One of my best friends refers to me as a "professional dater." Though I'm not necessarily proud of the name, I am proud of being able to enjoy myself and live in the moment while dating. And when I say dating, I literally mean going to restaurants, museums, art shows and movies with a man. It does not always equal having sex.Let me guess. You're reading this blog about me being a "professional dater." You're also seeing all these couples and people getting married on your timeline. Meanwhile you're wondering why you can't get a text back or a decent date.I absolutely cringe when I hear women say "I hate starting over and getting to know someone all over again." That statement alone is making dating harder for you. You're going into it with a negative mindset. In the words of Lauryn Hill: "How you gonna win if you ain't right within?" You have to reset your mind sis. That's a must or (Celie voice) "Everything you think about gonna fail!"You won't reset your mind over night, but you can surely have it conquered in a few months. Some of you are wondering why you didn't get a call back after you thought you had a good date. Ask yourself, was it really a good date or was it mediocre and you were just excited and ran your mouth the entire time?There is no need to worry or feel anxious while dating because you are the prize! So, today is your lucky day! I'm about to take you to dating school. Here are 11 dating tips to live by:1. Set your standards for a date before he asks you out. That way, if he's unsure, he will ask what you would like to do. If he does, don't say you don't know, because that's typical and it's also a lie! You do know, so just tell him. If he suggests a place where you don't want to go, kindly decline by saying, "I'm not a fan of that place. What about (insert place name here)?"2. Date multiple people at a time.You can't have all your eggs in one basket. That's how you end up hard pressed for one person, creating all types of imaginary scenarios in your head that hurt your feelings. Three people is a good number for me to handle at once.3. Relax! Dating is a process, not a race!4. Enjoy the moment. Whoever you're on a date with deserves your undivided attention. Don't compare him to the last person you dated or were in a relationship with. Just enjoy the outing. Put your cell phone on silent, and don't pull it out either!5. Stop telling all your business in one meeting or a few conversations. He doesn't need to know that you are dating other men. That's not his business because he’s not your man. Mystery is everything. It keeps men interested.6. Stop creating expectations for men that you are dating. That's the quickest way to become disappointed. Expect nothing!7. Once you're on the date, allow the other person to speak. Often times men will ask women one question and it turns into her talking for the entire dinner and she's learned nothing about him. Find some questions to ask that you actually want to know and will make for good conversation.8. After the date, thank him and go on about your business. Trust me, he will call you. And if he never calls, then find a new one to add to your starting line-up!9. If you discover you like that man, leave him alone! What I mean by that is don't start calling him everyday about nothing. Don't create ways to make contact all over his social media, being extra. If there is a connection on both parts, things will flow. This leads me to tip number 10...10. Don't force anything! Don't force conversation, interactions, dates or anything else!11. Detach yourself from the outcome! There is no need to worry about the “what ifs”! Just relish in the present!Happy hunting ladies!...
In the age of Tinder and late nights at work, it can be hard to find a date, especially in a busy city. For Trump staffers, the tale is a little different. In an interview with Politico Magazine, young Trump aides admit going to bars and looking for love can be a little awkward in a city where only four percent of residents voted for their leader. With the words “F**k Trump” sprawled across all corners of D.C., Trump staffers have mostly condensed themselves to the Wharf, a recently renovated, gentrified and upscale area in D.C. with apartment towers where rent can be as high as $3,000 per month for a single bedroom, Politico reported. Despite the proximity and available wingmen, some of the staffers admitted to scapegoating awkward bar conversations by hiding their work. “I told people I was an auditor down on Wall Street, and people just stopped asking questions after that,” one anonymous staffer said. Another tried her hand at Tinder and was downtrodden when faced with a string of “Trump supporters swipe left” captions in her potential love interests’ bios. “You do the small talk thing, and you have a very good conversation, and then they might say, ‘You didn’t vote for Trump, right?’” another staffer shared. “As soon as I say, ‘Of course I did,’ it just devolves into all-caps ‘HOW COULD YOU BE SUCH A RACIST AND A BIGOT?’ And, ‘You’re going to take away your own birth control.’”But hiding one's identity can only get you so far. Social media stalking is real, and once someone has a name and a picture, that’s all they need. “I literally got the other day, ‘Thanks but no thanks. Just Googled you and it said you were a mouthpiece for the Trump administration. Go f**k yourself,’” one aide said. The solution, it seems, is for some in-house relationships. Not to the Rudy Giuliani level, of course (he married his cousin), but among the staffers themselves. Love is throughout the halls, including that of Giovanna Coia and John Pence. Coia is a White House press assistant and Kellyanne Conway’s cousin, and Pence is a senior adviser on Trump’s reelection campaign and Mike Pence’s nephew. Trump, nepotism and love seem to all go together. Despite these shortcomings, the team is happy to be in D.C. and among their people. Though romance may not be in the air, they haven’t been left entirely devoid of catcalls, one campaign staffer who moved to Washington said:“If you’re wearing a Trump jacket in New York, you’re going to get catcalls and stuff like that.”Hey, at least someone is checking for...
