Rules Of Engagement:
A Brother Breaks It Down

I heard a woman say recently that men do not know what they want when it comes to women. A dude will proclaim all day that he wants a model-thin chick with long hair and green eyes. Next thing you know, he is all up under a thick dark skin sister with a natural. The dude claiming to want an independent woman always seems to find a clingy low self-esteem chick to call his boo. I was going to protest this generalization until I thought about my own list.

A while back, I posted a short list of the basic requirements that I look for in a potential mate. Even after creating the list, I knew that it wasn’t something that could be carved into stone. For every rule, there is an exception, right?

The initial list that I posted got some very interesting responses including someone giving me the serious side-eye for being so shallow. Admittedly, it was superficial, but I can be that way sometimes. Since then, I have gone from single man to being in a happily committed relationship. My new significant other (SO) breaks most of those rules, so it is time to rethink and revise what qualities I find attractive in a woman. No, I am not catering this list to match her qualities, but a brother is under her sexy influence.

Worker – Relationships are work and I do not want to be the only one fighting to make this thing last. You do not have to wait until some drama occurs to find out if a woman is a worker. The tell tale sign is if she works hard to build a good foundation for your relationship (open honest communication, support, encouragement and fights fair)

Passionate – I love someone who has passion for life. Whether it is passion for work, travel, sports, partying or family, please just do not be dry. Life is full of difficulties and I do not want to go through it with someone who is just going through the motions. This can also apply to your sex life. A woman who is passionate about it will always keep it fresh and exciting.

Friendship – As important as it is to be in love, I think it may be more important that you like the person. I want someone I can share a laugh with, chill and watch movies with, and talk about my fears with.

Communicator – In the past, I was not a big talker when it came to relationships, but lately I am trying to change. I realize that one of the most important building blocks for a good relationship is communication. One thing I have found frustrating is a woman who talks all the time but cannot express clearly how she feels. You know the type who talks just to hear her own voice. I need a woman who can effectively tell me what is going on with her so that we can deal with it. She also cannot forget that communication is a two-way street and she has to listen just as well as she talks.

Learner – Every day should teach you something new. A woman who craves knowledge and new experiences is very attractive to me. I have met some women who have not read a book since college, do not watch the news and have not traveled anywhere outside of their city/state. That is pathetic.

Teacher – Show me something new. Help me to grow as a person. The woman who I am interested in should not be a female version of me. She should have different interests. Like poetry, Janet Jackson, knitting, rock climbing or something that I usually do not mess with. I can warm some food, but if you show me how to make your favorite dish the way you like, I will do it for you when you least expect it.

Sense of Humor – I can be silly and goofy, so I need a woman who can appreciate a good laugh. She cannot be too serious and not know how to laugh at herself sometimes. Laughing is the only way to get through some of life’s hard times.

Spiritual – I grew up going to church every Sunday but I will not lie and say that I was active or engaged. As I have grown older, I have gained a new appreciation for having a healthy and active spiritual life. On judgment day, each person will have to answer for him or herself. While we are here I need someone who can help me pray. This goes back to the Learner and Teacher qualities that I want in a woman.

Faithful – I do not mean faithful as in not cheating here, but that does apply. What I am talking about is a woman who believes in her man and our relationship. Yes, I know that I have to prove myself to her in order for that to happen. I am willing to do my part. As Ike told Anna Mae, “You got to have faith in me!” A woman who believes in what we are doing and is not waiting to see if something better comes along. I am not where I thought I would be in life but I still have plans for the future. If she can stand by me through the rough times, I will show her my appreciation when we win.

Sexy – All these qualities are good but if there is not a biological attraction between us, we are going to have issues. My definition of sexy has nothing to do with how short you wear a skirt or if your cleavage is dangling. It is all about attitude and self-confidence. Nothing turns me on more than a woman who knows what she has and how to work it.

Vincent Slaughter is a quiet, single, but newly attached government official living in Atlanta, GA. His thoughts on love and relationships are exclusive to Urban Thought Collective to help you get through the day.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z: New Age Love in a Hip Hop World

Is it necessary for TMZ to catch a glimpse of Beyoncé’s rumored huge diamond ring to prove that a secret wedding took place? Does it really matter if they’re married or not? Fans, including myself, have been waiting six years for either of the two music stars to substantiate their relationship by giving an exclusive interview to anybody who can get them to dish the details. It hasn’t happened.

Yet, that is the beauty within the gift they have given us.

