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RSI: To Just Function is a Problem

Though Self Improvement is intrinsic to the journey, I have a problem with how we’re expected to just function. I’m sitting in my dining room, my music playing and my roommate testing his Magic deck. With my fingers on the keyboard, I’m typing words while my entire life of decisions swirl around in my head. I’ve already started, deleted, and restarted thrice. I’ve settled on this topic because I believe that this statement is a universally relatable fact.

See, I’ve been calculating things like hours and dollars a lot lately; asking the ever important question: “What is the best use of my time?”  and in doing so, I’ve realized that I spend too many hours commuting and recovering from my commute.

Avoid minimum wage activities.

Here’s My#50percent: if you aren’t constantly asking yourself what the best use of your time is, you aren’t doing this life thing right. The best use of your time doesn’t have to always be work. Now, you might have a hard time believing that I just put those words in writing, so I’ll explain. Right now, the best use of my time is this conversation with you. In a few minutes or so, the best use of my time will be the deep coma I’ll have earned after working my regular job and coming home to pour the benefits of my musings onto this page. Tomorrow, the best use of my time will be seeking the long-term solution to my MWA–minimum wage activity–problem. Get it?

I have a problem with how we’re expected to just function because we aren’t being taught these concepts. Then, even when we are, the design of the system pushes us into the activities we’re supposed to be avoiding. I have a problem with how we’re expected to just function because there should be more to life than just function. Unfortunately, life is a series of MWA’s when you aren’t born into financial wealth or provided the education AND the opportunity to capitalize on what you’ve learned. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty when we want to spend irreplaceable moments doing enjoyable things. We also shouldn’t be made to feel guilty when we have to sacrifice that many more hours of life that we’ll never get back working jobs that we’d rather simply Not because just functioning is expensive.

Those Minimum Wage Activities that we’re supposed to be avoiding are often the elements of life that keep us sane. Some clean to work through thoughts, unpleasantness, and turmoil. Some drive just to feel like they’re going somewhere. Sometimes, an MWA is the only thing protecting the general public from yet another mass shooting… but the expectation is that we function without regard for the inequity of the design. I have a problem with that.

Do More. Require Better.

It’s Been A Long Time… I Shouldn’a Left You…

I promise, I only left because… because… let me do this right. 

I’d love to say that I left because our Ruthless Leader decided to take a different path, but that would be a lie; I was mostly MIA quite a while before that happened. Y’all know I’m not much for lies, duplicity, or feigning optimism, so I’m going to apologize in advance if I shatter any false ideas you’ve cultivated over the years. The simple version is that I was pulling my life together. Unfortunately, the simple version never quite does it for me, so here we go:

I was busy being depressed. I couldn’t keep telling you to “Do More. Require Better.” when I barely wanted to do anything at all. I’ve been open about my depression, specifically because of what I believe to be my 50 percent, but I haven’t been open about how useless and ineffective the proverbial voices in my head tell me my writing is. I recognize that maybe once upon a time I had a legitimate following  before I started slipping. I also understand, or believe, that in all things, there must be balance. My depression makes it so I can’t see how anything I do means anything. Regardless of my efforts, there will still be pain, suffering, malice, disease, famine, poverty, discord, racism, sexism, and all other forms of unpleasantness. I was left asking “What is any of this for?” The only logical answer I could find: “Naught.”

So what’s a Reign O’Change to do?  I certainly couldn’t keep writing things I no longer believed. There was no Change on the horizon. I was incapable of believing that Justice would actually prevail. Thus, I stopped. It really wasn’t a conscious decision. I kept thinking, “I’ll come back to this one…” or “this issue doesn’t need my voice…” and “Do I really want be one more person blogging about Donamir Trutin’s ineptitude?” Lots of things to write about, but no drive to lend my energy to what seemed like yet another unwinnable battle.

So why are we here today? We’re here because I lost a friend. He’s still very much alive. He’s just not invited to the table anymore. Now, let me be clear: this young man literally came to the cookout. He brought deviled eggs and they were delicious. He tried to teach me how to play HALO. I promoted his craft as a Tattoo Artist. I defended him in public forum against an overzealous supervisor. So when I tell you “I lost a friend.” I mean I lost someone who I thought would be a permanent resident in the complex place that is my heart. How? It all started because of this story I shared on Facebook.

Truth be told, I didn’t even read the article. I figured the least I could do was continue conversing about things Requiring conversation. It’s yet another example of Hollywood deciding that Brown people are better represented by artificially tanned white people.  #RepresentationMatters is a battle cry for those of us who remain unseen and misrepresented by the media. How was I supposed to know it would devolve into “a friend” accusing me of hating white people. If anyone had told me that he would conclude that I was one step away from being a terrorist, I’d have laughed them to scorn. We had Jon Snowed our way through our friendship: we knew nothing about each other.

In my anger, I wrote this entire post, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to come back. That should’ve been–and might still end up being–an addition to The Letter Series. It could’ve been a head-first dive into Decorum Deficiency Disorder. I would’ve gotten so many more hits and shares if only I hadn’t forgotten the purpose of my mission.

#DoMoreRequireBetter is about me doing my #50percent more often and better. So, here’s how this is going to work: I’m back. I’m not mincing words, holding hands, faking the funk, or coddling Anyone. I won’t promise to be here every week, but I’ll be here with all the passion and vigor I can muster… because the conversations still need to be had. We will #RESIST and continue #NotBackingDown because the Cheeto in Chief has earned my wrath. In short: I’m here to Do More & Require Better.

And now we come to…the end of an era

Today, oddly enough was supposed to be the pay off FINALLY for a number of posts about relationships that I thought might be better than all my previous ruthless on relationships post. And indeed I’ll get to that later.

 

Instead,

Today is a day I bring us to a place I knew could happen, but was happy every time it didn’t. Today we end the hour for the last time. What do I mean? Today is the beginning of a goodbye party. For this blog. Oh it will continue to exist, but a transition is afoot. And so with all transitions, some things remain the same, while other change or are left behind.

If you would have told me 3 years ago as I was studying for the bar that we would be here I would be shocked. But if you would have told me that we would get here after 450 thousand views I’d also be shocked so much attention happened. Words Don’t Do It Justice started as an idea, a bit of fun, and a lot of me. I have buried hatchets with enemies because of this blog, reconnected with old friends, and made new ones because of this blog, found meaning in the midst of my own personal depression because of this place. I have consumed it, and let it consume me. I love it. But loving this blog means knowing what to do. And taking a good long look I know the thing to do is let it go.

But I said this was transition not destruction.

And indeed it is. I’ll be taking Words Don’t Do It Justice away from our blogging past into a show based future. For me, the question was one of logistics. Was it better to end everything and walk away from these years of effort, or find a way to keep the place alive in the hearts of all of you who have supported us? I choose to believe that you will keep supporting us, and I chose to keep this place alive in a new way.

That means giving you what we planned. Give No Quarter, The Wrath of Ruthless, and Words Don’t Do It Justice are the three pillars of Ruthless Radio. 3 shows with different formats that bring you many of the topics you might see written about here, but in a new form and with some new and old faces/voices. Over the next few weeks as we ready to for the relaunch of Words Don’t Do It Justice as a podcast, you’ll get to read some farewells from various alums, and hear from the incoming folks for these shows. You’ll also see the Words Don’t Do It Justice site itself undergo various changes. With plenty of hard work, luck, and you listening in, I hope to earn your trust for these new shows, and continue to hold our interest.

SO! What about Weekend’s Don’t Do It Justice?

Well I’m happy to say our little casual interest site is growing well. And it is going to continue. We had a nice response to the sample chapter from Project 13, and now that game of thrones is done you’ll see a lot of other reviews, news, and related content there. Our gamers are doing their thing, and if Vantinel’s CEO appearance is any indication of commitment, we will only continue to grow over there.