Black love is beautiful in all forms — romantic, friendship, familial, and as a collective. We learn and relate to different kinds of relationships over the years through our childhoods, unique experiences, and through the images of relationships portrayed in entertainment and the media. So, when did you fall in love...with love? Better yet, what are some of the lessons (good, bad or ugly) you've learned from the best black love movies of all time? It's amazing how certain scenes or sayings are completely relevant to our own personal lives after all these years — these films are timeless! Here are some of the Blavity team's favorites:
1. Love & Basketball
Photo: movieposter.com"I'll play you.""For what?""Your heart. 2. How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Photo: movieposter.com "This from the guy who makes a midnight run to the video store and comes back with Booty Call and the Lion King!"3. Boyz N the Hood
“Of course you took in your son...And you taught him what he needed to be a man, I’ll give you that, because most men aren’t man enough to do what you did. But, that gives you no reason – do you hear me, no reason – to tell me I can’t be a mother to my son. What you did is no different from what mothers have been doing from the beginning of time.”4. Love Jones Photo: Movieposter.com
“I love you. That’s urgent like a muthaf*cka.”5. The Best Man
Photo:Movieposter.com"You have to live for today not for what was or what could've been."6. Jason's Lyric
Photo: Movieposter.com "I've never flown in a plane before.""Sometimes, you don't need a plane to fly."7. Brown Sugar
Photo: Movieposter.com "You are the perfect verse over a tight beat."8. Poetic Justice
Photo: Movieposter.com "I think you kind of fly. We could start with your phone number."9. Two Can Play That Game
Photo: Movieposter.com "The CIA ain't got nothing on a woman with a plan."10. Boomerang
Photo: Movieposter.com "What do you know about love? What could you possibly know about love? You know, I'm sick and tired of men using love as if it's some disease you just catch. Love should have brought your ass home last night." 11. Mahogany
"Let me tell you something... Success is nothing... NOTHING!!! Without someone you love to share it with." 12. Claudine
Photo: Movieposter.com "You know why I avoided success? Success brings enemies and I want people to love me."13. Beyond the Lights
Photo: Movieposter.com "The truth is the only safe ground to stand upon."
14. Waiting to Exhale
Photo: Movieposter.com "I give you 11 f*cking years and then you leave me for a white woman?!""Would you be happy if she were black?""I would be happy if YOU were black!"
Photo: Giphy These are just a few of many! What did we miss? Sound off with your favorite Black love movies and...
Every family has its own dynamics that govern how members relate with one another. Not only do our familial relationships set the tone for how we interact with the world, but they can also have a strong impact on our development and life trajectory. In families where dysfunction is prevalent, it's not uncommon for one member to be selected to carry the guilt, anger and frustration for the entire family.Scapegoating allows for appearances to be kept up as the family targets one party for unmerited negative treatment, criticism or blame. Those who are cast as the family scapegoat develop their esteem in a toxic environment. Once free, it's vital for them to examine and dismantle the dysfunctional patterns of their upbringing in order to break the cycle and adopt a new, healthy script.Here are 12 points of examination to determine if you were cast as the family scapegoat:1. Blame"You can’t do anything right. Everything is your fault." This kind of early training breeds insecurity and debilitating self-doubt. Know that this simply isn’t true. You were just a convenient receptacle for someone who was incapable or unwilling to take responsibility for their own faults. 2.
Verbal Abuse "You are so lazy, stupid and irresponsible." You wore every negative adjective they could summon. No matter how hard you tried to disprove these labels, your perpetrator never missed an opportunity to belittle you. This is a reflection of them, not you.3. Ignored When you told the truth and called out the blatant contradictions, family members and loved ones, even those outside of the household, might have denied or minimized the validity of your experience. This can be hurtful and tough to reconcile, but trust your spirit. You don't need a co-signer to validate it. It's possible that the entire family has a skewed concept of what healthy relationships look like. 4.
