Five Times It’s Perfectly Okay Not To Fight For Your Girl

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***In light of the news that Columbus Short seems to be taking this “Gladiator” thing a bit too seriously, I decided to revise and repost a piece that’s quite apropos.***

“Would and could he fight for me?”

It’s a question that somehow manages to be completely relevant and completely irrelevant at the same damn time.

It’s relevant because it’s never not at least a consideration when a woman is deciding whether she wants to commit to a man. Perhaps “Would and could he protect me?” isn’t the first question she asks herself, but she’ll definitely ask herself that question.

It’s irrelevant because, well, no one actually gets into fights. Actually, lemme rephrase that. Some adults still do get into fights. But it’s a very small percentage of us. And, the 7% of adults who still somehow get into fights at least once every other month probably make up 97% of the adult fight total between themselves. And they’re not reading this. Because adults who get into fights have corns. And people with corns spend all their internet time researching corn remedies.

If you asked one of the 93% — the corn-less non-fighters — about the last time they got into a serious fist fight, I bet most answers would fall between 5th grade and “That time in 9th grade when I thought that I was big enough to talk back to my dad. I was wrong.”

A few days ago, Columbus Short apparently sucker punched a guy who said something disrespectful about his wife, breaking his nose and knocking him out.

I’m not sure if the wife was there, or if she personally felt threatened. If so, although a sucker punch is some sucker shit, he’s somewhat justified. (Extra emphasis on “somewhat.”) You’re supposed to defend your wife. But, is there ever a situation where your woman is disrespected in some way and you’re actually not supposed to fight for her? Of course!

In fact, here are five of them!

1. If she kinda, sorta, had it coming. 

Lemme put it this way: If I’m at a club, and I see some dude push my girl and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a serious physical problem.

But, if my girl happens to be Erica Mena-ish, and she’s talking shit, throwing drinks, and spitting in people’s faces for no reason, and I happen to see one of the guys who she spit on push her out of his face and call her a “bitch,” we are going to have a…conversation. And then we are going to leave. And then I am going to stop at a gas station. And then I am going to ask her to get me a pack of purple Now & Laters. And then I am going to drive off and leave her there.

2. If you’re definitely going to lose…badly.

Look, I can handle one Kimbo Slice. And by “handle one Kimbo Slice” I mean “sucker punch and run from a Kimbo Slice.” (And yes, I would expect my girl to keep up with me. What’s the point of being in Black Girls Run if you don’t take it literally?)

But, if my girl comes over to me upset that some dudes disrespected her, and she points to a table of three Kimbo Slices and three “Comb That Nigga’s Chest Hair” dudes, I figure a slight scowl in their direction is an appropriate response.

3. If you’re definitely going to win.

If you’re 6’5 and 350 pounds and the Kevin Hart doppelganger at the bar calls your girl a bad name, he’s actually putting you in a no-win situation. You can’t put your hands on him, cause you’ll be a lame for fighting a dude half your size. But, you can’t not do something either.

My advice? Just pull out your dick, with your arms extended outward in the “Ta-Da!” pose.Hopefully this’ll shame him into silence. (This also has obvious backfire potential, but you have to do something, right?)

4. If you’ve been wanting to break up with her for some time, but haven’t had the opportunity or guts to do it.

Usually, men in this predicament try to sabotage the relationship by cheating and hoping he’ll get caught. But, why do that and expose her to all types of STDs? Just let her get disrespected in front of you, and let her get mad enough at you that she ends it. Now, you’ve rid yourself of a problem and you saved her from syphilis. It’s a win win.

5. If you’re busy.

It’s not your fault she picked the 4th quarter of game seven of the NBA finals to get disrespected. She needs to learn that if she wants a good defense, she needs better timing.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

No Church In The Wild

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My mornings usually begin the same way. I’ll wake up at 7:30, immediately pick up my laptop, and spend a half hour reading emails, checking VSB, and doing EBONY-related work. I’ll also pray. By this time, my fiancee is usually awake too, so I’ll lay back down with her for a couple minutes. By 8:15-8:20, I’ll get out of bed again and make my way the bedroom upstairs, my de facto office. Sometimes I’ll stop in the kitchen and grab some orange juice or a granola bar before heading up. From then until approximately 9:15, I’ll work exclusively on EBONY stuff.

