Dear Editor: Copy, Cut, Paste, Delete….Writing my Own Story


Funny thing about introspection: it’s just so damn personal!  You see, I had a post all ready written about the perils, trials, and tribulations of dating for highly educated Black women in the DMV.   It was witty, charming, and beautifully constructed.  Trust me.   However, my inner voice suggested that the content was not entirely accurate or perhaps it was simply to simplistic.  I was regurgitating a narrative that I have heard from women like me who are looking for love in seemingly all the wrong places. It was a story of rejection, heartbreak, loneliness, and even shame—albeit not without its light moments.  Yet, it was a story framed from the point of view of a victim.  I am not a victim, though it occurs to me I have operated as one for way too long.

In thinking of matters of love and life, I am resigned to be the editor of my life.  In this role, I have the power to decide who stays and who shall go.   I can write a better story, by way of smart choices based  first and foremost around loving myself and consequently not based on the fleeting opinion of others.  Within this paradigm, I determine my self worth from a higher truth: I am a person in progress, but I am worthy of  pure and genuine love.  As editor, I can redefine the storyline as I go along, being confident not to settle and faithful enough to take a risk in pursuit of my dreams.  However, this is much easier said than done.

I am the kind of girl that thrives on male attention. There I’ve said it.  For as long as I can remember, it was very important to me that boys and men found me attractive and worthy of love.  I  had a boyfriend pretty consistently since the second grade and let me tell you the melodrama of that puppy love affair could rival that of any daytime soap opera.  I kept boyfriends through middle and high school, and married in my early twenties to  further solidify a pattern of serial monogamy sprinkled in with a few regrets.   Divorced by twenty-eight, I was devastated, angry, bitter, and sad.  The man who was supposed to support me, love me unconditionally, and protect me—let me down.  Yet in retrospect, I had let myself down. I am my own editor.

A little armchair psychology will easily connect my “boy issues”, as  I call them to my relationship with my father who loved and spoiled me incessantly, but was limited in his ability to provide the real guidance, nurturing, time, and wisdom I craved.  You see my parents were divorced when I was still a little baby and my father remarried raising a family outside the one he created with my mom.  I do not begrudge him any happiness his choices may have brought to his life; I am just realistic about how they colored my experiences in love and relationships.

I also watched my mom move through a series of boyfriends—none of which ever really deserved her. I know she did this in a failed effort to bring a father figure into my life  as well as to provide the love and security she wanted and deserved.   Yet, as I see this pattern repeating in my life:  toxic relationships, broken homes, anxiety, and depression; I am making an active choice to stop it right here.  The call on my life is too big not to;  I am my own editor.

God is my north star and I always felt very attuned to the universe and what it wanted for me.  I know that I was given a voice, talent, and a passion for living that is worthy of the kind of love that will last a lifetime.  Accordingly, it is not worth it for me to waste the energy and time investing into thin relationships based on my own insecurities, fears, or simply a desire to get the love that has alluded me, thus far.  Yet to say that it alluded me would be somewhat of a misstatement.  I have had great guys—though flawed—love me in healthy and nourishing ways.  However, I am learning that I need to come into a place mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally where I am able to first recognize and then form healthy romantic relationships.

Ladies:  I ardently urge you to do a mirror check.  For all the complaining we do about the foibles, fumbles, and general fuck ups the men in our life enact upon us, it is important that we don’t lose sight of how we are contributing to our own destiny. Of course this not to say that the guys out there don’t require their fair share of introspection, healing, and calls for accountability. They surely do.  The relationships between Black women and Black men are  plagued by historical consequences and cultural baggage.  Accordingly, it is that much more important that we become more intentional about recognizing and valuing the love within ourselves and others.

I say all this to say, I am taking a break to be with myself.   That is right folks—you heard it here first. I am pulling myself out of the game.  I am sure that with this bold proclamation that every guy I ever wanted will come knocking down my door—the universe is not without a sense of humor.  However, my dating sabbatical isn’t about self-denial, but more about self-actualization.  I am taking sometime to embrace the skin I’m in and to learn to love myself fully—flaws and all.  I am taking some time to know the God within me, to tap into my full potential, heal a few wounds, jump over a few hurdles, knock down some road blocks, and most importantly write my own happy ending. I am the editor of my life.  More to come…stay tuned.

