Black Girls Learn Love Hard by Ras Baraka


I went to this incredible conference called Queen Geniuses founded by Regine Roy at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn on March 18. The whole day was filled with enthusiasm, spirit, passion and an overflowing feeling of inspiration through speeches, workshops and performances. I was truly happy to be there. One of the components of the day included a workshop called “It Really Takes A Village” hosted by black feminist Dequi Kioni-Sadiki. I learned a lot including how the Black Panthers are the reason our kids receive free breakfast in their schools. Towards the end, Kioni-Sadiki shared an empowering poem called “Black Girls Learn Love Hard” by Ras Baraka (Dope poet and the current mayor of Newark, NJ) I fell in love with the difficult truth it portrayed about the struggles of being a black girl. Check out this engaging tale of how hard a black girl loves:

“Black Girls Learn Love Hard”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, Even though love

An in between crying love, They learn love hard.

They rush to grade school dodging whistles.

And lewd stares from passing cars of men on their way to work.

They learn vulgarities as compliments

They pretend to get used to being touched when they don’t want to be

And get attention because they are pretty

Everyone wants to feel them, Press up on them

Rub against them, throw them down

Cuss them, Smack them

Penetrate them, Out of love

A be strong love, A hard love to swallow

Young girls sit on stoops and porches, In beauty parlor conversations

Watching their older sisters, With black eyes and bruised self-worth

Learning to be second, And how to hate men and love them.

All in the same sentence…..

Some girls watch their mothers get beat before, Breakfast

And get a ride to school quietly, In their boyfriend’s car

……They carry his drugs, Hold his weapons in their purses

Do time in jail, Fight other girls over our indiscretions

They love hard

Some girls learn to be alone, Some fall in love with crack or wine

And strain their withered brown bodies across the hood, Like a forgotten dream

Some girls met love in the dark while they were still

Vulnerable and small, From a familiar hand in a place they knew

Before they were even virgins, Shaking with terror and confusion

They know love as fear, Something they did to themselves

Love can’t be trusted/it’s ugly and happens to you when

Your back is turned, Love is too hard 

No one remembers that they used to be beautiful, Or smart

Or someone’s daughter, Someone’s sister/friend/a human being

They don’t get to be sweet or gentle, Or cared for

They have to do it alone, No help

……No time for pain or tears……..Black girls learn love hard

They learn sex as dialogue

They reason/their worth/best thing they have to offer

And some start talking at a very young age

They got a “ill na na”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, An even though love

An in between crying love

They learn love hard.


Crossing the Line

For the past few years, there’s been a lot of media about how difficult it is for a black woman to get married. Media professionals scrabbled everywhere  talking to different psychologists, specialists, marriage counselors, whoever they can get their hands on to answer this debilitating phenom. It went from different solutions like we aren’t that attractive, we’re too picky and we’re too successful. Now, the latest reason for an African American woman’s lack of holy matrimony is that we’re not willing to try something different and date other races.

The majority of black women I see usually do opt only for men of a darker complexion. Many of us never think of dating other races because it’s something we’re too used to seeing in our society. We see successful black families on TV and sometimes around us. We see the happiness and the higher degree those families have brought upon our culture thus making us want the same thing.  Many of us simply have never thought to date that cute white boy in the office or flirt with that charming Asian sitting next to us on the bus. The successful black family is something both many black men and women have always aspired to be.

Yet, the powerful image of the black man seems to be dwindling as many of them end up in jail or lack education. African American women are increasingly obtaining more degrees climbing the ladder of success while many of our gender opposites sit comfortably at their low wage blue collar jobs. There are many African American men trying their best to excel in life. But the lackadaisical men of our society get all the attention and make it seem like the progressive black men don’t exist.

According to professor and author Ralph Richard Banks in a recent Essence article, African American women should consider dating other races to strengthen our race and allow more black couples to get together in the future. If we broaden our horizons, we could come together again and increase the amount of colored women getting married.

I do agree that more of us should date out of our race for potential marital bliss. It never hurts to try different things. Someone of any race could be the one you were meant to be with. It takes character, not color, to match two people together. Especially since black men have no problem dating other races. We live in a world that’s more open to different possibilities. We can only strengthen and gain more steam if we come together in all sorts of ways including love.

Although, I am a bit perplexed by some of the reasons as to why we should do this. Some of what Banks was saying is that the few successful black men out there won’t be willing to date many of us because they’re ultra picky. They have more options to choose from so they’re going to want all the right ingredients to their ideal woman. And then the men left that don’t fit on the level of a successful black woman based on finances and degree level are left alone and forgotten. It just looks like black women have to give up on black men because the majority of them aren’t doing much for themselves.

There’s still a great deal of black men working hard, getting degrees and treating women like angels who don’t get any credit. Should we leave them behind too? Interracial couples are such a beautiful sight to see. However, these couples got together and stayed together mostly because of the magnetic connection they have for one another. They admire the differences and the similarities they had for each other. They let love happen and it blossomed because of the beautiful soul they saw within one another. If we’re going to cross the racial line, lets to it because we want to reach beyond the barriers of all the amazing people out there of various races; not because it seems like there’s no hope for what’s left of the black man.

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