There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from. I’m here for the good fight. Only the fakes run. I’m here for the purple heart. If I can’t take one for my team or my siblings what’s my reason for living? I love my niggas more than anything else. This war’s about my family –me needing the wealth. You don’t understand how useless as men we felt until you become a five-star general. Shout out to my niggas that’s locked in jail. POW’s that’s still in the war for real. 
– Jay-Z, “A Ballad for the Fallen Soldier”




           Daddy’s done some things he isn’t quite comfortable with. Unfortunately, they’ve come to take their toll for another time. I don’t know any of the details and I’m not sure I want to. All I need to know is that he’s mine and of that I am sure. My boo came home last night at 1:45am with weed in his pocket and liquor in his cup. He doesn’t want me thinking that while he’s out running the streets, he’s running with someone else by his side. I trust him when he says he’s not about that. I’m certain I have nothing to worry about. “After all that, babe. You know what made me happy? That I was gonna come home to you,” he’d told me. I could assume he’s lying. I could say he’s just trying to make up for making me wait on him for 3 hours. Or I could sit and listen like I did and find out that he’d had a hard day. They he needed a drink. He needed to relax and let off some steam. He needed to be with friends for a little bit. He needed to be surrounded by people he knows loves him. I could realize that this is the way he works. This is how his day goes. Mine might end at 11, but his was just beginning. I could write all these off as wrongs. I could be upset that he took hours that could have been mine and gave them to friends. And Lord knows who he was with. There may have been plenty bitches where he was. Or there may have been one. But at the end of the day whatever female was hypothetically involved would be highly upset at him still laying in my bed right now. He belongs to me. The sooner I realize it, the happier I’ll be. The easier things will go and the more I can be there for him when he needs me.
         The issue is, we’re too quick to assign wrong without understand the motive. “I’m not a little kid, but sometimes I feel like crying, you know?” he explained. He squints his eyes and looks off into the distance when he’s thinking things he’s hesitant to tell me. At first, I couldn’t tell if the red in his eye was off the weed or the pain but when I looked at him directly, there was no mistaking to do. My baby is hurting. Men don’t always make the right choices. By men, I mean all of mankind. Sometimes it’s due to a lack of sense, most times, it’s due to a lack of everything else: food, money, love. I wondered what difference it would have made three years ago had he had someone to disappoint. “I want to be a gentlemen, you know? I’m trying to be a man,” he explained. I’m not sure where it begins… in exactly what moment it’s done, but there is a sick process taking place in the world that ruins our black men. There’s someone out there telling our little boys that they aint gonna be shit, forcing them to act accordingly and prove the world wrong. They promise themselves they’ll have diamonds  if they have to die for them. So as I grow older and try to find a “qualified”man in this world, they continuously fall short. I now understand: The system’s working effectively, that’s why. 
       I’m disappointed in Black people –especially the educated who seem to think that knowledge is the only power they need to overcome racism. No, you’re still Black. There are still people who don’t like you based solely off the color of your skin. I’m not saying you should focus on it, I’m not saying you should ignore it, I’m saying you should acknowledge the fact and still love yourself and those you resemble. There are particular people who disgust me. College educated black women are one group. It seems that signing up for a couple of courses and hanging a paper on your wall have made you “better” than others and “too good” for some men.I pity you for thinking you’re marry-able. So while I’m sure you’ll find love, I am saddened that you’ll never learn to love someone aside from what has (or has not been) been written on paper about them.  I was almost swayed. I was almost brought to believe that intelligence is accurately measured by how many degrees you have. Perhaps it’s my infatuation with Kanye West or perhaps real recognize real. I met far too many people throughout my life who I am ashamed to have associated myself with. Having gone to a predominantly white college (and high school) I met too many black people afraid and ashamed to be black. So much so that they assign all the bad traits to the “ghetto” and take characteristics like “proud” and “strong” for themselves. Just FYI, if you’re black, you’re black. You’ve got to learn how to accept the bad traits with the good. There is no pick and choose. These are your people and it’s about time you come to terms.
         I’m disappointed in the college girls who consider men unqualified because they found prosperity in the streets rather than in books. Little do you know, these men are who built the streets you walk so calmly on. They are the reason people respect you and you’ve never earned that. Our country fears the black men and while a small portion are out doing the dirty work, the rest of us sit back and enjoy the spoils. By spoils, I mean how a Black man can walk into any room and demand respect simply by standing tall, if he so chooses. How the entire world is afraid to cross a black woman. It’s isn’t because of you, doll… it’s because when a Black man loves you, he loves hard. “If he were to try something, babe,” he said and exhaled. He quieted down as he mind searched for the best possible form of vengeance, “I’d throw him in a shredder, you heard me?” “Go to sleep,” I whispered.  It’s not that he was serious, per-say… it’s that he wanted me to feel like he was serious. Like he’d do anything for me. That’s the difference between your men and mine. These little boys out here have no loyalty. No honor. “I learned that from my niggas. Them niggas say whatever the fuck is on they mind,” he explained. “I love my niggas,” he said with a smile. It was the second time I had seen him smile all day. The first was when he was talking about getting me lunch. “Vegetable-head,” he calls me. “I had to bring my boo some vegetables.” 
