All Articles Tagged "titles"

The Road To The Altar: Do You Call Your In-Laws “Mom” And “Dad”? Because I Don’t Want To

December 10th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I probably don’t always show it in their presence, but I love my mom and dad. Like, I love them to death. They’re not only my parents but at this stage in my life, now that there is a distance between us with me living in New York while they are still in Chicago, they’re like my close friends. I talk to them about just about everything, and I’m the child they say calls most consistently. I get some snarky comments about my bond with my parents from my siblings, but what can I say? I’m the baby of the family. And my parents just love me more than them.

Just kidding!

But seriously, my connection with my parents is part of the reason I feel weird about the idea of calling my fiancé’s parents “mom” and “dad.” Lovely people, they truly are, but it almost feels like a slap in the face to my biological mom and dad.

It all started when I visited with my fiancé’s parents a couple of weeks ago to get measured for an aso oke for our wedding. When referring to my fiancé’s father while he was knocked out on the couch taking a nap, I called him “Mr. ___.” To which, his wife, my future mother-in-law, responded with “Who?”

When I repeated what I said, albeit a little nervous as I felt I had said something wrong, with a confused expression, she looked me square in the eyes and said, “That’s daddy. I’m mommy. We’re family now.”

The way she addressed me wasn’t aggressive or creepy at all, but those two words, “daddy” and “mommy,” literally threw me off. So I just responded with “Yes, ma’am,” a smile and a nod, and carried on with other conversations with her. But it stuck in my head for days. Weeks actually. Right up to now, as I write this, I’ve been thinking about it. Yes, I’m obsessive like that.

As Nigerians, it’s common to call elder women “mommy,” older sisters “Auntie ___,” and men in general “Brother ___,” including your actual brother. But did I mention that I’m an unconventional Nigerian in these streets? My dad didn’t really teach us our language (Bini). He didn’t tell us we had to curtsey to our elders. And we used to call our aunts and uncles “Aunt ___ ” or “Uncle ___,” instead of just auntie or uncle, which I was later told was disrespectful by a relative. Excuuuuuse me.

Maybe if I had known all these things and practiced them from a young age, I would have no issue calling my future in-laws “mommy” and “daddy.” But as it stands, a.k.a., me being who I am, it feels like I’m betraying my real mom and dad.

There’s just something odd about bestowing individuals with the title of Mom and Dad when they had no role in providing for me, raising me or supporting me through the ups and downs of my life. They didn’t shed any tears for me. They didn’t work long hours to put food in front of me or send me to college. They didn’t give up their opportunities and jobs to be a stay-at-home mom for my siblings and I. They didn’t clean my wounds. They didn’t wait up late for me on prom night, or any other night when I came home late. They didn’t give me my first job selling traditional Ankara-fabric clothing and handmade jewelry at festivals in the city. They didn’t teach me to drive. They didn’t come to my volleyball games, basketball games, choir or band performances, or my chess matches. (YES, I was in the chess club. You don’t want these hands.) They didn’t stay strong and go on for me after my brother died. They didn’t call and support me during my breakdown freshman year of college. And they didn’t drive 13 hours with me, and all my things, to New York City when I told them I had a dream I wanted to fulfill.

They’re not my mom and dad. Or “ma” and “daddy” as I call them.

They will be, in another way. And if I’m lucky, I will probably create a bond with them that will allow me to feel comfortable with them. To say that I love them. To call them weekly. And to not have a second thought when it comes to calling them my parents. But we’re not there yet.

People might think it’s easy to up and call someone whatever they ask you to refer to them by, but some titles come with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind them. And in most cases, they need to be earned through trust and time together. This is just the beginning…


Ask A Very Smart Brotha: We’ve Been Living Together For A Year, Why Won’t He Commit?

July 10th, 2013 - By MN Editor
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You asked and Damon answered. Today during our biweekly live chat, Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas answered several relationship questions regarding commitment, dating and living together. Check out the questions and the responses on the next few pages.

Fight For The Film Title: Lee Daniels May Have To Change The Name Of His New Movie “The Butler”

July 6th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Lee Daniels pf"

Lia Toby/

I’m sure that most of you have seen a preview, still photos or at the very least, heard about Lee Daniels’ new movie, The Butler.

