Black Love: Lessons in Marrying Down

Written by Nicole

2020 continues to be one hell of a year. There has been tragedy and triumph, natural disasters at every corner, and of course, Miss Rona continues to make a mess of things. In the last few weeks, a few Black Love stories came across my timeline, and I wanted to discuss a few trends that have popped up in that space.


Now, I will not be petty like those who are against interracial dating, and rejoice in this Black Love dysfunction. Even though I am a staunch advocate for interracial dating for black women, I still want healthy black love to be the norm. If Black Love is healthy and flourishing, so too shall the community be healthy and flourish. Having a nonblack partner does not negate or cancel out my hope for the betterment of the Black Community. And for all the glee people post “Team Swirl Takes Another L” when an interracial relationship fails, particularly with a black woman and nonblack man, one would think that Black Love in the public arena was a lot stronger than it is, but hey. Here we are.


There are three relationships I wish to discuss:


John and Aventer Gray

For those who don’t know, John Gray is some kind of pastor, I guess. He looks like if Grimace found faith was giving the Sunday sermon. He was reportedly caught, for something like the third time, in another extramarital affair. You may remember John from late 2018 where he described his wife as coat that was two sizes too big that he had to grow into. Or, another gem, his wife has endured more pain birthing HIM than both of their children.


Yes, those are actual words he said.

From this interview, he said there are demons that you inherit, and demons you invite. Is the latest side chick drama an inheritance or welcomed guest, I wonder? Anyway, his sermon on his post-cheating-palooza can be found here.

There are so many layers to this. A so-called man of God, slinging his penis around like an offering plate, just does not sit well with me. How is he supposed to preach and teach the word of God when he is very publicly breaking that one very prominent commandment about adultery? What advice is he doling out to his parishioners, other than how to embarrass your wife for the millionth time? Is this Black Love?

And so help me if someone makes a comment about “well the Catholic priests are raping little boys”- XYZ does it too will never be a valid excuse for depravity. The priest rapists should face the fullest extent of wrath and punishment coming their way, both here and in the afterlife. Other people being horrible doesn’t take away from John’s wandering penis.


Andrew and R. Jai Gillum

I wrote about Andrew Gillum earlier this year when news broke of him being caught naked in a hotel room with a male escort. Since then, he’s done some rehab and most recently came out as bisexual, which is great for him. I wish more black men would live their truth and disclose that information up front so women can make the decision on whether or not they want to proceed with the relationship. Preferences, right?

What really upset me was a headline claiming this as “an opportunity to celebrate diverse black love”. I admit, I didn’t read the whole article because the title was egregious enough.

Depravity only gets celebrated when it’s the man being depraved. If R. Jai or any other black women in a similar position was caught in just a modicum of what Andrew was, there would be calls for her head. Andrew was passed out in a drug-fueled sex-den with a male escort. There was bodily fluid on the bedding. The escort had to be taken to the hospital for an overdose. Narcotics in baggies in the hotel room. But someone fetch the ticker tape, we’re throwing a parade!

Is Black Love so broken that we see this as an opportunity to celebrate?

Andrew is “one of the good ones”, but his cheating, drug use, and subsequent reluctant coming-out, is some sort of high point? Infidelity is some sort of moment of pride? Jeopardizing his wife’s health and safety in a sordid news story is something to commend?

Are black women so desperate for Black Love that they will risk their mental and physical health to get it? And are we so addicted to the struggle that we will just accept any old treatment just to say we got that Black Love?

Maya Moore and Jonathan Irons

Another entry in this lesson in marrying down is Maya Moore. Maya is a talented WNBA player who paused her lucrative career to free her wrongfully convicted now-husband, Jonathan Irons.

We already know how I feel about entertaining felons – don’t do that.


But this is telling on multiple levels.

You mean to tell me an attractive, talented, and wealthy black woman had to go to jail to find a husband??? Am I missing something, or does that not make Black Love look…really unappealing? Top tier women are entertaining convicts, and this behavior is being praised?

The above three tweets were posted by black males.


And this one was from a black woman. How is a jailbird husband any kind of flex?

Do people want black women to choose better or not?!

This happens across the board with black women. High earners and C-suite level executives are reaching into the pits and the gutters to partner with bums and losers. Celebrity black women marry their managers, or whole rapists. Congresswomen are partnering with convicts and giving him a come up. Is this phenomenon unique to black women? No, nonblack women are marrying down too. However, for the vast majority, nonblack women do not have the additional challenges that we as black women do. As Kendall St. Charles has said, when nonblack women get a cold, black women get ebola.

You might be saying “Well, he was innocent, so it’s not as bad!”. Plus, being wrongfully convicted means he likely has a settlement check coming his way. But it is bad. Nobody who has been in jail since 1998 is innocent anymore. Two decades of exposure to the worst elements humanity has to offer is a recipe for institutionalization, regardless of being proven innocent years later. He has spent his entire adult life behind bars. Technological advancements in the last five years are huge, much less twenty. And all the joys and sorrows of adult life, like applying for jobs, voting, paying bills, and renting an apartment has passed him by. Therapy is a great and wonderful thing, but surely there were alternatives. What’s more, is that you can’t love it out of him, either. The “I Can Change Him!” Syndrome that black women have is a recipe for disaster. There is unlikely to be a happy ending for her. For him though, he’s hit the jackpot.

In the cases of John and Andrew, these are the types of men black women are encouraged to choose. For John, a Christian pastor presiding over a large church with TV shows and book deals to boot. For Andrew, a highly intelligent, well-spoken politician with eyes for the highest public office in the land. Both, on the surface, are the better choices black women are berated at length to pursue. And yet, these so-called better choices not only skipped out on their vows, but they did it VERY publicly. They did it in a way that could introduce pain and incurable diseases to their wives. This is not to say nonblack men do not cheat or get caught up in meth-fueled orgies. Men are men, trash behavior knows no racial boundaries.

However, black women are expected to choose the better choice, and even when the GOOD choice goes south, she STILL gets the blame. In Aventer’s case, she is lambasted for not being enough for John, when HE was the one who took vows. For R. Jai, the internet is abuzz with blame for HER, saying how she must have known, they have some arrangement, and all manner of unfounded theories. It’s a super sad state of affairs when the better choice ends up being pretty terrible choices too. Nothing is ever the fault of the black male, ever. It is even sadder that the Black Love that gets the most press is deeply entrenched in struggle. Whoever is doing Black Love PR really needs to work on that.


In the case of Maya, the community’s double standard rears its ugly head yet again. Black women are the knight in shining armor, swooping in to rescue the princess (sic) from his prison cell…uh, I mean, castle. Choose better, they say, whenever the latest consequence of a poor choice comes to light. She should have known better, they say, when the latest convict’s bride becomes some negative statistic. Black love, they cheer, when wedding bells ring when a jailbird has secured himself a bag after a lengthy period of incarceration. It can’t be both. It cannot be both.


These three relationships show that Choosing Better is not always so cut and dry. Black women need to exercise an abundance of caution when choosing a mate, especially with the so-called good ones. At least the trash ones will be trash up front. If you marry a convict, you should at least have some idea of what might be in your cards. The good ones will hide under a guise of religion or terminal college degrees and huge aspirations, while dragging you along in the dysfunction. These three dudes are Pookie and Ray Ray all the same, just with a stylist and a tailor. Simply dating out is not the solution to avoiding reprobate partners. Black women need to address their own internal hang-ups, AND have their vetting game down to a science. Until then, if this is Black Love, you can keep it.

Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.

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