Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama: Success Measured and Achieved - Maybe?

By: LeVoyd L. Carter
November 10, 2008
©2008 All Rights Reserved

For me, the election of President Obama has already positively changed the world and what history has and will say about the ability of African-Americans to compete, contribute, lead and excel in every noble field of human endeavor. Over the next four years, how will you measure President Obama's success? Equally as important, while he works to reshape our nation's presence and credibility on the world's political and social stage, how will you support President Obama as he strives to achieve his challenging agenda over the next four years? The microphone is on - so speak!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tough Times - Five Simple Suggestions for Surviving Uncertainty

By: LeVoyd L. Carter
September 30, 2008
©2008 All Rights Reserved

With all the chatter resulting from the mortgage debacle, bailout initiatives, the threat of recession, loss of jobs and soaring foreclosure rates, all of a sudden the world seems much smaller. As Congress debates about the bailout of banks that participated in predatory lending practices and earned billions as a result of these practices, what do you do now? Well here are a few suggestions.

First, take a deep breath and center yourself. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the ebb and flow of emotions that result from the actions and opinions of others. Refrain from the temptation to participate in the endless and rambling “gossip” that can raise your stress levels and negatively impact your health. I’m not suggesting you don’t socialize, but when you do, be aware of how you feel and fight to maintain your balance and clear thinking during tough times.

Second, take a good look at what’s going on in your world. Write down what you need to work on, change or disregard (including those toxic acquaintances) so that your home and personal life in uncertain times are a bit more stable and secure.

Third, make well thought out and wise decisions about your resources and what steps to take next. For example, if you have an older car and you have been considering whether to buy a new vehicle, STOP! Take a good long look at the car you have. Can you roll with it for another year or two – especially if it’s paid off? Maybe set aside some funds for maintenance and repairs. Don’t rush out and buy a new vehicle and in doing so, request new debt so that you can drive the bank’s new car for the next four to six years while you pay off your new loan. Besides, due to the lack of stability in the current financial markets, owning a car is already costing a lot more. As fuel costs skyrocket, is an added car payment and increased insurance rates a sound decision? Again, during tough times make wise and well thought out decisions that result in the stabilization of your home and preserve your peace of mind.

Fourth, get involved. Heed the wake up call - All Politics are in Fact Local! For example, now that Congress is debating the economic bailout of banks, insurance companies and other mega-corporations, do you know who represents your interests? Did you research the candidates who asked for your vote so that they could hold either a local, state or congressional seat in order to represent and influence debate and decisions made on your behalf? If you are like most American, the answer is, “No.” All elections are important, including city, county, state legislative, judicial, congressional and presidential. Don’t allow yourself to ever be in the position most of us find ourselves in now and too often – that is, frustrated and having no one you are confident in to truly represent your interests in the debate and decision making process. Sitting on the sidelines or in the crowd while this real game of life is being played has real consequences and is no longer a practicable option. Regardless of your political party, economic status, religion or other legal affiliations or classification, exercise your right to vote and hold those who represent you accountable for their decisions made on your behalf.

Last, recognize that tough times don’t last for long. Take this opportunity to create new fond memories as you spend more quality time with your family and close friends. As the fever of hard times and uncertainty purge our unbridled negative habits, work on forming new positive habits that yield positive results. Exercise more, cook and eat right, volunteer in your community and make a decision that no matter what, your thoughts and actions will prospectively yield a positive outcome in your personal life and in the lives of others. Be well!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today! Right Now! Make a Decision to Lead a Better Life!

Make a positive decision!!! The act of living involves an ongoing day to day series of decisions. Where we find ourselves today, is the result of decisions that we have made at some point in our lives. Yes, these decisions have been influenced by external circumstances and obstacles. However, they have also been influenced by unhealthy cravings that tend to lead to detrimental decision making. These negative decisions impact every aspect of our lives (i.e., health, finance, family, community, education, employment, religion, and etc.). As we struggle individually and collectively to find and maintain a work-life balance, we often times consciously and unconsciously make decisions that only serve to quench that immediate urge without thinking of the long term cumulative impact and consequences. As a result, I challenge each of you to help me change that - Right NOW!!

