Writing Challenge, Entry #21: A Discussion of Sex, Love, and Misled Black Men
I know some of you are shuddering at the headline, but hear me out.
As we all know, rapper Cardi B. took some time over the holiday season to announce the dissolve of her short-lived marriage to Migos member Offset. Cue my looks of non-surprise. While some fans and fellow observers shared my lack of shock, a surprising number of others have come out expressing their objection to the split and even pressing Cardi to keep the situationship going.
I’ll take “Hell No” for $400, Alex.
Cardi B is a successful young artist who has built an entire brand out of being her authentic self. Much of her appeal has been anchored in the fact that she is a proud girl from the Bronx, who remains unapologetically hood even after gaining the wealth and access of fame. I respect her hustle and all of its payoff. However, as much as she may love Offset, the fact is that his behavior makes her look bad which is a liability to her brand. Further, he clearly doesn’t respect her or take her seriously enough to treat her right, and that should be a deal-breaker.
Offset proved himself to be unfit for marriage from the very beginning. Through his incessant pre-marital and extramarital affairs, he has consistently demonstrated a clear lack self-control, lack of respect for the woman with whom he is supposed to be in a relationship, and blatant disregard for how his actions may effect her. Quite frankly, he seems to have these things in common with several other publicly exposed serial cheaters who have come to his defense (side-eyeing T.I., specifically).
I believe Cardi B. to be a strong woman based off what she’s presented to us, and I just think she deserves better. It was nice to hear her basically say that in her original Instagram post announcing her separation. In a world full of Rasheeda Frosts sticking by unfaithful spouses no matter how many other women they’ve run through in her face, I was glad to see Cardi B speak out as in a manner that conveyed, “Yeah, this isn’t going to work for me.” I also stan for her reaction to Offset’s half-ass onstage apology after interrupting her set at the Rolling Loud Festival. Who rolls up on the woman he’s supposed to be trying to win back and calls her “Bruh?” Dude had one job, and couldn’t even address her by name? THE DOOR. Belcalis Almanzar deserves to be with someone who reciprocates her energy in the relationship and honors her in the streets as much as he does in the mall, car dealerships, and sheets. Period.
Alas, I recognize that Cardi B. and Offset are both independent adults who are entitled to do whatever they want regarding their relationship, regardless of my or anyone else’s feelings (clearly, since sis scheduled a whole international d*** appointment). I know that I sound really invested in their relationship, but I’m really not. My passion on this topic comes from another place.
What honestly irritates me the most about the Cardi and Offset situation is that it is reflective of the state of romantic love in this generation.
Young men are far-too-often signing up for relationships they are clearly not ready for, with women being expected to stick with them through it all no matter what. In all the reports around Cardi B.’s possible divorce, what sent me over the edge were the people (mostly men) commenting sentiments that women “throw away a whole relationship over a little cheating.” Cheating is not a small offense nor is it something to minimize, especially in the context of a marriage. Like Offset, so many men commenting that Cardi should take him back have stepped outside their vows to love, cherish, protect, and respect their women multiple times, and now have the audacity to insinuate that she’s just supposed to sit pretty and take it without feeling some type of way? Absolutely not; some people really have life messed up.
But, then again, I guess it’s easy to spew that rhetoric in a world in which far too many men were never taught how to act in a relationship, how to exercise restraint in the face of temptation, or how to take accountability for their actions and choices.
Note: I will not call cheating a “mistake” because knowingly sleeping with someone who is not your spouse or significant other is a decision; it does not just happen by accident.
I’m also well aware that the reasons why men face such barriers, with healthy behaviors and relationship patterns, become severely complex when considering the lack of guidance specifically available to Black men. It’s hard for Black boys to learn how to be Black men of quality when many of their leaders, namely the older men who should be teaching them, have been victimized or criminalized by the (in)justice system, or have been misled into manhood themselves.
A man can’t teach a boy that he’s not present to raise, nor can he teach a boy lessons he never learned.
And who suffers when a Black boy is never taught to be a man?
Eventually, everybody. The individual man suffers because he lives with a misinterpreted view of what constitutes manhood and masculinity. Instead of being reared to see value in being faithful, loving, protective, considerate, respectful, and responsible, he grows to be an adult wild boy who believes that the number of women he can have sex with is a status symbol. He may tell a woman that he loves her, and truly may feel that way, but he also may severely struggle with displaying actions that coincide with those claims.
If he becomes famous, then he’s even more likely to be easily swayed to infidelity by the increased access to all the women that money, liquor, attention, and Louie bags can buy him. In turn, he’s prone to display self-destructive behaviors, which will also often crumble the romantic relationships he tries to enter. All of that collectively hurts him and the woman, or women, he just can’t seem to do right by. If they have kids together, then there’s another layer of pain.
I’m not aiming to hate on men as a whole; trust me, I know that many women are not saints either in this dating scene that we face. I’m also well aware that all men don’t act like Offset in relationships. Good candidates exist on both sides, no matter how few and far between they may be.
Still, going back to the ever-present turmoil in Cardi B.’s relationship with Offset, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge that his behavior is reflective of a deeper, unique cultural issue facing the Black community and affecting our ability to forge healthy romantic relationships with one another.
The never-ending cycle of young men being miseducated on the subjects of love and lust often leads to a lot of unnecessary pain for them and those with which they become romantically involved. Constantly aiding that miseducation are the oppressive institutions that have historically broken Black family units and negatively affected the accessibility of exemplary Black male leadership (though I am happy to see the state of Black fatherhood steadily shifting).
Misguided boys risk growing into young men with warped perceptions of love, and ending up in relationships they have no idea how to nurture or keep. The Black women in those relationships are too often charged with the task of being a “Ride or Die,” upholding the man who doesn’t demonstrate a high regard for her, but that’s not fair. So, in my opinion, women like Cardi B. are smart for challenging the idea that being the one he comes home to is enough. It’s not. Men like Offset deserve to be held accountable for their actions even when they think nothing of it until it’s too late. They also deserve space and time to learn from their mistakes, while the women they hurt move on to take deserved fresh starts, and new beginnings to reflect and maybe find someone who knows how to treat them.
The moral of the story is, it’s time to turn over a new leaf. The time for situationships has passed, and I challenge us to all demand more from ourselves and our partners in forging healthy relationships henceforth. Don’t think that a marriage certificate or taking things to “the next level” will fix a relationship that’s already problematic; the euphoria may be a brief band aid for the pain, but those unaddressed problems will still be right there when it wanes. Don’t stay where you know you aren’t valued. Open yourself up to the possibility that the present is not your future and there may be something better out there waiting. Take a chance. What better time than the present?
Happy New Year, reader. May you find prosperity and healthy love all 2019. Stay Kultured.