On Forgetting

Once, during a conversation with an abusive ex, he looked at me and said, “What happened to us?” Within the year that we had gotten back together, he was reflecting and thinking aloud on what had broken us up for an extended time before. At first, his question left me speechless because I realized in that moment that he had forgotten the things that previously broke us apart. And, perhaps, he had forgotten the things that were keeping us together. For example:

He had forgotten the time that he called the police to have me put out of his house during an argument that he wanted to end; upon ensuring my safe departure, one of the officers said, “I believe you, and if I were you, I would leave and never come back.”

He forgot the time that he threw my things out of his front door because I wasn’t packing them up fast enough upon his demand to GET OUT.

He forgot the time that he slammed the door, and locked the door in my face after throwing my things out of the door onto the concrete roadway at his front door, while I was standing there, left to pick up those things.

He forgot that his weapon of choice was almost always the telephone and, in particular, the block feature.

He forgot the many times he hated me as if I were his worst enemy in one breath, and then said he loved me in the next.

He forgot the many times he threw us away, as if our relationship meant absolutely nothing to him; by the next day he would call to see if I was “okay” and to say “I’m sorry.”

And, he forgot that the most important thing in his life was hanging out (drinking, and smoking); being with me came after he did all those things, and often to the point of complete oblivion.

Most recently…

He forgot the time that we went to the store and he was pacing, fuming, and finally yelling at me in front of the salesperson that he was ready to go; according to him, my transaction was taking too long.

He forgot about the many times that he came over to “see me,” and he pretty much passed out within an hour of being there.

He forgot the time that he hung up on me when I was telling him about the nail in my tire and that I was potentially facing a flat tire or the need for a brand new tire.

He forgot the time that he accused me of sleeping with one of his cigar buddies who I didn’t even know or care to know.

He forgot the time that he was so drunk and boasting to his buddies – with me in his presence – that he didn’t care about those b****** ( referring to the women who had just left a local establishment), and that he was, proudly, “a player.”

He forgot the time that he walked out of my apartment in his underwear because he got mad at something I said (and I have the pictures to prove it).

He forgot the times (plural) that he walked into my apartment, yelling, that if anyone had anything to say about any noise coming from my apartment to come and talk to him (WTF?).

He forgot that out of nowhere on a trip he accused me of wanting to sleep with the housekeeping staff at the hotel where we were staying, because they kept knocking on the door (to check on our need for cleaning services).

He forgot – during that trip – he said (via text from a bar) that he had taken the car and was half way back home without me.

He forgot when he used to say, “Don’t let anybody mind f*** you,” but he tried to mind f*** just about everybody he came in contact with.

He forgot that when I needed to go to the emergency room he was too tired on his day off to get up out of his bed and drive me to the hospital.

He forgot the times that I dropped what I was doing to come and help him, including the time that he had a flat tire; and for the time that he was too drunk to drive home on his own (actually, for that, I was glad).

He forgot – on the day of a recent outpatient surgical procedure – that he didn’t even bother to come over or call me before he went to hang out, smoke and drink with his buddies. And that night his phone died, so he did not – allegedly he could not – show up til five o’clock PM, the next day.

He forgot the many times that he spewed and condoned hateful words and contempt for black women, and thus for me as a black woman on a regular basis (he also harbors hate for many others, but he doesn’t dare say it outloud in public).

On the other hand,

He must have forgotten the time that he said to me, “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

He forgot the time that he took “full responsibility” for the breakup of our relationship.

He forgot that he said “I love you” at least twice a day.

He forgot the time that together we made it through, able to walk away unharmed – for the most part – from a devastating hit and run accident.

I suppose he forgot that he said he didn’t want any other woman in his life, but me.

He forgot that he said we were perfect for each other.

He forgot that he said that he would always be there for me.

He forgot how much he seemed to beam with love when we were out together.

He forgot that we used to make each other smile and laugh from deep within.

He forgot that when we reconciled, after quite a bit of time apart, he said that he would never hurt me again.

He forgot the many, many times he said “I am sorry” for hurting me.

He forgot that he said that the way that people break up says a lot about the kind of relationship they had.

He forgot that he said to me that the relationship would take care of itself; I was never quite sure what that meant for him.

He forgot that he would call to say he missed me when he lived just three blocks away.

I guess he forgot that I would often wait for him for hours when I could have gone to sleep or gone on to do whatever I was doing – without him.

He forgot that when his phone was not operating properly that I would wake up at five in the morning to call him just so that he would not be late for work, and when I did not have to be up for another hour and a half.