Isolated The scapegoater goes to great lengths to create dissension between you and anyone who supports and encourages you. If they can't keep you physically separated from your loved ones, they will create drama, manufacture dissension and assassinate the character of your loved one to turn you against them and minimize their influence. Their cult-like system hinges on keeping you small and marginalized. They are threatened by anyone who might interfere.5. Spun You are portrayed to family members in the most negative light possible. The scapegoater goes out of their way to destroy your credibility by telling anyone who will listen how bad you are. This serves two purposes. It proactively aligns people on their side should you try to seek outside support, and it unifies a choir of people to echo and reinforce their strategy to make you believe you are bad and worthless. 6.
Accused You are often accused of behavior that the scapegoater is actively engaged in. For example, you could be in the act of folding the laundry, ironing clothes and washing dishes while a family member, who is sitting around and watching tv, accuses you of being lazy. Clearly, this is not true. They are describing themselves and literally projecting their own self-hate on you.7. Labeled The scapegoater has trained the entire family, by example, how to treat you. Once you have been labeled as the bad one, you are fair game for siblings, spouses, relatives, even family friends to pick on. New people who enter the dynamic quickly pick up on the fact that you are the family’s punching bag. Scapegoated children often find themselves in adult relationships and situations that mimic this dynamic. 8.
Dismissed There is no reward for good behavior. In fact, your proudest achievements and accomplishments are belittled, ignored or all-together dismissed. This is where many scapegoated children give up and resign themselves to the negative characterization assigned to them.9. Magnified The only deeds that are ever highlighted or broadcasted are the bad ones. Your family is happy to share anything that affirms their negative characterization of you. You might find that the worse you screw up, the kinder you're treated. Your scapegoater won't take proactive steps to help you succeed but they are happy to provide a safety net when you fail. This is because the scapegoater thrives on "I told you so..." They are affirmed when your actions begin to reflect the negativity they've planted.10.
Sabotaged Scapegoaters can fall anywhere on a wide behavioral spectrum. Although some demonstrate a total lack of interest and engagement in the life of the child, others go hard to actively sabotage any success their target seeks to have. In the later case, normal developmental milestones that your peers enjoyed were met with resistance in your household. If you were presented with an exciting opportunity, they deflated it and present a million reasons why it would fail. The goal is to kill your drive and destroy your ambition. As a result of this indoctrination, many scapegoated children settle to live below their potential and sabotage their own success.11.
The Lure Oddly, as bad as they claim you were, if you manage to escape their control, they will likely attempt to lure you back in with emotional manipulation. They might start with a guilt-inducing angry rant before evolving into a softer, more supportive approach, playing on your desire for their approval. This might be followed by a fictional recounting of history — when they were loving, supportive and always well-intended. They will try to convince you and everyone else that their unfair treatment of you was a figment of your imagination. But you know better...you were there.12. Script Flip If these attempts don't reel you in, prepare for the level 10, code red, frantic fire drill as they embark upon a rage induced campaign of unprecedented petty proportions. Watch as they go hard to convince everyone in their realm of influence that you’re crazy. Stand back as they frantically use every tool in their kit to assassinate your character. Marvel as they cast themselves as victim and magically spin you as the troubled one. Because they are incapable of owning their own guilt, anger and pain, they have to manipulate and project their insecurities outside of themselves. This is precisely why they needed a scapegoat to begin with.If you were the scapegoat of your family, what you have experienced is emotional and psychological abuse. Victims of scapegoating often suffer from addiction, depression, PTSD and/or obsessive compulsive disorders. They might go to great lengths indulging in superficial highs to numb feelings of low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. Because the scars aren't visible, people tend to dismiss it as no big deal but studies show that the effects of excessive prolonged verbal abuse are the most damaging, because the victimizers voice embeds itself into the psyche as their own negative self-talk. This tape is played on constant repeat in the victim's mind, convincing them of their worthlessness and sabotaging any efforts at success. The key to overcoming is changing that tape.As hurtful and damaging as it is, know that your perpetrator was only acting out of their own dysfunction. They, too, were tormented by their own internal recording and feelings of inadequacy. Instead of dealing with their issues, they chose to project them on you. This is how the vicious cycle is perpetuated generation after generation, but here is where it stops! This will not be your story.You can learn to reprogram the dialogue in your head that tells you, "You're going to fail, you can't do it, you're not good enough." Those are lies. The truth is, you will succeed, you can do it and you are good enough. If you're willing to be vigilant and put in the work, you can go on to live a healthy, unlimited and fulfilling life ensuring that your offspring (should you choose to have them) will never have to endure what you've experienced....
