Tag Archives: black men

Today’s Word is… THERAPY

So, I tried therapy before.  No shame in it, I was dealing with some things and my employer provided free counseling  (y’all should really check if you got EAP benefits) and I’m like, why not?  I go to my session, it’s an older white man, really nice guy (even though he used to to do this thing where he would quote relatively known people and ask if I heard of them, yes nilla I heard of Thomas Jefferson; he probably raped an ancestor so we kin).  So I went into the first 3 sessions, and well, I felt like I was talking to one of you.  He was just too into the story, and I mean I’ve lived quite a life but I wasn’t feeling like I was getting what I needed there. I won’t say it wasn’t helpful at all, there were some things he pointed out that still sit with me that I may not ever had. However, at the end of the employer sponsored sessions he asked (did I have real insurance…I almost booked a session just so he wouldn’t think I couldnt afford it…I’m self conscious, maybe I should see another therapist about that) and if I wanted to continue to see him, I decided thanks, but no thanks. I just felt like a middle aged married white man just wasn’t getting me and wasn’t going to.  Nothing against him, but he (it) just wasn’t for me.  

I’m quite aware I sound like the stereotype, studies show black people are 20% more likely to have psychological distress than white people, which, duh…being black in America is fugging stressful.  7% of black men will experience some form of severe depression in their lifetime. Studies also show black people make up less than 2% of the mental health field so I mean, the options are pay a microagressive shrink or just deal.  Like I said, being black in America is fugging stressful. All of this came to mind the other day at the barbershop as I was watching my barber the other day. It was just an ordinary Saturday, I was about 15 minutes late for my appointment and got leapfrogged (which…how you just gonna leapfrog me, B? All these years? I had plans that night, this nigga ain’t have no plans, he was gonna take a few pics for the gram and sit in there house playing 2K…I almost prayed his hand slipped and he messed up but God don’t like ugly).  Anyway, Toupee Fiasco was on the TV for some reason and Young Leapfrog went off.  Just ranting about everything and my barber just nodded and agreed, focused on his craft (to my disappointment he never messed up) giving his own points when he could.  It was like witnessing a therapy session. So as I sat watching and hating I thought, yo heprobably has had this same conversation all day every day for months.  At the end of the cut, you feeling fresh and empowered.  For $27 dollars a session. Plus tip. So basically, barbers > therapists. I’m kidding.

I know therapy works great and is productive for plenty of people.  We need it as a resource, as a staple, because we’re hurting out here.  And I mean of course a barber isn’t as qualified as a mental health professional.  The solution is more of US as professionals in the first place.  In the interim, men might trust their gfs and barbers over therapists just as we probably trust Naturalista6969 on a message board over a white dermatologist.  We find comfort amongst our own.  However, therapy in general…I just don’t think it’s for me. Nor is brooding and coming home to a bottle of scotch and trying to live vicariously through my sports teams because thats the “manly” way to emote.

So, I just incorporate my own ways to cope, unwind, find peace.  Or as the streets say, self-care.  I pray, I sleep, I blog, I play video games, I shoot hoops, I run (walk briskly and sprint a couple times so the numbers add up), I facetime, I play hooky from work once a month, I clean, I listen to music, I get massages, I send selfies, I block numbers,  I see family, I draw, I fuck, I shop, I wander, I tweet, I vent, I Netflix, I turn up, I flirt, I drink (tea),  I travel, I eat good, I laugh a lot.  None singularly are THE answer, they all are.  Keep your heart, 3 stacks.

Some find therapy more helpful, some find self care more helpful, but you don’t need to be a Kendrick or Drake fan about this; it doesn’t have to be one or the other.  It’s possible to apply both.  Perhaps, preferably so.  I’ve had homies bare their soul over an ass whooping in Madden.  I’ve learned so much about myself in these posts, some drafts will never see the light of day because they got too real.  Black men may not go to traditonal therapy, but will pillow talk their girl to death.  Me, Kid Cudi and Kanye got through 2010 together. 2016 brought many people to new church homes, hell, even therapy.  We all just trying to find our way.   Or maybe it took me going to therapy to realize all of the other ways I practice self care because I’m not comfortable in that setting. Boom. Mind blown.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… FEMINIST

I’m not a feminist.

