by Jewel Woods and Karen Hunter
Grand Central Publishing
Book Review by Kam Williams
“Black women were once at the center of black men’s lives, as wives, mothers, lovers and partners… However, in this generation, black women have become somewhat of a nuisance, a burden, and perhaps even a pariah in black men’s lives…
For the first time ever, large and growing numbers of black men have the option to ask what they perceive to be a legitimate question: Are black women necessary?
This book is not only going to deal with the question ‘Are black women necessary?’ It will also take a look at the broader question of why black men are looking for something they think is outside black women.”
Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 2-8)
Did you know that Brazil, the country with the largest concentration of people of African descent in the Western hemisphere, has become the favorite vacation destination of a rapidly-increasing number of professional black men? Apparently, they’re flocking to Rio de Janeiro for more than a little rest and relaxation on a sun-drenched beach.
The country is now also a popular port of call with bourgie brothers due to the easy availability of beautiful Brazilian women (“Halle Berry on steroids”) who don’t have the attitude or emotional baggage they generally find attached to sisters back at home. Some of them describe attaining “a level of physical and sexual intimacy, a sort of sexual healing, that they see as lacking in many of their current relationships with black women.” Consequently, they don’t mind having to venture to Rio de Janeiro repeatedly for “an experience that they think are denied them by black women in America.”
We have Jewel Woods and Pulitzer Prize-winner Karen Hunter to thank for blowing the covers off this clandestine sex trade currently flourishing in Brazil. For these two investigative journalists interviewed dozens of the peripatetic African-American men, many leading double lives, in preparation for co-writing Blame It on Rio, a rather revealing look at an emerging cultural phenomenon,.
And exactly why is this generation of black men with money so fond of Brazilian women? The authors blame a variety of contributing factors. First, the fact that they grew up watching hip-hop music on BET which groomed them to expect a rainbow coalition of gorgeous models eager to satisfy. And that utopian fantasy is just a plane ride away, since “Going to Rio is like walking into a rap video: scantily clad women, gyrating and fawning over every man in sight.”
Another factor is addressed by an African-American physician who found salvation in Rio from sisters’ bad attitudes in the States. He asks point blank, “Where else in the world is a black woman’s attitude accepted as the social norm, except in America?”
Next, the issue of anger is raised, with the observation that, “In complete contrast to the warm and affectionate demeanor of Latin American women, the most prominent characteristic of black women is anger.” Here, Woods and Hunter again blame the entertainment industry for causing black men to view their women with contempt by perpetuating the mammy stereotype by having “Tyler Perry, Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy “ put on a fatsuit and a dress to solidify “the image of the fat, loud, rude black woman.”
Other chapters explore widespread rejection of black women over their frigidity, obesity and Christianity. The participants in the project are so relentless and rabid on their indictment of the African-American female, I couldn’t help but pause periodically to wonder whether this was all a joke, since I’ve never previously heard anyone mention Rio as a sexual retreat.
Despite all of the dissing, the authors are ultimately optimistic about black male-female relationships, though they suggest that professional brothers are in dire need of an extreme makeover. They close with a list of “Ten Things Black Women Need and Want,” including understanding and truth.
A controversial expose’ about a shocking trend likely to divide and devastate the Hip Hop Generation along gender lines in the absence of constructive conversation capable of paving the path to honesty and reconciliation.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
by Jewel Woods and Karen Hunter