Over the weekend, I was having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends. I asked them the question “If you were your ideal man and you met a woman exactly like you, would you date/marry her?”As singles, male or female, we must spend quality time working on our “areas of improvement” and refining them to get to our best selves. Healthy relationships are comprised of two healthy whole people. Health and wholeness begins with you and is reinforced by the environment. No one else is going to make you whole or complete you but Jesus! Notice I didn’t say the word perfect; there are no perfect people or relationships. Being healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically, means constantly checking in and making the necessary adjustments to improve the quality of your life and your relationships.The reality is we attract like energy. What you think and feel about yourself is manifested in your actions, choices and lifestyle. Think about this. Where do gym rats spend most their time? What do they spend most of their time doing? Who do you typically see them socializing with? Do you notice them when they are not within that element? I have quite a few fitness buffs in my circle. They are always spending leisure time working out or doing something fitness related. A lot of the people they spend time with have similar interests; especially their newest acquaintances. When they come around their “regular” friends there are noticeable differences. Maybe they get a salad instead of the nachos. They get vodka tonic instead of a MaiTai. They physically look different. Their verbals and non-verbals tell you who they are and what they are about. The same is true in the dating arena.What you discuss, where you hang out, those with whom you socialize/your inner circle, the career path or job you’ve chosen, the hobbies you participate in, are all a manifestation of your self-esteem and self-talk. They also determine how you position yourself for your next mate. If you are looking for a mate with a giving heart, you should probably look for them in a voluntary service capacity, like doing community service. If your closest friends and family, are non-supportive, negative, competitive, dream killers, judgmental and think small, you likely believe you deserve that kind of treatment, and will manifest it within your romantic relationship — or you will seek a partner that does the same thing. And I’m sure you are thinking “I can’t change mama or daddy or sister. I didn’t pick them” or “I’m loyal to so and so; we’ve been friends forever. That’s just who he/she is.” Well that may be true, but you choose the level of influence and access that they have. Additionally, everyone that has been with us is not meant to stay with us. Bringing negative, jealous, bitter, judgmental folks along for the ride with a shotgun seat will block you from many blessings.Sure, you can influence them with your change of habits, just like being in the presence of your health nut friend may encourage you to make healthier choices at lunch. But unless you are committed to a similar lifestyle change, you will go back to eating what you like at dinner when they aren’t around. This isn’t a "fake it ‘til you make it" thing. Not only do like energies attract, but they also deflect opposing energy. I know from experience within my social circles and in the dating arena. People can bring their representatives for a while, but eventually, they will show you they don’t fit. Also, the positive folks are unbearable for the negative Nancys and Neds of the world. Ever notice how you start out on the same level as someone, but when you have successes or advancements, they disappear, stop answering your calls, have shallow celebration for you or give backhanded compliments? Think about it.So, I’ll ask you the questions I asked my girlfriends:1. What about you is undesirable for your ideal mate?Think deeper than financials, or social status. Where are you emotionally, spiritually and mentally? Are you content? Satisfied? Fulfilled? Broken? Stuck?2. What is keeping you from being that person?Past hurt? Lack of trust? Hopelessness? Betrayal? What have the people around (past and present) been telling you? Who hurt you? What did you tell yourself about them hurting? How can you get closure? See: https://datingwithdev.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/doing-the-work/3. What can you do differently today, to start becoming that person?Hint: It starts with you. Making the decision and commitment to be your best self is the first step.Tips for becoming the person for your ideal mate:1. Be brutally honest with yourself about where you are, your hurts and your brokenness.If you don’t know, ask God to reveal to you the things that are holding you back and to deliver you from bondage to those things. But remember, prayer without works is dead.2. Daily affirm the positivity of your life. Don’t say what you don’t want, but only state what you do want. “Today I choose restoration, peace and positivity. I deserve the best the universe has to offer and I will make decisions to get me to my best self. God, help me to change my appetites and habits for the better.”3. Weed out the bad seeds in your life. Cleanse and purge.Ask God to help reveal the snakes and the Judases in your life and replace them with a healthier social support circle. This will be difficult at first, but practice makes perfect. Some relationships will end forever; those were the ones that were never meant to last. Some will take pauses until you are in a stronger healthier place and have created healthier boundaries. If you say 80 percent of the people in your life have hurt you, then identify the 20 percent that did not and focus on fostering more relationships like those.4. No one likes a dreamer, a bore or a stage five clinger.You like reading? Sewing? Traveling? Gaming? Community service? Cooking? Synchronized Swimming? Politics? Sports? Kids? Join clubs and organizations that are in alignment with your passions, purpose and interests; especially if you feel like you have exhausted the possibility of finding a mate within your current social circle. This also gives you things to do so you aren’t dependent upon a relationship, or your mate, as your sole source of companionship or entertainment.As the old folks say “Baby, get you some business.”5. It’s a process.This is fluid not static. You will do this several times throughout your life, but hopefully it will be a maintenance service versus a complete reboot. So embrace the delays and the...
