While leaving the library one day last week, an older Black man stopped me on the sidewalk to ask, “Why do Black women believe that Black men aren’t emotional?” To which I replied, “Black men are emotional, you just choose to show it in a different way.”

This ignited a conversation about him being a 49-year old, thermal engineer with a business in New York. He went on to talk about how it had been hard for him to find a “good” Black woman because all “they” wanted was his money. He continued as he pulled out his car keys stating, “I have a Range Rover, my own house, and my own business, what more can a woman need?”

It was in that moment that I realized just why he hadn’t found a good woman regardless of race. He was more concerned with the materialistic things that he accrued in life so he will continue to attract women only interested in his  material wealth. He is aware of the fact that he's attracting the type of women that have the same mentality, only focused on materialism. 

It was during this conversation that I recognized that black men and women don’t understand each other’s experiences. This man couldn't understand that I could see his emotion masked in his anger. That he wanted to be loved, but doesn’t know how to give love or receive it. He wasn't able to acknowledge that he's made love about materials instead of about feelings and experiences. There’s a disconnection between what he wants to receive and what he’s giving off.

This made me think about the disconnection between black women and men in America. We fight against each other instead of fighting for each other. We like to argue about who’s experience in America is worse, when in fact we are both at the bottom of the totem pole as far as society is concerned. Does it really matter who’s lower than the lowest?

We need to understand that we’ve been unjustly murdered, raped, and ignored as a people. We are both suffering as a direct result of the kidnapping and enslavement of our ancestors; fighting for acknowledgement, respect, and equality in this country; and working ten times as hard. Why are we fighting against each other instead of learning to understand one another?

There are these internal dialogues that happen in our silos instead of taken place in community. We need to come to the collective understanding that our experiences as Black men and women in America are distinctively similar. We have been looking for support from our gender counterparts, but there can be no support without understanding. How can we support anyone that we don’t understand? Let’s aim for understanding so that we can begin to support one another and rise together.