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If I Were A Boy….: Is Chivalry Dead and Did We Sistahs Kill It?


My so-called dating life is often a platform for improvisational comedy, so I am careful not to extend my romantic foibles and fouls to the whole of Black sisterhood.  Yet listening to my gal pals has revealed a pattern that I cannot ignore.  It seems chivalry is dead and according to Dave Chappelle women killed it.  In general, many guys—not all mind you—are not interested in courting us anymore and this saddens me.

First, I recognize this is not entirely the guys fault.  Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free? Frankly, it may simply be more efficient in today’s economy to skip the wining and dining.  Yet, I yearn for the days of flowers and chocolates.  A little romance would go a long way for the scorned and broken hearts out there. In fact, there are some real incentives to be had, if Black men and women decided to kick it old school style in terms of relationships.

You see I like classic  R&B groups like the Dells, Heatwave, and the Mighty, Mighty O’Jays.  These cats knew how to woo a lady.  The lyrics of love songs like “Stay in my Corner“, “Always and Forever“, and “When a Man Loves a Woman” illustrate what relationships should look like.  There was a time when a man would sing about taking the stars out of the sky for his girl, and now what do we get: “Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol” and “Why Would You Wanna Break-Up?

The once cultural norms of the guy paying for dinner, driving, and generally putting in work to get a ladies attention has been replaced with us doing all the work. We are chasing the guys down like the last pair of size-7, heavily discounted Tory Burche’s at a Nordstrom Annual sale. I see women driving around men.  I’ve been there.  I see women paying for meals.  I’ve been there too.  This role reversal does not feel natural to me and I think it emasculates men to the point where they no longer feel a desire to be the provider. Frankly, they do not put in work because there is no need.  The marriage statistics treat good Black men like a commodity on the dating market, while they simultaneously devalue  Black women.  Moreover, a lot of guys in my generation did not grow-up with  their father’s in the home.  These momma’s babies are so often ruined that by the time they get to us ladies, they simply expect to be catered to.

There is also the matter of the nookie and the cookies.  Guys will tell us, if you want to be chased then don’t give it up too soon.  Noted.   Yet, the sexually liberated among us will argue that we have the right to get ours, just like the fellas do and there is nothing to be gained by waiting.  Their motto: “if you don’t give it up, another girl will”. Yet if you subscribe to the anthropologically  proven notion that men are by nature hunters, then you must acknowledge there is a strategic advantage as well as a valuing of self that comes from resisting sex earlier on in a relationship.  All of us take an L in this arena every now and again, but when it gets tough I like to think of Anne Boleyn.

History buffs among you will know Henry the VIII became so enamored with Boleyn that he went on an unrelenting  pursuit to make her his mistress.  Yet she steadfastly resisted his attempts to seduce her.  He became so obsessed with Boleyn, he broke the entire nation of England from the Catholic Church to have his marriage to Queen Catherine annulled, so he could then marry Boleyn.  Moral appraisals aside,this man seceded his entire country from an entire church, and not just any church the entire Holy Catholic church, thereby changing the annals of history forever…and all because one chick would not give up the cookies.

Only thing guys will break-up nowadays is the dinner bill for us to pay our half.

I find myself sitting in the car watching my dates walk all the way into the restaurant only to find that I am not beside or behind them.  Many are shocked when I insist they not only open my car door but hold the door when I walk through the restaurant, as well. Most cats have so much swag there is no hand holding; or public displays of affection.  Moreover, they also want you to call them and text them, and we run the pace with a smile on our face because hell, a half a man is better than none…right?  I’d venture to say no.

I think there is something to be said for letting a man feel like a man.  This of course does not mean unwittingly meeting his needs—  i.e. cooking and sexing ’till the cows come home without acknowledging your own needs. It does, however, mean raising your level of expectation from what think you can get to what you truly deserve.

All of us deserve to be the princess sometimes and sure we will kiss some frogs, but when true love comes a knocking and you walk through the door, chances are he’ll be holding it for you.

