Black Love ChroniclesbySamuelx©
There is nothing quite like doing that which makes you happy. My name is Jason Jean-Bernard and I'm a man with two lives. In the eyes of the world, I am a successful Haitian-American lawyer who makes a good living defending corporate fat cats. It's what I've always wanted to do. Growing up, I was a nerd who watched Law & Order religiously and did mock trials with like-minded friends rather than play sports or video games. And I pursued my dreams as an adult. I earned my bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Morehouse College and later got my law degree from Howard University in Washington D.C. I am happily married to a tall, beautiful black woman named Joanna Gustamar. This six-foot-three, big-bottomed black Amazon was considered the Queen Bee of Spelman College. A top scholar and outstanding athlete. A brother had to be on top of his game before he stepped up to her. Luckily, I've always had game. I'm only six-foot-one but I don't let any lady intimidate me. Ever. I'm the man and that's not going to change.
Joanna and I met while I attended a certain party at Morehouse College. A party where all the top black college men mingled with all the top black college women. Strictly A-List. Students from Morehouse College, Clark-Atlanta University, Spelman College and Georgia Tech were invited. Even in this crowd filled with good-looking black ladies and sexy black men, Joanna stood out. She simply did. Joanna was not what I expected. This gorgeous black lady was friendly, warm and very easygoing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was of Haitian descent, just like me. Her parents, Luther and Jezabel Gustamar moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s and she was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Her daddy's a professor of civil engineering at Georgia Tech and her mother is a state policewoman. This gal was a Southern belle through and true. We got along wonderfully as friends and started dating seriously after a while. We got hitched right after graduation.
Our wedding was a grand affair, folks. All of my guys from Morehouse College were in attendance, as were Joanna's female friends from Spelman. My parents, Francois and Elmira Jean-Bernard came down from the Republic of Haiti specifically for that. My parents and I haven't been on the best of terms ever since I came out to them. What do I mean by that? I'm bisexual. I had a few sexual encounters with both men and women early during my college days. I told Joanna about my bisexuality before we started dating and she was cool with me. Before she accepted my marriage proposal, she made me swear I'd be faithful to her and forsake all other women and men. I loved her so I made that solemn promise to her. My mother wasn't thrilled that I married a young lady who was Haitian in name only. Joanna is Haitian-American but doesn't speak a word of Creole. I understood where my mama was coming from. My origins and my culture mattered to me a great deal. However, I couldn't let them blind me to the fact that Joanna was perfect for me. I don't know many bisexual black men who find a beautiful black woman who accepts them the way they are and continues to love them. I really don't know many brothers who are as lucky as I am. So I wasn't about to jeopardize my relationship with Joanna. Sorry mom.
After graduation, Joanna and I moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Washington D.C. We lived in an apartment together while attending Howard University. It wasn't easy. Juggling a marriage with work and college life. Still, we made it work. Joanna recently earned her MBA and now works for Anderson Limited, a multinational corporation with headquarters in our nation's capital. She made two hundred and twenty grand her first year on the job. This while I was still searching for a law firm that would hire me. And how did I feel about that? I was ecstatic! Yeah, I'm really proud of my lady. We recently bought a nice house in an upscale neighborhood. I love my life and I love my wife, folks. I don't hide anything from her. Well, almost anything. Nothing that matters anyway. We'll get to that later.
It's hard for a brother to meet a sister who really understands and loves him. Some brothers are lucky. I look at Jay-Z and Beyonce. They look hot together. They're good-looking, wealthy and talented. Look at our President Barack Obama and our First Lady Michelle. They look stunning together and you can tell their love is real. While visiting some friends in Brockton, Massachusetts, I saw Governor Deval Patrick and his wife Diane on a routine visit to the city. There's another hot black power couple. Some brothers, like Chris Brown, are not so lucky. He and Rihanna could have had it all. Instead they ended up a modern-day version of Ike Turner and Tina Turner. I would never put my hands on the lady in my life. I've got too much respect for her. I also wouldn't tolerate her putting her hands on me. I've got too much respect for myself. Don't fool yourself. There are violent women and male victims of domestic abuse out there. It's not all one-sided like feminists would have you believe. Believe me. I know.
Life in Washington D.C. was cool. And I was making big bucks for the law firm of Wilson, Dale & Armand. My boss, Jerome Armand is one of the few Haitian-American lawyers in the city. He moved to the U.S during the 1970s as a young man to escape the Duvalier Regime in the Republic of Haiti. Like me, he attended Howard University Law School and practiced law in the city. He founded the firm with two Irish classmates, Henry Dale and Jacob Wilson, in January of 1989. Twenty years later, they were one of the top law firms in the city. Jerome was married to a beautiful lady named Miranda Joseph and they had two sons and three daughters together. The man was wealthy, powerful and commanded respect. He kind of reminds me of that regal African-American actor James Earl Jones. At the firm, he took me under his wing. Now, don't think I expect special treatment at the firm simply because a friend and fellow black man is calling the shots. I intended to earn my keep. And I did that by keeping rich white guys out of jail when they imitated the likes of Enron and Bernard Madoff.
