Me on a Soapbox: Love advice from J-Lo

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 Jennifer Lopez  actually said something that got me thinking.

I wrote about this in my other blog Pop Culture Inspirations (shameless plug).

 On a lazy day off I was watching J-Lo’s Behind the Music on TiVo. They were talking about her life and many loves: Diddy and Ben Affleck, etc. They end on how she’s finally found lasting love with husband Marc Anthony. Then she said something so profound. I’m paraphrasing, but basically she said being with him makes her want to be a better person and thus being with him makes her better.

It was an a-ha moment for me. This is what I’ve been doing wrong. Find a person you love and that makes you a better person. She didn’t say find the guy with the most money or find the sexiest guy. She said find the guy who makes you want to be better.

 This woman has dated  all types of men from the rich and powerful (music  mogul Diddy and actor/writer Ben Affleck) to regular guys (waiter Ojani Noa and backup dancer Cris Judd). She has dated across racial lines (black, white, Latino).

 I’m by no means a relationship expert, in fact I’m the queen of bad relationships. I do however know this is a method I have not actively tried. I opt for the guy who is the cutest or the most fun or who has the best swagger. None of those things have amounted to diddly squat and here I am 30-years-old, perpetually single, and the only one of my siblings not to give my parents a grandchild.

 I guess the point I’m making is sometimes we have to go outside of our comfort zone to get something we’ve never had before. My most recent relationship was with a guy who was a teacher and was pursuing an advanced degree. He had a job where he was making a contribution to society. He was making himself better educated. It made me realize I could be doing more. It made me want to be more.

 Insanity is doing the same thing and getting a different result. Maybe finding love is doing something so totally different and being open to the possibilities.

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My New Favorite Thing: Black Feminist Writer Joan Morgan

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“I did not know that feminism is what you called it when black warrior women moved mountains and walked on water. Growing up in their company, I considered these things ordinary.” ~ Joan Morgan

I’ve been suspecting it for a little while now, but Joan Morgan’s “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost” officially confirmed it for me.

I’m a black feminist.

I remember once in a job interview being asked “What am I passionate about? What motivates me? That was a year ago and I didn’t know. I remember BSing some answer that obviously didn’t work because I didn’t get the job.

In a year of unemployment, college, dating, loving, dumping, and being dumped by black men, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I can finally say with certainty I know what I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about advancing my people. Particularly black women.  I find myself increasingly concerned with how black women are treated, how black women are depicted, and how black women are perceived. The older, wiser Brandy no longer hates on a young, black girl because she’s got a bigger ass than me, dresses a little more fly than me, or gets more male attention than me. I can’t hate on young black girls, because I’ve been a young black girl. I know how hard it is out there for us. We don’t need anything additional working against us. If anything we need more of us loving and supporting each other. We need to bond together, we need to create a network. And we need to love ourselves just as much, and in some cases, more than we love our black brothers. Only then, will we be able to get what we need from our brothers, our lovers, our communities, this country, and this world.

So Morgan’s addresses this issue in a passage from “Chickenheads.” She’s been ambushed by three black men upset by a pro-woman response to the racial implications of the raping of a white Central Park jogger allegedly by black teenage boys. Her defense, for me, addresses the dark secret of black relationships that is so rarely talked about:

“Whatcha really wanna know is how I feel about brothas.  It’s simple. I love black men like I love no other. And I’m not talking sex or aesthetics, I’m talking about loving y’all enough to be down for the drama — stomping anything that threatens your existence. Now only a fool loves that hard without asking the same in return. So yeah, I demand that black men fight sexism with the same passion they battle racism. I want you to annihilate anything that endangers sistas’ welfare — including violence against women — because my survival walks hand in hand with yours. So, my brotha, if loving y’all fiercely and wanting it back makes me a feminist than I’m a feminist. So be it.”

This sentiment is on point. It’s upsetting that black men sometimes look at black women as the enemy for expecting to be respected and loved the same way we respect and love them. I digress though.

The book is fantastic. Her writing is fantastic.Check it for yourself here, along with other works by Morgan.

Why chick flicks have screwed up my love life

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My sister was having some man problems and decided to ask me for advice. (Why, I don’t know since I’m chronically single). During this conversation I made kind of a sad discovery about my relationships.

 I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve remained friends with 98% of my exes. In fact, many of my exes are some of my closest male friends to this day. I think sometimes people are meant to be in our lives not as lovers but as good friends. Its just that I tend not to discover this until after I’ve rushed into the relationship with them.

 Well the convo with my sister made me realize that I’ve never in my entire dating life dated a man who was my friend first. When I look over my dating track record I’ve realized that all of my boyfriends were lovers first then friends. I don’t really  know what its like to have a friendship with a person and then have it develop into a relationship. That’s unfortunate.

 This is the point where movie romances have totally screwed me up in the real world of dating. I’m gonna blame every chick flick ever made for this. For two reasons, first my standards of romance are so unbelievably high that no man will measure up to them. I deem any man unromantic who doesn’t write poems like Larenz Tate in Love Jones or hold a boombox over his head like John Cusack in Say Anything because this is what I’ve grown to believe men who really like you are supposed to do. The flip side of this is movies like When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have this great friendship that they almost ruin when they have sex and then of course they fall in love and it works out in the end.

 I want to know what thats like. The only problem is the guys don’t become my friends until after we’ve become intimate and started hating each other. Its like I’m playing the movie in reverse.

 Could this be part of the reason I’m single? Can anyone else relate to this or am I riding on a boat all by myself on ths one?

Old Navy flip flops and the worst dates ever

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A pair of sandles like these play a big part in one of my worst dates ever

 My really horrible date this weekend inspired me to compile a list of my  most heinous dating offenses. These are all true by the way and in no particular order. (I’m currently single and no longer dating any of these guys)

  1. Surfing a dating site while on a date with me
  2. Trying to get me to buy you a pair of man sandles from Old Navy and lunch on our first date
  3. Telling me AFTER we’re already in line at the food court for our lunch date, the date you invited me on, that our meal is dutch
  4. Making a drug transaction while I sit in the car and wait for you
  5. Telling me your forgot your wallet AFTER we’ve already ordered and eaten dinner
  6. “Accidentally” ordering two appetizers plus your dinner and drinks for a dinner that you aren’t paying for
  7. Running into not 1, not 2, but 3 of your ex-girlfriends while on a date
  8. Invite me to a party at your family’s house and then you disappear for over an hour (this has happened twice with two different guys)
  9. Making a scene, yelling, and accusing the guy behind the counter of flirting with me because you think it takes to long for me to order our meal
  10. Getting drunk, stealing my car keys, and driving off in my car
  11. Waiting until I fall asleep and then stealing my cell phone and $27 out of my wallet
  12. Having sex with my roommate while I’m in my bedroom sleeping
  13. Calling your ex-girlfriend and getting visibly upset that she’s going on a date with someone else
  14. Trying to get another girl’s phone number in front of me and pretending that you want it for some other reason than to hook up with her
  15. Telling me after we’ve been on a few dates and hooked up that you already have a girlfriend
  16. Leaving me in a store while you talk to your friend, leaving the store to go to his house, but never tell me you left
  17. Loudly telling a hotel clerk, while we’re on vacation together, that we need a room with a single bed because it’ll be hard for us to have sex in a double bed
  18. Asking the clerk in a aromatics store for a scent that will make the room smell good for when we “knock boots” later (this is a different guy than #17)
  19. Almost run us into a guard rail while driving me home because you are texting and trying to watch rap videos on your dashboard TV at the same time as driving
  20. Pulling a knife on a guy at the club for having a conversation with me

…speechless after I saw this.

