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Love Letter To The Black Woman

Where do I begin? What can I possibly say to let you know how I feel?

Do I start off by telling you how fine I think you are? Nope.  That only speaks to your outward self…though, for the record, you are so, so fine.

Do I begin by saying how you’re everything any man would want in a woman?  Nah.  That’s not really telling you anything because it’s so damn basic and general.  But that it factor a woman *has* to have?  You embody it.

Those starting points are ok, but “from the heart” is the best place to begin, so here goes…

Things haven’t been easy for you.  For some time now, you’ve had to be so many things to so many people; no doubt your tired.  It’s time I took the burden off of your shoulders and allowed you to lean on me.

For once, let me be the strength that you need.  Let me protect you from the cares of this world.  Let me provide a place of refuge that you can escape to when “it” all becomes too much.  Let me do these things because, simply, I love you.  And because I do, I will.

I’ve cherished you since before I even knew I was supposed to.  The greatness that is in me was birthed by you. You’ve been a teacher to me; you’ve shown me what a fulfilled person looks like.  All at a cost of “you”, and you never complained.  You’ve poured out strength from a reserve that only The Creator could’ve given you; it seems endless.

You always find a way to make magic happen, turning nothing into something.  Society hasn’t been kind to you, calling you names and looking to make you fit a stereotype that’s the antithesis of what you are…the prototype.  And that’s said with utmost reverence.  You are the earth that we all came from; the nurturing element that brought, and continues to bring forth greatness.

When I imagine my life without you, I see nothing. There’s no me without you. I cease to exist if I don’t nurture what’s inside you. It may be selfish, but I need you to survive.  And because I know this, I’ll do what’s necessary to ensure you feel alive.

The future of us is contained within you, your heart, and your womb. The younger (just as precious) versions of you shall be cherished and adored.  I will show the younger (protective of you) versions of me how to cherish and adore them.

Taking care of you has been a responsibility that I’ve neglected for far too long.  When I see the glimpses of your radiating light, my desire is for you to illuminate more of my world.  And not just mine, but the entire world. It’s only the right, and natural order of things.

I can never seem to find the right words to truly express how I feel about you…but, this time?  I say simply, “black woman, you are everything that is right in this world. I adore you, I believe in you, and I embrace the wonderfulness that is you.”

Lovingly Yours,

A Black Man

 
9 Comments

Posted by on 01/06/2014 in Life, Love & Admiration

 

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Midnight Love: The Memories In The Music

If you were in college during the late 90’s to early 00’s, like me, then at some point, you probably watched Midnight Love.

Midnight Love was a late night slow jam video show that came on BET at, well, midnight.   The show played the “mellosmoothe” R&B songs of the day, and sometimes some old school, depending on the night.  I kind of planned my sleep pattern around being able to either wake up to see it, or go to sleep after it was over.  The R&B songs of that time (late 90’s to early 00’s) struck a chord because during that time, I was transitioning from BoyzIIMen adolescence to young adulthood.  It’s probably also why most music from 2004 until now is…lacking, to put it mildly.

Anyway, the overall ’93-’04 era, in my opinion, was the best because the music was the soundtrack to my formative years.  Jodeci, BoyzIIMen, Dru Hill, Aaron Hall, pre-scandal R. Kelly, Maxwell, even Gerald Levert, all had songs that instantly bring back memories when I hear them now.  Not only these groups and solo artists, but some of the lesser known acts as well.

Groups like Ideal

Profyle

and Reel Tight

also came out during the era.  These artist were underappreciated.  But the most slept on singer, for my money, during that time was Myron.

All had songs that, to this day, I listen to regularly.

The nostalgia of the songs is both good and bad. It’s good because as memories get blurred,  the songs bring everything back into focus. It’s bad because songs that fit that time, also fit the relationships that occurred during the same era.

Nevertheless, the R&B music from that time will always have a special place in my heart.  So much so, that I used to make compilations that double as  T.U.S.J.G.T.D. tapes and CDs, focusing mostly on the music from that era.  For those who don’t know what T.U.S.J.G.T.D. stands for, its:  The…ULTIMATE…Slow Jam Get The Draws tapes and CDs.  The download links to two of the compilations are below.

If you’re between 26-35, then you *should* know these songs.  If you’re under 26, then give a listen to what good music is…

Darrk’s R&B Compilation Vol. 1


Darrk’s R&B Compilation Vol. 2

*Note the transition between songs. It’s an art to the Slow Jam mixtape.*

Do you have songs that are attached to special memories? Are they happy memories, or ones you’d rather forget? Do you have any U.S.J.G.T.D. mixes to share?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 08/19/2013 in Life, Random

 

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Suicidal Thoughts

“Killing one’s self is the most selfish thing anyone can do.”

