Men + Myself + God

Tag: Good and evil

The Subway Evangelical

by P. Braithwaite

This morning, while taking the subway, I encountered one of those super intense evangelical commuters that rant about damnation while you sip your morning coffee and avoid eye contact. Sometimes they’re wearing like a bright red suit, other times they look like maybe they don’t wash. Either way, you see them and immediately you want to run in the other direction.

This type of intrusion is a pretty common occurrence on NYC transit, but, today, as I watched a man in sunglasses and a brown velour jumpsuit walk into my train car with a bible tucked under his arm, I had a radical thought: what if this annoying evangelical dude isn’t crazy?

“Ladies and Gentleman I’m not here to judge…” he had this awesome Jamaican accent. It sounded like Shaggy was reading the bible or something. Of course, after telling us he wasn’t there to judge, he launched into a passionate monologue about “men with men” and “promiscuous females.”

It made me think about the nature of lunacy: I generally assume these subway preachers are crazy because their thoughts are radically different from my own. Additionally, my sensibilities would never allow me to scream at people on the subway, but why is my “standard of being” the standard for sanity? After all, the` women next to me was actually moved to tears. She chimed in a few times with “tell ‘em Jesus.”

As I shook my head, I had to admit that I wanted to talk to this dude. Throughout this process of writing and talking to men, I find it easier to suspend judgment of those whose countercultural lifestyles fall on the side of liberalism; however, I struggle with conservatives who are radical or countercultural in their own ways. That said, I really wanted to talk to him about his life. Was he always an evangelist? Was he married? Has he ever been in love? When did he get “saved”?

I’m becoming less interested in judging people and more interested in understanding them. I wanted to tap this man on the shoulder, and start a conversation. Instead, I got off on my stop. This is NYC after all.

A Few Good Men

by P. Braithwaite

I have to say, public tweeting has been a difficult transition for me. I’m used to being inappropriate in the company of about 26 people who know me offline. Today, though, a really interesting twitter conversation erupted regarding a recent study conducted by BestBlackDatingSites.org. The study claims that for every 100 available black women, there are only 3 “good” black men. I suspect this “study” it is part of an effort to stir up controversy and drive traffic to the site.

In any case, the folks at BestBlackDatingSites.org boil the “good black man” down to 7 of the most cliché (no) superficial, (no) “common” criteria used among black women (and by “black women” I mean black actresses in urban movies from 10 years ago). I’m not attacking the criteria, everyone has a right to define their own terms; however, as a woman who has dated “good” black men and “not so good” black men (as well as a few white and Hispanic men that fall on both sides of the spectrum), I am struggling with the requirements that the folks at Bestblackdatingsites.org have laid out.  I mean, one of the requirements is that he’s “fit.”

(I don’t know about you, but I can stand to do a sit up or two. I don’t think that makes me any less “good.”)

As a writer, it scares me when we box ANY group of people into categories like good and bad based on some arbitrary rubric. What would happen if I approached my book interviews this way? If I encountered each man I met with a check list that boiled down to “good” or “less than good.”

I’ll tell you what would happen — my work would be flat, judgmental and superficial – and yet, this collection of statistics is an acceptable to choose a mate?  

I am always looking for interesting men to talk to, and I think that we often rob ourselves of new experiences by making snap judgments. It could be that the man that looks great on paper is completely screwed up, and the man who seems to have nothing to offer you (except a baby momma and some love handles), might just be everything you never knew you wanted.

I’m NOT saying that anyone of any race should settle for less than they want/deserve. It’s just that “studies” like these reinforce the idea that black women are somehow unlovable and unmarryable, and I (being a black woman), must vehemently reject that.

I have to believe that there are wonderful men in the world, even if that means looking beyond race and “statistics” to begin seeing with an open  heart.

I actually wrote out a list of issues for each of the criteria, but I decided not to post it. I’d rather have you all click on the info-graph and decide for yourselves. For me, there’s a bit of a gap b/w the statistics that they provide and the conclusions that they draw. What do you guys think?