Hope is Not Delusion

I remember growing up listening to an old Kenny Rogers song from the Gambler, and there were a few lyrics that are as clear today as it was then. Of course, I didn’t understand what he was talking about as a kid, but as I got older in the “game of life” it began to make sense.

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold’em

Know when to walk away

And know when to run

You never count your money

When you’re sittin’ at the table

There’ll be time enough for countin’

When the dealin’s done

Although I am not a gambler and probably couldn’t bluff my way out of a paper bag, I get the gist of it. The question I put out too many black women is, why aren’t we more strategic when it comes to relationships in the black community?

In a team building event on my job we had a “Poker Game” to get to know our team mates better. In it, I saw people who knew how to bluff with slick words, those who were hard to read, others look like they had beginners luck, and the obvious innocent little lamb soon to be devoured by the big bad wolves. Some of the players had bad hands, but knew how to give the illusion that they had the best. When the others thought they were defeated, they then folded. The winners I observed in most cases didn’t take time out to celebrate their victories. They gathered the chips and kept it moving.

How does this tie into our strategy in dealing with black men? I think it is a great parable for many who actually believe the “coming as I am” mentality in hopes they can catch a winner but end up with a loser. Initially, these men projected an image of strength, resilience, and wherewithal only to find out that they weren’t even a fourth of what the pretended to be. And in most cases, the woman continues to stay at the table, playing a hand she doesn’t have, with a man who deals out lies, fairy tales, and romantic fantasies.

When she had “money” and a way of escape, instead of running for the hills to preserve what little she had left, she remained sitting at the table counting. Years later, after all is said and done, she is still asking the same questions, and not getting any satisfying answers. This sister confused hope with delusion.

I know in our community there is a shortage of black men in the dating pool. There is a high out of wedlock birth rate among black women who deal with men who refuse to be in committed relationships because they use the “slim pickins” as an opportunity to choose their flavor of the week. The so called “good brothas” don’t date black women because they say we are too masculine and independent, so a white, Asian, or Latina woman will do. Then there are men who exhibit an inordinate amount of hyper-masculinity to preserve their thug image, only to discover he is a closet homosexual. And we cannot forget the men who are drug addicts, in jail, or deceased.

In the midst of all of this, why are some black women persistent in ignoring the obvious? At what point will we be honest with ourselves, and accept the fact that the melanin-ated “gawd” we are looking for isn’t coming? Do we really believe we have some kind of super powers where if we persist in a false ideology of speaking things into existence and believing against all odds, that our love interests will come true?

The unfortunate thing is, if we choose to believe in a lie, despite the evidence, we are setting up ourselves for and apocalyptic disappointment.


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