It’s a refrain we hear continuously when somebody commits suicide.  It’s the same thought I initially had when I first heard about Freddie E. killing himself.  Who am I, or anyone else to say that?  I was wrong for thinking it.

It’s “Monday Morning Quartebacking” a situation that has no chance of being corrected.  We don’t know what drove him to take his own life.  The decedent’s family are really the only ones who have a right to feel like this.  But the reality is, they’re just as selfish.  Oh, it’s unpopular to say that, but that fact doesn’t make it any less true.  Granted, it’s fueled by grief, anger, and other assorted emotions, but the fact remains.

People who take their own life have their reasons.  What isn’t up for debate is that just because those of us left don’t understand it, there are still reasons.  Just about anything could combine to fuel the feelings that nothing will get better and the only option is death.  Emotional, environmental, mental, and physical factors can play a part in it.  Financial and physiological factors do too.

In the monolithic black community, the same factors for those in other communities that commit suicide exists.  We just never deal with it.  We say how we don’t understand how one of us could do it.  Proclamations are made about how “I’d never do that.”  For the people making these assumptions (that is what they are) please stop.  Just because a situation hasn’t arisen where you’ve felt like ending it all, never take it for granted that one can.

Reports and studies have attempted to pinpoint why black men in particular are killing themselves in greater numbers.  Of course nothing is definitive, but these studies do begin to form a frame of reference for us to examine.  The speculative and subjective nature of the topic cannot be denied.  Nor can the necessity of identifying the root causes of suicide.

Everyone can’t be saved, and it would be foolish to try.  Our community can do more to find ways to help those who are reaching out however.  We must take time to recognize the signs of those in distress.  Passing on a phone number to a hotline is cool, but can we invest in these men?  Society has basically said we’re not worth saving, but as quiet as it really is kept, black men are the backbone of our community.  If we’re not here to hold it up, our ‘hoods and families will continue to crumble.  Compound this with the havoc wrought from killing themselves and the fabric of our communities gets torn; sometimes irreparably.

Nothing about suicide is easy to accept, or deal with.  Our aim should be to move the discussion closer to the center of attention.  If more people (especially black men), begin to understand how it affects those left, maybe that will help stem the tide of unnecessary deaths.

Resources

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

http://www.afsp.org/

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 08/08/2013 in Life, Uncategorized

 

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When Trusting God Is All You Can Do…

Having to wait on God is the truest test of a person’s belief in Him.  Especially when nothing looks like it’s going to work out, and people seem like they are at the point of not having faith in you anymore. Particularly for men, it’s arguably the ultimate test of faith.

When his wife/fiance/girlfriend acts like she questions his resolve, or doubts him, it can be a very bad time for the man.  He’s leaning on God, and everyone else is leaning on him, and the pressure that’s on his back is making his legs weak.  He’s constantly telling himself all the promises that God put forth in His word.  “Seek Him with your whole heart”, “trust Him”, etc.  And yet, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  What can he do?  He’s caught between a rock and a hard place, getting crushed from both sides.

But then, he sees a minute flicker of light.  Enough for him to see an outline of something not too too far off.  God lets him see just enough to keep going.  Jesus gives him peace about his direction.  The Holy Spirit gives him confirmation that his pursuit is not in vain.  With just that little bit of hope, this man, while still feeling the weight on his back, gets the energy to move again.  He doesn’t share everything with his woman, but enough to hopefully assuage some of her trepidation.  But it doesn’t.  And just like that, some of the energy he received is gone…again.

The energy doesn’t leave because it was expended foolishly.  No.  It left because when this man shares with his woman what’s been revealed to him, her response isn’t what’s expected.  In that moment, he knows without a doubt that she has lost faith in him, and possibly some respect as well.  At this stage in life, *this* is his rock bottom.

The same platitudes and promises of God he reminded himself before, now he doesn’t want to hear. “Patience is a virtue”, “God only puts on us what we can handle”, “Stay strong; He’ll make a way out of no way”, etc. All true statements, but all he really wants to know is when will *his* situation change?

He’s weary of the seemingly constant setbacks. He shoulders the load of uncertainty because “that’s what men do”, even though it’s eating at his very being. The good face he’s put on in the past for his woman has slowly eroded. In it’s place is a mask that shows defeat, and it’s no doubt that she can read the look.

Through all of it, all he wants is for God to show him…something; anything that will let him know that he hasn’t been forsaken. As much as he wants to shake his fist at the sky, and rail against the heavens, he knows it won’t accomplish anything. Sure, the heavenly hosts will see him, but will his prayers be answered? Will the Holy Spirit speak to him; place something on his heart that will pull him up from the bottom where he finds himself?

