Last Sunday afternoon I stopped at a gas station for a drink. A tired looking Black man, in his late forties to early fifties, was standing outside the gas station. I could tell he was a pan handler because he was waiting outside the building watching people come and go. I parked my car in front of where he was standing and he approached me and asked me for some spare change. He tried to follow up with a story about how he was trying to get somewhere and needed money. I told him I would give him some change on my way back to my car.
As I was leaving the gas station the pan handler was standing in the same spot in front of my car. I gave the man some spare change. I think it was about thirty five cents. As I was getting in my car a middle aged, White man was going into the gas station. The Black man did not approach him for any money. He just made eye contact and just nodded.
I was a little troubled by this. Why did the Black male pan handler have enough pride not to ask the White man for money but he had no problem presenting himself as a pitiful bum to a Black woman? Why was it more important to the Black man to save face in front of a White man but he didn’t care what a Black woman thought of him?
Besides that, the entire global economy is set up so White men can prosper. Black women are pushed to the margins of the economy. The White man is more likely to have a dollar to spare whereas I may or may not have much more money than the panhandler. In fact, I’m sure the panhandler has more money than I do because I have student loan and car debts. My have negative net worth.
Despite the paltry sum of money I gave the man I felt really taken advantage of in that situation. I hate it when men ask women for money. Unless there is a very close relationship between the two it shouldn’t happen. I’m old fashioned and I think that men should provide leadership. The man could have shown me, a Black woman a little respect and had some pride in himself but he chose to reserve that for the tubby, middle aged, White man.
I would love to know why the panhandler made the choices that he made that day. I bet if I asked him why he begged from me and looked the White man in the eye and nodded hello he couldn’t give me an answer. But I think this is an example of how Black women are seen in the world at large. This story is also indicative of a problem in the Black community.
Black women are often seen and treated as people that are to be taken advantage of and used. People expect Black women to give, serve and work and never prosper or expect recognition or respect for her efforts. I often feel that Black men are the biggest users of Black women.
I also feel that Black have abdicated their positions as leaders in the Black community. Men should be leaders. That’s not to say that women can’t be leaders but in Black families women often provide emotional and financial leadership for others and often times there is no one for Black women to lean on. It’s not always the case but often times the men are just not there at all or in a supportive way. I think that the lack of men taking responsibility for women in children is a large part of the problem in Black America.
All of this came about because of an interaction with a bum on 24 Highway. He chose to be a bum for a Black woman but a man for a White man even though the White man probably pegged anyway. Had he not asked me for money I would have thought he was waiting for someone in the gas station or something.
I would really love to hear feedback on this essay particularly if you are a part of the African American community.