Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Why Venus and Serena will not Support a Movie Disrespecting their Father

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Venus and Serena Williams have chosen to withdraw their support for a movie that chronicles their rise from Compton to their current super stardom as tennis and fashion “it girls”.

As is characteristic of the Williams sisters, they have not been vocal about the documentary nor their reasons for not supporting it. It is being reported that Venus , specifically, is the one who saw the movie and did not approve of how it depicted their father, Richard Williams. Venus is said to have requested that the movie makers make some changes to the movie because it suggested that their father was too controlling and even suggested that he was a womanizer because he allegedly has other children that he had out of wedlock. Even after the changes, the sisters have still chosen not to support the movie.

What I respect about the Williams sisters is that they are standing by their father even though that could mean a dent in their pockets. We can not know for certain how much of what the movie is suggesting about their father is true, but I reckon that even if it were all true, the sisters would still refuse to support it.

The lesson that I am drawing from the sisters is that a man does not have to be perfect for you to love him, respect him and be loyal to him. In fact, if that were the case, none of us women would be able to love any man!

I was born and raised in Botswana and am now married to someone who was born and raised in the U.S. so I have had the privilege of observing how our two cultures agree and how they differ. What I love about the stance that Venus and Serena took is that it reminds me of what I grew up experiencing and what in my observation is slowly slipping away in the culture that I have now become a part of, American culture.

A strong family unit is sustained buy BOTH a strong man and a strong woman. It saddens me to continue to see Black men and Black women throw mud in each other’s faces instead of recognizing each other’s short comings and stepping up to support and encourage each other where the other falls short.

I am not saying that we should be entirely accommodating of each other’s bad behavior, in fact, I believe that we should all hold each other accountable. That being said, I believe that we can hold each other accountable away from the public eye. In Tswana (from Botswana) culture, it is common for a woman to disagree with her husband and even at times give him a “tongue lashing” but as wives, we are advised to do so away from the public eye, preferable behind closed doors and preferably behind the bedroom door.

Too often I hear women complain about how “sorry” some men are and they list all the things that they have failed to do. While all that may be true, what good does it do him, or anyone, for that information to be taken and splashed across the tabloids? What good would it do if a movie was made and the movie showed a man’s shortcomings? Yes, there may be a few dollars to be made, maybe even a lot of dollars, but is it really worth it? I say: no.

I can’t be certain what part Oracene Price, Venus and Serena’s mother, played in their decision but I reckon she has a similar feeling about the situation. I reckon she raised her daughters to love and respect their father, even though her relationship with him took a different turn that what I imagine they had originally intended.

I am a woman so I can directly say this to my sisters: If you ever wonder why “brothers won’t commit”, consider that maybe they have lost confidence in marriage because women like Venus and Serena are so rare nowadays. Maybe they don’t believe that they can find a woman who will see all their shortcomings and rather than use them to attack and bring them down, that woman will be a supporter and encourager.

For all we know, every piece of dirty laundry the movie wants to air about Richard Williams could be true.We do also have to consider, though, that maybe it is not. What we do all know is that Richard Williams has invested a tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears into his daughters. Yes, they are talented and skilled but I don’t believe that they would have achieved international tennis stardom had it not been for his investment in their lives. That, I believe is what Venus and Serena choose to focus on and celebrate.

Should we hold our men accountable and tell the truth? Absolutely, but a movie premier is certainly not the time and place to do so and I applaud Venus and Serena for recognizing that and standing on that principle.


Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

Originally Posted at YourBlackBloggers

Nomalanga: So what if First Lady, Michelle Obama, wanted to leave?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I recently read an article at the online version of the Daily Mail titled “New book claims Michelle Obama prepared divorce papers to separate from Barack – leaving him so depressed friends feared he’d kill himself”. My impression of the article is that, much like the book it is referring to, it was written to tarnish the names of President Obama and First lady, Michelle Obama.

My comment, on Facebook, in reaction to the article was as follows:

“So what? In the last 7 years, I have packed a suitcase a time or two-what of it? Although they wrote this article to “air the Obamas’ dirty laundry”, this actually makes me and others respect them more. They are normal people who, in spite of everything, have sustained their marriage AND won the Presidency!”

The reason why I responded this way is that I feel that anyone who has been married a significant amount of time or is close to married couples knows that all marriages go through different phases; some easy and some not, hence the common phrase “for better or worse and through thick or think”. This phrase is often included in many vows, on a couple’s wedding day, specifically to reiterate that couples should not view a “rocky” time in marriage as a time to leave.

