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My Best Friend: So Close Yet So Far Away

Posted by JD on Friday, June 18, 2010 , under | comments (5)

Today I realized that my best friend and I haven’t seen each other in almost a year. Sure we've talked...but we haven't actually gotten together. He lives in Woodbridge, I live in DC. *waits for you to google map it* Yes, it’s true, it’s only about 45 minutes away. But I get super busy and traffic is bad and he got married last year and they have baby. Blah. Life. Blah. *cries* 
I love my best friend. We used to combine our names like they were one. When he hasn’t heard from me in a while he asks what happened to Darrelsarah (okay clearly those are not our names but you get my point). My best friend is EVERYTHING. He’s the nicest guy you’ve ever met, a doctor, a family man, smart but not pretentious, and very handsome. Oo and good at math. I am blessed to have him in my life.
That’s why I hate that we never see each other anymore. And I hate even more that the older you get the more you have to put forth an effort to hang with your friends. It’s not like my days at Temple when all my friends were in a dorm and we could hang at will. Now all my friends from college are spread out from California to Texas to New York to Florida. It’s frustrating.
It seems like once you reach a certain age people are either hanging constantly with their significant other or schedules keep conflicting. And sometimes, the more social you are the more you miss your friends. For example, I may want or need to attend an event and my friend has an event she has to attend on the same night. So we keep missing each other. It shouldn’t be that hard.  Sure I hang with people I know and like, but as I get older I'm finding it increasingly hard to hang with the people I desire to be around the most. 
There’s really no point to this post except I felt like sharing my feelings. 

Girl, Why Is He Living With You????

Posted by JD on Thursday, June 17, 2010 , under | comments (19)

Yesterday on twitter I started a discussion about a trend I’m noticing among young black men and women. I was too lazy to blog it at the time, but then the replies got OUT OF CONTROL. I simply could not respond to them all. So people suggested I blog about it anyway to give people an opportunity to comment. Therefore if this post gets no comments, I will be throwing MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF SHADE. And when I throw shade I break windows (and get all up in your mental).

Now to the post…
Lately, I’ve been noticing an uptick in college educated black men who are living with their girlfriends because they cannot afford to live on their own. Obviously, if two people make a mutual financial decision to live together (as many do in expensive cities like LA, NY, and DC) that’s fine. But I’m noticing this in my friends across the country even in cheaper places.
What initially made me want to write about this is the fact that many young women aren’t aware that their men are remaining in relationships with them ONLY because they provide a household. Whether that means he gets to come over to your house to escape his roommates or whether it means he moves in with you and contributes to the household to the extent that he can.
Once again, if two people decide that it’s financially better for BOTH of them to move in together, that’s one thing--especially in a recession. But I’m worried about the increasing number of men I see who move in with women they KNOW they will break up with as soon as they get on their feet.
Clearly, both sexes can be users. But I’m concerned about this dynamic in particular. I’ve been thinking about this as I see so many of my college educated male friends meandering about doing nothing in particular and my college educated female friends buying houses and getting promoted steadily up the chain. I don’t think this lopsided dynamic is particular to my circle.
If this is actually is a real trend its consequential and women should take heed. For example, men complain every time a celebrity male gets divorced and has to pay alimony, but in real life, especially in the black community, women are the ones who suffer more in divorces because they typically have more to lose.  In fact, women are also suffering more in the marriages because the men may have multiple children and therefore the new, possibly childless, wife’s income may be considered for child support purposes depending on the state/circumstances.
 Two things:
 I just want women to be more aware of REALITY. The meme is always that black women are out to get something from someone else, but that's not what's actually happening by and large. Modern women need to not only protect their emotional assets but their financial assets as well. 
The flip side of this is to ask why is it that black college educated black men take so long to figure out a path? I asked a few men and they had varying responses. On twitter @isportpolitics said that he believes many men are getting degrees to say they have them or because it’s what you’re supposed to do and then there’s no action. Another friend said that he believes women think more about establishing themselves early because they have to be prepared to have a family younger where as men can wait forever. Of course this has nothing to do with the propensity to use people, which to be fair I think and hope is rare. 
On a side note, I wonder if black men are not getting the support they need to thrive whether as a child or at institutions of higher learning...just a thought.

When It Comes to Relationship Complaints, Men Have It Wrong

Posted by JD on Monday, June 14, 2010 , under | comments (5)

Last week rapper Slim Thug set off a firestorm when he complained about black women not standing by their men. In his post for the "online magazine" Vibe, (which really wasn't so much a post as much as a weirdly recorded and transcribed rant i.e. a setup) he made a lot of generalizations about black women that were unfair and immediately garnered a negative response across the twittasphere and blogosphere.

I wanted to write about this incident last week but felt it had been done to death. At the time, I tweeted a few things to Slim Thug. Summary: Just because a woman doesn't hold YOU down doesn't mean she won't do so for someone else. You may want to reconsider the types of women you deal with.

Rather than attack Slim Thug's statements I felt it was better to encourage him to reflect on his own choices--something that women are always encouraged to do. In fact, even more than encouraged to be introspective women are often pushed into taking blame for the choices of their men. From magazine articles to silly ass books by the likes of Steve Harvey, women are told to use their actions to manipulate their men's actions into the positive. In other words, rather than expect and demand that men be decent because it's the right thing to do, it becomes the woman's job to use various Barnum and Bailey tactics to trick him into action like some helpless circus animal.

