My respectable negro friends and allies, I do apologize for my recent hiatus. I have finally finished moving into my new apartment (twice in 2 weeks folks)--silence is bliss. And the first week of classes are behind me. Zora should be returning soon, and Gordon has some things in mind as well, so business should be picking up.
We began a contest to win a free copy of Hill Harper's book The Conversation a few weeks back. Much to my surprise, folks didn't seem to want a free book (maybe they were scared to talk about black love--does anyone get my Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown joke? or am I just being self-congratulatory?)
Now, we finally have a first, brave entrant in our contest. Who will join him in sharing their diagnosis of what ails the black relationship?
Here is a (re)introduction to our contest:
In the spirit of the Church of James Brown (wasn't that a fun contest?), we bring you the chance to play ...insert drum roll...
Doctor For a Day: How Would You Diagnose the Problems that Plague Black Male and Female Relationships in the 21st century?
Each of the submissions should have the following format.
1. Tell us what the symptoms are of the patient (i.e. if the Black Male/Female relationship was a patient, what would he/she come to you as the doctor complaining about?)
2. What condition is the patient in? Please use this helpful guide:
Undetermined: Patient awaiting physician and assessment.
Good: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.
Fair: Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.
Serious: Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
Critical: Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.3. How would you cure this patient? And yes, euthanasia is a fair answer.
Our first entry courtesy of Vee (Scratch):
I usually tend to get 10 - 20 walk-ins, but I only take 5 - 7 appointments a day at the Center for Black Relationships Health & Research Studies. I'll tell you about one recent appointment, names will be withheld as per the center's policy.
This couple was particularly odd. The male subject appeared to be intoxicated, possibly on marijuana. His female counterpart was very agitated and could not wait for our session to end, repeatedly stating that she needed a strong drink. Normally I would write off their relationship as being critically unstable but they’ve been able to endure each other for several years, seven to be exact. One time during a heated argument, I noticed the male cringe as if he expected to be hit by the female. This was odd because he exuded many alpha-male qualities except when relating to her. He has been between jobs while pursuing a career in music. The female was working full time, assuming all the financial responsibilities of the household. She complained that although he kept the house clean, organized and cooked great meals, he did not have any real ambitions or plans.
I noted all the complaints and frustrations then I asked them what made their relationship work. She quickly stated that the sexual relationship was great and they have a great time only when they go out together. The male subject simply nodded in his stupor. After pushing him for a reply he stated that he loves her but wishes she was more sympathetic towards his dreams. The male subject offered that the relationship was fine when he was financial supporting her through grad school, but then things changed. Before their back and forth, tit-for-tat argument began to escalate again I decided to stop them in their tracks.
Their relationship is as fairly normal as it gets but they can make it great. They have their highs and lows. No real expectations are explicitly declared and they obviously share different values and morals. I told the male subject that I strongly suggest he begins to learn how to open up emotionally, find a Plan B and to reduce his marijuana intake. I let the female subject know that she needed to respect the man she fell in love with, learn to listen effectively, and reduce her alcohol consumption. Then I told them to quietly list the roles of a man and woman, indicating which were cultural or universal. For the next session, we will discuss the roles and expectation of men and women in intimate relationships. I explained that like many relationships, the repair and growth requires understanding and education. Prior to the next appointment, I insisted that they participate in our Communication 101 workshop. I let them know that I thought they had hope for a great rewarding relationship; it all depended on how much time and work they invested in making it flourish.
Please note that this is one example, not indicative of the majority of Black Relationships. I’ve had many cases that informed me that despite what the statistics, surveys and op-ed pieces in major media outlets say about this subject, our relationships are not monolithic and are determined by a variety of factors like education, religion, culture, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. I must admit, while there’s a cause for concern, through focus, education everything will be fine.