Give a Brother a Break
Hi Chele,Serial lurker here. I'm a 22 y/o guy, college student in DC. I found your blog by Googling "What do Bougie People do?" Your blog came up five times on the first page. Hat tip for cornering the bougie market :). Anyway, I had the oddest thing happen to me over spring break and I wanted to share and get your thoughts on it.
I've been seeing a girl (Cheyanne) since just before Christmas. She is very attractive, funny, intelligent and focused. When we started dating she kept saying over and over again how she didn't usually date guys like me. I thought she meant tall, handsome, smart, a catch in every way. (I'm joking but I'm not modest haha) Things were going well. She's from Charlotte and I'm from outside of Charleston so we drove home for spring break. I stopped in to meet her family and was supposed to stay for a few days.
When we pulled up to her house she said not to worry if her parents didn't like me at first. I really couldn't think why except for the fact that I was dating their baby girl. When they opened the door and saw me, their faces fell and then I knew. I was dressed well, hair cut, and hadn't even said anything. They were all light-skinned, I'm very chocolately.
I introduced myself and reached out to shake her father's hand and he hesitated and then shook it. Her mom took her into the other room and I could hear them talking. Her mother distinctly said, "He's too dark for you. You know how things are." Cheyanne said, "I know but I really like him." Her father waved me in the house and walked away. I turned around, set her bags inside the door and left. She called three days later and apologized. We got back to campus a week ago and I haven't decided if I'm going to see her. I want to see her but I'm not sure I should.
It never occurred to me that colorism is still an issue to this level. Racism yes, colorism though? It's one thing not to want your daughter to date outside the race but outside the skintone too? She had mentioned an Indian heritage and being able to trace her family tree back to colonial days which I thought was cool but not if it means her whole fam is about not diluting the bloodlines with any darkies. WTH, Chele? Have you ever seen something like this before? I really like this girl but I don't think I'm ready to be her exotic experiment.
|Let Daddy have a day!|
So… speaking of professional male athletes: there are approximately 462 NBA players, 1760 NFL Players, 800 MLB players and 720 Hockey dudes. I don't know from golf, soccer and boxing but let's just round up and say that in these here United States of America (and a few parts of Canada), there are approximately 5000 current professional athletes and who knows how many retired. To hear folks tell it, every last one of them is a megalomaniacal, wife-beating, gun-toting, sex fiend who can't save a penny, speak coherent sentences or look beyond their personal bling.
Before I get into my personal experiences, I have to point out that I've been amazed and unamused at the sweeping generalizations attached to that group. Maybe because as a single black female, I've seen that kind of random media bias and subsequent shade-throwing up close and personal these days? The caricature of the spoiled, rude, 12-baby-mama-with-all-the-drama rich boys is perpetuated because that's generally the story the media focuses on. (Don't get me started on Basketball Wives) It's sexier to talk about Plaxico Burress shooting himself, Ricky Williams smoking pot and Dwayne Wade's divorce than to talk about the 400+ foundations, charities and kids' camps currently attributed to professional athletes.
There is a movie coming out May 14th that I'm fairly excited about. It's "Just Wright" starring Queen Latifah and Common (rise of the rapping actors, FTW!). Official synopsis from Fox Searchlight: Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is a straight-shooting physical therapist who gets the gig of a lifetime working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight (Common). All is going well until Leslie finds herself falling for Scott, forcing her to choose between the gig and the tug-of-war inside her heart. Oblivious to her romantic overtures, McKnight is instead drawn to the affections of Leslie's childhood friend Morgan (Paula Patton), who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife. Is Leslie destined to play the role of "best friend" forever or will Scott finally see that what he always wanted is right in front of him?
One of my least favorite reviewers (who shall remain nameless because I refuse to send traffic to his site) said he thought the movie was way too bland. He felt that the main characters have been stripped of personality and he couldn't buy Common's character because he "is the nicest, safest, NBA player in history. I mean c'mon a nice and considerate NBA player?? Here's an idea…what if the film had made him an arrogant, loud mouth, annoying person (with maybe a baby momma somewhere) to hide the fact that he's an insecure, lonely person afraid his glory years as a player have passed him by? You know a REAL person."
