Relationships

Juice Soul’s “Made Her A Woman”: A Relationship Counternarrative for the Fellas

While male artists, especially those in R&B and Hip-Hop, often receive charges of employing sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic and divisive imagery and language, Juice Soul, Jason Williams of Augusta, Georgia, offers a mature, balanced and compelling counternarrative to those charges. Too many songs across musical genres present an oversimplified ultimate reason why numerous intimate heterosexual relationships fail: it’s the man’s fault. Yes, admittedly, men, more often than not, create the core challenges and problems that plague relationships and inevitably lead to their undoing. In many cases, however, women contribute significantly to these relationship challenges and problems. “Made Her A Woman,” one of the hit tracks from Juice Soul’s 2005 100% Concentration album, boldly, yet respectfully, ventures into this frequently slanted, deficient in nuance discourse.

Juice Soul’s dexterous melding of urban contemporary R&B and neo-soul lends itself useful to illuminating his characteristic deftness in relating an enchanting story through song. The powerful art of storytelling represented in “Made Her A Woman”—and most of his works—facilitates heartfelt emotions expressed. Although the title, “Made Her A Woman,” might give the impression of a standard patriarchal song, the artist deploys an ironic title, to surprise, challenge, unsettle. Early in the song, Mr. Williams disabuses the listener of any thoughts about this work being laced with misogynist or patriarchal words or themes.

Juice Soul Jason Williams

(Photo Courtesy of Juice Soul)

The artist longs for his former love to appreciate the substantial contributions he made in her life that helped her to evolve into a mature and productive woman. Her unwillingness to give him the gratitude he deserves results in a vexing loneliness; a loneliness that engenders a primarily dejected mood. Pain, however, seems to motivate the artist to rise above the limitations of his extant inauspicious circumstances, communicating a slight sense of optimism about his future love life.

Williams’ oeuvre appears intimately grounded in realism. The type of raw emotion and zeal he delivers suggests mostly biographical content rather than purely fictional content, which could explain why his songs connect so strongly with fans.

“Made Her A Woman” taps into the universal human condition by engaging common feelings experienced: loss, loneliness, heartbreak and disenchantment. As an adroit and shrewd lyricist, Juice Soul always releases a sincere, candid piece. This track conveys an important message: heterosexual men’s relationship narratives possess great value, and when artists proffer those narratives without fear, we behold poignant, beautiful art—the type of art represented by his Summer 2016 song featuring rapper L.T. Terror, one of the best songs produced this decade, “Tasteless.”

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Let the Power of Discovery Begin at Home

Black Family

(Photo Credit: Black Enterprise)

Before you go out exploring phenomena outside of your home, discover the new things you can learn about those inside of your home.  How often do you ask questions to those in your immediate family?  How well do you really know your family members?  Too often we assume we know a tremendous amount about our immediate family members, but there can be so many things we don’t know about them.  Many people can be so busy trying to find out what’s going on in other people’s homes that they’re missing the greatest attractions developing inside of their own homes.

Parents, how well do you know your children’s friends?  For parents with older children who are in relationships, how well do you know the individuals they’re in relationships with?  Do you know why your children decided to be in relationships with these individuals?  How did they first meet and what attracted them?  Are your children too secretive about their relationships?  Why?  Do you have children you find it strange that they are even in intimate relationships?  Have you asked questions that will provide you with more information to make it less strange?  These aforementioned queries are just some you can posed to members of your immediate family to discover some potentially novel things.

One of the best ways to build and maintain strong families is to place a strong value on communication in your home.  Your home should be a place where frank and open communication are truly valued.  The members of your immediate family should feel comfortable to talking to one another about virtually anything.  One thing I’m very proud of about my immediate family is the members of the family feel comfortable talking to one another about anything.  We can share things with one another without feeling like any member is going to bring condemnation for what’s disclosed.  My immediate family is loving and supportive, and it has been the welcoming and embracing of frank and unrestricted communication that has been essential to the love in my family.