Exclusive image of me on Valentine's Day.Photo: RedditI'm working. There is coin to be made. Even during the years when I had a man to celebrate the occasion, I found myself writing a term paper or worrying about an upcoming segment to be produced at work. The hype is draining and quite superficial, not to mention, expensive. The best part of VDay, for me, is the discounted candy on February 15th.Archive image of my friends watching me drown my life in chocolate.Photo: MatildaYou would think singles are exhausted on Valentine's Day from the overload of couples proclaiming their love on this special day of the year. No, the lovers aren't responsible for working our nerves. Photo: TumblrValentine's Day means your timeline will become inundated with women making proclamations (or excuses) as to why they're single. In addition to women defending their relationship status, we're subjected to men posting offensive jokes about women who appear to be lonesome. I would utilize this space to embed a few tweets and screenshots, but I'll refrain. No need to poke the fire. Particularly, I see memes of black women who appear in despair because they couldn't find love or a date on February 14th. Where did this myth of "unlovable", unhappy black women begin?New York getting dumped by Flavor Flav?Photo: VH1New York getting dumped by Flavor Flav, 2.0?Photo: VH1Joan Clayton's three-month rule?Photo: "Girlfriends"Beyonce's artistic freedom which somehow translated to a real-life loveless marriage?Photo: LemonadeOr the notion that black women are superficial, money hungry jezebels?And don't forget about the perpetual stereotype that we're mean and too crazy to hold down a stable relationship.Photo: BoomerangBe ye not deceived. Media and modern culture are lying to you. Black women are not jilted lovers.According to data collected in 2009, 53.6 percent of black women between age 30-34 were never married, a slight dip from the 70.5 percent between ages 25 -29. We're not living in the same day and time as our grandparents. Back in the day, couples got married because "it was the right thing to do." And somewhere down the line, traditional marriages (even the shotgun ones) became scarce. Today, couples follow their own set of standards for relationships and family ties, ditching archaic rules of love.Black women are rewriting the rules.We're busy starting businesses like clockwork, breaking world records, and making history, then it's quite possible that love and marriage aren't at the top of goals list. Or, black women do not get married at all.Photo: PreciousFor a variety of reasons, there is a population of black women who will never walk down the aisle. Why? For starters, I can tell you it has nothing to do with desirability. Big businesses are manufacturing black women's features in a bottle to be plastered on a non-black body only to be called "beautiful" and "high fashion". We are the desire. The topic of unmarried black women can go on for days and days. While scholarly journals and relationship experts hone in on the 70 percent of unmarried 20-something black women, the numbers also show that the figures drops to 13 percent by age 55. This figure is eight percent lower than Caucasian women at the same rate. For black women, the lower stats between age groups suggest we are waiting until later in life to get married. And there is possiblity that black women are single and unmarried by choice. The idea isn't too far fetched.Shonda Rhimes gave a surprisingly honest answer about her thoughts on marriage. "I never played bride, I was never interested. I don't know what it is. I never wanted to get married. I love having boyfriends. I love dating. I do not want a husband in my house," she told Oprah during a sit down on Super Soul Sunday.Shonda, with her young daughters in tow, created an entire night in TV while Oprah "owns" a network in addition to a list of milestones in the last three decades. Two powerful black women running things in Hollywood agree marriage isn't for them. At the other end of the spectrum, women choose to juggle career, a marriage and raising children.Photo: OWNIn a 2008 interview with Seventeen magazine, Beyonce admitted that she didn't want to get married too early. "I really don't believe that you will love the same thing when you're 20 as you do at 30. So that was my rule: Before the age of 25, I would never get married."You know how the story goes; Bey stayed on her grind, got married, went a little harder, had a baby, changed the game and is adding two more babies to the mix, while continuously snatching our edges. It's all about intent. Bey intentionally set her career in focus and kept her family goals within reach. One thing remains, Bey and girl bosses like her are invested in their net worth.The same goes for everyday women. We're running things on our own terms. Just because you don't see an Instagram post, cryptic Facebook statuses or a Snap, don't think we're not handling things in the love department. Disney fairytales weren't sketched with black girls in mind. We're writing our own beginning, middle and ends. Sometimes that end is a second chance. If you see a black woman alone on Valentine's Day, don't feel sorry for her or assume you know her plight. Forget what you heard. Rethink what you see. One narrative doesn't fit all. We lead fulfilling lives, with or without a ring. I'm here to tell you, all single black women are not lonely. We're LIT.Better get you one. Photo: Waiting to Exhale Loving Blavity's articles? Sign up for our daily...
