“I’m going to tell you a story.” That was the line said by my favorite character, Mr. Nancy, from the TV show, “American Gods.” I’m going to start this joint off with a story. Once upon a time. See, the story is good already. Once upon a time, your man Rom was at a singles party. It had a fitness theme. We would do some group exercises, some eating of supposedly healthy foods, and finally phat bootied sistas would back it up on the dance floor. During one song I was sitting it out. It’s not like I got any rhythm anyway. I defy that stereotype about Black men being great dancers. Anyway I was sitting there chilling and there was a sister sitting next to me as well. There was no danger of me asking this sister to dance. In a room full of phat bootied women she conspicuously lacked the requisite roundness on her derriere. She was a wearing a jacked up weave that looked like it she had it done in her cousin’s kitchen. Her glasses were on crooked. I’m not saying she was ugly, but her look encouraged abstinence. Nobody else being around I decided to be polite and engage her in conversation. Why did I do that?
We small talked for a few minutes and then she did what sistas generally do at functions where Black professionals were gathered. She asked what I did for a living. I told her and since it was corporate she seemed impressed. Then I told her what I really wanted to do which was be a writer full time. Then this unfortunate looking women said something that stuck with me to this day. She said, “How can you support me as a writer?” I gave her a diplomatic answer because I didn’t want to have a nigga moment in front of some bourgie folks. Plus I was eyeing a phat booty sista on the dance floor with this ugly bamma. In my mind though I was thinking, “Bitch we just met.” There was a bigger lesson in all of this.
A big problem with Black relationships is the narrative of “me” versus “we.” Even though some Black men are thinking in terms of “me” it is really prevalent with Black women. Everything is about the Black woman’s needs. She is worried about what a Black man or any man for that matter can do for them. She’s concerned about how much money he’s going to spend on her. If he has status she is concerned on how that status is going to make her look. If he looks good she is concerned about how having him will make her look in the eyes of her peers. Everything is “her, her, her.” To be honest I don’t have a problem with that. We all look out for our self-interests. The problem is that many women are not thinking in terms of what they are giving to the men.
Many women have a long check list of what they want from a man. When you ask these same women what they are willing to give to a man they feel like all they have to do is show up. Indeed many feel like they don’t have to give a man anything. As one woman sincerely told me, “What’s his is mine and what’s mine is mine.” That’s a problem.
One sided relationships do not work. The root word of relationship is relate. The nature of the word suggests two or more people interacting with other. The word itself implies that there is a back and forth. A woman cannot think in terms of “me, me, me.” It’s the same thing with men. In order for two people to relate the thought has to be “we, we, we.”
The reality is that when two people come together they are sharing time, space, and activities together whether it’s sex in the bedroom, going to an art museum, or chilling on the couch. It can’t be what one person wants to do all the time. That’s what a parasite does. In sharing time together there will have to be compromises. Each person will have to give something. Sometimes they may have to do things just to please the partner. At some point the partner will have to reciprocate.
The give and take is what is needed for a healthy relationship. A mentor mentioned to me that relationships that used to last three years now last three months. That’s because instead people thinking in terms of “we” it’s now about “me.” If people are serious about changing the state of male/female relationships there has to first be a change in our current narrative.