As I end for now I just want to say thank you, and of course to keep watching what we do. But more than that, thank you for being a force for us. We continued to push because you were there with us. 100,000 visitors, 450,000 views, and 3 years of growth, While things must change, I am glad to have made it to this point. A point that let’s me look back and say that YOU made us more than I imagined. And though Words Don’t Do It Justice…Thank you.

 

“THE Ruthless Wonder” Matthew Elisha Williams

Founder of Words Don’t Do It Justice

Story Time: Handling Depression, A Personal Note

Some of the first movies I remember watching as a child were Lord of the Flies, The Power of One, Sarafina… and my least favorite of all, Roots. Add to that the Women of Brewster place and The Color Purple, and you might think you have an idea about the direction I’m going with this, but I assure you, you’re probably way off. I’ve been programmed, and for the most part, the programming has worked. I believe in fighting for the greater good and doing for others for the sole purpose of doing the right thing. Unfortunately, my programming has come at a great price; all I can ever see are battles that need fighting, suffering, pain, strife, and all the unpleasantness that this world has to offer. My programming set the framework for depression. In spite of my beliefs and unimaginable capacity for caring, hope, and faith that things can get better, I just don’t actually see it. For me, the world is a sad, scary, painful place to be. In short: I have an uncharacteristically negative outlook for someone who believes so much in the greater good.

Wanna know something you probably won’t believe? When I lived alone, I only watched the evening news on Mondays so I could see the 5-day forecast. Otherwise, it was either entertainment or studying… whichever project would fill my time, build my skills, and lift my spirits. The thought was: There’s only ever bad news.

The day I started writing this–November 21st, 2014–I snapped at my mother. I knew I hurt her, but I just couldn’t let her say anything else. I was just so far from being in a frame of mind where I could parse or compartmentalize information. See, she was about to tell me about yet another serial killer; one more piece of bad news to take root in my mind and add to the already fertile breeding ground for more sadness. I was beyond tired of it, and I really couldn’t take much more. My depression had me in a choke hold. It was as if my mental garden had been overrun with negativity plants choking out the positive ones. All of the nutrients and fuel that could have been used to fertilize whichever remaining positive fruit-bearing plants was going to the negative ones. I’m stuck in a battle with myself; between my true nature, and the nature of my mind.

The worst part of this is that I’m not the only one who has these kinds of thoughts and feelings. While some people might think “at least you aren’t alone.” I wish I was. I wish I was the only one on the planet feeling this way because it would at least mean that other people were happy… or at least not the kind of unhappy that I am. It would mean that there would be one less battle that needed fighting, one fewer group of people that needed defending… one less thing for me to watch other people suffer through. I think that last part is the had part for everyone to deal with.

In the last year and change, I’ve acknowledged my depression publicly and taken steps toward mental health. This process has required discussions with people who have been supportive and understanding, and many more who in fairness might have thought they were being helpful, but in fact were really not.  They did the silver lining thing…

The Power of Empathy! Everyone should watch this and take note 🙂 It’s not so much about sympathizing with people and making them feel better with things or with stories to please their ego. It’s about getting to the core of things with people. Connecting with them, feeling what they are feeling, relating to them and bringing no judgement into the situation at all. Next time you are the ear that listens, provide words that don’t fulfill an ego/mind story and see how much of a difference it makes for the other person. 🙂

Posted by Collective Evolution on Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Something I found to be particularly difficult on my worst days: I couldn’t think of my having survived another day as a good thing. So when she said “Everyone doesn’t have it easy… At least you aren’t homeless or sick” I couldn’t help but wish for sickness to suddenly take over my body and take me off this plane, hopefully in such a way that my family could profit from my demise. In the middle of a conversation I was fantasizing about my own death. The possibility of dying gave me hope. I highly doubt this was anyone who was there for that conversation’s intent, but it became the reason I wouldn’t give up… because giving up would mean not being put in any situations to get a gainful kind of sick or have any unfortunate accidents that would allow my death to accomplish what I couldn’t in life. Because: silver lining.

