Archive for the ‘Sexuality & Relationships’ Category

Do you really want to know? I mean really want to know what the status of the average black family in America is? If you do, I’m not 100% sure I can give you the answer. What I can do is offer you my hypotheses. I’m not a certified expert appointed by a bunch of intellects, who have sprawling curriculum vitas and impressive framed parchments emblazoned with shiny stickers and big signatures. No, I’m just a young professional who lives in a black family, who has friends in black families, and witnesses the struggle on a daily. Hopefully that will be enough background to make my observations minutely credible. You on board? You are? Cool, let us begin!

The problem that I’m seeing with the black family is often times just a lack there of… What happened to the nuclear family that we learned about in elementary school? You know the one; with a loving couple (typically married) and their children. Am I the only one who faintly remembers this lesson? Maybe that’s the issue! Having a strong sense of family in the traditional sense (2 parents living together raising their children) is a fleeting concept, not only in black homes but in homes everywhere. There has been a steady decline in the number of people doing what Grandpa and Grandma did. Meet, courtship, engagement, marriage, co-habitation, then children. Now think about the steps most of our peers take to get to the children part… The differences are so drastically different it’s not even worth trying to loosely list them.

I really do believe that this is the disconnect. We’re so wrapped up in instant gratification that our generation really struggles with the concept of patience, including myself. Taking the time to learn who this person is that you want to be with, for the sake of looking for a formidable mate, rather than just a good time is the key. There are way too many innocent children walking around (potentially including myself and a good number of my peers) that are products of a good time. I’m going to plant this seed in your thought box real quick: When one learns that they are with child, if that pregnancy was not the goal of their relationship, the initial reaction is pretty far from joyous. When they get the news the first thing they think about is: “What are/am we/I going to do?”….

What I’m getting at is that unplanned pregnancies have to be warmed up to, and learned to be loved by the parents, versus loving this blessing before it’s a reality. There is the “Oh shit” phase, hopefully VERY quickly followed by celebrations! Let’s do our best to make better decisions when a life is potentially hanging in the balance. Children don’t ask to be here, so let’s make sure when they get here it’s because you wanted them to come. They deserve that at the very least.

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Observations seem to be my new vice. I observe everything from people to little bugs climbing through a tiny crevice on an oak tree. I have admiration for the imperfections I see, and I have come to the conclusion that perfection cannot be achieved, but only strived for. There will always be problems. You may have a great job, but you may not have a partner to be happy with and vice versa. Some people are so interesting, and have so many good things to say that could shape and help people’s perceptions on life. Instead, in some instances, people are reluctant to make themselves vulnerable or humble to share the real or hurtful experiences in their lives. People instead hide behind a façade of non-emotional walls that makes for more internalized pain and struggle.

These are the horrid results of  receiving horizontal communication, the elusiveness of having respectability for one’s beliefs and actions. I sometimes wonder if people are so empty that declarative statements such as, “All men ain’t shit,” “Imma do me till the end,” “Fuck these hoes,” etc. are only cover-ups for the emotionally tightly packed luggage that got lost in the baggage claim. Some men cry and are hurt by things done to them, but society and unsafe environments won’t allow for sentimental displacement of these feelings. Some women unfairly and sometimes unknowingly box men into traps of hyper masculinity (violent, aggressive, dangerous). I.e. “I need someone who can put me in my place if I get out of hand.” These type of stereotypes are harmful and take away from the good authentic men in our communities.  Chris Hedges hints at this indulgence into celebrity culture and make believe as the, “Empire of Illusion.” There are good men out there who don’t have a fancy car or money, but may be well educated and will surely surpass many others in due time or what I like to call having “progressive potential.” There are great women out there, whose worth is not formulated on their clothing, sexual past, or any other misogynistic characteristic that is the basis for their potential as a partner.

I know my examples may have a heteronormative sentiment, but believe these traits can exist in any type of relationship. We must remember, masculinity and femininity are gender-based (learned) behaviors. Simply, these are examples of how materialistic and unsubstantiated thoughts can hinder the love people seek so much, and ultimately, what everyone wants. Pride can be the blockage to Maslow’s self-actualization in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It essentially comes down to this, when you place materialistic and unproven material ahead of people’s intangible potential and goodness, you lose before you begin. Frank Ocean’s “Scared of Beautiful” sums it up beautifully. “Scared of the good more than the evil, scared of the light more than dark, scared of the truth so much more than the lie. I’m scared for you…I’m scared of you…scared of beautiful.”

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Think about it for a second in terms of things that attract the opposite sex.  Is an individual really more attracted to someone who is older or are they attracted to what one associates with age?  Things such as experience and financial stability and values.  Also are the demands that much different when it comes to the sexes?  Are the qualities that men and women look for in a partner who is their senior the same?

