I was inspired to write this piece after it dawned on me that the type of men I’m being approached by in a certain local, simply because of the simple life I’ve chosen to live: aren’t interested in being an “active” father. Instead, what they really want is a baby mama. A “baby mama”, as I’ve come to learn, is a label reserved specifically for Black women who have a child or children “out of wedlock”. As you may know, history has taught us that Black men on slave plantations were encouraged to breed as many women and girls (yes) without regard for any continuous ties or affiliation. On the flip side, the more children a woman had, the more certain she was of her security — not necessarily as an active participant in the man’s life but for access to his property. As a descendant of African slaves who currently resides in Jamaica and with no substantial knowledge of my lineage but that I’m simply melanated, this unfortunate trend persists.
If I were fickle-minded and in total ignorance of the psychosocial, sociocultural, political and economic dynamics I currently find myself surrounded by and actively navigate, I’d find it absolutely insulting each time a man 1) approaches me about my body and 2) tell me how much they’d love to put a baby in me.
Of the lot, and since I’m no prude, there is one in particular who has the physical attributes I might’ve considered if only when you strip away the physicality, you could actually find something. Intellect: weak, affect: selective, spirituality: fraud. Why approach if you lack these things? This is a question I’ll explore as you read more. While this may be a harsh judgment, it took some observing, conversational questioning, critical analysis and self-reflection, to arrive at such a conclusion. What an unfortunate turn of events.
For context, I lived on and near the University Campus for at least 10 years and, almost all the people in my social group and individuals I’ve been approached by, are university graduates. An approach was almost always initiated based on a shared common interest: art, academics or athletics. On the other hand, I’ve lived in this community for over a year. It’s buzzing with self-identified and lookalike Rastas or “fashion dreads” as Richie Feelings calls them in this video, surfers and skaters love it here, and basically, it’s a stomping ground for artists of all ilk. While one can have both, a creative mind and an intellectual mind are not the same. With that in mind, I’ve had the experience of discovering that one unintended consequence of living a simple life in a simple community is being approached by simple-minded men. Here are their frightening ideas:
“All women want to be a mother”
A simple-minded man is of the belief that all women want to be mothers. If a man “discovers” you are not a mother, the first thing they want to do is “put a baby in you”. I take extremely long walks alone everyday. I switch it up depending on the time of day, how sunny or overcast it is, how much weight I've gained or lost in the past week, whether I want to see the sun rise or set, my work schedule and most important of all, the likelihood of me being harassed by a random man while trying to have a long peaceful walk. If I could use one word to characterize their behaviour it would be: relentless.
I have had quite a few of them share how many children they have — no mention of the “baby madas”, how they’ve had their first “yute” at the tender age of 13. Or, how they would like to “treat me nice” if “him nah treat me right”. Even better, give me a baby to get another baby mother. I’ve even had a case where one of them had just ended a phone call with the baby mada of his newborn proceed to make his advances. Shameless. Of course I smiled and and said “wasn’t that your baby mada on the phone?” He wasn’t too pleased, but imagine how I felt?
Another time, one I had really good conversations with started to verbalize how much he wanted me to be one of his baby madas. After realizing this wouldn’t stop, I disengaged completely. I feel bad, but I would feel much worse had I continued to endure his advances.
I’ve actually had a man who has all the trappings of a good father tell me I’m the first woman at my age he has ever seen that doesn’t have a child. I had a ton of respect for him until that moment. We had so many amazing chats about him being a father, raising his son on his own and showing up for his child at critical points in his life. I truly enjoyed the stories of his son. I never expressed how I felt about what was said, I simply disengaged.
I also met a young man with 3 kids who tried to convince me that I “need a child”. While talking with him was refreshing because of how open and honest he was, he lacked the empathy required when conversing about such a serious matter with a woman. I was able to express my feelings with him: “you are a poor listener”, “you lack empathy” and so on. No consideration of my reasons, just: “you need to have a child now or else you will regret it later”. What’s worse than regretting you have no child? Regretting you had a child with the wrong man.
