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Are You Looking for a White Knight to Save You?

I hope not. I hope that none of us are looking for any man, black, white, Asian, Hispanic or otherwise to save us because because we feel completely imbued with the mental, emotional, spiritual and other resources to to live completely wonderful lives that are enriched but not dependent upon finding romantic love.

In Sil Lai Abrams Ebony article “The Myth of the White Knight: White Men Are Not the Answer to Black Women’s Problems” she discusses the myth that white men are the answer to the overly discussed black male shortage which some analysts believe is preventing many black women from getting married. But I I’m not quite sure that this myth exists.  Most of the black women who I know who date interracially also date intraracially because they recognize that color is not a determinant of character.  Gross generalizations about black men, white men, Asian men or any other race or ethnicity of men may lead to a great deal of confusion.  Human beings are human beings and men are men, regardless of skin tone.

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Is Raising Your Child In An All Black Environment Dangerous to His or Her Self Esteem?

I hope that the answer is no.  But I would be dishonest if I did not acknowledge the fact that many black people have experienced more ridicule surrounding their skin, hair and features from other black people than from people of other races.  This “internalized racism” is horrifying.  I was reminded of this issue after I read these paragraphs in the beautiful and very talented Issa Rae’s essay “How I Learned to Love My Hair”.

“I love my hair. It took me a while, but I do. Growing up in Potomac, Md., among an ethnically diverse group of friends was great for my self esteem. I was celebrated for being different; for having superhero hair that defied gravity and recoiled with lightning speed elasticity. My hair texture was the subject of awe, confusion and probably envy. I loved it.

Until I moved to L.A.

Moving from a predominantly white school to a predominantly black school in L.A for Junior High was already a traumatizing experience in and of itself, but nobody prepared me for the “hair hierarchy.”

If you don’t understand how it works, the hair hierarchy rates your self worth by length and texture of hair. The longer, silkier and European your hair, the higher your self worth. The shorter, kinkier and African your hair? Go die.

I was taught this hierarchy by a group of girls in middle school who would taunt me for many reasons, none of which excluded my hair. This was in the mid-90s, when weaves were still the butt of jokes in the black community and braids with the burnt ends were JUST going out of style. Nothing could have prepared me for the hate and ridicule I’d receive for wearing my hair in its natural state.”

I can relate.  When I switched from a very mixed parochial school in Brooklyn to an all-black public school in Queens I was shocked by the the taunts and teases of “black and crispy”, “nappy headed”, “African booty scratcher” and other terminology that was being spewed at me  by children who did not look much different from me.   No white, Asian, Hispanic or black child had ever teased me about my appearance or ethnicity at my prior school.  I really pray for collective healing with respect to these issues.  I understand the depth of internalized racism and its causes, but that does not do much to lessen the sting of its impact.  Love is Enough to heal such wounds.

-Loveessence

Not Just Sinners and Saints – Kathleen Cross’ Take on Kola Boof

“He’s an *sshole!”  “She’s a *itch!”  “He is such a good guy!” “She is so cool”
  We often reduce people to being either good or bad, nice or nasty, and never in between.  In his famous book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the fact that most often our brains have to simplify situations by placing an individual in one category of good people or bad people and then interpreting all information to support the category chosen.  In actuality, Gladwell tells us, life is a lot more complicated and people behave differently in different situations so the *sshole at work may be an amiable guy and loving parent at home and at social gatherings.  I find this information incredibly fascinating when we incorporate an understanding of the myriad of life experiences that shape people’s outer personas. 

The following article by Kathleen Cross strikes me as incredibly insightful because of the fact that the author actually attempts to look at the life history of Kola Boof in order to understand her seemingly unrelenting anger and her vitriolic condemnation of “color struck” “*igger stock”.  Kola Boof is a fierce defender of dark-skinned black women’s right to be recognized as fully human and beautiful – but her delivery of this singular honorable point is often controversial.

 

Please read “Here’s Why I Love Kola Boof” here.

-Loveessence

 

What Does Black Women’s Empowerment Mean?

The freedom for black women and all people to just be themselves and to have their diversity acknowledged and affirmed.  I believe that that is what empowerment is.  The power to be you without being forced to succumb to someone else’s truth.

This topic came to mind because of the debate that emerged when news came out that there would be a film about Barbara Jordan’s life.  Barbara Jordan, a black woman, was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 and in 1972 was the first black woman from the South to join the U.S. House of Representatives. She was a gifted orator and has left an extensive and amazing legacy at the University of Texas.  Why would people be upset about a movie about her you ask? Apparently, some believe that she was unattractive, asexual or a lesbian and that she exemplified the nanny sterotype and they are tired of seeing black women mammies on screen.

I will not get into the merits of these arguments because Ms. Gina of the blog “What About Our Daughters” has already done that.  But I will say this. Who cares if she was unattractive or asexual or a lesbian?  Some black women are not conventionally attractive and some are assexual and some are lesbians.  I whole heartedly understand the desire to see images of beautiful, sexy, smart, glamorous and sexually empowered black women on screen because there seems to be a dirth of such images. But that does not mean that we should silence all other stories.  Our empowerment emerges when we are simply allowed to “be” in all of our magnificent diversity.

