The proverb states that, "A picture is worth a thousand words," but this two-frame cartoon featuring 30 words says so much more about the state of relationships between young Black men and women.
This image has been floating around my Facebook news feed in the last 24 hours and to my surprise it's actually almost a year old. It depicts a young Black woman choosing a thug over a nerd and later [almost 2 children later] attempting to get his attention. There are a plethora of stereotypes and messages presented in this cartoon.
There is depiction of the Jezebel archetype, seemingly making bad decisions resulting in being alone with two children. She wears the same outfit in both scenes, denoting that she hasn't progressed in life. She begins as an object of desire and ends up with a look of disdain. I questioned the excitement over the cartoon. Do young Black men see themselves as the rejected nerd? Is success [in any definition] some sort of sweet revenge? Why would young Black men want to seek revenge against young Black women?
The nerd is physically smaller and meeker than the man of choice. Note that he fawns over her and harbors resentment in his telling her to, "beat it." In my experience, this ties directly to how young Black men deal with rejection. Since the nerd doesn't posses physical power, he asserts his power through the material [i.e. a suit, money and sports car]. He basks in the confidence of having the power to reject her.
The artist depicts the thug character as a shirtless, tattooed, jewelry laden baby maker. I understand using two images of Black men that are on opposite ends of the spectrum to make a point. I do not understand imaging of a Black man as a negative. This perpetuates the negative stereotypes of both extremes within our own community.
There is truth in humor, but I still believe this is a generally unrealistic image where there is splitting [a psychological mechanism used where undesirable parts of oneself are disowned] and projection [when people unconsciously identify with a person, event or attitude by projecting the split parts of themselves] occurring. What is realistic is the self-fulfilling prophecy that occurs with imagery like this. If we believe it will happen then it will.
I'm still left with many a question in this cartoon. What happened during the "years later"? What does the next frame look like? Do Black women have bad taste in men? Is a woman with good taste in men an opportunist? What is the state of Black relationships? My list of questions can go on forever. What do you think?
Overall, I'm not a fan of the cartoon by any means. Not all Black women are thug-chasing "baby mothers" and shameless opportunists. And not all Black men are the irresponsible thug or docile, emasculated nerd. Stereotypes are wack.