Archive for the ‘All ABout Love’ Category

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A series named in tribute to Bell Hooks. Love is a subject that is often discussed in the most trivial and superficial terms. Love, as a subject matter, especially from a Black perspective, hardly ever includes discussions regarding the nature of love, the function of love, the purpose of love, or the relevance of love. All we ever talk about is how we want it, have it, never had it, or keep losing it. We are right to see lack of love as a concern; we just have to choose the right angle for exploring solutions. Here is where that happens.
The Story

In a lot of my recent discussions with people regarding relationships the subject of insecurities and baggage has come up more frequently. These two terms have become code words thrown around to devalue a person’s worthiness to be dated, involved in a relationship, and ultimately loved. But I submit to you that this is not only disrespectful but an offense to the lover.

Insecurity

If there is a person on this planet who has not, at some point in their life, held an insecurity to please speak up and show the rest of us mortals the secret. Insecurities are natural. They are the result of our inner selves trying to reconcile with the contradictions of the world around us. When the world is telling you one thing and your heart is saying the opposite, an insecurity forms. The soul is trying to decide who to believe. Therefore, it is reasonable for a person to be unsure. How they handle their insecurities or whether they allow them to poison their life is another matter entirely.

Insecurities do not have to be debilitating. They can be managed even if they aren’t eradicated. If and/or when someone reveals their insecurities to another person, it is an act of trust that is betrayed if misjudged. Instead the two people should be able to relate to one another (as the other person probably has insecurities of their own) and support one another in their efforts to manage their insecurities and heal from the damage it has caused.

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Baggage

Relationships are always life changing. They are meant to be. When a person falls in love, they are forever changed. However, when things go wrong or someone is hurt, that too changes them.

It is not uncommon for a lover to have wounds healed and unhealed from their previous relationships. It is not unnatural for a person to be changed by the things they have experienced. In fact, that is just how it should be. This notion that we all can walk around as perfected creatures is a ridiculous delusion. A delusion most supported by those who have little to no experience with the joys and pains of true love.

What we call baggage is really just experience. And experience is how we learn. The person with baggage is not the person to run from. They are not the ones to fear getting involved with. In truth, it is those people who are able to constantly engage intimately with others and remain unchanged that should be feared: they’re sociopathological. Those people are the ones most likely to have an incapacity to love. No one understands love better than the broken hearted.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

-Rumi

The Problem

The problem is that we approach love like a job interview. We want people to have a spotless background full of credential and positive references. We expect them to come to us ready to impress us during their 90 day probationary period so that we can justify keeping them around and offering them benefits. Well there is a reason most people hate their jobs. It is because an employer, more often than not, sees you only as the skill or knowledge that you bring to their benefit. They don’t care about your life passions, your fears, your insecurities, or you challenges. They pay you to perform.

When we approach love and relationships in this way, we essentially turn human beings into tools to be used. And, ofcourse, when a tool fails to perform, we trash it and get another one. But people aren’t tools and they shouldn’t be disposable. To treat a person as such in a relationship will only result in a parting of the ways. Either one person will lose their usefulness or the other will tire of being used. Either way the end result is a loss of love and the relationship.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.

– Khalil Gibran

The Point

I had my ipad for maybe a good 2 months before I dropped it and shattered the screen. For 2 weeks I tried to call around and get it fixed for free because I couldn’t see paying for a whole new one and I felt it wasn’t my fault the damn thing broke inside the case I purchased from the company that made it. When that didn’t work, I pulled it out and turned it on. It still worked perfectly. What I realized was that the screen had broken but the LCD was in tact, so it was still usable. I bought a screen cover to keep my fingers from getting cut on the cracks and went on using my ipad. Everything that’s damaged isn’t broken.

The lover having his/her own battle scars from loving will recognize the bruises of another and will have compassion. The lover will know that those pains have brought both of them to the point where they are: together. The lover will reach out for this other creature who has known love and love them in spite of the danger.