        He’s somebody’s son. And that somebody actually sent me food for lunch today (thanks mom!). Sometimes, there’s only so much a woman can do for her sons –and she has five of them.  On might assume she did a poor job in raising them because of whatever conviction might have followed their names, but she’s raised at least one gentlemen. At least one of her boys knows how to treat a woman (and he knows how to treat a whore as well), so in my eyes, she’s done a perfect job. Are you really cold enough to stand before her and tell her that her son doesn’t deserve a good woman? Every time I look in his eyes, I’m afraid to say he’s not good enough for me because I know it’s a lie –but it’s what society would lead me to believe. He’s a good man. He was just too much of a an, too early in life. He’s every man just like I’m every woman. We’ve got to step down and realize that we aren’t better than the next person. Even though I sometimes get ahead of myself, I find my strongest moments are those when I’m fully aware that I’m just like everyone else. And perhaps that’s the only thing that separates me from the greater world: I see my own humanity. 
     He is my brotha. He reminds me of my friends. And of my cousins. Frequently of my uncles. Sometimes, I believe he’s what my father must have been like. Frequently, he reminds me of my brother. & if any bitch were to play my brother’s “eligibility” and claim he doesn’t “deserve” her… pardon my hood but I’d kick that bitch dead in her face. It’s that serious. For all these girls who think their too good for our men, you aint shit, hun. I’ve had better relationships with non-degreed men than I have with these college boys. In my opinion, college stunts a man’s growth. You can disagree if you’d like… but the streets harden a man –god or bad. College boys have 4 extra years of mommy taking care of them. It’s only after that time period that they begining to become men. That they learn to provide for themselves. It takes even longer for them to learn to provide for someone else. I need a man already. I can’t wait any longer for the Boys-II-Men transition. I’m not made for that. I can stick by a guy through anything except for him learning to become a man. I need him to be that when I meet him. 
        The solution to what’s going on in the hood –all of it– is better women. You know bad boys need good girls. Beyonce might have only been half as serious as I am when I say, “we run the world.” The women in a man’s life have a direct correlation to the decisions he makes. No, I haven’t conducted any studies to prove this, but psychology is a bullshit science anyways. If you have people around you who support you, who love you, who care how your day is and where your life will lead you… you are more likely to make choices that will impress them out of fear of disappointing them. We’re all suckers for a little motivation and rightly so. Instead of supporting our men, we call them dogs tie them to the gate and assume they’ll run off an terrorize the world. We assume they rob and cheat and steal. And so what if they do? Sometimes, you have to. If you live in reality at all, you know that. Perhaps its not their fault though. Perhaps, if everyone told you, since you were young, that you were a bad person, you’d being to believe it. You’d have no reason to think otherwise. Sometimes, these men need to be re-taught. A woman is different from a mother. That man will listen to you if you speak to him correctly. You can edit a man at your will if you so choose. He’s going to act in a way that makes you happy –even if they are the slightest changes. For example, my babe doesn’t litter anymore. He doesn’t want to hear my mouth. 😉
        He’s not a bad person and I wish people would see that more clearly. Still, it takes actually caring about a person to sit and understand who they are. He’s the son who says “I love you, mom,” every time before he hangs up. The one who plays magic tricks on his little brother. He’s the guy who plays with all the little kids at the basketball court. The only one who played with the disabled kid but gave him enough respect to win fair and square. “You’re my friend. You’re the only one who plays with me,” the kid said while my babe tried to bandage up his hands from a day of uncalled fouls. He’s the one I can call when it’s raining and I’ve left my umbrella home. He’ll complain the whole way home about dirtying his fancy Adidas, but he’ll kiss me on the forehead and take my bags before he starts. He holds my hand when we cross the street.  He walks me to the train even if he’s not coming with me. He holds my face when he kisses me. You see… men do the same things. All of them. A kiss is a kiss, it can only get so good. Sex is sex at the end of the day –hopefully it’s good. Anyone can hold your hand. Still, it’s the feeling that comes along with it. The feeling that you wouldn’t trade anything for those fingers, those lips, that touch. It’s the mere fact that it’s coming from him that illicit orgasms in your heart. And if a man can do that… why deny him? Why fight him? Sometimes… there is little you can control. You can either focus on what the rest of the world considers a “eligible” man, or you can determine the prerequisites on your own. But remember, you’re the one who has to love him. Would you love him forever? Would you really? In spite of all he’s done? Regardless of all they have said? What about what they’ll say later?
       Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what a person did before you met them –along with how the rest of the world views them –that we fail to see them for who they are, then and there. Personally, I’m not interested in the past. I’m sure it had a great affect on who you’ve become, but who you are in the moment matters most to me. I used to be 18. I used to be 15. I used to be 6… At each of those ages, my life changed drastically and have shaped me… but today, I am who I am. The same goes for my men out there. There are different worlds black people have to travel –and I’m speaking of a particular sector that’s influenced not only by color of skin but by socio-ecominic struggles as well. Those worlds range from real, to street, to work to school… they are all world you have to navigate on your own. We all find our way through it in whatever form we’re best at. I write. The poor steal. Thugs gamble. Corporate white men monopolize and even employ slave-like labor in international factories. There are many more bad people out there than my man is. He may have committed some sins, but if your God is as great as you think he is, I’m sure he’s already forgiven him –or soon will. 
  I’m not giving up on the Black man just because everyone else has. Especially not mines. I wonder what he’d have done with the rest of his night if not come home to me. I’m sure he’d still be unhappy. He’d wake up stressed. Sometimes all you need is someone to put a smile on your face at the end of the day. He does it for me and so he deserves the same in return. There’s nothing more satisfying than being there for your man when he needs you the most. Try it.