Men’s Liberation Movement

The most popular narrative about being a woman is one of struggle. We hear about domestic abuse against women, female infanticide, discrimination against women in the workplace and much more.

Of course all of these horrors exist. But in getting to know more and more men I have begun to recognize that women are privileged to a certain extent with respect to the freedom to show emotion freely and to express both their softness and toughness with abandon.  I sometimes think that men are taught in many societies to hold all of their emotions inside and to always be tough and stoic and to consistently judge their worth by how much money, power and influence that they are able to gain.  I pray that society can liberate men from these burdens. We’ve had the women’s movement. Can we have the men’s liberation movement?

In raising boys I pray that I can teach them to be secure enough in their humanity and manhood to   recognize their inherit worth and the worth of all others regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, class or sexual orientation.

I pray that they will be the type of men that we all love – as  Judith Rich explains.

“I love men who know them selves to be more than their bank bal­ances, more than their job titles, more than the num­ber of sex­ual con­quests or tro­phy wives they’ve had. I love men who see beyond the cul­tural def­i­n­i­tions of who they’re sup­posed to be, espe­cially as dic­tated by peo­ple like you.

I love men who in know­ing them­selves to be more than their net worth, more than their golf scores, or the num­ber of cars or jet air­planes they own, can look in the mir­ror and see beyond appear­ances, see their inner beauty, lis­ten to and trust their heart.

I love men who can be spa­cious enough to let their women shine, secure enough to let their women be as big and as beau­ti­ful as can be. I love men who are hum­ble, and who inspire women to feel safe enough in their pres­ence to open to their deep­est, most vul­ner­a­ble self.

I love men who aren’t afraid to be wrong, men who have the courage to say that they don’t always have the answers. I love men who have a regard for what’s sacred, what’s holy, what’s unnam­able, what’s invis­i­ble. I love men who don’t take a woman’s love or any­thing else for granted. I love men who get that a woman in her power is the most beau­ti­ful crea­ture on the planet. Oh, I love that kind of man!”

Please see the rest of Judith Rich’s moving blog entry here.

How Showing Your Weakness Can Be Your Greatest Strength

Do you have the courage to allow others to deeply see you in all of your magnificent humanity and vulnerability?  According to social scientist Brene Brown, this courage is precisely the key to being fulfilled. Believing that you are worthy even though you are imperfect and being brave enough to show your authentically imperfect self to others by saying “I love you” first and by embarking on endeavors that have no guarantee – that is the key to really feeling alive.

I think that this lesson is incredibly important in the field of romantic love. Many  of us walk into new relationships with our armor on – ready to protect ourselves and looking for the slightest indication that the person may hurt us so that we can leave and escape the uncertainty of rejection or heartbreak.  It seems as if that may be  the wrong approach.  In other words….

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
William W. Purkey

Please see the life-changing Brene Brown talk.

Loveessence Featured in theGrio: “Black women braving online dating: The final frontier for finding love?”

Love can be found in any place and at any time, including in the privacy of one’s own home on an online dating site.  Loveessence thanks the Grio for sharing our philosophy that love is out there for black women who are open to men of all races and that the Internet is one of many venues to find that love. 

As published in the Grio on June 29, 2012.

 Black women braving online dating: The final frontier for finding love?

Online dating websites are in many ways like virtual Viagra.  Both are touted as a way to reinvigorate a flaccid sex life, they give more opportunities to mate to those who due to circumstances beyond their control may have had less action than they’d like, and few will admit (at least publicly) to using them. It is reported that 40 million people have tried online dating. With such a high percentage of users, one would think that online dating would be a good answer to what I like to call the “Black Female Thunderbolt Phenomenon” (the belief that black women are more likely to get struck by lightning than to ever marry).

Yet even in web waters teeming with dating prospects, black women are still getting the short end of the stick.  The dating website OKCupid.com released a study back in October 2009 that revealed that black women on the site are the users who reply the most when contacted; however they are the ones who get the least replies when they initiate contact.  It didn’t matter if they were reaching out to white, black, Hispanic or Middle Eastern men.  Alas, even in a medium filled with people seeking to meet, black women are still having a hard time connecting.

“I don’t think that we should take these statistics too seriously,” Ama Yawson, co-founder of LoveEssence.com, told theGrio. ”Black people who go to a mainstream site such as OKCupid.com aren’t necessarily black people who are interested in meeting other black people online. They’re more likely to be a black person who is open and interested in dating non-blacks, which is why they specifically choose a vehicle that would enable them to meet a more racially diverse range of prospects.”

So what is a black woman to do when she is frustrated by her limited online dating options? Well, if you’re Ama Yawson, you start your own site.

Ama decided to take an inventive approach towards finding love.  After discovering that her then fiancée was in fact already married to someone else, she went on a journey to discover “love’s essence.”  “I wanted to attract and to be open to any man who could give that love regardless of race, culture, height, age and other demographic characteristics.” When I asked why she opted to start her own site versus simply joining another, she answered, “None of the sites I looked at had a philosophy that I believed in.  Some were too casual, some were too serious… it was really hard to find something in between. I wanted to create a space that was serious in its intention, yet playful in its interactivity.”

Please see the rest of the article here.