He forgot that I loved him like no one I have ever met, and I told him that on a regular basis.

He forgot about all the food that I prepared, with love, so that he could have a good meal at work and plenty leftover at the end of the day.

He forgot that I often complemented him with words like “Hey handsome!” He rarely accepted those complements.

Apparently, he forgot that he turned and walked away from us when I – rightly – implied that he might not be there for me on the next big thing in my life.

So finally,

While it is convenient for him to forget, I will not. I will remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps the totality of these memories, and especially the painful ones, will keep me from accepting the future apologies that will come when he attempts to say “I am sorry” for the umpteenth time without meaning it and without doing anything to address and change his abusive behavior, which only becomes more complicated with each so-called apology.

Frankly, it is a relief that I don’t have to tolerate his madness and hatefulness any longer, yet I am saddened to know that he will be doing these very same things to the next woman who dares to love him. I’m sorry that she – and more likely it will be “they” since he actually prides himself on being “a player” – will be subjected to the anger and abuse that is controlling him and his relationships with women, and all because he has chosen to deny the reality of who he is deep-down under all the things and people he uses to try and cover it up.

He may choose to forget, and others – especially his so-called friends and associates – will both encourage and enable him to continue hurting black women and himself, but I will do my best to not forget: to recall and remember all the things that happened with us; and, because it would drive me insane and make me culpable to repeat and replay this horribly incredible emotional rollercoaster any longer.

There isn’t a cell in my body that hasn’t already told me that I deserve to have a better man and a better life. I know it, and so does he, which, I believe, is one of the reasons why he chooses not to remember.

© 2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

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Thoughts on Being There for the Ones We Say We Love

It’s what you don’t do

I know you love me

I don’t need proof. ~ Lianne La Havas

Recently, I learned that I would be hospitalized for a pretty significant surgical procedure. Prior to the surgery, I told a few family members and friends about the upcoming ordeal. The responses were a little bit startling. One person said, “When you have your surgery, you’ll have to go over to so and so’s house,” – meaning – that I should not stay at my own home, or not at his home. Another friend wanted me to come to their house; making it easier on them to be there for me. Neither response thrilled me. My preference, after surgery, was to be at my home, in my own bed. Given the pain that I would probably experience, and the healing that needed to take place, I did not want to be at anyone else’s place, but mine.

Making my wishes known to these persons was not a pleasant thing to do. I thought that it made perfect sense that I wanted and deserved to be in my own home environment to recover from this surgery. I assumed that it was quite reasonable that I did not want to be at someone else’s place. Obviously, I was mistaken, which is why I’m writing this blog.

I wonder how many of you reading this blog would be like those friends who said to me that I should be somewhere else or where they wanted me to be for my recovery? Would that have been your recommendation? Or, might you have said, like a few others did (if we were that close) “If you need anything, call us and we will come over and help you.” “We are here for you.” “We will try to be helpful to you.”?

It is often inconvenient to be there for the ones we love. It gets in our way; disrupts our plans; and, sometimes it costs us greatly to step up and be there for the ones that we love when something has gone wrong. To genuinely be there for others, in both mind and body, it sometimes requires that we stop what we are doing and be present to them. This is what I have repeatedly and consistently done for the special ones in my life. I have been there for them to the best of my ability, and, often, in more ways than one.

When I made it known to both friends mentioned above as to what I wanted for my recovery, it did not go as expected. One so-called friend flat-out ghosted me. He became angry, disappeared, and to this day I have never heard from him (and this he did right after he refused to show me much empathy for an unexpected almost flat tire). With the other friend, I met her halfway; I agreed to stay for one week of the two weeks of my recovery at her home.

Startling and disappointing? That’s what I was thinking, too. But, as usual, I came to realize that you win some and you lose some. Life has a very uncanny way of opening our eyes and showing us what we need to see when we need to see it; that’s if we are willing to take the time to stop, look and listen to the people around us. Because, as the saying goes, actions always speak louder than words.

©2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

The Difference Between Love and Hate

When someone loves you they will do whatever they can to put a smile on your face.

They will not look for opportunities to make you upset or mad.

They will not ignore your calls, or disregard your feelings when you are feeling afraid, down or hurting.

They will not hide from you when there is trouble between you.

They will seek to be a part of your peace and healing

And the truth will not be far from their lips.

You won’t have to ask them or beg for their attention.

What is important to you will be important to them.

They will be there for you; they will try to understand you.

When someone loves you, they will look for every reason to hear your voice,

See your smile,

And bring you joy.

(Sending texts back and forth, all day, will not suffice, rather, this can become like a cruel tease);

Your face will be what they desire to see at the start of each and every day, or as often as possible.

Your voice will cause them to smile and laugh, perhaps outloud, even when you are not around.

The memory of your smell will fill them with warmth and anticipation,

And the thought of touching you will enable them to face the most frustrating of moments and people.

When someone loves you there will be a genuine sense of safety, happiness and freedom of mind and body.

Laughter will be more apparent than sadness or tears.

True love fills us with courage, not cowardice.

It took me most of my life to learn the difference between love and hate,

And it is one of the greatest, and hardest lessons that I have ever, ever had to know

And mostly from the ones who did not and could not find it within themselves to love me,

Like they said that they would.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Finding “The Strength to Love”: MLK Jr. Day 2018!

One of the most admirable character traits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is that he was not a hateful or divisive man. He was a man who routinely embraced and expressed love, even when it was not the popular or convenient thing to do. Dr. King was not a man of anger and hate, and I truly admire that.

The person that you become in life is up to you and you alone. Going forward, find “the strength to love.” Resist the urge to hate or be consumed with anger. We honor and celebrate Dr. King by being a loving people, even in the face of hate.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

N/B: Indeed, the use of “Strength to Love,” is an allusion to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 publication, Strength to Love, published by Harper & Row.

We Black Women: Seen, Heard, and Beautiful!

WE BLACK WOMEN

We black women are

Mamas, sisters, friends, lovers, teachers, warriors, and sometimes enemies of those who hate us and who want to exploit and use us, mostly for sex and company,

We black women have stood strong and proud in the face of hate and rejection by those who do not see us, who do not love us,

Because of their own pain and their own fears.

But we black women

 

We are like Maya Angelou

And Fannie Lou Hamer

And Nina Simone

And Angela Davis

And Elaine Brown

And Billie Holiday

And Alice Walker

And Abbey Lincoln

And Shirley Horn

And Bessie Smith

And June Jordan

And Marimba Ani

And Toni Morrison

And Anita Hill

And bell hooks

And many, many more black women – like my own mother and sister.

We are black, and we are women

We have changed our worlds and this world for the better and the world sees us and knows what we have done.

The world knows who we are.

 

Not all black women do good, not all black women are good

There are some black women have done irreparable harm to their children and to their families,

But most of all they have abandoned themselves.

There are black women who have given up on living their own lives

Maybe they did and do not know how to live for themselves

Maybe the fear of life and others has overcome and overpowered them

Maybe they have believed what others said about them, so therefore they lived the lies of others.

 

But there are many of us, black women, who have turned other peoples’ lies upside down

We black women have told and written our own stories

We black women are remembered as the authors and finishers of our own fates

And, we black women have survived the unthinkable, the unimaginable when we could have been dead and gone.

 

We black women.

 

We black.

We black.

We black.

And, we women.

We women.

We women.

We women.

We black women are proudly black and we will be seen, heard, for indeed, we are very, very beautiful.

© 2017 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

What’s Wrong with Black Women? What’s Wrong With Black Men?

I have been using my own platforms with my writing to challenge whiteness, patriarchy, sexism, white supremacy, at least, since 1992, which was the year that I enrolled as a student at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Hence, being open about my resistance to injustice has been a part of who I am for a very long time. I can identify with Colin Kaepernick being committed to kneeling during the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and telling the truth on police brutality, but he is not unique. Many others, black women and men alike, celebrities and non-celebrities, have used their platforms to speak truth to power. Of course, not every black woman and every black man has done it, but many have. And, because we have done it in response to whiteness, patriarchy, and expressions of white supremacy, we also know what it means to be alienated and rejected. Some of us know and we have known for decades what retaliation looks like, and we know what it feels like to stand alone and apart from everyone else and with no one else to come to our defense, but us.

That said, I want to share a personal story. About a week ago, I was verbally attacked by a man that I know for being a black woman and for being a feminist (although I have always categorically identified as a womanist). We were communicating on text (which I don’t particularly like to do), and he took issue with a response that I sent to him when he asked me why I had not asked for his help in a personal matter. When I explained to him that 1) I had already taken care of the matter before he was even in the picture, and 2) that he and I talked about the matter briefly and he did not voluntarily offer his help to me, he went berserk and texted back, “See that’s your f*cking problem and the problem of many black women.” He continued to tear me and black women apart by asserting that black women are “f*cked up,” and that we, black women, better get it together because Donald Trump is in office and men “of every color” are leaving black women and feminists. Really? Like I should care about Trump and men who are leaving black women feminists. From men who were never really “with” us anyway? Well, to these kind of men – men who are real good at taking but who often lack the ability to be giving and genuinely present to the women in their lives (except if it benefits them somehow), I can unabashedly say: good riddance! In the long run, such men are liabilities.

