According to Shawn Garrett, a single and successful thirty plus African-American male, there are no “real” black men today because there are no “real” black women. Of course, Shawn considers himself the exception to his own rule, though his argument is no excuse.

His theory regarding the lack of black love and marriage is a result of the low standards some black women have consciously and subconsciously set for themselves. He believes women ultimately hold all the power in a relationship and can easily “teach” a man how to treat her. He further admits a man will do anything for a woman that he values, which always leaves him questioning why some women don’t raise the bar. As I proudly digested his philosophy on the power women hold, I began to wonder how many of us are actually aware of this power and more importantly why don’t we exercise it more often.

Although Shawn’s theory does not excuse black men’s relationship behaviors or lack there of, it does give question to some of the “standard practices” we black women often communicate.

What are we really saying when we accept the title of baby mother instead of wife? Or what does it mean when we take him back after numerous cheating acts and discrepancies? Or even worse, continue to date him even though he is “unhappily” married or committed to someone else?

Are we settling for less for the sake of just having a man? Are we like candles, sensual and alluring only to be burned? Has the self-esteem of our women fell so low we accept little to nothing just to have something?

Regardless of the reason, our overall standards always have room for improvement. Whether they are currently high and need to be maintained or temporarily low and need to be uplifted; developing the habit of possessing and upholding standards should be customary in everything we do.

Either purposely or inadvertently, our tolerances become our standards. Our leniency ultimately dictate the treatment we receive, often resulting in bitterness, pain and mistrust. To combat mistreatment and disappointments we must set standards and communicate them without shame or insecurity. Our standards are ultimately a direct reflection of our self-esteem. When they’re set low, we invite less than average treatment and destructive and toxic relationships. We can’t always play victim every time we get “played” or when our expectations are not met. We must begin to write our own script, practice playing the director and set the stage for the performances we want. As we direct our show, we must be sure to create a cast of honesty, respect for self, worthiness and communication. The entire production is completely in our hands, how we present it will determine the audience we attract.

In gaining this director seat power Shawn Garrett so affectionately bestowed on us, our theater of esteem will produce nothing less than a Broadway hit!

Just remember at the end of each play when the curtains come down to give yourself a Standard Ovation!

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