The first time I was introduced to Nia Long was watching “Boyz N The Hood.” I remember during intimate scenes between her and Cuba Gooding Jr., my uncle saying, “[Cuba] don’t know what he doing with that.”
Come to think of it, my uncle said that about Will Smith. Based on that embrace he and Ms. Long had a little bit ago, he wishes he had married “Lisa.” But I digress.
But it was “Friday” for me… I completely felt where Cube was coming from… Debbie was fine… I mean I would’a fought Deebo for her honor too. “Friday“ made me an adolescent disciple of Nia Long and as I got older, Nia Long got finer. She was gorgeous on “Soul Food,” “The Best Man,” both “Are We There Yet?” movies, and both “Big Momma’s House” movies… and on “Dear White People,” she proved the Whispers right.
With all of that said, as beautiful as Nia Long is, she’s a human being like all of us. She is subject to happiness, sadness, joy and pain. The fellas on social media may or may not understand that.
I get that Nia Long is fine. Because she is. But when these unfortunate situations pop up on social media, it is wrong and incorrect to reduce the immorality of a man’s infidelity to how fine the woman is he cheated on compared to how fine the woman is he cheated with.
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Too many brothas are commenting some iteration of “you can’t cheat on Nia Long.” Nia Long is beautiful. But, beautiful people are cheated on often. Beyoncé was cheated on and my mind has a hard time figuring that out, but I digress.
What really stands out in our handling of this situation is the hypocrisy we display. We go straight to the looks of an individual to justify one’s cheating ways or to condemn them.
A relationship, a partnership, is more than simply about eye appeal and physical pleasure. It’s doing life together. It is deciding to move from home so the other can pursue their personal dream. It’s nights awake when the other (or a child) is sick. It is negotiating who cooks and who cleans on any given night. It’s perfectly fine to feel for Nia Long. But do so because her relationship with her fiancée and her partner may be over as of this revelation.
Her beauty has little to do with what her fiancé, Ime Udoka, did. Udoka was suspended from his job as head coach of the Boston Celtics after an alleged affair with a female staff member.
Infidelity is not without context. Infidelity results from self-centeredness with the goal of satisfying every possible desire for lust, power or greed. Also, infidelity can result from unfulfilled emotional (and/or physical) needs. Walking away from an unfulfilling relationship isn’t that simple.
This is all to say, we cannot reduce what happened here as either right or wrong according to who’s prettiest — the woman scorned or the other woman.
And if we were to keep it 100, many men would crucify the cheater if it were a woman. Maybe not Nia Long, but only because of their desire to live out a fantasy to be with her, and while that’ll never happen, a single Nia Long puts them one step closer to her. Sort of like the start of the NBA regular season — theoretically everyone has a chance to win but only a few teams have a realistic chance to win.
Only a few men had a chance at Nia Long. It seems that Ime Udoka squandered his. Most of Long’s admirers know they aren’t one of the few men who have a chance with her. So it is understandable that they cite Long’s beauty as the chief reason to remain faithful to her.
But doing so reduces the victim, Black women in these cases, to being deserving of our concern and sympathy only if they are the object of our desires. It makes me wonder if we really love Black women as many of us claim we do.
Rann Miller is the director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives as well as a high school social studies teacher for a school district located in Southern New Jersey. He’s also a freelance writer and founder of the Urban Education Mixtape, supporting urban educators and parents of students in urban schools. He is the author of the upcoming book, Resistance Stories from Black History for Kids, with an anticipated release date of February 2023. You can follow him on Twitter @UrbanEdDJ .