Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anita Hill Tells Virginia Thomas "I Don't Owe You Jack."

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Yesterday, as I was minding my business doing some work on my new site ( #shamelessplug I overheard the news stating that Virgina Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Anita Hill and asked her to apologize for accusing her husband of sexual harrassment. The alleged incident almost cost Thomas his seat on the highest court in the land. In a voicemail Virgina Thomas requested Hill, "consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband...give it some thought and certainly pray [...] and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did."

Girl What?
Seriously, I have a huge problem with this. Twenty years ago when Anita Hill went in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and to report Thomas of impropriety, people watched the confirmation hearings and the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill situation divided Black America. Thomas even referred to his trial as a "high-tech lynching." Thomas successfully made this case about race and class, in which a black woman of a lower status was used by white society in order to bring him down, and not about gendered violence. Of course with the sense Mother Nature gave her Hill refused to give an apology, stating "She can't ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive."
Black men have become conditioned to sexually harass black women based on stereotypes that label black women as “morally obtuse, openly licentious, and having no immorality." It happens when you walk down the street and get greeted with "Hey Sexy," instead of "How are you doing, my sister?" It's why you had slave masters perpetuate those stereotypes to reduce their own culpability when it came to the rape of Black women. It's why you had the wives of Slave owners, blame Black women and girls for seducing their husbands. It's why you have Virginia Thomas coming back twenty years later asking Anita Hill for an explanation.

Within this entire situation there is an emerging politic in which the intracacies of sexual harassment, black femininity, white femininity, and black masculinity are intermingling as social constructions. Hill is being contrasted with Virginia Thomas and the historical dynamics of white women being seen as the moral opposite of Black women come into play. If Thomas believes she is on the good side of right, then of course it would make sense for Anita Hill to owe her an apology.

Or maybe I'm going to far with this. Afterall, there are plenty of wives who seek out explanations from those who interfere with their happy families. Maybe it's the racial dynamics at play that have me gassed up. Perhaps it's the fact that Thomas is requesting this apology twenty years later during a time she has garnered a prominent role in Republican and conservative politics, as the founder of a group that is linked to the Tea Party. Like a mistress using a slave girl to nurture her children, maybe she is using this situation with Hill to expand her role within the Tea Party.

I may not ever understand this situation beyond the realm of my own assumptions. What I do know is that to ask Anita Hill to apologize for a situation she believed made her powerless, despite the fact Thomas' husband still became one of the most powerful judges in the country is baffling.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shut Cho Ass Up, Jesse!

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Yesterday, the internet was all ablaze with news that Reverend Jesse Jackson called Cleveland Cavaliers Majority owner Dan Gilbert out, in regards to Gilbert's childish open letter to Lebron James. James who left the team after seven years and no championship was blasted in Gilbert's letter and warned that:
And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
In response to that, Jackson offered the opinion that Dan Gilbert's "feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality." Yesterday and today, people are criticizing the Civil Rights activist, accusing him of using the race card, and yelling "Shut Cho Ass Up, Jesse!"

But now that I have your attention, and tricked you with the title, here's why I DON'T think Jesse should shut his ass up:

We live in a society that is seemingly one dimensional and incapable of broad interpretation. Although we desire to live in a post racial society, we cannot help but to interject race into various facets of our lives. Contradictory to our ultimate goal, when race is interjected, we feel obligated to  dispel it at costs. However, the irony of this particular situation is that we see race in Jesse's comment even when race hasn't been mentioned.

Enter Dan Gilbert, a white team owner, Lebron James, a black basketball player, and Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader. The composition of these characters present a situation where even in a self proclaimed "post-racial" society we cannot help but ignore the racial dynamics in play. Yet, the interpolation of race and racist connotations come more from our inability to expand the context from which we draw our assumptions than the actual statement.

What if Jesse Jackson wasn't talking in terms of race at all? The institution of slavery as we know it in the United States was the first system of slavery predicated upon the use of race. The social construction of race became the mode for which and through class was lived. If you were black, you were a slave. Bottom line. However, predating chattel slavery was that of bondage, serfdom, indentured servitude, etc.

Slavery simply meant a system in which people were the property of another person. Yet when we think of slavery we tend to automatically equate it to the middle passage, forced labor, and inhumane treatment. On the other hand, outside of the system of slavery in America, most slaves were debt slaves under bondage by their lenders. The betrayal felt by Gilbert comes from Lebron not winning the city of Cleveland a championship. In other words he feels Lebron has not paid out his debt.

Also keep in mind that in addition to Jackson being a civil rights leader, he is a Baptist preacher. The Bible talks heavily about a system of slavery that is not predicated upon race. Furthermore, while the Bible also does not condemn slavery it does regulate it. Particularly this one scripture:
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years.  Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. Exodus 21:2
First, the Bible uses the term ebed which has a much wider meaning than the English term slavery. More accurately translations define it as a servant or hired worker. Secondly, Manumission, the act of releasing a slave after working for six years was a condition offered by the Covenant Code. However, even with these commandments slaves were often kept longer than they were supposed to be kept. Furthermore, if a slave was unable to find waged employment and make more than what he made previously, if he made anything at all, the Covenant Code gave him permission to renounce his manumission and opt to stay a slave forever. Or the property of his current master. Despite his "manumission," or the expiration of his contract Gilbert expected that Lebron stay with Cleveland. I'm sure it was a slap in the face that he also took a pay cut to be with another team.

When I first read the letter, I honestly did get the feeling that Gilbert's comments came more from a place of "How Dare You N*gger, I Made You." I made a comparative analysis between that of Gilbert's letter and the historical relationships of white and black owner/boss and worker, respectively. James as a multimillion dollar maker quite possibly heavily blurred the lines of worker and commodity. That was a luxury I could afford with my own comments. Perhaps, I am just as surface deep. 

However, with Jesse Jackson's comments, I particularly thought this time around there might be more to his opinion. I don't think it's that far off to believe Gilbert saw some part of his relationship with James as that of owner and property. The bottom line, which I believe fueled Jackson's comments is, in a world where the relationship between Gilbert and James was an "owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract," Gilbert's feelings of "betrayal" are particularly disturbing.

With that said, I think Jesse has a point. I also think that in an effort to move into this post racial society as well as demonize the messenger, we interjected race without looking at the complexities of the message.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where There's A Will, There's A Rae...

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When I met Rae Lewis-Thornton, this past February, I NEVER could have imagined that I would be so fortunate to build such a lasting relationship. I walked into a room at The University of Illinois-Chicago, where she was scheduled to speak, so I could deliver some collateral. In celebration of our one year anniversary The Red Pump Project was hosting an event and honoring Rae as the "Ultimate Red Pump Rocker." I walked up to her, what I'm sure was timidly, and began introducing myself. Quicker than I could say "Red Pump" she had opened her arms, given me a hug and returned the pleasure of meeting. Then the moment that had me stuck like glue, after she placed the flyers down I gave her, she turned, looked me straight in the face and said "You're staying to hear me speak right? Cause if you don't I'm gonna tweet how one of them Red Pump girls just came and left!"

During her speaking engagement, I remember her speaking on the growing usage of social media to address HIV/AIDS. Around that time Rae also began heavily using forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Rae also launched her blog about a month later. Since then she has become somewhat of a social media expert, especially as it relates to spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS. So what more appropriate than for Rae to host a social media event around this cause?

Next Thursday, July 15th, from 6:00pm - 9:00pm, Rae will present her first event "An Evening with Rae: A Meet, Greet & Tweet" at Encore Liquid Lounge, 171 West Randolph, Chicago, Illinois. Dubbed "A Social Media Event, For A Socially Conscious Cause," it will also be the official celebration of Rae's blog, "Diva Living With AIDS." Additionally, "An Evening with Rae," will be the official launch for The PROTECTED Project(TM), which was created by Rae to bring attention to HIV/AIDS and promote prevention through personal responsibility. PROTECTED also emphasizes open communication among sexual partners to change the course of HIV/AIDS.