In order to make us all aware of our day to day decision making, I challenge each of you to make one deliberate, well thought out decision that you can implement right now, that will positively impact you.

Please share with us your decision. Why it is important to you and how it will lead to positive immediate, long term and/or cumulative results. Remember, keep it simple, measurable and achievable. Thank you for sharing!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Through the Viewfinder: Are Our Eyes Wide Shut?

By LeVoyd L. Carter II
©2007 LeVoyd Carter II
All Rights Reserved

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I recently had the pleasure of spending eight days in Washington D.C. I enjoyed all of the normal things that make D.C., such a wonderful city - the architecture, museums, restaurants, shopping and etc. All that I could “see” I actually loved of the city.

Among various places, I visited the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which was filled with many morsels of treasured history that all Americans should experience at least once. I was personally moved by how well documented the Civil War and the participation of African Americans in the same are captured. It is the accessible documented history of my ancestors living, fighting and honorably dying for the God given right as human beings to be free from the man made shackles that enslaved their flesh.

The images inspired me to pickup my camera and to start photographing D.C. as best I could in such a short period of time. As I may have shared in a previous writing, for me to look through the viewfinder of my camera is to silence the world around me. As I look through the viewfinder to compose my photographs and before pressing the shutter release button, I began to focus on the simplicity of D.C. while eliminating all unnecessary distractions. My mind intuitively began to process what my eyes and mind had obviously seemed to ignore prior to me looking at D.C. through my viewfinder. What was before me was astonishing.

There was a history in the process of being made, but not necessarily being recorded for display in the hollowed halls of a marble clad museum. The pictures that were being framed not to hang on any ones’ wall of honor were of homeless men and women making tents out of soiled blankets they had collected. Others slept on the stone and concrete retainer walls throughout the city that maintained finely manicured lawns and colorful arrays of plants and flowers. As the money flows daily in excess through the nations capital on beer, liquor and wine, extravagant dining, shopping and etc., [and yes, I indulged] many of these individuals ate from trash cans, suffered from the visual characteristics of drug abuse and withdrawal and the signs of mental illness. Why had I not seen this condition and reality prior to looking through my viewfinder?

As I continue photographing, a dear friend said, “You should take pictures of the old churches because they will be gone in a little while.” I didn’t quite understand what she meant until I saw this little boarded up dilapidated church in a strip center struggling to represent and find its place among the government buildings, Gothic museums and monuments, liquor stores and strip clubs. Like the lily growing from the crack in the concrete sidewalk, the little church is struggling to stay alive, preserve its historical honor and fulfill its present purpose while contributing to tomorrow’s history in a way that may not be remembered, recognized or valued. This is especially true for both the rural and urban churches found in the oldest of predominately black neighborhoods*.

As I looked through the viewfinder, I saw people from different backgrounds and nationalities hoarded like cattle each morning with the pensive looks of disgust, displeasure and disappointment etched into their faces. What were they thinking? Why does everyone seem so unhappy, sad, insecure or angry? Is it now taboo to be pleasant? Is smelling the roses a sign of weakness or dishonor?

Have the rigors of day to day life in an attempt to survive really taken a toll on how we view ourselves and how the world views us as Americans? Have the endless failed wars, “war on terrorism”, “war on drug”, “war on poverty”, and all the other politically motivated declarations caused us to lose sight of what life is really about (living, experiencing, being happy, leaving a legacy and etc.) and how “we” individually and collectively can positively contribute to this world?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I only know that when we look at the vastness of the world, our cities and towns and our personal environments with our eye wide open, we tend to miss and take for granted the beauty found in a blade of grass, the smile despite on the face of a homeless person despite their predicament, the innocence of the child finding a momentary priceless treasure in playing peek-a-boo with a stranger or the rejuvenating power found in each breath of fresh air we experience. A history is being made everyday and each of us is an active and contributing participant in the same. How will you contribute to our history?

