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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Social Commentary:
Relationship Advice From Just Any-Old-Body?

This week many excellent writers and scholars (Marc Lamont Hill, Talib KweliDemetria Lucas, Very Smart Brother The Champ) have effectively demystified the unintelligible relationship rantings of a rapper named Slim Thug (if you don't know who Slim Thug is, do not be dismayed, you are in good company - not many people do).  Other than making blog headlines this week for publicly admonishing the state of Black relationships (which, let's face it, is not unique, imaginative, or edgy at this point), I couldn't tell you one thing about the "emcee".

This post is not aimed at joining the debate regarding the merits of Slim's commentary.  The above mentioned writers/scholars have all done a good job of that.  Instead, I'd like to pose the following question:  Since when did we start taking relationship advice from just any-old-body?

Okay, let me preface this little rant by saying that I think that conversation and debate are critical to enlightenment.  Obviously if you consistently find yourself in bad relationships, discussing your experiences can help you pinpoint what maybe going wrong in your personal life.  I also see the entertainment value of blog-style community forums dedicated to relationship topics.  It is a safe place to meet people, share ideas, and engage your mental muscles in good old fashion cerebral foreplay.  I get it.  However, what worries me is that with the advent of the internet and the virtual soapboxes we know as blogs, we are losing sight of the fact that an opinion is just an opinion.

I don't think many people who read Slim's assessment of Black relationships, walked away from the article feeling empowered to go forth and engage more positively in their relationships.  In fact, his thoughts were probably easy to dismiss as they lacked eloquence, purpose, direction, and solution (of the implementable kind).  His image (fortunately) also works against his credibility, so much so that  when you read Slim's views you instinctively know that his inability to find women who are "down" for him, is most assuredly a result of his own personal choices.

But what if Slim had been an English major?  Had he been better equipped to express his point, would we be more inclined to consider his point of view?  When evaluating the opinions of relationship philosophers, do we care whether they have ever successfully navigated a long-term relationship?  Do we care whether that person has been married, or even engaged?  Do we wonder whether the opinion is an educated one, based in a true knowledge of human behavior or psychology?  And if we aren't asking these questions, should we?

Since when did we start taking any-old-body's advice on relationships?  Since when does the musings of an unmarried man who has little to no experience in commitment become worthy of blogosphere fodder?  Since when did the conversation about Black relationships get taken over by an abundance of people who have not found success in the area?

Slim's opinion is his own to have.  It is based on his experiences and personal choices.  It is surely not an accurate representation of the all Black relationships - it definitely isn't representative of mine.   So much of the Black Relationship dialogue stems from individuals unwilling to hold themselves accountable for their own circumstances.  A woman who is unwilling to "settle" (read: compromise) generalizes that there are no suitable Black men available.  A man who readily uses his money as a means to attract and woo women generalizes that Black women are only looking for ballers to take care of them.  We need to stop allowing these people to hijack the overall Black Relationship conversation for their own rationalizing purposes.  That is the first step in stopping these imaginary relationship epidemics.
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