My Man Is My Man, Is Your Man, Heard That's Her Man Too

Love & Relationships

One time and one time only have I ever caught myself revisiting the idea of the playing the dating game.

It was a bustling Saturday night when I decided to tag along with my friend for the weekend. She was booked to perform at a small intimate dinner party. We arrived at the venue and he immediately stood out in the room full of people.

Although the venue was small, it was packed to capacity with faces wanting to watch the show that was about to take place. My friend and I bid our goodbyes so that she could get ready for her performance and I decided to mingle.

When you've been single for as long as I have, you tend to find comfort in crowded rooms. This was major progress considering about six months ago, I found myself still feeling alone in places that were full of smiling faces. Not tonight though. Tonight, I was open to whatever vibe came cruising my way.

We locked eyes from across the room and I pretended not to notice him making his way over to me.

I was out of the dating scene, but I still vaguely remembered the rules. Within seconds, he was introducing himself. He was tall, charming, attractive, and well-spoken. I quickly found myself hanging on to his every word, and I didn't mind it at all. He told me he was single and from the town where my friend and I were visiting for the weekend. We exchanged numbers in case either of us left without saying goodbye that night and parted ways as the show started. During the performances, I found myself scanning the room and thinking of conversation starters for the tall stranger who made me swoon. No luck.

The lights were low so I pushed him out of my mind for the moment. My friend performed and the show came to a close a few more acts later. The lights come back up and I couldn't find her right away. The crowd was dispersing with everyone leaving or making their way to the bar for another drink or two. Sometime later, I found her. She walked over to me with the biggest smile on her face. I was thinking that she must have received rave reviews, after all, she did put on a spectacular performance. However, that was not the case. She was coming over to tell me about the amazing conversation she'd just had while she was trying to find me after her set.

She went on about how amazing this guy was and the things he said that matched perfectly with what she was looking for in a man. Excited for her, I asked her more questions about him. Her answers began to sound familiar to me. I asked her to point him out to me, I wanted to be sure it was who I was thinking it was in my head. Lo and behold, it was the same tall handsome stranger that made my head swoon entangled in a conversation with another woman who had a grip on his arm. It was the kind of grip that only a woman can do when she has ownership of someone.

It was the infamous "my man grip."

My friend and I exchanged a puzzled look. I pulled her to the side and as we were comparing notes, he left, careful not to make eye contact with us while with the woman who had him captive in the "my man grip." Still confused, we decided to do some investigating and later found out through the organizer of the event who was friends with us both that he had made his rounds to every woman he found attractive in the room that night and gave the same spill of bullshit.

However, the woman he left with was not his girlfriend, but a friend with benefits he met up with every time he was in his hometown. The organizer went on to further explain that he did this at every event he'd thrown. Apparently, he was so good that he took his show on the road whenever he traveled for his line of work. Leaving the event, we heard his name spill off the lips of a girl I vaguely recognized from the event. She was seemingly high off of the facade that was fed to her.

She obviously didn't see him leave with his conquest for the night.

On our drive to the hotel, my friend expressed her disgust at what just happened. I said nothing. I listened as she went on and on about it. She again regurgitated everything that he'd said to her about himself and the things he had in common with her. When I heard conflicting evidence, it all became clear to me. I finally stopped her mid-rant and said, "He's a Community Boyfriend."

She looked at me confused and I went on to explain that a Community Boyfriend is a man who is extra friendly with several women, becomes the man he thinks you want to be with, says what he thinks you want to hear, and based off of your responses, switches gears accordingly. He is never truly single because he finds a way to develop some kind of relationship with every woman who has his number. He sells these women the fantasy that they are the only woman that matters to him. You'll never ever know who he truly is underneath because at this moment in his life he has volunteered as tribute for public use.

One may think he's a butterfly, but when the lights go out, he's the moth that flies towards the light trap on your grandma's porch.

She bursts into laughter and shakes her head at me. Glad that I could break her anger for a second, I quickly let her know that I was serious about what I'd just said and that such a character was unworthy of her anyway. When we finally made it back to our hotel room, I thought she had dropped it, but she started to go again and I had to stop her.

I asked her, "Why does it bother you so much?"

She replied, "Because it's men like him that make me think good men don't exist. Everything he said was probably a lie, and for all, we know his name was probably fake. If he was that good at making every woman in the room believe that he was someone entirely different from the last, then who's to say he is even real at all? What about the women who think that they have something good with him?"

Her answer caught me off guard. She had a point, but in cases like this, you have to thank God that it was revealed to you sooner rather than later. It's always harder to break a bond with someone you've trusted enough to give your body to. I told her that the only thing I could think of at that moment, and that was to be careful with who you choose to invite into your life.

There is no way that anyone could have peeped what he was doing and had she not been with me and I with her, we both would've fallen prey to him.

Women have this beautiful thing called intuition and it's a shame when it's not put to use.

No matter how foggy the mirror is, it always clears and what's left is the truth. That's our intuition. It lets us know when the waters are murky if we choose to listen. Community Boyfriends aren't going anywhere, anytime soon, but lucky for us neither is our intuition. Unlike Community Boyfriends who had to master the skill of f-ckery, we were born with the innate gift to swerve and decipher it.

So that will always leave us one step ahead. Never forget your power.

Featured image by Giphy

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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