Me & The “Prisoner’s Wife” Got A Thing Goin’ On

By Maxjulian

June 8, 2006

Category: Uncategorized


The Prisoner’s Wife Said: i personally don’t understand how a man/woman can be pro-black & sleep with, carry on relationships with, and marry a non-black person. not saying you have to hate whitey, but inviting them into your bed seems a bit hypocritical to me (note:”your” is being used in a general way here).

{I appreciate your clarity here; one doesn’t necessarily have to understand or accept anything. I think that’s honest of you. But, PW, can you do me a favor and define what”pro-black” means and what the criteria for being pro-black are?}

PW Said: btw: your example of someone being pro-woman & still sleeping with men isn’t the same, considering that would bring the question of sexualty into play, which is a totally different animal.

{People are people. Black people fucking white folks ain’t like humans having sex with sheep; we can reproduce. We’re human beings with big fucking problems. And one of those is a universal, racist assumption that we aren’t all people, some of us are more human than others. My example above is absurd, because its true, the whole issue is absurd, though highly rationale on a whole nother level. Racism/White supremacay is an absurdist, fear-based, yet highly rationale system; not everyone who benefits from it or who is subjugated by it responds like a marionette. I’m pro-people. I love people, in spite of being fucked by them – blacks, whites and ‘others’. I hate what’s being done to us and I do my part to try to stop it. And, I really think we as black folks look foolish when we fashion our own “fear-based” etiquette for ‘REAL BLACKNESS.’

Now, I tried to “fit-in” and conform for years. And I hated it. What I learned is, if I’m trying to be black, or be Muhammed Ali, I’m being phony; and if I’m trying to be white I’m a bigger phony. Plus, both sides will judge and belittle you no matter what you do, so you’re better off being your fucking self and learning to love it. So I learned.

One of my favorite musicians, Lee Morgan, has this (paraphrased) quote that I’ve never forgotten: “You learn the technical devices of the instrument, you live and experience your life and then you play yourself on the horn.” I’m trying to play MY self on MY horn. That’s one reason why I love jazz – the best players don’t sound deriative, they sound like themselves. I ain’t playin’ your stereotype of the black man, UnReals, or some white man’s. I’m playin’ me, which ain’t you, or anyone else. You may not understand my music, but I didn’t understand Eric Dolpy’s music either, for years, until I grew and learned “how to listen, how to approach” his music.

The schools we went to introduced us to a variety of people and my family’s values never put us on ‘racial lockdown.’ And I must say, as someone who has dated many different women, the “EXPERIENCE” of doing so has been amazing.

Some of us are so positioned or, perhaps, have to trod that zigzag path. I did and I don’t regret it}

PW Said: whomever you choose to carry on relationships is your business, however…if you were out there beating a red, black and green drum with your fist in the air preaching about black love, black people, and the black community…all while you’re sleeping with Becky, i’d HAVE to look at you sidewaysv(no?).

{Well, sister, I’ve never beat any drum, and I don’t generally wear red, black and green jumpsuits, nor do I shout through bullhorns how much I “luvs black people” though I do. And you can look at me sideways when I’m hangin’ with Becky, though I ain’t dating her right now. I married a white woman (burn me at the stake) and had a kid with her. I have a black girlfriend and I want to marry her. I’ve made mistakes in picking women and most of those mistakes were cuz I was doing the picking. But how many exclusively-black-dating-people could say the same?

The life I was given and the experiences I’ve had probably aren’t anything like yours; I just don’t believe in making folks fit my nigga cookie cutter and I’m not gonna fit theirs. And in spite of how racist “Whitey” is, I can’t for the life of me see them ALL as beasts, as racial lepers, as untouchables…I can’t do it. I can’t hate them ALL – though I have days where I feel like I do. Hate and contempt sometimes feel almost as good as sex, especially when its directed at the one whose directed the same at you. I try really hard to avoid soaking in that shit for long, cuz I do more harm to me than I do to them.

Whites are human, highly flawed/highly racist, but human. I can’t forget how, when I was getting sober, several of them saved my fucking life. For that reason, I will not do to them what they have done to us: put them in a neat box and file it away. Fuck that. I have to stay open; I don’t trust most of them, but I have to stay open in order to stay human. I’ve seen what being closed has done for and to most of them; why would I Saran-wrap my soul in the same manner? Some of us already have.}

PW Said: that’s like being a minister & preaching family values, but sleeping sleeping with someone on the side.

feel me?