If you talk more to your immediate family members, you may learn ways you can be useful in helping them to overcome physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual challenges and problems.  Before sending a family member to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, determine if this is even necessary.  Those situated inside the home can serve as the only psychologist or psychiatrist the person needs.  We often miss opportunities to be helpful to those who live in our own homes because we allow ourselves to become too busy to look for the potential needs of our family members.

Use this piece as a conversation-starter with the members of your immediate family.  Let this piece become a way for you to ask questions of the members of your immediate family that you’ve always wanted to know or failed to ask.  You may discover some things about your immediate family members you needed to know before they died.  Don’t make your family members think you’ve turned into a private investigator (unless you truly are one).  Just let them know you want to grow closer as a family through the power of discourse and inquiry.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Get to the Heart of the Matter

White Couple

(Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

When you desire to have a serious discourse with someone, be sure you’re ready to be transparent with him or her. Beating around the metaphorical bush with the person you’re communicating with can cause him or her to distrust you.  It can appear to him or her that you have something to hide.  If you truly don’t have anything to conceal from the person, then get to the heart of the matter; that is, let the person know what’s truly on your mind.  When you’re having an important conversation with an individual and you’re not as forthcoming as possible, one has to wonder if it’s really a conversation or not; it could just be a performance.

No one wants to feel like he or she is banging his or her head against the wall just to get you to offer a smidgen of candor.  The reality is many people aren’t prepared to engage in frank discourses with others.  One can posit that most relationship problems, including legal separations and divorces, are a result of a failure to have bold communication.  Too many people lack the boldness to have the conversations that need to take place.

People will never really know what’s bothering you if you’re not willing to tell them.  You will discover that it’s liberating to disclose to people how you’re really feeling.

Although it may not be what you want to hear, you reveal yourself to be a coward when you lack the courage to say what needs to be said.  This is why it’s vital to help people to overcome their fears.  By helping more people to overcome their fears, there will be a reduction in the number of people who allow the fear to communicate candidly to hinder or sever their various relationships.

Some people are afraid to have bold conversations because they are fearful of confrontation.  It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing confrontation.  Those individuals who aren’t afraid of confrontation and who aren’t afraid to have frank discourses with you are demonstrating maturity.  There will be some who will say they just love drama, but the reality is mature people never leave what needs to be said unsaid.

Being bold about what you say does not mean being intentionally hurtful to others.  You can speak truthfully to people without being abrasive. Just don’t let the potential of someone getting hurt by your words prevent you from saying what needs to be said, however.  Ultimately, the person who receives your candid words will be better off having heard your words.

When a person is honest with you, what he or she says to you may make you angry.  Give the person credit for being truthful.  Respond to the truth in a mature way.  You don’t want people to avoid speaking candidly to you because they know you will react immaturely.  The way we receive truth will unveil important revelations about us, even some revelations we may not be ready to receive.

It’s time to get real with the people around you, and it’s time to get real with yourself.  Have the essential discourses you need to have today.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy 34th Birthday to Santresa L. Glass

Santresa L. Glass

(Photo Credit: Santresa L. Glass)

For over 13 years, Santresa Glass has gotten on my nerves and continues to get on my nerves. Although I have had to endure her getting on my nerves for such a long time, she’s unquestionably my best friend.  San, as she’s affectionately known, is a beautiful person, inside and out.  One of the central reasons why I cherish our friendship is she’s never looking to simply use me to obtain something she wants or needs; she loves me just for who I am.  We share a metaphysical relationship and love.  Our love for one another is so deep that many people think we are intimately involved—she can only dream that this will happen one day. Our relationship is akin to the relationship Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King share.  I will always treasure our relationship.

When a problem arises in my life, she does not contribute it; she’s there to support me through the problem. We always know that we can count on each other.

If more people could experience a relationship like the one we have, the world would be a better place.

