Will Moo for Marriage

free milkA few days ago, I had a conversation with my mother about unmarried couples living together. She immediately poo poo’d the idea and gave me the typical, “Oh, no. A woman shouldn’t move in with a man. Then he will never marry her. Why buy the cow…?” I put up a quick protest, but the thought of arguing any further made me tired. The milk and cow argument is old and no matter what kind of facts one may have to refute it, those who subscribe to traditional ideas of relationships and gender roles generally shut down before there is a chance to present a logical counterpoint.

I mean, we’ve all heard it, right? A mother, grandmother, aunt, or good friend tells another woman what she should and should not “give up” sexually in a relationship lest the man take complete advantage and cease to think of her as long-term relationship material. “Dress down, pants up” is what my grandmother always said and it seems to be the general rule to which women are expected to adhere. Prim, proper, pious, pent up, and pitiful is the way to go if a woman wants to marry herself off – at least, that is what the popular school of thought says.

I have never liked the cow saying. What woman wants to be thought of as a big, fat, boxy, and sometimes smelly, cow? Who wants to be a lowly heifer slowly moving along with the sole purpose of providing nothing but fresh milk to the masses? On a more serious note, I have a problem with the way the saying implies a man is buying something when he marries a woman and he is ultimately paying for the right to access her vagina with his marriage vows. I mean, is this really how we want relationships to be? I can’t even conceptualize relegating myself to a vagina for sale to the highest bidder willing to pay with a lifetime commitment to monogamy with me. I would like to think a life with me would be worth a whole lot more than some sex.

I also have a problem with the saying because it implies sex is really some gift women give to men for marrying them as opposed to it being a mutually agreed upon and enjoyable experience. Granted, there are men who want sex and nothing more and are willing to be dishonest to get it. I certainly do not refute that. However, there are women who want the same. Women who are not sitting at home on a Friday night hoping, wishing, and praying for a nice man to come along and marry them so they can finally use their vaginas for something other than a place for their panties to live during the day.sausage

I’m not advocating a whole bunch of random sexual encounters based strictly on physical attraction and availability, though I’m not exactly knocking those either. I just have trouble understanding and finding it acceptable the way women’s bodies and their decisions about those bodies are held to a higher standard than men so they never have to really be held accountable for what they do because, after all, they really are just men but a woman should know better.

Most sexual exchanges require two people. There are some exceptions to that rule, but for the most part, two consenting folks get together and decide to share their bodies with one another. Unfortunately, what should be a simple verbal and physical contract has more fine print than the contract for any vehicle I have purchased. For the man, he is just agreeing to spend some time feeling great, nothing more, and nothing less. A woman, on the other hand, is making countless life decisions when she decides to sleep with a man. In her mind, she sees plans, actions, consequences, and ways to gain redemption should the whole thing go south. She has to consider her reputation, how much the man likes her, how many dates they’ve been on, if any, how often he calls as a measurement of how interested he is, or isn’t, whether he will deem her a ho, lose all respect for her, and never call again as a result of having sex with him, if she will end up in the “smashable only” pile with the other half-discarded/on-call vag’s that came before her, etc… It all seems like too much. He’s wondering if he has some unexpired condoms and she is contemplating her entire life’s reputation and relevance. This can’t be right.

From early on in life, girls are told they shouldn’t “give up the goods” because men won’t respect them if they do. At the same time, boys are told they should get as much sex as they can from as many women they can get it from because other men will respect them as much as the amount of sex they can get. Is anyone else seeing the problem here? From a young age, women are expected to place their value with not having sex and men are taught to garner their self-worth from how many women with whom they have sex. How exactly is all this supposed to work?

Even the way society describes sex as “scoring” for men and “giving it up” for women are indicators it is usually a lose-lose for women before anything happens. I wonder if there will ever be a time when teaching boys and young men they can’t ever get back what they give out sexually and they should respect their bodies will be the norm the way it is told to young girls and women. I doubt it will ever be the norm, but I can dream.

I realize this may shock some, but women love sex. Unfortunately, our societal norms of values and morals lend to the school of thought we don’t enjoy it, don’t really need it, and really only do it to keep our men happy. However, this isn’t true. It isn’t really that women don’t like sex. It’s that we aren’t really allowed to concede we do without fear of being misjudged, erased from the “good girl” column, and rewritten in the “side piece/used up” column instead. Will there ever be a time when women won’t have to hide their sexuality? A time when they can cop to being sexual beings without fear of ruining the rest of their lives as a result? Is our milk all we really have to offer?

I guess in this day and age, the only option for women is to connect with men who have a realistic understanding of women and recognize the unfair double standards under which we live so he can see past the stereotype of the buttoned up prude and learn to respect the real woman underneath the buttoned up surface. This is definitely no easy feat, but it is well worth it if it means a woman can take off the cow costume and simply wear herself.stab

 

Fat-tastic?