{What you’re saying there, it seems to me, is my so-called pro-black values are negated by my “dabblings with Debbie.” Look, Sis, I got cousins who are Debbies, a great, great grandfather who was one, too. Shall I just delete them from my memory bank and call it George? Most niggas have white blood curdling in their militant/integrationist/non-aligned ass veins. The real hypocrisy to me is denying that and then trying to go the white man one better and becoming SUPER Segregationist Ascetic Fools. I believe in justice for all people on the planet, but for black people in particular because I am one. I want freedom for us – and not merely the freedom to self segregate, but the freedom to do whatever the fuck we wanna do. I want us to be able to step into our full humanity, which includes fucking up, fucking white, Chinese or Latinas, or studying Chinese philosphy or French cuisine – if that’s their path, its their path. And if you can’t abide their “dabblings” outside your idiosyncratic racial comfort zone, who’s problem truly is that?

I believe in reparations. I’ve read too much black and white US history to know that we’ve been fucked HARD! I just don’t see how we draw these hard and fast lines when so many of us have white/Red mothers, fathers, nieces, nephews, cousins. The UnRealists own mother is white; what kind of backflips does she have to do in order to be a white hating/black man hating nationalist?” Talk about a contortionist.

I’m black (and human above that) whether anybody likes it or not. Black is not a color alone, or a “code of conduct” in the context of our identity; Black is who I was born AND what I identify with. But what I consider to constitute blackness is far broader than what I’m hearing elsewhere. And like I said, if who one USED to fuck gets one banished from the race, so long Malcolm!}

PW Said: if it works for you, let it work for you. but i would have to take your “conscious” words with a grain of salt.

{You should take everybody’s words with a grain of salt, shouldn’t you? That is an indicator of what I mean; some charlatan wearing the propa militant clothes, talking the right “right-on” talk can get away with murder with us, AND HAS, cuz many of us have the most shallow, inconsequential, symbolic criteria for what blackness/pro-blackness is. Any con-man can read that shit.

Hell, Co-IntelPro succeeded precisely because the FBI infiltrated numerous black organizations with black nationalist “actors” who duped their “brethren” into murdering each other; and when they wouldn’t kill each other, these real traitors drew up floorplans and spiked the drinks of people like Fred Hampton so that the Po-Po could machine gun them in their sleep. And guess what? That nigga – William O’Neal – to my knowledge, still walks the earth, while I have people sniping at me cuz I been with a white girl. Puhleaze!

Complexity, nor complex truth has ever has sold well in this world. I say we’re all black who say we are until PROVEN otherwise; what say you, PW?}

14 Responses to “Me & The “Prisoner’s Wife” Got A Thing Goin’ On”

  1. lol

    well, i appreciate your dedication *smile*

    to be quick here (cuz i’m at work…will say more later). most of my “you” and “your” (especially related to the red/black/green comments) were general, as i stated & not aimed directly at YOU.

    and…to quickly “define” pro-black. when i use that term i’m an using it to mean nationalistic (perhaps even “radical”), an overwhelming & outspoken love and support for blackness. think… & conversion.

    perhaps it means something different to you. that’s cool too. i’m not saying everyone should think the way i think, i’m merely voicing my pov.

  2. I respect that, PW. And I too was not using “you” and “your” to mean you at all times; only where applicable.

    My response/reaction is conditioned, in part, by Racism/White Supremacy, and by how R/WS in black folks has caused us to treat each other. We’ve played/play the “too” light/”too” dark game; the “black lingo/vocal tone/hip jargon” game; the daishiki game. And we often use these rulers to make ourselves feel black-er than thou; well, what affect do folks think that has on the nigga who’s made to feel ‘lesser in blackness than thou?’

    You ask yourself questions: What is black if I’m not it? My peeps don’t think I’m their peeps, or, I’m lacking steet cred, the propa niggritude; WTF does that mean? Alright, let me explore other parts of the world and see if I can gain acceptance there. Nope, they don’t accept you either. So you’re stuck. Wat’s a nigga to do? I’d broadened my mind, kept it open and lived.

    I’m not saying I was a martyr or got it worse than others, cuz I saw it happening to others besides me. And that shit made an impression.

    Am I black in response to something (racism) or somebody (the racist/or the nationalist), or is my skin tone, attire and how folks respond to it the measure of my racial correctness? Is black a set of values, behaviors, both or neither?

    I’m putting these questions out cuz I think we have to ask and answer them over time and not assume we know the motives or potential of people on the basis of one trait or decision.

    Back in the day, I began to observe others and feel my way. And meanwhile, I’m trying to function in this white society, trying to decode their behavior/words/deeds/smiles at the same time I was/am trying to decode ours.

    To quote Hopha surveying the prison yard and talking to a fellow inmate in the movie, Slam: “Its hard to be your-self in here. Take a look around – its hard to be your-self in HERE.”

  3. Thanks for this thought provoking dialog.

    I’m a white woman who decided to stop dating black men a while back because of the anger, hostility, and resentment it evoked from black women.

    I get some flak from black men about this decision along the lines of, “What, you don’t think black men are good enough for you?” and then if I explain, “Why do you care so much what other women think, why let them tell you what to do? It’s your own life and you should think for yourself.”

    But I do care what these women think, and though I’m not always 100% certain it’s the right thing to do, I’ve stuck by my decison. I like your point though that figuring it all out is a complex and ongoing process, and sometimes it’s necessary to live with ambivalence and tolerate contradictions.

  4. Thanks, Liz and I care too. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I can’t live for anyone else but me. What I’m trying to do is listen to my insides and stay open to other folk’s experience/wisdom too. I’m not here to please any but God. But I recognize my humanity and my membership in the black race and how what I do impacts others.

    What I almost forgot is that I’ll have been divorced four years ago this coming July. I hope there’s a statute of limitations for race mixing and I’m fast approaching it 🙂

    I notice that some folks, in order to cover deep, horrific emotional scars, will cover it with a compensatory ideology. The wound is still there, unattended. Like a child, they think merely pulling a sleeve (or a stance or political ideology) over the infected wound will heal it, but it takes time and WORK to mend these psychic wounds. An adult has to look at these things head on and confront them.

    A child will not and thus will create a code of conduct for others to follow so that they can feel comfortable in their own skin. They make others responsible for healing THEIR own pain. “Don’t hurt me by dating white/or living your life in such a way that it reminds me of my suffering.” This is madness. But, I do feel for them. Hopefully, they will see their error.

  5. interesting, liz. mj, i liked the comment (or word use), ‘decoding’ … also the point about how it is hard to be oneSELF when living amid all of the coded refractions there are in this society around race (and a few other things)…

  6. Thanks, Anon. Many of us kneegroes didn’t grow up in the UNIA or the Nation; my folks were King people, “content of our character” niggas and alladat shit. I’m not there any more. I’m more of a X/Panther amalgam, if I have to put a label on it. Its my own thing, though. I know how people adopt personnas/approachs based on bitterness/anger at how they were treated. I’m not discounting that, or saying its wrong, or that’s not a part of my process. But, I think one’s approach has to include authenticity based on intense studied, self-examination and it must be re-examined. It can’t simply be kneejerk, “ya’ll treated us this way, so I’m gonna adopt the same world view, way of judging/prejudging.

  7. yes…i’ve been watching the debate with the abstractor (RR), by the way, and wondering suddenly, omigod, am i actually assimilationist, a kneejerk liberal, etc., without even realizing it ???

    when people throw you off balance like that, there is something wrong, usually with what they’re doing. there is some sort of weird energy coming from them.

    i think she has some points on some things, but she can be v. dogmatic / judgmental about other peoples’ lives.

    i’d cut her some slack though, i think she has led a life so far in places where there were virtually no Black people, and is trying to connect with some now.

    her pov and experience are also very european, which is a different ball game than the u.s.

  8. Anon: Agreed and I am trying to cut her some slack. Attempting to universalize individualistic, idiosyncratic experience to the macro – without attempting to explain the philosophical or ideological underpinnings of their reasoning – is quite problematic. That’s why I keep asking (and maybe one person has even attempted to define) what “black” or “pro-black” mean. Without defining terms, we’re dealing with the fluctuating opinions of niggas lost in the translation somewhere in the diaspora. I’ve been lost, probably am lost and will be lost again. Am I the only one? I don’t have a finite, umbrella definition of black/ness.

  9. Really interesting and good thread, MaxJulian and everybody else. I feel for women like RR and have known several. I think sometimes it’s overcompensation, like you say, I think it’s grief and rage, I think it’s people, trying to put things together for themselves in a way that makes them feel alive, energizes them. There’s nothing quite so energizing as uniting around a common enemy. I have that that with men sometimes– feeling so enraged over what men do to women that I just want to send them all to another planet. I still go there sometimes, but when I do, I know it’s not a good place for me to be or to stay and I know that I’m not seeing clearly, and especially, that I don’t want to rest with my grief. I think it’s a lot more comfortable to be angry than it is to be heartbroken and so some people choose it and live in it.