We live in a society that tells us that the self is all that matters. We are selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-conscious. We are so full of ourselves that there isn’t possibly any room for anyone else. But love comes to turn our world rightside up and we have to be willing to let go of everything we think we know and learn only from love in order that we may recognize it when it comes for us. The lover will come to his/her beloved like the warrior, wounded and scarred, but with the strength of a survivor and the spirit of a conqueror.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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July celebrated the 20th anniversary of John Singleton’a film Poetic Justice. The film is a cult classic for much of the young Black community but it is often underrated for its impact and influence.
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The Story

Poetic Justice dubbed by John Singleton as a “street romance,” offered a much different script for a Black story. Singleton blended realism with romance to create an honest unheard tale of Black romance. The story takes place in South Central Los Angeles. The romantic leads (Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson) are a mailman and a cosmetologist. While, from a mainstream standpoint, these characters seem too ordinary and uninteresting, the effect was just the opposite. Lucky and Justice speak to a world of young Black people who do not lead extraordinary lives with high profile careers, designer clothes, and profound wealth. Poetic Justice gives young Black people a sense of belonging to something that previously seemed universal and exclusive: romance.

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Black Images

One of the things about the movie that affected me when I first saw the movie was the way Black men are portrayed. Singleton offers three dimensional representations in his Black male characters. The central male characters, Lucky (Shakur) and Chicago (Torry), are not perfect characters but they’re also not hypersexualized, thugs, or stereotypically masculine. They are regular young Black men with the interests of Black men.

Additionally, there is a stark contrast between the characters Iesha and Justice compared to the Black female characters that we see today. Neither character has the stereotypical decry about how Black men are no good or not good enough. There is no fictional naïveté about the men that they are involved with; however, there is also no preconceived notions about them either. The two women obviously care for each other despite their many differences and it makes for a believable friendship.

Throughout the movie there are depictions of support and love between the Black characters. Justice’s boss, despite her jaded views on love and no nonsense demeanor, commits several acts of pure kindness towards her employees. On their road trip Lucky, Justice, Iesha, and Chicago stop at a Black family reunion and (because they pretend to be related to the family) they are welcomed into the family with open arms.

These images are some that are rarely scene without an excess of slapstick style comedy or exaggeration. Singleton again emphasizes realism and how’s that it doesn’t take eccentricity to make a statement about Black culture.

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Sex versus Intimacy

One major point to be made about the movie is its lack of graphic sexual scenes. There are two sex scenes that happen in the movie. The first is a sex scene that occurs (without nudity) between Iesha and Chicago. The second is a sex scene that occurs between Lucky and Justice. While the two are shown doing no more than kissing, the sex is implied in the closing of the scene and confirmed in the conversation that occurs on the next scene.

The sex scene between Iesha and Chicago is devoid of an emotional connection. The lack of fulfillment leads the two into an argument that exposes how much the two actually do not like each other and results in a confrontation that ends their relationship. In contrast the sex that occurs between Lucky and Justice is a natural development resulting from the two having grown closer throughout the trip and the intimate conversation in which they both let their guards down and expose some of their inner feelings.

This is important to note because it illustrates that sex is natural and does occur in Black romances, but it does not always have to be graphic and devoid of emotion. It reminds us that there are more reasons for having sex than fat asses and big dicks.

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Black Romance

We often think of love as something so universal that it can be objectively discussed and demonstrated without regard to nationality. this could not be further from the truth. Unfortunately, in America, there is relatively little that Black people experience that is not in some way tinted or colored by the fact that they are Black — including love and romance.

Images in the media have often portrayed Black love and romance through a Caucasian gaze, even in Black movies and shows. Very rarely are scripts written that honestly illustrate the reality of Black love. Black love stories (especially for younger people) often do not occur in the ways that we see on television. Partly because of the historical damage that has been done to the relationship between Black men and Black women. That has altered the way that courting takes place and ultimately the ways that love happens.

While I can appreciate fiction and poetic license, I have often seen romance stories (in general) and thought, I have never known two Black people to fall in love like that. Yet, there is something familiar and genuine in the romance that occurs between Lucky and Justice. They each have their own fears, reservations, and past heartbreak that affects the way that they approach one another. One of my favorite scenes occurs at the beginning of the trip. When Lucky attempts to make conversation and get to know Justice. She is distant and cold towards him simply because of her initial impression of him. She thinks he’s a “wanna-be mack daddy” who probably has a bunch of kids and no passion or aspirations. This response leads Lucky back to his initial impression of her. He thinks she is a “stuck up bitch” that thinks that a man is supposed to bow to her. The tension swells quickly and ends with Justice threatening to have him “fucked up” and jumping out the truck while Lucky speeds off. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t love at first sight.

I love this scene because it doesn’t flinch in viewing the honest dysfunction of the relationship between Black men and Black women. The fact that we all too often to overcome our own ingrained biases against one another that results from having to constantly see each other through the filter of society that often paints Black men as irresponsible and lazy and Black women as catty and verbally abusive. Throughout the trip Lucky and Justice suspend their superficial evaluations to actually get to know one another and that does not happen without error, but it happens.

To tell a Black story in this way offers a portrayal of Black love that says its okay if it isn’t love at first sight and its okay if, even in the attempt to be emotionally vulnerable with one another, we make grave mistakes. Lucky and Justice appear to be over when they make it on their designation and Lucky in frustration over his cousin’s death directs that anger towards Justice and blames her for his not being there to save his cousin. Justice in turn feels validated in her original thoughts about not dating and especially not dating a guy from the hood. However, the magic of introspection and forgiveness allows the two of them to reconcile. Now that is a Black love story.

All too often we fail to keep trying and to keep pushing past the obstacles and remain emotionally available to one another. We think of each other as disposable and expect that we should come already packaged and ready for A relationship. I submit to you that there really is no such thing as being ready for a relationship. Relationships and love is like believing in God and joining a church. you can have one without the other and the former doesn’t prepare you to do the latter. Like the many religions and sects and denominations of churches, every relationship has its own challenges and requirements depending upon the two people who are coming together. A person prepares for love and when love happens it will get us ready for the relationship, if we are willing to be converted. That is a much needed story to be told to affirm for Black men and Black women that even love comes easily, romance takes effort.

The Point

What John Singleton accomplished with his film has rarely been reproduced in depictions of urban Black romance. For that reason, Poetic Justice is a cult classic in Black culture. Now more than ever we could stand to see a return such stories. In the midst of the war between the sexes and the discussions about the degradation of the Black family, Black love does exist and Black romances can and do happen.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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A series named in tribute to Bell Hooks. Love is a subject that is often discussed in the most trivial and superficial terms. Love, as a subject matter, especially from a Black perspective, hardly ever includes discussions regarding the nature of love, the function of love, the purpose of love, or the relevance of love. All we ever talk about is how we want it, have it, never had it, or keep losing it. We are right to see lack of love as a concern; we just have to choose the right angle for exploring solutions. Here is where that happens.

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The Story

I haven’t really kept up with the Love and Hip Hop although it seems very popular and social media buzzes when the plot takes a turn. I did her a chance to watch several episodes from this season this past week. One episode in particular (episode 13) where Traci and her new boyfriend, DeShaun, meet her ex, Drew so that Drew can apologize for being so rude when he’d first met DeShaun. Drew does this and goes on to interrogate DeShaun, specifically asking if DeShaun had any criminal history Traci should know about. DeShaun says that he doesn’t and Drew whips out his phone wit a mugshot of DeShaun that he googled. Traci blows up and states that she can’t trust DeShaun because he lied. DeShaun admits he lied but states that it was because her ex was trying to play him in front of her and he felt that wouldn’t be the time to discuss that. In the end Tracindays she can’t trust him and DeShaun says he’s not gonna beg her.

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This incited me to ask a few friends about whether they check out the people they date. Most stated that they did at some point google, ask around, or in some manner check up on their potential mates. When I asked whether any “negative” information they found ever affected their decision to be with that person, most said yes.

Trust

I have often heard people say that trust is earned; I have discovered that’s a lie. Many times when discuss trusting someone we talk about the actions, honesty, or consistency about the person that makes them trustworthy. In truth, none of those things proves anything about whether or not we choose to trust someone. We either do or we don’t.

Trust is given. It is about the person who’s giving the trust and whether or not they find that person trustworthy. Those requirements are subjective and depends on the individual. The same person one individual would never trust may have the trust of every other person they meet. Trust, then, is a personal evaluation an individual makes about another person that may or may not go against evidence to the contrary.