My uncle from Canada called me. The first words out of his mouth were not “How are you doing? What’s going on in your life?” Instead, his start-up conversation question was, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” As if that was the most pressing and important piece of information that he needed to know in that moment. I rolled my eyes and replied, “It’s nice to hear from you too, uncle!” I can’t tell you how many well-meaning family members call me and ask me that question within the first minute of our conversation. Once they discover that I'm still very single, the disappointment in their voices is palpable. They then begin to offer me unsolicited advice and promise to pray that I meet someone soon.
In the Haitian culture, not being married or having a serious boyfriend by your mid-twenties is often looked upon negatively and people start to seriously worry on your behalf. I often joke and laugh about this situation with my friends and cousins because they can relate — they also have had to suffer through awkward conversations about their singleness.
Last year, I was in a serious relationship that ended suddenly. It took me some time to grieve the relationship and move forward with my life, but it happened. Although it was hard, I finally got to a place where I not only owned my singleness, I actually, dare I say it, enjoyed it.
However, even though I'm in this content place, I'm annoyed that being single carries with it a certain stigma, especially for black women. In fact, whenever black woman singleness is mentioned in the media, it’s deemed as a “crisis” and the “blame” is put on us. However, the 2010 U.S. Census showed that about 49 percent of black men ages fifteen and older were not married in comparison to about 46 percent of black women. As Author of The Sisters Are Alright, Tamara Winfrey Harris noted, “If discussion of the black marriage crisis were driven simply by concern that the black community had access to the societal and economic benefits of matrimony, then surely time devoted to dissecting the problems of unmarried black men would equal talk about unmarried black women.” But it’s not, and it’s black women who are told to fix themselves in order to be deemed more of marriage material.
But being single is not a problem. I repeat, being single is not a problem. It's most certainly not your problem or my problem; it’s their problem. I enjoy the freedom that I have and my newfound confidence. I don’t wait for others to give me permission to do something or to go somewhere, I give myself that permission.
Although I do want to get married one day, I'm not waiting until then to start being my best self and living my best life. That moment is already here — that moment is now.
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Last week marks a little over two months since my sister died. Most people in my life will be shocked reading this, because outside of a vague Instagram post, I haven't spoken about it. I've been able to hide this from the world, but everything that is a part of me has seen the remnants of it.
The day after I found out the news, I went to work and continued to put in time. I sent my boss an email a few days after, assuring her that I would still be in the office despite the tragedy. I paused for a moment to remember our last conversation; an argument that happened when we were 15. It had been seven years since we last spoke, Who was I to mourn her? I asked myself. Our relationship was years in the past, so I kept going.
I kept going to happy hours, kept working, kept hanging out with friends; I stopped in her hometown for her wake and kept going. I kept going until the damage that was happening inside of me forced me to stop. But, I was restless. I couldn’t sleep at night. I had vivid nightmares. I traveled, thinking my wanderlust would solve my problems. But I felt paralyzed. I became sporadic, careless, to be more precise, and it continued to get worse.
I began to live every day like it was my last, scared that it would be my last, literally. Because when your first best friend dies doing something seemingly normal, how else would you react? But, as it always happens, my mother caught me right where I was. She looked at me one day and said: You’re not dying.
I can look back and laugh at that moment, though it was only a few weeks ago. However, in the midst of this, I’ve learned that we need to pause in tragedy, as well as a few other things:
Death is no joke.
This sounds crazy, but it's not. In a world where death happens so often, especially at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us, I believe that tragic death has become normalized. My Facebook timeline is always filled with posts hoping that someone rests in peace. When it happened to me, to someone close to me, it seemed normal, but it wasn't.
Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself.
A former boss of mine once stopped me mid-conversation and asked me in plain words: "Why are you here?" At first it sounded aggressive, but she was right. I was sick. I could hear it and everyone could hear it (and see it). My response to her was: "Well, I have work to do." This was the same logic that stopped me from taking time off of work after my sister's death. I even worked overtime on the day after her funeral. Nobody stopped me, but they should've.
Family is paramount in tragedy.
When I said I kept going, I really kept going. The day after my sister's funeral I boarded a flight to Europe. I didn't really begin to feel better until I got to spend some needed time with family. That was 5 weeks after everything happened. I've learned that healing doesn’t have to have a time stamp, but pausing to be with your family and loved ones will accelerate that process.
Love yourself by forgiving yourself.
I feel an overwhelming amount of guilt for not having communicated with my sister in the past seven years. She sent me a Facebook message a few years back, but I blew it off. My feelings then were valid. How could I have possibly foreseen her sudden death? I couldn't.
Not all relationships are meant to be held on to.
I loved my sister dearly, but we grew apart. Earlier this year, I wrote about how death changed my perspective on relationships. Now I’ve realized that there are certain cases where this isn't always true.
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By now, you've pulled out your beanies and long coats, and you're probably checking your weather app on a regular basis. But cuddling is arguably the best way to beat the cold while both strengthening the immune system and lowering your risk of depression.
With cuffing season fast-approaching, the draft is now open. How will you go about recruiting for your starting lineup? Or maybe you've already selected a few and now you're waiting to shoot your shot.
All this means is that you still have time and ample opportunity to step your game up. That said, don't make these mistakes when recruiting this cuffing season:
Not setting boundaries
Know what it is before you get knee-deep in it. Know what you're willing to do and not willing to do when it comes to sexual favors, paying on dates and whether you should mention your "situationship" to family and friends. Cuffing season is about making it through the frigid winter cold by keeping your cuff life lit. You don't want to get burned because you didn't go into it with some kind of understanding. Having a clear understanding from the get-go will save you a lot of long-winded conversations come February.
Not taking care of yourself first
Know your status, and know your potential bae's status. Protection is important.
Choosin' up too soon
Don't make the mistake of letting charm and a nice smile keep you from exploring your options. Just know, after homecoming it's time to narrow in on those few strong contenders.
Long distance cuffing
That thing you had going on with your ex back home? Forget about it. Honestly, a long distance cuff is laughable when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees. Like, who's giving massages and booty rubs from 1,000 miles away? That's right, no one.
Choosing someone that lives too close
It's like deciding to date someone you work with, it's not a good look. You want your space when it's time to be alone and miss that other person. Also, you don't want it to be awkward if you don't text this person back and then you run into them taking out the trash or something. Or worse, cuffing season comes to a close and you seem to bump into each other all the time. Just avoid it altogether.
Choosing someone from your immediate circle of friends
This is almost never a good idea, especially if all your other friends are aware of it. It makes things awkward amongst the whole group if things end badly.
Cuffing someone who can't cook
You shouldn't be the only one in the kitchen! Find you someone who's willing to bring you breakfast in bed, knows how to make a decent sandwich, or at least owns a grill. Netflix and chill? More like, feed me and chill.
Making permanent moves for your temporary bae
This means making any legally binding decisions, whatever they might be. Don't list this person as your emergency contact and don't call this person if you need a shoulder to cry on. It might sound harsh, but it's in your best interest not to get to emotionally invested lest you know you it's real.
Someone who doesn't have anything in common with you
What if you plan on cuddling on Sundays and they're really into football? Or if you're really into protecting your energy and your partner has no idea what a chakra is? Really think about it, this is someone you could be snowed in with for days. Find someone with somewhat similar interests that you can actually hold a conversation with.
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Canton hip-hop artist Jean P The MC has been making records for the past eight years. Collaboration projects, mixtapes, albums, live shows, he’s done it all. But what motivates this Ohio emcee? Son of Sherrie is half album/half personal documentary, and when put together, it's a beautiful ode to Jean’s mother Sherrie.
The album opens up with "Crown" and Jean thanking God for another day as he’s heading to work. This sets the stage for where this project plans to go lyrically. This is grown man rap. It's a project from an emcee who’s learned more about friendships, relationships, obtaining success and everything in between. Jean begins rapping and lacing together the metaphor of him being a king. The track ends and we’re met with Jean’s cousin, who speaks on our main character Sherrie and the impact she had on her and her family.