That sentence, alone, already feels loaded.  Am I anti feminism?  No.  Do my values and beliefs line up with intersectional feminism? Yes. Shouldn’t that make me a feminist?  No. Feminism takes work, learning, growing…I’m not there, maybe never will be.  Do I see myself sitting down reading Roxanne Gay or Rebecca Solnit? No.  Which begs the question, why not?  Am I being willfully ignorant? The fact that I choose not to do said work, does that make me a bad person?  How feminist am I? That sounds like a Buzzfeed quiz (Turns out it IS a buzzfeed quiz, I got a 42/50, I mean why even do this post now?) . I guess my issue with actually calling myself a male feminist, is not dissimilar to white allies.  I can’t help but roll my eyes when every white person who dances on beat or says black lives matter gets an invitation to a cookout, or how people were actually down to give Rachel Dolezal a pass because she worked with a NAACP chapter.  Well intentioned or not; I’m more particular about who can sit with us. So going back to feminism and being on the other side of the privilege I can understand a woman saying, you don’t have enough stars for this level.

On the other hand, I can recognize what a black male feminist means.  On social media, I’ve watched men change their tune when a man they respect speaks up. In my day to day life, men are far more likely to listen to me than a woman.  I might check someone on their language or make fun of how ridiculous they sound sometimes but as far as really trying to change minds and hearts…I don’t have that energy.  I’ve said on the “Homies” post, men are only going to take so much lecturing, so much challenging before you get hit with the “who’s mans is this?” and pushed out the barbershop.  Its one thing to be a black male feminist online, clapping back at the League of Ashyassins on Twitter, it’s another to actually challenge “locker room talk” in said locker room when there isn’t a legion of followers behind you.  I can’t help but roll my eyes at men who claim to be down because they are on the right side of the Bill Cosby debate whilst ignoring all the other problematic stances they take.  

Feminism, through the lens of a black man can be conflicting at time. In a  patriarchal society, men cannot remove themselves from their power and privilege in relation to women. But in a racist society, black men hardly have power to wield in the first place.  The black man and the white woman fight for 2A and 2B, depending on a white man’s proclivities. It’s Oppression Olympics; it could be easy for me to not care about women earning 78 cents of the male dollar when I’m making 75 on the white dollar so we bicker for the support of black women, whom are sideeyeing us both whilst making 64.  There’s a clear common denominator here.  It would make sense that we’d all come together, but, well, we saw how that worked out on November 8th.

I’m not a feminist.  I’m just trying to be the best person I can and trusting my sensibilities.  Continue to grow, continue to mature.  I’m not the same man I was 5 years ago, I won’t be the same 5 years from now.  Honestly, that quiz gave me more credit than I give myself.  I see women and men putting in WORK to change things and I feel like it’d be insulting to them to act like I’m kicking it the same. I just carry myself as someone who was raised right.  Maybe that’s enough, maybe it isn’t. Time will tell.  In the interim, I’m just gonna relax and take notes from the ally section.
-Stan-
 

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    Today’s Word is… HARASSMENT

    “Will you marry me?”

    She giggles, actually it was more of a cackle like I wasn’t right there.  She smiles, I stare in her inviting brown eyes, it was only a few seconds but it felt as though time stopped….

    “No”

    Well, now that’s awkward.

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    “Why not”

    Well for starters, she didn’t know me.  Like, at all.  This was my formal introduction, a spontaneous proposal.  She was more charmed than turned off, and after a brief chat we exchanged numbers and I happily walked back over to my friends I just hit a buzzer beater.   It was almost like a sport for us, the hunt.  My old house was across the street from a park as well as equidistant to two subway stations so on a good day there was always new girls to approach.   I’d like to think I never harassed anyone, if for no other reason my sisters walked those same streets.  I remember when my mother got my oldest sister mace to carry around or how my other would walk around with a powered off CD player just so she could appear busy. My little sister well, she had me. 

