Every single day, in a world filled with social media relationship experts attempting to tackle the most complex love issues in one picture or 140 characters, Black men and Black women are inundated with newfangled ideologies on how to propagate this thing called “Black love.”
Lately, the one theme I’ve been seeing the most from these pseudo-experts, especially the Black male ones, is the concept that it is the job of a Black woman to find a man who is being throttled and beat down by life and invest in his potential. Women should know that his current state is just a temporary effect of the very real systemic challenges that all Black men are encumbered with. Whenever a meme such as that floats down my timeline it’s met with unending praise – and, frankly, I don’t understand why the hell so many Black folks support that BS.
Black women, I don’t want you to fall in love with my potential. I want you to fall in love with who I am now. And, if who I am now doesn’t match the expectations of what you currently need in your life, then feel free to walk out of my life and find someone better, because we both deserve that.
Black women, I need y’all to understand that it does neither of us any good to enter into a relationship predicated on the idea that I, in all my current glory and inadequacy, will one day measure up to you and your standards because that’s a horrific deal for both of us. It propagates the notion that you must lower your standards and settle because “good Black men” don’t exist – which is BS. And it also supports the illogical concept that the force and totality of my love is wholly lacking and deficient as I currently am because I’ve not yet achieved certain career, financial and life goals – which is far from true.
Look, as a former financial advisor, I completely understand the reality that love doesn’t pay the bills. In life, especially marriage, economic stability and upward career mobility are incredibly important aspects of building a life together. As a Black man who wants to protect and provide for a family, I’m acutely aware of these challenges. Yet a wholly financial/career-based outlook on love isn’t as pragmatic as many believe it to be, because the journey towards ones goals is never a straight ascending line. Every couple will face challenges that can only be traversed together with the strength of the affection cultivated from the first second you meet.
Though I haven’t become the success I want to be, every day I’m taking another step towards actualizing my potential. I am incomplete, but I am not a charity case. I’m far from my goals, but I’m not looking for pity. I am a Black man with the capacity to love the right woman deeply today. My heart is open not just to the concept of the love, but the sometimes-rocky reality of it. So, if you choose to accept my love, take it as it is right now, because we deserve every reality of love today, instead of believing in the specious hope of tomorrow. Nobody knows what potential may bring, and there are a lot better characteristics to judge me by.
Sometimes Black men evoke President Barack Obama and FLOTUS Michelle as an example of "betting on a Black man’s potential." But, as I suspect we’ll see in the film, Southside With You, Michelle’s attraction to President Obama wasn’t about loving the aspiration of who he might be as much as it was appreciating the amalgamation of he who already was. From his sense of humor to his desire to uplift communities, those traits influenced her attraction to him. He was far from his goals, but the man he was at that point in his journey was what Michelle wanted, and while none of us can predict what may or may not have happened, it’s more than fair to believe that she would still love him today even if he never became the first Black President of the United States of America.
Basically, Black women, don't fall in love with what you believe is the "finished" version of me. Love me for who I am today, and I will do the same for you. Because if we keep believing that a better love awaits in the future, we will constantly be unsatisfied with each other in the present. So let's stop waiting for each other to transform into the "complete" version we've invested in, because we've been whole the entire time.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site ThisIsYourConscience.com. He's author of the book, "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer." He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.