Welcome to Class 75 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young women. I am Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society, working in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.
I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE Magazine bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men” and the national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Women.” My wife, Meriqua Whyte, and my eldest daughter, Daniella Whyte, co-authored “Letters to Young Black Women” with me. My daughter (who has two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and religion and a master’s degree in human services counseling—executive leadership and a second master’s degree in developmental psychology) and her mother, developed the Study Guide. We are using Letters to Young Black Women and its study guide to guide you through this course. This course is for all young women, but especially for young black women and young women of color who oftentimes face disadvantages that others do not. The goal of this class is to help you operate from a position of strength and power based upon the Word of God so you can be victorious in life. My prayer is that this class will empower you to win against your enemies: the devil, sorry men, and even yourself.
Today, we will continue our study, “BEWARE OF THE DAWGS II (Who Let the Dawgs Out?)”.
— First, Let’s Pray —
Allow me to begin with a quote from T.D. Jakes. He said: “If you choose to get married, you should get married for the right reasons. Don’t give in to a desperate spirit that forces you to put up with someone less than what you would want. You could become stuck with someone immature and bear three little boys. Then you would have four little boys. That is no way to live. You need someone who has some shoulders and backbone. You need to marry someone who will hold you, help you, strengthen you, build you up, and be with you when the storms of life are raging. If you want a cute man, buy a photograph. If you want some help, marry a godly man.”
Now, please pull out your text and your digital study guide or follow along on the screen. First, I will read a portion of the corresponding letter from the book, Letters to Young Black Women. Then we will proceed with this lesson:
Irish Setter Dawg: Be very careful with the Irish Setter dawg because he is another lazy dawg — only he will run right for a little while giving you the appearance that he’s looking for a job, but then he will sit down on you, and you will be taking care of him. (Never take care of a man.) This is the dawg who likes to sit in your house all day with the remote control watching television while you are at work. Don’t let the Irish Setter sit down on you.
Pointer Dawg: This dawg likes to point at others. This dawg has a critical spirit. He loves to point at everybody else’s faults but his own. Watch this dawg, because he starts out well, and he seems as though he is helpful, but really he is out to break you down, and make you think that you are crazy, like he is some psychiatrist or something.
Daughters and YBW, there are many other dawgs out there, so watch carefully. I do not have the time or space to tell you about each of them specifically. I wish I did. However, if it walks like a dawg, if it smells like a dawg, and if it looks like a dawg, IT IS A DAWG. RUN!
Beware of the Dawgs!
“God loves His girls.” —T.D. Jakes
BIBLE GEM: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” —Philippians 3:2
TALK TO GOD: Holy Father God, I pray that You would help me to watch out for men who don’t mean me any good. Protect me and give me wisdom and discernment in this area of my life. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
BOOK: Promises from God for Single Women, by T.D. Jakes
CHECK IT OUT: http://www.sbcoc.org (Pastor James Meeks has a sermon that deals with some other dawgs of which you need to be aware. Order the tape or CD from the aforementioned website.)
As we conclude this chapter in our study, I want to share with you the testimony of a woman you might know. Her name is Ashley Graham and she is a popular fashion model and body positivity activist. In her memoir titled A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, Graham shares about meeting the godly man who became her husband. She writes:
Four months into our knowing each other, my now husband, Justin, said, “I really like you, and I really want to be your boyfriend. Will you be my girlfriend?” I said yes. But the truth is, I wasn’t sure. One reason: Our first kiss was terrible. (To this day Justin says I’m the worst kisser he ever met and that he had to teach me how to kiss.) But the real reason was more complicated and had to do with the cumulative effect of bad relationships I’d had over the years. Let me give you the backstory.
I started dating at 16. My first boyfriend and I were together for three months, until he said, “I have to break up with you because you won’t have sex with me. And I’m afraid you’re going to be as fat as my mom.” Thus started a pattern of going out with anyone who thought I was hot; I lost my virginity to a guy I barely knew because he gave me compliments like, “Ashley, you look really pretty today,” or, “I like when you wear your hair like that.” (The next day he ignored me in school.) When I left Nebraska to start my modeling career in New York City, my dates followed a similar pattern: A guy took me out, then we had sex, then I wouldn’t hear from him again.
Eventually I joined a church. I didn’t go there to find a boyfriend; I truly wasn’t looking for anyone other than the person I wanted to be. One Sunday my volunteer position was to stand in the elevator welcoming people, passing out candy and pushing the button to the eighth floor. When two tall men walked in, I didn’t bat an eye. One nudged the other and said, “If you don’t talk to her, I will.” His friend left the elevator, but he stayed on.
I shrugged. This guy wasn’t my type. With his short hair, ill-fitting, baggy Old Navy jeans, white Hanes T-shirt, and Converse sneakers, he exuded a major nerd factor. But there was something sweet about Justin, and I was at church, so I had to be polite. He rode up and down with me a few times, and he seemed to be looking into my soul when we talked. He was smart and funny and had traveled the world. So I agreed to go out for coffee.