    I remember having to answer the phone so some dude would stop calling, listening to stories about a creep attempting to follow my sister home.  Then I’d go outside and be the dude offering to walk with some girl.  A double standard? Probably.  So one day I was escorting proposal girl home and she spoke about how she hated walking around my neighborhood because of the dudes hooting and hollering.  It was like Bruce Wayne hearing a Batman story….oh.   She talked about how she took alternate routes, kept in headphones, just avoided walking altogether.  In essence, she sounded like my sister.  I asked so what separates me from the pack. 

    “You just make me feel comfortable”

    (cue ringing bell and confetti falling). I get it.  I was 15.

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    A decade later, “street harassment” has since became a mainstream topic causing a divide between feminists and well, nurt higgas.  Arguments from each side have gone to extremes from women starting a hashtag just because a guy looked at her to men sounding like damn near neanderthals with their entitlements.  The middle are trapped between whats actually harassment and whats an approach.  Men point out how attractive men get passes, women point out how men will take an accept compliment and take a mile.  Basically, we’re all talking in circles to the point plenty men don’t know what street harassment is or whats their responsibility to fight it.  Myself, well, I’m just going to stick with the lesson I learned growing up. 

    Make her feel comfortable. 

    Whether that’s not being too forward, respecting her space, approaching in a way that won’t get me on XoJane somewhere. As for what can a man do to help curb street harassment…well again, I consult teenage me

    After my epiphany of sorts, I was even more mindful of how I and my boys were perceived.  But when you’re 16, ain’t nobody trying to hear you preach.  Hell, I can’t even comment or tweet now without being called a panderer. I mean, I can shut them down if it was my sisters but for a random girl, now I’m Captain Save Em.  It didn’t take much to change things, whether it was me just telling my boy to actually go and talk to her or doing so myself and them subtly deciding to work smarter not harder.  I didn’t need to be a hero, but if ya mans ya mans you can tell him chill and that be that. Fast forward to now, I’m probably not walking up going #youoksis ready to fight a group of dudes like Spider-Man, but sometimes all it takes is just smiling at her as she rolls her eyes at those doing it wrong, not affiliating yourself with those said people, and just treating any woman with respect.  At least that’s what I think, but this is the internet so I’m probably still not doing enough. 

    Sidenote: Me and proposal girl never worked out.  She wouldn’t even become my first real girlfriend.  I wonder what she’s up to now.  I’d look her up but I can’t remember her last name. I’m getting old.

    -Stan-

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    Today’s Word is… PREFERENCE

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    “Yo I’m about to invite the interns to our table”

    So my boy leaves and walks back with these two girls.  One was brown skinned, short, slender, she had pretty eyes but I’m not sure if they’re real or contacts.  The other fiery red hair, piercing green eyes, also small but a little thicker.  It was two of them and two of us, did he just set me up to set him up?  He introduces me to them, and we start talking, clearly he’s flirting with the white girl and presumably I’m supposed to entertain the sista. Now because, 1. I’m not interested in coworkers, 2. The white girl was easily more attractive, I found myself more drawn to her.  Anyway, lunch ends we all go back to work.  I run into the intern again as we’re leaving, we continue our conversation, she throws a few lobs out there about how she exclusively dates black guys, her affinity for Drake, and I was secretly bracing myself for a Trayvon question.  We go our separate ways. 

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    Few days later, me and my boy talking, he asks me about the intern, I tell him nothing is going down, he tells me he hears she’s into brothers (did she release a PSA?).  “Yeah, she one of those”.  Now, I knew what he was getting at but I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting at.  “A white girl who only dates black guys” he follows up “Why is it always so finite though, even black women I date usually ONLY dates white guys” A fair point, just about every white woman I’ve dated only dated black guys, but to be fair, honestly I would be reluctant to just approach a white woman cold.  I usually would let them approach me or wait for lobs like the intern threw.  That’s for no reason other than my usual obliviousness, I need some kind of hint from women of any race. 

    My boy brought up a good point, preferences always have an origin story.  I prefer to date women over 24, younger women simply aren’t mature enough to handle the caliber of relationship I expect.  I prefer not to date mothers, I like flexibility and I’ve had bad experiences.  To say I prefer only white women, there’s no rationale to ONLY like that race, I came from a black woman, I will have black kids, to say I’m simply unattracted to black women would be ridiculous, any other reason would be rooted in some sort of unproven stereotype.  I’ve been out with my boy and had sistas dismiss me for him because they think he’s safer, more responsible, when we have the same job, he lives at home and has a child, I do not.  Stereotypes still say don’t bet on black #doe.  He’s been rejected by black women because they assume he’s lame, not “down”, or not checking for them.  They don’t know better. 

