Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Good Man – A Reel Life Example….

How does a man know when he’s a man? How does a woman discern the difference between a ‘real’ man and a playboy, slacker, thug, perpetual teen-ager, pimp or similar man of no (low) value? I was reading a blog where this question was being addressed by men offering comments describing what they thought made a man, in fact, a man. Just what are the attributes, behaviors, and characteristics that distinguish a man from a boy?

In general appearance, a beard and big muscles, was ruled out as a symbol of manhood. What most of the men commenting on the post mentioned were things such as establishing and adhering to a set of core values; keeping your word; controlling your tempering; readily rendering assistance – going out of your way to help women, children and old people; controlling your tongue; doing good daily; being able to build/fix/create/accomplish something with your hands/mind/body; and being confident.   

H/T to The Art of Manliness at  www.artofmanliness.com


Julie and Julia

I recently watched ‘Julie and Julia’, the 2009 movie about Julie Powell challenging herself to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The narrative of the movie is split between Julia Child finding herself and her calling after she moves with her husband to France and Julie Powell finding her writing Muse as she documents her one year odyssey in French cuisine.

I will not comment on the health consequences of cooking with so much butter, consuming cream-based sauces or the lack of regard for calorie consumption. The food looked gorgeous! This observation comes from a vegetarian/mostly-vegan/raw food wanna-be!  LOL  The food, however, is not the point. The point is the relationship between Julia and Paul Child.


Julia and Paul

While not the stereotypical Alpha-male, Paul Child was a man any mature, self-reflective woman would love to have in her life. Paul Child behaved the way a principled, honorable man behaves. He adored Julia, treasured her, supported and encouraged her. Even though she was older (late thirties) when they married and she did not resemble the popular version of beauty at the time. Julia’s husband wanted her to be happy and indulged her pursuits in trying to find ‘something to do’ while she made a home for him during his various overseas assignments, remember, this is the late 1940’s early 1950’s. In the movie, Paul is attracted to Julia romantically, intellectually and physically. Paul is patient with Julia, protective of her, and is present for her. Paul is her champion! Paul is Julia’s rock; her foundation.

And she loves him! She is sure to make time for him; she is on his side; she stands by him. Julia loves his mind and his sophisticated palate (she loved to cook for him). Julia thinks Paul is wonderful and tells him so! She doesn’t berate or belittle him when circumstances with his job changes.

The feminine in her always responds to the masculine in him. They complimented each other.


Real World Application

Most women want a man of high value. Most women want a man who loves her, protects her, values her, and provides for her and her children.

And there is nothing wrong with that! Don’t let anyone make you wrong for desiring a man who can provide, protect and support you! I believe a woman should always be able to support herself when circumstances require her to do so. Education and a good job are paramount. But it is every real man’s duty to provide resources for his wife. It is every real woman’s job to utilize the resources wisely.

In the real world situations will arise in which the wife might be the sole breadwinner on a temporary basis, however, the husband must be in the hunt for the next employment opportunity, not sitting at home or in a bar (strip club), or over to a friends house, or pursing potential hook-ups while the wife is at work.

Ummmm?!?! Heck to the no way!!!

Only real men need apply….reference the above for examples.


Peace

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fat Is NOT the New Sexy!!!…….posted 11-08-10

Running, Running, Running

I am in training to run a half marathon in January 2011. Which means any spare time not spent doing my regular training routine, prepping for my weekly classes (I work as a fitness professional and am a certified yoga teacher, mat Pilates, reformer, and SPINNING instructor), teaching my weekly classes (24 in all), preparing food, eating…..  Well go get the idea, my time seems to evaporate!

The most I have run in 6 miles, a feat I accomplished at the end of last year, I settled in around 4 miles then issues cropped up. I have since recovered. I am about six months out and I feel fit enough to get back on the road…literally. So I am running!

One of the perks of what I do for a living is free access to various and sundry gyms which I cheerfully take advantage. I am content to train alone, though it is more ‘fun’ when I train with my friends (also fitness professionals). It is important for me to be healthy and have a physique that lets you know I take fitness seriously. It’s a calling card of sorts or at least an advertisement of what fitness training can do for you.


The Point

I was working out with a friend of mine and the subject of black women and obesity came up. She asked me why black women seemed more accepting of being overweight.

I told her I didn’t know. And I don’t. I am not one of those women.

I don’t obsess over my weight (well not to a neurotic or pathological extent, anyway). Yes, I train/workout. Yes, I watch what I eat. Even now, I am trying to cut down on my sugar intake (not just the granular, but the potatoes and chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate cake). Mind you I probably won’t ever cut the out completely and really, that’s not my aim. What I am working on is keeping my consumption of such foods to a minimum. Even better, I am back on my ‘vegan’ food lifestyle so when I do have the cake or the cookies, I will make them myself so I can control the type and amount of sweetener and the amount sodium. This isn’t just because of fat and calories; it’s because of the inflammation sugar causes in the body.


Statistics*

My snarky comments appear in italics.  :-D

-Seventeen (17%) percent of bw over 18 years of age smoke.

Smoking?!?! Really?!?! Smoking is so 1970’s. Seriously who smokes anymore…or ever???

-Fifty-three (53%) percent of bw over 20 year of age are obese.

This is beyond sad. And don’t tell me you can’t afford a gym, because you can walk! You can do jumping jacks and squats and lunges! All in the comfort of you own home! (See a certified health provider first though).

Perhaps I’ll post a 20 minute body weight exercise routine – perhaps.

-Sixty-one (61%) percent of Af Americans do not engage in leisure-time physical activity.

See the above comment.


Functional Fitness

It is clear not everyone should be, can be or even wants to be a size __ (insert desirable number here). Skinny does not equal healthy. The absence of fat does not indicate the presence of health. I am not advocating skinny. I am advocating healthy, functional fitness.

Functional fitness can be:

-         the ability to walk from the parking lot to a store without getting winded;
-         the ability to chase after your children or nieces and nephew for ten minutes and not require an oxygen tank…or a defibulator;
-         the ability to carry ten to fifteen pounds and not throw your back out;
-         the ability to touch your toes without ripping your hamstrings…the ability to see your toes.