But by the time it is actually released, there’s a chance that the movie will have a different name.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPPA) Title Registration Bureau ruled that the film’s production company, The Weinstein Company, could not use the title for the movie, primarily due to violations on how titles are approved.

This all stems from Warner Bros. filing a claim against TWC saying that they have a movie of the same title, released in 1916, which has been designated as a permanent original release since May 2010 – before TWC every started promoting the Lee Daniels film.

Warner Bros. lawyer, John Spiegel, stated that TWC started promoting their version of The Butler in September 2010 – before they ever got the title registered. When their request was denied by MPAA (presumable because there’s already a title of the same name), Spiegel says TWC waited four months before reaching out to Warner Bros. for a waiver. In the film industry, plenty of movies have the same name; the process, however, is that the film company that would like to use the title must first get permission and a signed waiver from the original owner of the title in order to use it.  Warner Bros. denied TWC from using it (they feel that TWC thinks they’re exempt from all the rules) but they continued anyway.

Lee Daniels has since written a personal letter to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara asking him to allow them to use the title; Tsujihara responded in a private letter and although it wasn’t published, most believe the answer was “no.”

In their version of the story, The Weinstein Company says they continued to use the title because an executive at Warner Bros. told them they didn’t forsee any problems with them using the name. Apparently, that wasn’t true.

Warner Bros. says they told executives that they could still use the word ‘butler’ but slightly change the name; in fact, they say, TWC could have used the title Lee Daniels’ The Butler and they would not have contested it. Instead, they say, TWC used illegal practices and now they want to shut it down completely.

The final ruling from MPAA came down July 2nd and The Weinstein Company will face a $25,000 per day fine for continuing to use the title.

The Butler, or whatever it will eventually be called, opens in theaters on August 16th.

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: Is A Label Really All That Important?

June 26th, 2013 - By MN Editor
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Hi Damon,

I’ve been seeing this man for six months. I really like him and we spend a lot of time together going on dates etc. We’ve even had discussions about being monogamous. We’ve agreed that neither one of us will date or sleep with anyone else. Yet he refuses to give me the title of “girlfriend.” I’ve explicitly told him that the title is important to me because I think it teaches people how to act in the relationship and with others. But he has yet to ask me to be his girlfriend. I’m wondering if I’m being unreasonable. Is a title really all that important? But I’m concerned because he’s said that the next woman he dates he plans on marrying. Which left a bitter taste in my mouth. Should I leave him alone or am I placing more importance on titles than necessary?


Living For A Label

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Be Honest: Are You Chasing A Title Or A Relationship?

June 12th, 2013 - By Raven Carter
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

From SingleBlackMale

In college, life was in a stage of transition. We are transitioning in our academics, and we’re transitioning within ourselves. We go through so many changes and these have an impact our relationships. Our wants and needs in relationships can change as well. In college, we forged many new relationships with each other. It is also often said that you’ll meet some of your lifelong friends in college.

In college, we built strong bonds with people; some of which are translated romantically. The nature of your relationship with someone really depended on whatever medium the two of you meet. When I say medium I am referring to an agreement or compromise. To be clear; relationships and titles were two totally different things.

Were you engrossed in the feeling and validation of a title? I.e. being a boyfriend or girlfriend — or do you appreciate a companionship more? The truth is, back in college, there were many people with titles on their relationship so that others could define what they had. It gave you a sense of security if you were not sure what you meant to someone.

Titles offer validation, some authenticity; just like a title on a car or deed on an apartment. By no means am I against the institution of a relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend, but such relationships must be forged in the right spirit. You want both parties to be willing and able to contribute the way that they should.

Your relationship is really where things happen. Your relationship is the foundation, which should be higher on your priority list. Your relationship is the bond you share with someone and to me, is the core of anything resembling a title. I say that to say this, a relationship may allow more flexibility than a title. Believe it or not, titles conjure up some obligations that aren’t always able to be met. Although these obligations may be few they may be hard to always keep up.


Ask A Very Smart Brotha: In A Relationship, Does Your Partner “Own” You?

April 3rd, 2013 - By MN Editor
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Hi Damon,

I recently started seeing this guy. Right now, it’s not anything serious. I’m just enjoying his company. Anyways, in one of our conversations he mentioned that he doesn’t particularly like titles in a relationship because then people start feeling like they own one another. Initially, I thought he was being ridiculous– of course you can’t own another person. But the more I talked to others in committed relationships they started speaking about the expectations and even the way their lives included other restrictions once they were in a relationship. For instance, one woman said her boyfriend doesn’t like for her to wear certain types of revealing clothing when he’s not around. Do you think there’s any truth to this “owning” people thing?


As we speak, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about same-sex marriage. And, regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s easy to recognize that the main point of contention isn’t necessarily just about equal rights but the idea that same sex marriages should recognized as marriages. Not civil unions, not partnerships, but marriages. Basically, the label, that “insignificant” word, matters. 

I’m bringing this up because, well, while I guess I understand it when people say things like “labels and titles don’t matter”, they do. A label or a title is a sign to the world that you’re taking something seriously—It’s the reason why we sign contracts and have job titles—and with this status does come reasonable expectation. I’ve found that (most) people who do the “no title” thing basically are just attempting to get all the benefits of a relationship and all the benefits of being single without any of the drawbacks.
So, while saying that a title=ownership is taking things too far, titles and labels come with expectations, and being serious with someone usually does mean that you have to alter certain parts of your behavior. If that’s not acceptable, well, relationships aren’t for everyone. But, instead of saying “i don’t do labels” perhaps people should just be honest and say “i just want to do whatever the eff I feel whenever the eff I feel like it.”

Lastly, I know (some) people will take issue with the implication that a person in a relationship has the right to “tell their mate what to do.” But, if you look at relationships like jobs—with contracts and clear/defined job descriptions—then it makes more sense. Some people are okay with relationships where things might be a little more controlling, a little more limiting. Others aren’t. This is why it’s paramount to have clear expectations before entering a relationship—a clear understanding of what each person thinks it terms of how a mate should and shouldn’t act. Now, if a person completely changes up once titles come into the picture, that (obviously) is cause for the “contract” to be restructured or rendered obsolete. But, aside from abusive situations, if both parties are happy—and have an agreed upon set of behaviors—there really is no “right” or “wrong” way to be in a relationship.  Lemme put it this way: Being told what to wear may seem too controlling. I mean, who needs to be told what to wear?

But, what if you were blind?

Why “It’s Complicated” Is Just Foolish

March 19th, 2013 - By Charing Ball
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ashanti and nelly

Yesterday Jazmine Denise Rogers reported that that despite years worth of stories of a relationship between Ashanti and Nelly and then a rumored breakup of this said relationship, Ashanti set the record straight, by telling radio DJ Sway, ““Who said we had a relationship?…”

First whenever I read about Ashanti, I always think of that track where she (and her team) masterfully flipped Biggie’s smash hit,”One More Chance,” (originally DeBarge’s “Stay With Me”), to “Foolish” describing how stupid we can be over some dude. And then that always makes me think about a saying I once heard, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

Ironically, it was an ex-boyfriend, who told me that. He was ten years my senior. He also said those words belong to George Bernard Shaw. Back then I took it as an insult, which is why we are probably not together anymore. But now, a little older, I definitely “get it.” I was strong, vital and in my best physically but I lacked both wisdom and at times, basic common sense. I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache and unnecessary stress, if I knew about life – and more specifically love – then than I do now.

Years ago, I was having an awkward phone conversation with my father about a guy I was seeing. I normally don’t discuss the guys I date with my dad. We just don’t have that type of relationship where I felt comfortable to let my guard down to share. He wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. I told him I had a “friend.” I heard him sigh and then he said something to the effect of, “that’s the problem with your generation, you don’t know how to properly define yourselves. You call relationships any-and everything but relationship even though you do this and that.”

This and that, was my father’s coded way of saying “sex” but without having to acknowledge that he once little girl wasn’t a little girl anymore. Nevertheless, I was irked. For one, I felt like he had no right to make a judgment about the guy I was dating, for whom he had never met. And secondly, how could you hold my relationship in judgment when I was conceived out of one of those “friendly” affairs? Sort of in the spirit of Sade’s Babyfather?  But that’s where his unsolicited advice came from: the experience. You know, the whole “youth wasted” saying?