Number Crunching with Lyfe Jennings: The Problem with Statistics


I’ve never been good at math. Perhaps that is why I find Lyfe Jenning’s “Statistics” so troubling.   Several months ago I addressed the issue of the “lonely black girl” narrative and how it is pervading the cultural zeitgeist.   Since then this narrative has become even more familiar, as the subject of Black radio broadcasts, editorial pages, and  general water cooler conversation.  With Helena Andrew’s Bitch is the New Black on bookstore shelves and the sequel to Terry McMillan’s Waiting to ExhaleGetting to Happydue in stores this fall, I have no doubt the BGBHS (Black Girl By Herself) onslaught will continue. Into this cultural mêlée, enters Lyfe Jennings, a R&B artist well-known for his gritty urban  story lines, with his new song Statistics. While it purports to be an education to help prepare women to find Mr. Right, I  suggest that it is a further contributor to the widespread miseducation of Black women in the lessons of life and love.

For the sake of the overall polemic, we will leave aside Jenning’s fitness as a teacher on such matters, given his history.  But the basic premise of the song suggests that there is only a certain percentage of black men available due to a series of maladies, personal shortcomings, character flaws, and other characteristics—sexual preference—that makes them unavailable.   The song opens:

25% of all men are unstable
25% of all men can’t be faithful
30% of them don’t mean what they say
and 10% of the remainin’ 20 is gay

That leaves you a 10% chance of ever findin’ your man
That means you better pay attention to these words that I say
I’m gonna teach you how expose the 90%
and show you what to do to keep the other 10.

It goes on in similar fashion setting forth rules for the women folk, which include among others “Don’t be a booty call”, “Tell him that your celibate”, and “Be the person you wanna find”.  On their face, I don’t have a problem with any of these propositions.  However, if Statistics if at all prescriptive, it is a merely chicken soup for what has really become a relational cancer in the Black community.

I have heard people suggests how deep this song is and how Jennings really hits the nail on the head with this one.  Yet to me its more like he is tightening  an already well-driven screw.  Suggesting that only %10 of men are quality/available within the dating pool will only make the situation between men and women more tenuous.  Right now what Black women and men need to hear is a message of self-love.  One that demonstrates how to live a life of experiences and joy, how to leverage their personal power to make a difference in the Black community and society-at large, and how to the heal the historical wounds and mend the discords between them.

The extent to which Jennings algorithm is valid is debatable.  So many of the women in my life—self-included—are so consumed with meeting societal norms of having the loving boyfriend, big white wedding, children, and the white picket fence that we fail to acknowledge if this convention is even aligned to what will really make us happy.  What would it look like to be beautiful, intelligent, educated, financially successful and completely self-possessed to point that  having or not having a partner did not define our happiness?

The blogosphere has been rumbling for months now on the role of the Black church in keeping Black women single.  Columnist Deborah Cooper really sparked the conversation, which has since been picked up on by the likes of CNN.com, with her article The Black Church: How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely. The article basically blames the Black church as an institution for a sort of magical thinking within its Black women parishioners that has left them single and alone.  It goes on to make the argument that Black women should abandon the Black church en masse and focus on themselves and their families.  Essentially, I disagree with this premise because it suggests that Black women and the Black church are a monolith.  However, I do think a refocusing on what it means to be a fearless Black woman is in order.

Many of us our not living our lives to the fullest because we are afraid.  We are afraid of being alone.  We are afraid not reaching our full potential.  We are afraid of tapping the most divine part of ourselves. Many of us are deathly afraid of loving ourselves fully.  We are afraid of loving the God within us.  We are afraid of sacrifice.  We are afraid of failing.  We are afraid of getting outside of our comfort zone.  We are afraid of forgiving.  We are afraid of putting down our bags (baggage).  We are afraid of our creativity.  We are afraid of our dreams.

