Archive for Black Love

Emotional Intellience = Relationship Success

       I remember as a kid everyone would always laud me for how smart I was, how I excelled at almost everything academically.  I did somewhat, I always read way beyond my grade level and was not the least intimidated by any sort of math problems.  However, I was almost completely clueless when it came to Social Studies or Science, which to this very day neither of which are my strong suits.  In fact, if someone calls me smart today I will emphasize that there is a difference between being smart and being “intelligent”, smart being the label I proudly accept.

     Well, Daniel Goleman also believes that there is a difference in being smart and being intelligent.  He coined the term “emotional intelligence“, distinguishing emotional competencies from the cognitive capabilities that are measured by “IQ”  or intelligence quotient.  In his book, Emotional Intelligence, which is a must read for those of us who’d like to believe we excel despite our average intelligence, Mr. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope“, as something that can be learned and improved upon by children.  From this perspective, it is obvious why those who succeed academically, score very high on their SAT or IQ or both, have been known to do either just ok or worse than expected.  As a matter of fact, it has been shown that IQ contributes only 20% to the factors that determine life success, while the other 80% is based on factors like emotional competence.  (from an article written by Howard Gartner.)

      The very crux of emotional intelligence  is that learning how to cope with the trials of life is much more determinant in how one succeeds in life, in love and work/career/business.  Academic intelligence merely shows that one is astute at achievement only measured by grades and/or tests.  This certainly does nothing for the man or woman who is dealing with the challenges of love, relationship or marriage, a parameter for success in life.  We all, in some form or another, look at one’s personal achievements in a myriad of arenas to determine if they are to be admired or esteemed globally, understanding that a rich but lonely businessman is not necessarily the life we would die to have .  A CEO on Wall Street, who has a successive number of failed relationships, with no family of his or her own to be proud of will not receive the same adoration as one who does well and has a solid family and home life to complement his career achievements. 

      It may take little effort on the valedictorian’s part to continue to climb the corporate ladder, while attempts to maintain even a modicum of a social or personal life escapes him.  It is often his or her’s lack of emotional intelligence that robs them of the ability to read body language or facial expressions; interact with an exchange of interest or intrigues; interject humor or wit or to even express him or herself appropriately.  Our thoughts and feelings, too, play a major role in how we perceive and handle others in personal relationships, while in business interactions these can be minimized or even ignored all together.  Men and women have very different emotional sensors and thus require a working knowledge of how to accept and appreciate these differences, a skill only an emotional intelligent person could do.  Men are never going to be the emotional managers that women are and women, at least most of them, choose not to downplay or ignore the significance of emotions in intimate relationships.  But it takes the emotionally savvy person to at least accept these differences, work within these realms and to nurture the relationship in light of it. 

      So in all reality, there may be less credence to the belief that Black professional women, particularly the ones who do exceptionally well in their careers, have a tougher time finding a mate because of the disparity in gender achievement.  Black women may need to take a page out of the emotional intelligence handbook and learn to attune themselves to all things personal, outside of the boardroom.  Giving up the rigidity of corporate America for the sensitivity of interpersonal dependence, if they truly want to succeed is not a bad idea.  Not to say trading one for the other is the key, but understanding that the conformities of the workplace is not germane to the other arenas in life could land that successful relationship that is missing.

“Just Wright”, Almost Got it Right

I talked my SO into seeing this movie particularly because as soon as saw the trailer he said “Yeah right, like anyone is gonna buy a big girl like Queen being the love interest of someone like Common (his character)”.  And although I had seen the trailer several times prior, not one time did I even think that.     Maybe it is the hopeless romantic in me or me being ever the optimist, but I did not even give that a second of my thoughts.   I did think that it has been a minute since we have seen some positive images on the big screen and I was anticipating the movie’s release.  But I was not mad at him, I just wanted him to see how we can all buy into something positive if it is portrayed right.