As for me, I want to make a positive difference everyday. When I am viewed through life’s viewfinder, I want to genuinely convey joy, laughter, positivity (in words and actions), compassion and empathy, vibrancy and generosity, appreciation and humility. When I become a permanent part of tomorrow’s history, I want to make sure I leave a lasting impact that is positive and leaves this place much better for me having been granted the blessing of participating in and to an extent molding a positive life and history. One day when my legacy is seen through the viewfinder, my earnest expectation is that what is seen, experienced and remembered will be that which is good, pleasant and inspiring to the eternal spirit of mankind – as the same continues to forge tomorrow’s history.

Exercise your power to live and experience life to the fullest! Craft, mold and write your own positive history through your thoughts, words, deeds and actions! Remember, you never know whose looking at you through their viewfinder. Peace and Blessings!

*See Eddie S. Glaude, Jr, Exodus: Religion, Race and Nation in Early Nineteenth- Century Black America (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000)

Images by LeVoyd L. Carter for Joseph Alexander Photography
©LeVoyd L. Carter II 2007 – All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Power of Effective Communications in Life, Love and Relationships

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There is a great deal of power to wield by each of us if we would continuously focus on being effective communicators. No matter what your passion, chosen profession or who you consider your friends, associates or colleagues, one of the tools each of us can have and use to maximize each situation, circumstance and opportunity is effective communication.

I will use myself as an example. When the stress of the challenges in my life pushes me to my perceived breaking point, I have developed the bad habit of focus, retreat and isolate. As I focus on eliminating the source of my stress, I tend to retreat and isolate myself from my family, friends, love interests and etc. In other words, I lose myself and my ability to effectively communicate during this period of time which usually does not exceeding a week or so.

During these periods of time, it is very difficult for me to return phone calls, to plan and hang out with friends, family and love interests. All that I basically do during these interludes is focus on eliminating the stressors. It is ironic because the saying, “Cat got your tongue”, seems to literally apply to me when I enter this coping mode. For many years, I have been able to get away with this approach to striking some form of balance in my life. However, recently I lost what could have been a long term friendship at a minimum with a wonderful person because of my withdrawal and isolation – coupled with the lack of effective communication.

I guess, as a means of explanation and not excuse, I am no different from many men who want to fix every problem that presents itself in short order. Sometimes I find myself offering unsolicited advice in an effort to fix a perceived problem that may not actually exist. Well (as I laugh at myself), in this correspondence I am simply suggesting that there has to be an effective way to
communicate to those people we care about and value in our lives, even when we are experiencing periods of stress, high anxiety and crisis.

As intelligent and cognizant individuals, we are normally equipped with the power to feel another person’s pain, loneliness, joy and etc. This empathy leads us to react in such a manner that either allows us to amplify and/or share in a person’s emotional state and respond accordingly. That being the case and mildly understated, it is important that we make the effort to effectively communicate with those who are most important to us, as life continues to throw its stressors at us. This is especially applicable to those special people in your life who have grown accustom to your calls, hearing your voice, being in your presence and being comforted by simply knowing that you’re there.

Why? Well, the lesson I recently learned is that while you are pulling away or as I like to describe my coping actions as focusing, retreating and isolating, others are reacting to your unusual and, arguably, selfish behavior. Sometimes family and long term friends can overlook the non-customary and unpredictable spurts of behavior, accept it as the norm, while allowing love to serve as a bridge that fills the gap when communication and physical presence are lacking (the enablers).

But, what happens when a relationship is new and beginning to take root and form? Can a relationship after a short time withstand a period of coping replete with silence, absenteeism, and seemingly a lack of empathy? My initial response to this question is that each relationship is different and as a result may produce different outcomes. However, in my situation described above, I lost a dear person because I was not an effective and consistent communicator over the course of several weeks. In addition and in retrospect, my lack of affirmative communication

actually sent a very powerful message to the other person in my relationship. In a nutshell and among other negative things, the messages I sent include the following:
1. You are not important;
2. You are not a priority;
3. You are of no concern or consequence;
4. Your feelings do not matter;
5. You are to be at my disposal;
6. You are to engage me at my will and pleasure; and
7. You are to be communicated with only when I want to communicate and when it is convenient for me.
Does this sound like a message you want to convey to a family member, friend, colleague or anyone for the matter? From my perspective, that answer is a resounding, “NO.” Nevertheless, as the sayings go, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and as such, this law when coupled with the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” make perfect sense.