Mainly because he was partially right: I made the mistake of telling my “friend” that I wanted more. It was nothing something that had sprung up over night. To be honest, I had always wanted more from him. He told me then that he wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. And after six-months of hanging out in that gray area, not much had changed. “I’m just not into that right now. I got a lot on my mind right now. You know, my baby mom; I’m not exactly where I want to be in life; emotionally I’m just messed up, right now…” blah, blah blah. Basically, he was saying that despite spending time with and being sexually intimate with you, I’m just not that in to you. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be seeing all these other women besides you.

But I really liked him. Or I thought I did. Looking back, it was probably out of fear of rejection combined with fear of being alone. And I accepted it because I wanted to believe that if I just held on that one day, he would change his mind. I wouldn’t let the thought cross my mind that he might be using his baby mom as an excuse. For what? Who cares? Point is, he wasn’t being totally honest. And if I am truthful, I wasn’t being honest neither.

I was dishonest with him for leading him to believe that this complicated situation we had was okay with me. But more importantly, I was dishonest with myself. Despite how Musiq Soulchild makes it sound, being “friends” with someone you want more from ain’t always sunny. In fact, it’s a very uneven relationship where the power dynamic didn’t bend in my favor. Simple couple decisions, like when and how you should meet, become non-negotiable for me.  For the most part I felt powerless.  And the emotional stress from my chosen indentured servitude started to take a physical toll including being marked by anxiety and bouts of depression. For me, our friendly relationship became very unhealthy. And lying to myself about the affect it was having on me was the equivalent of labeling flu-like symptoms as “just a cough.”

Being honest with myself meant knowing how to articulate – and most importantly stand by – what I wanted in a relationship. If you’re not into a relationship, than by all means, don’t have one. In fact, I would suggest you don’t.  However, if a relationship is what you want, don’t settle for him (or her) calling you – as well as being – anything and everything but.  Sure, it is not going to be pleasant. And you might have to cut ties and spend time alone.

But being alone ain’t that bad, especially when you learn to love yourself. Then you realize just how much fun you really are. I think my overall point is that, life is too short to be on some friendly, aka Ashanti Foolish, aka Biggie’s One More Chance, mess – if you don’t have to.

Don’t Ever Talk To A Guy Who Says He Just Has A Friend

January 18th, 2013 - By Prudence
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annoyed black woman. pf


People love to tell you that women cannot stop running their mouths. And I’m not really here to argue that women don’t generally talk more than men. What I am arguing though, is that every once in a while, you’ll stumble across a man who does a whole lot of chatting, often to his own detriment. I ran into someone like this, this past week when I went to get my hair done. My hairdresser just so happened to be a male this time and homeboy said more than he should have. Without any prompting from me, this 45 year old man started talking about his career goals. His long term goals were to be an architect; but in the interim, he was going to stack money by doing hair at the shop and in his house… well, not exactly his house, it was his friend’s. He made sure that I knew it was a female friend. (As if that made the situation any better.) This friend of his not only opened up her home to him as a residence, she told him that he could make a little money on the side by doing hair there. She even offered to install a washing bowl in her home. He declined. That was a bit much. Well, that seemed like a lot of support to me. So I said, “That was nice of your friend.” That’s when he told the truth about his “friendship.”

“Well, if she were here, I’d have to call her my girlfriend.”


“So is she your girlfriend or not?”

“Well, you know…we…you know we…yeah she’s my girlfriend.”

At this point, I had officially written him off as a shady character; but just because I was done with him, didn’t mean he was done talking. A few minutes later, he was telling me about a woman he knew who recently published a book. After promoting her book, he said, “I could call her my girlfriend too. We…you know, we…”

Ugh. So done with you sir. At this point I was silently praying that all shady, no good, low down dirty vibes would not be transmitted into my hair.

Not only was he talking too much in general, the gall of him to be speaking about his triflin’ ways in front of another woman was… not very smart. It wasn’t smart for him speaking like that in front of me and it wasn’t smart discussing the intimate details of his personal life with a client. Here is this woman going out of her way to support his dreams and he  couldn’t  be honest about how he saw her in their relationship. Do you think if she knew homeboy was calling her a friend in the street, she’d even think about offering to install a whole sink in her home, let alone allow him to stay in her house? Probably not. I’d bet she’s thinking she is doing all of this for her man, not her friend. Just be honest. But then he might run the risk of being homeless out here…and it’s wintertime.