We’re getting the story from a man who’s still young and progressing through life trying to figure it out. We’ve been learning about Jean’s experience through his past couple projects, but with Son of Sherrie, he’s on the other side and reflecting on what those experiences taught him. On “Yesterday,” Jean talks about what’s he’s been through and how he’s garnered more accolades than one might believe. Lines like “thought my peers would still love me and be proud of my success/but life got real and some could care less/Instead they asking me how much money do I make, is this a hobby or for real cuz it’s hard to catch a break” have to be relatable to the listener. Especially in an age when we’re still growing as people and are somehow expected to have all the answers.
Son Of Sherrie by Jéan P The MC
It only shows up as a main theme in two tracks, but there is a common theme of love on this record. Whether in the form of parental love, love we seek in friendships and relationships, the theme is heard throughout. We have tracks like “I Could” that have Jean romancing a woman with flowers, dates and more. The romancing continues on the intro to “Houston,” where Jean and his love interest are about to get hot and heavy. Jean explained in our interview that creating “Houston,” “was special. It was symbolic as 'let me take you out of this world. To the moon, stars and above.'" Jean creates the imagery talking about the process of courting, he even doles out clever one-liners to impress this woman.
Son Of Sherrie by Jéan P The MC
What brings this record to life are the interludes throughout the record. After certain tracks, we get voicemails or conversations pertaining to Jean’s mother Sherrie. My personal favorite was the introduction on “50 Grand.” The person speaking was Sherrie’s best friend talking about how good friends are respectful and to give all people a chance. Everything from anecdotes to life lessons, it’s clear Sherrie left her footprint in many lives. It can be felt throughout this album.
Son Of Sherrie by Jéan P The MC
Son of Sherrie is a beautifully constructed ode to a woman I feel like I know better because of this album. The tunes that surround the interludes show a man who has grown and wants to pass the lessons he learned from Sherrie to his son. The production on this record is simple because it isn’t meant to be the main star on the album. Same with Jean. Although he does rap and is showcasing his talent and skill, he is really just shining the light and honoring his mother, Sherrie.
Have you listened to Son of Sherrie? What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below!
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This week, Black Twitter was once again caught up in a conversation about the lengths to which women will go to get revenge on those who have wronged them in love. What the conversation revealed was the pervasiveness of a culture of dating that requires "by any means necessary" stance on maintaining monogamy.
We’ve all seen memes like this one.
We might have even chuckled at the simultaneous accuracy and absurdity of it all. After all, jealousy and anger are human emotions. They appear in all areas of our lives, including our relationships. For the most part we are able to recognize that acting on these emotions is toxic and brings little satisfaction to anyone involved. But many folks feel think rightfully entitled to throw them hands or enact other kinds of violence in the face of a perceived threat to their relationship. It’s misguided at best, fatal at worst.
Remember when Beyoncé released Flawless*** with the amazing intro from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech on feminism? Remember the part where she said: “We raise girls to see each other as competition. Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.” For some of us, competing for the attention of a potential bae does not stop when we get into a relationship. It begins there. Suddenly we’re engaging in possessive behavior that we would normally shun in friendships and other types of platonic relationships. We’re side eyeing other people, introducing interrogation tactics, going through phones, and tracking iPhones. We embrace “crazy” as a cool part of what it means to care in a relationship. Being a rider means reckless endangerment of our jobs, aspirations and other people. We hope our scare tactics will stop outsiders from infiltrating our love life.
Adichie’s line seems so relevant because what so many of us seem to be missing in adopting the “crazy” bae trope is that it, too, is rooted in oppressive ideology. By feeding into this idea, we are also subscribing to an ownership model of relationships that suggests that our partners belong to us, like personal property. We have a right to our belongings, and a right to defend them by any means necessary. Anyone else attempting to romantically engage our partners becomes a threat or enemy to us.
But here’s the thing, bae is a human being, not a house. Bae has free will and the capacity to exercise good judgement and make informed decisions. Bae doesn’t need defending. Bae needs to be held accountable. You shouldn’t be trying to “keep” bae like an antique. You should be trying to build an authentic relationship that enhances both of your lives. If bae betrays your trust, you have a right to be hurt, but no right to hurt anyone else. That’s not how the game works.
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This Wednesday, September 14, the first episode of the web series MakeUp x BreakUp will premiere. This series will follow main characters Blake and Brooke's relationship after it goes downhill. What follows includes new romances, broken hearts and the general madness that is dating in New York City. Will they survive? You can see how they manage to move forward in the city that never sleeps. Watch the trailer above and look out for the first episode this Wednesday!
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