In my mind, the fact that women are constantly urged to be responsible for themselves and others makes me, and presumably other women, extra sensitive to comments like the ones Slim Thug made. I believe that many men have issues with women because even more than women generalize men (e.g. all men are dogs) men generalize women and it always works to their detriment.

The majority of my close friends are male, and when they relay stories to me about what their women are or aren't doing, it's difficult to explain to them that the deficiencies in their relationship have more to do with the woman's disinterest than it does with women in general having bad relationship habits.

For example, if you are with a woman who never cooks for you yet this is something that is important to you, two things could be happening. 1. She doesn't like you enough to please you in that manner or 2. You have a fundamental disagreement about how important this issue is in the relationship. However, most men tend to think of this issue as a reflection of the fact that modern women don't cook anymore.

Sometimes failings in a relationship are indicative of a lack of investment e.g. someone dating someone just so that they're not alone).  Once again, just because she's not cooking for you doesn't mean she didn't cook for the last man or that she won't cook for the next one. Replace the word "cook" with "perform oral sex," "listen to your problems," "hold you down," "pay like she weigh," or any number of other actions a man may desire a woman perform, and you have the same scenario.

When men brainwash themselves into believing that all women are ______, they cheat themselves. This type of logic pushes you to stay in relationships that aren't healthy for you because you believe that if you move on to the next woman the same patterns will reappear.  The reality is, should you choose the right woman next time, the issues that you have with your current woman won't be issues at all.

To be clear, I do believe that there are some distinct patterns emerging in men and women that prevent us from having healthy relationships. So yes there are some behavioral commonalities but still most of this boils down to the two individuals involved. The generalization trap is one that men tend to fall into, in particular black men who tend to have an extra need to be cherished in a relationship whether they like to admit or not.

I sympathize with Slim Thug to the extent that due to his profession he may in fact be blinded and confused by his choices. On one hand, he may need a certain type of woman to present a particular image to the public. On the other hand, that type of woman might leave him lonely and wanting for a real connection. I believe that when rapper Talib Kweli jumped in to defend Slim Thug, he did so because, as one of Thug's peers he could identify to some degree.

To that end, it doesn't mean that either man hates women or hates black women. It just means that like many men, they haven't begun to successfully explore all of their options. Perhaps they feel boxed in by the women that are immediately available. Once again, the response to that is not to verbally batter these men but to encourage them to reach for something substantive rather than something easy.

Censorship: The Pain in My Blog's Ass

Posted by JD on Sunday, June 13, 2010 , under , | comments (22)

If there's anything I've learned during my short stint blogging and tweeting, it's that not everyone likes my style:

A grand total of 10 people have blocked me on twitter. How rude! 

Let's be clear, I'm not a nasty person and I try to always address people with whom I disagree with tact; however, I didn't start blogging and tweeting to censor myself. I have a full time job that requires every bit of political savvy that I possess. In fact, I'm known for how well I deal with various personalities and my ability form a consensus when necessary--even among the most unreasonable groups of people. I am a master at leading without authority and have been rewarded routinely over the course of my 10 year career for being able to do so.

When I started blogging back in October, I did so because I needed a place to put all my opinions,  a place to address those things I observe that bother me. I didn't know anything about the blogosphere or how it works. And quite frankly, I didn't care much.

Quickly, I've learned that the blogosphere is like the real world on cocaine and pills. Everyone is censoring and pretending to be friends in the interest of networking. It's faker and smaller than any political circle I've ever had to navigate, which is funny given that lots of bloggers are super critical of politicos in their blog posts. I understand this dynamic very well and I'm fine with other people playing the game in the interest of wherever they're trying to go in life. 

But HaT isn't taking me anywhere, I'm already where I need to be. My writing and opinions on serious issues of the day have been and continue to be published across the globe under my real name (which is none of your business). If I have to censor myself in the interest of not making waves, then I don't see the point in blogging at all. 

Over the weekend, I had a major urge to deconstruct Marc Lamont Hill's claims that he was harassed by Philadelphia police Friday night/Saturday morning while dropping someone off. I elected NOT to write extensively about the issues I had with Hill's story on this blog because I knew that it would cause major waves throughout twitter and the blogosphere. (He's a decorated professor, how dare you question him! This kind of thing happens to black men all the time, we don't need people dismissing their claims!!) 

In fact, I had an offensive back and forth on twitter via direct message with someone who claimed to be a friend of Hill who basically said I was hating on him and being silly and immature. The exchange was surprising seeing as how I thought I was simply exercising my critical thinking skills, not tryna bring a young brotha down. 

Nevertheless, as I said, I elected not to write my complete thoughts--otherwise known as selling out. I decided it wasn't worth the drama. I've often gone against the crowd on this blog and also on twitter and it's tiring. It's much easier to ignore some conversations because the amount of bandwagoning that goes on is painful to watch.

Anyway, now that I think about it further the decision not to write about Hill may have been silly. I've received a lot of comments offline about the Hill story with no one wanting to comment either in the public timeline or even on my very benign blog post about the issues they personally had about his claims. Probably for the same reasons I stated above.  

Not to say that this blog post was spurred just by the Hill story, I've thought about the content that I post on this blog and also to twitter a lot. Sometimes I make the right decision and sometimes I make the wrong one. Sometimes I censor myself and then see someone else write the same post I wanted to write (and with less skill might I add!)  and then I kick myself for being so damn nice. 

I'd be interested to see what other bloggers have to say about this issue. Do you feel pressure to censor yourself in the interest of peace and/or prosperity? I've said a million times, "what some bloggers won't do for a $10 adsense check. I am just not one of those people.