All’s Fair in [Black] Love and War: The Mirror’s Effect
Ain’t no love like Black Love
Ain’t no love like Black Love. It’s a mirror effect in relations to all the ways we deal with each other and WHY we deal with each other in these ways. As polarized as our experiences are, they are one in the same. In a mirror like fashion-like fashion, we (Zhané and Maurice Valentino) will attempt to have a joint dialogue as to why these interactions occur, with two sections focusing on our respective demographics. –Né & Valentino
“Men Ain’t Sh*t.”
This is a concept that, unfortunately, runs through the minds of women. Men ain’t sh*t? You damn right! Why would he be when all he does is gives 2K all of his attention when all you’re trying to do is tell him about your stressful day. When he tells you that he’ll call after the game, but then plays 20 games without communicating it. When he fills your head with insecurities, and the ladies know what I’m talking about. Liking other women pictures. The same women that he tells you not to worry about. When he repeatedly tells you, “Babe, you’re perfect the way you are,” but you are a 32B and he constantly likes the photos with women who are 34DD. Small waist, cute face, and not to mention the big behind. When you get into a pack session and he calls you “Young Man” because your chest is small.
Let’s continue because all she wants is for him to take the initiative and pull up with flowers and date ideas but in reality he never cares to do anything. A night out with his homies ultimately means a night out in bars and clubs watching women shake their butts and flirt because he knows his homies won’t snitch when he flirts back. Oh yeah, men aren’t sh*t because they cannot communicate anything. The little things to woman are miniscule ideas to men that they do not even care to think about. Why? Because they are too busy wondering when their next game of 2K will be. And if you think that women aren’t ready for a relationship, then you haven’t met a black man yet because they are never ready. Men just want to play you like they play their other two ladies and get the best of three worlds. Like SZA said, “my man is my man is your man is her man too.” Ladies, you all know what I am talking about. The man you’re with is probably not sh*t, but yet, you love him and hope he comes around to be something. I’ll just stop there and give you time to evaluate your man.
A lot of times, Black women, we’re all we really got.
The controversial topic of “All Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter” effectively demonstrates why we truly are all we have. Of course All lives Matter (that is a no brainer) but no one will understand a Black man like a Black woman will and vice versa. Even in formal friendships, it is better to be well connected with another Black individual. Maybe it is just me, but I have never aspired to be like a White woman, or any woman of the opposite race. “Sis,” is a common word that is now used to connect with every Black female, no matter the affiliation. “Oh ok sis, you poppin forreal,” is just one example to describe a simple Black on Black connection.
The roots run deeper than we know.
It’s all about the culture, and we aren’t talking about Migos or cool stuff being done; matter of fact, we are talking about the complete opposite: The nitty gritty of our Black culture. The standards of a Black woman is quite different from any other race. Every Black King wants a close to perfect Black Queen to uphold and to some extent, show off. Unfortunately, the “normal” or standard Black woman is hard to define due to there being so many different aspects to Black women. Let’s start with appearance. For starters, no Black woman wants to be in public looking unkempt because there is already a stigma of being rachet. As Drake would say “Oh you fancy, huh? Nails done, hair done, everything did.” Not having so much relevance now, but in the past, Black women were scared to wear natural hair because of the unkempt appearance. What does that mean? Our Black women were perming their kinky curls, extensively using heat on their hair, and not to mention keeping natural hair in braids in order to sew fake hair in. Now, to make everything worse, Black women feel pressured to unnaturally change the shape of their bodies in order to be more appealing. This is the new culture of an average Black woman: fake hair, fake nails and fake bodies.
Focus on yourself, Queen.
