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A few years ago I posted a piece on my personal blog that was in response to comments on a post I wrote here that rubbed some people the wrong way. At the time, many people thought that my attempt to pay a compliment was just a backhanded jab. They felt that I really didn’t mean anything I said and only wrote the post because I thought it was to impress women on this site. I actually wrote the post because the compliments never come for that specific group of women. To this day, I will never understand or agree with the way many of the readers reacted. It really bothered me and I didn’t write about relationships on SBM for over a year after that article was published.

The weekend after that post ran I was hanging out with one of my homies and told her about what happened. She said something that I haven’t ever forgotten to this day because it was so spot on and it was needed at that point in time. “Jay what you have to understand is that those girls do not have a problem with you, they have a problem with [themselves]. You can’t let that affect you, or weigh you down, there’s nothing that you can do to make them feel better about them.” I felt better. I mean I felt a lot better. I would keep writing on relationships and dating on other sites but I didn’t care for it anymore on SBM. I wish I could tell you that I matured or changed my view on relationships over the time I decided not to write on SBM but I didn’t. I lost faith in many that they would ever be able to take ownership of their own personal issues with themselves. Moreover, how they view themselves and why they would need someone else to affirm something in them.

A few weeks ago, Streetz penned a piece on Colorism in the Black Community after Pharrell’s infamous ‘Girl’ album cover appeared to not display any Black representation. I’m not going to rehash much of what was already said, but I just wanted you all to know that Pharrell has since expanded on his comments. He inserts a different angle, something that not only affects how we view our race and skin color but a concept that tends to hold many of us back in life. It’s this idea that somehow we feel inadequate and are searching for validation/affirmation from the outside instead of the inside.

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Check out some of what Pharrell had to say:

There were people who criticized you for not including more black women on the cover of G I R L. How did you feel about that? 

Do you want me to be honest with you? It’s insecurity. If you love who you are—and I’m not saying that there’s not a plight out there for people who have different skin colors, because Mexicans go through just as much discrimination, if not more discrimination, than black people do in this country. Right? That’s why I wrote “Marilyn Monroe,” man: That which makes you different is what makes you special. You don’t gotta be waif, white, and thin to be beautiful. You can be anything that you want to be, and what I chose to do is put my friends on the cover. The girl that was closest next to me is black, but they didn’t know that, so they jumped the gun. And it wasn’t all black women. There were a lot of black women that were really angry at some of those girls, but some of those girls are the ones that instantly get mad when they don’t see somebody that’s dark. And it’s like: “Yo, you don’t need nobody to represent you. You represent you. You represent the best version of who you could be. You go out there and change the world.” Because I’m black, and I wouldn’t trade my skin color for nothing.

I’m a black man. I’m happy to be black, and anybody that is not happy to be black will point around and ask for that kind of sympathy. But the thing is, let’s not ask nobody for no more sympathy. Let’s get together ourselves and support ourselves. It doesn’t make sense to me. That kind of divisiveness is not necessary at a time when we’re supposed to be unifying. That’s what happiness is all about, and if you look at my “Happy” video, I had everybody in there: fat, skinny, gay, straight, purple, polka-dot, plaid, gingham print, houndstooth, alien. I fuckin’ had dogs in there! I had children in there! I had kids in there! I’m the most indiscriminate person that there is! I believe in equality.

So which is it? Is President Obama black or not? Since you’re so mad: Is he black or not? Come on, man! We ain’t got time for that. We are black people. This is the new black. Oprah Winfrey: That’s the new black. She’s a black billionaire. President Obama: He is a black American president. Regardless of what you think about him, this is his second term. That’s the new black. LeBron James: the first black man ever shot on a Vogue cover, a black man. Me: a guy that’s written a song at 40! Nominated for an Oscar, four Grammy awards—at 40! That’s the new black! And by the way: a song that has transcended my lyrics, my own intention, and has become a movement and helped cancer patients. That’s the new black! Black ain’t a color: Black is a spirit, and it is ubiquitous. In fact, there’s more black out in space than there is stars. We have nothing to be insecure about.

Whether you’re talking about the color of your skin, gender, looks, occupation, and nationality or just your background in general, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we find ways to affirm and validate ourselves from within. The only reason why people need to be affirmed by someone else is because they feel inadequate. The reason why we want an obvious African American woman on the cover of that CD is because we feel marginalized. I’m not debating whether we are or are not, I’m stating that it’s because we somehow focus on that marginalization instead of all the ways we love ourselves.

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And like I said, it manifests itself in everything that we do. Women (and men) get upset at certain aspects of dating because they feel that we don’t view each other in the way we would hope we were viewed. In reality, it’s a call for affirmation because when we look in the mirror something about ourselves tells us that we either aren’t right for someone, don’t deserve the best, or are predisposed to be hurt. We lie to everyone around us and say that it doesn’t affect us but we can’t explain the way it pours out of us.

My recommendation is that you tell yourself often and regularly that you’re okay. I don’t think we do that enough. It makes us freak out the second a relationship doesn’t go our way. It makes us make gross generalization about others because one situation doesn’t go our way and then we demand that someone else affirm or validate us. You’ll find yourself asking for someone to tell you on Day 1 all they plan to do in that relationship from the first date until marriage. You’ll do that because you need the affirmation that the other person is not going to leave later on. But I would ask myself, why would I think that someone would leave me later on? Is it possible? Yes, anything is possible. However, I think I live in a way where I know that even if it has happened to me more times than not, that I am worthy of someone deciding to stick around.

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Once you reach that level of clarity in your life things are going to change. Not just in dating/relationships but in general. It comes with a sense of confidence that cannot be matched and it comes with the ability to have the thick skin needed to not always have to seek external affirmation. I have self-esteem, the best and only esteem that is needed.

– Dr. J

Do you think that we are in a constant struggle with our self-esteem and need for affirmation? We can agree that the media doesn’t do the best job at representing all races, genders and nationalities. Does that desire to have representation come from a place of feeling inadequate or are we selfishly merely trying to balance the scale? Do you agree or disagree with Pharrell’s expanded comment? Why or why not?