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Challenge: Cabin Fever

Self-love = "Loving-race"?

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Some people believe that if you do not unconditionally love everyone designated as a member of the same “racial” group as yourself, then there is no possible way that you could love yourself. They believe that if your life partner is a member of a different “race” than yours, it must mean that you love all members of your partner’s “race,” and that your love for that “race” is greater than the love you feel for all members of your “race,” including yourself. In fact, many of them would even say that you hate yourself and all members of your “race.”

In essence, the theory means that it is only through “love of race” that you can come to love yourself or anyone else.

In the minds of those individuals, there is nothing more to life or to the human spirit apart from “race.” They’re so obsessed with “race” that everything they observe, do and think is distorted through the filter of race. It becomes impossible for them to conceive of the world or anything in it in any way besides through their racial lens. Their race thoughts, race words and race deeds consume their identity that they can’t conceive of themselves outside of racialized concepts, structures and interactions.

Since their closed minds can’t imagine a full, rich world exists outside of the racially focused existence they’ve chosen for themselves, they assume others are also prisoners of that race world. Race prisoners aren’t aware that, unlike them, others may know that they’re not the same as everyone in their own particular family, much less everyone in the world who happened to be born with some physical features similar to their own. They do have personality traits that are all their own. They do permit themselves a rich inner and outer life, embracing their original thoughts and unique personalities and interests. They do come to love themselves for who they are as individuals. They may meet other individuals whose personalities seem to mesh well with their own, and may fall in love, as individuals.

Self-hate and self-love sink in deep and either would expose itself in patterns throughout a person’s life. It would be reflected in body language, facial expressions, what you say and how you say it, the kind of people you allow into your world and how you allow them to treat you, whether and how you take care of yourself, what you think you deserve out of life and whether you believe in yourself enough to obtain it, and so much more. Anyone who thinks they can determine whether you love or hate yourself based solely on your partner’s color is irrational and ignorant about psychology. Do you love yourself if you’re with an abusive person who happens to share your phenotype? Do you hate yourself if you’re with someone who loves you and treats you respectfully but does not share your phenotype? Do you love yourself if you choose to partner with the person in the first example over the person in the second, simply because the first shares your color and the other does not?

Race prisoners commonly make such nonsensical declarations as: “My father is a good man who treated me well. He’s a black man. Therefore, I love black men,” or “I’ll always love black men, because I’m mother to a black son.”

Um…my father is a very good man and good father and, based on my perspective as a person outside the marriage looking in, I’d say that he is a good husband to my mother as well. Yet that means only that I love my father. My father as an individual has earned my love and respect. My father is black. He hasn’t and could not earn love, respect on trust on behalf of every man who has ever been born and will ever be born into this world who happens to look something like him. He’d never want or expect me to extend automatic love and trust to someone for no reason other than because they have some physical features in common with him. How ridiculous would that be? His actions represent only him as an individual and who he’s chosen to be and decision he’s chosen to make in his life. Obviously, there are some men who share his phenotype who are very bad people who make bad decisions, and would harm me if given the opportunity.

Therefore, they should not be given my love or trust. If I gave them all a free pass rather than making sure they as individuals were loving, trustworthy, respectable people, that would make me a fool, and I would surely end up getting hurt. It is necessary, then, for my own sake that I consider each person – including those who share my father’s phenotype and gender – as an individual and vet them. Similarly, my husband is a wonderful man who adores me, cares for me and looks out for my needs. My husband is white. Therefore, I love and I am devoted to my husband, but not to every man who happened to be born with physical features resembling his.

Individuals can earn my trust, love and respect, if or when those individuals prove to me that they are trustworthy, loving and respectable. I think that is the wise way of conducting both platonic and romantic interactions. Doling out blanket love and trust is naïve and an open invitation for abuse. Individuals you should have vetted would slip under the radar and you’ll be vulnerable to them hurting you as they please, and people won’t treat you the way you deserve if they know that they’ll have your love and support regardless of what they do or don’t do for you.

Apparently, that is how many black American women found themselves in the dilemma some now believe they’re facing. At one point, a vocal element declared, “I love my black men and will die before I let any other kind of man touch me.” Thus, there were men of the ethnicity who felt they could treat the women however they pleased, knowing love and support would be unconditional. This is a lesson to all relationship seekers that mature adults must give love on a conditional basis only, to individuals who actively earn and continue acting to maintain that love. Love and trust should not ever be gifted, but must always be earned through certain factors the other person can control, such as how they treat you. Anything else will eventually be taken for granted, and possibly abused. No one can respect and appreciate anything they didn’t have to do any work to receive.

And, really, how sincere is it, anyway, to say “I ‘love’ you because you were born with that phenotype?” Hmm…really? When I hear things like “I love black women,” “I love black men,” “I love white men,” I admit I wince just a little.

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