For real tho? Have you met any players… in like… REAL life? Or are you stereotyping based on what you've read? Glory days as a player? Most athletes have 3 – 5 years of a career (if they're lucky) and then they're done. 72% of those playing never reach star (let alone superstar) status. If you knew you could only do your job for three years and then you have to do something completely different… that might change your outlook.
I've had the interesting life experience of knowing, dating, and hanging around professional athletes for years. Being bougie in nature, I was never one to gawk or jock. I never have been nor ever will be any flavor of groupie. To me, they were just guys with high-profile jobs and more change jingling than others. Of course I've seen the good, the bad and ugly. But I've seen a lot more good than bad and ugly. There's something that happens when you start depositing checks with nine figures and have a microphone in your face morning, noon and night. It doesn't happen to the athlete, it happens to the people around them and then the athlete is forced to react. The dynamic gets strange when people begin to think you're important because of how you move/protect/deflect a ball. Not everybody reacts well to having long-lost cousins call you up for bail/house payment/random loan at 3:00 in the morning, having your mother steal your credit cards, having your housekeeper put your personal items on eBay behind your back, having random women whip out their breasts and say "sign these" – all of these are stories that I have witnessed personally. Now if you don't have a strong foundation and support system, all of that is going to do something to your head. As one athlete said, "We're grown-assed men playing little boy games. And that we get adored."
My point is - selfish jerks with problematic lives are everywhere. Some have money and high-profile jobs, others do not. If regular Joe has a bad day, two people hear about it. If Superbowl Joe has a bad day, it's YouTubed and leading on ESPN Sportscenter. I'm in no way excusing the bad behavior that we've seen exhibited by some athletes (and the women that chase them). I'm just going to say it's not easy. These guys work incredibly hard. Even the most naturally gifted athlete has to maintain his athleticism, learn the nuance of his position and deal with all the extra stuff that comes along with being a multi-millionaire before 40. I know, I know – boo-hoo, he makes $52 million and has to work for it. I'm just saying… your paycheck probably isn't published on the Internet. Your performance at work isn't witnessed by millions and presumably, no one spits on you and threatens to burn your house down if you make a mistake.
I've had the pleasure of being around athletes that were grounded, those that planned for the future, kept the drama at a minimum and had an idea of who they were when the lights weren't shining and the game is gone. So-called "good men" trying to do the right thing for themselves and their families. I've also been around those other cats and just stayed out of their way. The same way not all men cheat, not all professional athletes walk around with an inflated sense of self.
I've also had the interesting phenomenon of being judged because I dated professional athletes. As if there is only "a certain type of girl" with a "certain kind of look" and an agenda that spends time with those guys. I'm going to call bullshiggity on that whole thought process. I've literally met a guy, he finds out the name of a guy I used to date and all of a sudden he's looking at me in a different kind of way. Le Huge Sigh.
Long post short? Stop hatin' on athletes unless you know some that have done you wrong personally. And even then, quit painting them all with the same brush.
Oh, and go see the darn movie. It may be watered down but that makes me happy. When we can have romantic comedies starring African-Americans that are just as so-so as those starring Caucasians – we're come a long way. And by so-so let's talk about anything starring that chick from Grey's Anatomy (27 dresses), half of Julia Roberts' (Duplicity) and Meg Ryan's (French Kiss) movies, that last movie with Sarah Jessica Parker (Did you hear about the Morgans) and something awful I saw with Amy Adams (Leap Year). I think we deserve the chance to be equally "just okay". I can't wait to check it out. Most of the folks I know that have seen advanced screenings enjoyed it. I personally love a BougieTale of romance up on the big screen.
So BougieLand, thoughts on the professional athlete? Have I altered your view of them and the women that date them at all? Who's planning on seeing "Just Wright"? The floor is yours.
