Charles Fox, Jr.
The Plight of the "Good Black Man"
First and foremost, I am not a "good man." I feel compelled to get that out of the way from the onset. Nothing about me should earn me that label. Am I saying that I'm a "bad man?" No. What I am saying is that I am a man...period. Nothing about my life, my accomplishments, or my upbringing should grant me an automatic membership into the community of "Good Black Men" that so many folks (particularly Black women) point to as the would-be cream of the crop of brothers in the world.
Truth be told, I want no part of it. Not because I am lacking in self-confidence and self-efficacy, but because in embracing that term, I 1.) Literally set myself up for failure by embracing and climbing on the social high horse. 2.) I am basing my self-worth and standing in the world on the basis of being somehow a "better" man than someone else (typically, other Black men). Nope, I think I'll pass. If my being good is contingent on viewing another brother as "bad" simply because I have a few degrees to my name and a job to go to (among other shallow accomplishments and personality quirks), I reject the notion that I am somehow occupying some platform of superiority.
The inconvenient truth is that I'm not a good man in the insincere sense of the word. Anyone who has ever dealt with me can tell you that I'm a flawed, incomplete, baggage-carrying human being like most folks in the world. Every day, I strive to be a better person than I was yesterday. I desperately want to be an amazing husband, father, son, brother, and citizen and I struggle with buying into the notion that I can be. I know that this will take work and patience (both from me and the people who love me most). I do not need or want to look down on another brother in order to build myself up. I am what I am and that is all I can be. I just want to be better, as I think most people do.
I find men who turn their noses up at brothers who may not be as "educated or enlightened" as they are to be overcompensating for a dearth in actual self-esteem. No one who is confident in themselves feels the need to denigrate or tear down their brothers in order to catapult themselves into the stratosphere of the fraternity of esteemed men. We would be better served to spend our time helping to uplift those around us, who with a few lucky breaks and opportunities, could easily be looking down on us much in the way we often look down on them.
Regularly, out in the dating world, women seem to be looking for that quintessential "good man" but what does that entail? What makes a good man? What makes a man good? Conversely, what makes a "bad man?" As men, is our goodness measured by our bank account, how many homes/cars we own, our degrees, our sexual prowess? Who determines what the standard is? In my experience, too much of what seems to constitute a good man for some is tied into what they have, rather than what they are. Of course, this is not true across the board but in today's world of digital fallacies and online dating, it's quite easy for a man's credentials/looks to grant him good man status based solely on what he has accomplished and how well he wears a tailored suit.
We frequently don't take into account the tried and true biblical phrase: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" In other words, while personal accomplishments and accumulated wealth are nice, we (both men and women) should be looking at potential partners on a deeper and more pragmatic level. What good is having a man with a six figure salary if he is morally bankrupt? How does it benefit a woman to have a man who is adept at raising revenues but is ill-equipped to raise a child? What good is a man who owns a house if with him, you never feel at home? Hell what good is having a gorgeous, sexy "mami" if she lacks the maternal skills to actually be someone's "mommy."
We must think more crucially and critically about how we bestow the good man label. All of us are just men. Judge us as such. Some of us, on paper may seem like the more attractive mating option than another fellow but it would behoove women to do their due diligence with respect to potential beaus. Don't give the polished, "accomplished" brother a leg up simply based on what he has over the brother who may never have gone to (or completed) college and may be a bit rough around the edges. Assess them from the standpoint of them being men who are vying for your affections and companionship. When you enter the assessment from the faulty standpoint of one of them being "good" and one of them being not bad but "not as good" and your reasons for that calculation are built singularly off of the superficial, you are playing a losing game.
Those of us who are frequently prematurely granted the good guy title will inherently become complacent and lazy when it comes to courting and wooing you when you are so loose with the moniker. Why? Simply because if you reveal your hand in that way, showering us with adulation about how great we are as opposed to someone else whose path you crossed, the game is already over. You've revealed to us that we have the upper hand and thus we don't have to work as hard to earn the prize (you). Even if we truly are amazing and are light years ahead of previous men you've dealt with, keep it to yourself. It's on you to make us actually have to earn those compliments and kind words.
Just like I can't call a woman a "good woman" until I discern what she's about and get to know her intimately. Not talking about sexual intimacy (any two people with sex organs can have intercourse) this is relating to the inner personal mechanisms pertaining to what drives her, her dreams, and the vulnerability of her soul. All of which make for a more intense, passionate, and connected lovemaking experience by the way (but that's a whole other topic). That is what courtship and dating are all about. The simple yet complex art of (ideally speaking) convincing someone you are interested in as to why you are the most uniquely qualified person, among billions, to love and cherish them for who they are. Let a man (or a woman) show you. This is why folks don't get hired based on their resume alone. There is a vetting and interview process that must be played out in order to ensure that the right candidate gets the job and has the best chance to succeed (in romance, success to me is defined as winning your heart, mind, and body).
Remember, we are all on our own journey on this planet. Resist the urge to think that because in your mind your journey has been more fruitful than someone else's, that it somehow gives you the right to pass judgment and declare supremacy over them. The vastly underrated Luther Ingram once crooned: "If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right." As we wrap up 2014, I say: "If looking down on my brothers and flaunting my superficial accomplishments makes me "good," then I'd rather be bad." Happy Holidays everyone. Here's to a peaceful and prosperous 2015 in which we can all become...better.
© Copyright 2014, Charles Fox, Jr.
Past Articles by Charles Fox