Other than the few bars Jay drops every now and then, and Bey’s full-length songs like “Crazy in Love,” “Dangerously in Love,” and “Flaws and All,” we’re forced to observe this couple from a distance.

Here is what I see.

I see two individuals who have discovered their passion, their gifts and are sharing it with the world. And as they birth another creative venture, more inspiration develops, more ideas flutter their minds and more projects are birthed, with the world in awe of how each of them continue to push the envelope and redefine what urban culture is. They are living their dream. They are living our dream – to discover what our talents are and be free to express it in a way that brings us joy and inspire the people around us. At least, that’s my dream.

As they continued to move forward on their journey, faced with new challenges and amazed at how life is unfolding right before their eyes, they came upon one another. I’m assuming, after dating for several years now, they’ve learned some sort of balancing act that allows two hectic schedules to coexist with a relationship. They do what works for them.

With the rumor of marriage swirling around, do you think Beyoncé is going to stop recording and filming in order to assume the traditional housewife role? Is Jay-Z going to stop-short on the J-Hotel project, so he can be available to take out garbage and mow the lawn?

I doubt it. But even if they do, I ain’t mad at them! After all, how many of us can say we actually lived our dream, surpassed it and reached a whole new plateau of success and fulfillment that our minds couldn’t even conceive from day one? AND you find somebody who genuinely loves you and doesn’t want to take that from you!

If they want to play around with gender roles, let them because, for me, it won’t overshadow the example they’ve given to us about new age love. They’ve created a space that allows each person to be creative while the love they share serves as a support system. I’m sure it’s heaven for them to have somebody who understands the business, as well as the drive and slight obsession to out-do one’s self.

Some of us believe you have to make sacrifices to be in a relationship. Sacrifice is a deceiving word. It absolves you from any accountability and puts it on your partner. You didn’t make a sacrifice. You made a choice. You chose to give up who you are and/or your dream in order to be with that person. The blessing is you can always make new choices.

Jay and Bey are showing us that we don’t have to “sacrifice” our dreams in order to be in a relationship. There is somebody in this world whose path is running parallel to ours, offering us the opportunity to walk this walk together.

I’m dreaming of finding that one day!

I think Jay is dying to talk about the relationship! Beyoncé is a Virgo, and as a Virgo, I can say we know how to keep our trap shut. We don’t tell nobody everything. But, Jay? He’s bursting at the seams. I picture him randomly roaming down the aisles at Walmart singing, “Lovin’ you is easy cause your beautiful…”

Envisioning you with much love, light and fulfillment. See you next week.

Yaminah Ahmad is editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice and contributing editor to Collective Voices, a newspaper published by the non-profit, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. She can be reached at

Spring Into Spring On A Budget

Hello All!

Ah, spring is here which means only one thing- it’s time to celebrate! See you’ll have to excuse me. I’m always looking for a reason to throw a little get-together. And this springtime is no different. So if you’re feeling happy and springy, then why not have an ice cream social?

It’s a very easy party to host. You just get ice cream cones and a variety of flavors and toppings such as nuts, cherries and a bunch of assorted candies (don’t forget the whip cream!) and set it up buffet style for your guests. Have all the ice cream flavors out on your kitchen sink counter top with a separate scoop spoon for each. Ice cream scoops are a dollar at your local discount dollar store.

While you’re there, why not pick up decorations? A pastel color scheme is perfect for spring. Throw a plastic yellow tablecloth on your dining room table and grab pretty artificial flowers for the centerpiece. Your guests will be tickled to enjoy their ice cream sundaes in non-traditional containers, such as oversized mugs or margarita cups.

This is an inexpensive party to throw and can be enjoyed inside or even out on your little balcony. If you’re so lucky as to have an actual backyard or strip of grass, you ought to check your local grocery store for deals on patio furniture. Of course, the best time to buy is in the winter, but you may still be able to snag a good deal.

And before I go….

Have you seen the new Ashton Kutcher-produced sitcom “Miss Guided”? Is it me or is “Miss Guided” a snazzy lil dresser? I’m loving ‘ol girl’s gear. So if you need any tips on how to look professional, yet oh-so-stylish then, check out the hilarious Judy Greer Thursdays on ABC.

Until next time, remember to live a little on a little…

Jina DuVernay is a Los Angeles native and budget fashionista, who is currently penning her first novel and planning a summer move to Atlanta. She blogs exclusively for UTC on all things needed to cultivate a luscious life on less money.