Posts Tagged ‘all about love’

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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

Time and time again I have seen Black people maintain lifelong friendships but fail to accomplish this is their romantic connections. Friendships are a type of relationship. Friendships, like any relationship, require honesty, autonomy, and love to flourish. If friendships are so similar to romantic relationships, then why does this happen? The sustained commitment that we exercise in our friendships is lacking in our romantic relationships.

Friendships

Friendships are approached differently than the way we approach romantic relationships. I have often likened our approach to romantic relationships to a job interview. We engage romantic opportunities with a hidden agenda to impress, convince, and get the most for having given the least. When we approach friendships, however, we come with less of an agenda and more of a willingness to explore a connection and take it or leave it. We don’t expect to get more than we give nor do we allow ourselves to give more than we get. It is off of this mutual respect and understanding that friends begin to develop their connection.

When our friends first disappoint us, we often do not immediately think that they should be disposed of. We may distance ourselves or spend some time apart to allow heightened emotions to subside but we are usually more willing to come back from those offenses or hurts. We also are more candid about how we feel and do not feel guilty saying, without ultimatum, ‘that wasn’t cool.’ It is this honesty that draws us closed to one another.

Something special happens in a connection between two people when there is an understanding that every mistake will not be held over their head and every offense will not spell the end of the relationship. The removal of that bondage liberates a person to be who they are, with whatever attributes and flaws they possess at the time, and learn and grow in a space of love — knowing that their loved one is not looking for reasons to deny them love.

Homegirls

My godmother and my mother had one of the best relationships. In one moment they could be cursing at each and telling each other “shut the hell up” and “I’ll do what the fuck I wanna do.” And the next minute they would be agreeing to see each other for a cup of coffee. One conversation with either of then will reveal how well they know each other (flaws and all) and how they have never had a better friend. That’s love.

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I often think of my sister’s relationship with her best friend. The two found each other during their turbulent teens. My sister having growing up in the suburbs that my mother had left the Bronx to offer her and her friend from the grit of the projects that her mother was unable to save her from. What seemed an unlikely pair developed a bond so strong that years later after love gained and lost they would witness the birth of each other’s children (with and without the fathers present).

What stands out most to me about their relationship is the honesty (sometimes brutal) that they have with each other. Neither coddles the other with superficial evaluations of their actions. When one thinks that the other us wrong, she will look her friend in the eye unflinching and without any sugar coating lay her thoughts before her friend. I have seen these conversations become yelling and cursing matched ending in one going one way and the other going another way. Within days or hours you can find them laughing and talking as if nothing had changed. The truth, nothing had changed. They’d simply disagreed. And that’s bound to happen between any two individuals.

Homeboys

My father had several close friends. I’m not sure which one if any or all were my godfather but I considered them all to be. It always fascinated me that although he and my godfathers were just as candid with each other as my mother was with my godmother, they disagreed differently. As men they didn’t have the same banter, when they disagreed it was often with a sense of humor and kept a light note which one would end the conversation saying “Aw man get the fuck outta here.” Usually the banter would stop then unless the argument was serious at which point it escalated and both made gestures and used tones that let it be known that the argument had gone to the next level. As friends they usually parted physical presence and may not speak for a day it so but with the certainty of a sunrise, one would eventually show up and start a general conversation and the return of their normal jovial interaction would signal that all was okay.

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One of my best friends and I often have silent arguments. We might disagree verbally and at a certain point in the disagreement we would walk away from each other. Depending on how angry we were we might not speak besides exchanging cordial greetings. Then one day one of us would call the other and begin a conversation and the other would respond and before we knew it we would be back to normal. Rarely have these disagreements needed any further discussion. When they did we approached them fairly diplomatically beginning with “Yo, that shit wasn’t cool man…” From there we would have a less heated version of the conversation that we both could approach objectively. If nothing else we could always commit to coming back to one another and being willing to continue the friendship.

The Problem

Romantic relationships have more levels of intimacy. We also bring more baggage and insecurities into romantic relationships which often make disagreements feel heightened. We take what our romantic partners say and do much more personally (which is understandable); however, we are also quick to dismiss and push those people out of their place in our lives. Unlike our friendships we are less forgiving and willing to maintain the relationship when we are offended.

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I would argue that it is both revolutionary and courageous for any two Black people to engage in a romantic relationship. Black folks have layers of insecurities that range from complexion complexes to class concerns as well as general romantic fears of abandonment and cheating. It is a task to allow another person so close to you without attacking them at every turn when you are existing in a society that makes defense you best method of survival (and the best defense is, ofcourse, an offense). It is no menial task to merge with another individual when you’re own identity and self esteem has been made fragile from living in a world that constantly defines itself but why you’re not.

