“Watch the Shift: Is It Love, Utilitarianism, Or Both?” by T. Hasan Johnson, Ph.D.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these videos lately where Black women have been contemplating asking Black men for help and reassesssing being “soft enough” to do so. Or they’ve questioned the value of interdependence over being singularly independent. (And I’ve noticed how many Black men can’t wait to be appreciated at nearly any expense.) It’s interesting to say the least. Still, I can’t help but notice the timing of it all, especially after 5 decades of emasculating dismissal. (Notice how none of these videos suggest what she’ll do for you? Instead they just focus on her learning to appreciate your utility to her.) I grew up when mantras such as “I don’t need a man” and “niggas ain’t shit” were spoken quite often, and with a nearly religious zeal—even by the classiest of educated Black women. I saw it on TV, in movies, and heard it personally. Often. And met scores of Black men from all over who noticed it during the same time period.

As I’m not wholly against this development, I can see how it could be a good thing, I suppose, but only if done with sincerity. It is what it is. On another note, men, be careful and watch this development closely. Make sure there’s a difference between being asked for your help and being expected to serve as a footstool or servant. After being historically seen as a lesser being only capable of providing sperm, sex, and physical protection if you weren’t a 1% man (earning over $150K/yr), such a quick shift merits caution. Make sure you articulate your needs, and that she has an eagerness to be as much of a value to you as she requests of you. If you observe a shift back to emasculation, dismissal, insult, shaming or guilting tactics, or argumentativeness, do NOT accept it. Be careful of people performing a respect they don’t actually have for you. As men value genuine respect far more than people think, it can be as negatively impactful to have false respect as it is positively impactful to have genuine respect. And if you choose to be in a relationship remember to value your peace and avoid making her validation a reflection of your self-worth. That alone can be the difference between life and death for us…

See examples of the shift below…

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