There are three senior partners and twenty four lawyers at the firm. Six of them are black, two are Hispanics, one is Arab, one is Asian and the rest are white. The firm goes through junior associates the way Ford goes through models. They seldom last long. I was doing well, but I still had to watch my back. My rivals were Jennifer O'Bannon, a tall and blonde-haired Irish hussy hailing from Cornell University, and Adam Chang, the firm's only Asian lawyer, a graduate of Harvard Law School. A lot of Ivy League lawyers think they're better than those of us who graduated from HBCUs. The firm took a big chance when they passed up several diverse candidates from top notch schools and chose me, the man from Howard University. I learned a lot from the diverse faculty at Howard University Law School. And I intended to prove to anyone with doubts that people from historically black law schools could kick the butts of any Ivy Leaguers. The way I see it, a man or woman with limited ability will remain the way until they die. Education can't change that. Talent is genetic, just like intelligence. Environment plays a key role, but it's not everything.
I needed every ounce of my strength as I represented Dwight Henderson, a middle-aged white man who's worth two and a half billion dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission was coming down on him like the hammer of God thanks to some shady deals he made with foreign powers on behalf of his company, Henderson & Hamilton Incorporated. Dwight Henderson was an old friend of my boss, Jerome Armand. The two met at Howard University decades ago. Mr. Henderson wanted my boss's firm to keep his rich white ass out of jail and keep his money in offshore accounts where the USA had zero jurisdiction. I was part of a team of lawyers defending the rich bastard. And I was the only person under thirty on the team.
The other lawyers were Madeline O'Shea, a red-haired white woman in her early forties, Luke Crawford, a blond guy who looks like an action movie star and Jack Bader, a Jewish guy who's been with the firm since the beginning. Yeah, there I was. A twenty-seven-year-old black lawyer sitting at the table with the big shots. Since Dwight Henderson had bilked a ton of people from diverse communities ( including African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews ) out of their money, the Powers That Be thought having a black lawyer and a Jew defending him would be a plus. My boss Jerome Armand was taking a big chance by letting me be on the dream team. If I failed, it would mean the end of my career at the firm and he'd be deeply embarrassed. I had to succeed.
Sometimes, it really sucks to be me. I was handling the case of a lifetime and I was having some trouble at home. Joanna was changing before my eyes and I didn't know why. My sweet, good-natured and patient wife was restless. And she wouldn't talk about it. I tried to mend things by taking her out to dinner at an upscale restaurant, taking her dancing at a reggae club and buying her jewelry. Nothing worked. When I made romantic advances to her in the bedroom, she turned cold. Something was going on. I simply didn't know why. And I didn't have time to figure it out. The house where we live is a four-bedroom mansion with three bathrooms, two living rooms and two kitchens. It costs us three hundred thousand dollars. And I still had forty grand in student loans to worry about. I made one hundred and eighty grand last year after taxes, and it's barely enough to keep my wife and I afloat. I had to win a lot of big cases, otherwise we wouldn't be able to afford our lifestyle. Joanna liked driving the red convertible I bought her, but she didn't seem to understand that I had to do certain things in order to get it for her.
There are certain things an upwardly mobile, college-educated black male professional in Washington D.C. has to do. Things like playing golf with rich white guys while turning a blind eye to their lonely, overtly flirtatious lily-white wives and daughters. Hell, sometimes their lily-white sons came onto me. I turned them all down. I wasn't even tempted. My wife Joanna is sexier than any man or woman I've ever seen. I also had to make nice with the African-American politicians and businessmen who have been the backbone of the city for decades. Washington D.C. has been a Mecca for black power couples long before Barack and Michelle Obama arrived. Making nice with the black politicians and affluent black businesspeople took a lot of time. Yeah, and I also had to attend all company functions.
At the firm's parties, Joanna and I looked good together. Yet she hated being there. I couldn't understand why. Everything I did was for Joanna. She doesn't know it yet but I put eighty grand in an offshore account to ensure that she would be taken care of should anything happen to me. It's not a lot but it's a start. I love my Joanna. When we got married, she was my dream woman. The tall, beautiful black college sportswoman who married the tall black nerd that I was and will always be. I don't wear horn-rimmed glasses anymore but I'm still nerdy in the extreme. I subscribe to magazines like Scientific American, American Chess Bulletin and Black Enterprise. The last time I read King Magazine or Sports Illustrated, I wasn't even in high school.
So, although it broke my heart to do it, I put Joanna out of mind and focused on the case. Keeping billionaire Dwight Henderson out of jail took precedence over my marital problems. At least for a little while. I hoped the case wouldn't last long. Once it was over, I'd take care of Joanna. I'd treat her to an expensive overseas vacation. We could go to Saint Lucia or Jamaica if she wanted. I love my wife, folks. She matters to me more than she realizes. To me, she's a dream come true. I'm not ignoring her. I'm doing this for her. The dream team was assembled, and we went to court to defend one of corporate America's most hated rich white guys. Dwight Henderson ranks right behind Bernard Madoff in the eyes of the public. Defending him didn't earn me any accolades in the eyes of the American public. The black community of Washington D.C. was especially disappointed. Even the President of the United States criticized my client and his ilk on national television. CNN did a story on it. I faced criticism from Washington's prominent Jews as well. I was in the spotlight, but not the way I dreamed of it. America saw me as the black lawyer who becomes a sellout to defend the evil rich white guy who stole from poor people nationwide. It's fun to be me, isn't it?
