It’s a scene that I won’t forget: Kim, one of my high school friends, was involved in a heated argument with her older sister Karen. They were going back-and-forth about an incident that occurred between Kim and a girl named Natalie, who was Karen’s best friend. Kim was vehemently denying Natalie’s version of the story and incensed that her sister was taking Natalie’s side rather than hers. I even tried to help Kim out by vouching for her statements. After listening to all the protests that went back and forth like a volley of tennis balls, Miss Mae Jessie (Kim and Karen’s 82-year old Grandmother) looked at Kim with vexation and finally spoke up.
“Awwww, SHADDUP, Gal!” she said irritably, making a shushing motion with her hand. We all jumped and instantly became silent.
“Quit all that provin’ and defendin.’ Ain’t no use in you tryn’ ta convince that gal. She don’t believe you no way.”
Needless to say, at that point the argument was moot.
Not too long ago I had occasion to think about Miss Mae Jessie’s statement about “provin’ and defendin.’” I became embroiled in a Facebook “discussion” that started out weighing the merits of an article that appeared on www.theeconomist.com entitled “Sex and the Single Black Woman” (http://www.economist.com/node/15867956). I won’t go into all the points of the article (after all, Reading is Fundamental – if you care to you can read it for yourself. And yes, I love you, too).
Someone commented that swirling was an option, and (channeling my high school days of piping in and supporting) I made a comment about what statistics show about the rate that Black men inter marry, how they don’t seem to worry about making that choice, and how Black women are reluctant because when they intermarry they are accused of abandoning the race, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (Want stats? feel free to read a very long report here http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1616/american-marriage-interracial-interethnic. There are tons more reports I could provide links to; but hey! I’ll do us all a favor and shout “E.L.M.O.!”).
[Sidebar: Um, for those of you who didn’t read last week’s blog, E.L.M.O. means:
You see, I tend to over-explain sometimes – hence this sidebar and hence the title of this post. If you continue to read this blog you will probably discover that I’ll have to call on E.L.M.O. at least once during most of the posts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.]
Suffice it to say that the temperature of the discussion very quickly moved to the boiling point (for me) when one of the guys made the comment, “Remember Massa,” and then (in my estimation) tried to dominate the conversation and do exactly what I’d stated in the first place – make Black women feel guilty for choosing to go into interracial relationships.
We wound up going back and forth about Massa; why we should remember him (or not); be aware of our history and yet move on (or not), Ad infinitum, Ad nauseum.
And suddenly, in the midst of the bickering back and forth, the “provin’ and defendin’” on both sides, came the voice of reason. A very wise Sistah on the boards known for her no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip ability to get to the heart of the matter and tell it like it T – I is, made a couple of comments that made me wonder if she was somehow related to ole Miss Mae Jessie. Sistah-Girl stated that Sistahs need to make like the Brothers and just do it. In essence, she thought it was foolish to waste a lot of time (and keystrokes) trying to justify or explain who we loved, or why – just love your man and keep it moving.
In other words, “Quit all that provin’ and defendin.’ Ain’t no use in you trynna convince [them]. [They] don’t believe you no way.”
I had an epiphany, I tell you.
Guess what? Everybody doesn’t need “enlightening,” or an “explanation.” Not only do they not need it, they don’t want it – and sometimes, truth be told, they didn’t ask for it. Explain for what? Sure, there will be some who will have questions and genuinely want to know more – and the people in this category are grown enough to inquire. Those who want to live in the past, denigrate an entire race of people for things that happened before any of us were born, or choose to let the long, hurtful arm of the past reach over and taint their present and their future, will continue to do so. Others who elect to build on the foundation of the past, infused with – and inspired by – the resilience, strength and grace of their ancestors, and move forward embracing the joys of today and the promise of the future, will continue to do so. There’s no need for either side to engage in provin’ and defendin’. At worst, we can shut each other down and shut each other out, and not believe each other no way. At best, we can live in peace and harmony, agree to disagree – and keep it moving.