In my situation, I was totally oblivious to the fact that my actions of “focus, retreat and isolate,” had a very real and compelling negative impact on my young but very important relationship. In fact, the reaction to my resurfacing and attempting to communicate and reconnect was met with little to no enthusiasm (rightfully so) and the tables had actually turned (equal and opposite reaction). I could not get in, I could not find that conversation I had grown to expect and enjoy and the companionship I then longed for was all but gone. Are you wondering why? If you answered yes, then by all means read on.

My friend took the time to check on me and to make sure I was alright. She also made it very clear that she would waste no more of her life in idol chit-chat waiting for my next stressor to present itself. In my opinion, her actions were a sign of sheer intelligence, courage and self-preservation, despite how painful it may have been. Some readers may think or feel as if she were selfish and should have been there for me as I emerged from overcoming my obstacle(s). I may have felt that way initially as well, but in hindsight, I disagree. Every action, inaction or omission sends a message or a communication. I basically told her during my hiatus, that she was unimportant to me. No matter factually how untrue that message may have been, it was the message that was conveyed loud and clear – not from someone else, but directly from me via my action, inactions and omissions.

I lost a friend and companion because I did not take the time to make a five minute phone call once a day (despite how difficult I may have found it to be). I did not ask a person I cared about to join me for a bite to eat, despite the fact that we both needed to eat. This is unacceptable behavior. As a result, when I asked the question, “Where do we stand,” her response was justified although it caused me great anger, anguish and confusion. She responded, “I have nothing for you.”

The reason I am sharing this message is because each of us must take an inventory of the relationships that are important to our lives. Realize that just as life, the people and relationships that are important to us can be here today and gone tomorrow. Will you be left with fond memories or deep regret? Nurture your relationships because they are frail and easily broken. Unlike me, the relationship you could lose due to neglect and the lack of effective communications could be with your parents, children, siblings, spouse, etc. These relationships are far too important to neglect and possibly lose.

Take the steps necessary to learn how to be an effective communicator – especially in times when life throws you unexpected stressors. Build up your reservoir of empathy and compassion that can be tapped into via your unique tool of effective communication. Last, manage your life and your relationships so that you can live life happy, fulfilled and most importantly with no regrets. Call to action – Exercise everyday the power of effective communications. Be well.

Article By LeVoyd L. Carter
©LeVoyd L. Carter II 2007 – All Rights Reserved.
Acknowledgements: R. Benton and K.Walker thank you for your honest comments and contributions to this writing.
Image by LeVoyd L. Carter for Joseph Alexander Photography
©LeVoyd L. Carter II 2007 – All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Love & Relationships in the Black Community: A Roundtable - Part III

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Question 3 to the Women: What does the traditional notion of a man being head of household mean to women in general and to you in particular?

Fair Lady: The idea of a man being the head of a household appeals to me in particular and I assume women in general. It's the word "traditional" that raises the red flag. The "traditional" head of household carries a lot of negative connotations, stereotypes and whispers of "you're setting yourself up to be oppressed, squashed, silenced". In our take on tradition, I think we've moved away from the real meaning of what a "head of household" is. I believe the head of household is the person who evaluates his home, sees the strengths and weaknesses of all family members and maximizes the strengths to benefit the whole. I heard Rev. Freddy Haines once say that the word "husband" is derived from the band that was once placed around homes to keep them together, to keep it from falling apart. My husband will be the head of the household and whether society likes it or not, the role of the husband keeps the family together or allows it to fall apart.

Lovely M: The traditional notion of a man being head of a household was used many years ago when men were the sole financial providers and the women were expected to stay home and handle domestic duties. In today's society, both parties work to contribute financially and thus share the responsibilities of domestic duties. Marriages are a partnership where both parties are working as a team. However, there is still a thin line when it comes to the term "head of the household". As a woman, this is just "one" of the many roles that we play when dealing with men. Women know how to work with men and let them think, believe and even assume that we are just assisting in the decision-making. In today's society "head of household" is simply a term for tax purposes!

