Tuesday, April 27

You Hear Me, But Are You LISTENING?

I was going to do a blog yesterday about picking your battles in relationships. But, I just didn't feel inspired after a while to even address it. Most times I have to write in the moment, or it just doesn't flow the way I want or need it to flow.

Last night my girl J & I went to a discussion about Black men & women. And at this point, I wish I had stayed home. We jokingly said we were going to go there just so we could repeat over and over GUYS... DON'T... LISTEN!  But as it turns out, guys don't listen. And they proved it last night over and over again. They also proved that guys are very sensitive. The main issue I had with the guys in the room is that most of them were married or taken. Why are you here? It certainly wasn't to give sage advice... It seems their primary purpose was to say I am going to do what I want and you should accept that and look where it could get you... married to me after 5 years of dealing with my "I should have my picture in the dictionary under the word 'player'" self... That's an actual quote from a married man!

The night started out okay, but it turned into an emotional cauldron when I said I'm not in the habit of talking to guys that get on at Judiciary Square wearing a white tee and jeans because most of the ones I have encountered there have been "on papers" or coming from court. Apparently that statement (well, that is a paraphrase) was the heartbreak heard round the room because all the tee shirt and jeans wearers got up in arms.
Q: Why?
A: Because they HEARD I don't talk to guys in tee shirts and jeans.

Q: Is that what I SAID?
A: NO! But because they weren't LISTENING, they got upset & suddenly every man in the room had a comment for ME!

Q: Was I the only woman talking?
A: NO! Nor was I the only woman SAYING what I was saying. But for some reason, it was all about ME & J last night. *waves to my fans in the stands*

The overriding theme last night was the women's perceptions were based on self-preservation. The guys' perceptions were based on "give a brother a chance"... Am I the only one that sees the problem here?

Most of the voice raising and attitude came OVERWHELMINGLY from the guys. Including one guy who got SO mad at my Judiciary Square comment he went outside to take a breather. Then when he came back, he had SO much to say about what J & I said from the beginning up until I finally just walked out.
Q: Why was he so mad?
A: Because he was just at Judiciary Square in a tee shirt and jeans.

Q: Why was he there?
A: To get points off his license...

Q: How is that different from being on papers, or going to court?
A: I'm not really sure, but he felt that made him better than the defendANTS I see down there on the regular.

Then he tried to say that he has been down there in a suit and tie because he was going to court. And people would assume he was a lawyer. He could not have been more wrong. Lawyers at Judiciary Square have rolling briefcases full of files, etc. If I saw you down here with a suit on and a folder, I'd know. But I never mentioned guys in suits, NOR my preference of men, NOR the guys/men that I have dated, talked to, befriended, etc. in the very recent past. Guess what? They're tee shirt and jeans wearers. But guess where I did NOT meet them? That's RIGHT! Judiciary Square! I even felt kinda bad for the tee shirt and jeans wearers in the room and said I pay attention to the style and brand. But of course that just meant I was a Label Whore. and it certainly could not have meant that I use context clues to weed out the defendants from the hard-working tee shirt and jeans wearers.

The truth is I have dated guys without cars, guys that lived with their parents, guys that had more tennis shoes then dress shoes, guys that only graduated high school, guys that are artists and musicians, guys that were manual laborers. The TRUTH is I give a brother a chance, but the TRUTH is also, I have to be careful when and where. Because as a single woman in a Metro area, I'm all I got. But instead of empathizing with that, the guys that were there last night were waiting for a chance to defend or in some cases offend. People came to my defense last night because they said that I was being attacked. I didn't feel attacked, I found it funny because all attention was on me in a room full of women with similar opinions and I just couldn't figure out why. I can't explain to you HOW in their feelings some of those guys were... It got to the point where I would just laugh when they started talking. Because they were THAT emotional about tee shirts and jeans. But had they bothered to ask me if I dated men in tee shirts and jeans the answer would be an OVERWHELMING yes! One of the men I see most often is older than most of the guys in the room and is an AVID tee shirt and jeans wearer. I have seen him dressed up MAYBE twice.