Nevertheless, his response was both hateful and disrespectful, and it was a deliberate and cowardly verbal attack on my person and my identity. At first, I graciously returned a text and said, “Goodnight,” but soon my graciousness and niceness went by the wayside and I went in to total defense mode …until I kinda lost it (and saying some things that I did not mean to say); but, at the same time I could not sit there and let him hide behind the phone and figuratively slap me with his words. For the next three hours I texted him about every half an hour thinking of everything I could to reject the ignorance and hypocrisy of his words.

Many black women face this kind of daily abuse (and worse) from so-called male friends and intimate partners. They are repeatedly verbally belittled for taking care of themselves by men who despise black women but who simultaneously want them to depend totally on them (when they are really not all that dependable). Black men like this want to control black women, and in attempting to do so they don’t mind characterizing black women as “f*cked up” when by their own admission they have “mama issues.” Truth be told, these same men often have “daddy issues” in that they did not have loving and nurturing fathers/men who were wiling and able to be present to them when they should have been. In an effort to replace their absent daddies, the black men that some of them learned to respect were pimps and players, i.e., men who aspired to control women’s minds and bodies for a living. Thus, they have reenacted the same kind of abusive and negligent kind of emotional behaviors in their own intimate and day-to-day relationships. Not to mention, if you look in to their inner circles and you will often find that many of their so-called “friends” and acquaintances exude and encourage male behavior that is audaciously dishonest, disloyal and dismissive of women because deep-down they don’t really love or respect black women. They tolerate black women to gain something, usually to satisfy the need for company and sex. If they are cis-gendered black men, you might find that they desire for women to entertain them when they are bored or in need of sex, but other than that they often treat black women as disruptive and unwelcome in their daily routines, which are often reserved for the exclusive company of men (i.e., in a homosocial environment). To me, these type of men are not trustworthy people, they lack intregrity, depth, and the ability to cooperate with black women and perhaps all women in general, and they know it, so they do what they do best: they strike out against black women to take the focus off their own f*cked up past and present situations.

What made me strike back against the man who verbally attacked me on text was a fury about the hypocrisy that this man demonstrated to me for several weeks. Prior to the lashing that he decided to give me on text, I had overlooked several instances where he couldn’t even remember what he said the day before due to being drunk out of his mind and in a blackout. I can tolerate a lot of things from a man, but when a man who is by his own admission, f*cked up, and who is doing absolutely nothing to change or help himself accuses me and all other black women of being f*cked up, then he better know that he is uttering fighting words, and fighting words might be what he gets in return.

Whether we ground ourselves in the philosophy of womanism or feminism, or nothing at all, there are black women who are both willing and able to stand up for themselves, for black culture and for the sustainable development of black communities. We do not need black men or any other men to stand up or speak for us. We are very capable of speaking up for ourselves and for others. There is plenty of documentation that speaks to the long history black women have had with regard to leading the charge for social justice. No matter how much black men may want to deny it or diminish it, black women have stood on behalf of themselves and others, including non-black peoples, in spite of the consequences, and even when it has cost them their lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, many times black women stood on the front lines when black men and the powers that be tried to silence them by controlling or maligning their minds and bodies as a group and as individuals. Notwithstanding this abuse and abandonment (which can be mental/emotional as well as physical), there are those of us who will stand (or strike if necessary) and fight in defense of ourselves and for those we love and often for the sole purpose of letting obnoxious and ignorant people and institutions know that we are worth standing up for. Of course, there are many who will not like it when we do this, and they will claim that there is something categorically wrong with black women. This very disappointing and unfortunate response is something that we should come to expect because of patriarchy. Some people (male, female, and those in between, if truth be told) really do believe that “this is a man’s world.” Many believe it is a man’s right to dominate and control women, and for some that means “by any means necessary.”