 An Evening With Rae," is a chance for all of us to show our appreciation for the awe-inspiring work of Ms. Rae Lewis-Thornton. I have witnessed first hand the hard work Rae is putting into this event and I know for certain it will be a success.  Hope to see you there!

For More Information or to RSVP, please visit:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You've Got Some Balls...

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There is no doubt that we live in a patriarchal society, where there is a perceived sanctity of manhood. Particularly, the culture of white masculinity is portrayed as the normative for which others should adhere to or assimilate. I suggest within this hierarchy underneath white masculinity is that of white femininity. As a result, white privilege extends to their women, as they are able to benefit from the protection of the construct of whiteness and their masculine counterparts. It is this privilege, along with just ignorance of politics, that lead columnist Kathleen Parker to write an article entitled “Obama: Our first female president.”

She begins her article by attempting to placate her audience, saying:

No, I'm not calling Obama a girlie president. But . . . he may be suffering a rhetorical-testosterone deficit when it comes to dealing with crises, with which he has been richly endowed.
While I would love to appreciate this sentence in its contradictory glory, the rest of her commentary articulates her desire to emasculate Obama, through quoting studies she doesn’t tie into her theories and assertions she cannot intelligently defend. In order to label Obama as the first female president, Parker borrows from author Toni Morrison’s claim that President Clinton was the first Black President because:
Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.
As a result, she proposes that if Clinton was the first Black president, then Obama is the first female president. In order to dub Obama, the first woman president, the author purposely misunderstands the context in which Toni Morrison makes her statement. What Parker fails to realize is that in Morrison’s characterization of Clinton as the first Black president, she is linking the socially constructed phenomenon of race to some associated social classifications, commonalities, and constraints. Unlike Morrison’s statement, where there is long standing correlation between what it means to be Black in this country and Clinton’s lifestyle, Parker relies on fleeting gender stereotypes.

In a society where 70 percent of African American homes are headed by women there is a commonality with his single family upbringing. From the days of slavery, race was the modality by which class was lived. What this means is the legacy of poor, working-class has long been a social constraint associated with African Americans. Needless to say, the reference to the saxophone pays homage to Jazz music an art form created and perfected within African American culture. As far as McDonald’s, you should just be able to look at their commercials today to understand this comparison. McDonald’s has begun a series of advertisements specifically targeting African Americans through cultural expressions, because it is no secret the cheap fast food chain infiltrates lower-class, urban areas.

As a Black woman to see Parker take the statement of Toni Morrison and transpose it to fit her agenda is insulting. In a thinly veiled way, what it does is suggest that the comparison to Clinton as the first Black President, is so damaging, that the actual first Black president must be denigrated in some way to make atonement.

Racial and gender implications aside, Parker also cites a lot of inaccurate information in her article to support her claim. Specifically, she points to the BP Oil Crisis which has been inaccurately weighed against Hurricane Katrina. She argues that Obama’s inability to immediately act on the crisis made him passive and thus feminine. While I have my own criticisms of the Obama administration and its handling of the crisis, there is no doubt Parker ignores some facts in order to support her theory.

For instance, she stated Obama waited 56 days to address the nation. Doing so, she leaves her readers to assume that from April 20th, the day of the explosion, to the day he addressed the nation, Obama did nothing. On the contrary, within ten days, Obama had ordered a hold on new offshore drilling leases. An investigation of what caused the disaster was underway, and he sent a wide array of officials to assess the damage in the Gulf. Additionally, he secured an agreement with BP for over 20 billion in clean up funds.

Even in the midst of his passivity and inability to be an effective leader, since elected Obama has granted more funding to stem cell research, confirmed the first Hispanic woman Supreme Court judge and soon to possibly confirm another woman in the highest court. He has made huge advances in laws designed to protect individuals from hate crimes. Not to mention the success he had in passing the Economic Stimulus Package and Health Care reform, which were two of his biggest campaign platforms.

Parker also fails to mention for the first time in six years the economy expanded to its fastest rate, because of Obama. Let’s also not forget Obama’s accomplishments regarding domestic relations. Unsurprisingly, many of her assessments of President Obama are the consequence of living in an Attention Deficit Democracy. Basically, as stated in an article I read the other day, “the media views policy through the lens of politics.”

All in all, Parker premeditates the usage of gender to assess that Obama is incapable of doing his job. The insult is NOT in calling President Obama a woman, as women are great in their own right, the insult is that she insinuates he is less than a man. To suggest the perceived inadequacies of President Obama come from political effeminateness, should force the author to understand how her juxtaposition of gender capabilities maintains the status quo of patriarchy. Meanwhile, her desire to emasculate President Obama does so at a damning expense to the capabilities and success of women. Additionally, it ignores the fact that in terms of policy and legislation his portfolio already surpasses that of his predecessors.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kanye DEED That: His 2010 BET Performance...

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I have to admit, there are times when I take the artistic genius of one said Kanye West, for granted. It is no secret this is a man who is uber talented and can produce some great songs that can make you bop
your head and two step. Around a month ago when Kanye released his single “Power” I made the same mistake. Upon first listen, there appeared to be a surface deep meaning to his lyrics. However, on a second, third, or even tenth listen within his aesthetic expression is the conundrum of hip hop: 
While many of us claim to want thought provoking, subconscious music, mainstream culture has so diluted the art form that we need “deep” lyrics spoon-fed to us. 

That was the position I was in when I watched Kanye West open up the 2010 BET Awards this past Sunday. So… he’s just going to stand on a mountain, wearing a Jesus piece around his neck, hold a microphone stand and rap this song? Ok den. I even openly admitted on Twitter that I was underwhelmed.

That was until yesterday afternoon when I watched the performance over again. Turns out Kanye was not at all rocking a Jesus piece, instead his chain boasted the head of Horus.

The depiction of Horus.

Egyptian history suggests that the Pharoahs of Egypt descended from the incarnations of Horus and his father, Orsiris, who was killed. Horus, himself was said to be from the lineage of Atum, the creator god. Like the other gods produced by Atum, Horus became representative of the cosmic and terrestial forces in Egypt. This degrees of separation Horus had between these forces, Atum, and the Pharoahs of Egypt decreed Horus to have dominion over the entire world. No one man should have all that power...

In addition to being connected to the Pharoahs, Horus is most notably known for being the god of the sky, as well as the god of war and hunting. The eye of Horus is also linked to the eye of time and synchronicity… The clock’s ticking I just count the hours...

The sky backdrop playing during Kanye’s performance raised a lot of eyebrows. However, knowing that this performance centered on Horus, it now makes sense. Then, to me it got deeper. In addition to being the god of the sky, Horus was known as the god of war and hunting. It was this mythological role that catapulted him as the symbol of power and majesty. Enter the mountains, to represent that of our purple majesty, a creation so widely recognized as being captivating and powerful. It is also important to note one of Horus’ identities, Ra-Haremkhuti, would spring from the mountains in the morning and return to the mountains at sunset.

People then commented on whether Kanye was supposed to be Moses at the top of the mountain. While there are similarities, I’d like to think there was more to it. Particularly, the lyric “no one man should have all that power” refers to an incident from the motion picture Malcolm X. In one scene, the black leader stood before a crowd of protesters, raised his hand and hushed the crowd. After seeing this a police chief commented “that’s too much power for one man to have.” In the beginning of his performance, while standing on the mountain, Kanye extends his arm and points above the crowd. This stance is similar to that of one of the leader's most popularized photographs.