Fitness can be achieved through walking, running or any number of group exercise classes like step aerobics, body pump, sculpting, cycling, water aerobics, kickboxing, mat Pilates and Pilates reformer. I highly recommend yoga as I am first and foremost a yoga teacher but also because yoga can provide a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

If you do not currently participate in a fitness regime, you must have your health evaluated by a certified health provider prior to beginning any fitness endeavor. The evaluation will not only determine if you are healthy enough to engage in your chosen physical activity, the assessment will provide a base line against which you can measure your increasing health response.

You can also purchase a heart rate monitor and have a personal trainer (or one of the trainers at the gym) calculate your maximum heart rate so you will know what your fat burning zone is and when you are in the zone.


Healthy Eating

Proper nutrition cannot be stressed enough. You have to become aware of what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat. Case in point: I had a young man ask me what else he could do, besides working out and cutting out foods like bread, French fries, soft drinks, etc. because he had hit a plateau and wasn’t losing weight anymore. I asked him what he was eating for breakfast/lunch/dinner. It turns out he would eat potato chips with every meal. No. Kidding. I told him he must start cutting down on the chip eating gradually until he could phase chips out totally (if he desired) or at least have them with a lunch meal once a week. At last report, the weight is coming off again! Yaay Him!!

Awareness! More than likely you will not lose weight or as much weight as you would like if you eat potato chips or French fries or *sob* chocolate chip cookies every day. You will be frustrated. Start a food journal (diary) and write down what you eat; how much you eat and when you eat, you don’t even have to list the calories or fat grams or sugar or Trans fat or sodium amounts at first. But you have to do something to increase your awareness about how much, when, where and why you eat what you eat. There are plenty of apps available to help you track you eating habits - use them!

I sense a future post, so stay tuned!!!


Peace

* Statistics gathered from Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Location, Location, Location

The Moynihan Report

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an assistant labor secretary published The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (commonly referred to as the Moynihan Report), to formulate policy for the Johnson Administration’s ‘War on Poverty’. Though the report (www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm) cited slavery, reconstruction, centuries of mistreatment, low wages, and unemployment, as factors for persistent poverty in the black community, the primary cause cited was the number of divorced, separated, disserted mothers raising children as the sole parent, as well as the rising rate of out-of-wedlock (oow) birth in the black community.

Further, the report stated the black underclass was neither ready nor capable of competing in the newly integrated society because of the systemic/savage inequities of the past. What is more disturbing is the report predicted this pattern would persist and increase due to lack of familial/social infrastructure attained through healthy, functioning families. The report prescribed a solution: government must provide access to meaningful employment for black men in order to halt the progressive deterioration of the black family.

Predictably the publication of the report unleashed a storm of controversy. Critics viewed the report as an attack on the very people it was supposed to help as it conflated poverty with black culture. Some civil rights leaders condemned the report as racist. 

Past: Tangle of Pathology

The press focused on what they knew would be the most sensational or inflammatory aspect of the report, the decline of the nuclear family structure in the black community. The Moynihan report listed the increasing rate of out-of-wedlock births among African American women as a major cause/concern with regard to poverty. Civil rights leaders responded defensively to what they felt were negative assertions and defamations of character with regard to black men specifically and the black community in general, without a similar understanding of the active role slavery/Jim Crow, and discrimination played and continued to play in the oppression of black men.

Moynihan’s report presaged the ‘tangle of pathology’ would tighten in the black community unless the government intervened. The black underclass did not need overt, systemic racism to continue the downward spiral; it did not need racism and discrimination to perpetuate poverty within the black community. It was doing a perfectly respectable job on its own.

In other words, there was no need for ‘The Man’ to do anything to the black underclass; it was on track to destroy itself.

Current: Culture of Poverty

Forty years later the Moynihan Report continues to resound. Out-of-wedlock births were at 72 % of births for AA women in 2006. Over 41% of AA women have not been married by the age of 35, based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted in 2002*. Single female headed households are the new norm, not the exception.

Men need their father to validate their masculinity. They require their father or a close male relative to demonstrate positive male behavior and to check negative behavior and poor impulse control issues that arise for young men and boys. If validation through a (positive) father-figure is unavailable, men may turn to sex or money as a way to prove their masculinity.

Absent fathers create a vacuum that warps the fabric of community.

It creates communities where women are seen as providers, protectors, and workhorses and where young girls are groomed to become their replacements.

It creates communities where young boys grow accustomed to seeing men who do not work to support and provide for the family

It creates communities where young men grow up watching men treat women as commodities. The message transmitted to young men is: women exist to be consumed and are easily replaced. Not surprisingly these young men and boys grow up to become consumers of women rather than husbands and partners; far too many become predators.

It is no surprise then black neighborhoods, be the urban inner-city, suburban or rural, have become or are becoming toxic to the point they are life-threatening. The cycle of poverty is a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating prophecy for many in the black underclass.

Future: Moving on Up

Economically, single parent households are at a disadvantage in their ability to attain middle class status. Raising a child in moderately acceptable conditions (relatively safe neighborhood, decent schools, etc.) takes a certain amount of economic wherewithal. If the custodial parent did not attain at least a Bachelor Degree, the road out of the working class/underclass is that much harder.

Harder, but not impossible!

Ideally this path would be avoided at all costs. A single person without children is much more capable of struggling, striving and attaining a middle class status; either through education and chosen profession alone or the combination of marrying well and education/profession.

In the event a woman is a single mother, the task that must be undertaken is straightforward: remove yourself and your child(ren) from the toxic neighborhoods. Remaining in a toxic enclave will expose your child to the damaging cultural values, mores and beliefs that will severely limit their future prospects.

Your child will grow up thinking its natural to see garbage in the streets and homes in disrepair.

Your child will think hearing gun shots next door or across the street as unremarkable.

Your child will not realize the urban war zone they live in is not normal condition of everyday life for most people in the United States.

Your male child will believe laws were put in place by ‘The Man’ to keep ‘The Black Man’ down.

Your female child will be told it is her duty to ‘soldier’ for the black community; to protect, fight, and preserve dysfunctional communities without ever addressing the dysfunction.

Your child will learn to devalue education and intelligence as ‘acting white’ and not what ‘real’ black people do.

Your child will normalize chaos and disorder

Your child will be restricted to this cycle of poverty for the rest of their lives and the lives of their children.

Scholars and media pundits are beginning to ‘say what they see’. They know the black underclass is becoming/has become the permanent underclass, especially with the change in the economic fortunes of this country. The desire of politicians and government bureaucrats to render aid and assistance to the underclass is vanishing or gone.

The writing in on the walls, time is up! Get your strategy together! Move!


Peace


* Information taken from reports published by the Center for Disease Control.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Predators: At Home and Abroad

The Ghetto
At sixty years old, a woman shouldn’t have to use a firearm in an attempt to ‘scare off’ a 12 year old boy at 11:pm at night.

Walking from home to the bus stop or from a place of employment to the parking lot should not be a gauntlet of catcalls, insulting remarks and dehumanizing behavior directed at a woman just because she is a woman.

Young girls shouldn’t have to put on extra weight or layers of extra clothes to hide her body so as not to illicit comment from grown men.

A college student shouldn’t have been shot and killed because some man was not allowed admittance a party he wasn’t invited to attend.

A mother shouldn’t have to bury her baby because her ‘baby daddy’ killed the child.

This is every day life in the toxic, terror-filled neighborhoods where young men and boys and sometimes young girls/women, run amok. This is life where rules are breaking down. Where there is no respect of/protection for the lives of women and girls.


The Congo*
Civilians are subject to extortion, brutality, and death from ‘armed combatants’.

Children are kidnapped and forced to become killers ‘soldiers’ for these armed forces.

Women sleep in the dense bush of the country-side because they are afraid they will be attacked when return home.

Rape of women and girls is a tool of ‘war’. The women have no protection and are routinely horrifically brutalized.

This is life where there is no rule of law. No effective system of governance. No law enforcement tasked with protecting civilians.  


The Point
What is the connection you ask? The permanent black underclass developing in this country. This underclass is not alarmist fiction to be dismissed out of hand. Issues of class are easily discerned for those who bother to notice. There are real structural problems within the black community and the heavy lifting has been left to women. Women cannot teach men how to be men. Women are women.

Women can teach girls how to become women, ladies, who command respect, love and protection. This work women can do. This is the work BWE bloggers, in their varying facets, are doing. For example: ‘No Wedding, No Womb’.

What I understand from the campaign, Mrs. Karazin’s desire is for women and girls to start making smarter better choices in the men the have children with. Mrs. Kazarin believes marriage is the preferred environment for childrearing. The response to the campaign is an indicator of divergence of perceptions with regard to what ails the black community, specifically in regard to out-of-wedlock births. I read a sampling of the posts. Some most were supportive, some were not. While some few of the anti-NWNW posters provided lucid, rational disagreements with a facet or two of the campaign, most (if I remember correctly) understood the impetus.

However, some posters/commenters seemed to defend the rate of out-of-wedlock births; seemed to feel as though the campaign was merely an attempt to punish, shame, or deny women the ‘right’ to have a child. Still others felt the campaign was an attack on black men?!?! Why, one blogger asked, aren’t women being held responsible for out-of-wedlock births? Why don’t women control themselves? It takes two to tango.

Well, which is it already!!! Black women are belittled for being too picky and black women are demeaned as being out-of-control baby making machines (please read: over-sexed, licentious garden implements). Clearly, in this context, black women have been set up to fail and to be blamed, berated, and dehumanized because masses of black women can’t rise above the situation. These same people who say the want to help have a vested interest in these women staying where they are: in dangerous neighborhoods; without protection; without decent opportunities for education, employment, and marriage (long term committed relationship) which offer the chance to lift themselves out of the battlefields they call home.

The point is toxic neighborhoods, be they urban or rural, are the precursor to what the Congo has become, a nation of lawless and immoral bandits who don’t want to govern, don’t want freedom, don’t want to build a future; they are content to destroy in the pursuit of money and the illusion of personal power through brutality. The Congo is what happens when criminals take over.

The Congo is the distant early warning of what can happen in certain neighborhoods/cities in this country within the permanent black underclass.

Peace


*H/T to Gina at www.whataboutourdaughters.com for the link to the Financial Times piece ‘Africa’s Forever Wars’.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is This Thing On???!!!---Gabby/ELLE

This is my response to an insightful post at http://www.bettychambers.com/. Read her September 19th post for a little more context, though this post/comment should suffice.
-------------------------------------------------------------
/sarcasm on

OMG!!!

This is all Michelle Obama’s fault!!!

/sarcasm off


If you didn’t know, now you know!

The gloves are off! MSM are getting their psychological warfare on!


THE WHAT: The First Lady is a clearly definable, unambiguously black woman, who is smart and attractive and slim/fit.

People were/are wild about Michelle (real or feigned). Some black/AfAm women stand a little straighter and felt more attractive, more viable, more visible with a First Lady who looks like them.


THE WHY: Which is why the larger society has to demean/deface/destroy our image, in the eyes of non-black men and in our own eyes!


THE HOW: Another BWE (Khadija) blogger posted recently how people, when they want to destroy you, join your cause or act as if they are on your side. They know most black/AfAm women are desperate for allies and will volunteer all kinds of information, secrets, and strategies to people who say they are ‘on their side’; all they have to do is imply solidarity and black folks will jump through hoops they specify with little or no hint of reciprocity.

Make no mistake. ELLE supposedly ‘embracing’ Gabby’s beauty is straight-up GAME! They are selling fat acceptance to black/AfAm women who will take the cover as a sign that the larger society accepts fat women as beauty and will ‘sista-soldier’ for the cause.

AND they are laughing at us!!!! Why in this world does Gabby’s picture take of the whole frame! We see the airbrushed perfection of the other women. We see a body shot. With Gabby, the subtle (or not so subtle) subtext of the picture is….she so fat, she took up the whole frame!

The brouhaha about the ‘lightening’ of her picture is pure derail and distraction!!!

What's the popular maxim: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Are you listening to what ELLE is really saying????


A MESSAGE FROM BWE: Ladies. We have reached the event horizon. The tipping is here! We are moving from early adapters spreading the message into the larger arena! The larger society may not know exactly what is going on, but they know something is going on.

Nah! I take that back they know. And so must you! More and more AfAm women are realizing they have to move beyond the black community for love, safety, protection, and family. There are far too many groups with a vested interest in keeping as many AfAm women as they can in a position of perceived lack. It’s less work for the oppressors when you can get the oppressed to do the work instead.


This is what ELLE is telling you:
We the progressive forces of the media have made ginormous allowances outside of mainstream femininity and pulchritude in order to ‘showcase’ your ‘beauty’. And, really, black women, you should be grateful that we did this because otherwise you wouldn’t be seen at all. Oh, and don’t blame us that we had to use Gabby, after all, we are just trying to reflect you people as you are….in all your fat-is-beautiful glory. And please pay no attention to the fact we have never, and most likely, will never ‘showcase’ a morbidly obese white-woman on our cover…..we have standards…we are selling the dream of fashion and beauty! We just put her on the cover for PC points. And she’s one of four covers, so she won’t hurt our profit margin.

Peace

Monday, September 6, 2010

Contemplate, Ruminate, Elevate

Labor Day is one of the few holidays I get to take off. The fitness industry generally tries to capitalize on holidays using the same rationale as retailers, grocery stores and hotels – money.


“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ - Seinfeld


Silence is Golden

There is no specific agenda for today. I’ll do so light cleaning and I’ll work on some overdue filing in my home office. My windows are open (clearly it’s between mid-morning and noon, because it’s not 112 degrees Fahrenheit yet!!), there’s a nice breeze blowing through the house, I hear the occasional car passing by (no booming system) and of course the neighbor’s dog barking every now and then (he’s behind a privacy fence a yard or so over). Mostly it’s quiet in my neighborhood. I don’t even hear the lawn mowing, leaf blowing, lawn edging guys out doing their thing.

I don’t watch television. Even my music (new agey, kirtans/chants, cello-laden classical, variously alternative, some popular) is off today.

Silence predominates. I. Love. It.


Fear Factor

Yes, I live in the ‘burbs. Predominantly non-AA. I am not worried somebody might break into my house; rob me, assault me and steal my car. Yes, yes, yes, such crimes are not limited to urban neighborhoods. Yes, yes, yes, such crimes do happen in the quiet tree-lined streets of the suburbs. There, I’ve said it, so let’s not spend time in denial or on a tangent about whether such things happen and accept that in some neighborhood these things happen with a much greater frequency. They frequency is so high; these crimes are seen as commonplace, the price you pay for living in neighborhood ‘X’.

The price is too high when:

One must accept deviant and criminal behavior as normal;

Your children become inured to violence;

You must accept street harassment as a part of walking in your neighborhood;

It is unsafe to exercise outdoors (walk, jog, run);

Your house/apartment has been broken into twice this year and you feel grateful no one was home;

There is a known crack house less than a block away from where you live;


Escape Plan

The above list is no where near exhaustive. Most of my life has been spent outside toxic neighborhoods, so I’m sure I don’t know even half of what women experience in these environments. That said, I know it is possible to escape.

My single mother did.

Was it hard work for her? Yes.

Are her children thankful? Umm… Duh!

Effecting this escape take research, planning, saving and lots of energy, resilience, and motivation.

Use the local library internet service to research ways to improve your job skills and general knowledge of the working world; with an eye toward improving your employment possibilities.

Use this same research for ways to find free training and maybe even ways to make extra income (but don’t fall for the work-at-home-scams!!!).

If there is a local college offering enrichment classes, take them!!! They are usually free and who knows, learning how to garden can benefit in the short and long term (local, organic, cheaper veggies).

Look for housing in safe areas of your city. It doesn’t have to be the newest neighborhood being developed, it can be an older neighborhood, but with people who are invested in staying in their homes and who agitate the local city government and law enforcement to keep the neighborhood safe.

Look for a house YOU can afford in the safer neighborhood. McMansions are so nineties! Who are trying to impress? You are looking for safety, not looking to keep up with the Joneses.

Spending plan, budget call it what you want, but create one and live by it. Find a not-for-profit credit counseling service (no not the ones who promise to cut your credit card debt in half in two weeks) and discuss your goals with the counselor.

Document every cent you spend! Did this over ten years ago and it was amazing because I could see what I was spending my money on and where I could make the necessary cuts in order to attain my goal.

When you get a raise (don’t’ laugh, it could happen), put the money directly into your savings account. If the cash hits your hand or your checking account you will spend it.

Do not spend money on expensive clothes or accessories. It is possible to look feminine and fashionable and not spend $400 on a purse (I wish I would!!!). Icon latest post at colorsevolving.blogspot.com is about what looks stylish, and how you can recreate those looks for less; fashion is so not my strong suit. Remember; always have your eye on appropriate attire. Your image matters!

Create a timeline or project management worksheet and stick to it. Document how much money to need for a down payment or first/last months rent, moving costs and necessary appliance purchases (notice to $3000 new bedroom suite is not included! If you have a serviceable bed, use it!).

Keep you plans/goals to yourself. People will sabotage you if they think you are trying to crawl out of the barrel.

Finally, just do it!!! Stop finding every reason in the book to stay stuck where you are! Make the move. Baby steps works.

“Every million miles
      have to take a first step” - Michael Franti/Spearhead



Peace

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mind the Meme, Media, Myths

There is a lot to unpack from Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s wildly inappropriate rant. She ran the gamut from white skin privilege to knee-jerk bigotry to just plain rude and wrong.

At this point, I think we understand acquiring a doctorate in Physiology and a certificate in counseling does not mean a person has the sense ‘God gave a billygoat’ as my grandmother would say; at least as far as racial issues are concerned. Despite all the heat, Schlessinger shed very little light on Jade’s problem. However, within her rant were some pretty amazing ‘tells’ to which women of African-American descent must pay attention.