Based on the approach of these men, I’ve concluded such an “offering” can only be rooted in 3 ways of thinking: 1) she should have a child since a woman must fulfill her biological obligation 2) she can’t find a man and as such, it is a kind biological gesture in exchange for sex or 3) she needs a man.
When you consider how such ideas are rooted in ignorance, you actually become overwhelmed by pity instead of grief.
Skin colour matters when a Black man decides to marry or have a child
Apparently European and North American women find Jamaican men charming, and I can see why. The type of men these foreign women encounter is exactly the type I’m talking about in this article: hair in dreadlocks but not necessarily Rasta or Rasta-minded, smokes weed with tobacco, a parasite to a woman who earns her own and probably would spend their coins on him and, if she’s lightly complected — jackpot! There are 2 differences between myself and these women: 1) they only have to endure these men for a short period of time (unless they decide to get pregnant by them) and 2) they are usually lightly complected.
Jamaican men love a “browning” or “whitey” and this thinking is no different when you come across a Rasta look-alike who isn’t well-read. A “browning” can be 1) a woman who is simply a lightly complected Black woman who isn’t biracial, 2) a biracial Black woman or 3) an Asian. A “whitey” is the standard White woman and it doesn’t matter if she is tall, short, slim or thick, rich or poor. They want a “browning” and “whitey” because of the perceived image and real social capital it adds to their social status. More points are accumulated when they manage to get this lightly complected woman pregnant and even more so if they manage to convince her to marry him.
Based on the internet discourse about intra and interracial relationships among and between Black and non-Black social groups, there is a long held belief that Black women are more likely to date within their race when compared to Black men. When considered, it is also a held belief that Black men tend to marry more when coupled with non-Black women. The notion: while a Black man has no qualms having Black and non-Black baby mamas, he is more willing and likely to marry a non-Black woman he impregnates. Not to seem simple-minded, the internet discourse also suggests Black men are likely to do this because, as mentioned before, there are benefits to marrying a non-Black woman that can add to their social capital, especially if they have little to no formal education. For Jamaican men, it’s a green card, potential to earn in a more valuable foreign currency and most importantly, having a mixed child with biological features that are more welcomed by Whites.
If we are to believe this mindset, we can go as far to say: a dark-skinned Black woman is fundamentally of low or even no value to a Black man.
The uneducated Black male mentality is a pathological one.
A man “must have a ‘yute’”
As far as I can remember, I’ve had gay friends say how much they’d like me to be the mother of their offspring. Flattered? Of course. But, we are no longer friends. It should be quite evident by now that I have no issue cutting people out of my life for something they’ve said. I’ve also had straight men say the same thing. The common denominator: they need to have a “yute”.
In Jamaican society, a man uses “having a yute” as a symbol of his masculinity. He can be effeminate as they come and he doesn’t even have to contribute to the child’s life. All he has to do is prove that he got a woman pregnant and the outcome of that achievement was a child.
After having a conversation with a man who expressed he so badly wants a child before a certain age, I soon decided against having a child altogether after realizing he simply only wanted to fulfill this perceived masculine obligation of having a “yute”. He comes across as secretive, absent, unreachable, miserly and most important of all: unreliable. Checking for confirmation he was simply trying to be a baby daddy, one day I asked whether he planned to play an active role in this child’s life he wanted so badly and whether he was planning to turn me into a “baby mada”. His response: “lots of single mothers out there doing alright”. I had to state in no uncertain terms that I had no interest in being someone’s “baby mada”. He has been even more distant since.
The desire to disrupt my life by bringing into this crazy world a child without any signs of certain emotional, physical and financial support from the biological father, is not within me. I do not have the support and safety net of an extended family and so I have no intention of putting myself through what my mother and so many other single mothers are going through.
Ladies, do not have a child with a man who only wants to use your body as an incubator. He will abandon you. Never asks about your gynecological health? Never buys birth control before or after he puts you at risk? DO NOT even consider marrying him. These are glaring red flags and should be deal-breakers. Should you disregard this warning, you and your child will endure a life of unending misery.
I spend time with people with whom I enjoy conversing. I’ve learned a lot from these men about Black men in general and Jamaican men in particular — some intentional while others unintentional and unfortunate.