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    Now, fast forward a few days I’m talking to the black intern.  Ironically efugginuff (yes that’s a word) she was put off by our first meeting and assumed “i was one of those”.  Now I knew what she was getting at but I wanted to see if she knew what she was getting at.  “You was all over ______, thought you just didn’t like other black people”(talking to two white people and not her, issue with blacks #thereach). I quickly clarified and also made a note, white or black I don’t talk to coworkers or interns. (She’s 21 which would be another strike).   We resolved whatever issue she had (I was getting some of the fakest good mornings ever) and for now all is well in the workplace.  As for why white women who date black guys ONLY date black guys? Simple, once you go black, I think you know the rest.  Kidding. Mostly.

    -Stan-

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    Today’s Word is… INTERRACIAL

    My little sister’s best friend used to have a big crush on me, it was the cliche “first older guy you really talk to so you grow to like him” thing. Although we were actually the same age, but because her birthday was after September so they made her wait another year to start school, so she ended up in my sister’s grade and not mine. I never understood that rule, I hope I have all summer babies. But anyway, nothing ever went down, One my little sister didn’t play that; I was off limits to her friends.  Two, I wasn’t even attracted to her, I just flirted because she really was the first girl to show interest in me and three, although my mother would never say it to me outright, she didn’t want me to be with a white girl (yeah I know the title of the post kind of spoiled the build up but still).  I remember when my brother first came back to stay with us, all he would do was gush over this girl,  his first love, my mother instantly asked her race (he did live in the suburbs after all).  He told her spanish, she nodded and asked more about her.  He then unpacked a picture, straight shoulder length auburn hair, blue eyes, pale fair skin, she was mixed but if you looked at the picture, she looked like a white girl.  The look on my mother’s face was priceless, it was the same look she made whenever she would see my sister’s friend pretend to act interested in whatever nerdy thing I was doing.  She wasn’t racist by any stretch, she had plenty of white friends (token excuse) and her best friend was married to a white man but for her sons she preferred otherwise.

    Over the years, we would both date cross the spectrum and my mother would eventually get over it but she was only one obstacle.  Despite it being 2012,  I’ll still get side eyes from black women if I’m out with a white or Asian woman (okay I dated two asians  both was blasian and I never got any sideeyes with but i will count it towards my diversity quota).  Perhaps more so now, fat black and ugly as ever, black women was like “y’all can have him”.  It’s the same way with black men, you can have Fantasia Barrino just give us Paula Patton and Kerry Washington back.  However, I’m not one of those guys who exclusively dates one race. if I’m with a white woman its for the same reason I’m with a black woman, she was attractive and available.  It doesn’t mean I won’t come with a black woman next time.  If I order pepperoni pizza it doesn’t mean I don’t like mushroom, okay I do hate mushrooms but you get my point.  Black women aren’t the only ones, black men won’t disapprove but they will still miss the memo.   I remember when I was on a date I passed one of my boys from around the way, he kind of gave me one of those “I see you now” looks like she was just an accessory, or some sort of token of wealth (psssh we were both broke).  Regardless, if I’m dating outside my race I’m not with her to make a statement, or because she’s “easier” or that we both have credit scores in the 650s.

    Why limit yourself to mere percentages of the population

    Of course that’s just me.  I know black men who only date outside their race because black women are too high maintenance, and black women who date outside their race because “brothas ain’t ish”.  I shake my head at both.  Quality, relationship worthy women/men come in all sizes and colors, trying to brand one race as the good one to increase your odds of finding one is pure laziness.  Everyone should be open to dating whomever but if the first reason why you are is because the one you prefer is this, that or the third, then you’re in it for all the wrong reasons.  Every woman that ever broke my heart was black but that doesn’t mean I should only date outside my race from now on, just because you’re not a size 4 anymore doesn’t mean you should only date black guys now, just because your black boyfriend cheated on you doesn’t mean a white guy won’t. #Petraeus.