Thoughts
White skin privilege exists. If you think this country is post-racial---- well, trust me it is not. White women, be they feminists, progressive, democrats, republicans, whatever enjoy, utilize and enforce female white skin privilege. Everyday. Movies, books, television and radio shows routinely tell us who is the fairest of them all…..white women.

It is so common place as to be unconscious and make no mistake the thoughts are absolutely real. If you had any doubt, the Dr. Laura incident serves as confirmation. In the larger society, black women are not seen as the equal of white women. Bw are generally not thought of as equally attractive, intelligent, feminine, loving, supportive, maternal, responsible, moral….. I could go on.

Please do not think I am saying this is true! I am merely saying this is the thought pattern, the meme, if you will, with regard to black women. Might the above be true about an individual black woman? Yes. Is it true about most black women? I hope not. Is it true about all black women? Absolutely not!!

The banality of Schlessinger’s intolerance is stunning, yet she has remained on the air for years. The use of the n-word is not the only issue at hand! We must, more importantly, focus on how bw were portrayed by the radio host amidst this tumult: hypersensitive, nitpicking, unappreciative, presumptuous, and uppity. How dare this bw complain about the behavior of her white husband’s friends and family?!?! He did marry her after all!!!

To justify this display of white skin privilege, the host went there. Twice! Not only did she basically say, ‘One of my best friends is black’….the security guy she employs!!! She also decided to defend herself by using black culture’s own shining personifications of morality and paragons of virtue: no, no, wait for it……. Rappers. And. Comedians.

Rappers. And. Comedians.

Who in the heck patterns their behavior after rappers and comedians?

Okay fine, what people with common sense…..

Okay, okay! What people with the desire to do better, have better and pass on a better way of life to their children emulate rappers and comedians?!

Did I miss the post-racial revolution? Since when do conservative republican operatives cite rappers and comedians as their role models?!?!

Perhaps this is all a huge publicity stunt for Schlessinger’s next book: ‘Think like a Comedian, Act like a Rapper’.


Feelings
The negative feeling (generated by thoughts) Schlessinger, has regarding black people and bw in general were on display. We need to recall that evidently, to Schlessinger, the caller had forgotten her place. In all her privileged glory, Dr. Laura communicated she did not feel black women were worthy of being taken seriously, of being protected or of compassion as another woman on the planet.

The one feeling distinctly conveyed in her diatribe is this: Black woman, you are not my equal.

Clearly Schlessinger felt/believed there would be no fallout for attacking this woman in this fashion. So, she ‘went all in’ on a black woman, who cares? Indeed. The only heat she worried about was her use of the n-word. She issued an ‘apology’ about her use of the word AND then true to form and expectations of privilege, claimed she was the victim in the exchange!!!


Behaviors
In this instance, as a certified counselor, Schlessinger is a big fail. She behaved in a dismissive, derisive, abusive manner toward someone who was seeking her help. Apparently in Schlessinger’s view, who was this black woman to complain? Her opinion seems to be, Jade shouldn’t have married inter-racially if she couldn’t handle the hateful, intolerant and rude comments of her husband’s friends and family. Jade should have expected to be treated with this lack of disrespect. To Schlessinger the entire matter seems unworthy of serious contemplation or compassion. What else should Jade have expected? It’s not like she’s entitled to or deserving of protection.

Sound familiar. Isn’t this remarkably similar to the burden-bearing-mule role AA women have been assigned in the black community? The larger society believes black women are supposed to take on other people’s hatred, bile, and intolerance without having their feelings hurt. Black women are strong; they can handle insensitivity, disrespect, and other-ization and not bat an eye. After all, it’s not like black women are human.


Going Forward
I say again, what AA women must pay attention to is not the use of racial epithet alone. Yes, AA women must refuse to use, laugh at, or respond (except indignantly) at being called the n-word by anyone! Schlessinger’s behavior alone should wake us up to the detriment this word is doing to our brand! If black men want to use the word, so be it. There is no reason for black women to agree actively or tacitly or otherwise.

What AA women must pay attention to is belief of some people (ww, bm, other haters) black women must stay in their place. This is nothing more than yet another scare tactic to get you not to consider dating in the global village. Jade is supposed to be a cautionary tale about inter-racial marriage. Don’t marry the evil white man, he will not protect you! Allow me to debunk this myth. The situation Jade found herself in is what happens when a woman fails to properly vet her intended. Period. Whether the man is black, white, grey, green, whatever!

Pay attention! The ultimate message of this entire media storm is: AA women, don't date outside your ‘race’ stay in your place like the strong black woman you are.

Disregard this foolishness! Resist!

Peace

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Celibacy, Power and Revolution

Adults, grown folks, big girls, ladies are responsible for themselves, normally.

Just Say Whoa

I like the idea of sex as much as the next person. But as we have all recently witnessed with the USDA kerfuffle, context is everything.

Why? When? Where? How? With whom? Under what conditions and commitments?

Aren’t these common sense questions? Then why aren’t more Af Amer women asking these questions? And why aren’t more Af Amer women demanding satisfactory answers? And why aren’t more Af Amer women waiting until those answers are demonstrably present?

Is sex everything or the only thing. Because that’s the impression I get sometimes. Like if someone isn’t having sex then there is something wrong with them. Like sex is a right.

I understand a sexual revolution took place, but did the revolution only result in the freedom to have random, unprotected, meaningless, joyless, casual sex with any low-life, jerk, loser (regardless or class, money, race, education, etc.) who showed interest in you.

I believe a lot of men would enjoy this version of the sexual revolution; as long as it is applies to random women he can sleep with rather than applying to his wife, daughter, mother, and just about any woman related to him.

What’s In It For You

What is the role of sex in your life? Do you use sex to secure a partner? Any kind of partner just as long as you can say you have one. Do you use sex as currency? And by currency I mean are you having sex for cash? Or to get your bills paid? If sex is within the context of a relationship, are you being satisfied? Do you enjoy sex with your boyfriend/fiancée/husband? Are you just there to please him? Is there any reciprocity?