Well, as for the movie I did not care much for the writing or the directing, but I did appreciate the messages.  Let’s start with the family, Queen’s character had parents who were still together and she had a Daddy-daughter relationship many of us are remiss of…..long overdue!  Then we had an athlete that did not have all the negative stereotypes being played out, i.e. speaking ebonics, hanging with a slew of his “boyz” on the social scene, sleeping around, yada, yada, yada.  Next, I loved the fact that the thicker, around-the-way girl won out to the lighted skin, svelte, beautiful arm piece that many of them (athletes) fawn over, even though Common’s character initially fell for the okey doke himself.  And finally, I love the fact that there was love, Black love, as the theme of the movie…that gets all the accolades itself.  When is the last time we saw many of these images in the theater, let alone all of them in the same movie?  I saw how any Black man could fall for a girl like “Leslie”, since she was honest, had goals and ideals and “cool”.  I have several friends who possess the same traits, but for their shape, size or skin tone, they would have a line out the door of prospects.  I accept that men are physical, and so they need to have their taste for beauty satsified from the onset.  But I encourage my brothas (and sistahs) to see past that and maybe your relationship can survive past the honeymoon phase.

It is crucial that we support such movies, nevermind it’s lack of substance as far as the characters are concerned, the images that are portrayed are what is important.  I mean we don’t even recognize how we are all buying into the negative stereotypes that have been shoved down our throats, not until we see the complete opposite.  This is unacceptable to me and should be denounced by each of us.  One by one we will all label Black women who are not thin enough, light enough, pretty enough to being the girls that a sane Black man would not even blink an eye at.   This is how it started, the images led to the brainwashing, and the brainwashing became our reality, we have to change that.  Go see the movie, encourage others to go and see it and so on and so on and so on.

So kudos to Queen, well Flava Unit, for being on the right course.

The “Good” Wife, What is That

     One of my favorite actresses has been all over the tabloids about the infidelities in her marriage, well really that of her wandering husband who has been cheating with several women.   Sandra Bullock has had her name splattered in headlines all over the place because of her husband’s philandering with skeeves that consciously chose to disregard her union and slept with her husband.   Well, while her name was being spewed from the tongues of many, she went about her business, keeping hush about her plan of attack (or not attack.).  I love that about her, we share the same birthday as a matter of fact born under Leo, the fact that she did not succumb to the pressures of the media, the public and whomever else had an opinion about matters of her heart.  Although she ultimately decided to divorce him when it was all said and done, I believe her decision had nothing to do with what everyone else thought she should do.  On the contrary, the lioness has her own will, she does not take too kindly to anyone else trying to lead her or influence her when it comes to handling her own business. 

     For many, a cheating man is a deal breaker while for others they conveniently turn a blind eye, what we lawyers call “willful blindness”.   Eldren decided to open her marriage woes up to the public, which in the end broke the deal for Tiger, while Sandra (like many paramours of politicians do) chose to lament in private.   Either way, I think it is important that we choose to do what is in our hearts.  I do not condone cheating, but I will say that when my SO asked me what would be a deal breaker for us, the first thing that rolled off my lips had nothing to do with him straying from home.  He does understand how I feel about cheating however, but it has more to do with my disdain for lying and deception than anything else.   And choosing to stay with a man, or woman for that matter, after finding out about that were cheating is a personal choice.   There are some inherent cultural, religious and spiritual convictions that are factored into the choice, something I believe should be respected from outsiders.   Not to mention, what works for one couple may not work for another and so to state that there is an implicit rule is asinine.

      To many, a woman who chooses to stay is an indication of low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, desperation, etc. and although there are instances where that may be the case, the reality is that it is still her decision to make.  I have been practising matrimonial law for almost a decade now and I tell you, more often than not, the women who files for divorce because of her husband’s cheating only do so after the cheating has interrupted their family structure or dynamics in some way.  In other words, many of these women tell me that they knew or had some suspicion that their husband was “stepping out” and that they could handle that.  The problem became unbearable once the cheating led to a long-term affair, bore a child outside of the marriage or something to that degree.   The bottom line is they cherished what they were getting from the union, appreciated the vows they took or merely did not feel remiss because of the creeping.   I never judge, I understand that how a man makes a woman feel is paramount to sustaining a nurturing marriage, and to some this is regardless of him sharing this feeling with another.  

     I don’t know if a “good” wife sits by and lets her man “sow his wild oats” while she stays at home and waits patiently.  Again, that is left to the wife to decide.  I do know that it irks me when someone else has a strong opinion about another’s relationship, I don’t care who it is.  My friends all understand that while I appreciate their input, at the end of the day the decision is mine to make.  As I remind them regularly, there are things in the next relationship that we may insist we cannot or will not tolerate, but we cannot be too sure until we are in that position which rarely happens because we are all different.  I only care about my friends’ happiness, so if they choose to stay while their spirit is dying or their self-esteem is diminishing then I may intervene but otherwise it is my full support they get.  Black love is complicated enough without all the input from external forces, we don’t need to compound the issues with our prejudicial and pejorative comments.

To ABC’s “Nightline”:We Don’t Wanna Hear It Anymore…But You All Raise A Good Point

          If I hear, read or see another special report on the state of Black women and their plight about not being able to find a mate, husband or father for their youngens, I am going to…well….actually do NOTHING!   Here’s the thing, this topic sells, it sells magazines, books, ads, and so on and so on.  I had a discussion with a friend of mine recently about how she and several of her other friends, for years, have been trying to sell so-called “success stories” about Black women finding love to the major Black magazines, to no avail.  Yeah, I could not believe it.  You mean someone is actually getting off on my sistahs trying to keep themselves warm at night, I was mortified.  Here I was basking in the glow of having finally found my lifelong partner, four of our mutual friends followed suit, and no one wants to hear about it.  This is insane, after the gazillion frogs we all had to kiss before we found our princes! 

      But then, not more than a month has passed before ABC is doing yet another special on the topic, if I was not convinced before I was then.  I must admit, I was reading the ubiquitous remarks from men and women alike who were fed up with the media perpetuating this concept.  So by the time I finally watched the program, I was somewhat tainted by the insight I had from them.  But you know what, although there were very few nascent concepts divulged, I had what Oprah called an “aha” moment.  I think to some degree, even Black women get their jollies ruminating over the miniscule pool of available, good Black men.  That’s right I said it, I think Black women just love the attention they get from the “woe is me” thing many of them have going on.  I mean I listened to Jacque Reid and Sherri Shepherd and nothing they said remotely sounded as if  they even wanted to try to open their mind.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know they don’t speak for all Black women, but to be honest they sound like a lot of my single girl friends.  They can sound so pathetic, desperate, negative and just downright hopeless that they sap my energy just to be in their company.  I mean what happened to the light at the end of the tunnel, the rainbow after the storm, the fragrant spring flowers after the brutal winter-well you get my point.   If you think about it, you will see the validity to my observation.  The ridiculous “list” many single Black women concoct, the superficial things they focus their attention on, the inability to articulate who they are and what their beliefs are-believe it or not all of things only serve as a diversion to the real issue.   And no matter what, unless and until the women understand what it is she really wants, in her life, in this journey and then in love, then she will remain in the limelight for being  that poor single Black woman.

     Believe it or not, I am a true believer,  I am the friend that is constantly telling my friends to keep an open mind, to see the good in each and every experience, to understand their purpose, to speak it into existence, etc.  And for many of them, they actually start to see things differently when they regularly affirm these to themselves, especially when they start to appreciate that they have nothing to lose.  I am very spiritual and believe that the way we see life is the way it will be for us. So if we habitually pay homage to this notion that there are no, nor will there be, any good Black men left then guess what that is exactly what our reality will be.  If you see yourself at the low-end of the totem pole, then that is exactly where you will be, it works like that in every aspect of our lives.  And no, I have not had a lot of success with love. On the contrary, I had more failures than I would like to remember but ask any of my friends, I always remained optimistic.  So if you want your fate to change, really you have to do something, I mean really do something not just talk the talk.

Raising Black Girls to Become a Wife/Mother:The Impact of Fatherlessness

     There is rarely a shortage on research data on how fatherlessness affects Black boy or adult Black men.  However, when it comes to the impact of absentee fathers on Black girls, well, let’s just say that I am still looking for solid data on the topic.  But let’s at what is out there (in addition to personal experiences) and discuss the correlation with the single Black woman.  In my group of female friends, about 75% of us grew up in fatherless homes and it was not until my early 30’s did I realize our differences.  I am at the point now where I can tell if a woman grew up in a two-parent household or if she was raised by her single mother.  When I say two-parent, I mean both biological or a step-parent who raised her from early on, as opposed to a cohabitating couple.  My friends that come from the two-parent homes were typically much more confident, they were much more expressive and they typically maintained steady relationships.  The women that, like me, came from a single-parent/mother raised home almost always had self-esteem, image and self-worth issues.  Most of us had problems dealing with conflict, understanding our roles and boundaries and choosing partners based on our intentions (in other words we were more likely to attract the men who wanted something completely different.)