The day arrived, and we had a great time—until the check came. I went to the bathroom, and when I returned the check was still resting on the table with his half on top. “Here you go,” he said, handing me the bill. I paid my share of the $5.25 and thought, This is the last date. For a month Justin called, texted, and emailed, but I stuck to my guns. Finally he persuaded me to go out for falafel. “Let me explain,” he said. “I’m going to pay for dinner tonight. And I’m going to pay for the next dinner after that. When you told me you were a model, I assumed you were one of those beautiful women who uses guys for a fancy dinner. I don’t play that game. I do well for myself, and I’ve been burned because of it. I don’t want to go out with anyone who only has me around so I can pay for stuff.”
And just like that, I had my first experience of what it meant to communicate with a man. It was profound; all I wanted to do was keep talking to Justin. The consistency and openness was so new it felt weird. I told him this all the time: “You’re weird.”
My romance with Justin was innocent and sweet. He cooked for me. We went rollerblading and biking; we did karaoke, went to the movies, took an improv class together. Because we weren’t sleeping together—for Justin, abstinence was a firm commitment to his faith—we never tempted ourselves by going over to each other’s apartments late at night. But we’d go to late movies or take walks through the city together. We had a spot on 14th Street and Seventh Avenue where we loved to sit and chat.
Yet despite how wonderful everything was, I still kept part of myself in reserve. While Justin offered so much of himself through our conversations, I answered his probing questions with this: “If I know you in six months, I’ll tell you.”
So how did I finally know he was the one worth putting myself out there for? I brought Justin home to Nebraska. Now, I should probably mention that Justin is black, and that I didn’t grow up around many black people. The sum total of what I learned about African American culture in school was Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Underground Railroad. This was more than my mom knew; she didn’t even see a black person in real life until she was 18 years old.
I never told Justin any of this, and I never told my grandparents that the man I was bringing home was black. I naively hoped everyone would be color-blind—which is not what happened. When my grandparents met Justin, my grandmother was cordial but cold. She greeted him and immediately walked away. When it came time for them to leave, my grandparents didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead my grandmother looked me in the eye, with Justin standing behind me, and said, “Tell that guy I said goodbye.”
I had never seen my loving, hardworking, and wonderful grandma be so hurtful and so racist. I was in shock.
After they left I took Justin on a ride to get out of the house. I’ll never forget what he said as we drove around town: “Racism is never surprising but always disappointing.”
Justin made me understand that someone like my grandma only saw black men depicted on television in situations involving guns, rape, and violence—situations that perpetuate racist stereotypes against black people in general and black men in particular. She had probably never looked a black man in the face, let alone had a conversation with him, and now one was in her daughter’s home, dating her granddaughter.
As if his understanding wasn’t generous enough, Justin called my grandmother on her sixtieth wedding anniversary. He’s not a texter or an emailer; he’s a pick-up-the-phone-and-call-you person, and anniversaries are a big deal to him. Afterward Grandma called my mom and said, “You’ll never guess who called me.” And from then on out, she loved him. Loved him.
I’m so grateful that happened, and it never would have if Justin hadn’t put his hand out there. He always puts love before pride, which is what he did with me. When I was playing games, he called me out on it. When we began dating, he did it with intention, always asking the difficult questions: “What do you bring to this relationship?” and “What role do you see yourself in beyond girlfriend or wife?” I wasn’t always sure how to answer. I didn’t like my mom and dad’s marriage, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. But thanks to Justin’s constant communication, I envisioned a marriage that was more than just two people loving each other. And now we have that marriage: a partnership dedicated to building something bigger than ourselves.
At the time of this writing, Ashley Graham and her husband Justin Ervin have been married for ten years and recently welcomed their first child. Let her testimony encourage you not to settle in your quest for a mate, if marriage is a desire God has placed in your heart. Let it inspire you to pray for a godly man to be your life partner. With all of the dating apps and hook-up opportunities available in our world today, it is easy to pursue a guy you feel is “my type” but who only shows shallow, superficial interest in you and what you can do for him. Instead of wondering if a potential mate is your “type”, the question at the forefront of your mind should be: ‘Is he “God’s type” of man? Is he a man after God’s own heart?’ For if he is, then your marriage together will be a blessed and enduring union and in the words of Ashley Graham ‘a partnership dedicated to building something bigger than yourselves’. This is what you truly want in your marriage. If he is not a godly man, then it is best for you to avoid marriage altogether. Understand that you do not need a man to make you whole. Even in your singlehood, with Christ as Lord of your life and Lover of your soul, you are whole. Do not make the mistake of marrying a man who will eventually tear you down and slaughter your sense of self-worth just for the sake of being with a man. Beware of the dawgs!
In the next class, we will begin our study, “ON NOT BEING A SILLY-MINDED WOMAN.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what church people said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
God bless you and keep you until we meet for our next class.