What is in for you? Are you fully engaged and joyous about this aspect of your relationship? Do you feel safe, respected, desired, attractive, excited? Is sex something you look forward to or is it a chore you must perform? The answer matters a great deal. If you are not happy with your sex life, why are you having sex?

Power

‘No.’

How much power can one word hold.

If black women, individually and collectively, refuse to allow their bodies to be used as disrespected receptacles by any and all men, what do you think would happen?

If black women mated (married/committed) only with men who were loving, protective, responsible, intelligent, relationship-oriented; what do you think would happen?

If black women shunned or held as undesirable and unacceptable any man who exhibited violent tendencies (verbal or physical), held women in low esteem or believed women to be less than men, had children out-of-wedlock, and refused to provide for or protect his family/loved ones; what do you think would happen?

In ‘Lysistrata’, a play by Aristophanes, the women of Greece go on a sex strike to force their husbands to stop the making war on their neighbors. They did so to halt what they saw as the ridiculous waste of human life and resources that was the Peloponnesian War. Why can’t black women, individually and collectively, make a similar decision? No sex until you discontinue behavior ‘x’ and practice ‘y’.

Radical Redefinition

If black men esteem themselves because of their ‘prowess’, then by what measure are black women esteemed?

Let’s be clear, we live in a patriarchy that places high value on women’s chastity or perception of chastity. Women are penalized (interesting word) and stigmatized to a far greater degree than men are for promiscuous behavior. For women of color, casual sex is not harmless recreation or the fruits of feminist liberation; rather it is licentiousness, proof of our out-of-control animalistic nature.

How do we change the perception society has regarding black women? By demonstrating how much we are worth to ourselves, by valuing ourselves, by not settling for less from a man than love, protection, honor and respect.

With so many diseases and conditions communicable through sex, practicing celibacy is a perfect strategy for the twenty-first century. Black women accounted for 66% of the AIDS cases among women in 2007 (bw only make up 12% of the population) according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (kff.org/hivaids/). Is it just me, or is celibacy looking like a sensible, rational and viable response considering the downward spiral of the black community.

I am not saying one must remain celibate for the rest of one’s life! What I am saying is surely there will be periods in you life when it is better to refrain from unsafe casual sex with some guy, in the vain hope he will stick around after you sleep with him, than to have sex with him and have him leave anyway or worse still inform you after the fact he has no intention of only sleeping with you.

If you have been to this rodeo before, what did you gain? Are you married with children? Married without children? In a committed, monogamous relationship? In a relationship on the road to long-term commitment?

You have to teach people how to treat you. When you accept being treated as an object of sexual gratification, as a disposable thing, then you get the treatment you accepted; you get thrown away. When you make it clear in no uncertain terms you are not that type of woman, you cannot be discarded in such a manner because you refuse the advances of men you step to you with that agenda.

Practicum

Engage in honest self-reflection, self-discovery.

Get your spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial houses in order.

Find out what you want from an intimate committed relationship.

Practice celibacy.

Resist the mentality of the lowest common denominator (best demonstrated by thugs, players, rappers, professional athletes but not limited to those types of men)!

Stop restricting yourself and your options, get thee into the global village!


Peace.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Black Women and Grown-up Sex(ual Responsibility)

The Comment
I wrote the comment below in response to a post on Sojourner’s Passport regarding the magical thinking some black women employ with regard to their sexuality.

“I think some of this behavior is based on the good-girl/bad-girl dynamic.

The good-girl dynamic: good-girls don't PLAN to have sex; sex just HAPPENS. If a good-girl gets pregnant (or STD/AIDS) then it's not her fault, the good-girl declares herself to be a victim of: the guy because he refused to use/didn't have protection; the hand of fate because she didn't plan on having sex that night; or the pharmaceutical industry because she tried to take the Pill, but it made sick/fat/crazy. In her mind she retains the good-girl status and is not to blame, she is instead a victim deserving of pity/government&family assistance/free babysitting services.

The bad-girl dynamic: bad-girls have sex on purpose. They PLAN to have sex. They take birth control and buy their own condoms. They get tested and require their perspective partners get tested. They share the test results and require the same from their perspective partners. They are knowledgeable about their bodies and their sexuality (not homo/hetero, but what they like, what feels good to them). Bad-girls ENJOY sex.

Sadly the majority of BW want to perpetrate the good-girl image, even if it comes at the expense of their health/life or the diminished lives of their children.

To my mind an informed/empowered woman is knowledgeable about and comfortable with her sexuality. This knowledge does not come from what someone else tells her (family, church, partner), rather in comes from intense and honest reflection about who she is and who she wants to be.

It may mean taking a look at her family history and consciously deciding not to repeat the behaviors and actions in her own family. It may mean removing herself from her current (toxic) environment. It definitely means assessing herself, her relationship (if partnered), and what she really wants from an intimate (and sexual) relationship (if she has decided a relationship is want she wants).”

Believing you, as a grown woman, are not responsible for your choices with regard to your sex life is breathtaking self-destructive.

I have always wondered why, or better yet, how a woman could have a second ‘unplanned’ pregnancy. I mean, were they not sure how the got pregnant the first time around? Willful ignorance is never a good look.


Is Sex Mandatory?
Women jump into purely sexual relationships all the time. Women fall into primarily sexual relationships (mistaking them for an actual emotional connection) all the time. Women often have sex with someone they desire to have as a boyfriend with the hope that the sexual relations will turn into a real relationship (rarely to never). Frequently women have sex with men thinking that it’s just sex and since they are dating and acting like men; no emotional connection attaches.

And since all of this happens, why all the willful ignorance surrounding sex, out-of-wedlock children, and the proliferation of STDs?

Let’s say you are an adult woman living in her own apartment. If you fail to pay your rent, you are fairly certain of the consequences of your actions. If you continue not to pay the rent; you will be evicted.

Let’s say you are an adult woman living on her own. Let’s say you meet this guy who from outward appearances is not only attractive, but successful and educated. You want him. He wants you. He wants to sleep with you after three dates. You decide to have unprotected sex with him because he prefers it that way. You do this because you want him to be your boyfriend. You do this with a man whose sexual history you have absolutely no knowledge of….well except for the fact that he likes to have unprotected sex. What do you think you can be certain of?

An unplanned pregnancy?

An STD?

Being a single mother?

HIV!?

This life is real ladies and the only one you get. In this day and age, you cannot say you don’t know ‘how’ you got pregnant/STD/HIV. You know ‘how’ they question you have to ask yourself is ‘why’?

Why are you so careless with your own life?

Why are you so desperate for someone to love you?

Why don’t you think you are responsible for your choices (not making a choice is also a choice)?

Why do you accept sex as a substitute for deep emotional commitment?


Why do you want to behave like an irresponsible damaged-beyond-repair man!?!?


Celibacy as a Responsible Choice
I am puzzled as to why celibacy isn’t discussed more often than it is. Or maybe it is discussed and I am missing the conversations. In my experience, people (full disclosure, I live in the South so…..) tend to have strange concepts about celibacy. Some think it’s weird. Others think there must be something wrong with you if you choose not to have sex. Still others believe if a person isn’t having sex it’s because they are unattractive.

Celibacy is seen as un-natural and that is weird considering a lot of women don’t want to be seen as someone who either enjoys sex or is in possession of her sexuality. You’ll be seen as the bad-girl if you want/plan to have sex and practice safer. And you’ll be viewed as if you decide not to have sex at all, for whatever motivations.

For men, again in my experience, tend to believe it is rarely to never desirable to go for long periods of time without sexual interaction. I imagine this is why some men utilize the services of sex workers. Going without sex, unless you are a priest of some sort, has been deemed unmanly.

There are myriad people choose celibacy. It can be the lack of viable/desirable mate, spiritual reasons, illness, psychological issues, religious reasons, emotional issues, health reasons, self-discipline, etc. Whatever the reasons may be, celibacy or abstinence pretty much insures a person will not be infected with an STD through sexual contact. If you have ever ended a relationship, especially if the relationship ended badly, wasn’t there a period of time; the post mortem; where you examined, reflected, healed from, and learned from the experience? In that time of self-reflection and healing, were you concerned about having sex or were you more concerned about healing and learning and letting go?

Celibacy is not for the weak. It is not a game. Ultimately voluntary celibacy is (or can be) about self-love, self-acceptance, and self-discipline. Clearly celibacy deserves a post unto itself and it will be forthcoming. In the meantime, with all the sexual lawlessness, foolishness, and insanity you really must take control of and be responsible for your sexuality.

We are here. The time is now.


Peace

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You Better Recognize…….

Hate speech is hate speech regardless of who is speaking.

 From the HipHop Industrial Complex
Rappers?!?! What are you gonna do? Have they lost their minds??? I am amazed (but somehow not) at how comfortable these guys feel spewing this unadulterated hate/disrespect toward black women, be it on YouTube or online print media. But then, they believe we are an easy target. Who will defend the honor and image of black women? Anyone? Anyone?

Black women, note to self, when a guy tells you he prefers white women because ww are beautiful and obedient and will not date black women because bw won’t bow down and think too highly of themselves, believe him!!! Don’t turn around and beg him to accept you, despite the fact he thinks you are unattractive and unlovable. Don’t ask him to change his mind about you and give you a chance despite the flaws he perceives in you because of your skin color. I mean, would you beg a racist white person to reconsider their opinions of black folk and accept you as a friend despite their perceptions of you as sub-human? I. Think. Not.

When the words of an individual or group indicate you are not wanted, don’t get mad or defensive or hurt, get thee gone!!! And don’t look back. Your were not meant to be a punching bag (literally or metaphorically) or a pillar of salt.

 From Bloggers/Commenters
The level of venom, vitriol, violence contained in some of the blog posts and comments in the black blogosphere regarding bw in general and relationships in particular can be breathtaking (no, not in a good way)! It is striking how the comments of some self-identified black men are remarkably similar in tone and content to the white people on mainstream media outlets/blogs who routinely vomit the most hateful speech in relation to persons of color with little or no provocation.

And this is coming from black men!?!? Our black kings!?!? WTH! (What the heck)

Ladies I ask you, how can we save the black community with all the division and mistrust among us? We. Cannot.

The black community has already Balkanized along socio-economic, residential, educational and cultural lines. Stop looking back! Move forward!

 
From Black Women
I don’t know which boggles my mind more, the bw who agree with the bm promulgating this foolishness or the bw who apologize for the bm who are so traumatized by life under the constant oppression of ‘The Man’ that he strikes out at the people who have been and are there for him, the black woman.


There are some male-identified black women have completely bought into the notion of ‘black love’ and will accept any piece of man as long as she can say she has her ‘king’. This kind of women will harangue and harass other black women who refuse to accept the lowest common denominator as a viable mate. They cheerfully throw bw under the bus so they can be seen as a ‘loyal, nothing-but-a-black-man kind of woman. Get off the bus!


Don’t Believe the Hype

Resist this foolishness in all its guises.

You cannot reason with hate.

It is not your job to protect or defend the black community.

Being a black woman does not mean you are unsupportive, unreasonable and unloving.

You do not have to be a doormat to deserve love and respect.


You Must Remember This

You are beautiful, intelligent, and desirable.

You have the right to be loved, protected, and happy.

Never doubt the power of your femininity.

Never diminish yourself to make someone else feel better.

A man who requires that you be less; is less. Walk away

You. Are. Enough.

 Peace

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You Can Go Your Own Way

Opinions are like egos, everybody’s got one. The question is, are the opinions of others more important than your own?


Everyone wants to be liked
People want other people to like them. People want the approval of their family and friends and neighbors and random people on the street. So much of our self-esteem is predicated on what other people think of us. Our self-concept is based on where we located ourselves on the social, economic, educational continuum relative to how close we feel we are to the people we admire. Seeking the approval of others is in our genes; it’s ‘Survival 101’, while this trait was necessary for our survival on the savanna, not so much in 2010.


