Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iRant: All the Single Ladies

Is anyone else tired of looking for a relationship or is it just me?

I am weary of being told I'm doing something wrong if I'm not married by now despite all the advice and Internet, speed dating, online matchmaking options. Single black women are told to lose weight (were I to lose 10 pounds I'd look like a crackhead); change our attitude (I have a happy, friendly disposition most of the time); and to grow up and stop being so superficial (as in: stop looking for Adonis with a huge bank account and a PhD (wait…who's been reading my perfect husband list :-D )!!!

Granted, some of us need to hear these admonishments because some of us are tragically superficial when it comes to the opposite sex. On the same hand; black women also get slammed for not having standards (ex-cons, criminals, the permanently unemployed, players, baby daddies, pimps, and various other losers).

What is a single woman to do after she has retrained her brain to screen out low/no value guys (regardless of race), whittled her figure down to a single digit dress size, is childfree, travelled the Internet dating route and yet is still single? No she's not looking for guys in the club or the strip bar; yes, she has changed her social circle (hanging out with married women may not prove helpful), has expanded her mind, has changed her wardrobe (do not fear color!) but, she remains persistently single.

According to some of the blogs she has done something wrong. Perhaps she needs to move to another state where inter-racial dating is more commonplace. Perhaps she needs to get out there more (wherever out there is). Perhaps she needs a better plan of action or she needs to be more realistic about what type of man she can reasonably attract with her looks, age, weight issues.

I've seen a lot of people online professing to be dating coaches, who will guarantee success...after you pay them a couple hundred dollars. I've already given eharmony and match as much money as I'm going to at this point and I'm not about to give some person I've never met more of my hard-earned money. Bloggers and online dating business people suggest single people consider the money paid for their ‘service’ as an investment in future happiness? Future happiness? Whatever! What about present happiness? How about being happy right now! How about purchasing a small house on/near the beach in Costa Rica! Now there’s a better investment to my mind.

This is my independence day. I am done with the husband hunt. If you want to think of me as a failure, that's your prerogative. If you envision me as a lonely bitter woman who will die alone and become food for cats (actually read this on an BW-IR marriage blog recently) again your prerogative, though what distinguishes you from the damaged men who cheerfully predict a similar fate for women who refuse to lower/remove their standards and 'help a brother out' is not clear.

Making this declaration feels good! It feels like the resistance I have been experiencing is gone. It feels like a weight has been lifted. I am free to wholeheartedly pursue other goals I've set for myself such as creating an intentional community of friends and researching retirement communities which provide safety, intellectual stimulation, physical fitness, and opportunities to socialize with a diverse group of people. It means I am deliberate about my present and my future. It means I will not allow the fact I am not married to stop my progress, nor will I allow myself to be relegated to a lesser status by married women.

Empowerment blogs must also include women who are single by choice; single through no fault of their own; and single despite their best efforts. I don’t think perpetuating the class system of womanhood where married women are on top and single women are at the bottom is healthy or emancipating. If you are married, congratulations! Be aware, the thinly veiled contempt/disdain leaking through some blog posts and comments in regard to your fellow women who are single is not attractive, helpful, or empowering.

There is more to being a woman than marital status. Yes, I've wanted to be married; no, I am not currently married. No, I am not wasting anymore time wailing and gnashing my teeth either. I have a fabulous life! I am fortunate! I am living my life as a whole human being, a first class person not second class or third class. Feel sorry for me if you want. Feel superior to me if you need to, but personally, I don't care. I’m busy living my life.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Voices Carry: Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd is not wrong. She may not be the person black folks want to hear from on what is considered an ‘in house’ problem, but her observations are not false.

Far too much rap/hip hop music is misogynistic, violent, degrading and glorifies base/deviant behavior. Far too many videos depict black women as ‘things’. Things exposing their butts. Things gyrating on a bed. Things dancing on a pole. Things flashing their boobs. Things on their arms. Things in their cars. An interchangeable set of parts offered to the rappers because the have money to pay for it.

Black women as perpetual prostitutes; prostitutes get no love or respect or protection.

Are You Complicit?

Rappers and their apologists (male and female) defend the videos, insisting the women want to be in the videos. The women don’t have a problem being treated like this and if they do they shouldn’t be in the video. It’s the fault of the women, because they allow themselves to be treated like ‘property’. If black women wouldn’t let black men treat them this way, then there wouldn’t be a problem.

Historically, black women have been considered sexually promiscuous, licentious and immoral. Prior to the 1960’s the larger society did not believe black women could be raped! The specific history of bw in this country MUST NOT be ignored. The attitudes and actions of black women today are played out against the brutal history of sexual violence and terrorism of yesterday. It is this history of violence and deliberate mischaracterization of black women that color how black women are perceived by everyone who is not a black woman.

Clearly the fact that a man is black means nothing in light of how they characterize individual bw or masses of bw. The numbers of black men who care about the black experience of black women appear vanishingly small. Far too many black men seem happy to objectify, degrade and dehumanize black women for fun and profit, completely disregarding how treating black women like property in their videos helps to further the perception of black women as ‘thing’. Reduced to being merely a commodity, one bw (thing) can be easily discarded for another. Once the ‘thing’ loses its value, it does not matter what happens to the ‘thing’.

