-By Jontae Grace
I thought the concept of the Independent Woman went out of style with Platinum FUBU and Avirex jackets. All that racket about “I don’t need a man,” “I got my own,” and #teamsingle got played out quicker than Asher Roth’s career. And even though the slogans died quiet deaths, the mindsets that they influenced are still alive and well, and we must correct it if we want to have a chance of uniting as Black Pharaohs and Empresses.
After a little research, I discovered that men were perhaps the first ones to advance the concept of independence. Almost twenty years ago, several popular West Coast rappers – including one Tupac Shakur – began shouting M.O.B. (Money Over Bitches) in their rhymes, as a rallying cry for men to quit chasing no-good women and focus on financial gain, which in theory would bring more women. It was originally meant to apply to specific segments of felines: the fine-but-shallow, good-for-one-thing types. Unfortunately, men took it to mean ALL women, even those who were more valuable than any sum of money.
Not to be outdone, women caught on quick and began the “No Scrubs” campaign, which evolved into the “Independent Ladies” movement that we all love and hate today. It was a misguided attempt to assert the personhood of women (which is a legitimate issue) and dispel the traditional concept of the Black Male as the provider and protector (which is debatable). It did much more damage than that; it started a competition between men and women that left us with nothing but cold beds and bitter outlooks toward Love.
Notice that both of these movements had little or no positive effect on our relationships, or the way we relate to one another as human beings. Both theories were separatist and divided us according to our genitals rather than our true value. It made us strive for personal success, yes, but it did so at the cost of our unity, and now we are independently lonely as a people. We should have been championing self-sufficiency, which is necessary for a healthy relationship but totally different from independence, and here’s why.
The definition of Independence is “Free from the influence, guidance, or control of others.” I’ll let that one sit there for a minute. Who in their right mind – male or female – wants a person who they have absolutely NO influence or guidance over? Influence, guidance and control are interlocking principles; they work together to help make wiser decisions, and it is based on the added benefit of having two people share what they know, not one. And now we are getting to the heart of the matter.
The concept of control is a major point of conflict between the sexes, and is the center of the independence movement. Both men and women wrongly fear that giving someone control will limit their ability to live the way they want to, and make you a slave to your significant other. But the true meaning of control is having a positive influence on someone to help them make better decisions. It doesn’t mean that I have ultimate power over your destiny; it means that I share what I know with what you know, which gives us a better understanding of how to go forward. If you decide to go with your original decision, fine. But at least you did so with more knowledge that you originally had, because you listened to what I had to say.
When it comes to money, the MOB/independence movements have been even more problematic. So many people have bought into the American “mine and yours” ideology, and we are reluctant to join forces and combine resources, which keeps us all broker. But we are African descendants; our nature is to share. What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is OURS. Love isn’t a competition to see who can stack chips the highest; it’s really about putting everything into one pot so that we can all eat better. And until we get back to this mindset, we will continue to have success limited by selfishness.
Fellas, a real Boss has a firm foundation: a good, solid woman who can take everything you have to offer and multiply it. She will give you a reason to hustle harder, center your priorities and make you an even greater man than you ever dreamed. Stop thinking that money will ever be more valuable than a beautiful, wise, intelligent and hardworking woman. Ladies, I applaud you for making strides in business, education and industry; it was long overdue and I sincerely hope that it continues to progress. But just because you are self-sufficient does NOT mean you are independent. We all depend on one another; I need you because I AM you, and you me. Don’t sacrifice your personal happiness because you fear a man’s guidance and influence. The only way we are going to win this race is if we do it together. And that is the truest game you are ever going to get in this life.
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