FAT

I hate shaming. If it wasn’t against what I believe, I would spend time shaming shamers so they could see how wrong and stupid they are. I am especially incensed by the constant barrage of verbal, written, and pictoral attacks on women who dare live their lives being bigger than a size 6 as well as the patronizing perspectives that call them “brave” and “unique”, as if good looking and sexy plus sized women are a rarity.  This whole one standard of beauty thing gets beyond old and I consider myself part of the growing resistance fighting this mistaken concept. However, in all my anti-shaming rantings, I find I am conflicted when it comes to what I see as the lack of balance between loving one’s body in its current state and pushing for a healthier body that may involve a little weight loss.

In scrolling through my Facebook timeline recently, I came across a friend who was lamenting what she took as society’s attempt to force her to whittle down her full-figured body via exercise and healthy eating. She boldly stated she loves her body, including every fat roll, and would never be deterred by anyone trying to force her to change it in ANY kind of way. Honestly, I found her conviction about the matter somewhat inspiring. I believe in her love for her frame and I definitely support the idea of being self-confident about one’s body regardless of its size. However, I also had a problem with her rant, which leads to the conflict in my head; somewhere along the way, in our quest to encourage women to love their bodies, big or small, we have failed to address the health issues that can be attached to obesity.

I can never be convinced we are all meant to be thin and I know thin is certainly not an FAT2automatic implication of fitness. However, what I do believe is we are all meant to be fit. Clogged arterties, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, diabetes, etc…are all often weight-related and no matter how much sexiness one thinks she embodies, if those fat rolls are causing long term health issues, they need to come off through healthy eating and exercise. And this is where my quandary makes an appearance. How do we strike a healthy balance between encouraging women to love their bodies no matter what but to understand the relationship between obesity and overall health enough to know better food choices and purposeful body movement on a regular basis are imperative? We certainly cannot afford to continue to be dishonest with ourselves in the name of upholding our beauty. At least, I don’t think we can do so and WIN.

The very lovely plus sized fashion blogger and vlogger, naturallyfashionable. Check her out at www.thenaturalfashionista.com

The very lovely plus sized fashion blogger and vlogger, naturallyfashionable. Check her out at www.thenaturalfashionista.com

When I read that status update on my timeline, I wanted to applaud AND shake my head at the same time. Though I didn’t think it was my place to comment on it in that space, I wondered if she understood the misleading message in her efforts to promote self-acceptance. As often as we talk about big body beauty, we should talk about health and fitness. We should talk about exercise and foods good for these beautiful big bodies. And this doesn’t mean one has to try to chisel herself down to a tiny size to make the fit team. It simply means one has to consider her health and fitness status and find a way to make her good body image meet up with that healthy lifestyle. The two can coexist.

I advocate a positive attitude about oneself and am guilty of not following my own advice in that area. In my mind, I am constantly battlilng between feeling good about my body as it is and not becoming complacent when I still have much work to do in the fitness area. I still fall prey to the prevalant standard of beauty and sometimes forget to appreciate my body in all its current “bigness.” But as I work on getting my mind right, I will also continue to work on getting my fitness on track, even if my big body doesn’t become a small one. I owe myself that much. We all do.

 

DIVERSIFYING THE RIGHT WAY

Diversity is like a super buzz word uttered by folks from all sorts of backgrounds and professions. Stockbrokers advise everyone to “diversify” his/her portfolio, workplaces like to have “diversity” workshops to teach employees to respect and interact with all sorts of people, and I live in a country known as a “melting pot”, a cutesy term for “diverse location”, which I don’t think is the best description, but I digress. Diversity is a topic that comes up regularly in all sorts of environments and most folks seem to be all about it – until it comes to a woman’s appearance. braids

In fairly recent times, I’ve read responses via social networks, heard forums made up of single men, and listened to the rantings of all sorts of self-righteous women talking about how black women don’t love themselves, don’t value their natural beauty, and have fallen prey to the white standard of beauty because they wear makeup, enjoy a false lash every now and then, and the worst of all; because they opt to straighten, color, or weave their hair.

In all fairness, I will agree there are some black women who are afflicted with a growing self-hatred that leads them to attempt to alter everything about their physical appearances. Some of them try to counteract years of systematic degradation that implies they are not beautiful through the use of health and beauty aids and a good piece of Brazilian hair. And though this is a reality for many, it is not a truth for all black women.

Though I certainly acknowledge the presence of the aforementioned women, I do not believe they are a representation of all black women at all. What folks often fail to consider are the sistas who simply want to diversify. Remember earlier when that word was positive? Yeah, it kinda loses its support when it comes to the way sistas want to look.

I absolutely love being a black woman. I love my brown skin, melanin privileges, rounded nose, full lips, kinky hair, and strong curvy body.  I also love false lashes, makeup, nail polish, and every now and then, a really cute wig. Am I ashamed of my natural appearance? Not even a tiny bit.  And I definitely don’t use any of these accessories as a way of hiding who I am. I use them to enhance my appearance and sometimes, I use them to DIVERSIFY.locs

Contrary to those who insist any type of makeup or hair change is a way to cover up those attributes one finds shameful, I actually see them as a way to take beauty and make it bigger. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this thinking. I mean, who is it that grants a certain group of folks the power to determine a woman hates herself because she dares seek out a hair color, style, texture, or length with which she was not born? Is there a committee? Do they all meet once a year for a conference?

