I Didn’t Know Black People Like You Existed.
(ThyBlackMan.com) I saw two old friends last night (husband and wife) for the first time in six years. I knew “the Mrs” long before she met her husband, and I’ve had a chance to watch each of them evolve from their early days to become the people that they are right now.
The couple got married a decade ago and have a great house with three beautiful, intelligent kids under the age of 10. The wife has a PhD and the husband is a successful consultant. Neither of them were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
They told me a story about how they met a young woman about the age of 21, who was college educated, but from the “other side” of Chicago. The young woman met the family and saw that they had a stable relationship, educated kids and a pretty normal, prosperous household. The woman was taken aback by what she saw, and told them, “I didn’t know black people like you existed.”
We talked about the young girl’s reaction and how sad it is that people think it’s an anomaly to see black families that stick together and husbands who go to work every day. We talked about the days, not that long ago, when television featured families like this on a regular basis (The Cosby Show) and promoted things like HBCU attendance (A Different World). We then compared to that to how today’s shows glorify extreme, unhealthy dysfunctionality (Love and Hip-Hop) and poor relationship choices (Basketball Wives). Let’s not even talk about the promotion of black-on-black violence, bullying and disrespect.
What does this say about the future of our kids? The answer is not a good one. We cannot live in a world where it’s normal for the father to be out of the household before the baby shower, for this typically leads to poverty and pain, not prosperity and happiness. Accepting the idea that our kids are always going to be a step behind in education and a step ahead when memorizing the latest dance moves is unacceptable. Why must fighting, disappointment, trauma and ignorance be the norm, when we know how damaging this is to our kids?
The conversation with my friend ended with my telling him how I’ve always known that he’d be the strong black man that he is today. He said that simple values like delayed gratification, responsibility, hard work, education and financial literacy played a big part in building the life that he has right now. When he could have been popping bottles at the club, he was studying. When he could be “chilling,” he was usually building. He made the conscious decision, years ago, to make himself into the kind of man that his kids could be proud of, and didn’t allow life to just sort of “happen to him.”
My friend’s wife, a beautiful woman who could have had any man she wanted, talked about how she understood how to pass up the “playas,” “swaggers” and “ballas” to find a man who was going to be a good husband and father for her children. She also studied 8 hours a day to earn a PhD while giving birth to her first two children. Even when her husband was still in school, she knew that he possessed the values a man should have in order to be a good father. So, a woman who could have had any man she wanted loved her children enough to choose someone who was going to be capable and there for them. She also taught her kids that her father is an important and necessary component to the household and their lives, and didn’t fall for the whole “I can do it all by myself” trap that we see so often today.
Don’t ask me why I chose to share this story, but it came to mind this morning. I would say that the Financial Lovemaking lesson behind this anecdote is that good outcomes in life are created when you consciously refuse to embrace the bad ones. Choosing the partner that you NEED instead of sleeping with the person you WANT at the moment could be a good life strategy. Delaying gratification on consumption habits and personal choices might also be part of the lesson here. The point is that you can’t always do what feels good right now if it’s going to make you feel bad later on down the road.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Strong families are built through good planning, smart life investments, and not tossing yourself into one silly situation after another. Also, there is little room for self-pity in the struggle to become a self-sufficient human being: Racism is real, the odds might be stacked against you, but the truth is that when you fail, no one is going to feel sorry for you. A good future doesn’t typically happen by accident.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins