Do you remember three years ago, when Hill Harper’s book The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships was on the top of the best sellers list, right next to Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man? These books sparked discussions around the country, and I for one was excited to see all the panels and symposiums that cropped up. But after about three or four months, it all went away. My heart sank as I came to the realization that folks were content with just ‘talk.’ Nothing had changed, not really.
Let me give you the snapshot: I was 37 and my life had turned out exactly as I had planned…well, almost. I had a great career, awesome friends, a supportive family and a social calendar that would be the envy of a few ‘Real Housewives.’ And did I mention I was 100 percent single?
Arrrghhh! That was it; the thing that burned in the bottom of my belly. It was the reason I couldn’t put a big fat check in that success box. Being darn near 40 and still single was the reason all this got started in the first place. What is ‘this’? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Jai Stone (pronounced Jay), founder of BlackLoveForum.com and Black Love Mag. The ‘this’ that I mentioned earlier is my plight, a movement to get back to healthy Black relationships.
We have all read the statistics about divorce. Sixty-eight percent of our children are growing up in single-parent households. But like most of my friends, I grew up in a two-parent family. Now I look at my nieces and nephews and recognize that they don’t have the same sense of security or community that I grew up with. My heart literally aches every time the thought enters my busy little brain.
There had to be a reason for the gross deterioration of marriage and relationships among Black folks, I thought. Heck, maybe there were several reasons. All I knew was that I was damn mad about it, and I wanted some real answers. So, I set out to find them.
I would love to report that I discovered the solutions to all of my relationship woes, but I wasn’t so lucky. What I did find, however, is that I had some serious misconceptions about the way relationships actually work. How could I have gotten so many things so terribly wrong? My parents were married for 40 years, yet they didn’t actually teach me how it all worked.
While knee-deep in my discovery process, Hill and Steve churned out their best sellers and I was poised for a revolution. But sadly, that revolution was not televised. Shucks, there wasn’t even a Polaroid of the incident. And so the burning in my hollow belly started again. The relationship game became big business, there were countless TV shows and panels that talked the topic to death. But were we actually learning anything? How many people went home and applied these discussions to their daily lives? Where would they look for help and support? In my mind, there weren’t any real answers to those questions.
There are a plethora of ways that we learn, change and grow. Verbal, visual, hands-on, mentoring, etc., yet when it comes to love, we were limiting ourselves. I’ve heard it takes 21 days to create a new habit, so why did we think one day of dialogue would change our community?
That was my cue! I wanted a place where we could learn about relationships in multiple ways. Black Love Forum offers a robust website, a magazine, social events, training and education – all focused on creating a community where Black Love lives and thrives.
Finally! The burning in my tummy has been replaced with butterflies, and I’m excited introduce the BLF brand to the world. Will you join the movement?