Nothing is wrong with black women who stand in defense of themselves, and especially not when they are attacked by wanna-be pimps and players who don’t know the first thing about developing mutually loving relationships with black women. Perhaps the questions we must begin to ask are, “What is wrong with black men?” and “Why don’t they want black women to feel and be empowered about themselves and their communities?” What is wrong with black men like the one that I just told you about who is both terrified and drawn to black women at the same time? What is wrong with black men, who are over the age of 50 but who hide behind their YouTube channels, phones, their suits, their cars, their sunglasses, their educational degrees, their jobs, and all other kinds of material possessions and hurl painful and hateful accusations at black women when what they really need to be doing is whatever they can to stop sabotaging their own lives and happiness with bad personal choices due to the traumas of their youth? What is wrong with black men who abandon black women when black women don’t give them whatever they want whenever they want it? Many black men could be better partners to black women if they would become willing to confront and unlearn the patriarchal crap they learned as children (and as adults), which is no longer working for them as adults. If they really wanted to, there are some black men who could be better partners to black women. But honestly, many of them refuse to change, because they don’t have to, and many black men learn from other black men who spread toxic and twisted so-called theories about black women under the guise of pan-Africanism. It is sad to say, but it has become socially acceptable for black men to disrespect and hate black women in public and in private discourse, while also claiming to love them. And that is one primary reason that so many of us – black women – choose to be alone or with others besides black men. Black women are not the property of black men; nor do black men have a natural or so-called god-given right to our persons, our minds, and our bodies. Likewise, I do not claim that black men belong to black women exclusively. I don’t give a flying flip about what Dr. Umar Johnson, Tariq Nasheed, Brother Polight, or any other so-called “prince” or “ambassador of blackness” has to say about so-called “interracial relationships”: black women can choose to be with whomever they want, whenever they want, for the reasons that they want, and that should go for anybody. Furthermore, and essentially, what must be understood is that

…some of us – black women – will refuse to be disrespected and hated by men who also claim to love us – no matter what color they are. Such men do not love us. They fear us and the power and prerogative that we as black women have as human beings to reject and abandon them if need be.

The men who respect me as a person are also capable of respecting my choice to identify as a womanist (and my choice to identify as an atheist, by the way). There are several men in my life who love me, and one of them is my father. Only those who fear womanism (or atheism), due to a lack of knowledge and uncertainty about their own personal and political identities, will try to tear me down and discredit who I am. And?

As a black woman, and as a womanist, and as an atheist, I will continue to speak truth to power. I will not let the attacks and threats of fearful, abusive black men, corporations, institutions, Donald Trump, or anyone else rejecting me for that matter keep me from standing up for myself and defending the goodness of black culture and of black women in particular. Whether we are being attacked in the open or behind closed doors, I will be standing up or sitting down and using all of my power and fierceness to resist and expose those who claim to love black women on the one hand, yet who act like they could care less or even hate us on the other. And, indeed, I am not alone. There are many black women who have been willing to fight for their dignity and honor for decades, and I stand on the shoulders of those who did it way before I was even a thought in this life as we know it. This is not to say that all black women are willing to defend black women or black culture. Many black women reinforce patriarchy and male dominance. But, I am not one of them, and if standing up for myself, black women and black culture costs me a place on this great big plantation called the United States, or if because of standing up I lose a relationship with a black man that I once loved, respected and trusted, then so be it. I don’t need that kind of man or hatefulness in my life, and this is one black woman who will go down with her honor intact and her voice heard and hopefully remembered by those who need and want to hear it.

In addition, I am not the first, nor will I be the last black woman who will use her power seriously and fiercely. We have been here for what seems like forever, and there are those of us who have always been and will always be brave enough to be who we are. Regardless. And, yes, in case you are wondering, it is that bravery and sense of righteous indignation (and thus our commitment to self-defense) that will inspire generations of black women to stand up for themselves and discredit patriarchy and patriarchal systems, whether white, black or any other color (I say that because I once had elder black colleagues who accused me of “influencing” students with womanism. Well duh!!!!!). That is the point. My life and my thinking will make a difference, not just for me and those in my immediate and personal circle, but to other generations as well, some of whom I will never meet or know. And, frankly, that is what is very, very right and good about many black women!

© 2017 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Every Black Woman

I know a black man who was betrayed and abused by black women who once said they loved him, and who once should have loved him.

And so, subconsciously, when he is afraid of losing her, he abuses and abandons nearly every black woman who desires to love him.

This makes him feel worse, and even more abandoned and afraid. 

And, as most self-fulfilling prophecies work, he uses his own actions to falsely blame black women for the recurring pain that he inflicts upon himself. 

I used to think that he did not know how to love.

But now I realize that he is afraid, perhaps even terrified, of love, and the memory of being betrayed and abandoned.

And that’s why he will abuse nearly every black woman who desires to love him.

Until he decides to break the cycle of abuse.

© 2017 annalise fonza, Ph.D.