So what’s this really all about? Its about understanding that depression is a lot of things with a lot of causes and can’t necessarily be Anxiety Realitysolved with a positive thought and a hug. If you’re in a position to help someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is listen and acknowledge their struggle. Especially if you have experience with depression in your own life, your success story might help, but it might also not. Your frustration with not being able to “fix” your friend pales in comparison to how the  depression is making them feel. If a depressed person trusts you with their struggle, their feelings, their anxiety, their fears, their willingness to end it all, then you have been trusted with that person’s life and how you treat them and everything they have trusted you with is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ve been given a great power, and thus a great responsibility. If you aren’t up to the task, then be honest: say that you don’t know what to say, that you wish there was something you could do to help…. say nothing at all and just be there.  You never really know how deep in the darkness a person is, or what that person would be willing to do to solve the problem for themselves. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, the feelings are real to them. They don’t need another voice echoing the insecurities already ricocheting off the walls of their mind. I know I’ve never forgotten the hurtful things that were said to me, and I’ve struggled to let go of the hurtful things I imagined. Depression makes reality hard to deal with.

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Do More. Require Better.

And now… at the end of the hour

cropped-wordsdontdoit2-1.jpg

This week we debuted a brand new podcast with a livestream. We said goodbye to one of the founders. We tackled coons, and hoteps. As well as assault, and the HIV & AIDS treatment drug Truvada.

 

 

I skipped a couple lines to let that sink in.

When this started I literally just wanted to take my usual facebook ranting to a website. I figured it would be like the old days of my Xanga page. Now, now I deal with potential sponsors, have production meetings, worry about our average listening and reading time, and look for brand expansion.

I remind you, I was so bored in the last semester of law school I decided to make a blog to archive the things I would normally rant about on Facebook.

 

So you can understand that having gone from that place to now is rather…amazing if I’m honest. I had no idea. We’ve added and lost people over that time. But more than their contributions or mine, we’ve gotten to know a lot of you. As of this writing, 92,000 of you have come to get to know us over these 3 years of Words Don’t Do It Justice. And you must like it here, because you’ve dropped in 302,000 times.

300000

That is astounding. That is epic. And to think that it has all come before we put up a single ad, before we shilled a single product, without a marketing team, and mostly from the effort of our authors, and their friends and family who have additionally believed in us and shared us with other people.  I can’t tell you enough thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do. It really has made the difference.

What that means is even what I’ve done in the past year isn’t enough. I have to do more. And I am. While we lost a podcast co-host today, I’m proud to say we gained 2 new ones for our show Give No Quarter. While we have Reason on break for a while, I’m happy to say we will be launching Weekends Don’t Do It Justice as its own site (www.wkndlife.com www.weekendsdontdoitjustice.net www.weekendsdontdoitjustice.com). Look for a review of a hilariously bad movie coming over there soon from me.

Heck, go buy a shirt, phone case, hoodie or tank. https://www.teepublic.com/user/314publishing

Check out our current Shirt and cases designs. Buy one now while you wait for more. Click the photo to go straight to the store!

Check out our current Shirt and cases designs. Buy one now while you wait for more.
Click the photo to go straight to the store!

 

I’m also happy to say that I’m teaming with Mr. 9 to 5 gamer himself Bami O to open a new gaming site and channel called “Save State Society” (www.savestatesociety.com www.savestatesociety.net) here soon as well. And we’re open with some great games and reviews. But that is going to take a lot to talk about, and I’ve got work to do there.

