I Don’t Need a Man?

So the other day, I was building with this brotha about relationships. He said he encountered time and again sistas saying that they don’t need a man. He went on to say that a lot of brothas are really put off by black women who go around screaming out this mantra, “I DON’T NEED A MAN!” Black women frequently put it in their profiles in online dating sites even. My mom’s single friends say it all the time, “I can do bad by myself, I don’t need a man.” The brotha bascially said, black men don’t want to hear “I don’t need you.”

I thought about the “I don’t need a man” theme and the brothas’ reaction to it. I replied, “Perhaps these sistas are tryna show they are independent.” (Destiny’s Child song theme song played in my mind’s soundtrack at the exact moment.) I myself heard a lot of brothas say that they like independent women. I was thinking maybe all these women can’t be salty. I dunno, I think 90% are salty 10% are trying to show that self reliance is positive thing. We then talked about how men want to be needed. I said that most men do not want a woman who is dependent upon them. We’re living in an entirely different time when gender roles are shifting, but women are stuck in a quagmire.

Say for instance, if I truly need you…then I am dependent upon you for my livelihood, my sustenance, my shelter, etc… Housewives are so out of style right now. I’m sure I’d scare a bunch of brothas off if I said “All I want to do is have babies, bake pies, and clean house.” But on the best case scenario, I need you once we have reached a level of commitment and partnership. Nobody wants to start out dating with a sistas asking for a joint bank account. If we are just dating and getting to know each other, it is highly likely that I don’t need you. I’ve got here so far without having you as an integral part of my life.

This sort of gets me thinking…This weekend, my roommate and I moved. We had two days to get everything together. Not one of the brothas offered to help. My girls came through and we made it happen. Friday night, we all hung, packed, watched movies, laughed, talked about serious issues. Saturday, two of my girls came with their big trucks and we packed, lifted, pulled, pushed, and cleared out our old apartment. Sunday, we tied up lose ends, relocated to our new pad. It was definitely about some estrogen enhanced power. And last night, my roommate and I bought, hauled, and assembled our furniture. I was building with this brotha at the tale end of the job. And he said even though not one man stepped up to help out, they’d be real quick to come over when the job was done. Yeah, our spot is about to be real nice…

I remember I had some friends who would get guys to do a lot of stuff for them. Men would come over to fix this, move that, buy this, toss that. You know, “the handy man can.” Not that I’m patting myself on the back. I’m just pointing out an example of not needing a man to make things happen. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have been nice to have some help. That stuff was heavy, for reals. But the world didn’t stop because men were scarce. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have wanted some brothas to help us out. It would have been nice to know that they were thinking about us struggling with our heavy load. My back hurts right now from lifting stuff. sigh…

I saw how my mother had to do so much by herself. So I didn’t have to hear no mantra about not needing a man. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want one. On the other hand, I sort of know what the brotha was talking the knee jerk reaction when you hear that phrase. Some men don’t want to feel like they need a woman at all. So, they do everything to create walls in order to not develop intimacy. They tell themselves, “I got my boys, I don’t need a woman.” But some women have just as much to offer as the homeboys. TI myself like to feel like I’m needed. And I’m not talking about cooking or ironing clothes. I’m talking about insight, advice, solace, and real assistance whenever there is a struggled. But then again, I don’t want a helpless man who can’t make decisions on his own. But then again, I don’t think anybody really needs me (well, I don’t have any dependents just yet). Instead, I want my contribution to be appreciated. The same, I hope someone can contribute to my life.

Do I need you? No, I want you but at this stage I’m not ready to rely upon you. Because I do not rely on you, a toxic relationship is even more detrimental. A bad relationship has few redeeming qualities. Especially if you have not helped me in any way. This is why my tolerance for nonsense is very low. But because I do not rely upon you, your contribution is even more appreciated. I see you as an enhancement to my life. Because I want you, desiring you is more stuff of dreams and hopes. I find that more magical….


Okay, before I forgot… I have another random rant about Sunday.

So, this young brotha came up to me. He was like, “What country are you from?”
I was like, “Huh?”
He said, “Where are you from?”
I said, “I’m from here.”
He said, “You have that exotic look.You look like you’re from Trinidad or something you got that curly hair.”
I was like, “No I’m American.”
“Are you mixed with something?”
Mind whirling wondering if I should rattle off a catalog of my family tree. But my sense coming to me, I said, “No, I’m Black.”
He said, “Just regular Black?…Well you have that good hair.”
I said, “There’s no such thing as good hair.” And shook my head. I couldn’t school this brotha on how ridiculous that whole exchange was.

