The Ancient Love Affair
April 26, 1964
My Beloved Sadie,
For black men in America, there has never been a reason to lie to ourselves, to pretend what we have with our women was something else. We know that we are guilty—guilty of the unforgivable. In our collective memory, there has never been a time of joyful bliss between us and the colored women we possess without the pain and sorrow of regret. We cannot recall a single day, or even a moment where the dark clouds of the blues were not casting a shadow over the dream of being the men we wanted to be—that our very nature commanded us to be. Even when we had made our best effort, it was never going to work, a union of mutual love and respect was never going to be. We could not get past our history.
As men we knew, we knew deep down inside that the ancient love affair was over—the love affair that began at the dawn of time, the love affair that was consummated in the Garden of Eden, the love affair between the black man and the black woman. It was over. It was over when she was forced to lie down with the white man, and she looked back at the black man. A look that said, "Don't let this happen to me. Be willing to fight and die—not for my sake, but for the sake of my daughter's daughter's daughter's sake—that one day she may respect you, and that she may respect your sons." And the black man under the penalty of death looked away in defeat and resignation—refusing to take a stand, refusing to be a man.
Now, we can never look the black woman in the eye—truly look her in the eye without the fear of facing the unspoken truth—the shame of our emasculation, the shame of abandoning the black woman in the hour of her most critical need. Most of us only tolerate each other—sometimes playing house, perhaps getting married, raising children together. But this is just a façade—living under the same roof, but living separate lives—the legacy of a lie we are living.