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Saw this on the magazine stand and literally stopped in my tracks:

My thought was, “Oh wow!” I don’t really follow football so I had no idea who this was (it’s Reggie Bush, BTW). Of course, I was looking at this purely superficially, but on some further research I found this was a controversial cover.

 Some Essence readers had a problem with Reggie Bush being on the cover of a magazine for black women when he’s been in a pretty long, very public relationship with a woman who isn’t black. (Bush is dating reality TV star Kim Kardashian who is of Armenian descent). One reader comment  claimed “Bush had shunned Black women.”

 I can argue for both sides on this. First of all I have not seen or read anything that says Reggie Bush is against dating Black women. For totally selfish reasons I hope that’s not true (no chance for me, not that there was one anyway). Dating someone outside of your race by no means says you’ve shunned your race. If he has come out against dating black women than I agree that he is not an appropriate person to grace the cover of a magazine dedicated primarily to Black women. Put him inside, maybe, but not on the cover.

 My belief is that Essence made an excellent choice of cover models. I have not picked up an Essence magazine in months and I saw that cover and grabbed it immediately. I took it to the checkout counter and the cashier had the same reaction I did. It gets attention. Plus the issue is a celebration of Black men and there is no question Reggie Bush is a black man.

 Let the man date who he wants. Its not our business. If we put that same energy into our own relationships I think a lot less of our relationships would be in trouble. Just saying.

 What do you think? Are you offended by Reggie Bush being on the cover of Essence? Does it bother you that he is not dating a black woman?

…is gonna start dating ugly guys again

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Could Flavor Flav be my next boyfriend?

I’ve got a problem. I’m dating a sexy guy. Really sexy.  He is absolutely the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen and he is dating… me. Me, the chubby girl with the gap in her teeth, the hammer toes, and poochy belly.

I know what you’re thinking ” you poor thing, you get to have sex with a hot guy,  boo hoo (totally dripping with sarcasm)” But the truth is I’ve never dated anyone this hot and I’m totally insecure. Being with a really good looking person makes me feel…I don’t know…kind of ugly.

I’m constantly thinking you could have anyone why would you pick me? I’m constantly thinking that he’s gonna find someone better looking and drop me like a hot potato.

I’ve shared these thoughts with him and he assures me that he is very happy with me. He compliments me constantly and tells me that just because he gets female attention doesn’t mean he is interested. The crazy thing is he’s insecure that someone is going to steal me from him. Wow! I broke it off with him and he campaigned to get me back. Me.. the chubby girl with the gap teeth, hammer toes, and poochy belly.

That’s why I dated ugly guys I never felt like I had to compete. I always felt like they were lucky to have me. I shouldn’t say they were ugly, they were all cute to me. I’m a thrift store queen I can find the treasure in any trash. Plus I’m usually attracted to some other quality like one guy who was really smart, and others who could make me laugh.

Has anyone else encountered this problem? Does anyone else date ugly guys? Any suggestions for me.

…giving Jermaine Dupri (and black men) props

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Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri

I was watching the Janet Jackson interview with Robin Roberts the other night and two things stuck with me:

First, she mentions the freedom that comes with turning 40. Basically, she said you really just stop caring what people think about you and do your own thing. I loved that. I’m 30 years old now and I’m almost there. I feel myself getting closer everyday.  I’m certain I’ll totally be there before I”m 40.

Second, she talks about how she battled with weight for years and it wasn’t until she dated Jermaine Dupri that she realized that she’s beautiful and that’s okay to have some booty.

Jermaine Dupri is alright with me. One thing I love about black men, they like women with curves, some meat on their bones, some booty, some hips, and some thighs. Research has found that black women have some of the best body image and I think a lot of it has to do with black men.  I am a plus sized woman and I’ve never really had a problem dating men.  When you look at the women in black culture that men go crazy over, they’re curvaceous women.

Janet Jackson is a gorgeous woman, but even she had issues with her body. It wasn’t years in the spotlight or getting on a most beautiful women’s list to make her feel better about herself. It was the love and support of a good man. A good black man.

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