It's Valentine's Day and what better way of enjoying it than getting a bit of insight from a love expert? Relationship coach and author of A Belle in Brooklyn: Advice for Living Your Single Life & Enjoying Mr. Right Now Demetria Lucas serves up her opinion raw when it comes to love. Over the weekend, she attended Straight Talk, No Chaser, a panel discussion hosted by Chris 'Kazi' Rolle where men divulge the "truth" about their roles in relationships. Of course the belle would have some straightforward commentary on the event, so VIBE Vixen caught up with her to talk about Black relationships and the ingredients to having a better outlook on love. -Niki McGloster
VIXEN: What did you learn from the panel discussion?
Demetria Lucas: I’ve been interviewing men about all manner of topics related to women, sex, dating, relationships, etc. for a few years now, so even though the men were incredibly honest, there wasn’t anything from them that I found particularly shocking. That said, I’ll likely always be baffled about the way men think of women and our sexuality. One panelist, an otherwise very knowledgeable man, was under the impression that Black women don’t masturbate (a show of hands from the ladies debunked that myth). Another gentlemen was under the arrogant impression that he didn’t ever need to take a tip from a woman on how to please her sexually. He said it like he was just that dope that he knows everything about any woman’s body, likes/dislikes without being told. I’ve had both outlooks before, and I’m always amazed about how little men know about women’s intricacies.
At the panel discussion, was there something said that shocked you? If so, who mentioned it?
At the end of the night, author Natoeight Dashwood, was brought up to talk about his book, Truth Be Told… The Book of Brutal Honesty for Black Women. He announced to a crowd of mostly Black women something along the lines of ‘There are a lot of problems in the Black community and they all stem back to the Black woman.' Yikes! I was sure I misheard him, but then I spent the following day reading his book. It’s likely the most misogynistic writing I’ve ever read, coming only second to Shaharazad Ali’s The Black Man’s Guide to Understanding the Black Woman from 1990. (In the book she advocated men slapping women if we got too mouthy.) Unfortunately, Dashwood’s take on women is pretty common. Misogyny runs rampant in our communities.
What do you feel about the portrayal of Black love in the media?
Black love needs better PR. Just flashing pictures of The Obamas, The Smiths, and The Carters isn’t enough. In the last couple years, the resounding echo has been tales of sad, single women and the justifications have boiled down to 1) Black women are terrible mates and need to change everything about themselves from their attitudes to their weight and expectations; and/or 2) Black men just can’t get themselves together so Black women have no options to choose from. It’s a sad and sorry message.
Do you feel celebrity relationships in entertainment are idolized for no reason?
Celebrity relationships are fantasies. So many people get caught up in the glamour and the access and the excess. It looks like a great life. But no relationship is perfect. Lounging on yachts in the Mediterranean Sea or walking red carpets are just a change of scenery. Celebs have the same problems, even bills, of any two individuals trying to build/maintain a life together.
How do you feel about the TV relationships, like Melanie and Derwin on The Game?
TV Relationships are a whole different matter. Most of what we see isn’t positive, but that’s not the purpose of scripted entertainment. It’s made extra-dramatic so people will tune in, talk and Tweet. There’s not much to discuss when there’s no conflict. No one should be taking their cues about how to act in a relationship from what they watch on their flat screens during primetime.
Do you feel black women should date outside of their culture/race?
Sure. Why not? The bottom-line is to be happy and find someone who shows acts treats you with respect and all the other wonderful ways that you want to be loved. I’m a huge advocate of women finding love with whomever they like of any color. I am troubled by the number of women who date “out” as a reaction to thinking that Black men are horrible. They tend to think men of another color will treat them better. If you want to date a man of a different race, do so. But Black men don’t need to be put down to justify that. Also, there’s nothing inherent about men of other races that will automatically make them treat a woman better just because they aren’t Black. Men are men, and every race has its good ones and its horrid ones. Being not Black isn’t enough to make a man “good.”
On your Formspring you are a bit of a dating/ relationship advisor, what's one thing you feel black women should definitely know about black men in order to have a successful relationship?
No one is perfect. Great guys will do things that make you screw up your face and wonder, “WTH?” sometimes. There’s a difference between a great guy who does a bad thing on occasion and a not great guy given to occasional moments of grandeur. Every screw up isn’t a break up offense, and every misstep isn’t a reason to go nuts. When a guy messes up (and he’s human, he will), communicate first. A conversation should be your first line of offense. Breaking up, or even threatening to, should be your last. Also, when you’re telling him what you don’t like, be mindful of sharing with him what you want to happen instead. If he’s halfway into you, he wants to make you happy, he just doesn’t always know how.
What are your feelings about black women believing that there aren't any more good men to date?
It’s disheartening to hear that women are basically giving up. There are good and great men in the world. I find them for Essence all the time and I don’t have to look very hard. Good men DO exist.
Demetria Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE.