So in Part 1, I went in to the history of some of the psychology of where we are in Black relationships. Once again, when I talk about
“Black Love” and Black Relationships, I’m talking about any relationship that involves a Black person. I think it’s important that we can come to an understanding on this point in particular because while there are so many messages out there that seem to suggest division and separation, I really do believe that we–all of us we–won’t get anywhere without each other. No revolution has ever been won without the help of sympathetic “outsiders.” The American revolution wouldn’t have been won without the French. The women’s movement wouldn’t have moved forward without the assistance of men. The LGBT (and whichever other letters have been added) community wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has without hetero help… and similarly, Black people and other people of color won’t succeed without White people. Somewhere out there, there’s an interracial couple at odds because they got together before the proverbial kitchen got hot. Maybe someone said something uninformed about The Black Panthers. Maybe someone got just a bit too passionate about police brutality. Either way the line was drawn then crossed, and the truth is out. If we can’t get to the core and come to a mutual understanding; where the people with privilege can acknowledge the whole situation and the rest of us can help them level out the playing field.
Anyway, I feel like knowing the history; the psychology of a behavior or thought pattern should make it easier to overcome. With that in mind, I went t the place where I was always told that women talk about relationships: the hair shop. Thanx to the ladies of Coco Hair Co. who who opened up and shared their perspectives on Black relationships. I have to say, I found myself apologizing on several
different occasions because I had to take things much deeper than the average “these n___s ain’t sh*t” conversation, and as the young folks say, they weren’t ready. They had to know about how we have been conditioned to mistrust each other… and that is, unsurprisingly, what it all really comes down to; trust & security. The answer to all of our woes, on every side of the conversation comes down to being able to trust each other, and from that trust, can we feel secure–emotionally, physically, financially, etc.–with each other. One young lady, who explained that she is not yet ready to be in a committed relationship explains that the bare minimum she should still be able to count on is that the dude(s) she’s dealing with is honest with her. She isn’t asking for exclusivity, only that she should know if/when he is seeing other women. Guys, I know, you probably don’t understand why she’d want to know. Have you ever seen how crazy a woman can get when she thinks the guy she’s seeing is seeing other women? Don’t you think he has a right to know what she might be getting herself into if one of your other women might find out about her and say… show up at her place of business or home starting trouble? So much drama can be prevented by simply making sure that all involved parties know what they’re getting in to. Common courtesy… common sense… common decency; not so common. She should also have the opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether or not she wants to continue her part of the arrangement. When you lie, you’re taking that option off the table. You get to hold the cards, and although you’ve shuffled the deck and changed the game, she still thinks you’re playing Crazy Eights when in fact you’ve switched to Poker.
Similarly, I’ve heard guys say all kids of things that suggest that some women are less deserving of honesty or “real”-ness; citing a woman’s choice of hair style or use of makeup almost as justification for misbehavior. I believe that men with this kind of thinking shouldn’t bother with relationships at all, least of all, Black relationships. Guys, if you judge the content of a Black woman’s character by what she chooses to do with her hair, or how much time she seems to spend putting on makeup, you’re missing the point. No, I’m not saying that you should all go out and find the girl with the longest weave or the best contouring technique, but I am saying that a girl or woman’s cosmetic care choices shouldn’t diminish how you view her as a potential partner. What we do with our hair, nails, and makeup, if we choose to do anything at all isn’t always a superficial, political, or psychological decision… and it almost never really has anything to do with what you think its about. Using myself as an example, my more recent hair and makeup choices are about who I want to see looking back at me. I got all the way through high school without pimples, and now I have adult acne. As if I don’t look young enough I have to add acne to the mix? As far as my hair is concerned… that’s a bit more complicated. The simple version is that I most recently got it done, caving in to conservative society’s view of what is “acceptable” hair for Black women. I was angry about feeling forced into the style choice, and I’m still angry that participating in “their” world means that I can’t be authentic to my whole self. The take away from this segment should be that as women we have it hard enough, and as black women we have it that much harder. We shouldn’t have to add the disapproving commentary from our potential significant others to that list.
I’ve also heard that a girlfriend isn’t a wife so why should they bother making that effort? I’m equally disgusted when women make similar exclamations as if the absence of a ring decreases the level of pain inflicted by a broken heart. Stop. No seriously: Stop. That isn’t how it works, and shame on you for acting like you’d be okay with someone lying to, playing with, or cheating on you claiming that the ring makes the difference. As a matter of fact, I’ll go as far to say that being “cheated on” by someone you’re cheating with or are “just f*cking” will still make you feel some kind of way. Which brings us full circle and back to the ladies at Coco’s. They provided a pretty simple list of what they’s really want from a man: Honesty, Accountability, Communication, and the ability to “handle” being with them. Now, that last one is the hardest thing on the list, but that’s what dating is for: figuring out if that person is someone you can handle. This short list isn’t too much to ask for. Like I said last week, we don’t necessarily need a significant other as a provider anymore. Further Black relationships in America have never even allowed for lack men to be providers. What we do need is a partner. Someone who provides emotional support and balance in a world where the struggle is real and constant and everyone just needs to be reminded that there is more to life than the daily grind. There’s love.
Do More for love. Require Better from lovers.