After Queen’s experience with a man who wasn’t sh*t to begin with, it’s time to do some self-evaluations. Why did you let him disrupt your life like that? Did you not love and appreciate yourself enough? Normally after an atrocious relationship, a woman’s perspective of herself can be diminished. This period of recognizing and understanding self-love is crucial for forthcoming relationships. It is ok to focus all of your time, attention, effort and money on yourself and not a man. This is the time to build a wall as expanded and impenetrable as the Great Wall to avoid letting another man destroy it. Instead of focusing thoughts on how to make a man happy, you have to worry about improving your own happiness. If stacking your money, raising your GPA, going out and dancing the night away with a couple of close friends helps you achieve happiness, then do it. Do whatever makes you happy. Do whatever makes you internally grow into a better version of yourself. You cannot love yourself without loving yourself. Love yourself in ways you didn’t love yourself before so that you are prepared and capable of loving someone else. Self-love and self-appreciation are exceedingly important in this period because it is unhealthy to go into another relationship still feeling the hardships of the last. Appreciate yourself. Ladies, if you notice yourself working harder than usual, putting in extra hours on the job, go to the mall and splurge on yourself. It’s ok to stunt on the gram as well. Show everyone how happy you are. Show everyone how you are a boss with and definitely without a man!
But f*ck what they talking about on your timeline.
Do you keep the same energy on and off of social media? F*ck what they are talking about on your timeline. In this generation, we take social media way too seriously. Ladies, now you know social media influences our relationships and it need to stop. Throughout the relationship, ladies are worried about what he is posting, liking, and commenting on. Seeing someone you are genuinely involved with like a picture is an automatic turn off. Commenting on a picture with any type of flirtatious tone is a complete turn off. In reality it is just social media. Social media should not direct the relationship. Social media does not determine the status of the relationship. Ladies love to be shown off on social media. The feeling of reading a lengthy and heart-filled message post from him, knowing that every woman who ever had the Heart Eye emoji for him is reading it as well is an amazing feeling. Seeing other couples post their pictures honoring and appreciating their relationship becomes our relationship goals.
Let your full heart speak, Black women.
Please, do not have me out here looking stupid! If you do not want me, then say that. If our relationship is falling off, then say it. Communicate with me because there is a good chance that I can fix something and make it better. As a Black woman, my worst fear is falling madly in-love and having some other woman hit me up on social media of your explicit conversation. Or, giving you my all and not getting anything in return
What a lot of this boils down to: Trust.
Do not begin or continue a relationship with someone you do not trust. There is no point in dealing with someone you do not trust, period. Suspicions and trust are two different things. If you are suspicious of your significant other, it is ok to ask questions or do a little investigating to conclude your thoughts. However, if you find yourself suspicious over every little thing that is being done, cut that Black man loose. Trust is the fruit of the relationship,
But, in the same vein, Black women, we got to get our ish together too:
Listen Black women, we are not perfect by any means. Sh*t, we might even be far from perfect and that’s ok. One should always aim to be a better version of themselves. Whether it’s improving the small qualities and personality traits or overcoming a few lifelong demons, it is imperative to focus on getting your ish together. Quite frankly, no Black man wants a damsel in distress. He wants a Black Queen who has a boss lady mentality. Get your ish together so that you are able to add to the relationship instead of taking away from it.
“Women Ain’t Sh*t.”
It’s a common concept that goes through our mind fellas. When you’re minding your business trying to play 2K or Overwatch and she pulls the plug on the TV screaming at you about another girl’s picture you liked on Instagram. When she asks to come over and you say “I don’t mind,” which clearly means she can come over but she goes back and forth with you for an hour asking “So can I come over or not?”. When you told her to get 4 hours ago and you pull up to pick her up and she’s doing her makeup and hair. When you let her borrow a hoodie because she gets a bit chilly and she NEVER returns it in the rest of your time together. When you’re having a playful jonning session and she goes too far by calling you Patchy the Pirate because your beard won’t connect fully. And the classic “I’m not really ready for a relationship right now,” that they message you only to see them post on social media shortly after with them kissing up on someone else. (I should have put a “trigger warning” at the beginning of my section, now that I think about it.)
A lot of times, Black men, we’re all we really got.
