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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Family Hustle: How DEEP is YOUR love?

Last evening, VH1 premiered their newest reality show The Family Hustle starring rapper Tip "T.I." Harris, his wife Tameka "Tiny" Harris and their six children. Twitter was all aflutter with tweets slamming Tiny's "unique" appearance and praising T.I for being a "great man." My personal timeline was inundated with tweeple praising Tiny for her efforts standing by her man and "waiting for love." Of course, since T.I. is an attractive man (at least to the people I know, DJM), women were all aflutter about how jealous they were of Tiny being able to come home to *that.* 

Full disclosure: I find T.I. attractive. I listen to his music and I've seen him in concert during which time I screamed like a teenage girl and rapped along to all of the lyrics to his songs. I don't know T.I. or his family personally. 

Welp! Now that we have that out of the way...

Its time we all sit down and make sure we understand a few things:
T.I and Tiny have been together over 10 years
T.I. has disclaimed Tiny
T. I. has disrespected Tiny
T.I. has cheated on Tiny
T.I. and Tiny have experienced the death of a child together
T.I. has left his children several times in order to serve jail sentences

He cooks
He provides
He is a father to their children
He's romantic
He showers her with gifts and has managed to do so even from behind bars
He's not afraid to show his love and adoration of Tiny
He makes Tiny *HAPPY

The show was cute. It was nice to see him not be ashamed to show his love for Tiny. Women swooned for him because he made an effort to see his child do "normal" activities and showered Tiny with expensive gifts. Not this one. If T.I. is the definition of a great father figure, miss me with that. My father might not have as much money as T.I. but I never questioned whether he loves me. He never missed one beauty pageant, honor roll breakfast, holiday dinner, birthday, football game that I cheered and he was there both times I moved for college. I know my father is not perfect and I dare not declare him to be, but he is a great example of what a great father should be. A good father figure is one who does what he can with what he has. He may not have a lot of money but he gives of his time and makes a child believe he/she is loved unconditionally. A great father makes decisions with his family in mind. When Tip amassed "army guns" for fear of being attacked, he was not thinking of the consequences. He was thinking of himself. There were other options. He decided not to take them. 

Can you imagine what his mindset was like when he was living in a state of paranoia? Do you think his family didn't notice? Think about the last time one of your parents or grandparents was bothered by something. Regardless of their efforts to hide it you still noticed, right? 

Notwithstanding the obvious ploy to clean up Tip Harris' image, the show was interesting. It was interesting because we got to see a side of T.I. we rarely get to see. His stage persona Tiny Tim  is one of a gangsta rapper unafraid to resort to violent behavior. I'm not saying its believable because he's every bit of a 5 ft 9 in, 160 pounder. The Family Hustle highlights T.I. the family man while managing to downplay T.I. the felon. 

Then there's the obvious difference between T.I. and other convicted felons: $$$(dolla dolla bills ya'll). Money played a significant role in his ability to curtail the amount of time he spent in prison and still factors into the way he can provide for his family. An average Joe with multiple felony convictions and six kids doesn't have the disposable income Mr. Harris has. Most of them struggle just to secure gainful employment and avoid violating their probation. Nevertheless, viewers are privy to see T.I. balance adjusting to life as a free man with work and family. In one "aww" moment, Tip makes the decision to put family (his son's football games) before work (BET Hip Hop awards show rehearsal). About his struggle to strike a balance he tells MTV, 
“I’ll say the balance of both, it’s complex and sometimes stepping away from it for week, a day, a month, can...once you get back into it, it reminds you exactly how much work it is, so the combination of both or all things, that took the most adjusting.”
As always I'm concerned about the bigger picture. While I believe people deserve second chances, I do not believe those people should be rushed to a pedestal where they are used as examples of how to behave. You have to earn your position as a role model. Just like you don't win by showing up, you don't  get a reality show and all is forgiven. Instead of learning how to bounce back from a prison stint, how about just NOT going to prison? Instead of praising a man who finally married his girlfriend after 10 years, how about NOT wasting her time? Should Tip's story be used to encourage people in similar situations? Maybe. I would just rather people made conscious decisions to avoid the situations in the first place. My only request is before we buy into the swoon-worthy "awww" moments we take an objective step back and think twice about who we idolize. People criticize Nick Cannon's squeaky clean image but praise T.I.? Am I the only one who thinks thats backwards? 

Its amazing to me that people were so fixated on the Harris' current state of affairs they seem to have forgotten the journey they took to get where they are. I'm not saying dwell on the past, but are we supposed to forget? While I'm sure there are people who believe women are ready to settle down much quicker than men, I can't help but wonder how much that really matters. How much should you be willing to sacrifice for your man? Should you brush off cheating scandals and forget about interviews where he claimed he was single while coming home to YOUR house every night? Should you settle for being the MAIN chick on his roster instead of the ONLY chick in his life? Should you wait on the sidelines until he realizes you're the woman who deserves his last name? Should you be willing to go under the knife and enhance your physical appearance because it makes your man happy? If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, you should know it doesn't make you "ride or die," it just makes you a fool in love. Be clear about that distinction. 

From where I'm sitting, The Family Hustle asks viewers  to consider one question: What are you willing to do for love? So I ask you, what are you willing to do to FINALLY be happy? Are you willing to wait 10 years for your man to acknowledge you? Are you willing to stick it out through felony convictions, drug problems and multiple prison stints? Are you willing to deliver 5 little human beings BEFORE he puts a ring on it? Tiny did and she's married. 

Talk to me. I'm listening. 

*By HAPPY I don't mean the kind of joy that comes when you know your ::plumber:: is adequately equipped to service your pipes. I mean her face GLOWS just by looking at him. Its clear she genuinely loves him. Then again, its easy to do that when your man is a multimillionaire. 

Twitter: @LegallyRatchet1

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