Women, especially black women, are supposed to manageable, pliable. We are not supposed to think, learn, grow, evolve. That we have a thought in our heads beyond the next man, the next welfare check, the next handout is unimaginable to many white people, despite so many examples that black women from the celebrity to the every day woman provide.
There are so many stereotypes about what black people do and don't do. But the main rule of being black is that we're not supposed to ask for any more than what we've supposedly been "given." Because that's the terms we're taught to think of black people in aren't we? All of us, white and black. I can hardly turn on the TV these days without some white Republican politician telling me what he thinks we've been given. We give them welfare, we give them food, we give them jobs - and this is the thanks we get. They just want more.
And so when a black woman gets on national television and tells a black man, who has been deemed perfect by a black woman judge no less- No, it's not enough. No, your love, your devotion, what you have to offer is not enough- it's angering to some people.
It was angering to the judge who used very angry words to put her in her place.
"You don't know what you want, do you?"
"How does one be too nice to ones wife?"
"I cannot conceive of the world you have structured for me here."
The wife does her best to articulate her feelings and to me her feelings are very concrete.
"He was too nice, like, it was scary nice. You know how some people are just to nice? He was stalker-ish nice? It's too nice, it's to good to be true. You can be nice but you can be too nice."The judge then makes a completely opposite comparison to what this woman is talking about. She goes out of her way to make this woman look foolish without actually listening to what she's saying. The woman knows that what she's saying isn't the norm, but nonetheless it is true.
As it goes on, the more hurt and silent she becomes. This eggs on the judge and the audience.
The judge asks her snidely: "So if I found you a brotha who ran around on you, called you names and smacked you upside the head, you'd be in heaven wouldn't you?"
The wife says no, but the judge doesn't believe her. She makes the classic mistake that many people do. If a black woman leaves a man who is considered by others to be a "good man" then she must be out of her mind. She must like to be abused.
She doesn't know how to be in a good relationship.
The husband explains that he thought he was the kind of man she wanted. Someone who would cherish her, love her, cater to her, cook for her.
And the wife explains that in the beginning that was enough. But she's asked him to cook a little less because she's gaining weight. She's asked him to stop saying, "I love you," all the time because the more he says, the more meaningless it sounds if he's not really paying attention to what she's asking for versus what he thinks he should give her.
She wants to settle into an adult relationship and he wants to worship at a shrine. She doesn't want to be the goddess on his pedestal. She wants an equal partner to walk through life with.
He was too nice. And she wants to be free.
She's not a greedy or ungrateful woman. She's an evolved woman and he's stuck in some romantic comedy version of the relationship he thought she wanted.
In society's narrow view this is only somewhat acceptable for white women, but not at all for black women. And no matter what color you are, you will suffer for your choice to be independent.
When I was considering, quite seriously, ending my relationship with Ye Old Matey, a friend of mine told me I should watch a movie: Sex in the City II.
I thought she was nuts. Sex and the City is a fun and sometimes thoughtful show, but it's not where I go for relationship advice. And it's not a show I take very seriously, mainly because it takes place in the fictional realm of White New York. But my friend was serious. She reiterated that I should watch the movie and that I should pay very close attention to Samantha's story.
Samantha was in relationship with a wonderful guy but it just wasn't what she needed. His wonderfulness and worth had nothing to do with why she ended it.
When she says, "I love you, but I love me more," it's not a laughable moment. It's poignant and another moment of independence for a remarkable and unapologetically independent woman.
We live in a world where women can still be defined solely by the men they choose and this is expected. When a woman refuses to reduce herself to her mate's accomplishment's or her mate's worth she is seen as selfish and greedy. Short of abuse, a woman is supposed to give her partner every benefit of the doubt. Black women especially so.
And when we don't, our worth and our sanity are called into question.
This wife bravely put her case on trial for the world to see. Her husband was too nice. And she left him.
Honestly, I don't blame her one bit.
Divorcing a Man Because He's "Too Nice" Part I
Divorcing a Man Because He's "Too Nice" Part II