While upstairs, I’ll hear my fiancee get up. This usually happens around 8:45. Within five minutes, the shower will begin to run. 15 to 20 minutes later, I’ll hear her:

“Morning babe. I need to be at work at 9:30. I’ll be ready in 15.”  

Sometimes it’ll be this instead:

“Morning babe. I need to be at work at 10. What do you want for breakfast?”

(These are my favorite mornings)

If it’s one of those “9:30″ mornings, I’ll stop working, put on whatever sweats and sneakers are near, and come down stairs. The dog — who usually sleeps upstairs — will follow me. I’ll put food and water in his bowl. He’ll ignore it — for now — and I’ll take him to the backyard to pee and shit. If it’s cold, I’ll throw on my parka.

If you looked out our front window then, you’d see a collection of well-manicured brownstones. You’d also see (mostly Black) families and various young professionals doing their morning routines (Taking the kids to school, going to work, walking dogs, jogging, etc).

The back of our house is a different story. Behind our backyard is an alley. Behind that alley is a group of three dilapidated row houses. And behind those houses is where the “hood” part of our neighborhood begins.

One of these houses is boarded up. One houses an interracial couple (Black man, White woman) who used to argue so loudly that it would wake us up. (They haven’t argued in months. Maybe they went on Marriage Boot Camp or something.) And one houses a drug dealer who sees light traffic throughout the day.

The drug dealer guy and I are usually cordial. If our eyes happen to meet, we’ll nod at each other. Sometimes you might even get a “Hey. What’s good?” out of both of us. His friends and customers, on the other hand, aren’t as friendly. They’re usually not out there. But when they are…let’s just say I pay very close attention to my surroundings then.

I’ll go back inside. If it’s a “10:00″ morning, we’ll sit down and eat breakfast together. Usually some combination of eggs, bacon, and fruit. If it’s a “9:30″ morning, she’ll be in the kitchen making and packing her lunch, getting ready to go.

We’ll leave five minutes later. She only works five minutes away, but in that short time we’ll use our shorthand to share a half hour’s worth of information with each other. I’ll drop her off, we’ll kiss, and I’ll head back home.

My route back home takes me through the hood part of the neighborhood. Sometimes there will be cops circling around. I do not consider the police to be an antagonistic entity. But I do not feel safe around them. I don’t necessarily feel unsafe either. I guess the best word to describe how I feel is aware.

They’re just doing their jobs, I’ll say to myself. Don’t pay them any mind, and get back home so you can finish your work.

But there are also times when I notice them paying me more attention than I’m comfortable with. I might even get followed for a block. And then, at that point, I realize nothing matters. I’m a popular published author and professional writer with a fiancee. A fiancee with multiple degrees. We’re renting a brownstone with hardwood floors throughout and 12 foot ceilings. We’re getting married in July. We go to gallery crawls and board meetings. I own t-shirts proclaiming my love for Bougie Black People. We have four corkscrews, collected over time from the parties we throw and attend. I have a morning routine. And a dog.

But, in that moment, I’m a Black man in a sketchy neighborhood wearing a parka, sweats, and sneakers, and driving a Charger. To them, I am a potential suspect. Or, even worse, a potential threat. One awkward move or one overzealous officer could end everything for me.

I’ll eventually make it home and I’ll finish working. Maybe I’ll moderate comments on VSB. Or, maybe I’ll make some edits to something I’m writing for Complex. I’ll forget about the morning. And I’ll forget that, between the people across the alley and the cops on my way home, I’ve had to be on guard every moment I was out the house. Because I’m Black in America. And when you’re Black in America, there really are no safe spaces, no recluse from potential danger, no time when you can be certain that what you do and who you are will not cease to matter because someone considers you to be a threat. Nowhere I can relax without reservation. Nowhere where I can be me and not worry.

But I will forget about all of this. Because it’s everyday. And when something happens everyday, it becomes forgettable. Mundane, even. I’ll relax in my chair, play with our dog, and moderate comments on my blog. It’s just another day.