You’re here reading because this is about Words Don’t Do it Justice. The granddaddy of them all. Okay, the origin of them all. Three years in, and even though health wise I’ve dealt with issues. Professional life wise, I’ve had great forward steps but also set backs. Heck life in general being strange. After all that I’m proud of where we are. Where you’ve brought us. And so for the third time we come to the end of the hour. Where I say thank you without any reservations. Where for the third time ever, I get to step out of my role as Head Blogger, Editor, Podcast host, Lucremo, THE Ruthless Wonder, and everything that comes with it, and instead just talk to you as Matt Williams. We have a few reflection pieces and some alumni coming back to give us a piece. And we are going to celebrate all the way to my personal birthday on March 14th. But right now I’m just going to end by saying thank you all for bringing me and us from where we were to where we are and pushing us forward to where we are going next. As always Words Don’t Do YOU Justice.

“THE Ruthless Wonder” Matthew Elisha Williams

RSI – Black Love: Part 2, Better Black Relationships

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 Black Love Wordspoint 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. Stop LyingThe 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 relationshBlack Long Hairips. 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 Not How This Worksisn’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.

RSI 101 – Black Love: Part 1

Black Kids Cheek KissThis is probably going to be a really long piece for a lot of reasons. I want to talk about love, about relationships, about being black in relationships (aka Black Love)… and further, after having done a recording wherein I barely touched on everything I want to say tells me that this needs to be a 2, maybe even 3 part discussion.  I have a feeling that some of my readers/listeners are going to feel alienated because much of this is going to be Black People specific, but remember, its Black history month, I’m Black, and as far as I’m concerned, some conversations are just to important to be PC about. Which reminds me…

About this Black history month thing: It shouldn’t be thing… more specifically, it shouldn’t have to be a thing. Black history, as we in the US commemorate it, is American history. It should be a part of the history curriculum. It should be included in English, Literature, and Reading lessons because we have there are Black American writers. Slavery and racism should as be openly and HONESTLY discussed as the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Little Black girls ad boys shouldn’t be relegated to only learning about people who look like them during the shortest month of the year. It shouldn’t be that Blackness is only open for discussion in 30 second video clips before commercials. February shouldn’t be the only month people are encouraged to cram all of their/our appreciation of Blackness into. Just like people should be aware of breast cancer and heart disease all year, so should Black people, and our experience.

V Day ChocolateSimilarly, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t have to be a thing. We shouldn’t need a specific day to remember to show appreciation to our significant others. Further, the media should be ashamed of themselves for suggesting that men need to spend exorbitant amounts of money and women simply need to supply the sex to show appreciation for our significant others. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t for Valentine’s day, many wouldn’t get to know they were appreciated until something bad happened in the relationship…. because who really remembers Anniversaries anyway? Many married men would have to wait for God knows how long for their wives to remember that lingerie can be more enticing than comfy pajamas, or that men deserve to feel special too.

Now let’s combine this and get to what I really want to talk about: Relationships. Black Love & HappinessNow, if you’ve been reading me since the beginning, you’ll know that I don’t like giving romantic relationship advice… I will, but I don’t generally like to. This time I’m going this because there are people on my feed and in my family who have thoughts ad questions, that I think deserve a attention. First, history and upbringing… as they relate to Black Americans. Up front, I think it bears mentioning that a lot of what I am making Black people specific, is actually universal, thus, if you’re not Black, and reading this, you might still be able to relate.

All the messages we receive put us at odd with one another. As men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, romantic relationships are painted in hard and violent colors. There’s a battle for dominance; a question about who wears the pants in the relationship, that just makes things difficult.