This is why I shake my head when I hear amateur lovers say “it shouldn’t be this hard,” “love isn’t supposed to hurt,” or “I’m not going through all that.” Because essentially they have condemned themselves to a life without beauty of a sustained committed romantic relationship. In a truly loving relationship both parties values the others’ esteem and perspective as much as their own. Together merge with a measure of give and take and develop a standard for their relationship that may be different from their individual standards but is mutually adhered to and works for the dynamic of the two personalities working together. This is how most friendships work. We often will take a fair amount of crap from our friends that we cherish that we wouldn’t dare accept from anyone else; however, this is a loved one and the value of that connection makes them not anyone else.

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Part of the reason we have developed these false superficial ideas about love is because of the self-esteem overdose of popular opinion that seeks to empower our internal value through an excessive emphasis on individualism and selfishness. Instead of being assertive and confident we become demanding, dominating, argumentative and judgmental. Anything our romantic partner brings to the relationship that challenges out self-esteem or pushes against our insecurities, we find offensive and defend ourselves to the extreme.

So instead of having healthy, confident self-esteem, these individuals become emotional tyrants that dominate relationships with their overbearing insistence upon themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving ones self and having standards for ones self; however, relationships aren’t about one individual. Therefore, it’s no longer just one person’s standards and one person’s self-esteem. When we should let some things go, we hold onto that painful moment. When we should allow them to come back and make amends, we belittle and demean them for their mistake. We are ruthless in our defenses and merciless in our reconciliation.

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The Point

Commitment isn’t about right and wrong; it isn’t about fair; it isn’t about our self worth; and isn’t about what we deserve. Commitment is about the willingness to sustain a relationship. Sometimes that means swallowing our pride and asking forgiveness (in any manner) and sometimes it’s about keeping our arms open to those we love despite the lack of guarantee that they won’t hurt us again. Commitment is about “stick and stay” as my grandmother called it. It’s about valuing a connection beyond our insecurities, pain, and fears.

Sustaining that commitment takes understanding, forgiveness, and, most of all, genuine care. When are committed to sustaining a commitment we make sacrifices, we let things go, we forgive, and we move forward. The willingness to sustain a commitment does not come from love. The willingness to sustain a commitment comes from a personal value of the trust in the relationship that tells us that this person has never intended to hurt us and that given the chance they would not hurt us (this way) again. That is all that one can ask of person: to understand that we are all spirits on a physical journey of learning and loving and that they give us the chance to learn and never stop loving us.

I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

20130726-084410.jpgA 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.

If only real life love stories began and ended the way we think they do or should. But alas, they hardly ever do.

The Story

I have heard my share and had my share of love gained and love lost and I can say that it has never happened the way I thought it would not has it ended in the way I thought it would. However, what I have learned is that I’m not alone in my experiences.

I have recently spoken with quite a few friends about relationships. More than a few have what they call “a fear of abandonment.” I, myself, once thought I had such a fear. But then I had a series of romantic experiences that changed my view. But in listening to my friends I found it strange that, however different the scenarios and relationships were, they all seemed to confess this fear of abandonment and the eccentricities that trying to defend against it causes.

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Fear of Abandonment

I have said more times than a few that we are living in a graceless and loveless age in society. We have lost touch with what’s really important and as a result we have forgotten how to relate to, empathize with, and connect with one another.

When I hear people speak of abandonment now what I see is not really the traditional fear of abandonment…what we are really afraid if is loving and not being loved in return. We fear having our affections being taken advantage of. We fear needing someone who doesn’t need us. We fear wanting someone who doesn’t want us. And while those fears are not unnatural, our responses are.

There was a time when romantic fears did not cause us to discredit love and blame it for our woes. There was a time when things were broken we fixed them — in ourselves and in others. There was a time when love was enough to justify holding on, trying harder, and not giving up. Now…well now our egos won’t let us keep trying because we’re more concerned with our image and pride. We wouldn’t dare take a chance on someone or something that cannot be tangibly quantified. And that is why we lose out on love. Love isn’t tangible; love isn’t quantifiable; love isn’t logical; love isn’t rational; and love needs no justification.

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When we put love on trial, we lose. Because love has done nothing wrong. Love is always honest and pure. It is us who twist, corrupt, pollute, and pervert love. And it’s really quite silly. How does one challenge or demand if a force of nature. That’s like standing in a hurricane and demanding it not tear asunder the ground beneath it; you can try it but you’ll probably kill yourself and the hurricane will move on.