I’m sure if I told the brotha I was from the Islands that would have made me ten times finer. Oh, better yet let’s say Brazil. I bet if I started speaking Spanish and called him papi it would have upped my sexy. Hmmm, what if I said I was mixed. Would that increase my premium? Naw folks I’m claimin regular ole Negro/Black/African American. This raises the question: What does it mean to be black in America? What does a black woman look like? Last time I checked she came in all shades from porcelein white to ebony black with all hair textures and lengths, and eye color from blue to black. Why is it that anyone who falls outside of some phenotypical norm must be from somewhere else. I know it is nearly 4 am in the morning. But Black people, wake up!! And everyone else too Dammit.

It’s Real Dammit

My mind is sorta fried after a marathon writing and revising session. Still have a ton of data to add to my research, but it is coming along. So, I decided I’m going to write about some superficial stuff, but it has been on my mind.

I posted a picture on facebook showing a look I used to have. I was going through this phase, listening to lots of electronica, feeling all alternative. I was also bored with my hair which at the time I wore straight more often than curly and decided to go with bangs. Being that I’m obsessed with eyebrows, I couldn’t bring myself to cover them with bangs so I went with short bangs. The first day at work, they looked strange. But my co-worker who was a washed up musician in an Ohio industrial band (He even went on a double date with Trent Resnor to a Prince concert. How cool is that) sorta peeped the look and was like, “Hey that’s a cool Betty Paige Look.” But it wasn’t banging, so I went back and cut them shorter till I achieved this ultra cool retro look. Black people didn’t get it, but a lot of other people liked it. But having short bangs was annoying when I wanted to go natural. I had to wear a head band.

So, I posted this pic with my Betty paige bangs from when I was an undergrad. And at this gathering, my home boy was like, “I have a question, in that pic with the Betty Paige bangs was that a wig?” This was suprising coming from him. One time at this BBQ, another brotha who was staring at my big hair asked me if it was real. And my home boy was like, “Of course its real.” But this time with the bangs, he was like, it doesn’t look real.

Since I was in junior high, I’ve had a lot of negative attention about my hair. When I graduated, I was teased as I walked the stage. They were like, “BUSH! Busshhhhhhhhhh” I remember going to a track meet during my freshman year, the two rival schools with the biggest track teams, and a chorus of guys began singing, “Ewwwwwww is it really your hair? Is it really a weave? Is it really your hair?” Hair? Weave? Hair? Weave?” Do you remember that song? Anyways, it was totally humiliating, because I tried to do everything to make my hair look more real. I eventually cut off almost all of my hair. But as it grew out, it just looked like a mop. It just sorta looked like a short wig. Oh well.

A few years later when it had all grown back, I had some girls who had beef with me say, “She thinks she’s all that because she has all that hair.” Some girls tried to jump my best friend and cut off all her hair. Its crazy like that sometimes.

When I wore my hair natural, people thought I had a Jerri curl. I went back to straight because the curl wasn’t crackin then. When I had my hair staight other females would go up to my friends and ask them what was up with my wig. Some people said because it wasn’t straight straight, like bone straight that it looked fake. So, I would spend hours flat ironing my hair to make it thinner, smoother, less rattier looking. I became obsessive about my hair being bone straight.

One day, I realized how ridiculous it was. I was in a period of transition and knew I wanted to practice Islam. People saw me go through this transition. And some brotha said, “No, don’t cover your hair you are the only black girl that has long hair!!” Of course, I thought that was crazy and I had friends who had big heads of hair to hold it down for the sistas. Me, I was committed to the cause. No more questions about fake hair for the 5 years that I covered.

So five years later, when I decided to uncover my hair was like waist length. So, I was kinda freaked out. And I wasn’t really used to lots of male attention, so that was extra wierd. Within a few months, the questions came again. Somebody said the other day that any black woman who has long hair is suspect. Ain’t that something? I’m not knockin sistas for rockin weaves. White girls do it too, they just aren’t suspected as much as sistas. But on the subject of realness, I have had a number of things questioned. Things that are me, but people tend to call into question.

Are those your real nails?
Is that all your hair?
Are those your boobs or did you get a boob job?
And couple of times, people asked me if I had contacts because my eyes are brown and not black.

