By: Korey Johnson
“No. Don’t never go looking for love girl. Just wait. It’ll come. Like the rain fallin’ from the heaven, it’ll come. Just don’t never give up on love.” – Sonia Sanchez
I fell in love with Black love at an early age. My earliest recollection is Omar Epps swooning over Sanaa Lathan in the final scene of Love & Basketball when he utters “double or nothing,” with those dreamy, passionate eyes and sexy smirk. That scene to me signaled the power of black love to triumph and conquer all things. From that day forward, I’ve always imagined a fairytale type of love that would just thrust itself upon me.
As I sit here now, as a final year J.D. Candidate, reflecting on 7-year-old Korey’s infatuation with love, I can say that my ideas of love, marriage, and a family have morphed into a plan unfulfilled. Growing up, my mother’s mantra was “School. Husband. Family,” in that order. When I matriculated through I guess in my adolescent mind, I assumed that each of those would come with the tide of time.
In fact, it feels like everyone’s romantic lives are booming while mine is nonexistent. My friends are having babies, getting married, and finding the “loves of their lives”. Meanwhile, I’m writing papers, pulling all-nighters, and stressing about career options that have yet to present themselves. After undergrad, my mother’s mantra transitioned to “you’ll find your man in law school.” Little did she know, the only dates I’ve been concerned with in law school are due dates and deadlines for papers and job applications.
What my mom didn’t tell me was that dating in Grad School completely sucks. The suitors are either 1) emasculated and threatened by my career goals or 2) obsessed with it. They often aren’t looking for something serious – which for me seems like a waste of time (what other reason would I be dating for). And to top it all off, they usually aren’t very understanding of Grad School woes.
With that being said, I’ve always wanted love but never really had the time for it.
As a black woman professional, dating has always been my second priority – my education and my career being my first. In my mind, as the hopeless romantic I am, I figured love would just find me. You know, just fall right in to my lap at just the right time. Maybe while I was at the library or in class or walking to a job interview. Somehow, someway, it would find me. Right?
Then, I had a coming of age moment with my mentor. I told her that I had a fear of dying alone– without a life partner, without kids, and without anyone to share my life with. I know this seems a bit extreme and dramatic, but the feelings are absolutely real. I’ve developed so many relationships with Black women lawyers and legal minds, most of them are single with no kids. They all work extremely hard – so much so that they have very little time to do anything else. (Rightfully so, because Black women have to work twice as hard in professional work environments but I guess that’s a whole different topic for a whole different article). Now, that’s not to say those Black women lawyers are not happy with living the Bachelorette lifestyle – most of them are completely comfortable with where they are in life and their careers.
But for me, my family goals are just as important as my career goals.
My mentor explained to me that my ideas of love and a family weren’t realistic. When she said this I was baffled and then she explained why. In short, she explained to me that everything that I had achieved in school was a result of hard work, dedication, and ambition. I agreed. Law school wasn’t just something that fell in my hands, I worked hard to get here. Moreover, I’ve been working my butt off to stay here, get good grades, and secure employment post-graduation. She then paralleled that energy to the energy (or the lack thereof) that I’ve placed in to my dating life. How could I ever expect to love to find me, when I never placed any energy in cultivating it.
It was this conversation that has transitioned my idea of love. It is not some object to be possessed. It is not something that we can just pick up and find on our path to becoming successful. Instead, it is a journey. It is something that is cultivated and takes work just like everything else in my life. And quite frankly, I guess when I’m truly ready for it – I’ll be ready.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying drop the books go get a man – I know what patriarchy looks like and girl this aint it. And as Sonia Sanchez says in the opening quote, we should never go looking for love. But what I am saying is that we have to be willing to reap what we sow in not just our academic life but in all other facets of our life. When the opportunity of love or a family presents itself, we need to be willing to explore those opportunities the same we pursue our passions in our academic pursuits – if family or marriage is a priority of yours.
So, for the Black girls like me, contemplating whether you’ll die alone or not – I guess with everything else in our lives – only we hold the key to our destinies. We are the captains of our fate. So maybe we won’t or maybe we will, but either way we will actively choose our romantic path and not let it choose us.
Korey Johnson is a third-year law student at Howard University School of Law. Korey holds a B.S. in Political Science and B.A. in Communication Studies from Towson University. As an activist by nature, her research is focused on developing a black feminist jurisprudence that is centered around political and social self-determination for Black women. Poetry is her drug of choice, she is a loyal member of the Bey-hive, and an avid watcher of The Office.