I would have to say what attracts men to older women is generally different from that of the qualities that spark the interest in younger women toward older men.  Over the years I’ve heard some argue that those women who are attracted to older men usually lacked that designated father figure in their lives.  Though this claim makes sense it honestly creeps me out lol.  So what attracted you to this older guy are things that subconsciously satisfy your yearning for a father figure…  I mean I get it but it just doesn’t sit well with me.  But what it also sheds light on is how women’s selection process often times have a deeper conviction then that of men.

I can say with confidence that the attraction toward older women for the majority of men is anchored in their sexual appetite and the curiosity of what a seasoned woman can teach them.  Let’s face the facts, when women are gearing up toward the age where their sexual appetite is peaking… unfortunately men are knocking at the beginning of the end lol.  So it only makes sense that older women are attracted to younger men who are in their sexual prime.  Thank goodness for the little blue pill for the male AARP card holder lol!!  An older woman is more likely to take care of her young play thing.  Spend more time catering to his needs.  This comes to her naturally at this stage in her life as women are just wired to be a nurturer, couple that with the man being younger than she is it just works…

So with that being said… I guess men and women are attracted to older partners for similar reasons.  I know that I don’t discriminate LoL.  I love all women and believe that real love know no limits.  Though I’m not readily attracted to women who are more than 7 years my senior at my ripe young age of 23.  At the end of the day human sexuality is just one big ass complicated ball of confusion LoL.  Just do what makes you happy and care less what people think about it!

Single Black Women…

 

Hello…

As a black educated man in his profession, I must first recognize my privilege as a male and natural bias as I talk on this issue in a heteronormative narrative. I want you to recognize that as a reader, because I am an ally of people who have different classes, sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities, ages, genders, disabilities, and any other definitive characteristics. I strive to be progressive and interdependent of other allies who identify in different struggles.

 

“It’s Your Fault…!”

It is amazing how when I bring up this topic to people they become bias and one-sided in their mindset. People will either blame black women, blame black men, blame women of other ethnicities, but hate seems to be embedded in a lot of the comments I hear on this issue. We have to take on this issue because I feel that relationship dynamics are the first steps in revitalizing the black community and the state of black families.

 

The Facts

Statistics from Yale show that 42% of black women are single. 70% of professional (college degree(s)) black women are unmarried. According to the 2000 Census, there are 1.8 million more black women than black men. For every 100 black women, there are 87 brothers. When we take into account the black men who are incarcerated, subtract 20 black men. Now you are left with 67. The numbers get even smaller when level of education is equated.

These statistics are not meant to be damaging in any black women’s mind. In fact, I wish to help black men and women when it comes to this issue by sparking conversation and changing of certain habits. Black men and women must work together on this.

 

Seeds of Hate

Anytime I look at some of my black peers whether through social networks (Twitter, FB, MySpace, etc.) or in real life, there is a subtle hatred of black men and black women. Often times, men refer to black women as bitches, hoes, sluts, bussas, etc. Black women call black men dogs, Niggas, and the very popular, “Niggas ain’t shit!” What people unconsciously don’t realize is that their diction is actually seeds of engrained hate towards one another through the channels of public policy(welfare, child support, etc.), jealousy, pride, media (depictions of black relationships), and interpersonal or observational modes of communication. Think about how many black men and women you know degrade one another through their explicit lexicon. This is not to generalize black people, but it is a recognizable issue nonetheless. Addressing each other appropriately is only part of the problem. Even things like, “cuffing season” are ridiculous. To put black women and men into seasons of relationships and break-ups is problematic. It has the theme of “not lasting” or temporary .

 Expectations

Some black women have great expectations of the type of black male they want. They might be to be intellectual (does not need a degree), great personality, not too prideful or jealous, has goals and aspirations. They might be to be 6’7, light skin, have a car, and plenty of money. What do I suggest or think of women who aspire after the two examples I just said, nothing. I feel that you should choose someone who is equally yoked to you; otherwise, no one should be upset if things did not work out the way you wanted. You cannot change people, they can only change themselves. I think it is best to see people and their actions first. Are they passionate about their career aspirations? How do they treat people? Could I be happy for a long time with this person? Seeking people for shallow characteristics often yields poor relationships. Never lower your standards, instead, find someone who exceeds them in the areas that matter most. More than often, physical characteristics are the least of them. You have to make an utilitarian (Best overall choice) decision.

 

Communication

Very few black couples even know how to communicate to each other. I have heard of men not communicating with their partner for weeks on end. When conversation sparks, it should be an honest and open conversation. You should make yourself emotionally vulnerable and accepting to criticism on your part. Essentially, just because you may not be doing something right, it does not constitute violence or senseless yelling. Being able to talk through situations is an attribute in a relationship, and not a weakness. Pride and ego has consumed people to the point of being bluntly irrational. When you can admit you are wrong, you not only grew as a person, but you have grown in your relationship as well. Many people over look this, and simply want to be “right.”

 

Where do WE go from here?

Black men and women must come together. We have to look at our language towards one another, exceed our expectations in the areas that really matter in our character both in a partner and within ourselves, and effectively communicate our feelings. A simple message for a complex issue. Also, we have to stop this, “hating” or “envious” epidemic. When we see authentic examples of black love in our daily lives, be happy for them. Black love has become shunned upon (crazy right?…yet almost rare it seems). It is ironic to me how people thirst for relationships so bad, but can not get strong ones because of poor decisions. People who ridicule others are almost always either jealous or insecure of their own situations. You can almost never declare your love in fear of being ridiculed. To counter this fear, exclaim your love as often as possible if you want. Love is an awesome thing. Never let a sense of jealousy or hatred flow through you, you will only delay your good fortunes. Another thing is to not give into the stereotypes that face black men and women, instead, shatter them. Some people feel giving into stereotypes is easier because it is what society has labeled them as. When you are an individual and aspire for more, you can shatter those generalizations for yourself and help others to do the same.

 

-Vernon L. Johnson, MPH

 

*Thank you, please leave comments and feel free to share this post.   

 

Everything is gay, queer, lesbian, suspect, or questionable it seems. Everyday I incur someone who is questioning someone’s sexuality based on pale actions. The comments and bias are even worse within the black community. I will first get into some examples, and then I will talk about why this type of bias is so prevalent within the black community. I will also offer a solution or spark of future conversations on this issue. It shocks me to believe how many people question other people’s sexuality based on characteristics, actions, or even the way they dress. I had wore thong sandals once, and was told that was gay, and I should not wear them if I were a “real” man. I’ve seen people question people’s sexuality based on how they talk or text, which is really absurd.

 

The black community is homophobic for a variety of reasons I believe. For one, during slavery times, men were the protectors of the family and women nurtured the children. These were traditional gender roles within the black community which have lived up today despite the high rates of single-parent homes. People (whether gay or straight) have become afraid to be themselves in fear of being socially ridiculed if they do not prescribe to these traditional roles. Men confront other men when they exhibit any type of “weak” trait, and women ostracize other women when they show any “strong” characteristics. But let’s be clear, men do this to women, and women do it to men. For instance, a man would call a woman who is in an authoritative position a dyke or bitch. Another example would be if a woman does not give it up, or cuts her hair short, the same type of vulgar language and mentality is given. Likewise, women are quick to question a man’s masculinity by what he wears, if he’s emotionally concerned or quick to get hurt, or even, get ready…his vast intellectualism. Intellectualism and love are the two things within the black community folks want so much, but are seldom willing to have or keep it. For instance, a woman who wants to be in love with a guy who is sensitive and driven but dumps him for a bad boy who is constantly flexing his masculinity. Another example would be a guy who wants a caring and independent woman, but is quick to cheat and dump her for not being the one fully in control of their relationship. A woman may feel trumped by a man’s intellect; therefore she will belittle his masculinity in hopes of having equal footing. This is one of the reasons why a lot of my peers are single, and will be for a long time if they don’t change. This is where people shoot themselves in the foot, or heart rather. They have a good thing, and are afraid to make the inner changes within themselves to make it last. I always felt in a relationship you could not change that person, but that person has the choice to cognitively recognize their problem or bad habits and fix it. Otherwise, do not be mad if the progressive person in your relationship leaves you. Not being diverse and inclusive of others is similar to this dynamic personally, professionally, and globally.

 

My resolution to this is simple and unique. Diversity and acceptance is nothing to be afraid of, rather it should be used as an attribute. In my job, if I were not a progressive mind, I would not be there. I would still be unemployed due to my own ignorance, and denial of working with diverse communities of people. Worrying about people’s sexual identities should be the least of people’s concerns, especially when most people have their inner conflicts to deal with. Who are you to judge if you are not a perfect being? A friend of mine said it best, “If you just mind your own damn business, you’d have a better life.” I like to live by that, there is no need to always call people out on things, leave them be. Stop taking meaningless characteristics, and applying them to people’s sexual identity. It will hurt you in the short and long run.

Black men being faithful. Why is this even a blog post? Why this topic in particular? When we look at the rates of African-American couples getting married, there has been a steady decline for some time. On September 1st of this year, Scholar and Stanford Law Professor Ralph Richard Banks is releasing his book, “Is Marriage for White People? How the Decline of African-American Marriages Affects Everyone.” This book essentially encourages middle class black women to date outside their race, instead of men who are under them (black men of low socio-economic status). Do you see the problem here? Instead of rehabilitating black men to increase their human capital and well-being, we have found ways to avoid and run from the problems at hand. When over 12% of black men are incarcerated in a 37 billion dollar prison industry, we have work to do. When black men are generalized and stereotyped into being over sexed, financially incompetent, and thrive off mediated masculine images of “success” due to the lack of male mentors, we have work to do. Black communities suffer from the social, environmental, and personal injustices that face them.