But once the guy that had been in my and J's face all night suddenly got STANK! I knew it was time to excuse myself before I really got into it with him. He said he wasn't going to say everything he wanted to say because it would make too much sense. My response: "Yeah why would you want to make sense in a DISCUSSION!" and laughed. Apparently that was what turned him into a crazy-eyed HULK and he began spewing madness. Then it carried over into his business-sense and I heard him say probably the rudest thing you would want to hear from a business-owner. and THAT was when I had to leave. He had gotten so emotional about tee shirts and jeans, he let it cloud his business mind. EMOTIONAL!

"Look at me, I can't stop CRYING
Inside my heart is slowly DYING!"

The guys assumed that I was mad at one point, I told them that I was really disappointed because they weren't listening. And they proved it time and again.

And we're not even going to GET on the topic of the blatant lies that were being told and the inconsistencies in stories. For instance, TWO guys said they were players, those TWO guys were tee shirt and jeans guys, those TWO guys got mad at me for not wanting to talk to tee shirt and jeans guys at Judiciary Square, YET those TWO guys just said they were players... But maybe it's just me...

Shout out to alll my tee shirt and jeans wearing men that work hard and do what a man is supposed to do!!! *muah*

WHEW, I feel better now... can you say CATHARTIC!

p.s. I purposely didn't mention the name of the establishment or event because I'm going to "give the brothers a chance" again in the near future...


Anonymous said...

Wow, you are way off on this. I was there last night and I heard every thing. You are only telling parts of what happened.
1. Only 2 of the 12 men were in relationships. Only 2 of the 11 women were as well.
The one you say said he is a player actually said he used to be a player. He is now happily married with a new born daughter which he post about everyday on facebook.
2. The man that said he had been down to Judicary Sq. earlier that day was pointing out that just because you see someone in jeans & a t-shirt there doesn't mean they are there for a serious crime/drug slinging offense. As was stated by your friend J. Which you left out.
And there is a difference between going to get points taken of a traffic violation such as running a red light or speeding a little bit above the limit than fighting a charge for distributing drugs or assault on someone.
3. When did become a standard rule that if a person is in a relationship they cannot come to a dicussion forum for black men & women? As a matter of fact we need more blacks that are in good relationships to come support and tell what is helping make their situation work so others can be encouraged & educated.
Last nights dicussion proved a very important thing. Neither black men or black women listen to each other. They don't like, trust or respect each other. The women were just as impatient & intruding on those whose time it was to speak as the men.(Including you & J).
While you are right that the men were "Sensitive" so were the women.
You often did not listen to what the men had to say then told everyone when it wasn't your turn to talk that you were disappointed & shook your head in dissatisfaction throughout the evening. That doesn't sound like open mindedness either. It goes hand & hand.
We as a people need to fess up and tell the whole truths and then address & fix this madness that has invaded our community.
Can we put our past & current problems/disappointments to the side & really hear each other without being bias?

B. Cooley said...

You are entitled to your opinion, as am I... and as this is MY blog that is what I express MY opinion. So to say I am only telling parts of the story is obvious, I'm not a journalist, I'm a woman with a forum to express MY opinion.

To address point 1- I was going by what I was told. I didn't go around the room and ask. So I was misinformed, I'll admit that. As for the former player, I said he was married. As far as a child, I don't see what that has to do with his OPENING statement about him being a player and talking about how he would play women that were obviously helping him out in his time of need. And him purposely NOT saying he was married until well into the discussion as if it were some sort of "GOTCHA"! (again MY opinion)

2- The points on the license, I'm not familiar with. So if I am misconstruing it as a big deal & it's not, so be it, I can admit when I am wrong.

3- is a moot point because like I said, I was misinformed. BUT if the point is for the married & taken men and women to educate and encourage, then that is how it should have been approached, IN MY OPINION. I felt many of the people there had ulterior motives. and many of the people there were talking amongst themselves. not just J and I.