My own experience, having been married for over seven years, has been that when things get “rocky”, the urge to leave can become overwhelmingly strong but that does not give me or any married person, not even the first lady, a reason to leave. I believe that those difficult parts of the journey are the very parts that will teach you more about yourself, your spouse and will ultimately elevate both of you to a higher level of spiritual enlightenment.

The Obamas have admitted that in the past they did go through a rough patch but that they patched things up and grew closer together. Although the details of the Obama marriage trials, assuming there was some truth in them, were revealed with what I perceive as malicious intent, I and a lot of other people are both encouraged and inspired by the Obamas. They are modeling, among others, one great lesson: Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Many women look at Michelle Obama and wish they could have a wonderful husband and a wonderful marriage like hers. What I am drawing from the Obamas’ experience is that that level of success is not something that happens by accident. The problem with glorifying the Obamas and their relationship has always been that it made them seem “special” but now we see that they are just normal people, much like the rest of us. What sets them apart is their courage, discipline and an attitude of Never giving up on yourself, your spouse or your marriage.

Nomalanga: Three Questions to ask yourself before Divorce

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Less than a year into marriage, I experienced what I now call the “reality” phase. Anyone who has been married for a while knows exactly what I’m talking about. The “Reality” phase of marriage is when you start to come down off of the honeymoon phase of the relationship and start to really see your partner for who they are rather than the fantasy that you were projecting onto them.

Just as I was processing this rather confusing phase, I had a conversation with one of my “sisters” who, at the time, had been married for about eight years. What she shared were three major things that tend to affect marriages either negatively or positively. In other words, if you pay attention to these three “things”, you can sustain a happy marriage but if you neglect these things, trouble is inevitably around the corner.

I am generally an advocate of marriage; partially because I was born and raised within the confines of one. (Side note: My parents have been married for almost 40 years).

That being said, if you have neglected any of the three “things” I feel that it is possible to give each one attention and restore your marriage, rather than head to Divorce court.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are we Communicating well?
Many times what couples think are major problems, are actually small problems buried in a series of miscommunications or no communication at all. Unless you have developed the skill of effective communication and are able to resolve conflicts and problems through effective communication, you have not earned your way out of the marriage. Rather than head to divorce court, explore ways to build your communication skills.

2. Are our finances in order?
My husband and I love to joke that we need to make sure that we get our finances in order because “broke people fight”. Now, I’m not sure where the saying “broke people fight” comes from but like most jokes, it has an element of truth in it. When finances are in order, there is a level of security that can quickly disappear if they are mismanaged. If you get to a point where your finances are a mess, rather than head to divorce court, put your heads together and explore strategies to restore the financial well-being of your family.

3. When was the last time we were “intimate”?
“Intimacy” is a topic that many of us shy away from because it is uncomfortable for some people to discuss. That being said, if you are not being “intimate” with your spouse, you’re trying to glue two pieces of paper together and omitting the glue. Before you head off to Divorce court, get creative about “rocking his world” (or hers). One thing that I would add to this is that many women ask, “what if I just don’t feel like it?” Well, I’ll tell you like I heard it jokingly said, “Sometimes you just have to take one for the team”.

As I approach our 8th anniversary in marriage and reflect back on my own marriage and those of the people around me, I can honestly say that what my ‘sister” told me all those years ago was marriage saving advice. That being said, none of the three “things” apply if you’re dealing with a partner who is abusive, is dealing with an addiction or is chronically unfaithful. Even these serious issues are not cause to end your marriage but they are certainly issues that need addressing though professional or spiritual intervention.

At the end of the day, a problem in marriage is no longer just your problem; it is the possibility of your children growing up without Both their parents or the shattering of a community that was partially bound by your marriage or another case of giving up on your own personal development journey which your marriage was facilitating. Make a decision, today, whether you are already married or not yet married, to ask yourself these questions so that you can stay married. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t let your spouse down. Don’t let your children down. Don’t let your family and your community down. Stay married.

Mindful Mornings: What kind of person are you?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

People move towards people who energize them and make them feel good about themselves and about life. It therefore follows that people move away from people who drain them of energy and make them feel bad about themselves and life, in general.

I once heard television personality and Psychologist, Dr. Phil, ask a very simple question: “Are you any fun to be around?” Ask yourself this question constantly and consistently and you will know what kind of person you are; the one people move away from or the one people move towards.

