As Wednesday evening drew to a close, Minty mentioned that Steve Harvey was gonna be on Nightline. I guess I was the only Black woman who didn’t know about this, so I genuinely asked, “for why?” For a discussion on why Black women are single of course. Of course. And since I was gonna be off on Thursday, I decided to tune in.
Y’all. There are no words. And yet there are many words. Other than the fact that I think the media and the man have conspired to keep putting out these stories, so Black women will just kill themselves, thus eliminating the Black race – I also think it’s a shame that these are the voices that are speaking on this issue. I mean W.E.B. DuBois wrote that the problem of the 20th century would be the color line. Ida B. Wells spent a good portion of her life writing against lynching. James Baldwin came with the fire next time.
But apparently in the 21st century, the issue that is most pressing for Black folk is not education, it's not crime, it's not economics - nope. It's why are all these single, successful Black women single? And for the answers. Let's go to the "experts" - Steve Harvey, Sherri Shepherd, Hill Harper, Jacque Reid, and some random dude with dreadlocks. Yes, I think this is what Dr. King was talmbout when he said he had seen the Promised Land – his vision clearly involved a national platform for Negroes to look foolish. Now that's equal opportunity. We done arrived y'all!
But aside from alladat. The one word that kept being repeated was ‘potential’. You just need to find yo’self a man with potential. Never mind that this is never really described – it’s just this vague notion - like ignore that man's bad credit, two baby mamas, and prison record - and pay attention to his business plan scribbled on that cocktail napkin. He has potential! And when an example is needed, well we can just pull out the trusty Obamas. Don't you see, Black women, Barack had potential? Every Black man just might be a President in waiting. Umm…no. As Sherri pointed out – he also had/s a Harvard Law Degree. And dare I say a plan? So, this leads me to repeat a kernel of wisdom I heard recently –
AMBITION IS DIFFERENT FROM POTENTIAL!
I mean in theory, if we are all God's chillun, then we all have potential to be great. But do we all have the ambition to get there? Me thinks not.
But what I have really been wondering about (mainly due to traumatic events that have happened in my own "love" life) is how much can a partner influence or inspire someone to be "great?" Or to fulfill their potential? This is a debate that MJ and I have all the time. I feel like there's a fine line between supporting someone’s dreams and dreaming for them. Here are two examples that come to mind.
Scenario A: Y’all remember how on Girlfriends (yeah I don't have cable), William wanted to be Senior Partner, but he just couldn’t quite get there. Enter Monica. As William remarked, she was the, “right, conniving woman by his side.” First of all she went after him knowing that he had “potential”. And then once she got him, she pushed him. Hoard. Urged him to think bigger. Dream more. Smooth talked her way to having him host that Christmas party for the partners. And then said, “when you become President….” To which he replied, “I could never become President.” And she went on about how he wasn’t built for a life of mediocrity - that he deserved more. So I ask, did he always want more? And just didn't know how to get it on his own? If he hadn't gotten to be Senior Partner, would he have kept pressing or settled? Did she dream for him? Or were these dreams all his own and he just needed her to help bring them to fruition?
Scenario B: My cousin was in his thirties living an aimless life. Waiting tables, drankin and smokin hard, fake taking a college class here and there. Some woman (and because of Bellini’s post this week – I’ll set the table and say she is Anglo) came along and fell in love with him. I mean my cousin is intelligent, funny and has a sparkling personality. But once they got together she was clearly unhappy with his lack of goals. Now while he had kept saying to us, “I’m gonna go to nursing school. I will.” It wasn’t until he hooked up with her and she made her intentions known – marriage and babies and this waiting tables ain’t gon fly – that he actually enrolled in school and is doing great. They are both living with his mama (my aunt), have both stopped smoking, are saving money, and have plans to move to the West Coast where she’s from when he’s done with school and has secured employment. So, did my cousin have the potential and just needed someone to help direct him? Was there ambition hidden somewhere inside him and she had to dig deep and find it? Or maybe it was perculating on the surface and she knew what to do with it. And dare I ask, if a Black woman would have even glanced in his direction if he had stepped (like literally stepped cause he doesn't have a car) to her after clearing her plate from the table.* Heh.
So can you inspire someone to be great? Or must they have a desire (that mayhap they kept hidden from the world for fear of ridicule) and you're the first person to come along and say, 'no you can do this.' But more importantly - I will help you get there. This seems like a very wobbly table on which to build your relationship. And I always thought that true partnership involves both people encouraging each other to swim a river, climb a hill, reach for the stars. And taking turns to give each other a needed push to keep going. But of course that's the ideal. And I don't know if I have time for alladay cause my clock is a'tickin. So, today, I'm gonna be like a Tyler Perry character, soften my skrongness, and find the potential in the gold tooth, kinda short, got three daughters he's trying to get custody of from his crazy baby mama, UPS man, named Jamal. With me by his side, we fina take over the world y'all! Watch out now...
That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
*The only good thing that came out of the Nightline discussion was the following story - that back in the dizzay, Hill (allegedly - I'm still givin him the o_O) whilst he was waiting tables, just tryna get one acting gig, approached Sherri at a Taco Bell. And she said, "you ain't even pull up in nothing. I need a man who's pulling up in something." Sherri tried to explain herself, talmbout she was saving money for a car and was on some 'how we gon' get round on your bus pass?' So she couldn't go for that. So Hill came back with, "but I had potential." Ouch! And the crowd coes wild as if Holyfield has just won the fight. :-)