“You must have courage to love, you have to have a profound will to do what is right to love, and it does not come easy.” – bell hooks (a Black woman who be knowing)
Hey Y’all! I been missing all my melanated folks and my melanin-deficient supporters. First of all, Happy Black History Month! This is my favorite month cause all I see and inhale is Blackness. For those of you who know me, I celebrate Blackness erry damn day but it’s nice to see great memes and some unsung heroes on my social media timelines.
Speaking of memes, I saw the best meme yet that said, “January was a tough year but we made it.” Damn, whoever created that meme ain’t never lie. But we got things to celebrate: the short film Hair Love just won an Oscar (woot, woot!) As. It. Should. Have. And if you haven’t checked out some Black women who be knowing lately, watch the Netflix documentary, She Did That about Black women entrepreneurs.
Also, I just wanted to throw it out there, since I’m always asked about what I’m reading, I just finished the book, A Black Women’s History of the United States. Black women have been through some thangs but we keep fighting, organizing and getting shit done and most importantly, we don’t only fight for ourselves but others as well.
I’m really excited because when I mix my celebration of Black History Month with Valentine’s Day, I get the celebration of Black love and not just any love story- but my very own love story. I sat down with my fiance and we talked through what it means to love on one another. So I hope y’all enjoy!
Please read, comment, share and discuss. And if you wanna know what made me almost jump out of a moving car, you gotta listen to the episode above and/or on SoundCloud.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
BWBK: Black Women Be Knowing, the second episode of the year, celebrating Black History month. It is always Black History month at BWBK. But I’m sitting here celebrating Black love with my fiance, doing it very differently because I have never had a man on the show and [the first one is] my man.
So everybody, say hi to Keith. Keith say hi to everybody.
Keith: Hi Everybody! What’s going on?
BWBK: So this is gonna be an interesting episode because he and I have been talking shit all day and we’re just gonna try to continue and make it seem like you’re jumping into a conversation that we’ve already been having. It’s been a little frustrating cause we’re doing some wedding planning and he said I’ve already been a Debbie Downer. I’m not a Bridezilla, just to put it out there…
So bae, you’re gonna describe yourself, as everyone has to do, in 5 words.
Keith: Five words: I would say: handsome, reliable, family man, educated and student.
BWBK: So I didn’t [immediately] go shallow like you did. I have shared my words in previous episodes. Because we’re always evolving, my words changed a bit but are still at the crux of who I am. So I stayed with powerful, that’s one of my favorite words; intelligent, that chick, loyal (until you get locked up then that ain’t got nothing to do with me) and loving.
So I want us to move straight from that and describe our relationship in five words. You can use phrases or whatever you need to use but try to describe our relationship for people.
Keith: First of all, when you dealing with my fiance, soon-to-be wife, you gotta be patient– gotta have the P word. Then you know, we’re definitely a work in progress. Then there’s love, humility, then you got the real deal. It don’t come no realer and no plainer than my soon-to-be wife.
BWBK: Oh, I see you. So I did a couple of phrases. I put solid as a rock, #goals, complimentary, getting better cause we’ve definitely been in some [negative] spaces like any other relationship and finally, Nigga, I’ll kill you and I’ll get to what that means later.
Keith: That’s that BX coming out of her.
BWBK: That is that BX coming out of me cause I will come down on yo ass.
So let’s talk about Black love cause we’re approaching Valentine’s Day. It is Black History Month. I wanna know what Black love means to you, who you see as role models for that and why?
Keith: First of all, I think the word love in general means understanding. When you love a person, you care for [that] person and you wanna be with them and you wanna share your most intimate secrets. It’s an understanding that goes there. It’s about [being] transparent and it’s a wonderful place when two people can be there.
I have an aunt and uncle- my aunt is 80 [years old] and her health is declining and she and my uncle are still together. I have another aunt who was married [until her husband passed] and she loved him to death. My best friend, Trev, his parents’ Black love is amazing. They do everything together: hanging out with their grandkids, traveling, enjoying holidays with their family. Just seeing what hard work and dedication to a marriage and a commitment [looks like] and seeing the fruits of the labor- it’s always been around me.
I’m more the marrying type but my parents weren’t married. They lived together and my mom was married before and my dad was married before but they never married each other. So I definitely looked to other people for that Black love and to see what it took to maintain that longevity. So you know, I’m signed up. I’m about to be part of the faithful, married man club.
BWBK: I do see love as a lot of the things that you described as far as understanding and that resilience and perseverance but I [also] see love as a verb. Love is a noun but it means the most when it’s acted upon. That means different things to different people and sometimes love is not pretty. We’ve been together for almost six years and sometimes our love has been ugly. And I think that we [are able to] see the beauty in that ugliness.
I think what’s unique about Black love is there’s so much working against us (Black folks), that to have the capacity to love each other as deeply as we do is wonderful. To endure some of the external things that we are forced to endure like raggedy ass motherfuckers at your job and raggedy ass things happening in the world, sometimes you can get hopeless. But the fact that we still have the capacity to be understanding, to be resilient and still enjoy one another is really huge.
To contrast with what you said, my parents were married for 37 years until my father’s death a little over four years ago and that was my first example of Black love. I think they did have an understanding whether I always understood it or not. I used to be like, Damn, the patience is real. It wasn’t always for me to understand… But if you saw one, you saw the other. If you knew Sterling, you knew Lisa and vice versa.
I also really appreciated Black love on TV. I loved watching Fresh Prince, Family Matters, [A Different World, The Jeffersons, Martin], with families and relationships going through their shit. People getting upset and the man gotta sleep on the couch and wait for shit to cool down. Then they have a conversation and make up.
But in life, you don’t always fix everything in a 30-minute sitcom format but you know, you work through it nonetheless. But these shows definitely helped to shape my ideas of Black love as well as real-life Black couples like Denzel and [Pauletta], Will and Jada and [of course] everyday Black love.
Let’s talk about our journey. So let’s start in the past. How did we meet almost six years ago?
Keith: It was a regular day like today. It was a Saturday and I was doing my morning routine in the bathroom and I was perusing over a couple of forums. I was at my ex’s house oddly enough and still on the prowl. Nonetheless, I came across this young lady and we started having a conversation. It was one of those conversations that led us to see each other that same day. We were talking non-stop that morning. I asked what she was doing that evening and she said she was going shopping in the city so I wanted to meet up.
I wanted to know right then and there if this was a real prospect cause it felt like it could be. And I must’ve been on to something cause here we are six years later [with] a baby and wedding planning…
We spent the whole night together and I dropped her off at 1:30/2a.m. and we talked for hours. It wasn’t like a movie but it was definitely an interesting first meeting.
BWBK: To be super clear, we met on Plenty of Fish, a dating site [that’s a bit sketchy] and we were going back and forth for some hours and like you said, we decided to meet up in downtown [Manhattan]. That way, if you were a whole fucking weirdo, we could just go our separate ways. Then I could talk shit about you to my friends and you would’ve just been a funny ass story in my standup routine.
But we met up and had Thai food which led me to [the] realization that your palette is limited (LOL). Then we went to one of my favorite places, Barnes & Noble, and he was pretending like he reads. He was over there skimming through books in Spanish talking about, “yeah, yeah, this is a good one.” (LOL)
Then we went to a tea spot and talked there for some hours and then he took me uptown (home) and we talked for some more hours. I think what solidified you was actually our second date.
[Quickly], he suggested we go to a rooftop place two days later and I’m thinking that’s cute, that’s sexy. We met up cause I was already in the city and the place ended up being closed cause it was a Monday. We go back to get the car to go to another spot and we’re walking and you’re like, “Wait, I parked here.” Then we walked around trying to find his car and we found it. That shit was right on the back of a tow truck.
We wasted the majority of the evening getting his car from the pound. Sidebar: I grew up with two very impatient men: my father and my older brother. My dad had a tolerance for certain things but that would’ve pissed him off. My brother would’ve probably given a girl money for a cab and that date would’ve been done. But Keith was so unfazed and unbothered. After he got the car, he said,” Let’s go to another rooftop; we already out here.”
That’s one thing that I really grew to see as very consistent about his behavior. He let very few things bother him, get to him or ruin the day for us.
Was there ever a time you thought we wouldn’t make it and what moment made you feel that way?
Keith: I don’t think I ever felt like we wouldn’t make it. I felt like you would decide that you didn’t wanna make it. It was completely up to you cause I know I made you feel a particular kind of way [at times] and one thing I know is that you weren’t gonna stand for that. As miniscule as I might have felt some situations were, it was huge to you so you know, I can adjust.
BWBK: So I feel like I made this question for myself. I wanted to be really honest [in] this episode. Keith and I have a lot of fun together but that came from us getting to know ourselves again within this relationship. I think at times I was really uncompromising. One thing people have to understand about us is that we both lost parents while we were in [this] relationship. I lost my father who I was extremely close to and he lost his mother a year and a half after that.