San, I’m super proud of all of your accomplishments.  You know that I’ve witnessed the highs and lows life has presented you.  The lows have been pretty low and the highs have been pretty high. Through it all, you’ve made it.  You have blossomed into a remarkable woman.  In a few weeks, you will earn your doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership—what an awesome accomplishment!  (On the official day you complete all requirements for your doctoral degree, I will pen a piece focused solely on this accomplishment.)

Although I’ve always cherished our friendship, it was not until 2009 that I truly understood just how valuable of a best friend she is.  We never become too old to learn.  Life has taught me that there are special elements about the friendship that are absent in my other friendships.  What’s odd about our chemistry is we disagree 99% of the time.  I am right 100% of the time, however.

It’s such a great feeling to know that our friendship is not dependent on what I can do for her, and it’s wonderful to know that what I can do for her does not define our friendship.

Our relationship is envied by so many that we’re responsible for a number of people just popping up with “best friends” all of a sudden and/or falsely characterizing their relationships with others as “best friends” when they know full well this characterization is dishonest.

Today, in my own unique way, I want to wish Santresa L. Glass a Happy 34th Birthday!  Enjoy your day and your day off.

Love you,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Don’t Invite Disloyalty to Your Doorstep

Disloyalty

(Photo Credit: Bole Gain India)

The waning embracement of loyalty is becoming ever so lucid throughout America.  When you fail to be loyal to your family and friends, you invite disloyalty to your doorstep.  The costs of being loyal are significantly less than the repercussions of being disloyal.  Often those who are disloyal to their family and friends are governed by a spirit of selfishness.  This spirit of selfishness frequently defines those who are disloyal.  Most folks willing to be disloyal will try to make everything about them.  If you, therefore, have friends and family members who attempt to make everything about themselves, then they have great potential to be disloyal to you.

Although it can be quite emotionally painful to have someone you trust be disloyal to you, it can be empowering: You have a chance to learn his or her real name: Enemy.  Once you discover his or her true name, treat the person accordingly.  The discovery of disloyalty will remove the blinders from your eyes about the person.  This will enable you to invest your time in people who genuinely love and support you. Even when people painstakingly endeavor to conceal their disloyalty, disloyalty has a way of being revealed to you.  Disloyal people tend to have disloyal friends, family members, and associates, and those individuals often—without the least thought and regret—communicate the disloyalty to the victims.

While it can seem easy to respond to this piece by saying, “Don’t trust everyone,” some of the victimizers can be people you’ve never had any reason to suspect of being disloyal.  You should not immediately blame the victim.  It’s not healthy to go around distrusting everyone but it’s wise to keep your eyes and ears open.

Should a family member or friend be forgiven for being disloyal?

Forgive everyone for everything.  The disloyal will inevitably receive justice.  You will recover from the pain disloyal people have inflict on you—just don’t let that pain stifle your progress.  Find the strength to overcome this pain or it will accomplish just what your enemies hoped it would: destruction.

After reading this piece, let your loyal family members and friends know how much you really appreciate, love and support them.  Being a victim of disloyalty offers you powerful insights about why your loyal family members and friends are so valuable.

As a quick reminder to disloyal people, your actions can cause those same evil seeds you planted in one place to sprout at your doorsteps.  You do reap what you sow.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Complicated Beauty of Forgiveness

Forgiveness

(Photo Credit: Joint Interest)

Although it can be quite difficult to forgive people sometimes, it’s essential that you forgive them.  You may feel that the people have done things to you and/or stated things about you that make them unworthy of forgiveness.  Everyone deserves forgiveness, however.  When you’re unwilling to forgive others, you hold yourself back from progressing.  You will continue to carry the weight of unforgiveness around with you.  Holding grudges robs you of living a life liberated from the control of others.  When you fail to forgive individuals who have wronged you, you’re allowing the things they’ve done to you to control you.

When you forgive people for their errors, you make room in your life for greater things to happen in it.

