I did something that I don’t like to do first thing in the morning. Instead of grabbing my journal, I reached for the phone and checked text messages.
While abroad, my family and I keep in contact through a group chat. We share about our children, current events, and whatever is relevant in our lives. In recent months, the thread has shifted from the everyday happenings to a surplus of death and illness messages.
Every other week a family member, friend, or someone in our community is experiencing a health challenge.
Are you getting flooded with news about folks in your circles getting sick? And, are there days when it seems like everyone is dying? I blame it on Ms. Covid and her many cousins or variances.
In reality, it’s bigger than covid. People get sick, and they die. This awareness is why I often evaluate how I spend my time.
Ok, back to the text message that interfered with my routine. One of my sisters texted the family with news about the death of Kevin Samuels. When I read the text with his picture, a link to a news headline, and the words "unbelievable," I asked myself a question.
Who is or was Kevin Samuels?
Between my sister's text message and my wife's later question about him, I was pushed and fell down the loophole. I clicked on the forwarded article and learned he was a popular YouTuber. He created content for an audience of Black men and women interested in relationship advice.
I learned Kevin Samuels earned a college degree in engineering and marketing. At age 57, Samuels fathered a daughter and had two failed marriages under his belt. Yet, despite his relationship challenges and educational background, people considered him a reliable resource for learning how to find and keep a romantic partner.
Samuels was a masterful marketer.
From the video clips I watched, he listened well to his guests. He asked poignant questions that made people think about their reasons for dating and marriage. His responses often reflected narrow views of heterosexual relationship dynamics through the lenses of hypermasculinity. But, he had an undeniable authoritative presence on camera.
During one notorious episode, Samuels called women over 35 "leftover." He argued that "high-value men" don’t want older single women. The backlash from these abrasive statements made his brand.
Because of his relationship stances, folks loved and hated him. They appreciated his candid comments and detested his sexist suggestions. Samuels was a polarizing public figure, but he attracted over 1 million YouTube subscribers to his channel.
Controversy often breeds popularity. Every day this week, I went online to learn about Samuels' work and found a plethora of critical reviews.
Stephen A. Crockett Jr.’s HuffPost article captures the gamut of offensive statements Samuels made about Black women on his channel. For example, he compared one woman’s size to the former football player Emmitt Smith.
The death of Samuels makes you think. What online profile am I creating for myself? Is it authentic? How will people remember me when they look at the last five posts?
None of us are perfect, but I hope we leave more positive than negative artifacts behind. Starting my day with a text message enabled me to write this entry and inspire you to use every day like it is your last. Like Kevin Samuels, one day will be our last day.
How will you use this Friday?