“This Is Not A Cute Lifestyle” Social Media Maven Supa Talks Having A Boyfriend In Prison, “Hall Passes,” & More
I love a witty, opinionated Black woman. And my favorite social media site is Instagram. So it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across Reynell Steward, better known as Supa (Supa_Cent.) You may know the New Orleans native for the advice she gives to her followers, her hilarious observations about everyday life or her sex stories, one of which went viral. And if you follow Supa, you also know that she is in a relationship with Get Em, a man who has served 10 years of a 17-year-sentence. In our exclusive interview/Google Hangout, I spoke to Supa about the nature of their challenging relationship, if she encourages other women to do the same, whether or not they each get “hall passes” (like Toya and Memphitz) and the plans she has when her man comes home.
Supa was 18 years old when she met her current boyfriend. He hung around in New Orleans in a neighborhood called Scottsdale. Like so many of us at the time, Supa was into hood dudes at the time. And so it wasn’t long before Get Em caught her eye.
“I used to always see him and, at that time, I was into really hood dudes, dudes who used to be in the street and people who were well respected. I just watched his demeanor and I always had this little crush on him. He never gave me the time of day. He was just so focused on his hustle and what he was doing he never paid me no mind. And when I finally did get his attention and we did start communicating, he ended up going to jail. We actually built our bond and our relationship while he was incarcerated.
I was talking to him before he went to jail but I feel like he didn’t take me too serious and he didn’t really see the kind of person I was until he was in the situation.”
Supa said that Get Em was dating other women before he was incarcerated; but at 18-years-old, she didn’t care anything about that. And she really didn’t understand the severity of the situation either.
In fact, neither did Get Em.
[When they learned he was going to jail.] It was surprising because when he told me, he was like ‘They’re not going to pick up this charge because it’s not my charge. And they’re not going to go through with it, they don’t have no evidence on me. Nobody’s saying it’s me. I don’t know how my name got wrapped up into this.’
They only picked up the charge after someone came forward with Get Em’s name. All of this left Supa skeptical.
“You want to believe your man but you want to be realistic too. So I’m like, ‘If you done it, just let me know. I’m not going to judge you, I’m not going to be mad. If I’m going to stand on side you, I just want to know the truth.’ And he just always said it wasn’t him. He said he wasn’t there. It was hard to believe either side.
The truth really didn’t come out until after he was sentenced, until after he was upstate. And it was true. He had nothing to do with it. He didn’t do what the people say he done. I’m not going to say I felt bad for not believing him because, at the end of the day, I still was there. I just wanted the truth from him. So when I found out it was true, it just made me look at him in a whole different light because he was telling the truth.”
Still, at just 19-years-old, Supa wasn’t exactly sitting around waiting for Get Em’s return. Just a few months after he was sent upstate, Supa learned that she was pregnant by a man she was seeing on the side. Though Get Em told her to live her life, he didn’t take the news too well.
“He took that hard. He took it hard but he didn’t tell me until two years later. When he was in the parish, he was fighting the charge and me and my child’s father was dating. He was side ni–a. Real sh–. That’s the only person who I ever caught mad feelings for when I was in a relationship with Get Em. We didn’t know and he was in the parish for two years. I was telling him, ‘You know once my boyfriend come home, I can’t talk to you. I really got to act like you never existed.’
It’s crazy because he [her Baby Dadd] was so supportive in my relationship. When he started showing me that he cared about me, he used to vent to me like, I hurt his feelings. And even one time, we fussed about it and I said, ‘I’m just going to back away from you.’ And he broke down crying and he was like, ‘I don’t want that.’ We both had feelings for each other but I was like, ‘I’m in a relationship.’
When Get Em caught the time, girl, that was the hand he fanned with. I swear to God, after the court date, I cried the whole day. He came to my house and I laid in his lap and I cried, cried, cried. He was rubbing my hair and telling me it’s going to be alright. Then two days later, he was like, ‘Can we be together now? Can we make it official?’
I’m like “I don’t know!’
When Get Em moved upstate, he didn’t give me his address. He told me to go on and live my life. So by the time he ended up contacting me, I was pregnant. When I got pregnant, I swear to God, the first thing that came to my mind was Get Em.
I went to go see him on my child father’s birthday and I was three months pregnant. And he said, ‘I’m happy for you.’ but I could tell he was mad. He didn’t tell me how he really felt until my son was two. He said he felt like I betrayed him because I didn’t even wait to have kids. He said, ‘I felt this was a dude you were dealing with while I was in the parish’ and I was lying to him and doing sneaky sh-t behind his back. He took it hard. We didn’t really start getting back until my son was two.”
Though Get Em initially struggled with the news, he also built as much of a relationship as he could with Supa’s son Tre.
“It was kind of his [Get Em’s] thing. [She was talking to him on the phone one day and said] ‘My son talking, he saying words.’ And Get Em asked to speak to him. At first I was like (makes a skeptical face) then I was like ‘Oh, ok.’ So every time I talk to him, he would ask if I could put him on the phone. I didn’t tell him that was my boyfriend until Tre was four or five years old.
They talk all the time.
My Baby Daddy didn’t have a problem with it. Out of everybody I dated, he never had a problem with him. I think it’s because he knows Get Em came before him. Anybody after him, it was hell co-parenting. Since my Baby Daddy, I’ve been in two relationships, and he never got a long with anybody. He felt like this person wasn’t right for me, he doesn’t want me to be with this person. And he’s not going to be cordial, he ain’t got to speak to them. He was just a b–ch! But when it came to Get Em, he was never like that. Only thing he was saying was he doesn’t want me to bring my son to visit him. But I wouldn’t do that anyway.
My son just now found out that Get Em was in jail.”
So we had to know what was it about Get Em that let her know he was worth this type of sacrifice.
“He caught me young. He captured a part of me when I was real, real young. And I feel like when you’re real, real young they say ‘You don’t really know what’s going on. You don’t know about real love and you got your whole life ahead of you.” I was dealing with him in my youth stage and in my adult life and nothing ever changed. Even when he did catch his time and I moved forward, he was the only person I ever thought about. There’s a lot of stuff that I would never do for a man that I know, for a fact, that I would do for him. There’s a lot of stuff that men couldn’t understand about me, that he could. I could just talk to him and communicate with him.
Dudes that were in my life, they just used to let me do whatever I want. They tell me, ‘oh well that’s cool.’ And he’ll tell me, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’ and ‘That don’t make sense.’ or ‘Don’t even waste your money on that.’ He actually cared about what I wanted to do in my future. He cared. All the other dudes were just there, whatever I say, go. When that really shouldn’t the case because if you’re like that, when I tell you something you’re not even going to take heed to what I’m saying because you feel like, ‘Well, I let you do what you wanted to do.’
You always have that guy who you don’t talk to stupid to, you don’t even curse him out. It’s a level of respect that you have for certain men. With him it’s a totally different feeling. He put me in my place. And I’m a tough person. I’m already a big character, I’m tough and I’m strong and I’m not like that with him. I’m just so like jittery. And I’m about to be 30-years-old and I just feel like a little girl when I’m talking to him or when I’m around him and he’s around me.”
And surprisingly enough, her family and friends have been very supportive of her decision to stick by his side.
“That’s the thing, I always had support from family and friends. And it’s crazy because I have a lot of other friends who are in the same situation as me and they don’t’ get the support. My mom’s first time meeting him was when he was in jail, my friends’ first time meeting him was when he was in jail. For them to even take time out of their life, to come with me to visit him… My whole family has been supportive, not saying that they don’t feel like ‘Oh, it couldn’t be me.’
They never downed me. They never told me I was stupid, I should just let it go, I should move on. Whatever I said about how I felt about the situation, they just respected it.”
Family support is one thing but women in Supa’s situation being so public and open about their relationships with incarcerated men is totally different. Supa explained how her candidness is like a form of therapy for her.
“I was so open about him, since day one. Even before social media. When we were really on and off, MySpace was out. Even on MySpace I always talked about him, I always posted our pictures. And, it’s a little bit different from when I was younger til now, cuz now I have way more attention on me. But I just feel like there are so many men and women in prison, ain’t no way I’m the only person going through this. Ain’t no way I’m the only person that feel like I should be there, I should stand by his side, I’m going to visits, I’m answering the phone, I’m putting money [on his books.] I’m not the only one. Since other people are in the situation, people should understand.
But that’s just me too. Anything that’s big in my life, I talk about it. Relationships, friendships, co-parenting with my child’s father, school. Anything in my life, I’m open about it. So why would I not be open about me having a love for someone? And I always say, the situation is unfortunate but it’s my harsh reality. So either you’re going to accept it or not. It’s real life and people go through it.
Women my age have fathers who they’ve never met because they’ve been incarcerated and their moms just shut it out. They never tell their kids about their father, they don’t answer the phone, they won’t let them see them.
So it’s not just me going through it.
And I feel like I don’t care who judge it, I don’t care who talk down on it because I’m not the only one going through it. And when I talk about it, it’s therapeutic. When I’m in my feelings and emotional, and when I talk about him to other people, whether they understand it or not—like sometimes I even post him, just to get feedback from my following. Yesterday, I posted him and somebody said, ‘All these people with these novels and these stories in the comments.’ I’m like those novels and those stories help me get through those bad days. You have people in the comments going through the same things and it’s helping me get through it.”
This situation is her reality but does she encourage other women to do the same?