Posts Tagged With: married

Wakandan Ruminations


I went to see Black Panther this past Friday with my extraordinary and insightful wife of 14 years. As we pulled up to the theater and found a parking spot, we had an interesting exchange before going in. It had to do with perception, assumption, and judgement.

In our two decades of knowing one another – which includes 3 years of dating before getting married – one constant annoyance for us has been the misperception that we are an “interracial couple”. That is, in the commonly accepted sense of the phrase. The reason this is significant is because, at first glance, know one would know – and some may not believe – that my wife is, without question, African American. She is no LESS African American than I am, even though to many I more readily… look the part.

It is common knowledge that the spectrum of African American complexions is wide-ranging, making it nearly impossible for someone to look at anyone else these days and deduce with any certainty that they are, or are not, “black”.

You don’t know, so don’t assume.

But assumption is the recurring theme of our public interactions with people who look askance at the “interracial couple” going to see the “black” movie. Never realizing the two of us are far more alike than we are different. Despite the apparent difference in our skin tones. The truth is that the evidence of who we are, who we really are, cannot be ascertained from a glance. Much like the truth of this movie’s significance can’t be defined by the opinions of professional (or unprofessional) critics.

See, within that truth lies the beauty of what it really means to be… African American. Within that truth is the careful, deliberate, often meticulous navigation through society that takes place daily for every African American, regardless of their shade. Within that truth is also the reason why, after watching Black Panther, this movie, this work of fiction, this stylized drama… why it is a watershed moment.

Let me be clear that I fully understand that this is a “super hero” movie. It is a live-action, film adaptation of a comic book, and as such, has no bearing on real-life events. That being said, my head and heart were all over the place.

Why?

There are several reasons. Far too many to fully convey here. But I will attempt to pinpoint the larger one in the context of my feelings.

The African Nation of Wakanda

Wakanda is a country unspoiled. Unsullied by the invasion – or colonization, as the characters point out – of those who would trample its rich culture, prohibit the expression of its traditions, exploit its resources, and enslave its people. Simply put, Wakanda was free to evolve into a highly developed, technologically advanced civilization, while retaining all of its history, customs and beliefs.

For those of African heritage, nothing like this exists in the real world.

Not.

One.

Thing.

To this day, many African nations are considered third world countries. This label typically refers to economically poor, non-industrialized nations who are often reliant upon foreign aid. But seeing Wakanda on the big screen was like a glimpse into an alternate reality. Even stripping away all of its supernatural elements, it stands as a future that could have been. Could have.

But… it isn’t.

For me, segments of the movie stood out as an extended expedition into an incredibly complex and engaging world established through tribal unity, ingenuity, and intellect. It was the answer to the nagging question… what if? What if there was no slavery? What if there was no colonization of Africa? What if there was no systemic racism? This is Wakanda!

But… it isn’t.

Or rather, it never was, and maybe it will never be. And that… that is heartbreaking.

Because it has nothing to do with the lack of supernatural intervention, or the existence of Vibranium. It has everything to do with systemic racism, the deterioration and intentional disruption of the black family unit… the lack of community awareness and concern as a country, not just isolated pockets of effective collaboration … and a society that seems to have lost its compassion and consideration for others.

Wakanda then becomes a sad reminder of unrealized potential, all that has been stolen, and what now feels unobtainable.

But… it isn’t.

Even without vibranium, the technological marvels of Wakanda are not completely fictional. The unique customs, arts, and social institutions exemplified in the movie are very real. We now have a space and an opportunity to discuss errors of the past and make corrections for the future.

Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER..L to R: Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba)..Photo: Matt Kennedy..©Marvel Studios 2018

There may be some who think that what I’ve said and what I’ve seen… that it’s simply too late for us.

But… it isn’t.

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Categories: commentary, current events, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DOVE NOTE #90 – Soda Explosion


We all know (or should know) that any relationship worth having will have some issues to iron out. The following is one such issue…

Two friends of mine are making plans to get married (somewhere in the distant future, and yes, to each other). The guy is having difficulty understanding why his fiance wasn’t okay with him hanging out with an old female friend. He says she’s only a friend. Although, when pressed, he admits that this girl likes him. And though he says he doesn’t like her, it still doesn’t foster a sense of security with his fiance.

I told him that this girl is probably hoping not-so-secretly that if things don’t go well with his current girlfriend, she’ll be there to “mend his heart” and finally get her chance to date him. He found the thought of that to be somewhat ridiculous. Mostly because he doesn’t find her remotely attractive.

So I offered him a word of advice. I said, “Willfully contributing to your partner’s insecurity is like shaking a bottle of soda. Once you open it up, it’ll explode all over you and everyone close to you.” I told him to show his fiance how much he values her by demonstrating his preference for her feelings over all others. Blessed is the husband whose life consists of joyful memories upon which he and his wife can build a happy future.