As I worked on the case, I found myself pulled into different directions. My wife Joanna was growing more and more distant toward me. I told her that after the case, I'd make it up to her. She's an executive at a large company, she should understand the pressures of work. Why wasn't she sympathetic to my plight? Every free moment I had, I tried to indulge her, care for her and take care of her. In court, I was fighting like a one-man army. The jury had been selected and the Attorney General was gearing up for one hell of a fight. She's one tough cookie who's made a name for herself by taking down fat cats in high places. Our legal team feared her. I didn't. Why? I guess you could call it nerves of steel or the overconfidence of youth.
For weeks I watched my co-counsel go after the Attorney General like hawks after a dove and the tall, beautiful black woman who embodied so much of Washington D.C's true power beat them senseless. I had to hand it to the Attorney General. I did enjoy watching such a fine-looking and beautiful sister beat a bunch of arrogant white lawyers at their own game. Our team tried to portray Dwight Henderson as a decent man, philanthropist and family man. The jury, made up of two Hispanics, two Arabs, five blacks and three whites, clearly wasn't buying it. The entire world knew Dwight Henderson to be a ladies man. He had been married four times and divorced four times. His daughter Ariel was a scandalous figure famous for wasting her father's money at Hollywood parties. His son Michael was recently arrested for bashing one of his friends in the head with a shovel. Yeah, Dwight Henderson wasn't Mr. Family Values in the eyes of most Americans. When it came time for me to speak on his behalf, I used that to my advantage.
Standing before the jury, I told them exactly what I thought of Dwight Henderson. I thought he was a rich white bastard who thought he could get away with everything because he had money. I knew the jury agreed judging by their smiles. My co-counsel were stunned. Henderson looked at me with hooded, angry eyes. I winked at him and continued. I cautiously explained the difference between a dislikable character and a criminal. Then I brought in a team of experts to explain to the jury what exactly Henderson did with his money. The guy was too busy banging Thai hookers in Bangkok to broker illegal deals with foreign powers. Unless Thai pimps counted as foreign powers. I had the jury eating out of my hand, folks. I don't know who was more surprised, my legal team or the prosecutor.
When the jury handed a unanimous verdict of not guilty, I knew the game was won. Yeah, I had single-handedly won the case, though I feigned humility and said it was a team effort. Folks, Henderson hugged me in open court. I couldn't believe it. Of course he was thrilled that I kept his rich white ass out of jail. As for the rest of our legal team, they were stunned. Before we left the court house, I'd been promoted to junior partner. And two days later, three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars would be wired to my bank account. That's on top of my legal fees, folks. Just a bonus from the senior partners at the firm. Their way of saying thank you for saving their butts. Of course, I was overjoyed and went straight to my wife. I had to share the news with Joanna.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find my Joanna anywhere. I frantically called her friends, her co-workers and even her parents. I called every hospital in town. I went to the police station, and that's where I learned the awful truth. My wife nearly died. My beloved Joanna almost perished in a car crash on her way home from work that afternoon. Her blood alcohol level was extremely high. When they told me this, I fell to my knees. Just like that, all my hopes and dreams were almost gone. Everything I did was for Joanna and the family we'd have one day. And now fate had nearly taken her from me. I rushed to the hospital. Seeing her lying on that bed, all bandaged up...it brought tears to my eyes.
Standing by Joanna's bed was the doctor, a stocky black man, and he was talking to a black lady who was apparently one of Joanna's co-workers. The lady introduced herself as Susan Brown and told me she was Joanna's closest friend and confidante. And she let me have it. Apparently, for the past few months, Joanna had been having many problems. She was under a lot of pressure at work and it led to her drinking. Friends tried to caution her but there was only so much they could do. This was something I should have been dealing with, not my wife's friends. I wondered aloud why Joanna didn't simply come to me. Susan grimaced and told me I'd been too busy protecting rich white guys from the wrath of the justice system. I sat down by Joanna's side, and wept. The doctor laid his hand on my shoulder and told me Joanna would be alright. She suffered no permanent damage. She'd be alright. Of course, there was the matter of her drunk driving but I told him I'd handle it. One phone call from a senior partner at my firm to the Washington D.C. Police Department got the case erased. As if it never happened.
I took my wife's hand in mine and kissed it. At that moment, she opened her eyes. I smiled at her. Joanna gently shook her head, smiled sadly but didn't say anything. I told her that from now on, I would always prioritize her. I had already asked my boss Jerome Armand for some time off. Since I was the hero of the day, he couldn't refuse me. I now realize I wasn't focused on what mattered. I neglected my wife and my marriage. From now on, I'm going to be there for Joanna. I'm going to get her the best treatment money can buy. We're going to be okay. Joanna smiled and squeezed my hand. Hovering nearby, Susan smiled. I thanked her for being there for my Joanna, and looked into my wife's eyes. I pray to God we're going to be alright.