(The Root) — I blame World Star Hip Hop for this latest round of conversation so many people are having — again — about black American men going to Brazil to meet women and throwing American black women under the bus to justify it. I made it through all 47 minutes of Frustrated Black American Men in Brazil and noticed that the version I watched was uploaded in November 2012. Crickets.
World Star uploaded it March, and now I can't click on any of my favorite black news sites without seeing a mention of it. It's like being in a hair or nail salon in 2006 — the year Essence magazine ran an article about black men heading to Brazil to cavort with sex workers — all over again.
By putting some actual faces on an old issue, Frustrated gives more life to the never-dying conversation: the problems in black relationships (or, if you really want to alarm people, call it a "crisis"). It would be naive to pretend there isn't a disconnect among some black people when you see the infighting on display in the comments section of any online article about nearly any subject.
And the issues here are deeper than those facing the general population, which has its own "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" misunderstandings. At least those men and women are operating in the same galaxy. I'm not always sure if all black women and black men are. Case in point: this documentary.
Frustrated focuses on 10 or so various black men in Brazil — mostly guys on their first visit, but a few on their third, one who has been "18, 19 times" and one who set up shop two decades ago. To be fair, most of the men would be considered at least somewhat attractive to women in their age group, and all seemed reasonably intelligent, even if one of them — the guy who didn't quite catch himself and called Brazilian women "hos" — reminded me of Damon Wayans' prison character from In Living Color.
What they all had in common was a striking ability to blame black women for all their problems and to operate in a state of complete delusion about their popularity in Brazil.
Surely, we're all so well versed in the stereotypes of black women that I don't need to recount them in detail here. The guys rehashed all of them, assigned them to every breathing black woman on American soil and, in summary, decided that it's too much of a headache to build a relationship with any black woman "back home."
Out of all the stereotypes thrown about, one that kept coming up was the high expectations of black women. It seems that the American woman wants a man to, you know, work and contribute to a household, and she actually insists on getting to know a man before she allows him to hug her on the beach while she's in her two-piece swimsuit. (That black American women, in general, don't allow strange men to touch them on the beach was a seriously discussed complaint.) Apparently, black American women's basic expectations, which all other communities of women also have, for a committed partner are too high, and they should just be happy that a man is present.
"Women [in Brazil] are more caring [of men] and respect them as men," one guy said. "It has nothing to do with how much they make. It has nothing to do with anything else other than just being a man."
Somehow these guys have convinced themselves that their Americanness, which drips off of any tourist, and the benefit of the exchange rate between the Brazilian real and the American dollar have nothing to do with all the love that a middle-aged man well past his prime can receive from very young and exceptionally attractive Brazilian women. And that is when I laughed, loud and hearty, at the screen, and said to the friend watching with me, "These men are delusional."
America's economy may be in the toilet, but in some places — not Europe — a dollar still goes a long way. A plainly average American man in the right place — e.g., Rio — can party like a rock star with his boys and entertain a harem of young, pretty ladies without putting a significant dent in the budget.
Let us not pretend that, just as there are American women who are attracted to "ballers," or men who give the appearance of such, the same does not exist in Rio. Let us also not pretend that some of the women whose company these men enjoy are paid sex workers, an occupation in which stroking egos and, ahem, other things are part of the job performance. How much money they spend, even if it's not considered a lot to other Americans, has everything to do with it.
That the American dollar goes so much further is a prominent factor in why these men get rock-star treatment in Brazil. They would receive a much different — and, to be clear, less warm reception — if prices in Brazil went up. In fact, when they did, black men switched locations, heading to the Dominican Republic to pseudo-floss instead, which Essence also covered, in 2010.
For all the complaints the men had about building relationships with black American women, it didn't go unnoticed that none of the men featured — not 1 in 10 — reported having a wife, girlfriend or significant other of any kind. Nor did they have much luck with Brazilian women. The only man who referred to his relationship status said he was "single." So … you can't build relationships at "home," and you travel 6,000 miles from home and still … nothing?
What America and Brazil (or, now, America and the Dominican Republic) have in common is the man who's doing the traveling. The problem isn't the women he encounters — it's him! Either he doesn't want a relationship or he is clueless about how to sustain one. Neither of those traits is the fault of the black American women he's dated, so I wish these guys would stop scapegoating them to justify their international sexcapades.