Keeping up appearances
The financial downturn (aka recession) has cost middle and working class families their jobs, their homes, their cars. For a lot of people, the material goods by which we define ourselves (unfortunately) seem to be slipping out of our hands. For those who haven’t lost their job, they may have to deal with a reduction in salary either through direct wage cut or curtailed work week. Facing the loss of a job or reduction in income, you would think the reasonable response would be to reduce personal expenditures. If you have lost your job, is it practical for you to attempt to live they way you did when you were gainfully employed? Why are you trying to maintain that lifestyle? Are worried others will think less of you because you have been laid-off, down-sized, or have suffered a salary reduction?


Choices
What I know for sure is no-one is living your life but you. What you chose to do or choose not do is your decision! Even when you refuse to decide, you make a choice. If you make or fail to make decisions because you are afraid of what other people will think…..well, “Houston, we have a problem”!


This isn’t to say the wise counsel of someone with experience isn’t welcome, but if you are hesitating or not acting because you are afraid someone will think you are being ‘uppity’ or being ‘stuck up’ or the ever-popular ‘acting white’; then see the above ‘Houston’ reference.


Not worrying about what others think, is hard work but essential; even, no especially, when the people whose opinions you are worried about are people you hold in high esteem. Perhaps they have achieved something you would like to achieve; it is easy to be influenced by their experience. Your fears about what they will think of your plan can end up being a roadblock. Understand this! the roadblock is a substitute for your self-generated fear. Overcome it! Put one foot (or word) in front of the other and keep moving. So what if you plan doesn’t look like their plan! So what if you are pursuing a course of action they wouldn’t pursue!

What Would Fleetwood Mac Do?*


“…you can go your own waaaaaay, go your own waaay…”**


We stop ourselves and kill our own ideas and inspirations because we try to match them to what someone else has done. Maybe your book/blog/movie script isn’t the first book/blog/movie script written on a particular topic, it does not mean it isn’t worth the effort to create. And if you make money from your endeavor, so much the better!

 Peace




*I have so outed myself as a Fleetwood Mac fan!!!!!!


**Word of caution and common sense: I am not talking about doing something rash, reckless, or just plain stupid.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Magical Thinking…..or Reasoning Like a 12 Year Old

Fairy tales can be great entertainment. Usually there is a Princess-waiting-to-be-rescued and a Prince ready and willing to be the heroic savior or the Princess.

Aaahh, Disney reality! **insert dainty sigh and flutter of the eyelashes here**




The Story


Meanwhile, back in Reality Land, life shows up quite differently. The Princess works for a living, sometimes at a job she hates so she can pay the bills. Her parents don’t support her because, well, she is a grown woman. It’s not as if they are rich, Dad was lucky to get his job at the post office and Mom is still working at the municipal water department.


Princess is a single parent. She fell for a man who she thought was her Prince, though he gave no indication he was interested in or ready for a long term commitment. Fake-Prince worked for a nationwide shipping company. He had a good salary and medical insurance; he even owned his house and drove an expensive car.


At 28 Princess was ready to settle down and start a family. Fake-Prince was handsome, funny, knew how to have a good time, and liked to go out for dinner or to the clubs. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. They always had a good time together; their sex life was mutually satisfactory. Women were jealous of her because she was with Fake-Prince. Princess thought Fake-Prince was perfect.


After two years of dating and being his woman however, Fake-Prince had not even mentioned marriage and when she brought up the subject, Fake-Prince told her he was happy the way things were. Princess was not. Princess decided she would have a baby with Fake-Prince so he would have to marry her. After all Fake-Prince was dedicated to his son with a former girlfriend. He spent every other weekend with his son. Princess thought this bode well for her, because unlike Fake-Prince’s former girlfriend, she would make him marry her.


Princess got pregnant. Much to her surprise, Fake-Prince left her the day she told him. He even insisted the baby wasn’t his. It was a terrible time in her life. When she gave birth, Fake-Prince didn’t come see the baby. Princess took the Little Prince to see his father only to discover Fake-Prince was seeing another woman. Princess eventually had a paternity test performed to show Fake-Prince he was the father and that she had been faithful to him. The results came back; Fake-Prince was the father. It made no difference to Fake-Prince. Their relationship was over.

At almost 32 years old, Princess is actively searching for her One-True-Prince. She will find him, she is convinced of it. After all, in books and the movies the hero/prince always shows up to save the lady/princess. She is saving herself for One-True-Prince. When he comes into her life, all her problems will be solved. One-True-Prince will make enough money so she can quit her crappy job and stay at home with her son. One-True-Prince will be the love-of-her-life and they will be blissfully happy. All her friends will envy her life and will want her husband, but he will only have eyes for her. Once she and One-True-Prince are married, even Fake-Prince will realize he let a good woman get away.


Princess has decided not to pursue higher education, what’s the point since she will not work once One-True-Prince arrives.

Princess has decided not to pursue a promotion at work; pointless because she will be a stay-at-home-mom when she and One-True-Prince get married.

Princess isn’t looking to move out her apartment in a declining neighborhood because One-True-Prince will move her into his house……

The End




Wishing and Hoping and Praying


There are people who believe if they wait long enough, pray hard enough, tithe regularly then a decent man will appear. I am not making fun of these people. We have ALL been this person at one point in our lives or another, hoping and praying and begging for ‘The One’ to show up. For some women the hoping and praying and begging seems to work; a man shows up. Of course, a man will also show up for some women who never really gave a committed relationship serious thought until they met their mate.


I am not saying don’t hope or pray or ask for what you want in your life, what I am saying is have other plans or methods for securing a good life in the works also. Don’t rely on something outside of you to define you, complete you or give you what you want. That work belongs to you. That is the everyday homework you are assigned for the rest of your life.



Mind the Frame


It is important to mind the framing of what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘fulfilling’ life. Marriage can certainly be a conduit to living well or the good life, but other options exist, especially if you are not particularly interested in matrimony, or if, despite your best efforts, you are currently single. Believing a wedding ceremony, even to someone who is financially secure, will solve all your problems and make you happy is magical thinking.


Marriage is what you (and your beloved) make of it.


Singlehood is what you (yes You) make of it.


You are your best thing.




Peace