Categories: Dove Note, relationships, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DOVE NOTE #20: Healthy Inequality


(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes”)

You will rarely (if ever) hear anyone talk about something being unequal yet healthy. That is, until today…

See, I fully believe that healthy relationships thrive on the premise that the love and effort of each individual is being reciprocated, although not always in equal amounts. What I mean is that it’s not so much about what they do or how often they do it, but rather the motivation behind the fact that they do anything at all. If the only effort put into a relationship stems from a desire to store up “credits” to use when they want something, then it’s destined to fail. It is impossible to experience the benefits of cultivating a healthy relationship when the root is established by having your needs met through guilt and manipulation. Those trees can only bear fruit of disappointment and regret.

You need to start with a realistic perspective of the dynamics of your relationship. This should include accepting that any attempt to measure the equality of “give and take” in a relationship is pointless without first finding out what kinds of things really matter to each of you individually. Because your sincere efforts may go unnoticed if you’re focusing on things that may mean a lot to you but mean very little to your significant other. And vice versa. A good place to start is determining your Love Language. It also helps to keep in mind this nugget of wisdom my mother offered me right before I got married…

“Remember that relationships won’t always be 50/50 give and take. Sometimes they’re 80/20 or 30/70, depending on what you may be facing. The key is recognizing when you can be a support, and speaking up when you need to be supported.”

Go mom! 😀

Categories: Dove Note, relationships, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DOVE NOTE #63: The Magic Pill


(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes”)

Now this may be controversial, but I’m going to make the bold assertion that there are very few things more damaging to long term relationships than unspoken expectations (I call them The Ewwies as in, “The U.E’s”). These Ewwies come about when communication is relegated to an afterthought instead of a priority in the relationship.

So what could be worse, you ask?

Well, “worse” would be people erroneously assuming these unspoken expectations will somehow miraculously be met once they get married.  It’s almost as if they believe marriage is some Magic Pill that will communicate all of their hidden desires and make all of their relationship issues go away. Unfortunately, it’s a recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

Just recently a friend told me that he’ll be getting married in six weeks. I’m sure he noticed my facial expression, which was an unmistakable combination of shock and concern mixed with that pain stricken face you make when you swallow something hard. I quickly caught myself and smiled. Although it certainly seems kind of rushed to me, I do realize it’s different for everyone. I mean, I’m all for marrying when the time is right. But to avoid the Ewwies I think it’s critical that some basic expectations are covered before walking down the aisle. So I just encouraged him to make sure he’s tackled some of the big topics with his soon-to-be wife, like:

  1. Children (how many, if at all)
  2. Child Rearing (spanking/discipline, education, and nutrition)
  3. Finances (separate or joint accounts, who pays what)
  4. Religion (Protestant, Jewish, Agnostic, Wiccan, Catholic?)

Disagreements in any of these critical areas can often become deal-breakers in a relationship. And failing to address them before marriage only serves to exacerbate the agony of the Ewwies. In the end, I’ve found that some of the best marriages are the ones with strong foundations built on effective communication… and successful avoidance of the Ewwies. 😉

Categories: Dove Note, marriage, relationships, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

DOVE NOTE #24: Love Language


(from the forthcoming book “Dove Notes “)

I was talking to a friend the other day and he asked me, “So how’s married life?”  I told him that this is the absolute happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.  And for those who know my history, that’s saying a lot.  Because I honestly thought that I would never love or be loved like this… EVER.  I was deeply wounded by my last marriage, but even so there was always a part of me that believed in a deep love and still yearned for it.

So, in the beginning of my relationship with Dre, we discussed the importance of demonstrating love and feeling loved.  You know… that feeling that tells you beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone truly loves you?  It not only provides indisputable proof of your commitment to a person, but it can fan the flames of passion.  And who doesn’t appreciate passion, right?   Anyway, we’d heard about the Five Love Languages and decided to find out which one best described our individual needs.

What was most interesting was learning that there were very different ways that made us feel loved.    For Dre, nothing says “I love you” more than spending time with her.  Sure… I can call her at work and say I love you every day for a month… I can even have elaborate bouquets of flowers delivered to the house every Thursday at 3 o’clock… but for her these things will never replace me actually being with her.

By spending time with her, it communicates to her that she is important to me, and says there’s nothing more important to me right now than her.  And we both benefit because it means she wants me around… she enjoys my company.  My friend put it best when he said, “She has chosen to love you… not like family who loves you because you’re related, but because she sees something in you that’s valuable.”  Amen.

For me, its very different.  What lets me know that she loves me is her confidence in me… her support and encouragement.  She can give me compliments all day, and even spend time with me, but it doesn’t replace knowing and hearing that she believes in me.  If I’ve completed something that I’ve worked hard on and she says, “You did a great job honey,” that’s nice and all, but what would really put me on cloud nine is if while I’m working or planning, for her to say that I’m doing a great job, that she trusts my judgment, that she believes I’m doing the right thing and I’m on the right track.  Build my confidence and I’ll feel loved.

With this revelation, we had to rethink what defines things for our relationship like Romance, Intimacy and Consideration.  The trick here was remembering that when demonstrating love we can find ourselves only giving what we hope to receive.  But with true love, it’s more about communicating what you need and feeling loved when that person sincerely gives it to you.

This year we’ll be celebrating our 8 year wedding anniversary… and I still look at her with wide-eyed disbelief of how incredibly blessed I am to have found her… not someone like her… but HER in particular.

Categories: Dove Note, family, intimacy, marriage, personal, relationships, Series | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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