    -Stan-

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    Today’s Word is… INSECURITY

    Dramatization.

    It was about 8-9 years ago.  I’m at the local pizza shop grabbing some food, next thing you know I’m getting rock bottomed.  I should’ve just had called for delivery. I’m immediate turned on my stomach and trying to get a glance at my assailant, I see two shiny shoes and an navy pants, it’s the good ol Boston Police.  I’m searched frantically by one as the other watches with his gun aimed directly at my royal blue du-rag, they grab my wallet and let me up and escort me out as the staff and other patrons wonder what the hell just happened here.  I’m stare at the two men, trying to discreetly read their badge numbers in case I got a broken rib of something.  Apparently I fit the description of someone who was reported carrying a gun,  they run my name, nothing.  A girl from the neighborhood passes by and says “oooh Tristan what did you you do” “Being black on a Thursday” I responded. Technically I was right, I wouldn’t fit a description if I was white, but I digress.  The first cop, a mid to late 30s white guy chuckles and shakes his head, the other a taller heavy set black guy wasn’t amused.  Thinking about it now I can see why he was offended, perhaps he didn’t like his blackness being questioned *shrug*.  Perhaps in one of the earlier forms of YOLOing, I became somewhat smart with the officers, my side hurt, I was hungry, and I was a straight A student at one of the best high schools in the city, I only dressed otherwise.  I knew I didn’t do anything wrong so why worry…

    Black cop don’t care. Black Cop don’t give a sh*t

    That’s my same view on relationships, even fat, black and ugly as ever, I never found myself insecure in a relationship after 2007 .  I look at it this way, if I know I’m doing everything in my power to keep her happy, then I have nothing to worry about, Hakuna Mutata.  As I said in my last post, that insecurity stems from within, either feeling like you’re not good enough or knowing that you’re doing enough.  I’ve been the insecure one and it ruined a good thing, I’ve been with insecure women and it ruined a good thing.  I’ve also been on the other end of the spectrum where I became too comfortable and it backfired and where she has and the same.  So it begs the question should there be a healthy amount of insecurity in a relationship, or is it always trouble?

    Early in my dating life I was very insecure, fledgling confidence, feeling pressure to catch up to my peers (lies) relationships.  I blew up phones, I dropped L bombs everywhere, I dated “safe” women (and somehow still got played…smh), I was afraid to be alone and as a result I set myself up for failure.

    After getting played I went ahead and switched my style up, I showed little to no emotion at all.  I dated vulnerable girls who I knew wouldn’t leave if I begged them to.  This didn’t last long because that’s how you end up with stalkers who pop up at your job, neighborhood and all over your social networks, smh.   I wasn’t giving my all and they were and they would be damned if they didn’t get it.

    Cray.

     

    I’m over it. Seriously.

    Karma was paying attention, because soon I found myself feeling neglected and insecure again.  Enter “Her” and umm lets call her…”Madame” (i’m running out of code names, about to assign shapes or colors lol). With “Her”, the insecurity stemmed from the fact that I first took her from someone else, would she turn around and do the same to me.  Later, she would leave me for the pettiest of reasons to the point I just didn’t felt like I could ever make her happy.  Factor in some legit things I did I won’t get into and suddenly I find myself letting “Her” go for good.  I knew we couldn’t work, there was too much heartbreak we needed a clean slate.  Followed by “Madame” who just didn’t seem to care about anything.  “Madame” is the only one I would believe if someone told me she cheated on me, but I did care about her…I think…I’m still not sure what drew me to her besides materialism and superficiality.  Which brings me to “She”, the insecure one.   I’ve brought her up on this blog way too much it would seem Drake-ish to touch on again.

    So back to my initial question, is there a healthy amount of insecurity for a relationship.  Should one always have doubts and fear that one would leave or should both have without a shadow of a doubt security about theirs?  If the latter, then what is the incentive is there for one to change or try to improve?  I think one should always be slightly wary of competition, whether its another person or simply the allure of a single life.  However, there is a middle ground, where you’re constantly trying to keep you and yours secure but there’s an understanding that your job is not done.  No matter how happy you (think you and your mate) are, there’s always room for improvement.

    -Stan-

     

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