Bonita D: General, being able to handle all finances and having the final say in all matters, being submissive. Particular, understanding that God is the head and all decisions should be prayed upon. A woman has no problem submitting when she is in right place w/God. Also understanding that the truth should be head.

Tamika M:The traditional sense of male as head of the household means: First, he must lead his family to Christ. Next, he must lead his family towards growth and bettering their lives and community. If you're a Christian, the definition really shouldn't change. It's not just about dollars, it's about dollars and sense!

Donna: I do not consider this a traditional notion but a directive from God. It's biblical. I believe the failure in many marriages is the man's inability to embrace this and the woman's inability to allow him to embrace it. If you choose to marry a man who is unable to be the head, then you chose wrong and need to be a helper to him instead of a leader.

Kelly: He is the king of my home. He nurtures, takes care of, and provides for his family. He is the teacher and leader of the home. He shares the responsibility of taking care of the home understanding that his wife is not his footstool but his partner.

Question 3 to the Men: Does the perceived strength of black women intimidate men in light of our common history, struggles and experiences?

: No, I don't think the perceived strength of black women intimidate men . . . and the operative word is MEN! Males that are intimidated by a successful woman really can't be called a "Man" in the truest sense of the word because a real man wants a real woman - that is, a woman who isn't looking for handouts. She's bringing something to the table. She's capable of handling her business, she has goals, standards and values. She can hold her man up just as much as he can hold her up.

Anonymous Light: The legendary strength of black women does intimidate some men, but it also spawns a false sense of independence in some black women - in that they feel they only need men for children, or that they don't have to negotiate and compromise because they are more than willing to raise children by themselves.

Christopher: Strong black women don't intimidate me!!! They irritate the hell out of me!!!! They have been taught that they don't need a Man. Too controlling for me!!!! A black woman not recognizing her position in the relationship or household is an issue for me. When a woman tries to be like a man in a relationship, that will never work. That would never work because a woman just can't be like a man. If I had a woman like that, she would be alone most of the time or she would have to share me with a submissive woman. I have to feel needed. If you don't need me, oh well, Goodbye!!!

Chris M: I think it has more to do with the man being "weak" or the woman being "overbearing" or ignorant to what a man - her man may need.

Satchel: I don’t think that it is the strength of black women that intimidates black men, given our collective struggles and experiences throughout history in this country. Many black men were raised in single family households by their mothers. Rather, I believe that it’s an improper understanding on either part of the unforeseen social, political, and economic forces working against the principles of collective work, family unity, social equality, and acceptance between black women and men. It is of no surprise to me that statistically black men have a far lesser chance of gaining a promotion within corporate America than our women, resulting in a significantly lesser compensation, resulting in a warped perception of the social roles within the family. Further, many men have become overly aggressive, dominant, and angered because of this perceived social role change, that it has created imbalances within the families, resulting in higher rates of divorce and separation. Competition has proven to be a healthy motivator, when properly channeled for the ultimate benefit of the family. However, this disparity triggered by certain social sciences has created within the black family a great rift, further contributing to the breakdown in communication between black men and women in the family.

****Chime in and let your opinion be heard by clicking on the comments button below. Please forward the link to this discussion to your family, friends and/or anyone you think may be interested in the topic. Thank you for your continued support!!!****


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Love & Relationships in the Black Community: A Roundtable - Part II

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Question 2 to the Women: Is money and security the only thing women want from a man? If so, why not say so?

Fair Lady: No. I do not believe that money and security are the only thing women want from men. But, yes, I do want security and I say that with love, honor and respect that I trust my husband will embrace. The fact that he is “security” is a statement of his wonder, his greatness, his power and my confidence in him and His favor with our Creator. Security means being held tightly when you’re not holding up well, being loved deeply when you’re tormented by Life’s shallowness, being caressed when you’ve been emotionally kicked, taking off the 9-5 mask that smothers and breathing in the 24-7 “I’ve got you” transparency, building a home within the four walls of your house and knowing that you can make love and create life when the statistics and circumstances whisper your death. It is the security of who he is not that makes it revolutionary to surrender, holy to submit and a yearning fulfilled when I can yield. It’s knowing that he trusts me with his dreams, is confident of my character, finds me worthy of his vulnerabilities and powerful as his prayer partner. It’s security when we say, “Glad you’re home,” and mean it.