    On a little different note, some of my kids have had white acquaintanceds who are like RR! And they are white, not people of color AT all. Heh. Wry heh. My daughter told us all one day about an incident that has kind of become a family story. When she was in a high school, a little white girl with a ‘do rag and her sag on walked up to my daughter and said, “Yo, man, I hate white people.” HA! (Wry “HA!”). So my daughter said she said to her, “Well, I don’t. My mom is white.” And the little white girl said, “Well, you know what I mean, man.” There is so much which could be said about this, but for the purposes of this thread, I think sometimes these extremes reflect a really deep internalized self-hatred. Again, I think it can be more comfortable to hate your own people and pretend you aren’t one of “them” than to do the hard work of fighting white racism and especially, of routing out your own.


  10. I think what RR means by “pro-black” is something other than ultra-assimilated to white society. There’s a book by David Hollinger, Post Ethnic America. Hollinger is a white liberal guy. He believes in civil rights, and color blindness, and intermarriage. He means
    well, but he is missing a lot of context. It reminds me of what I was told in the first grade (in the sixties)–‘we’ll integrate, and everything will be fine.’

    So here’s RR, putting up with racist insults on the street, but expected to believe that at least the middle to upper class world is like the world Hollinger envisions, and that that is good enough. It seems that in her UK, those are the options.

    Coming from that framework, it would be hard to grasp the variety of Black experience in a large country like the U.S., or the nuanced views you can have if you come from a family which has been here, and has been black or mixed for generations.

    Anyway, I like listening to RR because she has refreshingly non-mainstream views on a few academically popular books, like Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic, and because we’re both bored with certain white liberal academic feminist platitudes. But she sometimes rushes to judgment on individuals, without sufficient information (or context).

    FYI I’m white, but I guess a little less so mentally than some. The reason
    I go to some of these Black blogs is, they talk directly about what is really going on in this country. Strange though it may seem, I too am trying to get a grip on how to deal with these narrow-minded whites who seem to be so much in charge of things!!!

  11. Thanks, Heart and Professor Zero. I wish RR would put forth her definitions rather than keeping it secret. Its is a powerful position when you condemn folks for certain behaviors but then never define what you consider normative or define the parameters underwhich folks should act. Its positively God-like.

    PW, where are you?

  12. i’m here. sorry. i’ve been extremely busy @ work and my weekend was reserved for my little one (he’s 7 months old! *smile*). i promise to get back to this & other things you’re talking about.

    aside for our awk meeting…you got a cool blog poppin off 🙂

    be back later.

  13. Thank you and good to hear back from you. No worries about the awkward beginning cuz its not how you start, its how you finish. I’m gonna try to blast less and get at and under the critical questions. Look forward to hearing you poppin’ on this end.


  14. I’m really tired, and finally getting ready to go to bed now. But I’m glad that I got to this before calling it quits. The dialogue was great. I felt like I was in college all over again at one of those forum the black students would do.

    FYI… In my younger days, my stance matched PW. And I made sure that I spoke loudly about what I believed at those forums. (smile) And I certainly went for the brothers that were athletes. And I held nothing back for the “pro-black” brothas. I use to come hard for them if it somehow got leaked that he was dating a non-black. LOL

    Maturity and wisdom has now given me some balance. Although something still goes off in me when I see a black man with a white woman, I am learning that everybody is not engaging in interracial relationships because of something disfunctional or ridiculous.

    The truth is I believe that all of us are messed up on some level. I know plenty of men that wouldn’t dare date a white woman. But they wouldn’t dare date a dark skin black woman either. So, they use light skin women to still get their white, euro beauty on the sneak tip.

    I love the way you pointed out that many of us have been raised in different communities that promote that we’re all the same. That is true…

    My sister insist on dating Latin brothers. But that’s because the 25 years that my mother taught school, she was at a hispanic elementary school. We saw our mother love those kids, give them her best, so as a result, my sister, feels like it is okay for her to date hispanic men. She even gave birth to a little biracial girl with one of her Latin boyfriends.

    To be quite honest… I wish that I didn’t feel so strained when I see a black man with a white woman. I hate that we are so messed up because of white supremacy.

    Free, Good night…

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