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Jhené Aiko Just Told Big Sean: “I Don’t Compete. I COMPLETE.”

It's kinda crazy how one letter in a word (in this case, "L") can totally change everything...

Love & Relationships

Sometimes, when I choose to peek into the world of social media to see what's happening, I'll put in keywords. Whenever I put in "Black women" or "Black men" into Twitter, I always find at least five talking points that are super interesting. Today was no exception. I'm assuming that, at least at the moment, Big Sean and Jhené Aiko are quarantining apart (or at least "social distancing" in separate rooms) and so, they are connecting with each other via going live.

Now let me sidebar this by saying that, aside from being a sex and relationships writer, a part of what made me click on the volume to see what was up is because, more and more, I appreciate Big Sean. Yeah, he's a pretty dope artist but, as I've intentionally checked out some of his latest interviews (for instance, the Hot Ones that he did not too long ago), I dig the current space that he's in as a person. He seems to be quite gracious, ever-evolving and willing to learn. So yeah, I wanted to see what he and Jhené had to share. They didn't disappoint.

Because I pulled the clip from someone's Twitter feed, I didn't catch all of the discussion. Apparently, what Big Sean asked Jhené was would she be willing to compete for his love. Uh-huh. Again, because I've been checking out his head space more and more, I knew he couldn't possibly be serious (at least I hope not). He did laugh after asking. Anyway, it was her "Whaaat?" followed by "Hell no" that piqued my interest further. Anyway, her ultimate resolve is what inspired me to hit up Sheriden (our managing editor) and be like, "Can I please write something on this today?" Verbatim, this was Jhené's response.

"I ain't competing for nothing, OK?...I don't 'compete', I complete."

Annnnd…we're off.

What It Means to Compete for Someone

media.giphy.com

I ain't gonna lie. I used to be the kind of woman who would compete for a man. Now, before you get all uppity and profess that you would never do such a thing, let me provide a quick rundown of what competing actually looks like. If you're a side chick, on some level, you are competing. If you know exactly what you want out of a relationship, but you will stay with someone who desires something totally different, hoping they will change their mind, on some level, you are competing. If "he's" seeing lots of other women when you want an exclusive relationship, on some level, you are competing. If he lives in the valley of indecision (which IS a decision), on some level, you are competing. If you are convincing yourself to stay in a relationship that you aren't fully satisfied in, on some level, you are competing.

Competing with what? Sometimes, it's other women. Sometimes, it's time. Sometimes, it's a man's ego. Sometimes, it's with your own conscience and higher sense of self. The reason why I say this is because to compete is to strive to outdo, to put yourself in a contest, or to vie (which is to rival with someone or something else). And strive? Strive is a hard word, y'all. It means "to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance". And resistance? To resist is to oppose.

Now, let's put all of this together, shall we? Say that you're really feeling a dude. He's not on the same page as you are, but he gives you enough attention or affirmations to let you know that he is interested. It could be in the form of communication. You might even go on dates together and have sex. But you're still not getting all that you want and, more importantly, need. Yet…you stay. For weeks…months, maybe even years. The "feeling him" turns into love, but he's still not really doing much more than he ever did.

Meanwhile, you tell yourself that if you just do more, he'll change his mind; that's called striving. Yet it seems like the more that you do, give, love, the less results you're getting; that's because he's resisting. So yeah, ultimately, whether it's because of other women, time, his ego or you're struggling with your own conscience and higher sense of self, you are competing for him. This is what Jhené has declared that she absolutely will not do. Good for her. None of us should.

So, why do we do it? Chile, there's not nearly enough time or space to get into all of that right now. What I will say is some of it is because we live in a competitive world. Because of that, sometimes competition is a good thing. For instance, the article "Why Competition Is Good" (on Entrepreneur's site) shares that professional competition can validate us, sharpen our skills and, can even teach us how to effectively collaborate with others. I get that. Cool. But when it comes to matters of the heart, none of these lessons are really necessary. You shouldn't feel like since you "won a man over" that he was worth having. A romantic relationship's main focus shouldn't be about "sharpening any skills". Also, when you are seeing someone, the only one you should be "collaborating with" is them. Not some other chick. Not their other list of priorities. Nothing but them.

It took me years and years and years to realize this. For example, I didn't realize just how over my first love I finally was until we met for dinner this past December and he told me in one breath that he has always pondered us making up for the child that we lost (my first abortion was his child) and, in the same conversation, turned around and said that he was going to try and make it work with who he has always considered to be the second love of his life (and the mother of his living children). What was he doing? Emotionally, he was setting me up to do what he had done over the years between me and this woman—make us want to compete.

I stayed for dinner; he was paying. But I was good on talking further. There was always gonna be love for him (first loves tend to roll like that) but compete, my ninja? Absolutely not. I will strive for a professional gig. I will strive to pay my bills on time.

I ain't striving for no man's love. Love is a gift; it should be offered voluntarily, not be some "prize" after a competition.

So yes, Ms. Jhené, now more than ever, I feel you on the "ain't competing" tip. But remember, that's not all that she said.

What It Means to Complete Someone

I don't compete; I complete. Some people hate the whole "you complete me" thing. I'll admit that if we're referring to the Jerry Maguire movie line—that gives me cause for pause and a side-eye too. To me, that implies that we're not whole without someone else and, to me, that kind of mentality is a recipe for complete disillusionment and utter relational disaster. At the same time, I do adore the Hebrew language (mostly because Christ was a Jew and spoke fluent Hebrew). And so yes, I am totally down with the word "bashert" which loosely translates into being someone's "meant to be" or "destiny". Yet, even then, I try to look well beyond the Disney or chick flick interpretation of those words.

Let's take the word "destiny", for example. One of my favorite definitions for it is "the power or agency that determines the course of events". A part of the reason why we must choose very wisely who we join our lives with is because their influence has the power to create a course of events—good or bad. That's a part of the reason why I wrote the article, "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life".

If you are looking at someone being your destiny from a mature and well-balanced perspective, they are someone who will inspire and motivate you to live your absolute best life. And in that way, they help to complete you because completion is all about "having all the required or customary characteristics, skills, or the like" to bring about the kind of results that you want.

To me, this is why seasons of singleness are so important. How can you truly know who can support you in accomplishing what you want if you have no clue what you desire in the first place—or worse, if all that you desire is to be with someone? Hmph. I can't tell you how many wives I have counseled who are utterly miserable because their main goal in life was to get a man. Now that they have one, they don't know what else to do with their life—or with their husband. SMDH.

That's why I found all of what Jhené said to be on point. What she basically articulated is, she doesn't strive for a man to want her. She knows that, relationally, she's here to complement someone—and when you truly do "fit" another person's world in that way, competing isn't necessary. There is an ease, a peace, a "gelling" that just…happens. And works. Mutually so.

Oh, there are two other things that I liked in the part of the live that I saw. I dug the acronyms for "love" and "life" that Big Sean and Jhené seem to live by. Love is Living On Valued Energy. Life is Love In Full Effect. Amen and indeed.

I don't know where you currently are, when it comes to your own journey towards your bashert, but please let the soundbite from that live stay with you. You, sis, are too beautiful, valuable and special to compete for anyone. Sit back and let life reveal who you complete—and who completes you.

Thanks for the reminder, Jhené. That was some really good ish right there, girl. For real, for real.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Jhene Aiko Says The Status Of Her Relationship With Big Sean Is 'None Of Your Concern'

Big Sean Reveals That He Took A Year-Long Hiatus From Rap To Focus On His Mental Health & Go To Therapy

The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have

The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You

Featured image by Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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