Only God knows.

However, he can’t allow himself to wallow in the “woe is me’s”, because outside of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, who’s going to care? His wife? It’d be nice, but she’s iffy. His kids? He’s supposed to help them if they ever feel hopeless; not the other way around. His mother? Nope, he’s a grown man.

All he has left to do is what he started out doing. Trusting and waiting on God to move.

-D.G.

Have you ever found yourself in a place in life where you don’t know what to do? What gets you through the rough times?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 06/11/2013 in Life

 

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Being Raised By a Single Mother…and Creating One

There are times in life when the same song gets replayed in a different key.  If a person isn’t familiar with the original song, then they probably won’t understand the remix. Single motherhood, and being product of it, is the same way.

I acknowledge that being a single mother isn’t easy. It’s usually just Mom and child. When the kid’s sick, Mommy has to be the nurse, and everything else. If she has to take off work, there’s no Daddy to pick up the slack. Single mothers are the end all, be all of their households. Sure, they may have a support system (hopefully), but the main responsibility of the child falls on them. I grew up seeing it all first hand.

Up until I was 14, it was my mother and I; me and Moms.  She got married when I was 14, so there was a semi abrupt stop to the “Mom and Me” ideal.  Yes, I knew/know my father, and have a pretty good relationship with him.  But, day to day living circled around Toots (my mother’s nickname from me), and I.  We were the proverbial “two peas in a pod”.  Growing up like this shaped my views of just about everything; society, relationships, even fatherhood.

As with some males who grow up from boys to men in this environment, I made a vow to myself the older I got. While I loved my father, I wasn’t going to have any of my children grow up without me in the house.  I tended to forget that there was always another partner/parent in the mix who could make or break that decision.  When I began to remember this small, but vitally important fact, it gave me a different perspective in terms of not living with my father.  He was human, as was my mother.  They both played a part in there not being a “nuclear” familial unit.  However, I turned out okay.

Sure, I think about what society says family life is supposed to be like.  But then I think about some of my friends growing up.  I feel like I had it better than some of them.  Just about my whole family was always present for the important programs and functions.  Hell, they even showed up to the more mundane events as well.  All out of love for me.

By no means am I saying it was easy; especially for my mother. However, she persevered and, through the provisions of God, and her own sheer determination, she got us through. It’s one of the many, many things I admire about my mother. She set a standard about what women were able to do when they *had* to. I didn’t fully grasp how much until I entered my 20’s.

On the one hand, her actions became my frame of reference for women, period. On the other hand, I compared all the women I was involved with to my mother, both before she got married and after. I also compared myself to my father. Needless to say l, everyone (the women and myself) came up wanting. In my eyes at least. All of this was simply a result of beginning my life as the child of a single mother. And I helped create another one when my first child was born.

I don’t look back at the relationship wistfully. Quite the contrary. It was a learning experience.

What I deemed to be my failures as a man were on full display, in my alone moments. The most glaring one, in my mind anyway, was that I had failed my child, and myself. The “I’ll never have my child grow up without me” statement was out the door. I also learned about the strain that not being in a relationship with a good foundation can cause, especially when bringing a child into the world. I also learned that what appeared to be love, could turn to animosity quickly. Through time and reflection, a myriad of things dawned on me.

Regardless of how things turned out between my child’s mother and I, I hadn’t failed at anything. It wasn’t about us anymore. We were two grown people who made decisions that resulted in a child being born. Taking all the responsibility for her being a single mother wasn’t fair to me, or her.

The best we could do was set up happy and healthy environments for our child. It took a while (over a year), but we eventually did. The same way my father was “there” and present in my life, I’ve tried to do that for my oldest child. Ultimately, that’s all that has mattered. It hasn’t always been easy, admittedly. Yet, we’ve done what’s necessary. That includes me sometimes having to “bite the bullet” on certain decisions she’s made that I didn’t agree with.

But, she’s a good mother to my oldest, as my wife is to my youngest child.

I pray that none of my children’s children ever have to experience the trials that come with growing up the way I did. However, if they do, I’ll be sure to be there for them, as my whole family (particularly my father) has been me.

-D.G.

Everyone: Did you grow up in a single mother household?

Ladies: Are you a single mother? If so, what have you learned from being one? How has it affected you?

Fellas: How did growing up with a single mother affect you? Are you partner to having created one? If so, what have you learned from the experience?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 05/09/2013 in Life, Uncategorized

 

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A Man’s Home Is Where His Peace Is

A few weeks ago I read a blog by Rae about the sometimes unpredictable nature of love.  One statement she made stood out to me more than all the others. That line was:

“…home is often a person, not a place.”

Can you say mind *BLOWN*!