Diary of an insecure Black Man

Friday, May 11th, 2012

By Jamall Calloway

Ok, fine, I admit that I’m intimidated by you. Are you happy now? I would have admitted it sooner, but you never gave me the chance to admit it to myself. You never gave me the opportunity to ponder on my reasons for not approaching you; you just declared in your mind that my hesitance must be directly correlated to your greatness. After all, you got it going on, right? You’re beautiful. You’re ambitious. You’re everything that anyone would want, but in your mind I haven’t approached because I just can’t handle how beautiful and ambitious you truly are, right? Well, my dear, that’s only partially true, and while I have your attention, allow me to tell you my truth. Allow me to tell you why I’m intimidated by you and why approaching you is so hard for me.

In all honesty, it’s not you. It’s the idea of being rejected by you. I, like most humans, am still afraid of rejection. And who isn’t? I have been rejected before and am clandestinely haunted by that feeling. So, I live guarding my self-esteem, doing whatever I can to evade that feeling. Try to understand that the possibility of your rejection has the power to make me feel low simply because of my distant admiration of you. When you admire something, especially from a distance, sometimes you just want to sustain that admiration without tainting it with the possibility of harsh reality. I’d much rather listen to “Just My Imagination” (1971) by the Temptations over and over again and dream about you reciprocating my attraction than to hear you say you don’t. And as you can tell, I’ve already made up in my mind that you’re going to say no, so I’ve decided to say it for you without even speaking to you. There is no need to go through this scene because I’ve played it countless times in my head. I nervously approach you – you ruthlessly reject me. Therefore, I’d rather you be a secret crush than another name added to the list of those who turned me down.

Now, the second reason I’m intimidated is related to the first, but it has more to do with me, by myself, than it does with you in relation to me. Get it? The second reason that I’m intimidated is because underneath my confidence, behind my good looks and next to my promising career, I’m honestly insecure. You’re a gorgeous woman who can date whomever you please. You are brilliant and beautiful. So what makes me think I have a shot? Sure, I’m handsome, but so are most of my friends. I know I’m educated, but these days – a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. And yes, I have promising career, but so do you. And if I’m right about you, none of those things really impress you in the end. They matter, but they’re not all that important. So what do I have to offer you that none of these other gentleman have? Me. And sometimes, I still struggle with wondering if I am enough.

The third reason you intimidate me is because you haven’t fallen ill to the “I’ve found the only good brother left” syndrome. These days, I don’t have to subscribe to normative gender roles and performances that assert my role as the aggressor in romantic encounters because so many women approach me. Due to the shallow numbers of black men in graduate school and/or my career, I’ve grown accustomed to sisters vying for my attention. It’s the new version of tokenism. I’m the only black man here, and if you want a black man, you should compete for me. Someone once told me that (in heterosexual relationships), “No man can have any woman he wants, but he can have every woman that wants him.” So I play the field, date around and enjoy the single life until I am forced to commit to someone or until the one I really like – really, really like – pays attention to me.

And for some reason, you haven’t paid attention to me or you are awaiting my first move. And I haven’t made a move yet because, honestly, I really like you, but I’m afraid of rejection. I’m insecure about myself even though I hide it under pseudo characteristics of confidence. And I’m no longer used to pursuing the woman I want because most pursue me. You personify the mythical perfect black woman who has it all together, but what makes me think you’d pay any attention to me? So yes, in all honesty, my dear, you got it; I’m an intimidated black man.
Source

Boyce Watkins: Why Black Women Can’t Find a Man

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I watched an ABC News special the other night featuring Steve Harvey, Jacque Reed, Sherri Shepherd and my homeboys Hill Harper and Jimi Izrael. The show covered a tried and true topic that is sure to get sky high ratings from the black community: The topic was, Why successful black women can’t find a good man. I am not going to risk bringing on the wrath of black women by saying things that some of them may not want to hear, but I have to be honest about what I saw on this show. Let me just cut to the chase and lay the issues out one-by-one:

1) Why are black women taking relationship advice from Steve Harvey? Not to disrespect Steve’s ability to drop knowledge, but isn’t he a comedian? If we are taking relationship advice from a comedian and our relationship turns into a joke, who do we blame in the end? Bottom line – perhaps learning how to love another person means that after you put aside the book by the comedian, you should go out and buy a book by a relationship expert.

2) Most good women have little trouble getting married to decent men: One has to be skeptical of the beautiful, intelligent, fully capable woman who simply says that she can’t find a good man anywhere. Most women I know who are well-balanced and who also appreciate the idea of respecting men in the same way they would like to be respected, have no trouble finding suitable mates. Sorry to break this to you, but the only constant variable in your relationships is a person called YOU.

