Can somebody do CPR on Black Love?

Is my title dramatic and not very creative? Yes. Do I care? No. Glad we’ve gotten that out of the way.

It seems like recently (meaning in the past year or so), I’ve heard so much buzz amid various social networks and media outlets that the Black relationship, what used to be the cornerstone of our community, is dying. My friends are tweeting it, posting it on facebook, talking about it in BBM chatrooms (sorry #teamBB but I’m about to be #teamdroid on that ass), and spewing their passive aggression at mates/boos/fuck buddies in their BBM status. There have been books, articles, podcasts and television appearances, all featuring “experts” (AHEM Steve Harvey) who sprinkle their wisdom at the feet of us mere mortals. The crux here seems to be: Why aren’t Black relationships working and what can we do to fix it?

Well. As you may or may not know, I’m in a relationship with a man with whom I share a son and a bed. Of course there are a lot of other things we share, but those I just mentioned are on the list of major milestones people who are serious reach. Of course there are people who cohabitate and have children without being under the WE’RE TOGETHER poster, but I don’t know about that so I can’t speak on it. Bernrich and I met for the first time in high school through a mutual friend. We kept in contact through facebook during college and generally just knew of each other. A few days after I moved back to NY from Philadelphia, I had persuaded two of my guy friends to go to the beach. While I lay on the sand getting frustrated because they didn’t want to accompany me into the water, I looked up and to my left, and saw a head blocking the sun. The person was shielding his eyes and in my direction as if he were looking for me. I stood, squinting and walking toward the figure, and acted like I was reuniting with an old friend after we did the awkward “Is it you” stare that most people get before they call out a name and make themselves look stupid. We embraced and made our way to the water like I was waiting for him to come get me that day. I told him of how I had just graduated days before, moved back to NY, and broken off a 4-year relationship. He begged me for my number, insisting that he had become bewitched by my black bikini and bountiful curls, but I settled for telling him to hit me on facebook. (snicker snicker)

A few days later, we hooked up to do whatever and things literally just took off from there. We began spending time together every day after work for me and an internship for him. There was no pressure, no urgency for him to get in my pants and for me to see how money I could squeeze out of him. We genuinely enjoyed being together and it seemed as though we were old friends reuniting, instead of two virtual strangers. As summer 2008 progressed, I was introduced to the family and good friends (while in a falling-down drunken stupor); brought him around my family and good friends; went to concerts, outings, and frankly had one of the best summers of my life. I felt myself getting closer to him, but was afraid of what I was feeling. I had up the proverbial “wall” that gets erected after someone has been hurt in a relationship, and he had the same. When we could no longer hold back, we decided to “make it official” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since we’ve been together, for the most part we’ve received so much support from outsiders, both close friends and associates. I say for the most part because even though the majority of people are warm and welcoming, I still get the side eye from chicks every now and then. I figure he had given them the pipe at one time or another, or they hadn’t gotten it, which was the reason for their disdain. My friends LOVE this guy, not only because of who he is, but who he isn’t in proportion to my previous boyfriend. After watching me go through heartache and bullshit for so long, they were ecstatic to see that I was finally happy, finally being treated the way I deserved. To them, and to a lot of other people, Rick and I became the ideal couple, the ones people aspired to emulate.

While I love what we have, comments such as “You guys are my last hope,” and “Y’all give me faith in love again” make me sad for the future of black love ( I couldn’t give two shits about what anybody else is doing, honestly). When statistics want to tell you that most black women are single mothers on welfare and most black men are either gay, locked up or dead, looking for a mate in a shallow ass dating pool doesn’t seem to be too appealing. When you have women spewing “Niggas ain’t shit” rhetoric while men stick to “Bitches are all trifling,” it becomes apparent that people in both sexes are feeling unfulfilled and looking at somewhat bleak circumstances.  I tend to believe that we are victims of our own actions, and think that people who continuously get into fucked up romantic situations are doing fucked up shit, dealing with fucked up people, or just have a fucked up brain that won’t allow them to discontinue the cycle. Some of us have become so used to getting pissed and shitted on that when someone comes around with a bucket of water and some soap, we run to bury ourselves in more shit because our clean, fresh skin is too vulnerable to the elements. We coat ourselves in layers of misguided indifference, hoeism and bitterness, but don’t realize the long-term effects of our self-preservation.

Or, on the other hand, there are those of us who want to completely forget our pasts. We want to start over with a clean board  when someone new comes into the picture, but as I learned while on eraser-clapping duty in 1st grade, no matter how many times you knock those damn things together to get rid of the dust, there’s always a little bit left that can fuck up your uniform skirt. I see this happening in women more so than men, wanting to seem that you have no issues and are all together in the head, when you’re really just a time bomb waiting to go off. I see so many sisters go back into the garbage can, take out the plastic, and attempt to rewrap themselves into these neat little packages of people, without baggage, expectations, preferences or issues. We want to “work on us” so that when a man does come along and pay us attention for longer than it takes to fuck us and wipe up the mess from our stomachs when he’s done, we can be everything he has been looking for and he can scream out WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

Barack and Michelle Obama have become the poster couple for so many Black Americans, the ones we can look up to for confirmation that Black love does in fact have a chance. Two attractive, ordinary people  from urban Chicago came together at one of the most prestigious universities in the nation and then raised two beautiful daughters. One ascended to the highest position in the United States while the other took on an equally important role – his support system. They did it without flashing Gucci and gold, without talking about bitches and all the drugs they’ve sold, without dumbing themselves down to seem more relatable. While there is a lot to be learned from the Obamas, there’s also a lot to be learned from the Coopers, parents of one of my best friends. The Coopers are Jamaican immigrants who came to this country like many others in their shoes with only one hope – to provide their family with better opportunities than they had. They raised three daughters, privately educated them all, and put all of them through college. They live in a nice, modest home in a middle-class New York neighborhood and still have a good time after 30 years.

We tend to look at what other people have and figure out why what we have isn’t as good. Here’s a hint: the “greener” grass on the other side of the field is so appealing because your neighbors know you’re looking at it. They’re prepping it for other people’s eyes and hoping you don’t have sense enough to come inside the house, cus that’s where the real shit goes down. I’m saying all of this to say that every relationship in every culture will have its issues. Nothing is inherently wrong with Black love, nor is it “dying out” as some people claim.

If we stop choosing our mates based on the size of their wallets rather than their intellect; if we stop disregarding people because they don’t live up to some superficial standards that WE don’t even qualify for; if we stop internalizing the rhetoric that wants us to believe Black people cannot sustain productive relationships; if we take the time to cultivate REAL interest in someone that isn’t based on their looks; if we stop using divorce as a copout; if we give of ourselves to people who DESERVE it, instead of just the ones who are there at the moment, maybe then we can all be examples to each other.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MommyRN
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 14:06:18

    Beautifully written, my hopefully soon to be sis-in-law, I agree completely. If we walk around not expecting shit then that’s what we get shit. #IstillloveSTEVE


  2. Esther
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 15:29:44

    You know what? I can write an encyclopedia on how many people need to read this….smh. Imma text them right now and put them on! Love it.


  3. nb vp jazz
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 19:38:35

    Whaaaaaattttt NB u went in…..deezam is all I can say!


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