The Problem

The truth about the fear of abandonment is that we are not truly scared if being left alone. By a certain age in life we have been alone often enough and have been left and have left often enough to know exactly what to do when it happens. What we are really looking for is that person with whom we can build and share a life with. But instead of approaching love and romance in the humble reverence of the force that it is, we come with aggression, manipulation, defensiveness, and demands. We want love and our potential romantic partners to give us guarantees. But there are no guarantees in love. We want love and our potential romantic partners to prove themselves worthy of our love. Well everyone is deserving of love, whether or not you choose to give them yours is completely up to you. That is about you deciding that however this ends I believe it will have been worth it to atleast try.

So that fear of abandonment is actually out a fear of ourselves. Something has happened to make us distrust our own judgment and because we can’t trust ourselves to choose the right partner or to recover from having chosen the wrong one, we take it out on love and our romantic partners. That behavior is sure to run anyone away but for us it serves as proof that we were right: nobody can be trusted and nobody stays.

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The Point

If we do not confront the truth of our fears through brutally honest thought and introspection, we will never find the love or romance we long for. We will forever be in and out of superficial flings that never last and always feed our insecurity. Until we grow up and start taking responsibility for the life and love we want and acknowledging that it is created out of our perception and will, we will limp along as lost hearts propped up on a crutch of abandonment fears. That is the truth about love and the fear of abandonment. So many times we cannot see the forest for the trees. That’s because popular opinions about love are at odds with the truth…and something inside us always knows and longs for the truth.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

20130726-084410.jpgA 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

No one can argue that communication is essential to the success of a relationship; however, how we define communication is often where the problem with communication lies.

In order for communication to be effective a message has to be effectively given from one end and received and understood from another end. All too often we feel that if communicate our thoughts we have been effective in communication. But if the message is never received or understood by the person with whom we are trying to communicate, then we have not communicated: we’ve only expressed ourselves. There is nothing wrong with expressing one’s self, but cannot be assumed that everyone understands what we are expressing. Communication is a dynamic that requires that both the sender and a receiver understand the message.

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Communication

It has been proven that there are many ways to communicate. Any communication research will support this fact. However, there are a number of theories about how to define those various modes of communication. I once read an insightful book that was written by Gary Chapman in the ’90’s called Love Languages. The author asserts that everyone has their own romantic language. In order for an individual to feel loved, it has to be communicated in a language that they can understand. The book offers several suggestions on love languages. The author stated that there are 5 love languages: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Chapman has since extended his theory to include the language of apology and the language of appreciation that he angles towards workplace communication.

I don’t endeavor here to evaluate or analyze the details of the love languages (maybe in another post if the readers want it). What I am affirming is that we all communicate differently. We all experience the feeling of love differently and these messages are communicated and received differently. There is no right way to communicate.

The Problem

Most communication issues arise from a reluctance to accept that our perspective is not the only perspective. We forget that our perspective is built upon out own subjective experiences and that without those specific experiences we might have a totally different perspective.

To enter into a romantic relationship clinging only to out own perspectives is to sentence the relationship to death. Two completely different people cannot exist under the consideration of only one person’s perspective. Both parties have to be willing to learn, understand, and accept a perspective outside their own no matter how preposterous it may seem individually.

Emotions are varied and personal and they must be validated in order to allow each person in the relationship to blossom and feel safe exposing their personal feelings. When either person does not feel this freedom, they are emotionally backed into a corner and pressured to commit emotional suicide. It denies them their right to think for themselves and feel whatever they feel. It tells them that the feelings that are very real to them are wrong. And that will force them to choose their own emotional survival over the relationship. There isn’t a creature alive that doesn’t choose to fight with all their might to save themselves from death.

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The Point

If we could get over ourselves long enough to stop looking for reasons to not give and receive, we would find that communication, like love, takes effort and willingness. No two interactions will work the same and there is no universal right way to love or communicate. The goal for communication must be mutual understanding and until that goal is reached both parties have work to do. That work must be accomplished by any means necessary.

We have often said that communication is a two street. That is slightly true. Communication is two streets; however those two streets are not always parallel. Communication is more like an intersection of streets. There is the possibility of a parallel but it is just as possible that the other street is coming from an entirely opposite origin heading in a completely different direction from the one that we travel. Love is the stoplight that brings us to a halt in the midst of others and we have consider where the other car is coming from and where it is going before we can understand how we might go in the same direction towards the same destination.

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.
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

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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.
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