In these videos and in this culture, black women become replaceable and unimportant because there is always another ‘thing’ somewhere.

‘You remind of me of my Jeep….’ Indeed.

Are You Responsible?

Apologists (male and female) tell women it is their responsibility to fix the situation. When bw (black women) demand black men respect them and treat them better; when bw stop accepting thugs and ex-cons as suitable dating partners; when bw teach their sons to respect bw; when bw create a source of carbon neutral, sustainable, low coast energy……. Well, maybe not the last one. Maybe.

Notice how all the work falls to bw. Notice how bw have to fix themselves and black men. Notice how the problem is framed as black women!

Are You Strong Enough?

It is not the job of black women to fix black men or the black community. It is the responsibility of every black woman who has broken out of the matrix to remove herself from the deviance running rampant in many black communities.

First, shift your perceptions.

Second, lay the plans to shift yourself right out of the toxic environment.

Third, make that move!

No it’s not that easy! There are baby steps along the way.

Start small: make a budget and stick to it; save every extra penny you can; research safer places to live (with better school districts if you have children); keep your mouth shut about your plans!!! Saboteurs, haters and the indoctrinated will try to dissuade or straight-up destroy your plans.

Are you strong enough to take action?

Remember, Ashley isn’t wrong…….


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Forever War in Your Town

There is a de facto war against women in this country. African American women are the primary target in many cases and unacknowledged collateral damage in the others.

Cleveland, TX and Moreno Valley, CA in 2011.

Trenton, NJ in 2010.

Milwaukee, WI and West Palm Beach, FL in 2007.

Shall I mention the countless number of domestic violence situations occurring daily or the countless number of assaults perpetrated on women on a daily basis or the countless number of rapes not reported or the staggering amount of street harassment women and girls endure.

Most of the victims in the above mentioned cases are under 12 years old.

I’ll say it again. Four (4) out to the five (5) female victims in the above mentioned cases are younger than twelve (12) years old!!

I bring this to your attention because it is foolish in the extreme not to understand the Congo-fication of our neighborhoods, especially all-black neighborhoods.

Excuses, Excuses

They go something like this:

Black men suffer post-traumatic distress due to the history of slavery in this county.

Black men suffered through one hundred years of Jim Crow where he was oppressed, dehumanized and lynched.

Given the history of this country, it is too early to expect black men to be the moral equals of white men because to the centuries of indoctrination and programming to believe they are something less than human.

Etc, etc, etc.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s black people managed to lift themselves from the hell of chattel slavery to owning business, building towns and schools and colleges and infrastructure to sustain a community against all odds; against the active enmity of white people; amidst poverty and lack of education and while being subjected to the state-sponsored terrorism of white citizens organizations.

It appears despite the Underground Railroad, nascent organized resistance among black people and a national civil rights movement later; some segments of the black population seem be taking a step or three backward?

A Considered (Sane) Reaction

The reaction by some of the adults to the horrific events in Cleveland, Texas must serve as a call to action. These people appear to blame the victim for being somewhere she should not have been late at night. Never mind their non-adult children were not at home either and they were allegedly engaged in criminal activity!!!

If you missed it, these people; mostly women (at least initially); were portrayed as something significantly less than human in the media. The media constantly asked what kind of person would blame this poor child???? Even NYT defended the reporter of its infamous article declaring it wasn’t the reporter blaming the victim, it was the community blaming the victim; the reporter was, supposedly, just reporting the news.

The undercurrent, the subtext of this reportage is the less than reasoned, less than human reaction of the townsfolk. The townsfolk were shown as mostly African American women.

AfAm women + blaming the victim = AfAm women are not normal.

Normal people are horrified by this attack. Normal people cannot feature any kind of defense for this behavior.

Classic African American women as Other trope.

Denial is Not An Option

African American women must pay attention to the subtext of these media reports!

I suggest AfAm women bypass the microphones and ignore the calls from reporters until they know what the situation is. I’m not saying AfAm women should not advocate for their family members or be watchful of the police investigation; but the reflexive reaction to weep, wail, gnash teeth and assume an injustice has been perpetrated against Pookie, Junebug, ‘nem' is not helpful for the overall image of African American women nor reasonable in light of the subsequent investigation.

Denying the evident deterioration in various neighborhoods is neither a productive nor sane response to the terrorism women face. Ghetto-fabulous, ghetto-rich, ghetto-whatever is not a culture that is safe for women and girls. Getting out of these toxic environments is paramount.

We are now in a forever war. On one side there are those who desire safe neighborhoods and schools and who believe in education and disciplined work are a road to a better life. On the other side are those who want what you have, are jealous because you have it and are willing to work for what they want. Instead, they will engage in criminal activity to get the things you have worked hard to attain. 

Word to the wise: As resources diminish, the pitched battles will only get worse.