However, if we were to explore the Moses parallels, Kanye speaks of “living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it.” In the latter part of the song, he talks about being the “abomination of Obama’s nation.” As we know, the first Black president of the United States has been lauded as the Dr. Martin Luther King of our time, who we know was also compared to Moses. With that being said, I believe his presence on the mountaintop also serves as a visual metaphor for Dr. King’s speech in which he articulates having “been to the mountaintop.” The microphone stand could also depict a staff, which goes back to the Moses reference.

PhotobucketI also believe that within this performance Kanye developed an alter ego and took on the persona of Horus. Kanye Afterall, this wouldn't be the first time that Kanye has pretended to be a deity, the Taylor Swift incident? Jesus Walks anyone? The image on the farthest left is that of Kanye West's Horus Chain. The second image is that of the pyramid ring Kanye wore. As shown in the picture of Horus above, the staff is in the same hand that is adorned with jewelry. Kanye imitates this on stage. Additionally, in his performance West rocks a red suit resembling the color of the Horus. As mentioned, the microphone stand is symbolic of a staff. This time, the staff of Horus. In this performance, Kanye appears to be channeling the likeness of Malcolm, Martin, and now Horus. West can also be seen flapping his arms in the beginning of his performance. This is important to note in a comparison, because Horus has been referenced as a falcon. 21st Century Schizo man...

The introduction of Horus certainly added depth to Kanye's performance. If applied, the Egyptian god also revealed a depth in his lyrics, which is another blog post entirely. The fact is, I have always excused Kanye West for being arrogant, because of in my opinion even if he never said another word, his work speaks for itself. Now? Even, if I am TOTALLY off mark with my assumptions, Kanye West has done with this performance what hip-hop is supposed to do: lead me to think outside the box.  

Good Ass Job, Mr. West...

Monday, June 28, 2010


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"I let ya'll down before, but I won't ever do it again. I promise" - Chris Brown
There is something overwhelmingly calm about being perfect. Never having to deal with disappointing yourself, those you love, or those you admire. You never have to say that you're sorry and you never have to admit that you are wrong. Being perfect affords you the privilege to judge the mistakes of others. Unfortunately, I have never been perfect, so everything I wrote is simply an assumption. 
On the other hand, what I have been is a person who has made foolish mistakes. Particularly, one mistake (which I am not ready to admit yet) that IF I was caught, would have undoubtedly landed me in jail. However, that's a story that I will tell from beyond my grave. My emphasis on "IF I was caught" is very important. Too often, we do things for which if we suffer no consequences, we trick ourselves into believing because our faults haven't been broadcast, they somehow don't exist. Selective memory breeds arrogance, allowing imperfect people to weigh their faults against those of another.
As a result of Chris Brown's MJ Tribute on the BET Awards, the prerequisites for forgiveness are once again up for debate. Public sentiment has clouded what it means to forgive and the action has long moved from being a personal decision to a political one. Furthermore, in situations such as Chris Brown's the perceived interconnectedness we have with our celebrities breeds a contempt of familiarity in which we are quick to feel personally wronged in the event of a transgression. We fail to recognize the uniqueness to a situation. Circumstances surrounding actions are perceived the same, and out of laziness and spite we dub one action or inaction as the panacea to the problem. Nevertheless, forgiveness is multifaceted. Thankfully, it is also less shallow.

The recent phenomenon causing us to believe forgiveness is the approval of wrongdoings is inherently flawed. In no way does forgiveness justify a person's wrong(s). The actual beauty of forgiveness is, it does not assuage egos. Unfortunately, as flawed beings we are the ones who pervert its intent. If anything forgiveness should emphasize accountability. If the offending party requests forgiveness, they have taken the step to acknowledge their actions and its adverse affect on the life of another. Yet, even if they haven't asked forgiveness is the commitment you make to change your mindset and loosen your grip on thoughts of resentment, revenge, and even hatred towards that person.
To be honest, I'm actually not sure what brought about the fear we have when it comes to forgiveness. Instead of just doing it, we constantly apply stipulations. A gift that is unconditional has been left in the hands of a people dependent upon conditionality and fickleness. Humility has been replaced with the desire to humiliate. Furthermore, we wait for the moment in which "what we won't do" or more accurately, "what we haven't got caught doing, another person will." Our code of morality has been reduced to a hierarchy of egocentrism and we hold out on forgiveness for a chance to use it as a trump card.

As a person who has just recently even forgiven myself for things I've done, I know how hard it is to let go of things for which I have a vested interest. In these past few years I have had to truly focus on this little thing called forgiveness, asking myself what it means. When I hear people say "I'm not ready to forgive someone," it has begun to hit me that these are people content with feeling hurt, resentful, bitter, etc. These are people that subscribe to the culture of victimology. Unless you are one of those perfect people that I talked about earlier, you have made a mistake and you will make one again. Forgiveness is a boomerang, what you put out you get back. Be careful.

Friday, June 25, 2010

MJ, I Can't Help But Love You...

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As I sat in my boss’ office on June 25, 2009, I pretended not to listen while his daughter talked to him on his obnoxiously loud cell phone. I had been in his office for around 10 minutes and because I had pretty much accepted, when it came to him, my time wasn’t valuable I sat there doodling on a pad of paper.

I had actually stopped earhustling and began concentrating on my drawing that would only make a right handed five year old, who drew with his left hand, jealous. It must have been at that moment that the television flashed the words “Michael Jackson has been pronounced dead,” because I heard her scream through the phone. “OMG! MICHAEL JACKSON DIED!”

Immediately my eyes shot up, from my drawing of dreams deferred. MICHAEL JACKSON!?! Like, seriously!?! I was still saddened by the news of Farrah Fawcett passing earlier that morning and I had promised to check back on Twitter for MJ updates after I had learned of his cardiac arrest that afternoon. I figured he would be ok, because 1) He was Michael Jackson aka immortal and 2) someone famous had already died today. Don’t judge me because of my effed up reasoning.

Suddenly, while sitting in my boss’ office, my time seemed a little more valuable. I had to move around, do something, so I could stop myself from crying. It was around 4:30 and I had an hour and a half left at work, but I was wondering how I could do anything at all. It felt like someone just told me a member of my family died.

I don’t say that to pretend I was some overly obsessed MJ fan. I can admit that I laughed when Katt Williams went on his epic roast of MJ that Black Folk since have vehemently denounced o__O. But still, when I heard MJ died, the part of my soul dedicated to appreciating the aesthetic beauty of his timeless talent, gave way and created a black hole. No one can deny the musical genius that was Michael Jackson.

For me, to know the man died, who gave us countless hits with the Jackson Five, then went on to give us songs like (in no particular order): Butterflies, You Are Not Alone, Baby Be Mine, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Girlfriend, Pretty Young Thing, Off the Wall, Black or White, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, Smooth Criminal, The Lady in my Life, The Girl Is Mine, Will You Be There, Bad, Human Nature, Dangerous, Thriller, Wanna Be Starting Something, Rock With You, Heal the World, The Earth Song, Man in the Mirror, Leave Me Alone, Scream, Rock My World, Beat It, They Don’t Really Care About Us… I MEAN DO YOU SEE WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS???

Yet, even as I take into account all of MJ's talent, I find myself conflicted. Despite the fame, in light of the jokes, there is something extremely solemn about knowing even in the midst of brilliance, Michael was also addicted to prescription medication to the point he needed them to sleep. We sympathized with MJ when he asked "Have You Seen My Childhood?" Yet we critiqued him for finding comfort in the company of children. We place blame on his father, but we continue to rock to the sounds of the Jackson 5.

Even in an attempt to immortalize and pretend MJ is without imperfections, we cannot fail to acknowledge that his trials and tribulations were a necessary condition to his artistry. Without the fire, the coal never produces a diamond. A year later and I still can’t believe that he is gone, but I'm glad that I appreciated him while he was here.

