I personally don’t see myself getting married anytime soon-mostly because of circumstances more so than by choice-but I won’t be pressured or shamed into marriage either.

That’s not necessarily what Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell intended to do in her Nov. 2 column “Enough of this selfishness: Time for black men to act like men.”

Specifically, she wants black men to marry their children’s mother because it’s good for the children, good for society and good for black people in general.

Marriage is a good thing-for some, and in general. But what happened to all those sistas who said, “I don’t need a man to raise my children?” What happend to those women who purposely had children out of wedlock with no intention of marrying the father, or any man?

And how good of a wife is the black mother who uses her child as pawn or a power chip in the relationship? And how is it that the black mother can ditch the father for any reason: “He doesn’t work/spends too much time at work/is not home enough/is home too much and needs to get out/isn’t attentive enough/too smothering/tries to make all the decisions/doesn’t stand up for himself … and on, and on, and on, and on. However, the black father must marry the women, I suppose, no matter what. Otherwise, he’s not a man.

Again, and again, and again, the brothers are put down. Fine, we deserve it more times than not. And again, and again, and again, black women vent about all these no-good brothers. But rarely does that venting include them taking responibility-with the same passion, bluntness and honesty-for their own contributions to their failed relationships. Everytime I write or talk about the other side of this relationship coin, some sista always swings it back around to black male-bashing. It’s all our fault. They’re all innocent.

Most columns written on the subject of no-good black men-by black men as well as black women, mind you-rarely, if ever, offers anything postive for the brothers.

And to even raise the issue of the black woman’s role in her failed relationships-and I’m talking about from a male’s perspective-is taboo. In fact, it’s downright sacrilegious.

There will probably be letters and columns written in response to this-hostile, close-minded, or defensive, and probably accusing me a being bitter about this that or the other, the typical reaction to black men who dare stand up to the angry black woman.

So be it.

For what it’s worth, I love black women. I love my black, 6-year-old daughter, and I love my daughter’s mother, even though our relationship has been more than rocky in the past. I love my black mother and my black sisters. I love my black aunts, cousins and nieces, black women I work with, socialize with or who are friends. But I also, dare I say, love the black man. And I love myself as a black man.

I once wrote a column about these same brothers, talking about many of the same issues Mary Mitchell and other black woman have raised. But I also tried to talk about what black men can do internally to make themselves and their community better. That approach offers something positive, along with the criticisms, to these misguided, no-good, non-marrying men. You can go online to AustinWeeklyNews.com to read that column.

So, for the record, I’m not bitter, angry or jealous of black women. I just have one question for all of us: What are we doing to turn these no-good, black men into good black men? The fact of the matter is, that endeavor must start with the black man himself (as I pointed out in that online column I wrote some years ago).

We can take black men to task, and should. But I’m just not interested in continuously piling it on without offering some glimmer of hope. Is it possible to pull the brothers up while we’re also slaping some sense into them? I think so. Or at least I hope so for our community’s sake.

P.S.: Next week, I’ll talk about the problems involving some of our brother’s poor treatment of black women. In the meantime, check out today’s Across Austin (page 12) for information about the Men’s Retreat this Saturday, Nov. 11 at Malcolm X College-oh, by the way, it’s something positive.