Lovely M: No. I want emotional support, quality time, a best friend and to be loved.

Bonita D: No. Like me, most women my age have their own money; but, I still desire a man and would never utter the words that I don’t need one. We do want to feel protected. Security is very important and we want to know that he can handle his business.

Tamika M: I can’t speak for all women, but money and security aren’t the only things that I look for in a man. Still, I’ll be damned if they’re not important. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and if I can make short term sacrifices for long term gains then I expect the same from my man. Besides, just over 100 years ago our ancestors were still slaves. They got beat or were killed for learning to read, write, count and etc. Meanwhile, the glorified priorities for our generation is running around using bad grammar to seem, cool, aspiring to be hip hop moguls, or athletes and glorifying name calling and smacking each other on the ass.

Donna: No. As a woman who is financially secure and comfortable with being along, a man in my life is there to compliment it, not pay for it. He will need to be financially secure himself as I do not lend money to men. As for security, a woman should always feel secure around her man and in being with her man. If she does not feel like he will do anything in his power to keep her safe than he may not be the man for her.

Kelly: No its not but it's important. The way a man budgets and takes care of his money shows how much he will take care of you. If a man is frivolous in his spending, he cannot effectively take care of his household. This is a let down for many women because we are left to be both the bread winner and the housekeeper. This is too much when the responsibilities of the household are suppose to be shared. Security is extremely important though. When a woman feels secure she knows that she will be taken care of and that she is not in the relationship alone. Security is not always tied to financial gain but it can also be connected to a man's ability to be on time or consistent with what he says he will do. This too is a source of security.

Question 2 to the Men: Why do men choose to abandon their children?

Keenan: I’ve come to believe that this belief is more propaganda than truth. I think many men end up looking like “absentee” fathers because of the women that are mothers to their kids. Quite frankly, many women (but not all) are just plain ole difficult to get along with without kids. So they are damn near impossible to deal with when kids come into the picture simply because they know they have the upper hand via the family court system. Now granted, there are lots of “deadbeat” dads in society (I know this 1st hand), and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for raising the children to the best of their abilities – because they should. However, I don’t feel the majority of fathers are actually choosing to abandon their kids. Rather, they are being forced out of their kids life because the mother is using the child(ren) as leverage, as pawns, or as an 18-year-meal-ticket, or for whatever other reasons, to get back at (get over on) the father when things go wrong in the relationship, especially when it’s a man of financial means.

Anonymous Light: Again - no easy one-size fits all answer. Some men have poor values and priorities – period. Some women on the other hand push their children’s fathers out of the picture for emotionally immature and unfair reasons. There’s enough blame to share.

Christopher: Great question – I did not have my father in my life. My father told my Mother that he was not ready to have a baby with her but she insisted . . . Guys do tell women that they don’t want that responsibility . . . or there are signs to show her that this man is not ready for children . . . many women just refuse to listen to them . . . women are dreamers (hoping and wishing that when the baby arrives that he will change his mind). The end result: I was left fatherless.

Chris M: Those who choose to abandon their children are merely “adult males” and are not to be mistaken for “men” in any way shape or form.

Satchel: I can’t conceive of any legitimate reason why a man would abandon his own seed, but it happens more often than not. However, with that being said, many men have abandoned their children for a number of reasons, one of those being infidelity on the part of the woman, and another is to escape his own lack of responsibility in dealing with the mother legally, emotionally, socially, or mentally. Unfortunately, the child(ren)’s well-being and development is arrested in a sour relationship, thus bitterness keeps the child(ren) from receiving the best of the two parents, whether together or apart. The children become the victims of circumstance. The weapon of choice of either parent is malicious intent to do the other harm unfortunately. Lastly, many men ditch and dodge the mother of the children to avoid dealings with the legal system. We have not had a great deal of support on any level of the legal system. Therefore, some men choose to run and hide, rather than stay the course and fight for their right to be an active parent and enjoy the fruits of their offspring.