Rather than pointing the finger at the world, a bit more introspection might be called for: perhaps you have to reconsider your laundry list of expectations or wonder if you’re not doing a good job finding men who are open to commitment. It’s easy to find a man, just not easy to find a man who is willing to be with you and you only; a lot of brothers simply play the field and allow you to buy an emotional lottery ticket, hoping that you’ll be the one he selects in the end. You may be fishing in the wrong ponds in the first place or using the wrong bait to catch the fish you’re bringing home.

3) If you want something bad enough, take a class: There are classes on relationships and marriage out there that don’t cost much money. If you are determined to be the best mate you can possibly be, it might make sense to take a class that explains all the subtleties and challenges of making a relationship work (not just the counseling you get from your pastor). A relationship is not about a mate fulfilling your long and detailed list of needs and expectations. The bottom line is that if you hope to receive more, you must first fully commit yourself togiving more. Some of us are taught that we should expect the world and not offer anything in return: that’s a perfect recipe for getting dumped.

4) Big mistake – always chasing the alpha male: I know a lot of “regular guys” who are unable to find a woman that is interested in being with them. This is especially true in their mid-twenties, when everyone is single and living fancy-free, with little expectation for long-term commitment. Some of the women these ”regular guys” are interested in are not paying them much attention to them, mainly because the woman has become enchanted with the dream-like alpha male in her life: the guy who fits every single portion of the checklist (height, income, education, toe nail length, swag, etc.), but who may not be available for a monogamous, long-term relationship. What many women seem to forget is that there are some men who always have room for another woman on the roster. If you’re wasting all your time with the lying, cheating, super dog, you might miss out on the chance to be with the man who will love you forever and father all of your children. He may not come in the same package, and by comparing the two without considering the differences in what each of them offers, you may be passing up on your opportunity.

5) Relationships should not be a pissing contest: One of the by-products of many black children growing up in single parent homes is that their relationships become highly contentious. I once saw a neck swinging, energized woman say, “I need a man who can handle me!” What I wanted to tell her is that your man should not have to “handle” you as if you are a wild bull with his testicles sewn together. The act of love is a process of being open, feeling and sharing, not trying to dominate one another. So, if you need to be “handled” in your relationships, realize that you are likely going to only attract men who are mean, rough and insensitive enough to handle you effectively. In fact, you’re not searching for a mate, you may be actually looking for a pimp. Fighting and domination is not the same as love – let’s not get it twisted.

6) There’s nothing wrong with a few gender roles: Sherri Shepherd, during an especially volatile segment of the ABC News show, swung her hands around in the air saying, “I don’t have time to validate you every day!” – referring to the fact that she doesn’t feel that it’s her job to make her man feel good about himself on a regular basis. What’s interesting is that most women want their man to make them feel beautiful and to feel like a woman. So, why is it not acceptable for a man to expect his wife to make him feel like a man? A man doesn’t want to marry another guy – or rather, a woman who feels that any and all gender roles are an insult to her feminine independence and also expects the man to be willing to be regularly emasculated. It’s O.K. to make your man feel like he’s THE man, a king and a leader. A good man will surely return the favor and make you feel like a beautiful woman.

7) Let’s be real- many men aren’t as excited about marriage as women: As much as we want to believe that men grow up fantasizing about their wedding day the same way that many women do, the truth is that this is not the case. Many men see marriage as a frightening commitment that will cause them to be vilified for actions they can engage in without consequence when they are single (notice the millions of dollars that Shaquille O’neal and the rapper Nas have paid to get out of their marriages – every man gets petrified when he reads these stories).

A woman who gets her husband is the one who makes the man WANT to be married: she let’s him feel free, strong, needed, loved and supported. While this may seem to be a primitive concept, the reality is that the reverse is true for sex: Men and women both want it, but men know they have to work just a little bit harder to “get some.” They’ve got to buy flowers, take the woman to dinner, and make her feel comfortable. It would be silly for a man to think that a woman should buy him flowers and beg him to have sex with her. The converse is true for marriage – where getting a man to overcome his anxiety is a great way to get him to give you what you want.

I love black women: My mother, daughter and grandmother are black women and there is not a more precious group of women on the planet. But the truth is that this “woe is me, black men ain’t sh*t” attitude has to be replaced with something more constructive. If not, we’ll be having these same forums 20 years from today.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the book,“Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Nomalanga:What we can learn from Martin Lawrence’s Divorce

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It is being widely reported that after less than three years of marriage and 13 years “together” , Martin Lawrence and his wife, Shamicka Gibbs are getting divorced. Apparently, the couple had been together for 13 years and had two daughters together before they decided to tie the knot in 2010 and now it’s all over!

This is a very interesting trend that I have noticed does not only plague Hollywood couples. We see it all the time; two people who date for a very long time and are seemingly happy together decide to get married and end up getting divorced soon after-the relationship that they had before they got married lasted longer than the marriage.

I was just having a Facebook discussion in which I suggested that the lesson that can be learned from a lot of these unfortunate “train wrecks’ that they call marriages is that when people get married, especially after dating for a long time, it is important not to suddenly come up with a new set of expectations.

The way I put is was this: When people get married they change their expectations but the truth is you can’t live with a “dog” for years and then hope that after the wedding it will stop barking and start purring like a cat. It is a dog and it will continue to bark. If you wanted a cat, you should have married a cat.

Now, just to be clear, I’m NOT saying men are dogs-okay? What I am saying is that when you date a person, the time that you spend getting to know them, should also be time spent setting up realistic expectations for a long term relationship. Obviously, there will be small, maybe even major changes after you get married. A great example is that you will start to live together, assuming that you were not already. These kinds of changes in expectations are normal and reasonable. You cannot, however expect that a person will morph into a different and maybe more “responsible” life partner just because you both said “I do”.

Maya Angelou has been known to say, “When people show you who they are, believe them”. So, when you date a person, this is the time that they will show you who they are and that is the behavior upon which you should set your expectations. If their behavior while you are dating is unacceptable, marriage will only compound the degree to which you find their behavior unacceptable.

Again, the lesson is simple; if you want to marry your “honey”, understand that the way your honey is when you’re dating is basically the way that honey will be when you’re married.  If you marry him (or her), don’t ask him (or her) to change and certainly, don’t expect them to.

It would not surprise me to find out that this is precisely what went wrong with Martin and Shamicka. I reckon that Shamicka married Martin and thought that when they got married, he would change and she was disappointed to find out that he didn’t and probably wasn’t going to. And now…Divorce.

The Unmarried, Single, Pregnant Gospel Singer: What This Says about Black Women and Safe Sex

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Le’Andria Johnson, the winner of BET’s “Sunday Best” Gospel singing competition, recently revealed that she is unmarried and pregnant. Does this invalidate her status as a role model or has it become par for the course among African American women?

In the video below, Dr. Boyce Watkins speaks with YBW contributor Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses about the status of black women, safe sex and appropriate role model.
Source

Kevin Hart’s message to “Strong Black Women”

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Funny man, Kevin Hart, has allegedly  taken to cartoon illustrations to get his message across to black women about their attitudes. In the cartoon, he shows a group of black women rejecting a black man’s friendly greeting and then goes on to show the same black man walking with a white woman. The funny part is that the same black women who rejected him are then angry to see him with the white woman. The following words are written at the top of the cartoon: Being a “strong black woman” does not mean have an attitude.

What is interesting about this cartoon is that even though Kevin hart is being funny, there is an element of truth in his joke. I have often heard the angry ramblings of black women when they see a black man who has chosen to date or marry a non-black woman. He is often accused of hating himself or hating black woman or some variation of a negative opinion of his choice of partner. Of course, not all black women are angry or even care when they see black men with women of other races but it can’t be said that Kevin Hart is entirely wrong for pointing it out.

What Kevin Hart’s cartoon did fail to illustrate, however, is that there are black men who have such a deep seeded loathing for black women that they will date anyone except a black woman! Most of these men do not date non-black women necessarily because they have been rejected by black women, but instead because they have taken the worst stereotype of black women and draped it all over ALL black women.

At the end of the day, we can keep accusing each other of “selling out” or suffering from self loathing but the numbers still speak louder than any of us can. There are too many broken homes in the black community and a lot of our children are not being raised in happy, healthy and functional two parent homes. An open dialogue needs to take place about how we can begin to bring those statistics down and maybe people like Kevin Hart, although doing it through humor, are doing their part in opening the doors to the dialogue that needs to take place.

Do We Sometimes Seek Out Abusive and Disappointing Relationships?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

In the video below, Dr. Boyce Watkins and Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses ask whether or not many African Americans are using the wrong formula to build their relationships.(The audio on my end has an echo but is still audible).

Originally posted at Your Black World.