For me, it just served as another warning that these men out here, even if they’re in their 40’s, can be scandalous. I suggest you heed the warning as well. You can’t always know how your man is describing your relationship when you’re not around; liars will be liars. But until you’re absolutely sure that you both agree on the nature of your relationship, don’t inconvenience yourself or allow yourself to be used by a man who’s just a friend.

“Don’t Call Me a Baby Mama!” What’s Really In A Name?

November 25th, 2012 - By Kendra Koger
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"MomSonGames PF"

As you all know from my first “Where Are They Now” articles, I was a fan of what I like to call “VH1’s Golden Age of Reality Television.”  Not only did I watch (and own) all the seasons of Flavor of Love, I Love New York, For the Love of Ray J and I Love Money, I was also a fan of Rock of Love.  But one of the things that always struck me as odd were the high number of strippers on the show; however, when confronted, they would say,  “I’m a dancer.”  Unlike my confusion of what an exotic dancer was when I was younger, I couldn’t understand why the women would insist on the word “dancer,” and get offended if someone called them a stripper.  I mean, if you take your clothes off for money then you’re a stripper, right?

It wasn’t until a little while ago when my ex-husband called while he was around his family and I heard someone yell,  “Who you talking to,”  and he responded with “My baby mama.” I was so insulted!  He came back to the phone, we finished the conversation (with some definite ice on my end) and then hung up.  With the same look that Regina King had on Poetic Justice after Joe Torry punched her (mouth agape and slowly shaking her head from side to side), I grabbed my phone to call one of my best friends to tell her what happened.  In the middle of hitting my speed dial, I stopped.  I mean, what did he really do that was wrong?  He didn’t openly disrespect me.  He didn’t call me the slang version of a female dog.  He just called me his “baby mama.”  But why was I so offended by it?

I started thinking about how politically correct our society has gotten.  In a restaurant, you’re not supposed to call the person who takes your order a waiter anymore, they’re your server.  The people who help you to your seat on an airplane and tell you what to do in an emergency are no longer stewardesses, they’re flight attendants.  When you call an office, the person who answers the phone and take messages are no longer secretaries, they’re administrative assistants.  Why the change?  Because the former titles had a slightly negative connotation to them.  You see this happen all the time in society.

I started realizing that the reason why I was so taken aback is because the term “Baby Mama” (besides the fact that it is grammatically incorrect – it should be baby’s mama, but whatever) has such a negative connotation to me.  My mind immediately went to those girls who have their baby on their hip, parking lot pimping at the local gas station during the day and collecting a child support check or a “crazy check”/disability check in lieu of working.  Their babies are crying because they want to be home and the hair is sticking up on the toddlers’ heads while their mother continues to talk (with her luxurious new weave) to her girlfriends and check out the dudes who were also parking lot pimping in the middle of the day.

That phrase just seemed to remove all of the positive things I’ve done in my life.  It doesn’t address the fact that we were actually married at one time, and I’m a working college graduate.  Though descriptive in its basic form (yes, I am the mother to his child), it’s still offensive to me.  Not wanting to create a fuss by telling him not to call me that anymore (because then that’ll be “Baby Mama Drama”), I just left it alone.  But I will say this: instead of wondering, “what’s the big deal,” if someone is insistent on being called a title, I’ll abide now.  Dancers, servers, administrative assistants, I feel you now. I really do.

You can call Kendra Koger a bunch of things, just do it on her twitter @kkoger.

Ask a Very Smart Brotha Live: Signing Papers & Dating Younger Men

May 16th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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Shari: As a slightly older female, how should I go about dealing with a guy who is younger than me?…The attraction is there, but I’m a little hesitant because I’ve always been into older men? Thanks.

DY: The answer depends on how much younger he is than you. If it’s a few years, I don’t think things would be much different than dating a guy a bit older than you. If it’s over a decade or so, though, you run an increased risk that the guy isn’t in the same “place” you are, and isn’t looking for the same things from a relationship. Either way, I’d advise you to proceed the same way you should with anyone else — with caution.