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Love & Relationships in the Black Community: A Roundtable - Part III

Love & Relationships in the Black Community: A Roundtable- Part I

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Summary: I recently participated in a Black Women's Health Summit created by Bonita Clemons, M.PH, in Columbia, South Carolina, where women were given the opportunity to ask black men of various ages and backgrounds questions about love, relationships, family and etc. No questions were off limits or out of bounds. I decided to continue this positive and eye opening discussion by creating a virtual roundtable to include you and a limitless number of virtual participants. I asked both black men and women to provide me with questions that they most want answered honestly by the opposite sex. As a result, the questions presented to the roundtable participants were necessarily different. I presented the questions for the most part as the questions were presented to me. The answers received have varied greatly and are truly the sum total of each person's life experience and observation. This roundtable will continue in various parts until the discussion, including additional questions and comments come to a natural conclusion. Thank you in advance for your participation and comments. Together, we can exercise our collective POWER to put the urban legends and myths about Black Love to rest and ultimately heal and restore the Black family. Thank you.

Please forward the following link to this discussion to your family, friends and colleagues.


Profiles of the Female Participants (Some have chosen not to include their real names):

Fair Lady – Age 37, Entrepreneur; Education Level – Masters; Single; Straight; Born in Kentucky; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Lovely M – Age 30, Reading Specialist, Education Level – Masters; Single; Straight; Born in Minot, ND; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Bonita D. – Age 41, College Professor; Education Level - Masters; Single; Straight; Born in Anderson, SC; Resides in Columbia, SC

Tamika M. – Age 30, Civil Servant; Education Level – Masters; Single; Straight; Born in Columbus, GA; Resides in Washington, D.C.

Donna - Age 36, Government; Education Level - Ph.D Candidate; Single; Straight; Born in New York; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Kelly - Age 25, Program Coordinator/Researcher; Education Level - Masters; Single; Straight; Born in Cali; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Profiles of the Male Participants (Some have chosen not to include their real names):

Keenan – Age 35, IT Specialist; Author; Education Level - BS – Business Management/Master IT; Single; Straight; Born in Macon, GA; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Anonymous Light - Married; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Christopher – Age 36, Professor; Education Level - Master Computer Science; Single/Divorced; Straight; Born in Washington, D.C.; Resides in Atlanta, GA

Chris M – Age 35, Counselor, Author, Entrepreneur; Education Level - BS; Single; Straight; Born in Brooklyn is the Planet; Currently Resides in Atlanta, GA

Satchel – Age 33, Engineer/Massage & Bodywork Therapist; Education Level - BS Industrial Engineering & Clinical ED. Massage Therapy; Married; Straight; Born in Atlanta, GA; Resides in Snellville, GA

Part I:

Question 1 to the Women: Why Do Women Cheat?

Fair Lady: I believe for personal validation. It’s an act to “prove” to oneself or the other person that you really are worthy of love, affection etc. . .

Lovely M: Women love. Our love is so powerful that we are able to continuously forgive. However, we are unable to forget. Women cheat when they find themselves emotionally disconnected from the other person. Cheating often stems from infidelity, continuous disrespect, neglect or simply being taken for granted. Women cheat when they have completely exhausted all possibilities of caring if the relationship works. It is unfortunate that many women stay in a [relationship] because they feel a man validates them so they cheat until they secure a new [love interests]. This comes from fear of not wanting to be alone since we have all heard stories of how all of the good men are taken.

Bonita D: Women sometimes like men for the wrong reason. Sometimes they want to Love them for the right reason. When a woman is totally into her man, cheating is the last thing on her mind. When a woman is cherished and challenged, she won’t cheat - but if she is missing one of the two she may. We are good for having a good man and cheating on him and we also are good for wanting the man that doesn’t treat us the best – he is a challenge and we need that.

Tamika M: Women cheat because they feel cheated.

Donna: Women cheat because their partner is cheating on them. They are insecure in their relationship.

Kelly: I believe there are many reasons that women cheat (1) lack of self-worth and not loving yourself, (2) not feeling loved or validated, (3)lack of a father figure to show you what real love is and how a man should treat you, (4) and for some they just cheat because they're looking for sex with no strings. These circumstances place many women in a role of not caring about themselves and as such don't care how someone else treats them even when it comes to being disrespected.