  —Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

I Have No White Friends (And I Think I Know Why)

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As our wedding date approaches and the planning becomes more and more likely to drive us insane — not insane in a Hannibal or Huck sense, but more of a Will Graham or Radiohead “I’ll be waiting. With a gun and a pack of sandwiches” sense — we made a concerted effort last weekend to detect the main source of stress so we could at least attempt to rectify it.

The verdict? The invite list.

Along with making you the worst person ever, the list is directly involved with the three biggest stress inducers.

1. How many people are we inviting?

2. Who will we invite?

3. How much will all this shit cost?

After debating just saying “Fuck it” and eloping and inviting everyone to a Waffle House in Washington County for the reception, we considered trimming the list. As I glanced through it to see which of her, er, our family and friends could be expendable, I noticed something:

Out of the 200 or so people we have coming, only one is White.

Actually, that’s not completely true. Six are White. But two are married to my cousins, one is one of my dad’s old co-workers, and two are that hybrid Persian/Kardashian off-White that doesn’t really count as White. But, between the two of us, only one of our closest friends is White.

It’s not like we’ve lived segregated lives. We’re both from the Whitest major metropolitan area in the country, we both went to racially diverse high schools and predominately White colleges, and we both interact with many White people on a personal and professional level. We also both have White friends. And we both like hummus. But, the wedding list suggests those friendships are limited.

Although the discovery surprised me a bit, this dynamic isn’t particularly unique. While light beer commercials and The New Girl might suggest otherwise, most of us are very exclusive — reclusive, even — when it comes to the racial make-up of the people closest to us. When it comes to close friends, we all tend to stick to our own kind.

Salon’s Brittany Cooper wrote on this last year, and suggested that our country’s complex racial politics often make it too difficult to maintain close friendships with people who don’t share a racial and/or cultural tie. I don’t disagree with her. But, after considering both personal experience and anecdotal evidence, there’s something I want to add.

When thinking about the White guys I’ve known who were comfortable hanging with a group of brothas and the Black guys I’ve known who’ve had no problem being the perfunctory token Black guy, they each had something in common with those friends: Women. More specifically, an attraction to and/or willingness to date a certain type of woman.

Basically, the White guys legitimately close with multiple Black guys were also interested in Black women, and the Black guys cool with frequenting all the “White” bars, clubs, and parties were also interested in dating White women.

I’m not suggesting they sought out these friendships just because of their dating interests. (Although, I’d totally watch a movie about a Black guy who pretended to be friends with White guys just so he could get closer to White women.) I think that who we’re romantically/sexually interested in has a substantial role in determining our adult friendships. This seems impractical, but it’s actually organic. Pragmatic, even.

Adult friendships are usually cultivated through shared activities. You like each other and you like doing many of the same things, so you spend time with each other. When you’re single, the potential of potential romantic opportunities present often determines these activities. This is one of the reasons why you might be more likely to hit one of the “Black” happy hour spots after work instead of one of the “White” ones, or why the weekend gallery crawl might interest you more than the beerfest. You just know that the type of person you’re attracted to is more likely to be there.

Even thinking of the types of activities and events I’d usually attend when I was single, a single White guy looking for a sorority girl-type was not going to find her at any of those spots. And, when I had White co-workers, as much as I appreciated them inviting me out with them, the perpetual lack of sistas — and the lack of sistas interested in Black men — there limited my enjoyment.

Also, this phenomenon is deeper than race. The White guys into sorority-girl types and the White guys into the ironic hipster types probably wont be spending that much time with each other either. And I doubt the sistas into Donald Glover are going to be frequenting the same spots as the ones interested in someone more Weebay Brice-ish.  

There is a definite benefit to both expanding our horizons and not crafting our fun around the idea of romantic potential. No one would deny that. Unfortunately, by adulthood most of us lose the type of stamina and curiosity that requires.

