He Got Game?
Radio Advice Maven LaDawn Black Dishes On Separating Mr. Right From Mr. Right Now
Radio DJ LaDawn Black of 92Q’s the Love Zone isn’t just sharing superb love advice with her listeners. She’s also sharing it with her readers. Before getting married several years ago, she was just like any other dating sistah who is mostly unlucky in love. Black remembers dating men and not getting what she wanted, or what she needed, in relationships. But after she hit her “brick wall” relationship—the one she didn’t want to repeat because it was too filled with drama—she made a list taking stock of what she was looking for in a relationship. She says she found the right fit in her husband, J.B. And once Black got her love life together, her girlfriends figured she had advice that worked; they encouraged her to write a book about it. Black self-published that book, Stripped Bare: The 12 Truths That Will Help You Land the Very Best Black Man, in 2003 and sold more than 25,000 copies in 10 months. A three-book deal with Random House later, Stripped Bare was reprinted in February. She posed nude for the self-published cover because she couldn’t afford a model. She kept that photo for the reprint because she wants to encourage other women to do the same—strip themselves so they can land the very best black man for them.
City Paper: Tell me about the stripping-bare process that led to this book. What were you doing wrong?
LaDawn Black: Like a lot of sisters out there, I was dating the wrong men. And it wasn’t that there was anything wrong with them—they just weren’t the man for me. We just let love happen. I plotted out getting through school, where I wanted to get in my career. But do we really sit and think about what we want and need in a relationship? The overall message is instead of letting love happen, take proactive steps to pick people who are a good fit for you.
CP: You said that it’s not that they were bad men, they just weren’t right for you. But let’s face it, there are some brothers out there who are just way over the top.
LB: And the book really talks about seeing it from day one. There are so many sisters in relationships with brothers that aren’t available to them. And date number three, they knew that the brother had some issues but, because women are fixers, they were either going to change him or deal with it. But six months, a year into it, it’s driving them crazy. You might be able to make him wear a tie instead of wearing jerseys all of the time, but you can’t change the big stuff.
CP: So what do women want? A certain salary range? A homeowner with no kids? What about the movie Something New, where a group of upwardly mobile African-American women talk about the marriage rate among black women being 42 percent.
LB: But with any type of survey you have to tear it apart. Stop believing the stats and what you see in entertainment—because they’re making money off of those images. Look at the people who live around you, who go to your church, or the people in your family who have been married for years and are happy and satisfied. A lot of times that’s the real [source] of the healthy relationships in our community.
CP: Some black women say that they haven’t met anyone because they don’t live in an area that is populated with eligible black men. So they say, “If God intends it for me, it will happen.”
LB: It’s like saying, “God is going to bring me a job.” But if you don’t apply for that
job. . . .
If you’re in an area where you think that all of the “good men” are taken, then maybe you need to go to some new areas. One of the things that I encourage women to do is to diversify the type of men that they look at. If you’ve got 20 women going after that one ideal brother, of course they’re not going to meet anybody.
CP: So, are you encouraging black women to date other races? Or is this just really about black men?
LB: Well, the book was initially written for black women who were going after black men. But if you can find love, find love. If someone who is not black is interested in you, who can give you the life that you want and the love that you need, go ahead and pursue it. Diversify the type of men that you are interested in. A lot of us are chasing that professional brother with all of the degrees, the finances. If you can get it, more power to you. But, have you talked to your postal worker lately, or the guy who is picking up your trash? [They] can take care of families and love you to the same level that a professional brother can.
CP: You say in the book that couples “should not socialize separately.” But where does that leave the occasional girls’ night out?
LB: I’m not saying that you can never go out without your man. But [it means] socializing with your girls and their men with your man, making sure it’s an organized front—letting people know in your life that this is my man, this is my woman, and respect this.
CP: What do you say to that women who can’t find that man in the same economic strata she wants. She’s like, “I’m pulling in $150,000 a year. I’m fine. I’ve got my body together. The guy at the post office isn’t going to move me the way that I need to be moved.”
LB: I say when you are sitting in bed alone in the middle of the night are you still holding fast to a pay check? You’re thinking about love, companionship, and the physical presence of a person. [Maybe] he isn’t that brother that you would see yourself with at the Christmas party with. But, you’re going to make compromises on some level even with an ideal mate. So why not just open up?
CP: Why do you say “Love Sucks Sometimes” in Chapter 5?
LB: “Love Sucks” really speaks to letting go of what your parents, society, and your church have told you about sex and getting to the core of what turns you on. So much of what we think about sexuality is told to us, that we don’t even really know what it is, as women, that actually pleases us.
CP: So when you go on book tours what is the response to, “Sex is not a four-letter word?”
LB: The guys are like, “Thank you for saying this.” And women are like, “There’s certain things that I don’t do.” And they can’t give a concrete reason [why], like, “I tried it and didn’t like it, it’s not healthy.” So a lot of women are missing out just based on what they’ve been told, not necessarily any information or experiences they’ve actually had. I’ll ask women, “Have you ever asked him what he likes sexually?” [And they’ll say], “What? Have a conversation about sex?”
CP: So you’re saying men want a lady in the street, a freak in the sheets?
LB: (laughs) And that’s really what men want. They want the woman [who is] presentable, but the woman who is their private freak.
CP: Let’s talk about the chapter about chasing unavailable men.
LB: Chasing unavailable men speaks to chasing men who are gay, locked up, or married. A lot of the women who call my radio show and who have been in these long-term relationships with men who are married will tell you, “I don’t want to be his wife. I don’t want the full-time [job] of the cooking and the cleaning and the taking care of the kids. I just want the sex and the trips and the attention.” And I think that is so superficial, because I know that when Thanksgiving rolls around, Christmas rolls around, he spends maybe an hour with you, if any time. You’re wondering what’s going on back at his house. And you know he’s still sleeping with his wife.
CP: Then, the gay thing is . . .
LB: I have a girlfriend who is debating whether or not to take her gay friend to the next level. And this is her reasoning: He’s my boy, we’re friends, he wants children, I want children. Can I be OK with the fact that he’s not really digging me? And that he can be with other men, and that I might be with other men as well? A lot of women try to convince themselves [that they can be OK with that].
CP: What about incarcerated men?
LB: I have so many women who call the radio show, and it’s, “LaDawn, he’s locked up. He’s doing six months. He’s doing 10 years, 20 years, should I stay?” And it’s not that it’s not 30-year-old women who have had some experience. It’s young girls who are in their late teens, early 20s, who are trying to decide whether or not to stay by themselves for the next 20 years. [I tell them] keep writing him letters, keep visiting when you can, but realize that you have to work on you, because he’s supposed to be working on him while he’s [incarcerated]. And if he’s together when he’s done, and you’re still interested, there you go. But live your life. You don’t need to do your time with him.
CP: So since you’ve already been stripped bare, what’s next?
LB: Sexed Up walks you through sex tips for the real sister. So it’s not like Kama Sutra or tying your body in a knot. That’s coming out in February 2007. And then in 2008 is After the Breakup.
CP: Now honestly, was your road from being a girlfriend with good advice to being a published relationship book author that easy?
LB: For about six months it was rough because I quit my job to promote the book full time. But sometimes you have to take that risk.
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