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The way we’re talking about Lori Harvey and Michael B. Jordan exposes a bigger issue

The celeb couple split up, and we’re the ones who are hurting

Since learning Lori Harvey and Michael B. Jordan reportedly ended their relationship, social media has run amok with theories about the dissolution. For whatever reason, there’s a large contingent of people persistent in their quest to tell you they knew the couple wouldn’t last. Some of this is par for the course; the lives of celebrities have long been seen as fodder for the rest of us. We have so many hot takes about what they’re wearing, where they’re living, and who they’re dating that it almost feels ridiculous to question our vested interest in any aspect of their lives.

But it’s not that people are talking about Harvey and Jordan that gives me pause. It’s what they’re saying about them. Since the breakup, rumors have swirled that the Creed star proposed to the model and owner of SKN by LH, only to be rejected. That was enough to have some refer to Jordan as foolish for trying to marry someone like Harvey, who has been romantically linked to a few high-profile men. There were others who said that, in leaving him, Harvey has made the biggest mistake of her life. Jordan was even referred to as Harvey’s Boaz — yes, that Boaz.

As commentary continued and sides were drawn, many didn’t realize they were essentially saying the same thing: Harvey never should have been taken that seriously as a relationship partner. Sure she’s young, breathtakingly gorgeous and accomplished. But, to let folks on social media tell it, her propensity to “date and dip” makes her less valuable.


In recent years, this concept has become one of the most critical ways to evaluate a prospective partner. Polarizing relationship experts and media personalities, podcasts and other media content all assert that body weight, number of previous relationships, number of children and one’s current age are all the things people — well, let’s just go ahead and tell the truth: men — should take into consideration before deciding whether a woman deserves a relationship with them. Essentially, the higher the number of “concerns,” the lower the value of the woman.

Typically, if a man has a good job, is financially stable, clean-cut and articulate, he’s considered “high value.” And according to self-proclaimed experts like the late Kevin Samuels, a high-value man must date with extreme judiciousness to ensure that he doesn’t end up with a woman who isn’t on his level. After all, she doesn’t deserve a man like him. But just because a sister has a successful career, good credit and takes pride in herself, that doesn’t automatically make her “high value” either. Men are told to ask many more questions.

How old is she? How much does she weigh? Does she have any children? If so, how many? Is she keeping them from their father? How many fathers are there? Has she ever been married? If so, how many times? If so, why did the marriage end? If not, why has no one wanted to marry her yet? What’s “wrong” with her?

No matter how these questions are answered, a woman can’t win. Consequently, she’ll fall into two categories: Either she scores too low to be worth the investment, so she’ll remain single. Or she’ll be deemed eligible for the opportunity to be with a “high-value man” and she better not mess it up. If she does, she’ll be back slumming it with the other single women who keep praying, to no avail, for God to send them a man.

Ironically, a man isn’t actually required to have his stuff together before he — and others — consider him “high value,” according to the keepers of the manosphere. Their identity as men is enough to receive superior status and they will challenge anyone who says otherwise. Of course, it doesn’t work this way for women and it never has. One quick scroll down a social media timeline proves this to be true. Find a sister posting confidently about herself, her body or any of her accomplishments and I guarantee there are at least five men in her comments doing their best to humble her.

This is love and relationships in 2022. Black people are not finding each other based on common interests and hobbies. We’re not seeking each other out in hopes of aligning visions to love each other into the highest versions of ourselves. Qualities such as integrity, empathy and compassion take a back seat. It doesn’t matter if they’re a good person anymore. We don’t even get that far. Everything we need to know is laid bare on the surface and found in how we interpret decisions and experiences that happened before we knew them.

We are on the dating auction block and, like what was done on the auction blocks of old, we poke and prod at each other to determine who seems strong enough to take home and endure our unresolved traumas, projections, insecurities and unwillingness to heal. We make gods out of ourselves and a mockery out of love. More invested in what we look like on the outside, we do all we can to check certain boxes and maintain the status quo. We are uninterested in self-reflection, wholeness and true accountability.

That’s what makes it so easy to declare that ending a relationship we knew nothing about is the worst mistake of Harvey’s young life. That’s why it’s possible to refer to single mothers who are making different relationship decisions from the ones they made in the past as “used cars.” Unfortunately, it’s also why sisters will betray themselves to demean other women in the service of misogynoir and patriarchy.

There is no world that exists in which people don’t want, need or merit love. And, in a world that seeks to destroy Black flesh daily, we need not aid in its destruction. This life is hard enough for all of us. Why are we committed to making it more difficult? Who are we to believe we have the right to say what others should have when it comes to love? What made us buy into a system that fundamentally reduces us to what we do and tells us that’s who we are? And how do we reject and walk away from it so we can actually be good to each other?

Like most people, I don’t know Harvey or Jordan in real life. Still, I hope they find whatever they’re looking for, and I hope they get to stand tall, lay down and fully thrive in it. I want that for myself. I want that for all of us. I want us all to want that for each other.

Moving into a space of communal care will require a reset, refocusing and return to seeing true worth and value in each other. Not in our occupations or our bank accounts. Not in our physical and relationship stats. Not even in our ability to present ourselves as worthy. We must recognize the inherent value in each other simply because we are breathing and our lives — and who we desire to spend them with — matter.

Candice Marie Benbow is a multi-genre theologian who situates her work at the intersections of beauty, faith, feminism and culture. She is also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough.