What used to be one of my biggest fears is the discovery that I’m organically not what I hope I am. When I’d think of myself, I’d wonder if who I think I am is really antithetical to who I was created to be; that there’s a possibility I’m spending all my energy doing the wrong things. One day it came to me that my fear was actually rooted in what I thought people thought of me. What would my family and friends think if I ever expressed what I was really felt or was thinking? What would happen to my support system if I was ever authentically “Tuan?” In fact, what did being authentic mean for me at any point in time?
Being worried about the thoughts and opinions of others was the root of my spiritual paralysis. To break the stagnation, I had to do some hard work. I had to find what relationships, food, sex and alcohol couldn’t give me… knowledge of me. I needed to confront the pain relationships, food, sex and alcohol pacified. I had to start thinking about myself. I had to challenge and explore what I thought of me. After thirteen years in ministry, I had to break open my spirit and calculate what I had, who I was, where I was going, and what all that meant. It all started with my thoughts of me.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” opened my eyes to a great deal of things. It taught me that it really doesn’t matter what other people think of me. The important thing is what I think of myself. And whatever I thought of myself, IS who I am. So when I thought of myself as unloveable, unattractive or not good enough, I wasn’t. That thought pattern lead to me being depressed and self-destructive. Not only was I self-destructive, I was subconsciously destroying everything and everyone around me. I couldn’t see good in me, so I couldn’t see it in others. I was hypercritical, judgmental, catty and downright mean.
Eventually I had to ask myself, “Tuan, what are you thinking?” The only thing I thought was good about me was based on the opinions and thoughts of others, so in reality I wasn’t thinking.
To get a good view of who I am, I had to break down every wall that I thought was protecting me. I had to become open. I had to crack open all the things I had bottled up and look at them; deal with each and every issue, positive or negative. Only when I became open was I able to see my own potential. While I had a closed mind and spirit, I wasn’t able to get a true calculation of all the things that make me who I am; my talents, my insights, my background, my dreams, and so much more. I couldn’t even see the infinite possibilities. Confronting all my crazy helped me see not just what I have, but helped me realize what I want. I now understand what I want isn’t impossible. What I want for my life is what I deserve.
So, what are you thinking? What are WE thinking? Are we really seeing the big picture about who we are individually and collectively? Are we passionate enough, courageous enough to brea open that which keeps us isolated, take inventory and open ourselves up to what is possible? At this very moment, you are… we are the precise expression of what we think.
Tuan N’Gai is an activist and co-founder of Operation: REBIRTH. He is the author and publisher of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma” and “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.” He is also a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” Tuan currently lives in Chicago, Illinois
“He said he wants me to be his wife, his whore, and the mother of his children. Then he proposed to me.” That is something a young lady said on her Facebook page. She was happy. Celebrating her new engagement. But, like clockwork, a firestorm of negative comments rang out from empowered black women. She was accused of having low self-esteem. She was berated for letting a man talk to her like that. How DARE she revel in male misogyny and set the black female struggle back 50 years! Why did she think it was a compliment? Why did so many people congratulate her like she had accomplished something great? I mean, since when did “whore” become a compliment or an aspiration? Right?
Though I understand the people who disagreed with his choice of words, I have to say I disagree with it. This is a relationship between a man and HIS woman; a woman and HER man. Who the HELL are outsiders to tell them what is and is not appropriate in their relationship? Who died and made anyone else’s opinion relevant to their thing? If this young lady wasn’t offended, because the word isn’t a negative one within the bonds of her engagement, I think everyone else should just get somewhere and SADDOWN!
I honestly think he was telling her, “Baby, all I need, I’ve found in you. You are just ALL the woman I need. For a home-cooked meal and clean house, I can come home to you. For all the low-down, gutter-butt, freak nasty pornographic fantasies I want fulfilled in the bedroom that I can’t share with anyone else, I know you got me. There is no other woman I want to bear my seed. You are EVERY woman to me!”
I think the young man exercised maturity and had the balls to freely say what he loves about her in the most vulnerable and uncensored way. What’s wrong with that? If more people had the type of relationship where they were safe and free to say exactly what they felt, HOW they felt it without the threat or fear of judgement, we just may have a better society. The world needs this type of honesty. Furthermore, what’s wrong with having a wife (or partner) who is so sexually uninhibited they satisfy every little sexual fetish you have? What’s wrong with that?
The way I see it, the women who were going in on this young lady were jealous. They weren’t empowered women at all. They were bitter, insecure, hurt and angry women who probably are in need of a 15-minute toe curling, body-rocking orgasm their damn selves! When you violently berate others because they don’t agree with your point of view, or don’t know the whole story, that’s not empowerment boo boo, you really need to get off your high horse and live a little. Maybe if you weren’t so uptight, and were free enough to be someone’s personal whore, you might be getting wifed up to.
“All the good black men are either dead, married, gay, in jail or waiting to be born,” is something I heard a young lady say in a bible study once. We were discussing the possibility of some of us in the class never getting married. Before making this statement, she told the pastor he needed to come up with some programs so some of the women in the class could have the hope of getting married. She then went on to give a dramatic speech called “Who Is Left to Love the Black Woman?”
I was very offended. And the whole time she was giving her lil’ speech, I was lookin’ at Mz. Lady like she’d bumped her head. After her speech, the pastor asked if any of the men in the class would like to respond. So, you KNOW I raised my hand right? And the pastor just shook his head, because he KNEW what was coming.
I stood up in front of the class, cleared my throat, and said, “I don’t think the problem here is ‘who’s left to love the black woman, but rather who is qualified!” I also told Mz. Lady that she owed every man in the class an apology because ALL OF US in the class thought of ourselves as good men.
These days, what IS a good man? Everyone has their own idea of what makes a man “good,” so it’s difficult to set a concrete definition. When asked that question, most of the single men I know say they consider themselves good men.
So, if so many people (straight women and gay men) are looking for ‘good men’, why are so many presumed good men single? Maybe the people who say they are looking for a good man, aren’t really looking for a good man at all. Most are seeking out “good-looking men” and are disappointed when they find that those who they think are good-looking often lack the characteristics they say they want in a man. The truth is, most will totally overlook a man of character if he doesn’t personify what society says is beautiful or successful. Even if the man is only trying to be a friend, he still faces rejection based on his looks.
My late Big Mama used to say, “baby, you don’t throw away a diamond because it’s given to you in a paper bag, and not a velvet box….a diamond is still a diamond no matter what it may be wrapped in.” Big Mama knew that a good man couldn’t be measured or judged by what he has or how he looks. A good man can only be judged by his character. Now I’m not naïve to the fact that what we see gets our attention. But it seems that what we see is the most important thing. We value things that are temporal. Good looks fade or can be destroyed. Money and material things are fleeting and can be taken away. But a strong and noble character is something that is invaluable and will stand the test of time.
So to all those women and men, who say they’re looking for a good man, remember that a good man (a diamond) is still a good man (a diamond) regardless of how he may be wrapped. Think about it, that man of character that you’ve overlooked because you’re “just not attracted to him” may be the friend or partner you’ve been looking for all along. Learn how to see people with more than just your eyes. Maybe the problem is not a shortage of eligible candidates, but your inability to recognize a good man when you see him.
Tuan N’Gai is Co-Founder of the Operation: REBIRTH Movement. He’s the author of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma,” “Little Brown Boy’s Blues,” and a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Okay so let me see if I understand this correctly… It was “GOD’S plan” for George Zimmerman to stalk and murder Trayvon Martin? It makes perfect sense that he’d say that. His “GOD” is the same one that the Ku Klux Klan and so many other so-called Christians in AmeriKKKa worship.
Personally, it makes me angry for people to do evil and then say somehow GOD planned it, told them to do it, or had something to do with it. Light has no parts of darkness other than to get rid of it. I hardly think a GOD who we are taught is love, would plan or allow anyone to terrorize and kill anyone else. This thing called George Zimmerman (yes, I said THING) is EVIL and trying to beat a murder charge. Plain and simple.
I call bullshit on his fake-ass apology too. Since when do people do “GOD’S will” and apologize for it?Did anybody in the beloved Bible these AmeriKKKans supposedly read ever “apologize” for carrying out GOD’S plan? One would think if a person was obeying the orders of GOD, they are doing what is right, or holy. Why apologize for doing the right thing? I mean, the plan of GOD is always righteous and holy… right?
It must be his GOD’S plan for him to be a liar as well. Instead of being a punk ass liar, George Zimmerman should have just said, “I SHOT THAT NIGGER AND I’D DO IT AGAIN!” At least that would have been honest. I may not agree with him, but I do respect honesty. It takes courage.
George should be dropped off in the Inglewood neighborhood of Chicago with money pinned to his chest, forced to scream “I SHOOT NIGGERS”, stalked, made to fear for his life, chased, beaten and shot to death. And as he is being terrorized and murdered, he should be repeatedly reminded it was GOD’S plan for him to die that way. The infallible Bible says, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. And we should ALL obey the Bible… right.
Bottom line, an innocent kid is dead at the hands of a man who says he’d do it again. Whether George Zimmerman goes to prison or dies a horrible and violent death, we are never getting Trayvon Martin back.
A young man I was mentoring called me to vent about what he perceived as a negative experience. He was FURIOUS!!! He was leaving a job interview in a building downtown when he was joined on the elevator by an older white woman. Though he was professionally dressed, his “swagger” still seemed to show.
According to his account, when the elevator door closed the lady moved as close as she could on the other side of the elevator and clutched her purse, being sure to not make eye contact with him. He said it was obvious she was afraid. She honestly thought he would do something to her or try to take her purse.
He was livid that she would think that of him. “Don’t nobody want that ol’ woman, her p***y, OR her dayum purse!” he said. He rode the bus and walked home from his stop insulted that someone who didn’t even know him would thing that about him, and would make it known with their actions.
When he finished venting, I asked him to listen to what he told me. I repeated, “The white woman got on the elevator. When the door closed, she retreated to the opposite side and clutched her purse. Why? Because she was afraid of you.”
“Yeah”, he said.
I asked him, “when are you gonna realize the power you have?” When will you glory in the fact that as a young black man, your very presence is so intense that it intimidates people who aren’t as strong as you are, and it challenges their ignorance?”
“Dayum! I didn’t think about it like that,” he responded.
Even though I was in a position to minister to him, this entire scenario was a lesson to me as well. I should no longer view my blackness as a hindrance or curse. I should embrace and glory in it. Hell, my blackness is more than beautiful…it’s downright powerful! The fact that I’m a black man is a gift. It’s a blessing. It’s an honor that God saw fit to bestow. It’s a reason to celebrate. I also realized that my blackness is a call to responsibility. The power that black men possess is one that should be used to bless the earth. When I think of the intelligence and talent we possess, it makes me so proud to be who I am. I just wish there were more black men who were vocal about their Black Pride.
The funny thing is how white people get afraid, offended and worried about black men having, vocalizing and displaying their pride. It truly incites fear within their very souls. I think that fear is a response to their internalized guilt for how we’ve been treated in the United States of Amerikkka. I think Black Pride is such a bright light that it shows them their inferiority. Maybe they are afraid because they know if we ever start to walk in all the greatness that lives within us, the white privilege bullshit will end, and the chickens will TRULY come home to roost.
It’s sad to think an entire generation of black men know nothing of their history. They have no clue of the greatness that is manifested on the earth because of their presence. I think knowing how Benjamin Banniker, a black man, contributed inventions that changed history would make them proud. Knowing of Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, black men, giving us literature that transcends time would get them excited. To know how the athletic accomplishments of Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Arthur Ashe, Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan revolutionized sports forever is simply amazing. To have knowledge of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Dr. MLK, and countless other civil rights icons would make them proud of their blackness. To know of men like Thelonius Monk, James Cleveland, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince and countless others who personify musical excellence and genius, would be an inspiration.
Having the opportunity to mentor younger black men has helped me realize that we, as a black men, cannot allow the fear or ignorance of others to make us think negative things about ourselves. We cannot allow anyone but us to define who we are. We cannot accept what the media says about black men as our personal truth, but rather present such a positive and powerful image they can’t help but tell the truth we want told.
It’s time we get back to teaching our sons, nephews and cousins about the greatness from whence they come. We have to embrace the beauty in our diversity. We can no longer use the evil perpetrated by white men as an excuse to dwell in mediocrity. We have to accept our blackness as a “something extra” that God gave us to succeed, whether white men are afraid of it or not.