To say that I don't like, trust or respect black men, is a grave generalization. I like, trust and respect the black men in my life. But those men have earned that trust and respect from me as I have of them. As a woman living alone in a city like DC, I cannot trust and respect every black guy I come into contact with (outside of general respect as a human being) just because he is black and that goes with any man of any race or culture.

My OVERWHELMING experience at that ONE metro stop in NO WAY dictates how I treat men in similar attire elsewhere based upon how they present themselves outside of what they are wearing.

Next time I will come with no expectations at all, just to make sure that I am open-minded.

I typed all of this and you probably won't even come back to read it, but... for my folks that DO read my blogs and know me... here ya go.

Anonymous said...

I came back to read your response. :)
I just wanted to have as much of the truth to be presented as possible. I have been going that forum for over 3 years and it has been most honest & productive discussion forums I have ever seen. The men have been very enthused about talking with black women to learn. Your comment on the jeans & t-shirt was very disturbing to the men because it is a stereo-type that America has shown of general black men. I understand your frustration that some(not all) the men responded to it before letting you finish, but that was happening all night between both the men & women.
As for the ulterior motives, many people come into dicussion forums with them including myself and you.
ie."We jokingly said we were going to go there just so we could repeat over and over GUYS... DON'T... LISTEN!"
That was your quote from the 1st paragraph in this blog about you and J going to the discussion.
My point is that we need to humble ourselves, control our frustrations and examine wholisticly what is happening to us.
I honestly hope to see you again so that we can all build together from each other's experiences, knowledge & wisdom.

B. Cooley said...

Glad you came back...

Now, one last point, I choose my words very carefully... I said "jokingly" and that joke is based on conversations that J & I have amongst ourselves where we JOKE about a lot.

Now let me just reiterate that MOST of the men I talk to are t-shirt & jeans men. So all that uproar was funny AND disappointing to me. To have HARPED on it SO MUCH led me to believe that those t-shirt & jean guys were harboring some sort of issue with it that had nothing to do with ME. As you said before "America's" stereotype, must be the issue for THEM. However the issue for ME is based on MY experience with men in jeans & tees at Judiciary Square not on some tv show, or the news, or what have you.

This blog purposely does not mention the place or event as to not cloud the opinions of anyone that would like to attend the event in the future. I respected what they were trying to do and when it came to the point that I felt disrespected and could no longer be respectful, I excused myself.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you didn't get to hear the rest of the discussion. We did talk about a lot of other things. It wasn't centered around jeans & t-shirts. They talked about a lot of other things like education, job titles & white supremacy racist system. Everyone men and women left at the end of the night on good vibes. We need to be more patient & respectful to each other in discussions like those and on a everyday level. Even when we may feel frustrated or disrespected.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to speak up as someone who was there and witnessed what happened first hand. First, Ms. Cooley was responding to a very valid point another woman made about receiving what you put out there and knowing where to look for what you want. Cooley’s example was that because she works at Judiciary Square, she does not pay attention to any gentleman vying for her attention at that spot because they may be there for something major. Then she specified their attire, specifically referring to gentlemen wearing a white t-shirt and jeans. If the men were listening, she also said she is even more leery of gentlemen in suits. But I doubt anyone heard that.

I was disappointed by what I observed because not one man discussed her point; they were stuck on the jeans/t-shirts. Why are you taking it so personal? She doesn’t know you, yet three of her respondents prefaced their retort with: I wear t-shirts and jeans. I felt like my girl M: What about it. :-| Was she even talking about you? It wasn’t personal, as ALL the women stated, she’s speaking off of her experiences. Let it go! She also said if you wish to talk to her, you would have to do something DIFFERENT in order for her to acknowledge you. She’s open – but, she’s in this environment 5 out of 7 days a week so she’s on auto-pilot.

I was disgusted because when we expressed our disappointment (be it verbally or non-verbally) it was taken as disrespect. It’s not disrespect, I just don’t agree with you. We weren’t loudly talking over what you were saying – we would make remarks to ourselves and that was it. The remarks weren’t even about the speaker. We still heard you, we even understood you, but we also saw you missed the point. Demanding eye-contact, referencing “we’re here to educate” as if we were uneducated was completely unnecessary. We’re all adults. She should have been able to talk about her personal experiences/preferences without someone, with NO PREVIOUS PERSONAL CONTACT, assuming that she was discounting HIM. It’s the same thing as being eliminated by me for using “Excuse me Ms. Lady” as your initial greeting – I don’t like it. What’s worse is that NONE of the respondents accepted the ENVIRONMENT as the primary factor as to why she wasn’t interested. It automatically went to: “See that’s our problem as a people, we got to take the blinders off and…” :-/

Why is it NOT OK for a woman to use her surroundings and her previous experiences to aid her when meeting a man for the first time? Valerie Simpson met Nick Ashford while he was homeless on a park bench. Would you recommend all women give a homeless man a try? If these men were really there to gain an understanding, they would have asked questions. Yet, no one asked if a man in the same outfit would stand a chance if he were at Ft. Totten on a Sunday afternoon or in Ozio’s on a Saturday night. No one asked what she’s encountered or experienced to make her feel this way. That could have all prompted various discussions as to how to resolve her dissonance as men and women. But clearly, that wasn’t important.

In order to discuss relationships honestly, then we need to accept that we’ll share like experiences with some people and hear unfamiliar situations from others. I felt that acting (yes I said ACTING) surprised by what Ms. Cooley said was silly; because unless someone in that room was a recent transplant to the area, we all know what goes on at Judiciary Square. It isn’t the best place to meet a potential mate. Everyone doesn’t need to be ‘educated’ on relationship issues, and some should stop thinking it’s their calling to do so; especially when one can’t differentiate between a personal example and an all-out attack.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that the previous response was from Ms. J who was also in attendance on Monday. Most people who comes to a lecture or discussion forum come to be enlightened or "Educated" I hear a touch of arrogance in your tone as if you cannot be the people that were in the discussion. That discussion has been going on for over 3 1/2 years as the host stated and "most" people "Learn" a lot from gathering with other minds to discuss a subject or topic. While I do agree that some not all the men let out reactions to Ms. Cooley's remarks and I also agree that they should not have done that. It was not "all" of them(actually only 3 out of the 12 there) and to be honest Ms. Cooley even stated in her blog that the 2 of you came in with a mindset that you were gonna prove that men don't listen "jokingly".

The truth is that the statement was one stereotypical of negative perceptions of black men. Anytime someone makes a statement regarding negative perceptions of any demographic group,that group should be bothered. Does that give the right to have a outburst? Depends on the situation. In that situation where we are there to "Educate" & share our experiences & wisdom. No they should not have. But you really didn't show much better restraint/respect either in response to others responses. You shook your head the whole time pretty much after and constantly paid attention to your cell phone. Now that was closed minded reaction. Much the same as if a white person sees a black man/woman get angry then says "See they are always violent oriented". Even if the white person said something "Offensive" with intent or not to spark that anger.
Had Ms. Cooley been a white man or white woman and made the exact same remarks, pretty much everyone would've taken offense to it. Even if there is a lot of truth to it. The irony is that you both came down on men for reacting to a true but honestly negative statement with negativity yourselves.
When the host asked what would we think if it was a white man at that same location dressed the same way, I do believe it was you who said "I'd think he was a dork" then laughed. But that is really a part of the problem. We view our black women & black men much the same as the media/corporate America portrays us as. The men are pretty much sperm donors who run from accountability of any sort(Especially their relationships w/women & children) The women are full of anger, have a 24/7 attitude and will sleep with anyone just to get affection,get pregnant, then curse the man out & cry afterwords.

It sounds to me that we all need to take a step back and look at how Ffff'd up our situation is between black men & black women. Because plenty of black men are saying exactly what you and Ms. Cooley feel, "Black Women Don't Listen"
Both are right and that means "WE" have a problem. To be honest that was the whole point of the discussion. It ended on a very good note once people aired out their frustrations. Unfortunately you left with "Disgust" instead of showing more tolerance for the good of everyone. I will continue to support positive discussion forums such that one because they are needed. Even if everything doesn't always full-fill my desires or perspectives.
I will not fall for the game of divide & conquer that is going on in our community because it is killing us and our children are reaping all the bad after effects.

B. Cooley said...

I notice that throughout this back and forth you know exactly who we are and exactly what we said and did, yet you remain anonymous, which if we are being as fair as you would like is quite the opposite.

One thing I totally disagree with that you have done time and again in your responses is insist that my opinion and that of my friend are wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion that is usually formed by their own personal experience. And while you may feel OPPOSITE of their opinion, to tell them they are wrong just isn't fair.

Now since you choose to point out the things we have said that you think are wrong, allow me to point out the inaccuracies in your last response.

I said that we were going to SAY "Men don't listen" not to prove it. I then said that the men there proved that on their own. For you to continue to bring this up after I said it was JUST a joke would imply that you don't trust that I could have possibly changed my mind and thereby not being fair.

When he brought up the white guy in a tee shirt and jeans, that was irrelevant to my point, but what we responded was he was a DOUCHE not a dork. There is a big difference in that anyway because I would think a white dude in a tee and jeans ANYWHERE was a douche, not just at Judiciary Square based on my experience throughout DC with white guy's in t-shirts and jeans. And J's college experience in this area with white dude's in t-shirts and jeans. 2 VERY different environments with one similar opinion.

You are constantly bringing up the media, but my opinion on black guys in t-shirts and jeans at Judiciary Square has nothing to do with the media and EVERYTHING to do with the black guys in t-shirts and jeans at Judiciary Square. To blame it on the media isn't fair.

You say "we" view Black men & women a certain way, who is we? That certainly is not how I view Black men or women, I happen to know amazing Black men and women. So to say that "we" feel a certain way isn't fair.

Never did I say Black men don't listen. I said men don't listen. My friends and I have dated Irish men, Indian men, Egyptian men Puerto Rican men, Canadian men and on and on. Our overwhelming complaint about many of them has been they don't listen.

Overall, EYE feel you are giving the media and corporate America FAR too much credit in their ability to influence me and giving me far too little credit in my ability as a woman, as a Black woman, as an educated Black woman, as an educated Black woman living in DC to form my opinions and ideals based on what I have experienced.

You don't know me and I certainly do not know you so for you to make these statements based on one comment isn't very fair.

Now I have to call the Black man I'm dating that wears t-shirts and jeans everyday and lives with his sister to see if he needs a ride to church because he doesn't have a car.

Anonymous said...

I’m going to respond to certain lines I couldn’t ignore.

While I do agree that some not all the men let out reactions to Ms. Cooley's remarks and I also agree that they should not have done that. It was not "all" of them(actually only 3 out of the 12 there)--- I was referring to the men who replied to her and I said 3 of them prefaced with certain words. Sad thing is, 2 of them we recognized and we knew they were good people because of who/where they are outside of there. It sucks they didn’t even want to believe that it wasn’t about them. *shrug*

Ms. Cooley even stated in her blog that the 2 of you came in with a mindset that you were gonna prove that men don't listen "jokingly” ---- No she wrote - We jokingly said we were going to go there just so we could repeat over and over GUYS... DON'T... LISTEN! We did not go in there to “prove” anything. The reason it was a joke was because it would be senseless for us to go in there with that attitude knowing what it was about.

The truth is that the statement was one stereotypical of negative perceptions of black men. ---- It wasn’t based on a stereotype, it was her actual experiences, not just one. A stereotype is usually based on a generalized image. It was an actual experience that repeated itself more than once. Let. It. Go. This does not mean she wouldn’t talk to him in any other circumstance just not there.

But you really didn't show much better restraint/respect either in response to others responses. You shook your head the whole time pretty much after and constantly paid attention to your cell phone -- Yes I did. Shaking your head is not a form of disrespect, but is used to show disagreement. Are you suggesting I show no reaction at all, or would you then have assumed I was daft or detached from the situation? I don’t see the issue here. You disagree you make it known and the same for when you agree. I also gave people the positive hand gesture when I agreed - does this mean in those instances I was being open-minded? Re: checking my phone - Im grown…’nough said.

