Carlos Walton is a former math teacher, dean, and interim principal for NYC’s Department Of Education. He holds degrees from Hampton University and Cambridge College. For 12 years, he has served as Executive Director of APEX’s Manhood Training & College Prep Initiative, placing hundreds of youngsters in HBCUs. He enjoys speaking, community organizing, martial arts and spending time with his daughter, Selah.
Second Time Around
I never want to say the words “I am divorced”. As happy, grateful, and blessed as I am to be divorced, it just doesn’t have a very attractive ring to it, especially to women. It’s a blemish on my character and speaks to failure. For this reason, and so many more, I oftentimes don’t put it out there. To be honest, I stay so far away from that ugly time of my life that I sometimes forget that I’m a divorcee. Out of sight, out of mind.
Without making a conscious decision to do so, it has become an excellent coping mechanism. Being a man who lives by the principle of “constant elevation” and putting in the work to be better and do better, there’s so many other aspects of my life I’d rather highlight. However, once exploring a relationship, that divorced status inevitably becomes a conversation. Although I take full responsibility for the demise of that relationship, from accepting a premature proposal to changing the locks on my door, who really wants to disclose times of poor decision making? Especially in regard to something as serious and relevant as marriage. Nevertheless, a divorced man and single father is who I am, and my head does not bow, in fact, my Soldier spirit won’t allow it.
As I get to know women now, I don’t disregard their family background. I listen keenly to the stories and experiences that shaped their character. I look to see the kind of people they keep close and how those people respond to them. Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are. I can still here my sweet granny’s words, like it was yesterday. There’s a lot to be said about forgotten wisdom. Although still plagued by societal ignorance, I had to sift through guidance like, “don’t bring nothing too black back here, ain’t nothing too black, too good” and “remember the four F’s…Find them, Fool them, F*** them and Forget them. There’s still some pearls that we’ve received that we forget to apply and appreciate. I’ve learned to be patient, and more importantly, quite attentive in my process of getting to know women.
I work in youth development and work very long hours so I tend to only meet women in my field; really beautiful, intelligent and quality women at that, some of whom have gone to Ivy League schools, as well as run schools and programs of their own. Women extremely accomplished in their pursuits, and who look extremely good on paper, but when you get into a relationship with them, there seems to be a reoccurring challenge: the fight for leadership. Like the last woman I dated, she was a leader like myself, and often gave a brother props for being a powerful leader, but when it came down to it, something inside of her would just not let go. There always had to be a struggle, a confrontation, almost a battle for me to be who I was in the relationship, without her feeling some kind of way about me exerting the powerful leadership that she herself praised me to have. To be clear, and clarity is my favorite word, I’m not talking about ego stroking or chest pounding, I’m speaking to an innate distrust, coupled with a feet planted mentality rooted in dysfunctional wisdom and nonproductive guidance. In my opinion, this stems from the horrific ordeal of slavery and the unaddressed rippling effects that have infected our communities and relationships ever since.
It makes me think back to when I was at Cambridge College pursuing my master’s degree and took a class called “A Black Women’s Notebook.” Being one of three men in a class packed to capacity, it was a learning, and extremely insightful, experience. The course focused on women’s roles in society and how history has affected what we see in modern relationships. Three Black female PhDs taught the class, and one particular professor spoke about the backlash of Black women having been forced to step beyond their roles because a man wasn’t there. She introduced to us the idea of nature versus nurture, which is the idea that who we naturally are can be altered by conditioning. According to her, and I totally agree, women have had to be bread-winners, disciplinarians, protectors and basically head of households all over America, but especially in the Black community; which is the pool in which I fish…feel me? This has trickled into the minds of young girls who watched mommy “hold everything down” Once becoming women themselves, and thinking this responsibility is theirs too to secure, there begins the recycling of the “I don’t need no man” attitude, which significantly minimizing the role, power and impact of the man in the home and in the relationship. Today, that same woman, who men like me often date, has an extremely difficult time falling back and allowing their men to resume his rightful place as, dare I say it, king.
I need a sister ready to put the work in to address, heal and re-educate ourselves. Someone who is honest, and willing to identify the areas that need work, and address them; whether it be within me, or herself. I am constantly working on me and I want a woman who has a similar approach to personal growth and development. A woman who challenges the status quo and limiting ideas handed down to us from society. A woman who believes that men and women are not the same, and is okay with that; not to appease me but because it’s true. I believe in being a provider and a protector. I believe that our nature and physiological makeup are earmarks to how God wants us to be in this world. Unfortunately, some may let their emotions supersede logic and perceive what I’m saying as sexist or chauvinistic, but the truth of the matter is, I’m just a real chivalrous type of brother, with a strong respect for culture and value, who absolutely loves Black women. I raise the bar high not just for the one I’m with, but for myself first and foremost. Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do? Just imagine, what a thriving people we can once again be, if we would live by the principle of constant elevation.