Question 1 to the Men: Why do men cheat and are all men naturally unfaithful?

Keenan: There are many reasons why a man would cheat, probably as many reasons as there are men in the world. Yet, while I think the “reasons” are many, I also feel the CAUSE is few. Actually, I believe it boils down to one raison ď etre: Lack of SELF-CONTROL. At the root of all infidelity, “lack of self-control” is the underlying impetus that runs through the veins of all men that cheat. And no, I don’t feel men are any more naturally unfaithful than women are naturally faithful because marital studies reveal that infidelity occurs just about equally between husbands and wives: 46% and 40%, respectively.

Anonymous Light: Men cheat for a number of complicated reasons – just as women cheat for a number of complicated reasons. Neither sex is naturally unfaithful . . . although the social costs for men “cheating” is much less than those for women. This is one of the reasons that 33% of children submitted for DNA testing turn out to NOT be the child of the alleged father – even when children from married couples are tested.

Christopher: Why do men cheat . . . . . . . it is very difficult for me to answer this questions because I myself DO NOT CHEAT!!! I guess it is due to my high school learning lesson on cheating: I cheated in my younger days of high school and in return the next girlfriend I had cheated on me. Call it Karma. “What goes around comes right back around” and it hurts, badly, so badly, that I vowed to never cheat again. I also don’t cheat due to disease out in the world – HIV and other STDs. I have never had any STDs and don’t want any. So, I remain faithful and committed to ONE woman. Out of all my 20 years of dating I have never cheated neither have the women that I have dated (at least not that I am aware of . . .) I am pretty confident that they didn’t. My past break up(s) were due to religious/financial differences. Most guys that I talk to though, say that the reason they cheat is because they are missing something in the relationship. There is a void!!!! I ask why not communicate that “VOID” to your woman? Why not give her an opportunity to fill the void? If she chooses not to make the change or at least compromise, then its time to move on and leave her where she is. [This is not the time or a justification for men to cheat.] She is who she is and if she takes no action after you have communicated your desires, move forward. Most men get what they need and are fulfilled in a relationship and STILL CHEAT. Why? Because [their position is] why should I communicate to her and mess up a great thing and do you know the ratio of men to women here in Atlanta [insert your city] are so high – she is just going to have to share me. Some men are just plain greedy!!! That greed will catch up with them soon!

Chris M: Some do because they want to. Some because they are pushed to. Some because they can. I don’t have a clue why the men who cheat do. I don’t. I’d rather break up with a woman than cheat on her. I’m pretty serious about my Karma. But having never been married I can’t really comment on that aspect of it since one cannot just up and leave as they see fit [in a marriage].

Satchel: In my humble opinion, I believe that some men cheat to satisfy their unmet needs, wants, or desires, which often stem from a lack of willfulness of either partner to lovingly communicate with each other their respective motivating forces in the relationship. Further explained, sex alone as a sole qualifier for infidelity or unfaithfulness, in and of itself, is not the ultimate reason that a man chooses to step outside his relationship. Rather, it is the unmitigated validation and unconditional acceptance the man seeks from his woman with respect to his spiritual, mental, physical, and social role within the relationship that drives him to be completely faithful, or unfaithful in the union. In answering the second part of this question, I believe that all men have the propensity to desire a sexual relationship with another woman, if that alone constitutes unfaithfulness, even if the thought is not physically acted upon. In my opinion, we men seek specific qualities in a woman that drives our innermost desires. 1) The woman’s potential to bring out our best and most successful qualities; 2) The woman’s ability to deal with difficult matters with sound reasoning and a level head; 3) The woman’s level of education, whether it be formal and/or through exposure to the greater world community, and lastly; 4) The woman’s physical attractiveness, and her ability to use this gift to arouse or channel the man’s sexual energies to produce effectively(i.e. spiritual leadership, child-rearing, job performance, business pursuits, etc. There can be a multitude of other factors that can draws a man’s attention to another woman easily, if his significant other does not possess, or chooses not to display in the relationship.

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Love & Relationships in the Black Community: A Roundtable - PartII