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Rise High in Gratitude

There are very few pulls toward the keyboard anymore; feeling less and less interested in sounding off for the sake of sounding off. This...


Ownership-Taking 1 for the Team

I adore Black men. I adore Black men exclusively.

Well, there was that time in the 10th grade where Caesar’s long lashes batted his Puerto Rican way right into my heart. Daddy always said they were black too, which I understand better now. Then there was that one other time at the Latin house party where the dude who locked eyes with me and held my interest over the phone and email for months turned out to be Middle Eastern.

I love Black men. Too bad right now they’re catching a bad rap. There’s the myth that there are few GOOD available black men out there. The rest are bums, openly gay, on the D.L., and in jail. Right? Wrong. But this ain’t about that. This is about how right now there’s a huge media mythical focus on the unfortunate circumstance of living while a black woman. Us po’ lil’ Tar Babies ain’t gon’ have nobodies to marry and make chilluns with. Some of us are buying into this with more commitment than our 401K’s, while others of us are quietly sitting back and letting brothas carry the rap of being no good, not good enough for the legions of women out here vying for their attentions. Phonte, of Little Brother (& The Foreign Exchange, Zo! & Tigallo, Unheralded Symmetrics, Gordon Gartrell Radio) is trying to dispel the myth, and is especially bothered by the fact that Black women are NOT owning up to how we contribute to our own relationship woes. While it’s generally standard practice for one of us to speak for the whole, I’m going to just keep it really home-based and speak for self. Keep in mind, as you read this, I have not been the chick out here promoting the dating problem, in terms of a lack of options.


There are some Sistas who are out here searching high and low, near and far for a man. They’ve hit some age that society…good girlfriends…grandma an’nem…CNN…has decided is the Age of Doom for the black woman and her relationship prospects. Let us not forget the some brothers, who, while not busy participating in serious relationships, are quick to tell a black woman she must be crazy if she ain’t married by (fill in the blank). I feel bad for those women, but I’m not them. Many of us are not. I am, for the first time in my WHOLE life, not responsible for anyone other than me. I gotta tell you, there are days when this state of freedom feels so good it feels dangerous for the possibility of future relationships. I understand and know the beauty of companionship; I just happen not to be seeking it right now.


I’ve tried relationships in different forms. Yeah…uhmmm…they didn’t work out. I know the rap about how each experience teaches us something and we always benefit. True indeed, but I’ve also learned I need to hone my judgment skills and make better choices on the front end, rather than settin’ myself for some of these back end lessons. No pun intended.


Well, in a way it kinda is, but still…
…I’m not in that place right now to go with too many unexpected variables. Yes, it’s limiting, but it’s my present truth. All I can control is me, and I Say, not right now. I need to know that your self-esteem isn’t like that of the standard teen girl—fairly low. I need to know that you have your own mind and are not easily influenced by outside sources. I need to know that you can handle me being opinionated and independent. I need to know you’re no stranger to responsibility. I need to know that being with you ain’t gon’ have me stuck standing on the same corners or sleeping at the same address my WHOLE LIFE. Hell, I need you to have feet I can stomach being near me on a nightly basis. That’s real talk. I haven’t met that dude yet. I don’t have no crazy list like ya girl Chilli, but, I do have some standards.


So…I’m kinda shallow. I like what I like. I’m not into fat men. I’m especially NOT into short, fat men. I ain’t big on men with long hair (especially not cornrows…but I can hang if you’re willing not to make a lifetime commitment to ‘em…uhmmm…maybe). I like a man with all his teeth. None of them can be gold. None. I like a man who wears nice shoes. At the very least, I’d prefer them not to be scuffed and leaning. Again, I need a man with acceptable feet. That’s just a taste, but you get the picture. You don’t have to be model-fine, but you gotta look like something that makes me wanna look at you long enough to be something wit'you. Yes, the brotha, who smells constantly of weed, standing on the corner with his ass hangin’ out over his belt (??) is available. Yes, the snaggletooth man living in public housing tried to holla. Yes, shorty in the wheelchair was very respectful in his approach. Yes, the homeless man offered to give me all his “stamps.” Yes, the cat with man boobs was a sweetheart. They won’t do. Sorry.


Menus are intriguing to me. I love the possibilities they offer. Menus also cause me some anxiety. Usually, I will scour a menu online before going to a restaurant, to get some familiarity with it. All that choice is often very confusing for me. How do I really know if I’m making the right choice between the gumbo and the Maryland She-crab soup? How do I choose between stuffed grape leaves or stuffed cabbage (shout out to Mama Ayesha’s)? I’m never really clear which direction I should go in. The sweet young sanitation engineer with the admirable ability to self-regulate and prevent himself from saying typically young, crass things to me, or the familiar gentleman who’s already got the inside track on me? New or old? The one who says sweet things and gives me sensitivity or the one who does sweet things for me with a tight grill? This used to seem a lot easier prior to present day but, as I’ve already discussed in CONTROL FREAK, I’m not real big on gambling. Atlantic City doesn’t appeal to me at all.


I suspect the concept of Soul Mate is not gender specific. There’s no “scientific” evidence that souls are gender specific. I suspect that The One is as mythical as the Unicorn. I suspect this is really all about weighing and assessing whose shit you can handle the stench for an extended period of time. I suspect that means I could be with new or old as long as I put in the necessary work. I suspect ain’t nobody ever really gonna be totally forthright about what that work is. Misery seems to love company and folks just keep inviting you to do what they did so they’re not the onliest ones out here suffering. I suspect there are exceptions to the previous suspicion, but I don’t many of them. I suspect one day I’ll feel adept at this, or at least daring enough to try my hand (& I’on’t even play cards) at this again. I’m ‘bout to mix metaphors so stay with me: if I were a spades game I’d be a hand full of possibles. I want a book before I start bettin’ again. I also suspect, like every other time before, I’ll be snuck up on and hit over the head with the next best thing to get into. I’m down for that, though I want to be fully awake and using ALL my faculties to ensure I’m paying closer attention earlier on. No need to be several hands into the game before recognizing I’ve got a bum partner. Wait-have I lost you?

So yeah…Phonte, I’m taking FULL responsibility for mine. This joint just read full of fear and uncertainty, on top of an honest desire to just be totally self-absorbed right now. Three years out of 35 isn’t really a lot of time, not long enough to cause too much worry. Right?

A dear friend said to me just yesterday, “you have so much to offer, but you have even more to give.” Gotta be the deepest thing he’s ever said to me & it knocked me off my block for a second. His depth always sneaks up on me right when I get ready to wade further out without my floaties. It gave me hope though; I haven’t suddenly become a totally unreachable person, my value is still evident. One day, I’ll walk away from this solo mission content with what I’ve learned about myself and ready to give that to someone else.

In the meantime, please believe I won’t be out here boo-hooin’ at Women’s Only meetings, hosting any Waiting to Exhale video nights, bad mouthin’ brothers for bein whack, or perpetuating the myth that there are no options out here for black women. Right now, I’m choosing NOT TO read the menu. & when I’m ready to sit to the table again it will still be with some dietary restrictions and some guidelines.

Watch me move
[at my own pace.]

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