Amidst all the adversity that we go through, we need to deconstruct from the crabs in a barrel concept, the notion that we are our own worst enemies: That even though sharing the same skin, cultural nuances, and collective history that we are totally elite as compared to or otherwise completely different from a brother of a different socioeconomic lifestyle/path in life. You can hear our synchrony as a demographic as we do a pick-up basketball game in the local park. The classic call and response to a stranger or longtime friend of “How you doin’ bro?” + “Just tryna to get like you bro!” + “That’s all you bro!”. Being in the club and a dance cypher starts in which you boys hype you up as you execute the meanest Hit Dem Folks of all time. The conversations and sacredness of having a wild good talk with older and younger Black men in the Barbershop as you walk out with a fresh cut fit for the Gods. It’s great being a Black man. We must love and support each other first to foster proper practices of Black love, even with all the deep rooted issues chaining us.
The roots run deeper than we know.
It’s all about the culture, and we aren’t talking about Migos or cool stuff being done. Masculinity is a hell of a drug, with engineered norms of Black masculinity in multiple areas of the culture being enough of a drug to sedate our progression forever. In the workplace, we have to tone down our rage and zealousness about topics that matter, so that we do not look like the “angry Black man.” Our hair, dress, and level of professionalism/work ethic (two times as hard if I might add) are all other things we have to police ourselves with on the daily to make it through the work days. The music culture, not just Hip Hop/Rap, caricatures us in ways that influence us from a young age of views of the opulent, flashy and flaunty, King-like style. TV Shows and movies, and their chaining archetypes are fixated into our music in a way that it shows us to mainstream America and the world as only a thin selection of personas. Our family, God bless their hearts, project their stereotypes and expectations onto us, further jailing us from our deepest desires to break free into all of what we dream to achieve for ourselves and our communities. Religion has a similar vein, especially if we do not fit our religion’s specific rules of what manhood is. Add that to K-12 (*college too if we keepin’ it a buck* )school systems full of microaggressions and discriminations that directly and indirectly tell us we “ain’t gonna be nothing,” and you have layers of explanations as to why we cannot practice Black Love correctly with our significant others. These roots permeate through our behaviors in more ways in one, and truthfully, my Black Kings, we aren’t having enough conversations about it. Let’s talk.
Focus on yourself, King.
You can’t love someone when you don’t love yourself, and loving yourself means treating yourself so good in all areas that you can be self-sustaining and in so much peace with yourself that loving another is slight work like a DMV Maybach Music track. It’s a process. Flexing culture is real and although being braggadocios with what you feel to be an accomplishment can seem great. However, flexing constantly to get the recognition of women and other men who don’t really care does nothing for building yourself, King. You’re spending cash on bottles, blunts, the most luxurious brands outside of your budget, and hitting the club multiple days a week with these clout outfits just to stand on the wall all night and go back home to tweet: “My life is a movie.” You’re chasing and hollering at any Queen you find remotely attractively on the timeline or in public when you could be chasing your goals, starting that business plan that can help you become get that Forbes 30 under 30 spot you have been dreaming of. Build up your credit and that GPA that you have always wanted to do. Black Love starts within, and you can’t win if you ain’t right within (word to Ms.Hill) and are dividing all of your energy into avenues that aren’t being reciprocal of that energy.
But f*ck what they talking about on your timeline.
It gets said a lot in all of its fake-deepness, but social media can be extremely problematic, especially when you’re trying to build Black Love with your significant other. The “stay low and build” concept isn’t just said just to be said. It’s alright to post about your significant other, but social media cannot dictate the direction of your relationship. Forget all the relationship goals you see; your goals should be commitment, trust building, and focusing on each other rather than the world’s standards of relationship happiness. You do not have to post you being with that person all the time to show you are boo’ed up for the entire world to swooned over.