Forgiveness

(Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

Forgiving individuals does not mean you have to become friends with them and hang out with them.  It means you have released yourself and them from any personal animosity, malevolent thoughts, and desires for revenge you may have harbored.  This will also let the people who you’ve forgiven know that you hold nothing against them.  When you forgive people, this does not mean that they will not face consequences for their wrongs.  They still will experience the repercussions of their errors.  At that point, what they will go through is out of your hands.  You’ve done your part and that’s all that matters.

Don’t spend the rest of your life thinking about ways you’re going to get revenge on your enemies. This is a complete waste of your time.  Your enemies have wasted enough of your time; therefore, don’t help them to waste more of it.

If you forgive a person for phenomena he or she has done to you, then you may discover that the act of forgiveness enables you to restore a relationship with him or her.  Forgiveness can, therefore, pave the way for necessary relationships to be mended.  It can also give you peace to deal with those relationships that need to end or remain severed.  In no way does having a forgiving heart mean that you have to let people run over you.  A forgiving heart permits you to recognize that human beings are fallible creatures needing to be forgiven because of their inability to achieve perfection.

Make an important decision to forgive everyone who has ever done you wrong.  If you really want to see maximum growth in your life, visit, call or write the people you’re forgiving to inform them that you’ve forgiven them and what you’ve forgiven them for doing and/or saying.  Be specific too.

We continue to have unproductive arguments and fights with one another because we’re too immature to resolve our issues through sincere and apt communication.

When you apologize to someone, don’t apologize because you got caught; apologize because you’re genuinely sorry. Faux apologizes will only exacerbate quandaries between you and others.  Many people will respond positively to authentic apologies.

Today, empower yourself by forgiving someone for his or her wrongdoings.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Secrets Can Destroy Relationships

Black Couple in Bed

(Photo Credit: Essence)

Honesty is always the best policy to employ in all relationships.  If you desire for your relationship to have staying power, then you need to be completely truthful with your partner.  It’s vital for you to inform your partner about past and present phenomena that are important for him or her to know.  You have to place enough trust in the power of your relationship to handle frank discourses.  Your partner should be happy that you’re willing to disclose with him or her things that you could have kept secret.

One couple I know has some secrets that would certainly shatter the relationship if they surfaced.  The woman has slept with her partner’s “good friend.” The “good friend,” who is a secretive person himself, refuses to inform the guy that he has had sex with his girlfriend.  A relationship like this one is doomed to fail.

Unfortunately, some people are so desperate to be in and/or stay in relationships that they’re willing to live with lies.

It’s always best to inform your partner as early as possible about things you believe may potentially cause problems or challenges in your relationship. By addressing phenomena that can be problematic for the relationship early on, this can build strength in the relationship.  It can also determine if those are things that will permit the relationship to continue, which is essential to resolve before the relationship gets too serious.

While I’m not advocating for you to become a private investigator, I do contend that it’s crucial for you to do your own research on those you wish to involve yourself with and those you’re involved with. Yes, people can change.  You may not, however, be able to stand being in a relationship with a person if you know some of the things he or she has done in the past.  While we should not hold everything in a person’s past against him or her, one does need to make the most informed decision about entering into a relationship with an individual.  The most informed decision can only emerge when the proper research has been done on your potential or current partner.  For example, I know someone who is in a relationship with a woman who has slept with at least one guy who is highly sexually active and who engages frequently in risky sexual behavior, but she has not told her current partner about this.  She’s unfairly exposing her current partner to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

If you know the secrets that a family member’s partner or friend’s partner aren’t divulging, then I do want to prepare you for the possibility that he or she will not believe you.  He or she may attack you by saying, “You just want me,” “You’re just envious,” “You’re just a liar,” “You just want him,” “You just want her,” or etc.  If you feel the need to tell your family member or friend, just know that you’re doing the right thing.

Just remember, secrets always have a way of coming out.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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