I'm not going to critique or rant (any more) about the shibacle that was the Nightline FaceOff: Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? For a great overview and breakdown, check out Melissa Harris-Lacewell's post at The Nation. Here's a sneak preview of the brilliant insights she shared:
The serious, interesting and sensitive social and personal issues embedded in these statistics were hijacked by superficial, cartoonish dialogue that relied heavily on personal anecdotes and baseless personal impressions while perpetuating damaging sexism. Wednesday night's program was co-hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and ABC News Nightline Correspondent Vicki Mabrey and welcomed guests Sherri Shepherd ("The View"), Jacqui Reid (journalist), Jimi Izrael (blogger) and Hill Harper (actor/author). Like other discussions in the genre, the Nightline special began with the Disney-inspired assumption that marriage is an appropriate and universal goal for women. Any failure to achieve marriage must therefore be pathological. With this starting assumption panelists were encouraged to offer solutions without needing to fully articulate why low marriage rates are troubling.
Clearly, I've gone in on this topic over and over again. I'm all talked out. Apologies to those who suffered my rant on Twitter last night, I'd had it up to here. There was nothing fresh, nothing new. Ladies raise your standards but not too high. Date outside the race. Have you thought about dating your plumber or an ex-con? Oh and if you meet a man at Taco Bell who pulls up on the bus, snap him up - he may be the next Hill Harper. One ninja said his woman should make him feel like Super-freakin'-man. Really, sir? Are you gonna make me feel like Wonder Woman?
Woo-sah... Instead of re-hashing all of my grievances, I'll just call on DMX, yes dammit – DMX the growling troubled rapper. Here's the cut…
Okay then, here's the deal. It's hard to say why this person or that person isn't married without peeling back individual and societal layers. There's no "one size fits all" cure to answer the question. AND I honestly believe that talking about it this much just makes it worse. I'll tell you what helps… blogs like this (said modestly) – a place were grown folks can talk openly and honestly (both the men and the women) and see that there are good, attractive, viable folks out there. And that happy successful relationships and marriages exist.
Another issue with the show: I guarantee that if we took an informal vote right here and right now NONE of the women would have elected Sherri Shepherd or Jacqui Reid as our spokespersons NOR would the fellas have picked Steve, Hill or Jimi of the tragic clothing choice. As a matter of fact, find the poll at the bottom of the post. Hill Harper made the most sense though he came up side-eye worthy a time or two. But all his bougenificence was drowned out by the flat-out no-buenoness of the entire event.
How about a show about getting out and meeting real people, staying optimistic, getting yourself together while you search? (Not a reality show, please. We need no more flava/rock/ray j of love) Some might find that marriage isn't your ultimate goal and it's enough to find someone to chill with. But I guess that wouldn't make sexy TV?
Where's my show about the long-time happily married couples and HOW THEY DID IT? (I would TOTALLY watch that) What about the ladies and gents who opted never to marry and are GOOD with that? Where's that show?
So my problem with the continuing dialogue about the SBF as downtrodden victim is that it simply doesn't encompass who we be. The dialogue about the cheating-ass black man who can't commit obviously doesn't reflect who we be. Women who date gangsters and men without ambition is not the end-all-be-all of who we be. I resent a panel of comedians, reporters, actors/authors and I don't know WHAT to call Jimi "I still wear Garanimals" Izrael spouting the same old yada-yada without representing WHO WE BE. We be (artistic license, folks) smart and dumb, greedy and selfless, needy and independent, desperate and satisfied, weak and strong. Above all else, we be survivors. We be human. Start with the flaws in the human condition, then make us black, then make us single, then make us female or male and let US decide how we feel about that.
I blame us for this to a point. Those of us that still watch this stuff, support those books, call into those shows and go to those seminars. We are feeding the monster. Believe me they would shut all this shiggity down tomorrow if it wasn't making money. So I'm asking each of you to think before you buy, watch, join things. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? I'm officially done. Not one more post, rant, tweet about the overexposed plight of the single black woman and the men they can't find. Officially over it.
ABC, step your game up. And any other media outlet determined to beat the poor dead horse – if you're going to cover it, please come with something new that is solution based and positive. Come at me with degreed experts, not entertainers. Bring me stats, stories, witnesses and a good news story. Show me that you know who we be. Or just say nothing at all.
The floor is yours. Comment as you will.
At any rate, I will congratulate a man for getting a job in this economy. Way to get your hustle on, Mike!
(Sigh) As if Philly fans needed more excuses to bring out the crazy.