Traci’s insecurity leads her to test and try DeShaun to figure if she can trust him and whether or not he’s a suitable partner. Testing a potential mate to see if they can be trusted is useless and futile because trustworthiness cannot be measured. DeShaun appears to be a decent enough dude. The fact that he has made a mistake in his youth does not stain him as being someone untrustworthy. But, Traci, lost in her own insecurity cannot see this. Her reaction to the information about DeShaun’s background tells more about her than it does about him. It is natural to have some baggage or insecurity after being betrayed and hurt in past relationships. However, people who distrust others are, in truth, unable to trust themselves.

The Point

The choice to trust is a complicated and risky decision. The decision and how one comes to make that decision is full of nuances to be considered and pitfalls to be avoided. In the Black community we have grown so distrustful of each other, in general, that while we long for one another, we find it difficult to develop and sustain relationships. This is especially true for romantic relationships. While no one wants to have their heart broken or get played, such are the risks of romance. The best way to reduce those risks is to change the way we evaluate each other. The choice to trust is a judgment of character, not of actions and logistics. There is no way to quantify trust.

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,

An Angry Black Man

20130726-084410.jpg

A series named in tribute to Bell Hooks. Love is a subject that is often discussed in the most trivial and superficial terms. Love, as a subject matter, especially from a Black perspective, hardly ever includes discussions regarding the nature of love, the function of love, the purpose of love, or the relevance of love. All we ever talk about is how we want it, have it, never had it, or keep losing it. We are right to see lack of love as a concern; we just have to choose the right angle for exploring solutions. Here is where that happens.
In my last post, I introduced a discussion regarding the nature of love. i came to the conclusion that for whatever reason, we have a difficult time recognizing love if and when we find it. We have (from God knows where) developed an idea of what love should look and feel like. But as anyone who has been in love can attest, love does not always look the way we think it should.
The Story
“I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love. Don’t you want that, too?” says Olivia.
“Love is not supposed to be painful or devastating. Love isn’t supposed to hurt, Liv,” responds Edison.

From a logical standpoint the character, Olivia Pope, sounds self-destructive and pathological while Edison sounds rational and level-headed. On the emotional side Olivia’s statement sounds passionate and hopelessly romantic while Edison sounds boring and mediocre. But the question lingered for me: is love supposed to hurt?

The Problem

Now when I asked several single friends their thoughts on the subject most agreed that love is not supposed to hurt. However, when I asked my friends who are or have been in serious, long-term (more than 1 year) relationships, their responses were less concrete but in the light of their eyes and the weight of their sighs, I saw the truth. They wanted to say or maybe even believe that love isn’t supposed to hurt but experience had taught them otherwise.

I tried to approach the thought not from a lofty idealistic manner in which I fashioned that love is like a fairy tale or some widely accepted rumor that no one can prove (like the idea of “The American Dream”). Instead I approached it from personal experience and related facts about love and the experiences that creates for people.

With that, I thought first about one of the most undeniable relationships involving true love: a mother and her child. No one would dare to contest a mother’s love for her child – this is not to say every mother loves her child or that every mother’s actions reflect her love for her child. What I’m saying is that a mother proclaims her love for her child, generally speaking, not many people would doubt that as the truth. So, the objective fact is she does love her child. The other fact is that this child will her hurt her a number of times throughout the child’s life.

Beginning with birth, one if the most dangerous things a woman can do. The inherent love age has for her child and her commitment to giving that child life forces a woman painfully to the brink of death. Thereafter, the child will most likely hurt their mother emotionally a number of times. Who doesn’t remember having put their mother through some distress or disappointment as a teenager? But it’s still love, right?

I also thought about the experience of first love. Everyone remembers their first love. It is the first time that you feel that undeniable, unexplainable connection to another human being in a romantic aspect. Not many people end up with their first love, but they never forget it. Often that first parting, no matter the circumstances, is painful.

The Point

So I began to think of all these situations in which there is an acceptance of the potential for pain, but somehow, some way many people still arrive at a point of expecting love to be painless, especially when it comes to romance. However, it is apparent that their is a connection between love and pain and that the presence of one does not negate the presence of the other.

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,

An Angry Black Man