My girl, Adriane, and I spent many a bleary-eyed morning last spring in the HOV lanes of Route 66 talking about everything from our respective careers, our families, “Scandal” plot lines, and of course, men. I deeply miss my time with my resident love coach and realize now that many of our conversations laid the foundation for my current dating life in Brooklyn.
One particular morning I was venting to her about the fact that most of the men who “holla” at me are usually of African decent. Since I’ve moved to Brooklyn, that palette has expanded to now also include West Indian men. While I appreciated the attention from my brothers throughout the African diaspora, it really bugged me that I was practically invisible to African American men. What was wrong with ME that men who shared my heritage and cultural experience didn’t find me attractive?
The crux of my challenge was that I was holding on so tightly to my image of my Ideal Black Man (IBM). I loved watching the hit legal drama “The Practice” primarily for one reason—the actor Steve Harris who played the character Eugene Young. Sweet Jesus! Talk about the perfect slice of Black American masculinity. Everything about Eugene personified what I thought would be the PERFECT mate for me—tall, dark, handsome, God-revering, well-spoken, high-achieving, and ridiculously intelligent. As much as I wanted to capture my ideal Eugene, for some odd reason he wasn’t checking for me. AT ALL.
Well, if Eugene wasn’t barking up my tree, then why wasn’t I giving Babatunde and ALL his brethren, who were freely offering me life, love, and all their cattle back in their native country, the time of day? There are some pretty strong stereotypes against African and West Indian men among African American women—namely that they were too domineering, patriarchal, secretly married to other women in their native country, or seeking to prey on American women for immigration or other opportunities to become successful in the US. These ideas are pretty damn racist when I look at them now (Yeech!), but these are real cultural barriers that we put in our own way because of ignorance and misinformation. Additionally, I personally thought that many of these men were only approaching me because I’ve always been curvier and shapelier, and quite frankly I found that insulting. Unbeknownst to me at the time, these archaic stereotypes were actually blocking me from getting to know some pretty amazing men.
So here I was bemoaning the fact that Black men weren’t paying me any attention and yet I was ignoring the throngs of African and Caribbean who were throwing themselves at my feet. That particular morning Adriane brought pristine clarity to my conundrum when she simply said, “Don’t get upset about the men who aren’t showing up in your life. You just gotta rock with the men who rock with you.” I swear that woman deserves a Nobel Prize for her brilliant insight. Apparently God was sending Babatunde and not Eugene into my life for a reason. So instead of getting mad that this one very narrow sector of men weren’t showing up to my playing field, why not open up my dating world to experience all of this wonderful male goodness that I was naturally attracting into my life?
Chile, let me tell you, when I finally made peace with this, I now had the freedom to just rock out with some incredible men who have blown the lid off of my dating life. I’ve been treated to amazing international cuisine, insightful cosmopolitan perspectives on the world, old-school chivalry, and yes, I have thoroughly enjoyed the “larger treats” that these men are known for bringing to the table. (Just go on and clutch your pearls and pray for my fallen soul later after you finish reading this blog.)
When I learned to just rock with the men who were already showing up in my life, I had a chance to really see what I was attracting into my world. I wasn’t attracting low-life, international scum who were seeking to take advantage of me. I was typically inviting men into my life with classic, old-school values and morals who treated me like a queen, and, surprise, surprise, were very reminiscent of the qualities that I most loved in my father and my brothers.
I thought that I needed a straight-laced Eugene Young to complete my love story. Turns out that Eugene is probably a little too boxed in for my adventurous, entrepreneurial, advent-garde, bohemian world. Yes, friends, it’s looking like you’ll be getting a postcard from me in the next chapter of my life from either the western coast of Africa or some beautiful island in the Caribbean. I have a good feeling that I’m going to enjoying rocking out my life with an international man who will surpass my wildest dreams.