Yet I am convinced that if we sat aside these fears and tapped into our greatness we would not care about statistics—daunting or otherwise.  We would be convinced that providence has us precisely where we need to be and “with” who we need to be at any given moment.   I am tired of seeing the women in my life unhappy in relationships and unhappy alone.  I am tired of seeing this in myself.  As I grow and learn each day, what has become manifest to me is that life is truly an opportunity to love and be loved.  This love will emerge in all manners, romantic and otherwise; it is our responsibility to be available to it in all its forms.  This responsibility requires us to learn to accept ourselves as whole, perfect, loving, harmonious and happy—even if we do not always feel this way.  My hope is that in the “knowing” and “accepting” of our greatness will bring love in to our lives in such abundance that the numbers will not even matter.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

The Happily Ever After Myth – Comparative Analysis of the Speidi and Gore Marital Separations


Last week, the nation was collectively stunned when news broke that the Al and Tipper Gore were separating after 40 years of marriage.  Media commentary and the response on the blogosphere largely focused on the changing nature of marriage in society, and especially within the baby boomer set.  Apparently, till death do us part takes on a whole different connotation when Americans are living longer more complex lives.  Accordingly, pundits are interrogating the institution of marriage with renewed vigor.  When the culture is dominated by messages of personal fulfillment and happiness as an end game, can traditional conventions of marriage still work and what does “work” really mean?

While news of the Gore’s break-up dominated headlines, they were not the only famous couple announcing a marital separation last week.  Perhaps more infamous than famous, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt collectively and nauseatingly known as Speidi announced their separation, after only one year of marriage.  Unlike the news of the Gore break-up, the imminent demise of the reality couple was first met with delight and then immediate skepticism.  With the fame hungry couples’ reality show—The Hills— slated to end,  much of the entertainment media is reporting the separation as a hoax.  While it may very well be a publicity stunt for Montag’s upcoming  reality show, the Gore and the Speidi separations represent why this is a unique cultural moment for the institution of marriage.

The Gores lived as man and wife for forty years.  While the public face suggested they were the quintessential happy couple, there is no way for us to know the extent of the joys and pains,  dreams fulfilled and promises broken that this couple would have no doubt experienced.  Unlike Speidi, the Gores  private lives were not being documented for a reality TV show.  Accordingly, we can only conjecture that after raising children and pursing individual ambitions, they simply grew apart.   I believe that there is authenticity and dignity in the way they handled this very  private matter and I’m sure they are shocked that their personal choice has resulted in a public outcry on the state of baby boomer marriage.

In contrast, Heidi and Spencer, who bear a striking resemblance to The Flowers in the Attic, have after one year  separated in a calculated move to remain relevant in this cultural moment.  Blogs are calling the split as fake as Heidi’s surgically enhanced mammaries.  Yet, I would argue the couple is doing “marriage as spectacle”.  It is a uniquely American proposition that marriage and love go hand and hand.   Marriage is an economic contract, as much as it is a partnership based on myths of often fleeting emotions.  Therefore, what Heidi and Spencer are doing, as they play with the conception of marriage, may be more representative of marriage throughout most of history: an economic partnership about survival, more than any kind of romantic notion.  As they seek to enrich themselves by being obnoxious, blithely stupid, and most importantly ubiquitously present, their marriage simply becomes another means of production.  We can only hope these two don’t decide to procreate, in an effort to commodify parenthood ala the Octomom and the Gosselins.

I was only married for a little less than five years, before I cried uncle—but I can tell you unequivocally that it is probably the most challenging and selfless endeavors one can make next to parenthood and say monasticism.  And despite the brevity of my first marriage, I still believe in the convention and I consider my “failed” marriage successful because it taught me the beauty of resilience.

Marriage is a religious, civil, and yes economic arrangement between a couple that will become characteristics of which will evolve  in our increasingly complex world.  How we “do marriage” is representative of our time in history and the larger culture? So what represents a successful marriage to you? Is longevity the only metric?  It is a civil or religious arrangement, or could it be both?

Discuss.

I’m A Highly Educated Single Black Woman and No I’m Not Lonely


I should be depressed.   Why? I’m newly single and everywhere I turn I keep reading, hearing, and seeing so-called consensus couched as definitive evidence that as a highly educated black woman, I may be that way from here until eternity.   The lonely black girl narrative is being embraced with very little interrogation in this cultural moment and I for one am ready to put the Kabosh on it.  So, here it goes:

I AM YOUNG, BLACK, HIGHLY EDUCATED and NOT THE LEAST BIT LONELY.  I’M SINGLE AND HAPPY!

I mean sure, I would like to go to Applebees and have some nice conversation with a gentleman suitor, as much as the next girl; but I am not the least bit desperate or disillusioned at the prospect of not marrying again.  I’m leaving that  aspect of my life up to God’s providence, which means not settling, accommodating, rationalizing, or rearranging to fit into someone else’s context.  No sir. Imma be me.

Any questions? 

However, I digress.  I can certainly acknowledge that the startling statistics on the state of the Black marriages and the overall decline of the Black family are culturally and economically significant, if not a sign of the Black apocalypse.   Hence, why I found a recent article sent to me by a sistah friend worth sharing. Found in April’s Economist Magazine—the latest mainstream media outlet to foray into the now well tread ground of the lonely black girl narrative—the article entitled How the Mass Incarceration of Black Men Hurts Black Women takes a look at how the mass numbers of homies on lock down results in declining marriages in our community.

I encourage you to check out the article in detail.  It has all the oft quoted statistics on single motherhood, black male incarnation, disproportionate educational levels etc. etc.   We know this story.  We live it every day.  We live it when our dentist girlfriend gives the blue collar brother a chance, even though they have next to nothing in common, aside from melanin; or when our aunt, the professor, settles for being the other woman, “just to have somebody”.  Accordingly, the part of the article that stood out to me is captured below:

“I thought I was a catch,” sighs an attractive black female doctor at a hospital in Washington, DC.  Black men with good jobs know they are “a hot commodity”, she observes. When there are six women chasing one man, “It’s like, what are you going to do extra, to get his attention?”

Bing. Bam. Boom and preach. As a native Washingtonian and current DMV resident, I can testify that this woman is speaking nothing but the God’s honest truth.  I haven’t dated in the last really ten years and I can tell you that it is viscous out there.   There are many successful, Ivy-educated, community service doing, church-going, peach cobbler baking, supermodel good looking women in this area and accordingly  it’s a man’s paradise.

Therefore, while being single does not sadden me, seeing my sistahs compromise in the name of love does.  The competition is so fierce that you have Rhodes Scholars dressing like cocktail waitresses to get attention. I’ve found black women are losing the unique expressions of our beauty, becoming carbon copies of this video model aesthetic with mythic long weaves, skin-tight ultra-short spandex dresses, and stripper platform heels.

I do recognize that men are visual and you have to show a little skin to bring the boys to the yard, but as of recent the hemlines and push-bras are getting out of control, not to mention the butt pads and felatio classes.

I for one refuse to play.  I’m almost thirty.  I don’t have the energy or desire to compete for a man who probably won’t even take the time to call me anyway.  I’ve learned they only text now. I’ve been out of the game a while.

Perhaps I’m content in my singleness because I’ve been there and done that with the whole marriage thing and realize that once the gardenias are wilted, the marital union is probably the most challenging endeavor one will take next to raising and child and battling a terminal illness.  It is more important in this life who you are becoming not who you have.  I believe when you tap into that; the right person will be revealed, regardless of race.

I am not a marriage hater; I’m just a singledum embracer.  The guys get it.  The 25 – 35 years old men I know do not seem to be rushing to jump the broom.  Most are keenly focused on reaching their professional goals and dreams, chillin with the boys, traveling, partying, and when and if they have time, they may get up with you. Maybe.

So where does that leave us ladies?  Do we keep playing the game?  Sacrificing, compromising, and exploiting ourselves in the pursuit of love?  Or since most of these dudes out here think they are living some real life version of For the Love of Ray-J, do we change the game up?  I’m advocating saying goodbye to the getting caught in the thick of thin relationships and focusing on the real purposes of our lives.  I’m saying don’t settle for crazy. You are worth more.  The good news is the right one will come along.  Providence will step in, when you are fully loving you, growing your character, and embracing each tomorrow with joy and exuberance, whether single or not.

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