I have had people comment on my nails and say that I am vain. People comment on my display of gratuitious cleavage. People, i can’t wear half tank tops, blouses, and tops in stores because I’ll look like a stripper. But I’m not going to hide them by appearing overweight. This is my hair my crazy hair that sheds all over the place. NO, it’s not a french manicure, but the way my nails just grow. So don’t try to lecture me about nail polish and wudu. My great grandmother was a wet nurse and these mammary glands are inherited. I don’t feel like I need to be self conscious about what was given natural. It just bothers me when I have to constantly justify just being the way I am.

And if people can look through the superficial things that have come into question, they’ll see me: Just me…trying to be real, trying to enjoy being real.

Khabr Aswad

Khabr Aswad- Black News
Current mood: chipper
Category: Writing and Poetry

I carry with me the khabr Aswad
That dark secret of a dusky Venus
With kinky tendencies
I am a raven bringing omens
An ink blot stain revealing dark visions.
I am the one who is tangled and
Treading murky waters
That dark cloud following you
Reminding you of the blackness from which you came.

(c) Khabr Aswad yadda yadda and all that legal stuff 2006


Since I was a little girl, I have known I was the real sensitive type. I was quick to anger (still am) and slow to let go of an old grievance. I would always ask, “Why they say that?” when someone would make an off the cuff remark. It would stay in my head all day like some skipping record. If somebody told me something that I could improve upon, I’d beat myself up for days on end. As a youngster, I developed this pattern of seeing everything people did wrong to me. I then rationalized all of my responses based upon what they said or did. This meant, I ignored my contribution to the negative relationship.

I remember the first time I took responsbility for a wrong doing. I didn’t understand something my best friend did. And I started talking about it with other people. One day, one of my fellow male gossipers blabbed some stuff I said. Of course, not mentioning what he said and how that conversation opened up. One day my best friend confronted me on something I said. She was like, “I heard you been talking shi*t.” I admitted it and said I was wrong. I should have came to her, this was my gurl. She was like blood, anybody that had beef with her I wanted to kick their ass. So I felt real low after betraying that bond. I knew I hadn’t taken the high moral road. By that time, I didn’t like who I was and what I was doing with my life. What we discussed that day made me question all this victim-hood which I had embraced. It made me want to be a better person and at that time I didn’t know how. I began a spiritual journey trying to find a place where I could feel like my actions reflected the kind of person I wanted to be.

I find that everyday in life, there are numerous circumstances when I have overlooked someone’s feelings. Most of it was unintentional and most of the lapses occured because I get so pre-occupied in my day to day tasks. There are people I forgot to call, waiting for those anytime minutes. There are thank you cards I forgot to send because I’m absent minded and couldn’t remember where I placed the stamp. There are friends I need to visit, but am too busy procrastinating on this research project and now the deadline is looming. I remember meeting a new friend and she was so mad at me because it took me several days to call her back. We were never able to repair our friendship.

I have some friends who were mad at me for one reason or other. And as a sensitive person, I can say they have reasons to be upset. I have one of those overly analytical, skeptical, judgmenal minds and I think while I talk. And this means that I have said a lot of stuff without thinking it all the way through. I have said hurtful things about people and done hurtful things. I’ve snapped on some folks and remained silent with some who really need to be snapped on, or just plain beat down.

There are people on myspace mad at me because I was slow to add them as friends or my comments are not as frequent as theirs. Some people think I am judging them because of how they choose to represent themselves. In actuality, I am not. To each their own, as long as they are doing their thing and doing it well.

A friend shared an experience over this weekend that reminded me how easy it is to offend people by being swept up in our own lives. The point is how do we reconcile that after we recognize we have wronged a friend. I am so over thinking aboutall the wrongs done to me. Yeah, there are some twisted, manipulative, and vindictive people, I’ll try to avoid those. But knowing that I have f*cked up in the past, makes me more forgiving. My sensitivites have brought me to a point where I can be empathetic to the pain I cause other people. In that light, I can be more empathetic to the poor soul who walks around oblivious to the pain that they cause others. Without that level of development, how do you expect to grow emotionally and spiritually? I hope I’m making baby steps and opening up room in my heart. I pray that people I hurt will come to forgive me and that those who have hurt me, I can forgive them.