Time to dig deep…

Back in the day, marriage was a form of ownership. Women, having no rights of their own, or value other than their ability to bear children and tend to the house were basically sold into servitude by their fathers to their husbands, or their husband’s family (depending on the age). Is it really any wonder that since the day women started working outside the home (because parenting and housekeeping is work) that a functional dynamic of relationships has been difficult to maintain? I’ll go deeper. Black women in You Don't Deserve HerAmerica have always worked outside the home. Whether it was raising the master’s children, picking the cotton, cooking, cleaning… slaving in general was work. And then they had to go to wherever the slaves slept, and work more for their own families. Although white women were undervalued in their homes, they could at least count on the protection of the men in their lives. Black women could not; Black women had to bear the brunt of all of the abuse, the rape, the indignity, knowing that no one would be coming to save her… not her father, brothers, or even her husband.  Her mother or sister might be able to offer herself up to the master to offer a reprieve, but it wouldn’t be man, at least not if he valued his life… not if he didn’t want to risk being sold to another plantation. Throughout history, women have had to do the parenting thing alone. Men were off hunting, fighting wars, and forging frontiers. Even when they were around, they were mainly there for sex and food. They gave women more work to do. I’m not trying to diminish the value of having a man in the home, I’m simply saying that not having a man at the home isn’t a new thing either. The value of male-female companionship didn’t actually come into play until much later.

Now, I can already hear some of you saying “That was then, this is now Reign… time to move on Reign.” But see, if you look at where we are in relationships now, where we have to be specific about “Black Love”–as if love isn’t complicated enough–especially with the women’s movement having given rise to messages that tell men that we, women, don’t need them, I want you to really understand
where that comes from. So where am I going with this?  Simple: women don’t need men… LOL… Okay, no, that isn’t where I was Storm Black Panther Kissgoing, but  had to say it. Because we don’t need men the way we needed them back then. Like all women, we need companionship. We need partnership. We need bed warmers. We need someone to be special to. Yes, we need you. The feminist movement, while I still consider myself a proud feminist, got that message wrong, or at least incomplete. More specifically, as a Black woman, I have to speak directly to the need for Black men. The complaint about Black women being too hard, too independent, too masculine… if you look at the history, you’d understand that we didn’t have a choice, and that being penalized for it is an injustice that is still prevalent in Black relationships today. Not just as companions–straying from the romantic element of relationships for this–but as partners in the struggle. When we are agonizing about #BlackLivesMatter, the people who understand through experience are Black men. The man you are least likely to have to explain why and how racism is still a problem for you personally, even if you never stepped foot in the hood, is a Black man. When being a “strong black woman” was in style and it got mixed in with the feminist movement, the message got twisted, everything fell apart, and the idea of Black love became a novelty. It became more about devaluing men and their role in our lives, and less about empowering women. Suddenly, “taking care of home” was a weak woman’s job; a white woman’s job. The rhetoric about men being unnecessary, more specifically how Black men “ain’t shit” became more important than strong families. I’ll ask this: What’s the point of being a strong Black woman if all you let yourself see are weak men?

At the same time, men were hearing all those messages too; and the message was loud and clear. So why are we surprised when they
fell back on their role as men? Why shouldn’t they have switched to only focusing on what they need us for? If we don’t need them to do the right thing, why should they? What’s their incentive? They’re told they aren’t necessary, but they’re still expected to pay for the dates, pay the bills, be physically present in their children’s lives–technically a new requirement–and sometimes the lives of children that aren’t theirs, be emotionally and financially stable, be able to fix stuff around the house, be educated, committed, and faithful… and in return, they might be able to look forward to sex. Where’s the equality in that? Where is the love in that? Since we’re out working, they can’t expect a cooked meal when they get home. They can’t expect well raised, respectful children who understand the value in patience and perseverance over the acquisition of things and instant gratification. They can’t expect anything because like the song says, “we run this.

I’m the kind of feminist who actually believes in equality, only with a realistic twist… Love Never Failsbecause we aren’t equal; not in all things. There are some things that should be exclusive to men, just like there are some things that are exclusive to women. Allowing this dynamic to break down; allowing the incomplete messages to corrupt the fundamentals is one major component to why relationships, specifically relationships between Black people, has become so difficult. Unlike most other racial groups, there’s a lot more to Black love than just love… and I have a lot more to say about it…

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I know that was long (especially on top of all this)… and I have even more to say about it. So come back next week for Black Love, Part 2.

In the mean time, Do More, Require Better.