I had to let it marinate for a few days before I could really tackle writing about it. It’s a simple statement, but not much in life is truer.  And yet, I feel like the ultimate feeling of “home” is when the right person, and right place, are present.

It’s especially tough for men who don’t necessarily feel like they are home, or have a home.  The restlessness that we tend to feel is not always a yearning to run wild and free, as some people would like to think.  What it really is, is that our soul isn’t at rest where we have been relegated to calling home, or have decided to call home.  The comfort and security that we need isn’t there.  Granted, it’s (usually) in a man’s power to decide where to plant himself.  However, once he’s planted, it will take him a while to truly know if he is in fact, home.

And if he’s not, it will show. He may do just enough in his relationship to keep it solvent, but no more. His emotional, mental, and physical availability will be minute. All because he’s not in a “good spot”.

There’s no feeling of peace within him. Home is supposed to be a refuge; a place of rest. He can’t get that because either the person he shares his life with doesn’t provide it, or the place is not hospitable. The worst part about it is that if he hasn’t done any self-analysis, he won’t be able to pinpoint the cause of his unrest. And if he can’t get to the source of it, peace will forever be elusive for him.

Oh, but when he does.

When he does, people will know just how dangerous such a man is. Not in a “people need to find safety” way, but in a “he’s determined” way. He won’t let anything or anyone interfere with the rest he’s found. He’ll look for ways to increase it, protect it, and cherish it. By extension, the person and place that provide it will get the same treatment.

And the man? He’ll be grateful for the peace that’s in his life.

-D.G.

Fellas, is “home” peaceful for you? If not, why? If so, how’d you get it?

Ladies, is this applicable to you? If not, why?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 03/28/2013 in Life, Random, Uncategorized

 

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Impending Fatherhood Lessons For My Younger Brother

I have two younger brothers.  We have the same father. I never knew how much our decision making processes were the same until my middle brother shared some news with me recently.

At 25, he’s expecting his first child. My oldest daughter was born the day before my 26th birthday, and I was born when my father was 24.

Nevertheless, I didn’t have an older brother to “give me the real” about how life was going to inevitably change. Some of these realizations, I’ve come to through trial and error. The rest are knowledge that’s been shared with me, or that has recently occurred to me.

1. Life isn’t over, but it will be on hiatus for a while.

While preparing for the baby’s arrival, get as much stuff done, whatever it may be, as possible. The impending birth should be your main focus. Right after that is anything you want to accomplish i.e., finishing college, or that last hurrah with the fellas. It’ll be a good year or more before some normalcy returns.

2. While working to keep the stress level of your girl/fiancé/wife down, do the same for yourself.

Because she’s “with child”, her total health (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) must be considered. You don’t want anything to affect her too much, because it will affect the baby also. At the same time, remember that you’ll be going through changes as well. Don’t forget to take care of yourself because she’s going to need you. If you’re overall health suffers, what good will you be to her, or your child?

3. If you have concerns, share them.

It’s said so often, but communication is very important. When it comes to the family y’all have started, talk about what may bother you. She should do the same. Talk about how you want to raise the little bundle. Any fears or uncertainties should also be shared. Being on the same page with the impending life change will greatly enhance y’alls ability to weather the curveballs that life will throw.

4. Since you’ll be the pappy/fiancé/husband, you’re the backstop for your family. Can your shoulders handle the weight?

Admittedly, it’s a tough spot to be. When things are going good, it’s gravy. But when they’re bad, will you be able to handle it? When it’s more month than money, or your girl decides she wants to work part time to enjoy the baby’s first year, what are you going to do? Also understand that you’ll be looked to/at if things are good or bad. It comes with the territory of being a protector and provider.

5. Teamwork really does make the dream work.

As much of a cliche as this statement is, it’s also true. If the two of you can work together, it’ll be easier for both. Where you’re weak, she may be strong. Be humble (and wise) enough to lean on her if you need to. I’m pretty sure she’s going to do the same.

6. No matter how close she is to her folks (especially her mom), make sure she, and you, realize that you two are the baby’s parents.

This is sorta like number 5. Be present and be active for her and the baby. Appreciate the help that will undoubtedly be offered, but be proactive in participating with child care. If you don’t, she may begin to resent you, and some in her family may as well. If “they” do, you’ll have more problems than just an upset lady.

Lastly…

7. Enjoy this journey.

What you’re embarking on is not easy, at all. Some days you’ll want to throw stuff (and people). Other days you’ll wonder how you could be so blessed. It’s all part of the journey of having a family. Your outlook on life will play a big part in how you view the days. Just know that at the end of them, you can only do what’s in your power to. The rest you have to leave up to God.

Good luck!

-D.G.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on 03/26/2013 in Life

 

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