One of my favorite songs is by the artist Richard “Dimples” Fields, a soul artist from back in the day and the song is called “She Got Papers on Me” and it features the wonderful Betty Wright. The song is about the “plight” of a married man stuck in an unsatisfactory relationship with his wife and he sings plaintively about “the sweet little thing” he has on the side (side hoes have been around since Juvember but folks want to play brand new and act like we used to have morals).
The song would be very forgettable if it was not for Betty Wright’s 2 minute primal scream as the unsuspecting wife who walks in on her husband singing in the shower about his bae towards the end of the song. Hurt and angry, she hurls out a rant that will be always remembered in black music history. She talks about how everything on his back, she paid for, from his drawers to his shoes. How she paid for the car he drives to go see his mistress. How she paid for him to go to school and how she still pays the mortgage without his assistance. That he needs to pay her now (although how can a man who never paid for shit be expected to pay for alimony) and he should take his little albums and his raggedy component set that never worked and scat.
This song was released in 1981 and when I was a little girl, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Like “she checked that nigga!” That is until I grew older, analyzed the song, and realized that she was bragging about taking care of a grown ass man. How she put him through school and he still wasn’t financially sufficient enough to take of her and the family they created together. And now because he’s cheating, he has to go. Not because she’s working like a dog to fund a grown ass man and his habits but because he is fucking someone else.
And folks that is the very definition of struggle love. Telling women it is okay to take care of grown ass men in the name of love. He can beat your ass, use for your money and when he gets on, he is going to remember your never-ending loyalty and stupidity and reward you. Just as long as he does not fuck someone else. Yeah right. The era of the ride or die chick that will doing anything for her man from going to jail for the dirt he did to working three jobs while he works none needs to die a painful death.
Black music has been selling struggle love for years to black women via love songs such as the one above and several other songs that normalizes dysfunction in black relationships. From blues songs such as “No Good Man” by Nina Simone to “He’s Mine” by Mokenstef, black women have been sold a bill of goods that tells them that pain is love. Love is about struggle and conflict. It is about putting up with a man’s physical and verbal abuse, infidelity, children conceived by other women, financial instability, and a multitude of other unhealthy, irrational ideas about love. Just so a woman can say “At least I got a man!” to her friend who is merely trying to give her some advice about leaving the sorry bastard.
The ironic part is that struggle love is never sold to black men through the music, the media or anywhere else. There has not been a song created in the history of black music that tells black men to find them a welfare queen in the projects with five children who just need the love of a strong black man. Black music tells black men to find the baddest chick in the club with longest hair, lightest skin and the biggest ass.
The social media is not helping with this struggle love concept either. Daily black women are bombarded with memes that ask stupid questions such as “Would you be comfortable with going to McDonald’s on a first date?” or “Would you give up a $5,000 a month alimony check to marry a man making $8.50 per hour for love since a stipulation of your alimony agreement was if you got married again, the monies would be cut off” and all sorts of nonsensical, unrealistic bullshit. Black women are expected to jump through hoops of fire to prove themselves to black men who do not have a pot to piss in, a window to throw it out, and another pot to catch the piss when it comes out the window. What is crazy though is that every time one of these memes is posted to a group on Facebook, legions of parched, thirsty heifers respond with “Yes I would! Pick me!!!!,” not understanding if one of them decides to take a chance and actually date one of these men, have a child with him, and he turns out to be a deadbeat, she will be blamed for not “choosing better.”
These irrational beliefs about love have black women stuck in unhealthy relationships for years only to wake up eventually and find themselves angry and hurt when they look at all the time and energy they wasted on a man who was not worth two dead flies. Because a man that truly loves a woman is not going to sit on his ass and watch her work like a mule while he walks around like he’s King Ding a Ling. A man that is truly interested in getting to know a woman is not going to make her jump through hoops with silly ass tests such as taking her to an expensive restaurant to see if she orders the most expensive thing on the menu to see if she is a gold-digger. A man like that is not worth a woman’s time and energy. And somehow, someway, someday, black women will realize this too.