of us will neither accept nor love Afrikan men who do cry. In the fight for gender equality on the continent, the Afrikan man is positioned as an enemy, a perpetrator of oppressive systems towards women and yet we don’t stop as women to evaluate ourselves and see how much we are also perpetuating the oppression of the Afrikan man, not by the systems of capitalism or (neo)colonialism mind you, but by the same patriarchy that oppresses us.
I am not a man so I will never know what it is like to be a man and I wont pretend to know, but I am a woman who can understand how hard it must be to always have to be “strong” and this is because I am also an accidental victim of the same lie. I also partook of the “crying is a sign of weakness” toxic venom that was administered to us as a people and so I know how excruciating it is to pretend your feelings don’t exist or pretend to be handling a loss well when inside your whole world is crumbling. When inside you feel like someone is knocking the wind out of you, repeatedly, every 30secs. Inside, you wish you had a knife in your hand so you could cut out your heart just to ease the growing physical pain swelling up inside your chest. Inside, you are wailing so loud you feel as though your eardrums are going burst. Inside, you can’t feel your legs or your arms and it feels as though someone has just emptied a whole box of pins into eyes and they’re pressing their hand over your eyelids. I know, at the very least, what that feels like and whether we admit it or not, everyone, male or female, feels – well except psychopaths (male or female), it gets a little grey there. Losing someone or something you love with your whole being is not something that is easier on men than it is on women so why should experiencing that grief be made easier for women than it is for men?
As an Afrikan woman I have experienced different kinds of feminism as part of my journey into womanhood. I have been on many paths of my journey and have wound up in different places of feminism. I have moved from a place where I despised all men, detoured through a place where I despised just Afrikan men and over the last year or so, I now happily find myself in a place where I love (real) men, regardless of what race they are. Real men like Anthony Griffith and many others who, amongst other things, can be real in spite of the fact that everything he has been taught, everything he knows, everything he has ever known tells him that is not how a man should be behave, least of all a “black” man. If men can allow themselves to be real to themselves and debunk such seemingly “minor” falsehoods like “real men don’t cry”, I believe it will go a long way in helping them to re-embrace other realities about themselves such as their true love, respect, admiration, adoration and veneration of the woman.
© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2012