Thirty-year old Ernestine Johnson captured our hearts in 2014 with her viral poem, “Average Black Girl.” It received widespread recognition and even landed her a spot on the Arsenio Hall show. Her life’s work is rooted in the performing arts, but also in protecting and advocating for the Black community, especially Black women. So, it’s not by chance she had a serendipitous meeting with Jay Morrison, 37, an entrepreneur, real estate and financial educator whose businesses focus on uplifting Black people. Although the two clicked, they both weren’t looking to enter a relationship with one another or anyone for that matter, which was especially the case for Jay who was already spoken for at the time they met. But as life would have it, the two eventually found themselves single at the same time and since then, their teamwork has made their dreams thrive. Founders of the Tulsa Real Estate Fund, Ernestine and Jay have raised $11 million for their efforts to combat gentrification by creating a platform where people can invest in Black communities and businesses. Did we mention the couple launched this and many of their business ventures while planning their July 21st wedding and raising children? Learn how they do it all and face challenges that come their way.
Ernestine Johnson @mrsernestinemorrison
Jay Morrison @mrjaymorrison
Describe how you all met?
Jay Morrison (JM): We first met in my office through a professional meeting. Leticia Rob was one of Ernestine’s friends was working with my company. She told me Ernestine was a powerful woman, influencer who has her own concierge company [and] powerful poet–totally awesome and someone I would vibe with. She was also an advocate for all the community work we (my company) were doing, so I was like “Cool! Set it up!” When we met it was really good vibes, [we] definitely got along and she had great energy. We had follow-up meetings and lunch with Leticia and other colleagues. It was all very professional; at that point I was in a relationship and was not even eyeing other women in any kind of capacity. I invited Ernestine to my first event in Atlanta– my First Quarter class where I teach World Strategy and Financial Literacy on street corners in the inner city. She thought the event was cool so I asked her if she can perform at one of our events.
Ernestine Johnson (EJ): I was like, “you want me to perform on a street corner? Eh, I don’t know about that!” [laughs]
JM: After the event ended, she changed her mind and at the next event she came and performed. She was super powerful; she captivated the crowd, said her words with conviction and her love for Black men and the community showed. That’s my passion, that’s what God called me to do– (pauses) Full disclosure: I was having issues in my relationship and professionally transitioning, so I can’t say I needed [Ernestine], but I knew I needed a woman like that. Our friendly conversations became extra friendly and then I segued out of my relationship and then eventually we began the dating phase. That’s my side of the story. [laughs]
EJ: Well, that’s slightly close to the truth. [laughs] It’s true we did meet in his office through a friend who was working for him at the time and she did say that we both needed to meet each other because [we] have the same mission, same energy and same frequency. When I walked into his office for the meeting it was so electric; I really felt like the energy just shifted and he can say all that he wants but he couldn’t just stop smiling throughout the entire meeting. It was all smiles, giggles and laughs. I knew that day that he would be in my life for a while. We knew the [more] we talked. I felt like he was the man I was going to marry.
How did you know he was the one?
EJ: I work with NFL athletes for my concierge company regularly and these are handsome men all day, every day. They didn’t move me. The thing about Jay and me, [our] energy and our interactions [were] different. It was just God sent. It wasn’t like I was talking to him in the sense of him being so fine or sexy; it was just the frequency. I knew God was like “He’s the man for you.” I don’t know how to explain that.
JM: I think sometimes men know the woman they want to be with but, especially in the Black community, it’s a maturity and example thing. I was mature enough at the time to make that intentional decision but had it been like five years prior under the same circumstance, I wouldn’t have. [Men in the Black community] have been taught to shun marriage like it’s not the cool thing. It’s like “Oh me and her can make babies and we can live together and buy cars! But marriage? Eh!” You can have someone, make a baby with someone who literally is in your life forever, but will have an issue when it comes to committing. That mentality is destroying us but I was about to do it. I was going to put off our engagement for another year, but that wasn’t going to work [Ernestine laughs in background]. But I felt like she deserved to have a husband and not a boyfriend. And I deserved to have a wife, not a girlfriend. It’s about maturity, growth and the journey to something that’s more impactful so we can leave this world better than how we came.
What advice would you give to single women struggling with this time period alone?
EJ: I would say to young women, one of the greatest relationships you can have is with yourself. Many times women, we want to please our partners, find what they like and do that and we lose ourselves. We don’t know who we are. Know who you are first. Had I met Jay the year before I met him, it wouldn’t have worked. I’ve done so much self-work. Finally, at 30 years old, I actually felt like I love me and everything about me: my flaws, kinks, quirks, hair, body, skin, nose. Everything that I thought I had a problem with and thought I wanted to change, I finally came to terms that that is me, that’s who I am and that’s what I have to offer. I love that about me. Because if I don’t love that about me, who else is going to love that about me? So get to know you and get to loving you–set boundaries and non-negotiables. You have to teach people how to treat you and people will only treat you the way you treat yourself. So if you exude the energy of “This is how you have to treat me,” people will follow. Set the tone for yourself and that will set the tone for others. Walk into your purpose and you’ll attract everything you want: your man, car, career. You will attract everything that has your name on it.