It is interesting to say that I have known people from college for more than eight years now. Time definitely flies and I feel that the black alumni of the University of Georgia tends to hold on to those bonds dearly. Even if we were not close in undergrad, there is still the special relationship of having graduated from a school with the commonality of a unique experience. My first memory of Taylor is her voice, a booming, assured voice that is not afraid to speak for the things she is passionate about. Taylor, granddaughter of Andrew Young, never name drops her familial ties. She instead, continues its legacy through her voice and passion for black history, people and civil rights. Taylor was gracious enough to let me pick her brain, and I can’t thank her enough.
Name: Taylor Stanley
Hometown: Washington, DC
Age You First Fell in Love: 22
Love Is: Sacrifice. You would give anything for that person. You can’t just wake up and decide you’re in love with someone. It hits you. You lose yourself in that person. It’s not logical. It’s spiritual. It’s permanent.
What examples of relationships did you have growing up?
My parents were married until I was 19 but I knew it wasn’t a happy one. I grew up in a family of public servants. We love our families but our primary responsibility was the community. My dad was a pastor of the church and so we all had to play our role. But it was the same kind of love my mom knew as a child. Her parents were together and happy but her dad was always on the road serving the community. There’s a superhero complex there. Often times when I was growing up, my dad was so emotionally spent after serving his congregation that sometimes there wasn’t any affection left over. It was rough but it’s a sacrifice. I’ve always kind of understood that.
It’s impacted my life because I know that I tend to like emotionally unavailable men with a savior complex. But other times I tend to be drawn to projects; a man that I can work on and build up to become something. I latch on to redeemable qualities and I try to build upon those. But to what end? I needed to latch onto my OWN redeemable qualities and build upon those. Mostly, I’m scared of settling. Like I said, obvious and spoken love was reserved for the congregation and the community. So when someone shows me affection or attention I either latch on or don’t believe them. But when I take to it, I take to it. It’s blinding. It’s scary. I love fast and I love hard. I’m working on it. My mom does the same thing and she scares me emotionally.
Do you have any songs that remind you of an old lover?
Grenade by Bruno Mars. I loved him intensely and EVERYBODY knew but I always felt like something was off. I was making decisions about my life around him. I literally lost myself in the worst way possible. But I knew in my heart he wasn’t doing the same. He just didn’t know what he wanted and part of me knew that. But EVERY TIME this song came on, it reminded me of him. It became so real that the line that I remember most clearly was, “Yes I would die for you baby, but you won’t do the same.” But we always had songs for each other. After we ended it he called me once to tell me that Bruno Mars “When I Was Your Man” came on and it made him think about me. I don’t know why Bruno Mars was our go to person. The FIRST time we ended it I remember driving to his apartment and Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” came on and I knew that it wasn’t meant to be but we got back together and ended it again and again and again. We still love each other but we’re never going to be together again. NEVER.
Does race matter to you in your relationships?
My junior and senior prom dates were white. When I was in high school, my parents sat me down once and asked me if I ever liked black guys. I told them that since they sent me to a majority white all girl’s school in the suburbs, my options for black men were slim pickens except for the boys school down the street. But now, I go back and forth on this one. As an adult I’ve actually been encouraged by family to consider dating white men and I’m not opposed to it but I feel like there are a few barriers. For one, white guys don’t approach me that often and when they do it’s often a fetish type of thing. Second, my laundry list for qualifications of a white boyfriend are long. He has to be understanding of racial issues in America but I don’t want him to feel like he has to PROVE that he’s understanding.
Were you raised in a religious household?
I was a preacher’s kid but my mom also worked at Planned Parenthood when I was growing up. Both of my parents grew up preacher’s kids. I wasn’t one of the GOOD preacher’s kids. I would say on a scale of one to ten, one being good and ten being bad, I was a STRONG 7. But I kept my virginity until college. But there was never really a conversation with either of my parents about religion and sex. I DO however want somebody who believes in Jesus. I want to be better at being a Christian but I also want somebody who will go on that journey with me. The last guy I was with wasn’t willing to do that.
What does being black mean to you?
It’s being part of something bigger than yourself. I remember in college when I realized that when black people talk about history and contributions blacks have made we always use “we.” I didn’t notice that about other cultures. It’s like we claim our history from the time of Adam to now. It’s always “WE”. WE were building universities in Timbuktu, WE died on the way over here on slave ships, WE walked across the Edmond Pettus Bridge and WE are being shot in the street. It’s a collective. I want it to be a more diasporic experience but I think that’s going to come soon.