The issue of black men being faithful is not just consummated on social problems. There is plenty of personal guilt involved. The biggest naysayers are insecurities and the resistance to be “vulnerable” in their relationships. I’ve observed many black men who become insecure of their relationships based on what their peers may think, or to not fully expose their emotional content. Instead, ego and arrogance takes over as a means of control, and to not expose their emotions. It equates to the degradation of women, and indulgence of the very generalizations that face them: sex, drugs, and alcohol. The very vices many black men use to cover up the deficiencies that exist within themselves. When you see black men always talking about sex, alcohol, drugs, or expedited money, there is an undertone of loneliness and lack of human capital. For instance, black men who leave their families and don’t want to be fathers. When I see social networks such as Twitter, I notice the very things I just explained. The problematic situation comes when black women have given up hope in a “good man.” Therefore, the explicit diction men use, some women have come to accept it. But what bothers me most is when my black women followers quote relationship or marriage items of positive nature on Twitter, some of my black male followers will quickly follow to degrade their comments. As if to say, “You will never have love you slut.”

What black men and women must do is to not play into the negative stereotypes that face them, even at the cost of losing so-called, “friends.” Not socially conforming to negative behaviors is huge. Black men must put aside pride, ego, and become vulnerable to love. Women must do this as well when they get a good man. You cannot let your past dictate your future. Black men especially must take the risk emotionally to be hurt or loved in order for it to be genuine. Being with one person in a monogamous relationship takes time, hard work, perseverance, dedication, and love. In the immediate and long run, you will exhibit the benefits of a relationship. Success is not easy in any venture, and relationships are no different. I simply ask black men and women to stand up and have open conversations on this issue. This is an important step in revitalizing the black community and the state of black families.

Album artwork for Kanye West's & Jay-Z's upcoming album "Watch the Throne"

Recently I have been contemplating and discussing with peers about why we (humans) are so recalcitrant about our sexual frustrations, sexual desires, or sex in general. An emotion that is abosolutly normal for humans seems to be so alien. Several of my friends have expressed that they don’t talk about being horny, sexually frustrated, and/or sexually inactive because they are afraid of embarrassment. While, I understand this rationale, I still believe that this is an important topic to talk about. To be frank, this is a part of communicating one’s emotions. At times, I tend to be afraid of talking about sex or being sexually aroused—at least on social networks. Why? Why are we afraid to admit that we are sexually aroused or not on Twitter or Facebook? Or, just in general. Now, I won’t be too naive as to think that every one is reticent when it comes to discourse around sexual arousal and desires.

On Twitter, the discussion of sex is omnipresent—there is no doubt. With occasional trending topics such as: #Twitterafterdark (which I have engaged in), #Confession or #Morningsex, it is obvious that some are having the discussion, lol. BUT, I question the “LOL” that often follows the statement, why must we end with “lol?” Is it to cover up that honest fact that what we say is indeed serious (true)? For example, last week, someone on Twitter said, “I enjoy having great morning sex…lol,” if that person actually enjoys morning sex, why must there be a “lol?” If you enjoy, you enjoy it! It is my contention that we avoid talking about our sexual desires on sexual networks because we are afraid of what others will think or that we don’t feel the whole world needs to know. All of which is understandable. However, I find myself reading topics/stories that have nothing to do with sex but somehow it becomes sexualized. For example, in the recent Twitter craze #Planking, I saw it go from just normal #planking to sexualized #planking. It is hard for me not to think about how sexually repressed some of us are.

Being sexually aroused is something that all humans experience, some more than others. It is nothing to be ashamed of nor something to hide, it doesn’t help. Trust me. Given all of the other things that are tweeted, surely talking about sex won’t hurt…unless you are too embarrassed about a natural bodily function. Today I found myself extremely demure in respect to tweeting about by urge to have sex (no I am not in a relationship). By the way, I DON’T believe in nonconsensual sex, there must be mutual consent. As I get older, I realize that a lot of these “rules of expression” become increasingly antiquated. Additionally, I believe that being more vocal and willing to talk about sex amongst each other would increase the discussions around sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is ok to express yourself sexually—it’s a part of the human experience. If you do, please use protection (condoms or other means), especially if you are unsure of your partner’s sexual status. There is nothing wrong with safe and mutually consensual sex. If you are interested in more on what I mean by “consensual” please email or stay tuned for a forthcoming piece on consensual sex.