“You Got a Big Mouth…”

“They call you mouth almighty, tongue everlasting…” 

I may be dating myself quoting Whodini and all, but “Big Mouth” was the song that came to mind when I witnessed a most upsetting exchange between a husband and wife on a show that shall heretofore remain nameless. Just to sum up what happened…The wife was supposed to be somewhere at a certain time. Of course, she showed up on CP time, two hours late. When the husband inquired about her whereabouts and explained that the delay was causing problems and costing them money, the wife launched into a verbal attack that made my head hurt. And the thing is–she was dead wrong

At the risk of having my sisterhood card revoked, I decided I could not let this pass without adding my two cents. Anyone who knows me at all knows I ride hard for my sistas. I’m all about changing perceptions and stereotypes, fighting the power and showing the world how truly dope we are. However…As I watched this woman go up one side of this man and down the other in that “let me tell you something” way that only a Black woman can, I had to ask myself: Could it possibly be that our mouths are the reason so many of us face a lot of the problems we face in life? No hate mail, please. I’m just asking a question. 

I’m not implying–in any way–that women of other nationalities don’t have their goin’ off moments. I am absolutely not saying that Black women disproportionately verbally abuse our mates. What I am saying, however, is that maybe we should stop and take a moment (and a deep breath) the next time some poor, unsuspecting soul pisses us off and we verbally beat them down. I get it–if we hadn’t suffered decades and decades of abuse of every imaginable form at the hands of so many, we might be more inclined to speak softly. Believe me, I get it. The problem is that meeting aggression with equal aggression only makes matters worse. 

And even worse still, is taking out frustrations on people who haven’t personally wronged you just because you can. Worst of all is when our frustration, fear, fatigue and lack of ability to communicate begin to affect our children. How many times have you seen some poor child get smoove cussed out in the grocery store by a mother who has reached the end of her rope and was pushed over the edge by a four-year-old’s plea for gummy bears? I’ve often wondered what goes through these women’s minds when they see the look on the kid’s face. But I digress. This is not a post about child raising. I’m supposed to be talking about dating. So….

I’m not trying to tell you how to talk to your man. For all I know, he asked for it when you told him his mama was cross-eyed and his daddy should have had another swig of Mad Dog 20/20 and passed out instead of conceiving him, but how much good is it going to do your relationship to relay these sentiments? Is it worth whatever fleeting sense of satisfaction you feel? I sincerely doubt it. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate a good read, but is that really the best way to get what you want? Again, I doubt it. 

I’m also not telling you to sit back and let anyone verbally assault you without defending yourself. 

The point I’m trying to make is that if we’re going to form lasting, meaningful relationships, we have got to start with basic respect. 

Simple stuff the old folks taught us. Ideals like speaking to people the way you want to be spoken to and refraining from calling people anything other than their names may not be commonplace anymore, but maybe we should bring them back. “Keepin’ it 100” and “telling it like it is” have become the new excuses for saying whatever we want, whenever we want, and it’s not cool. At. All. 

I know…you’re worried about being “fake”. But believe me, the world will not stop spinning just because you decide to refrain from using hurtful, abrasive language to express your views. Of course, this is all just the way I see things, and you might have other ideas. But before you go off, stop and think about whether or not it’s worth it. Is all I’m saying. If you have a problem doing that, you’re kind of proving my point. Some things really are better left unsaid. And I will leave you with this–if you can’t say something nice…

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