Multitudes of pictures and likes have little to zero correlation to how your significant other treats you in real life. What if you both breakup? Where do all of those posts leave you with? Now you’re stuck playing cleanup, having to create a spiel to explain to family friends why y’all fell off whilst looking like a fool with your pants on the ground. Random violators and intruders in your relationship, either homegirls, homeboys or thirsty individuals commenting and DM’ing your significant other trying to get at them complicate your Black Love relationship even more. Black Love is great, but it shouldn’t be largely dictated by social media and its tomfoolery. As we grow in better relations of Black Love, this is something that may be small, but is important to note in this dialogue.
Let your full heart speak, Black men.
As foreign of a concept as it may seem, we have to speak up in our Black Love relationships if we want them to prosper. Our Black women love us and want to help us. As much as they may get on our nerves at many points in time, they are our lovers, friends, protectors and partners in a world built against us. They march with us in our movements and stick with us through the most fiery and tormenting hells we inflict on them even when we ourselves know that we are in the wrong. If we’re having a bad day at work, school etc., if the media is showing us image after image of us being gunned down by the state, if our girl did something that got us upset, and if life is truly stressing us out in all avenues…Then we owe it to our partners to be as candid with them as possible about all is plaguing us. We have to divorce from preconceived masculine norms of not expressing your feelings so that you will look like a “b***h”.
If we have a problem with our significant others, we as Black men should be able to use our intelligent, articulate and calm-collected skills that we know in order to articulate the underlying issues for clarity. Speaking of clarity, we as Black men also have to begin being clear of our intentions with our Black women if we want our Black Love relationships to thrive. If we WANT to be in a situationship, “f**k buddies” type environment, we should let our significant other know. If we WANT to be in a relationship with this person, communicate that. Candid communication of feelings of happiness as well as discontent can help save our Black Love relationships as all other forces described in this discussion
What a lot of this boils down to: Trust.
You can say “I don’t trust these b*****s,” all you like, but don’t you think you have to start somewhere if you want to eventually settle down with a person to call your own forever? Yes, your experiences may have hurt you, but never let it hit you that hard to the point where you never open up yourself ever again. Infatuation and lust compare not to someone you can trust with your soul, your business, your dreams, and heart. If you don’t trust your partner, you have no business together. Once your trust is secure, so will be your Black Love relationship.
But, in the same vein, Black men, we got to get our ish together too.
A lot of times we are just as prideful as our Black women, to the point where we can’t be told anything. But, in order to solidify a healthy dose of Black love of all spectrums in our individual relationships and communities, we have to make active commitments to better ourselves as well. You cannot scream Black Lives Matter if ALL Black Lives do not matter to you in the marches and activism methods of resistance, and that includes Black women, Black children, Black elders and Black LGBTQIA+ members. One time I heard the depressing phrase, “Black men are the white people to Black women.” As farfetched of a comment this may seem, our women deal with discrimination, sexism and so much more…Only to come back to their own men bashing them for their looks, mannerisms and everything else in the book. When our sisters are crying out to us for their pain and our sympathy and support, we should listen and lend a hand whenever necessary. Not only do we have to begin speaking to our sisters in loving ways instead of hurtful words and harmful attitudes, we must deconstruct our previous norms of what we know as truth and learn about schools of thought to best understand and work hand in hand with our sisters (i.e womanism) to truly grow towards a better community of Black Love. But, as far as we could flow more, Zhané and I are reaching the end our duet.
Black love is a different type of love that comes in many forms. Good Black love does not have a specific time of coming. It prevails through some of the best and worst times. This article effectively demonstrates why recognizing the roots of Black love will help continue the prosperity of our love.–Né
Ain’t no love like Black Love, as complicated as it can get. It can be complicated and strenuous at times. However, as this dialogue has showed, we as a people are more cognizant than ever of the deep rooted issues that cause these complications and are on the road to fixing them. As the tests of time have proved, we will continue to build each other to greater heights in Black Love in all spectrums, and that’s the beauty of the mirror effect. –Valentino
Truly, all’s fair in [Black] love and war. –Né & Valentino