Have I had negative experiences with Black men? Of course I have, but I have also had negative experiences with people in general and that has not stopped me from loving humanity! So, I will definitely not stop loving my Black men.
When I speak on my love for Black men, I am not sure if I can describe the feeling (and that’s deep coming from a writer, right?). Maybe I can start from the time when I started to recognize the beauty, strength, impact, love, and need of Black men—especially in my life.
I was a hot 16-year-old learning to embrace my beautiful, dark skin. While relishing in the compliments I would get on how pink and beautiful my gums were. It was summertime, and while standing in front of my house, a man that was notoriously known in our neighborhood as a ladies man had shifted his attention to me. I was soaking it all in, showing him all 32 of my teeth with my perfect pink gums. The highest peaks of my cheekbones, and Just being ‘mannish’ as the older women would say.
I was so entranced with the lies he was telling me that I didn’t even notice my father pull up to our home. My dad jumped out his car walked up to Mr. Ladies Man and told him, “Get yo ass from in front of my house and I bet not see you near her again!” Of course I’m embarrassed, and angry, while also feeling like my Daddy just doesn’t want to see his little girl grow up.
Fall came around, and I began my Senior year in high school. Started dating a guy that graduated the previous year, and took him home to meet my parents. That was a bold move, right? Seeing how my Dad was about to use Blade moves on the other guy a few months prior. Now, Mom really didn’t like my new boyfriend, but she spoke her peace and left it alone. My Dad just gave me a hug a told me to be careful. At the moment, I was confused by his statement and it kept replaying with me over time while in this relationship.
By winter of my Senior year, I’m preparing for prom when my boyfriend tells me he isn’t going to prom with me. You can imagine the emotions I felt! But at last a friend of mine let me know a few months back that if I knew anyone that needed a date for the prom to send them his way! As he wanted to attend again (he had also graduated the year prior). Little did I know that I was going to be the one that needed to be escorted by him.
I bring Mr. Prom Date home to meet my parents and my gosh! They are smitten with him! My Dad proudly stated as I was leaving for prom that as long as Mr. Prom Date was escorting me, I ‘had no curfew’ and that he trusted him with me. Yes, we all laughed at my Dad’s statement, but honestly that was a light bulb moment for me.
Memory flashes of the anger I saw in my Dad when he spotted Mr. Ladies Man in my presence; the hug and the be careful sentiment he expressed when meeting the boyfriend. I then realized my Daddy wasn’t afraid of his little girl growing up: he was afraid of his little girl not seeing her value and her worth. Mr. Prom Date had shown him that he wouldn’t have those worries with him. Although, my Dad was right about Mr. Prom Date; without even knowing it my Dad became the gauge for my dating life. Not that I still didn’t make some very questionable choices, but his expectations played a huge part and still do. Not only did he place that value in me with those experiences. I also paid attention to how he loves, protects, provides, nurtures, respects, and values my mother and his family.
I then began to see that the men that my Dad hung around were just like him. Which only made me start to see the plethora of men in the world that were like him. My Gosh! Black men, I adore you!
I cherish you!
I value you!
I thank you!
I am forever grateful for you! I am so happy to have this month dedicated to you, but my adoration and praise will not just be in this month. In honor of the late great Nipsey Hussle, The Appreciation Marathon will continue.