The Veil and the Male Elite

Yes, I read Fatima Mernissi’s book. I think she has some interesting ideas, although her writing is problematic. I especially found her memoir super problematic with its orientalist imagery of Morocco. She also had some ridiculous notions of race, i.e. planting of the banana tree to make the sub-saharan African woman feel at home. But that is besides the point, we can forgive her for having the perspective of an elite Fessi woman. So, as I was saying, I read her book years ago. She brought up some interesting points about the relationship between men and women in Islam. I admire her courage for bringing it up. The interaction with the opposite gender is a true testament to their moral character and spiritual state. The relationship between men and women in both the African American community and the Muslim community has so much more to be desired. But being that I’m talking about the veil and male elite, I will focus on the relationship between Muslim men and men. And in particular I am focusing on my own subjectivity as an African American Muslim woman. 

One of the teachings in Islam that really attracted me to the religion was conveyed in Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon: “The best of those are those who are good to their women.” Coming from a broken home, I was so drawn in by the image of idyllic Muslim home life that was painted in dawa books like “Islam in Focus.” When I initially became Muslim, my mother’s friends told her that my husband would beat me, that he would have multiple wives, and take my children away. Before I got married when they found out that he was Muslim, they kept warning her that I would be treated badly. To this day, Muslim men have a pretty bad reputation.Now, not all of the bad stuff happened and a Muslim man has never laid a hand on me, nor do have I any children to take away. I do think Muslim men get a bad wrap. But then again, I am tired of sweeping some horrifying stories under the rug. 

I think our community leaders are not very responsible when it comes to dealing with the conduct of some of the men. I know of cases where the community has come in support of the brothers who abused their wives. I know that the Muslim women’s shelter gets death threats. Domestic abuse comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and religions. Muslim men are not the only perpetrators, but the fact that this institution is a threat to Muslim community identity is telling of some of the problems we have. So, some traditionalists say that you can beat your wife lightly, or with a miswack toothbrush. I have some miswack, and it is kinda big. Besides that, it is just plain humiliating to be reprimanded as a child. Abuse comes in many forms: some emotional and some physical. Which ones leave the most scars? It depends on one’s resilience, how deep the wound, how brutal the blow. Abuse is about power and control. Abusers use a number of tools to manipulate their victims. Often the blame is laid upon the subordinate member of this assymetric power relationship. A number of academics have written that in every relationship there is a power dynamic. Often this power dynamic is assymetrical, meaning that one person has more power than the other. In relations between a man and a woman, it is often the case where the woman is subordinated to the man. While in the Quran says that men have power over women, it advocates being giving more allowances to the woman and not abusing that upperhand. This indicates that Islamic scripture recognizes female gender vulnerabilities and encourages Muslim men to be sensitive to that in disputes with their spouses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out this way. 

Some American Muslim men claim they are down for the liberation of women from patriarchy. But they insert their own culturally specific misogyny. While Muslim women in America have more options than many of their counterparts in the Muslim world, they still have a number of gender vulnerabilities and struggles. I have seen women subject to a number of abusive situations: verbal, emotional, and physical. I have seen men prey on young women in an effort to find someone they could control and manipulate. Others prey on the insecurities of older women who have settled for less out of despair. I suppose this makes them feel more powerful, huh? It sort of shows me that they are much less of a man and that machismo front is a facade for a dislocated spirit, diseased heart, a broken soul, and a weak mind. 

You are what you do, not what you imagine yourself to be, not the image that you construct for yourself: If you lie, you are a liar. If you cheat, you are a cheater. If you steal, you are a thief. You are what you do. Who are you really? What are you doing? Are you trying to change what you’re doing? Rumi said something along the lines of “Be as you appear and appear as you are.” This was part of my reason for unveiling, this is me. I still love my tradition, I can historicize the process by which the laws and regulations were transmitted. But, I respect the scholars, I know right from wrong. I know when I’m doing wrong and when I’m doing right. 

But I appear now as I am, in protest for the lack of commitment from my entire community. You get your act together and be as you represent yourself. Me, I’ll do what I do. I’ll keep speaking my mind articulating for the voiceless. You want to see me bagged up, wrapped in that more traditional role. But, I’ll do that outward more superficial veiling when you lift the real veils off your eyes. In the meantime, your motives and weaknesses are transparent. Wake up brothas, do yourself a service and stop selling your sistas out. And for those who have stayed true and are striving on all fronts, you have my utmost respect. For the misguided, I keep praying and hoping that the word gets out to you. Insha’Allah, one day both my African American and Muslim brothas will have a reputation for being the best of husbands, fathers, brothers, son, and friends.

 (Also, I’m really pissed off about the execution of a 16 year girl for adultery in Iran. WTF??)