We still haven’t decided who we’re going to cut from the invite list yet. But, we do know one thing: We’re keeping all six of the White people. It’s the least we could do, right?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) 

How Do I Feel About My Child’s Education? Shhh, It’s Private

kidsI’m a product of public schools. I’ve attended public schools in Alabama, Michigan, and the most public schools of them all, Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) in Frankfurt, Germany. Telling people that you attended school, public no less, in the state of Alabama often gets you side-eyes that register somewhere between the earthquake in Cali this week and a typhoon showing up in Kansas on the “I’m sorry to hear that” scale.

Despite my entire public school upbringing, I’ve found my education to be stellar. In fact, most of my closest friends all attended public school for at least the majority of their schooling, with smatterings here and there of a year or two spent in private school. All of my closest friends have graduate degrees. Amongst my squad are multiple PhDs, beaucoup lawyers, a few economists, etc. Everybody has at least a Master’s degree in something or other.

And here I am…putting my daughter in private school for her education.

On a purely cerebral level, it creates somewhat of a conflict of interest to me. I pay public taxes to live where I live to support schools I’d never send my child to (I do realize that  we all do this). In fact, there’s literally a school close enough to my front door that I could watch my daughter walk from the door INTO the school without ever putting on so much as a flip or flop. I always wanted to be one of those parents who supported the community and did his best to make his community better. And that’s still my goal…I’m just not about to sacrifice my child’s future towards that effort. To say the schools in my neighborhood suck would be a compliment. Such is the public school debacle that is DC Public Schools. I’ve written about this before at the beginning of the process towards looking for a school for my daughter.

Like most major cities, DC is a city full of people with means and people who mean to do really well but life got in the way, and thus our public schools probably rival most major school systems. Largely “not great” schools with a handful of really top notch public schools usually out of reach to those without enough money to own significant amounts of Facebook stock. There’s always the lottery process, but well, its called a lottery for a reason. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t win. And when everybody is aiming for the same schools, well, just like the odds of winning the actual lottery, your odds of winning decrease. Unlike the odds of winning Warren Buffett’s billion since it seems like the likelihood of that happening is about the same as me becoming in a white man AND being the first man to have a baby on the same day that Jay-Z gets sworn in as President of Texas.

I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends about the private vs public school process. He made a very valid point in that no matter what school we send our daughter to, she’ll likely apply to the same colleges (when we get to that road) no matter where she goes to K-12 because she’s always going to be smart and always going to excel. And that’s a very valid point. Point of reference, Young Panamontana is going to Spelman. She will likely be able to pull that off from anywhere. No shots. Just the facts, ma’am. But the issue there is the time between 5 and 18. Attempting to give your child the option to maximize their potential is where the questions start to arise. I know nearly every person with a child that they care about (the news really scares me sometimes with the stories of these people who clearly do not enjoy the parenting gig) spends at least sometime struggling with where to send their kids to school. Those lucky enough to live in districts where the schools are good are set. But the rest of us go on a mad dash towards choices. It’s a nerve-wracking situation because you want to make sure that you don’t make the wrong decision. It’s like getting into…actually, its not like at all…it IS getting into a relationship with a school where your hope your child will thrive and truly be able to shoot for that goal of being whoever they want to be.

It only sucks that in order for me to feel secure there’s very few public schools I’d be comfortable with. Charter schools are a great option here in DC but we’re already doing that and it’s time to let that ship Titanic. My child already goes to what is regarded as the most touted charter school for her age range in the city – the very school we’re pulling her out of is one many people are attempting to get their children into. But ultimately, you do what’s best for your child and in doing so, my family became one of those individuals who forewent the public schools for the private. And I couldn’t be happier.

As an aside, one of the biggest hangups I’ve had about private school has been the lack of diversity in most of these schools, namely The Blacks are obviously not very well represented. But let me tell you something, much to my surprise, quite a number of women I know went to private school which started more than a few debates about how well adjusted they are. Those debates often turn into what it sounds like when the HBCU vs PWI conversations start. Point is, via these conversations I’ve managed to realize that at the end of the day, my daughter has a father (and to a lesser extent a mother) who over-Blacks it at every turn. She’ll know who she is and where she comes from. There’s nothing like bringing that up in an admissions interview by the way. It’s interesting to watch the administrators reactions when you do indeed say,  “I’m concerned about the lack of Blackness here, since I’m pretty sure you can tell, our daughter is Black.” But it’s my job (and her mother’s ) to make sure her esteem and identity are in tact, not any school. So I let it go is the main bullet point. I just felt like sharing.

All this to say, nay ask, when it comes to your child’s (or future child’s) (or hope for your nieces or nephews if children give you the beegees), how much do you think about their education? You going public? Private? Home schooling?

Basically, how do you plan to teach the kids assuming that you believe they are the future?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I’M A PAPPY aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

It’s A Black Thing?: What Had Happened Was…

obamaHello.

I have a question. Like a real one too.

I’m going to ask this for education purposes, intellectual reasons, and overall curiosity satisfaction. Creep with me:

Has anybody ever heard a non-Black person say, “what had happened was…”?

I’m serious. Kind of. I mean, I’m sure somebody else has said it. And by somebody else I mean a person who doesn’t celebrate Black History Month. Like Don Lemon. But is there any more statement that is so “Black” in nature? Like, short of my personal favorite, “I wish a motherf*cker WOULD do xyz…”

Quick aside: I actually do be wishing motherf*ckers would do such ‘n such. Like I have sat in my bed at home before, eyes clenched holding my comforter tight, asking and hoping somehow someway could it be arranged for X person to do Y thing JUST so I could act a complete donkey. I try not to pray about it because that just seems wrong. Then again, since I’m not praying, it rarely, if ever, comes to fruition because, well won’t he do it. God be knowin’ y’all or nah?

I still be wishing a motherf*cker would though; I can’t stress that enough.

Back to the lecture at hand though. While I can’t say that I know as many non-Black folks as others, and all of those that I do know have spent considerable time around The Blacks, I do wonder if that’s just a…ya know Black thing (and you wouldn’t understand).

Let me take a quick step back here. I’m fascinated by the evolution of language. For instance, I don’t know if you people realize this – I’m sure you do but why would you ever think about it – but we went as a species from communicating by saying “uggggggghghgh” to words like “onomatopoeia”. Do you realize how much occurred to get from one point to the other? Like, why is a door a “door”? These things keep me up at night. Language if fascinating. It’s also why I take such issue with other folks issues with words like “conversate” and “irregardless”, etc, two words that I’m fairly certain are considered uniquely Black though it is completely understandable how any one might arrive at both word usages. I’m not here to argue for them since I’ve already done that in a previous post.

People get very dogmatic about which words aren’t appropriate, whereas I couldn’t care less. I’m a creative…new words are what’s hot in these streets. Especially if you manage to put 3 or more words together to make an even more awesomer word like travashamockery. <— not a real word, but you understand exactly what’s being said there. Genius.

I’ve meandered and veered clean off the path I was heading down. That yellow brick road? Full of redbones. Bong bong. Das racist.

Back again to the lecture at hand. So words and phrases are created and divied up at the Ethnic Word Convention and it seems that Black folks ended up with “what had happened was…” It’s almost a rite of passage. Even the most bougie (“r” or no “r”) has likely uttered this.

I heard a coworker sound like he was going to give it a run one day but he left out the most crucial word in the statement. Buddy of the caucasian persuasion left out the “had”. He, trying to be funny, merely said, “what happened was…” and other coworkers laughed like I’ve laughed when somebody has lobbed out the infamous “what had happened was…” which makes me believe that while the sentiment is the same, there really is a “Black” way to say that thus making it a “Black” statement.

Granted, this all matters not in the grand scheme of things and a brother was pontificating this evening while looking at the moon when something happened that caused me to say, to another soul, that what had happened was…

Well this really all got me to thinking of what are statements that are uniquely Black, white, or other (Father forgive me for being too lazy to list out every other ethnicity like Aleutian Eskimo, etc). I presume that certain statements like, “I’d like a loan for $50,000 unsecured, right now” would be, ya know, white, but I’m sleep.

So what do you smart people have on my gas money? First, have you ever heard anybody non-Negro say “what had happened was…”? And further, what are some uniquely ethnic phrases across the board. And yes Puerto Ricans, the whistle counts.

Help me with my curiosity. PJ out.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SAY HEFFA SAY WHAT?! aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3