In the book, The Goddess Twins by Yodassa Williams, the main villains aren’t found in racist groups or in an alien species intent upon taking over the world. No, the antagonists, the people who want not only to just bring the heroes down, but destroy them, are the very men that should be loving and protecting them. But why? What could make a spouse, or a parent, or a sibling, or a child, turn against someone who loved them unconditionally? Let’s discuss.
In the African American or Black Culture, there seems to be no greater honor placed upon a woman, than the title of ‘Ride or Die.’ A woman who is willing to take all forms of heat for the man in her life, righting his wrongs, and enduring the punishments meant for him. We are, in effect, expected to not only manage our own worlds without any assistance, but also carry that of the men we love. And, to add to that, we must also ensure that they get to where they want to be in life. But what if a woman wants more? Then she is told that she must either settle or end up alone
A Black woman who makes it clear that she will not take any form of abuse from a man that claims to have affection for her, is automatically deemed ‘high maintenance’ or ‘independent,’ in a bad way. Yes, if she refuses the role of pin cushion, she is condemned as being the ‘down fall of the Black Community.’ Why am I using so many quotation marks in this discussion? Well thankfully, the world and its view within our community is changing. More and more Black women are putting their feet down, making it clear that we will not take the lumps meant for men that do not do the same in return. But what about the woman who still do feel this way?
The idea of a Ride or Die Chick is not a new concept, but it has taken on different names and forms over the centuries, starting from slavery to today. The slave women were not only expected to take orders and abuse from their cruel masters, they were also expected to do their best to shield their children, and then come home to men made wicked by their own mistreatment. Men warped by the many abuses and degragaitions inflicted upon them, would subsequently inflict the same pains upon the women that loved them. Sometimes, they’d go as far as to blame the Black woman for their current predicament.
An assault that led to the birth of a lighter skinned child? Her fault. A whipping or humiliation endured at the hands of their master? Also, her fault. A vicious cycle began from the moment our feet touched the ground of foreign shores and from her beginnings in this country, the Black woman was set up as the whipping board for many races. Unfortunately, she remained that of her own. Do I blame the Black man for what was done to him? No, the abuse he endured was not his fault. What I do blame him for is his reaction to it. While we endured the same and oftentimes worse treatment, we did not allow ourselves the luxury of reciprocating it on others. Knowing that the only two targets for their pain was either the children that they bore, or the men that they chose, Black women often opted to internalize blame, thinking ourselves deserving of mistreatment. There are still women of our race who will actively look down on those of us who choose not to feel this way and instead pick men who see us as partners, not emotional, mental, spiritual, and sometimes physical punching bags.
Thankfully, most of our men have outgrown this way of thinking, but there still some who swear by it. ‘Hoteps’ or Black men who feel that the Black race as a whole would benefit from living by antiquated rules that once held us back, are the vast majority of them. In general, Hoteps despise the modern Black woman and blame her for everything bad in our community. In fact, the sight of a successful Black woman who made it on her own is a detestable thing in his eyes. Songs like the 2008 Miss Independent by Neyo show that the tides of expectation are changing. Of course some will be stuck in their ways, but for the most part, Black men are now celebrating the success of the Black woman. No longer choosing to compete with us in a game we never made the decision to play, they are now choosing to build empires with us. As a Black woman, I can personally attest to the love, kindness, and protection found within the heart of a Black man. My pains are his and his mine, but we never make the mistake of blaming each other for the blows inflicted upon us both by the outside world.
In The Goddess Twins, the matriarch endured unspeakable acts from her husband, including the attempted murder of all their girl children. When the powerful beings in the book sought to punish him for his misdeeds of quadrupled attempted murder, what did the matriarch do? Allow him to be punished? Stand up for her own children? No, she instead begged for the life of the man who would have easily and without regret ended her life and that of her children. That was not his first attempt at killing off his wife and daughters, and sadly it would not be the last. He continued on with his wickedness for centuries, and she continued on staying with him, enduring his every violent scheme and exposing her children to them as well. And in the end of their relationship, she didn’t even leave him. He left her so that he could plot an even deadlier scheme. And his reasoning? His wife didn’t do enough to lift him up and protect the world in the ways he saw fit.
When Aurora, who represents the younger generation, asks her grandmother why she stayed with such an evil man and even begged for his life, the old woman reprimands her. She states that once he was a good man, but he had been made bad due to her having super powers. Once again, a Black woman blaming herself for the abuse inflicted on her by the man in her life and chastising a younger generation who saw that type of behavior as problematic. But, that wasn’t even the worst part. She goes on to say that she still loves him and that she hopes he will one day stop being bitter and start loving her again. And why did he began to hate her and their daughters in the first place? Because they were strong Black women who threatened his perceived manhood by doing nothing other than existing.