That really took a toll on our relationship. When my dad passed, I was very strong because I had to be- I had to make arrangements, I had to speak at the funeral and he passed three days before our son was born. When I finally got a chance to break down, it was a storm and Keith got swept up in my storm.
I remember coming home late because I would avoid coming home sometimes cause I was just really sad. I came home and just started crying and said, “I can’t be with you anymore.” And the funny thing about Keith is that he was just like, “Ok, whatever you need to do, I’ll still be here.” It was probably the most confusing [time] for me and I thought we were gonna be done. In this case, you showed me that it takes two people to be done.
So, what is the “it factor” with me and then I’ll answer?
Keith: The “it factor” with Khalya is she makes me rise to the level that I need to be at or above. Because of her standards and expectations, [it requires] a lot of encouragement and commitment. Being in the relationships that I’ve been in, I’ve never had to be in conversations like this and I’ve never had to adhere to anyone’s standards.
Originally, with my cavalier and I-do-what-I-want attitude, I [didn’t] see a problem with what I do. I’m not trying to be an asshole. I’m just doing whatever this is. That’s one thing that I like about our relationship: she holds me to those high standards and pushes me to be the best me.
BWBK: That’s so nice bae. I’m glad you said that cause my favorite line is Keith is on the “Fuck It Plan.” He got a VIP platinum package.
I think your “it factor” is-and I’m gonna slightly back up the bullshit he said earlier when he described himself as handsome- my man cleans up nicely. When he cleans up, he looks like a whole fucking entree. There’s a very specific way that he does what he does when he’s getting his fly together.
The other “it factor” is that you’re very calming. I’m a very anxious person- I need things to go a certain way, according to schedule. I want my first option to be THE option. I think because you’re so unbothered by shit, it keeps me from worrying about things that I can’t control. And I think I still have a ways to go cause a bitch do be going off prematurely. So while I do like looking at you, I appreciate the ease you bring into my life.
We over here praising each other and that’s cute but I’m sure there are some things that be pissing you all the way off about me. So let’s go with that. What’s your pet peeve?
Keith: Khalya is a very passionate workaholic. She’ll come home and we’ll be out and I feel like she be ignoring us and we have to tell her, “Yo, this is family time. You gotta put your phone away. Lock in and do family shit and then do your shit.”
But then she’ll get wrapped up in an email and some shit on social media and it’s just like, Today please. That’s pretty much it. Other than that, she’s harmless.
BWBK: Mine is actually minor but it’s major. Keith puts some of his shit in every room. He wants you to know he lives here, in every part of the house. Why are your sneakers in my daughter’s room? He like, she don’t need that room, she’s in college. I’m just like, every space is not a closet for you. I have [more of that] to look forward to after we get married.
Our situation is interesting because you came into a premade family. By the time you came around, Kaori was 14. Now she’s about to be 20 and we’re about to visit her and that’s dope but it wasn’t always dope. Talk about some of the challenges and successes of being a stepdad and dating me.
Keith: Kaori wasn’t a prissy little girl but she also wasn’t completely a tomboy either. She really liked Jordans when I first met her. So being a sucker trying to get on her good side, I bought her some Jordans. Having a daughter was the icing on the cake. When you’re in a relationship, you have to treat a woman a specific kind of way. What you do [to and for her mother] is influencing that young girl.
I always try to be a stand up man and a role model and [Kaori] definitely made me evolve even faster. I’m dealing with the two of these ladies and then we had our son so I really became a family man. Dealing with our daughter still has its challenges but I think I should be an example of a man, be someone she’s close to and [who] will be there for whatever she needs. I don’t think we’ve reached that point completely but she does call me for money and she does all the things a daughter would do so that’s close enough for me. At the end of the day, that’s my daughter and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
BWBK: Awww, that’s so nice. Let’s be clear, Kaori will call anyone for money. She’ll call Tyrone if she needs some money… It was very difficult for me. Kaori has had a ton of influence on who I have chosen to be with and who to stay with. Kaori was very accustomed to pointing to a motherfucker that she ain’t like and they would just disappear.
But with you, I think she was like, I pointed at him like five times already. Why he still here? He should’ve been handled. He should’ve got got already. I think she had to come to grips with the fact that her tantrums and feelings weren’t getting a response. But I think now, y’all are in a much better place cause she’s older. She does call you in certain moments and confides in you and I think that’s dope that y’all have built that relationship.
We’re gonna do a little lightning round. So I’m gonna ask you questions then you’re gonna ask me those same questions. (First response is Keith’s; second is BWBK)
BWBK: First question: What’s your favorite part of my body? Waist and hips; your face
Favorite article of clothing I wear? Business attire/business dress; button up shirts and blazer
Favorite way that I wear my hair? I love it when you wear your hair up and your neck is out; I like it when your hair’s a little grown out but I like it when you clean up.
Your favorite photo of us? Mostly pictures of you when you were pregnant and the picture we took in Italy; the first time we celebrated your birthday together and also the photos in Italy.
Your favorite thing that I cook? Pound Cake; Keith can make a fuckin’ rockin’ honey-glazed salmon.
[Thanks for the lightning round.] What have you learned by being in this relationship? Just about love? About yourself and me?
Keith: I think I’ve seen the way love can be tested. How it can bring two people together to a place of understanding and get past their transgressions. Like it says in the Bible, Ask and it shall be given, in terms of communication. If you don’t open the dialogue and put things in the universe, it won’t come to fruition cause who can read your mind?
Like I said, we’re a work in progress. We’re always evolving and that’s what I love. If you’re slipping, nigga’s gonna tap you on the shoulder and she not wiping their dirt off your shit.
BWBK: One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself is that you can really have love without throwing these hands. I have to say that because I’ve been in a lot of dysfunctional relationships and even this, at times, has been dysfunctional and I realize the role I play in that dysfunction.
Y’all don’t understand. If I get pissed, the whole fucking floor [of my building] gotta know about it. I will rip this shit the fuck up if I have to.
Keith: It be some Love and Hip Hop type of shit. Mona should’ve knocked on my door a long time ago and gave me a check.
BWBK: I did realize when I was on a thousand. There would be times when he would say, we don’t need to be talking to each other like that and I’d be like, “Nigga don’t tell me how I need to be talking to you.”
You could not tell me that my approach wasn’t toxic as fuck. I think one of the reasons we have sustained is because he reminds me of my father so much. He loves me the way that my father did in the sense that it’s unconditional and I’m always given grace by Keith. You constantly wanting to love me was too much at times because I wanted to prove that you were a piece of shit. I learned that I had to stop pushing you away and I was [being] an asshole a lot [of the time].
At one point, I just got tired. I was just thinking, why am I making this more difficult than this needs to be? In the last year and a half we’ve been in a really good place.
We talked about the past; we talked about the present so what do you see for our future?
Keith: I see us both thriving, as always, pursuing our own goals. I’ve always hinted that you need to start your own real-estate portfolio to start building your own assets. As a couple, I want us in a good headspace. I want us to be in a healthy, vibrant place and [I want us to] always speak about one another in a positive, loving manner.
I actually wanna thank you for some of the things you said in the last question cause I never heard you say those things to me before. And just saying those kind words about our relationship and about me.
BWBK: As far as our future is concerned, I tell you what I don’t see: more kids. We have had a really great 2019 because we were in a different headspace. We came to the table and said if this is what we want then what are we willing to do [in order] to be [what we need] for one another and maintain this relationship.
We do really well on road trips and we just talk and it helps us to air out our shit. I think when we’re home, we are so bombarded by our business, bills, [the kids] and our jobs. When we step away from all of that, we have the opportunity to put all our shit on the table. So I’m looking forward to doing more of that in the future so we can reset and reconnect with each other.
I love the fact that you said that we pursue our own goals. One of the best things about [our relationship] is that we have never felt like we had to give up pieces of ourselves to be together. You have your shit that you do. I have my shit, my friends and my interests that you’re very supportive of and we [even] take separate trips. I really do see us building more, venturing into [projects] together and just enjoying each other.
We have so much to look forward to because of the things we got off our chests before. So the foundation we stand on is way stronger than it was in the beginning.
I love you.
Keith: I love you baby. God bless and good night.
BWBK: Remember to follow on IG @ Blackwomenbeknowing and Twitter @BWBK_
Keep celebrating Black love and drop any pictures of Black couples, both celebrity and erryday couples you admire, on social media and tag @ Blackwomenbeknowing or hashtag Blackwomenbeknowing.
I’m so glad that the first man on the podcast is my fiance and we can have these conversations. If he’s good and keeps complimenting me, he can come back.
Keith: Well I’m honored and I’m definitely appreciative to be a part of what you’re doing, and have a voice on the forum you’re speaking in. Keep up the wonderful work that you’re doing. I’m all for that. The Black woman is my god.
Black women be reflecting on Black love.
Black women be acknowledging the struggle of Black love.
Black women be celebrating the beauty of Black love.
And if you don’t know, now you be knowing.