     Research indicates that women who come from fatherless homes tend to become sexually active, and many promiscuity is common; mature physiologically a lot quicker; lag behind other women academically and fail to achieve their goals in many aspects of their lives.  Of course, all of these differences are in addition to the ones I myself have noted.  The one study that I found most interesting is the one where the finding was that teenage girls who grew up in a two-parent home actually started puberty later than girls that grew up in a single parent or step parent home.  According to the Institute for American Values, the emotional affect of the family environment is directly correlated to the girls’ biological functioning.  (The belief is that the production of the hormone, pheromone is delayed when the biological father is in the home.) 

     The reality is that many of these girls, now women, are still maladjusted in the love/relationship department.  Between the issues of trust, self-value, fear of abandonment, amongst the many other issues prolific in the Black community, the desire to be in a loving, committed and meaningful relationship is a major feat.  All the more reason for Black women to do some self exploring if they see having a family of their own a real dream of theirs.  The easy way out is to look at someone else and point the finger at them, blaming them for your current predicament.   I had to face my own demons and look in the mirror, no music, no television, no adornments, no NOTHING! just me!  I was a long, painful and arduous task (to some extent I am still going through it) but certainly necessary.  I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced but at my climax I accepted who I really was, without blaming anyone else.  I think this was the impetus for my new-found relationship not only with myself but with my significant other.

“The Conversation”

     I recently read Hill Harper’s “The Conversation”.   Although I would have appreciated more of an in-depth analysis of the problems and more insightful solutions I really appreciated the overall premise.  I too think that many of our social, economic and spiritual ills can be addressed by talking openly and honestly to each other and thus encourage that approach to eradicating the prejudices, the negative stereotypes and the chasm that exists between Black men and Black women.  However, I believe that the best way to get someone to listen is to appeal to issues most sensitive to them and reading the book I did not quite understand who he was targeting, Black men, Black women or both.  I kept trying to read it from a Black man’s point of view, thinking that he was trying to reach them but could not help but internalize his points from a Black woman’s perspective.   Not to say that he could not be speaking to both, I was just hoping he was not jumping on that “let me speak to you desperate Black women, ready to pull out all stops to get your Black man” bandwagon!  I mean if you surf the web, turn on the television or strike up a conversation at the hair salon everyone is talking about the plight of single Black women.  I think it’s imperative, that Black men reach out to Black men.  Black women can harmoniously sing the “we need our Black men to step up and commit to us” song, but obviously they are hearing us. 

     Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Black women don’t have a responsibility in getting Black men to hear us and move in the direction of healing, restoring and reclaiming our families and relationships.  On the contrary, I think Black women should accept some of the blame in the discord that currently exists between us.  But I think our problems are, although part and parcel of the larger issues, are somewhat distinct and therefore should be dealt with differently.  The common denominator is our lack of trust, respect, appreciation and candor for each other, but our reasoning or rationale diverges.  So although we can confront our common issues, concomitantly, we don’t necessarily have to use the same strategy.  So I appreciate the Hill Harpers trying to reach the masses, but I believe in tailoring the solutions based on the interests of the target, not the “one size fits all” approach.  Hill was very insightful, he has a plethora of female friends and some good natured dudes in his circle who were all instrumental in his getting the message across, but I would have loved to if he had narrowed the focus. 

     Overall, it is clear that we need to start this conversation.  We need to be able to communicate openly and honestly about our respective insecurities, fears, doubts, etc. and begin to work toward healing.  I mean we desperately need to open our hearts, open our minds and talk TO each other and not AT each other.  I must admit, my head was spinning with all the platforms from which we can spring board  these conversations but we must take baby steps.

Too Independent to be His Wife-Really?

     My boyfriend and I just had our first clash of egos which actually almost resulted in our dissolution.  Yeah, I know that I am an educated Black woman, with goals and aspirations.  But what I did not realize was that that might have been my hindrance to becoming “Mrs.”.  Don’t get me wrong I have heard it all before, “oh you’re too independent for me”, “you don’t need a man, you can take care of yourself”, yada, yada, yada!  But I always prided myself on the fact that I, unlike my friends who are also professionals, know how to the role of the woman.  In fact, I went so far as learning how to master “downplaying” my success when I met a man, any man, professional or blue-collar.  Not so much that I wanted to mislead him, but that I wanted him to get to know the real me without the prejudices associated with me being an educated Black woman.  So when my significant other actually told me that “I can’t have it both ways, being the traditional woman while taking the liberated woman’s stance” I looked at him in disbelief.  I was thinking, “does he know me at all, I cook, clean and do his laundry. Has he lost his mind?”  But when he broke it down for me, which is one of the things I love about him he can articulate his thoughts better than I can, I completely understood. 

     This is my thing, I believe in my man being the protector, the provider and the final decision maker (for the most part).  I have no problem letting him dictate where go for dinner (even if we should go out at all), prioritize our chores and decide even how we spend money.  My bone of contention is how he thinks I should address conflicts or disagreements.  I thought “playing my role” meant allowing him to make these decisions because they empowered him.  It didn’t dawn on me that his feeling empowered goes way beyond that.  You see, when I challenge him on issues that I think are unsound, illogical or down right insane I go from being this passive-aggressive to being quite dogmatic.  I exercise no diplomacy whatsoever, I mean come on I am a lawyer!  But even as an attorney, I learned how to advocate assertively, even aggressively when necessary, without ruffling any feathers so to speak.  It didn’t matter to him that I did all those other things, to him he saw it as a ruse, doing just enough to get him to do what I wanted.  It wasn’t about me being docile or submissive, it was about me trusting him enough to allow him to make mistakes, knowing that at the end of the day he will make it all better.  So me being the woman grounded in faith, spiritually enlightened and determined to reclaim the Black family, I got it.  That day I learned that it was not about me giving up anything that compromised me being me. It was about reclaiming something that used to be me!

John Mayer Comments Only Fuels My Loyalty to Dating Intra-racially

“Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a n****r pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.'” He went on further to state that his lack of attraction to Black women was due to his “David Duke c**k.” -John Mayer

It’s always been my fear, aside from the fact that I am just not attracted to any man that is not Black, that if I were to ever get close to someone of another race, particularly a White man, that they would slip up at that inevitable social gathering and call me out of my name.  I have seen it happen time and time again, I get chummy with a colleague of mine where we swap intimate details about our respective communities and they misconstrue that to think they can say something totally inappropriate and, at times, downright offensive.  We attend one of the many social gatherings sponsored by various attorney organizations, and yep, they toss back one too many and there they go.  Just recently, a had a White guy ask me for “something to keep him awake” while we were attending a professional training.  I slipped up and let my guard down, and sure enough he took advantage of that opportunity and asked me twice to get him some illicit drugs.  Now I know better than to think that every White man is a John Mayer or my White colleague, but I just can’t imagine my significant other getting that familiar to the point where he slips up like this.

On the other hand, I do have a different set of issues when I deal with the Black man but I feel like I can empathize with their plight, am much more familiar with them, and definitely have more an interest in “keeping it in the family”.  Believe it or not I held onto my conviction despite the fact that, up until recently, I was single with no potentials for a solid mate anywhere in sight. I was determined to hold out for someone who looks like me, share the same history with me and has common interests with me.  After all, I was Black before I was a woman and that’s where my loyalty lies.

My single female friends, however, see it differently even the “pro-Black” or Afrocentric ones.  When it comes to dating and/or love, they say that takes precedence over their cultural beliefs.  One of my friends even went as far as to say that “if I have a child by a White man, the child is still Black because I am.”  I love all of my friends and respect their decisions, but that one still baffles me because she is the one that is the revolutionary (but for the timing of her birth she would have been a Black Panther).  Grant it, today there are more mixed race adults who are willing to identify with more than one racial group than years past, especially since our president is of mixed race.  (In fact the census has changed over the years, allowing an individual to choose more than one race as an option.)  However, for me it is more about the purity of our race, the Black race, than finding someone to fill that position.

Even though I respect my friends’ decisions, I do think a lot of their willingness to date outside of their race is perspective and not actual attraction or genuine interest.  When I probe them further, not one of them ever mention that they are actually attracted to these men, they can only state that they are fed up with Black men.  I mention this because I think it makes a difference when someone opens their pool as a matter of being practical, as opposed to what they feel in their hearts.  The way I see it, if they change their perspective, meaning the way they view Black men and how they feel about themselves, then I believe they would learn to appreciate everything that comes along with dating intra-racially.


Hello Visitors!

Hello,

Welcome to Reclaim Black Family!  A discussion about the state of today’s Black family, Black marriage, parenting in the household of Black family and the Black community as a whole.  Our focus is to uplift, encourage, inspire, educate and share our views, beliefs, ideals, suggestions, comments and insight on all things that pertain to the Black family.  As a family law attorney, family mediator, social activist, writer, speaker and spiritualist I have had the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge on the social, psychological and economical ills that plague our families.   Everyday and everyone I encounter presents additional opportunities to learn s0 I welcome all thoughts.