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DeVon Franklin On The Truth About What Women & Men Need To Know About Dating

#xoMan

"Anything we're in denial about, we empower to destroy us."


These gems were just a few out of the many I wasn't quite prepared for Hollywood producer, preacher, and author DeVon Franklin to drop during our interview. And if our conversation is any indication of what his latest book, THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN: What Men and Women Need To Know, has in store, then we're all in for a lot more.

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It's nearing peak brunch hours when our conversation kicks off, but instead of indulging in pancakes and eggs, we're both digesting the pitfalls and issues when it comes to the topic of toxic masculinity. The masculinity that uses "boys will be boys" and "men will be men" to excuse and justify problematic behavior and attitudes of men towards women. The masculinity that causes many women to be harassed and harmed at the hands of those who proclaim to love and honor them. It's the type of masculinity the Hollywood Commandments author says is time out for.

"One of the reasons why I wanted to write this book was to redefine what manhood is and what it should be," he says. "And to also address the manhood of the future. For me, it was the question of what do we do about this? How do we fix this problem? It's a massive problem and it's affecting every area of our society. And that's what compelled me to find the answer."

For DeVon, addressing the issue isn't so much about pointing the finger at men in blame and judgment, it's about helping men acknowledge that the issue exists, accept it as a problem, and become devoted to finding and implementing solutions. And the root of it all? An unchecked lust problem. So aptly named "the dog", he tells me that the challenge of trying to train and master lust is a feat that takes explicit awareness and honesty, something he believes that men aren't necessarily socialized or conditioned for. He explains that there's a sense of entitlement that comes along with how manhood is taught, which makes it hard for men to take an honest look at themselves in the mirror. And that's a problem that even he himself wasn't exempt from. Citing the revelation of his own father's infidelity as the catalyst, he reveals that his journey with how he learned to deal with lust came with many brutally honest moments.

"There were times when the mirror was put in my face and I didn't like it. It can be very daunting. But before you or I can make change in our life, it starts with accepting the very thing we wish didn't exist. So when it comes to the area of lust, it's not something that I even wanted to accept. But once I was able to accept it and say, 'This is in me, it's a part of me,' it really laid the foundation for me to begin to deal with it. How do I train it, how do I master it, how do I not let it master me?"

Michael Rowe

"Once I was able to accept it and say, 'This is in me, it's a part of me,' it really laid the foundation for me to begin to deal with it. How do I train it, how do I master it, how do I not let it master me?"

He continues, "A lot of the problems we go through, as men especially, is because so many of us are unwilling to accept that we aren't everything that we want to be. But it doesn't mean we can't become the man we really want to be. That acceptance piece is critical because it's one thing to acknowledge a problem, but it's another to accept it. Not with a defeated attitude but with an attitude that says I'm ready to do something about it."

And perhaps it's that candidness that draws men and women alike to not only his personal story but the joint love story of him and his wife Meagan Good. After co-authoring The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love in 2015, DeVon and Meagan found themselves at the center of the often-discussed topic of waiting to have sex before marriage. And while that particular practice is just one illustration of the broader concept of delayed gratification, it's something that many people connected with.

DeVon shares that one of the reasons he and Meagan continue to be open about the ins and outs of their relationship is because they want people to keep the faith when it comes to finding love. They want men and women to know that obtaining a healthy love, while at times difficult, is something that's in reach for everyone. They want people to realize that love isn't just a four-letter word. It's a state of existence, a spirited experience, and a steadfast evolution that embraces the heart, mind, and soul.

"What Meagan and I want people to do is not give up on love. We feel compelled to say this is what we did, this is what you can do, and this is how you should do it. Not in a way that comes across as know-it-alls or experts, but just in the way of sharing our lives as authentically as we can so that people will know love is possible. It's a process but it is possible."

Simon & Schuster

"What Meagan and I want people to do is not give up on love. We feel compelled to say this is what we did, this is what you can do, and this is how you should do it."

So what is a person to do should they decide to become serious about the process of finding love in 2019? While that may be a lofty question, DeVon Franklin definitely has a few answers he feels should help. "Look, I'm just one person, I'm not going to sit up here and pretend like I have all the answers because I don't. But what I do have, I want to share."

In no particular order but arguably the most important thing is to have the right mindset in your singleness. Know that there's nothing wrong with being single and you should have confidence and a peace about yourself before you dive headfirst into the dating scene. Next, he advises to never just take someone's word for who they say they are. "Allow the dating situation time so that the person can be revealed. So often you meet someone and within 1-2 months of talking you're ready to go, but you haven't given that situation enough time for them to truly reveal themselves."

With that, he also adds to be careful not to create unrealistic and unspoken expectations. When we do that, it can unnecessarily put pressure on a relationship that was never intended to be there in the first place. He continues, "But when you do have realistic expectations, make sure you communicate that. Go to them and inform them of what you're thinking about and ask: Can I expect this from you? And be prepared for their answer."

Along with that, he vehemently expresses the importance of being patient, as well as enjoying the journey that comes with the day-to-day dealings in a relationship. And as we wrap, he leaves me with one final advisory warning that both men and women alike should be privy to: stay out of the gray area.

What is the gray area, you ask? It's the area where you're unsure of the other person's intentions. It's an area where it's easy to assume, based off certain behaviors, that we may be further along in a dating situation than we really are. It's an area where, in order to side-step, we must be willing and ready to ask direct questions. "The gray area leaves you vulnerable because the other person knows what's going on and you don't," he says. "Ask clear direct questions and let them give you clear, direct answers."

"Don't let anyone keep you in a vague area so that they can manipulate you for their goals. For dating in 2019, it's about clarity and truth."

Amen and amen to that.

For more from DeVon, follow him on Instagram. Also be sure to check out his new book, The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need To Know slated to release February 5, now available for pre-order.

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.

Reparations

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
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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