Strictly for the Ladies #7: Jail

Now, don’t take this the wrong way.  I know that brothers are often victims of the judicial system and can get caught up in situations that are beyond their control but, let’s just be honest, a criminal record can affect your life in various ways and, before you say that in the black community it is hard to find a man who has not been to jail, I say, I beg to differ.  Life is about choices and responsibility and, if one of the consequences of that choice involved the man you’re dating spending more than a few nights locked up, then you have to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life living with the consequence of that choice.  We all are aware that a criminal record can have many negative effects on your life; the inability to vote, having to declare yourself a convicted felon on job applications and risk not getting hired, and the ever-present risk of one bad choice or mishap sending you back to jail. I am in no way saying that a person cannot turn their lives around, quite the contrary. What I am saying is that, even though a person has changed and turned their life around and no longer chooses to do illegal things, society doesn’t necessarily forgive them nor wipe their slate clean and, when thinking on the type of life that you would like to have, you have to decide if you are willing to go through the hardships with this person because of their criminal record and, if the life that you want aligns with the things that they are able to provide for you. Let’s be honest with ourselves, a criminal record limits education opportunities and career choices to say the least. Overcoming the foe of a criminal record takes determination and sinew therefore, you must decide if you are willing to wade through the storm or be the main breadwinner even.

My purpose here is to give you a hard dose of reality.  I am not a brother basher.  I love them, for I am a mother of sons and the only girl child of three.  I have a passion for black men and I want to see them succeed.  Now, when dating, I evaluated the type of life I wanted to have and the type of future that I wanted for myself and my children and, being that I saw my life as limitless with endless possibilities and, having had some experience with a street dude and the type of life dealing with one of them can bring, I chose to focus on dating a working man who had a career and a record free from the blemishes of the law.  I couldn’t see myself explaining to my coworkers and colleagues how this New York Times best-selling author and college professor hooked up with a drug dealer who goes in and out of jail and decided to “make” a family.  What type of role model could I be if the principles that I taught on a daily basis were not the same ones I lived by? How could a man who is not pursuing his dreams, furthering his education, or bettering himself have anything in common with me once I have progressed to a certain level?  I can tell you, he will not.  As you grow, change, and progress, your vision of the world around you changes as well and, if your love if the one you love is not progressing and elevating with you, you will soon grow to see him as a burden rather than an asset.  This is not just a statement, but fact. Furthermore, I didn’t want to run the risk of the changes I make in life causing him to be resentful of my success.  2 Corinthians 6:14 warns us against such when it talks about being equally yoked.  This doesn’t just apply to religion but to every aspect of life.  I can tell you first hand that, one of the main reasons I have made it this far is because my partner in life, my husband, has always been behind me, pushing me forward, making me strive for more, and not allowing me to settle for the mediocre.  His encouragement has produced a blog and  two books so, how could I be upset.

Ladies, the purpose of this entry is to make you think about the consequences of your choices.  Envision the life you want and then decide if the person you are falling for and the life they have lived fits into your perfect Picasso.  Why? The past always comes back to haunt you and, if you are not willing to help this person, deal with the consequences of their past choices, or face any present issues, then you need to tell your flesh and heart to have several seats while your mind takes over and makes the decision.  I am not saying that a relationship with someone who has a criminal record could never work; many brothers I know have changed their life for the better and are successful entrepreneurs or have a career after fighting long and hard to overcome the stigma that having issues with the law may bring.  What I am saying is, if you think that you can be the one to help him on his mission to change to make them fit into your vision of a perfect life but you are faint of heart and not willing to go through the struggle, then do yourself and that man a favor and bow out gracefully.  As I have said in previous posts, look deep, ask questions, and evaluate the person you are with.  Don’t let those muscles, tats, and that sexy smile cloud you vision and cause you to make a decision for you and your family that you will regret. As always, continue to pray and ask the Lord to guide you towards the person that He has for you and to prepare your heart and mind to accept His answer.  See you next week sisters.  Be blessed.

Tanasia Thomas