Rest in Peace, Michael Joseph Jackson. The King of Pop. #GoneTooSoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Don't Wanna Grow Up...

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Today, as I turn twenty four, like birthdays of yesterday's past, I sit and reflect. What I could have done more of and of that I did, what I could have done better. Specifically, this past year, there have been tremendous obstacles that I've faced and am yet to overcome. Yet, perhaps my biggest area of growth lies in the fact that for every mistake I've made and consequence I've encountered I've realized I have no one to blame but myself. That's a hard pill to swallow.

About a week ago, I sat and had a serious conversation with my dad. In the midst of talking about some of the life decisions I've made he stated that I would soon be twenty four. The way he said it made it seem like twenty four was some segue into adulthood that I had missed or even ignored. Perhaps he was right, because to me it meant nothing.

At twenty-four, I still don't want to work a 9-5. I don't want to have a serious relationship, because gawd forbid I have to get married and have kids. Or even worse that I lose my status as Daddy's Little Girl, a fate to me, almost worst than death. Ironically, my viewpoints differ GREATLY than those when I was a child and adolescent. I couldn't wait to grow up, but now the very thought scares me. Point blank, I'm regressing.

I'm pretty sure this comes from living in a society where thirty is heralded as the new twenty. Twenty year olds aren't that far removed from their adolescence and adolescents are still treated as children. Even more tragic is I live in a society where grown women happily revert to childhood and aspire to be barbies. Teenagers are constantly marketed within a subculture that segregates them from adulthood and perpetuates a culture of inadequateness. The flow of transition, that prepares us for the rest of our lives, has been largely interrupted.

Psychoanalyzing myself, as I often do, the only thing I could come up with was that: I'm experiencing the effects of a culture that is content in its infantilization. Just a generation ago at 21 and 24, my mom and dad, respectively, were married. Three years later they would have my sister who is three years my senior.

When I was younger, I remember thinking that the age gap between my parents and myself was so large. Now I couldn't get Father Time to slow down even if put a Rohypnol in his drink. MY problem is I'm not ready to grow up. Yet, my reality is that, until I meet the fate worst than no longer being Daddy's Little Girl, I have no choice. Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If Loving Us Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be White...

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Dear Black Men Who Despise Black Women:

I don't hate you. I don't pity you. I'm not apathetic to your situation. As a matter of fact, I support your right to date, marry, and procreate with whomever you choose (even if it is your second cousin, I see you Slim Thug). In any event, I respect your choice. However, let's get one thing straight. I will no longer allow my character to be called into question because of that choice.

As imperfect as I may be, those imperfections may no longer be used to demonize me or make me a scapegoat for what you desire. You see, at the end of the day, it is not about me, at least it shouldn't be about me. It is about you needing to justify your choice. Why are your "functional" relationships with white women constructed only in opposition to those you have with us? Why is your desire for white women constantly juxtaposed with your disdain for black women? There is nothing wrong with dating a white woman. However, what message are you sending to the white woman you are dating when being with her is only the solution when you perceive that loving us is wrong? Don't these women deserve to be loved on their own merits?

You see, BMWDBW your problem isn't really with black women. Your problem is that you have conformed to the commodification and objectification of all women. The problem lies in your notion that women are supposed to be docile, supposed to wait on you hand and foot, and stroke your ego at the expense of her pride, simply because you are a man. In choosing to objectify, the shinier the woman, the more distracted you become. You relinquish any responsibility you have in maintaining a functional relationship and place it all on your "object." Like other commodified goods, you look at your women and your expectations for your women as acceptable barter in the exchange of goods and services. I suspect that when white women don't fit your mold, you abandon them too. Yet, Black women are the closest to you, so we receive your backlash first.

BMWDBW, you perpetuate your stereotypes and pass them off as truth in order to make the various facets of black femininity deviant. You pick and choose what makes Black women respectable and decide when the wind blows what is inherently wrong with us. However, I suggest you take a look at yourselves. If the wind blows too hard and knocks you down, do not blame the wind for doing what it was supposed to do. Furthermore, do not assume its intent was to make you fall. Blame yourself because your roots were not planted firmly enough to enable you to endure the wind. You see, if your roots aren't firmly planted it doesn't matter what happens, when wind blows you will always end up uprooted and disheveled.

Again, I will say there is nothing wrong with dating white women. If that is truly your preference. However, do not make white women the moral opposite of your constructed "reality" for black women. Do not use the same flawed reality that implicates black women are supposed to be nurturers, yet doesn't acknowledge structural impediments we face. Do not rely on this reality that helps you transform the black woman into the overbearing matriarch. Do not rely on this false reality that suggests Black women are not worthy of your love, adoration, and protection while suggesting she was the cause of your emasculation.

BMWDW, I have long stopped caring about seeing you walking down the street with a white woman. I have long stopped caring to see you pull them in a little closer when you pass me on the street. You do not have to flaunt or defend your choice to me. I am not your main point of contention for why you have chosen a white woman. Nor am I the determining factor for your self esteem. I am simply me.

And if loving me is wrong, I don't wanna be white.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fantasia Receives Honorary Diploma...

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CONGRATS Fantasia!

Let it be known that I stan for Ms. Barrino. I can watch the same youtube videos of her for hours straight and never ceased to be amazed. I watched and rooted for her on American Idol. When she won and released her first album, I recognized her as the "single mom from American Idol." However, six years later and her growth as an artist has been tremendous. When it comes down to a person with true, raw, unadulterated talent Fantasia is that chick!

Not only has she grown as an artist, but she has grown as a person. I have watched her interviews from when she first came out, to the way she presents herself now. I have seen her be able to connect with her audience whether it was singing for Elton John, singing at the Tony Awards, or singing for the audience of Mo'Nique's talk show. She has managed to keep her finances under check after almost losing her house to foreclosure, because she trusted and enabled a lot of people. She has also grown in terms of keeping a consistent style and wardrobe, because lawd knows Fanny used to look a hot mess sometimes. All of this growth, culminated into the events of this past weekend when Fantasia earned an honorary diploma from Andrews High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It is no secret that Fantasia dropped out of high school when she was 14, became a teen mom and was illiterate. She talked extensively about not being able to read her music scores on American Idol. While taping her reality show, Fantasia Barrino: For Real, she also talked about this and how she wanted to set an example for her daughter and earn her GED. Well, she did it! I'm extremely proud of her, it's easy to get wrapped up in the fame and wealth and forget about education. ESPECIALLY, when the prevailing message is that education leads to money. I know there are so many great things in her future, and even if she doesn't go back to school for another thing I'm glad she finished what she started.

Congrats Fantasia... For Real! <----- okay that was a lil corny. Sue me.

Check out some of my fav Fantasia performances:

Same song, VERY different performance... This was after she won and if you connect the dots to this song and her life story, the emotion is just overwhelming.

Check out Patti about to get the Holy Ghost in this one...

Okay, and only because I could go on FOREVER, my last performance is:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Malcolm X!

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Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965)

Growing up in Chicago's Bronzeville area, I witnessed the skeletal remains of one of Chicago's most prominent neighborhoods. Prior to its more politically correct name change to Bronzeville, this area was known as the Black Metropolis. A mecca for Black culture and financial independence, this Black Belt came about due to the segregation of Chicago expressed in the form of restrictive covenants.

Then came the victories of the Civil Rights movements, the passing of legislation, the lifting of restrictive covenants, and the general lure of better opportunities. As a result, there was a slow but sure migration of Blacks who had the wherewithal to relocate to other communities. Leaving this neighborhood behind, the interest in and the financial support of its institutions dwindled. I took a particular interest in the destabilization of this area when in high school when its gentrification became a prominent theme. How could a neighborhood so rich in history succumb to such poverty and destruction?

"There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity.... We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves."

Thinking about this, I took a serious interest in the teachings of Malcolm X. I began to study his ideas that revolved around Black Separatism and what he believed would happen to our communities in its absence. A quintessential leader in the Black Power Movement, Malcolm believed capitalism and equality could never coexist for Blacks. Borrowing from Pan-Africanist ideals, he advocated a separate society in America where blacks should control their own economies and communities.

I had grown up seeing Malcolm X as a figure in pop culture, based on his portrayal by Denzel Washington, in the movie bearing his name. I saw Will Smith staple a poster of Malcolm to his wall, while listening to the song "Back to Life," in the first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I knew the version of Malcolm X described by fear-mongering editorials, passed off as purely factual lessons in my public school history books. Yet, as I began to use his teachings to understand important sociological lessons, Malcolm X took a totally different meaning in my life.

I began to take a serious look into the oppression and the struggle blacks faced, and are still facing, as a result of constant oppression. Specifically, Malcolm taught me to focus on the social disruptions and cohesions of African Americans. His teachings led me to me to question what mechanisms make or break a community and a race.

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz at a Mosque in Mecca

One of the reasons Malcolm is still relevant today is because of the ways his humble beginnings shaped his life and ideals. In the latter part of his life, Malcolm would rethink his own teachings, shying away from his separatist ideas. It was these teachings that wrapped me up in his theories emphasizing accountability and empathy for all humans, despite external subjugation. Malcolm was an advocate for the powerless, believing their hunger to be treated as equals would fuel their fight in a revolution.

Now, on what could have been his 85th birthday, I rethink the ways in which Malcolm expressed his disdain for cultures of domination. His weariness in watching the oppressed become the oppressor. As I remember Malcolm, I reflect upon his understanding in the interconnectedness of historical, sociological, and structural barriers that could serve to either unite or sever our common decency for one another. I look at the problems and progressions of African Americans and can only hope that Malcolm's legacy continues to steer us in a direction exemplary of the life he died for us to live.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Once, Twice, Three Times the Sendoff

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I've been funemployed, as my girl Luvvie calls it, for the past six months. I went back to the educational world, but that doesn't count as work, nor does it count as real income. So now I'm almost done, only one quarter left, I think it's time to go back to work. Besides the money, I'm just plain bored. Not to mention when you have the entire line-up for a TV channel memorized and get mad when you miss your shows, it's probably time to let go of your funemployment.

Anyways, back to the story at hand. The other day in my job search, I was invited to an open call for an upscale bar and lounge that I frequent. They were looking for an event planner and promoter, and even though I have a legal work experience, I'm trying to expand my hustle. The open call was supposed to be Tuesday and Wednesday, so I showed up on the first day to make a good impression. Unfortunately, for me, NO ONE was there. o__O Hmm... I knocked on the door, called the number to the lounge, and no luck. A little irritated I went home.

The next day, I wasn't sure that I was going to go down there again. Then later that afternoon, I started thinking, "Well, this might be the last day, you don't want to miss out just because you're upset." So, I called the place, no answer again. Against my better judgment, I went anyway. Deja vu. No one there. This time when I called, I got an answer. I told the man that I was at the location, there was no one there and I had came yesterday as well. Ya'll know this fool told me they rescheduled the open call from Tuesday and Wednesday to Thursday and Friday because of the weather??? Besides my initial level of pisstivity, I was floored that, in CHICAGO, a job fair had been closed because of some gotdamb rain! Really?

Fast forward to Thursday. What chall think I did? Yep, took my aloof butt back down to the bar. This time I was sure I'd be at a job fair. The man explicitly told me that it would be held today, so I didn't feel like I was blindly going this time. Well, I was wrong. WHAT IS THIS SH&T!?! THREE TIMES!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! Needless to say, I was floored. How the hell can you tell someone that you're hosting an open call and then you, the employer not show? I have to think that maybe they didn't get a lot of interest in the job and just decided not to waste their time. Needless to say, I won't be going back today or anytime soon to even patronize their place of business. *smh*

As if finding a job in this economy isn't hard enough without getting sent off THREE times!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seasons of a Life: R.I.P Lena Horne

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I Love her"Doe Eyes." I Think They Are the Classic Trademark of a Timeless Beauty.

On May 9, 2010, Singer, Actress, Civil Rights Activist, Lena Horne passed away at the age of 92. A few weeks ago, while I was visiting a forum, when I came across a conversation about who, amongst actors would receive the next crown for the most beautiful female or handsome male. I questioned the need for our generation to constantly desire a next great, in place of those who can be considered timeless. Pointing out those timeless people, of course, I mentioned Lena Horne.

Lena Horne will always be known for her beauty. However, her indelible impression on humanity goes far beyond the mirror of her looks, and penetrates the mirror of her soul. What always fascinated me about Horne, and those of her generation, was their readiness to be "race-people" and not just for the social construction of the African American race, but for the Human race. She made it her responsibility to stand up for Civil Rights and her position in that movement is notable.

Like most my connection with Ms. Horne traces back to her appearances on The Cosby Show and A Different World. I was reintroduced to her, when I was in the eighth grade. Every year, at my school's ice cream social, the graduating class would put on a production. For that year, our class was chosen to perform the Broadway version of The Wiz and for reference, we watched the movie. When I heard that Lena Horne passed this evening, I was truly shocked. Her being 92 years of age, did nothing to soften the blow. In fact it made me sad for the future generations.

In the wake of this news, the conversation I had two weeks ago came full circle and like I do after every legend passes, I find myself wondering what legends will I have to pass on to my children. Lena Horne was a star for the generation of my great-grandmother, entrusted to the generation of my grandmother, heralded as an icon for the generation of my parents, and passed down through heritage to me. I am grateful to my exposure of this incredible woman. There will never be another Lena Horne and may she rest in peace.

Man Up! In Defense of Chivalry...

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*Disclaimer - While my post appears to talk in generalizations, know that I am aware this does not apply to ALL males. I however, am too lazy to constantly make references to "most" males, "some" males, not all males, etc., throughout this post...
Fellas please stop blaming Ms. Independent for the Death of Chivalry. To do so willingly relinquishes your own accountability while bogusly passing it off as merely cause and effect. Au contraire, chivalry has never been about what you expect to get out of holding the door open, helping your woman put on her coat, or pulling the chair out. Although I admit I do have to take into account, that chivalry has been perverted by politics and is now the currency used in the exchange of goods and services as eloquently stated in B.I.G's I'm F*&king You Tonight.

Whenever I hear conversations about Ms. Independent versus Mr. Chivalrous it always makes me think of the chicken before the egg argument. Men love claiming they refuse to be chivalrous because women don't appreciate the gesture. Yet, I find it hard to believe that a chivalrous man, will always reap the complete opposite. When women stop doing things for the opposite sex because of bad past experiences, we are misdiagnosed as bitter. However, when men do it, they are called wise or heralded for "keeping it real." o__O Also, it is interesting to note how the dynamics of chivalry has played out in non-romantic relationships. I can't count how many times I've seen a man scurry in front of a woman to have a seat on the bus.

Whatever your reason for not being chivalrous, know that I'm judging you. Men expect women to cook, clean, put it down in the bedroom, yet expect us to believe that there is something so draining about holding a door open, or helping to put on a coat. It's not like we're asking you to go all LL Cool J, I Need Love, style on us and lay down your jacket so we can walk over a puddle. Just a simple act of kindness will suffice. We can dissect all day whether the beginning of women being independent was the decline of chivalry, or if it was the decline of chivalry that made women independent. However, I think the act should be regarded as an inner characteristic that you take wherever you go, simply because you want to be polite. Naive? Perhaps.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Psychiatric Prose and Poetry...