Most people who comes to a lecture or discussion forum come to be enlightened or "Educated" I hear a touch of arrogance in your tone as if you cannot be the people that were in the discussion ---- I have no problem saying that I am confident in the way I view black men. I love them deeply, I never put them down. I thought this would be like the other discussion I’ve had, when people can take points/counterpoints without turning it into something it isn’t.

I do believe it was you who said "I'd think he was a dork" then laughed ----No I called him a douche. She, nor I, never called those gentlemen at Judiciary Square anything…we just ain’t interested, regardless of race.

We view our black women & black men much the same as the media/corporate America portrays us as. The men are pretty much sperm donors who run from accountability of any sort(Especially their relationships w/women & children) The women are full of anger, have a 24/7 attitude and will sleep with anyone just to get affection,get pregnant, then curse the man out & cry afterwords ---- This is clearly your experience. I do not know anyone who views or behaves towards their black counterparts this way. Perhaps this is why I couldn’t understand why the men were so upset about one phrase and didn’t take the entire scenario into context.

Kenny said...

Let me preface this by saying that I wasn't in attendance at this event.

However, this is a classic case of their being two sides to every story. Just from what I've read, both the men and women involved made assumptions based on false information and lept to conclusions based on absolutely nothing.

I've been involved in a lot of conversations such as this one and it seems like all too often, there is no real dialogue. Just people with walls up, preconceived notions, baggage, etc.. that are their simply to project their insecurities on to others as a means of satiating their need to fill that eternal hole in their psyche.

Not saying ALL, but all it takes is for a few people like those aforementioned to turn a well-intentioned forum into a screaming match.

All in all, I would hope that we would ALL learn to leave our unfulfilled selves at home and honestly come to events like this with an open mind, patience and a willingness to honestly listen and respond to perceived jabs with kindness and a measured tone. I honestly think it would help move the discussion along as it seems it's still stuck in first gear at the moment.

Just my $0.02

Anonymous said...

Curious, Ms B. Why do you think it all devolves to jabs and isn't it natural to speak with passion in these kind of discussions especially when one perceives being attacked or someone's talking all unreasonable?

B. Cooley said...

I don't think it all devolves to jabs.

Anonymous said...

Oh then when theres perceived jabs should folks stay calm always? Are you saying they shouldn't be passionate even when attacked?

B. Cooley said...

I don't take anything personally said to me by someone that doesn't know me personally.

Jamal Muhammad (Host of The Luv Lounge) said...

Hello this is the Host of the discussion. 1st I would like to thank you for attending our discussion. I see it has been a lengthly conversation on your blog. That is good.
I would hope that you will come back again someday.
There were was no doubt a lot of frustation in this week's discussion, which I knew there would & should be based the current state of our black community. That is why I chose to continue that topic from the week before. Although the previous week's discussion was not as combative to say the least.

Regardless of the facts of who said what, when & why the reason I created the discussion was to get black women & black men together to talk to each other. I did that because we have a fundamental problem of not communicating effectively if at all sometimes. It's interesting because 1 attendee the next day personally called me to thank me, because he said he realized by being there how much we really don't like each other even though we say we do. I actually had to agree with him on that. The question is why is there so much division & built up anger/fraustration between us?
I usually will not allow my discussions go back in forth as much as I did this week, but as I told all that stayed to the end, sometimes we have to let 2 people fight so that they can realize that they are fighting.
Which is what we are doing. Fighting each other. It wasn't just last Monday. I see it everyday and it's getting worse. Mean while many of us are so defensive(both sexes)that we don't take much time to see why we are and this is killing our relationships & community.

I just wanted to point those things out as I watched the comments on this blog post all week.
There are some sources outside of our own community that play a big part in what is causing this division between us and playing us like a real game. We should maybe step outside of our own selves & investigate a bit more on what & why this is happening.

Hope to see you again soon
One Luv...

B. Cooley said...

Jamaal, thanks for your input. I will definitely be coming back.