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This has been a rough week. Well, actually month and it's only the 7th. *sigh* Twenty minutes ago, laying on the floor, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and go to sleep. I had closed my eyes when I remembered "oh crap, it's Thursday, I have to post a blog for tomorrow." I started to shrug it off, but see that's how it all started. I put off posting once, then it got easier for me to put it off. I mean it's not like I'm trying to become some blogger extraordinaire and neither did I think there was anyone expecting to read my blog today that would be disappointed. On the other hand, I knew it'd be me who was disappointed.

Recently, when things have gotten tough I admit I've been content with taking the easy way out. That's not who I am though, at least not who I used to be. Furthermore, I remembered I am a writer. Not the best writer, not one by trade, but when I used to be frustrated, sad, angry, brokenhearted, whatever I'd write. It always proved therapeutic. The same is proving true for this post. Even though I didn't let out any confessions or get all analytical, writing made me feel a little better. I call it psychiatric prose.

Speaking of psychiatric prose, check out a piece I wrote awhile ago with a similar name called Psychiatric Poetry...

When you cry
Where do the tears go?
They stain your face
Or you wipe them away with your hands
Seeping back into your skin
Reentering your body
Inadvertently recycling your pain
That is why I write instead

I use the pen as an anesthesia
Ink flowing freely from the tip of the needle
On the paper I write my heart's lyrics
My prescription
For when I need to be numb
From that coughy, achy, sneezy, headache type love

The medicine that helps me
When I'm losing my mind
A panacea to my psychosis
A premium HMO
My life is the virus
In my hand, the cure
For the malignant growth in my head
I write pharmaceutical stanzas
Chemotherapy for my brain's cancer

When I can't remember why life is worth living
A lifetime of joys erased
Plagued by senility
My formula I formulate
On the pad of paper
I am grateful
For my words' permanency

I am a doctor of poetry
Mastering in the school of thought
I compose
Lines of living limericks
From my fountain pen of youth

So I'll write when I'm in pain
Even if it hurts me
I'll write
Antidotal anecdotes
Filling up the pages
Until I restore my health
I'll write
Remedies of rhymes
And I'll write
Until I'm too tired to cry 

- B. Antoinette

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You Sound Dumb As Hell...

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Last season when BET first premiered "Tiny and Toya" I was a HUGE critic of the show. I had only seen the previews for the show and I didn't know much about the two outside of what I'd read on the gossip blogs. Obviously I knew Tiny as the mother of TI's children and from my days of being an Xscape fan, (in grammar school my friends and I were Xscape for Halloween and I asked to be Tiny #dontjudgeme I really liked her). Not only that, but I knew Toya as Lil Wayne's babymama to which she quickly corrected America in saying "I am his ex-wife." Other than that, I knew nothing and I didn't want to know. But besides their personal life, I saw the commercial.

"Ugh, they sound dumb as hell!"

In addition to dumb, I might have said ghetto, uneducated, retarded. *cough*

Then one day I was watching BET against my wishes, Tiny and Toya came on and I had no control over the remote. I thought I would end up justifying my preconceptions but it turns off I was all types of wrong. Oh and you know me thinking they they were dumb? Yeah, I realized that was just a result of my northern head in the sky. I had criticized them for being ignorant solely off of a southern accent.

Ashamed, I changed my tune very quickly and wanted to inform everyone all over the world that these women weren't dumb they just had a southern accent! So one night while everyone was on Twitter live tweeting the show, I looked for people talking about how they sounded so ignorant. They called them classless. People with no accent didn't understand and people with accents that weren't so heavy were quick to differentiate themselves in order to continue their assaults.

So while I had realized the error of my ways, it was hard to enlighten others. Black people love to say another black person with a Southern drawl sounds ignorant, yet no one will say Bill Clinton sounds stupid or John Edwards sounds stupid. I've even heard Blacks with an accent being relegated to sounding like a slave. *faint*

I hate to be one of those people who in tries to force my new found intellectual freedom upon others and I understand the sanctity of people's opinions. However, I do think it's about time we stop using any distinguishing characteristics besides personality, qualifications, etc to determine another person as worthy of respect or status. People who know how to assimilate or "code switch," as I like to call it, often become the perpetrator of classist, sexist, even racist ideologies associated with the status quo because their name isn't "ghetto," or they're middle or upperclass versus lower class, or they speak "proper."

We need to move past the language barriers. We need to move past the condescending mentalities that we have against one another as a result of dialect, or region, class, gender, hue, educational background, whatever. At the end of the day, it makes no sense because the person who thinks they're better for one reason, will always have someone trying to one up them. Everyone isn't going to talk the same way. Realize this and realize maybe it's not them that sounds dumb. It's you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Can I Take You Out?

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Walking down the street, in a lounge, restaurant, or club I am approached by men of varying backgrounds. It usually plays out with the guy chatting me down while I or my friends give him the side eye. After passing the "Can you make me laugh, think, and/or blush" test, I give him my number, listen to him tell me that he'll call me and then I go about my way.

Now, I'm not the type of girl to sit by a phone wondering when a man will call me. However, if I just meet you I do expect a call...NOT a text. It irritates my loins when a man tries to find out everything about me over text messaging. I understand that we live in a fast paced society and phone calls are almost obsolete. Yet, if a man asks me for my phone number, showing some kind of interest, I expect some effort.

iDigress. Although, first contact texts make me seethe, nothing grinds my gears worse than a man who calls or texts me to ask "When are we gonna hook up?" or "What are you doing later, I wanted to try and come over." *screeching* Realllllly?

This is where that effort talk comes into play. If a man went through the trouble of asking for my number, shouldn't he also have a game plan? I expect him to call me with a concrete plan. Be it a restaurant he's been wanting to check out, a movie, or a museum exhibit. Whatever it is, he needs to have it worked out BEFOREHAND. I'm not apologetic that I am old school. Furthermore, when the old school me wants to be in a relationship, I expect to have courtship and conversation. Contrary to popular belief a first date does NOT consist of you/me leaving your/my house to go and kick it at my/your house. I have almost 100 DVDs at my own house and a wireless connection that allows me to watch whatever I want online. There is nothing a first date at someone's house can afford me that I can't already get on my own.

As I have gotten older my expectations have matured. In any arena of life when you know better you do better. Your girlfriends and the guys you meet will love to call you picky if you set certain standards for yourself. Yet, ladies we have to stop falling for it. A man should never force you to compromise your standards but that doesn't mean they won't try. If you give in, well then that's on you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beating A Dead Horse: It's Just Hair!

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I honestly can't believe that it's 2010 and we are STILL on the topic of Black women's hair. Well, I'm lying actually I can. We talked about it ALL 2009, and the year before that AND the year before that. So no, I really didn't have the expectation that we'd be over it by now. I actually think it's worse now, when we begin to throw into the mix all the self conscious Black women out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm natural myself but I think there is such a thing as being TOO natural.

The "TOO" natural women are from the lineage of Sampson and believe their self worth is in the coil of their locks. They are the women who still believe that a perm is a kin to hatred of self. The TOO natural women have replaced the bullies of "Straightened Hairs' Past." They are fascinated with the thought of them being rebels, while those who perm their hair are conformist. Paradoxically, in my opinion, the journey to be natural has become consumed with the journey to be contrary. In the same way in which women who straightened their hair were seen to do so for approval, natural women are pushing so hard for their own approval.

Top: Me rocking my natural hair, blown out straight. Bottom: My curly weave that I used to transition to natural.

Nevertheless, in their search they begin to implement coping mechanisms that are intimidating and darn near oppressive to women who chose to straighten their hair. As a natural woman who wears my hair curly, in twist outs, blow-dried straight, or weave I like the variety that my natural hair affords me. In the same token, I think it's counterproductive to judge those who desire to have their hair permed. It is very simplistic to assume straightened hair is equivalent to selling out.

Natural haired women who use their hair as a statement, create a double standard that contributes to the difficulty Black women have dealing with their locks. Stop using your hair as a statement. Our hair should be a personal choice not a political proclamation. Stop focusing on how the next chick's hair looks and we'll be better off. What you eat don't make her hair shiny. At the end of the day why can't hair just be hair?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dress Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size...

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More times than not, when I come across photos of Jay-Z he is dressed in urban wear. The other day I was on a website that shall not be named, looking at celebrity photos. When it came to pics of Jay-Z and Beyonce, several comments focused on his attire and a desire for him to dress like the 40 year old man that he is. Yet as a rapper and creator of Rocawear, I don't understand why his attire is so perplexing to some. Not only that, but when he's mingling with moguls Jay can clean up very well. Perhaps, I'm biased though because Jay can do whatever he wants. On the other hand, a lot of ya'll ain't Jay. o__O

I'll be the first person to say that adults over the age of 30 who constantly wear name brands such as Dereon, BabyPhat, Rocawear, Apple Bottoms, etc get the Terry McMillan side eye from me. Maybe, in some manner I am a little more old school than I thought. Having an almost thirty year age difference between my parents and I, seeing and observing them and the crowds they associated with, I had an ideal of how 30-40 year old adults should dress. I grew up around men who wore slacks and dress shoes, button ups and trench coats and weren't 37 with cornrows in their heads o__O. There were jeans but they were few and far in between and worn with casual shoes. The women I grew up around didn't wear fitted tees and jeans with apples on their butts. I'm actually sad at the decline of casual wear. Oh and no, I'm not suggesting linen suits and Stacy Adams.

Frankie, Keyshia Coles' mom with her Jordan's on...dressing like she doesn't have like 10 adult children o__O

Is it over saturation of the hip hop culture? Obviously. I mean because let's face it, outside of trying to be young and actually being young there is no reason why people would habitually wear those clothes. Perhaps, there's irony in this now refusal to grow up and 40 year olds trying to be 30 were once 15 trying to be 25. The loss of being a teenager is now manifested in these undergrown adults walking around looking like urban youth. I guess the overarching moral of the story would be to inform that 40 is NOT the new 30 and 30 is NOT the new 20. Grow up, dress your age and not your shoe size. *heavy eye roll*

***Sidenote: This is a WHOLE other post in itself, but while I'm on the subject of being too old for something... If you're forty years old, stay yo tail out the club with 20 year olds. Go to a lounge or something. There's nothing worse than seeing a grown man/woman partying with people that are young enough to be his/her children.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Teach Me How To Love...

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What does it mean for a man to be a protector and a provider? What does it mean for a woman to be a nurturer? Who are the men protecting and providing for and who are the women nurturing? If supposedly our stereotyped role as a nurturer forces us to be emotional and therefore open to the idea of monogamy and his nature forces him to stray, then can we ever really be compatible in relationships? I mean it wouldn't be possible, unless that is, one always has to give up something. Sadly, to some extent we have been taught that a man can never act naturally in order to have a compatible relationship. That it is somehow unnatural and irregular for a man to want to settle down because it's not his nature. What Does It Profit A Man to Gain A Woman, But Lose His Freedom?

Gendered roles relegate a man to be a protector of his property, which chauvinistically include his woman, but what does he protect us from exactly? So often when we think of the man, we think of his duties in terms of physicality or finances. We tend to think of the woman in terms of emotional availability. The problem in many cases is not that a man isn't a protector and provider via material assets but that he often fails to protect the most important asset of all: his woman's heart. If a man expects his woman's greatest job is to nurture and be there for him emotionally then why wouldn't it make sense for his job to be the compliment to hers? This is the hope of reciprocity.

Onto the woman. If we are nurturers, who are we supposed to be nurturers of exactly? After all the word nurture means "to care for and encourage the growth and development of" and is often contrasted with our nature. Is it our maternal instinct that allows us to be nurturers? Is that reserved for our children? What happens when grown men expect that nurturing gene to work in their favor? I mean if nurturing is caring for and encouraging the growth and development, what exactly would we be trying to develop in a man that supposedly already sees himself as grown?

This is a real question, especially within our Black community where we have the misconception of the "emasculating Black woman," the asexual, non-nurturing Black woman who isn't sensitive enough and therefore makes the man feel as though he isn't needed. When manhood is forever juxtaposed to womanhood and womanhood becomes demonized, how does that leave men to react? A woman who supposedly wants monogamy but is typecast as someone who is untrustworthy will yield a man who doesn't want to be in a monogamous relationship. So instead of writing all of these books trying to get black women to change the way they act in order to get a man, perhaps our focus should be on breaking down gender stereotypes instead of reinforcing them.

Monogamy is responsibility. It's a joint commitment to care for someone other than yourself. I mean I have heard many men say they didn't become a man until they learned to love and be loved in return. For the man that CHOOSES to settle down into the monogamous relationship, maybe that is the benefit. The benefit of understanding that the nurture of the woman, the nurture that he expects, is the nurture that is necessary for him to complete his role as a protector and provider. After all, if a man never allows himself to care for someone in that way, then he will never get to the point where he feels it necessary to be her protector or provider.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Mama: Badge of Honor?

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Cause nowadays, it's like a badge of honor, to be a baby mama - Fantasia, Baby Mama

***Disclaimer: I abhor the term baby mama, it just has a nice ring to it for the purpose of this post, lol.

When Fantasia's first album came out and I first heard her song "Baby Mama" I LOVED it! No, I have no kids but I gave Fanny the church clap all up and through those four minutes and fifteen seconds. I was *fist pumping* and saluting all the baby mamas out there who, as Fantasia put it, "don't get no help, gotta do everything by yoself." Oh, but now that song has taken such a new meaning to me. It could just be the curse of Twitter and FaceBook that yields to the infatuation people have for putting ALL of their business online. In any event, I am SO sick of hearing women talking day in and day out about ain't sh*t baby daddies in order to get some approval of people who have NO input in rearing their child. Not only that, but women, teenagers and all in between STOP letting your girlfriends gas your head up talking about "yeah babymama you don't need him, I'm your baby daddy." Um, NO!

Being a willful participant in absolving a man of the responsibility of raising his child for a badge of honor is not cute. Not only that, but realize sometimes it's not that you're dealing with a man that has no intentions of stepping up and being a good father, it's just that he needs the opportunity to learn. I know you Norma Rae baby mamas are out there like "What the hell does she know?"

Awhile ago, when a friend of mine had her child, she had to deal with the child's father not quite being ready for the responsibilities of fatherhood. Although her maternal instincts kicked in, he was still going out when he wanted and coming in when he wanted. Basically, she was doing all the work, feeling under appreciated, fed up, and burnt out. When she came to me for consolation, I advised her to calmly and rationally talk to her beau let him know her position and work to get him to understand that life as he knew it, simply could not continue. The most important thing was to not create a self fulfilling prophecy in making him feel like less than a man and incapable of raising his child.

Okay, I understand that you can't make a man change and step up and accept responsibility, but YOU can control how you react to it. Constantly talking about how you don't need this "b*%&h ass man" in your life does NOT make you look like the prototype for a strong woman. There are far too many single mothers out there gloating about how they do everything for their child, they don't need him in their lives, and they can do everything themselves. Call me naive or whatever you want, but I simply do not believe that every single mother is the result of a man that wants absolutely NOTHING to do with his child. With that being said, make sure you're not cheating your child from having a relationship with both parents because you've created a situation where the man just doesn't want absolutely ANYTHING to do with you. #YeahISaidIt...and stepped in it too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soaring to New Heights...

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“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” - Dr. Dorothy Height

On April 20, 2010, the world lost an AMAZING woman. Dr. Dorothy Height, a civil rights activist for more than 70 years, who was heavily influential in the fight for African American women and African Americans in general died after being hospitalized less than a month ago. She was an instrumental part of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), where she served as president for 40 years. The NCNW was crucial in arguing for the inclusion of black women into the professional working sphere. Under the leadership of Dr. Height, the NCWN showed the ways in which black women played a quintessential role in leading black radical organizations. She was also involved in the YWCA and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

It wasn't until my junior year of college when I heard about Dr. Dorothy Height. In fulfilling a prerequisite for my African American Studies minor I took a Black Gender Women studies class. I remember being in class and watching my teacher jump around the classroom with enthusiasm as he spoke about pioneering leaders such as Dr. Height. In another class, I would be asked to research several leaders, Dorothy Height included, using History Makers. Along with leaders such as Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Mary McLeod Bethune, Dr. Height was my inspiration to pursue a concentration in my minor for Black Gendered Women's Studies.

Dorothy Height, was not great because of her accomplishments, but because of all that she overcame. May she soar to new heights and land amongst the angels. She will be truly missed.

Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010
"The Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement" -
President Barack Obama

Do You Know Where Your Child Is?

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“We've got to work to save our children and do it with full respect for the fact that if we do not, no one else is going to do it.” - Dr. Dorothy Height

It was a nice day in Chicago so I decided to take a stroll. On my way home, my walk took me past a park where I noticed a large number of children playing. Due to the violence in Chicago, people spraying bullets into crowds and parks, I have been more cognizant of children playing in open areas and hoping they don't turn into targets. The kids playing in the park were about 5 to 11 years old. Under normal circumstances, this really wouldn't warrant my concern outside of the recent violence. However, what struck me was with all of the kids playing, there was not one adult.

I scanned the park three more times to make sure that I hadn't missed the one adult, possibly responsible for all the kids the result of maybe an after school program. Nope not one. Here is was 5:30 in the evening and these children were in a playground located on a busy street in a neighborhood where violence was becoming more and more prevalent. Why weren't they in the house doing homework? Granted, the children didn't have school the next day because of report card pick up day. Or they may have done their homework from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. Nevertheless, the real issue wasn't that they were outside, but they were outside alone.

When I was that age, if I wanted to go outside, my mother came with me. The playground I played in was located within the scope of the gated apartment complex I lived in, but that didn't matter to my mother. If she was well, she came outside with us and if she wasn't we didn't go outside. Now this is not to romanticize my childhood, but even when it came to walking my sister and I to catch our school bus in the morning, my mother made the trek with us. Not only that, almost every morning my dad would drive from his house to mine and wait with us for the school bus to come. When we got older, he would drive from his house and take us to school. Nowadays, I see children that look as young as 7 years old getting on CTA busses by themselves.

Yet as I looked at those children in the park by themselves, I had to wonder what conversation allowed them to be in that situation. Was it a child asking their parents for some kind of attention and their parents telling them to get out of their face and go outside? Was it a child simply asking to go to the park and their parents obliging? This seriously bothered me. I know some people may not think it a big deal, but children allowed to play without the auspices of adults become teenagers who roam the streets. They become teenagers whose parents don't care where they are at all times of the night.

Was I being dramatic? Eh, maybe. Nevertheless, I had to assess the situation now. The fact that these children are 5 to 11 in a park by themselves is just not kosher AT ALL. I don't know why I was surprised though. I see children walking light years ahead of their parent all the time. Or children pushing strollers while their parents talk on the phone. It's trifling. Parents need to accept more responsibility for their children. Parents need to know who their children are playing with at that age. Additionally, parents need to know who the parents are of the kids their child plays with on a daily basis.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that doesn't absolve parents from their individual responsibility. If a parent doesn't care enough about their kids to take them to the park, it will eventually manifest in some way in their lives. Basically, letting your child play by themselves outside, sends a message that you don't mind the letting the streets do your job. How shameful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dying to Live...

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The Vigil outside the home where four people were murdered and two others shot in Chicago.

In the past two weeks the headlines have been chock full of news stories about the increasing violence in Chicago. The rise in gun violence, a correlation to the higher temperatures, are leaving ridiculous amounts of people wounded and several dead in small windows of time. But this is typical Chicago right? Last year, in the midst of a cooler than usual summer a few of my friends and I joked that God was punishing Chicago with bad weather, because people here don't know how to act when the weather is nice.

I mean warm weather and violence have gone hand in hand in sociological studies since I don't know when. Yet and still, something is different here. Contrary to popular beliefs this is NOT typical Chicago. The violence here has just become excessive. Unfortunately, with violence headlining on a regular basis we are becoming increasingly desensitized. I typically read stories regarding the shootings and killings on Chicago Breaking News. While on there yesterday, I was horrified by a comment I read asking why coverage of a shooting was considered "Breaking News" since it was becoming such a regular occurrence.

So many times, more than not, we read these stories, shake our heads, and go about our day. I can't say this hasn't been my reaction as well. Not only that, but I would be wrong to omit my own hypocrisy in dealing with this violence. I have to admit, the same person I read about in these stories could probably be the same person I wince at when I'm on the bus and they board dressed in all black EVERYTHING. Not only that, but I purposely shied away from a lot of the "we shall overcome talk" from this post, because I admit my only real solution to this violence in Chicago has to do with me packing up and moving.

I think there is something in this damn water and I want no more parts of it. Folks are losing their minds! Oh and I am a part time conspiracy theorist, so I really do think there is something in the water. A chemical imbalance coupled with not enough hugs as a child will surely make someone snap. **Sidenote: Check out Dick Gregory if you need a little history regarding the potential effects of chemicals in our drinking water.

iDigress. I am seriously afraid for my life! My only hope is that this fear doesn't paralyze me, any more than it has. There is a fine line between cautious and paranoid and I know I'm treading on it. I've already decided to become a hermit for the summer. No, I don't engage in any high risk behavior, I don't tend to walk the streets past dark, and I'm not a young African American male. Only NONE of that matters anymore. I can no longer afford to be so aloof as not to notice my own vulnerability. None of us can. Something seriously has to be done about this violence. *sigh*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Abandoning My Blog

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Almost a month ago I posted my last blog post. It was a three part "series" detailing my experience with guilt, depression and my mom's death. I had intended to go into a discussion revolving around the very real issue of depression in the African American community. It was really my reason for opening up.

Then something happened. Even in the midst of reading the compliments, confessions, and consolations from those who had read my blog, I had a feeling of "Did I go to far?" I had been wanting to tell my story for some time and at first, it was a relief. A relief that I would be able to help someone, who may have went through the same situation or was going through it now. People were telling me how courageous I was and I felt good about it. Then the vulnerability hit me. Maybe I wasn't as brave as I thought I was when I typed my heart onto my blog. "Had I said too much?" "Had I let way too many people into the intimate details of my shame?"

It was hard to come back to my blog the moment I started doubting myself. Not to mention the fact that my life was spiraling in all kinds of directions. There was school, The Red Pump Project's Fashion Show and before I knew it, my intentions of why I created those blog posts was forgotten. And now I find myself almost two years to the day that my mother passed, April 24th and those feelings have been coming back. So I came to my deserted blog and read. Read the posts and the comments, the compliments, confessions, and consolations and it made me feel better.

There's something about having reinforcement in the midst of self doubt. So I decided, for good, to throw away those feeling of resentment I had for myself as a result of those posts because I realize on some level it was bigger than me. With that being said. I'm back...again...iThink, lol o__O
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