Something about the idea of a woman seeing me with a big ol’ weave of kinky hair on top of these locs and deciding I must hate myself and the way I arrived from the womb makes me irritable. The unfair, illogical, and overly generalized ways in which we judge one another are ridiculous and need to stop. If we truly want to ride the diversity wave, we can’t stop it when it comes to makeup and hair weaves.

As it stands, weaves really aren’t my thing and I have no interest in cutting off these five year old locs, but there may come a time when I want a little something different and if and when that time comes, I will absolutely not allow anyone to question me or my level of comfort with my blackness based on some hairstyle choice. India.Arie said it, so I won’t bother repeating it, but folks really need to understand personal style diversity and self-hatred do not always go hand in hand. Wearing a weave does not mean I hate my kinky existence any more than wearing glasses means I hate my eyes for their lack of perfect vision. I do not need educating or setting straight. I just like to keep my look interesting.kinky weave

I am all about loving myself and any kind of campaign, mantra, social group, etc…that encourages a healthy dose of self love has my support, but these rushes to judgment based on how a woman wears her hair and makeup has to stop. Folks are so unfair to one another and so quick to put each other in boxes that just don’t fit. If I can diversify the way I invest my money in the interest of a better future, I should be able to diversify the hair I wear while doing it. It’s only right.

 

 

 

 

What I Know, 2013

So, it is a new year and it’s fair to say my life learning is not limited to a 12 month span of time, but is instead perpetual. However, at the beginning of a new year, I like to reflect on the previous one to think about what I learned, and in some cases, relearned. Here is what I know from 2013:

  • Logic is worth using even if no one else around seems to be applying it. In my 2014ongoing quest to keep my life as simple as possible, in light of the outside complications I cannot control, I have found my relationship with logic to be paramount. Though life and those who live it are generally multifaceted and somewhat complicated, I find when logic is lacking, there is probably an untruth or some kind of deception in the mix. Statements that make me squint and cock my head to the side are generally calculated as grade A horse manure in my mind.
  • Respecting differences is not an implication of a lack of moral fiber. These days, folks seem to consistently confuse the ability to respect varying ideas and opinions with a lack of one’s own moral code or some mission to be as politically correct as possible. For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I disagree with lots of schools of thought but can still manage to respect the perspective. How can I ever expect others to be receptive to my views if I can’t provide the same open mind? To listen with respect is about being a decent person and an excellent communicator, not about compromising one’s own views to appear understanding.
  • One doesn’t have to show folks who already know him/her how smart he/she is. Sometimes people can’t help but try to impart every little piece of wisdom and insight they have accumulated over the years in one conversation. Look, if you’re smart and knowledgeable about certain subjects, chances are, those who know you best are already aware of your intellectual prowess and probably partly like you because of it.  Instead of always trying to share, consider listening more often. Undoubtedly, there will come a time when your input is requested.
  • Life is fleeting. Though I have been hip to the shortness of life for a very long time, whether one lives to be 90, or succumbs as an infant, I am constantly reminded how true it is and how important it is to build and maintain healthy relationships with those who matter most. Minor disagreements and arguments about anything nonessential are far from worth ending a relationship. One of the best parts of relationships is the opportunity to create and build on something unique with a friend or family member. Ruining that opportunity of pettiness is destructive in the long run. It’s far better to cherish time with loved ones by enjoying the moments than it is to bicker and gripe about matters that won’t even matter past the end of the conversation.
  • You don’t have to eat everything on your plate. – I suppose this can be figurative and literal. In my ongoing battle against my disobedient midsection, I have learned I am never required to eat it all. Sure, as children, we were told we couldn’t have dessert if we didn’t eat ALL our dinner.  Also, not scraping a plate clean and eating every single morsel was always considered “wasting” in my childhood home. These things considered, adulthood has told me it is perfectly alright to leave some food behind, particularly if I am full. This not only helps one’s attitude about food, but it spreads into other areas of life.
    One simply cannot do EVERYTHING. There will be some parties, trips, dinners, career options, potential romantic relationships, etc…that may present themselves as opportunities.
    Sometimes, regardless of how amazing it sounds, how awesome the opporunity may seem, or how little whatever the item or activity is may be discounted to fit into your budget, it’s time to push away from the table and possibly save that chance for later. Sometimes, it is time to reflect and connect to what matters and pushing away from the table provides the clarity to do so.Undoubtedly, I will learn all sorts of new perspectives and ideas over the next 12 months. I just hope I have the wherewithal to apply what I need to live my best possible life. Raising my glass to 2014.

 

That’s Really How You Phil?

So, this happened –>http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/showbiz/duck-dynasty-suspension/ . Phil Robertson, a pivotal member of the Duck Dynasty show, did an interview with GQ during which he was really candid about his thoughts on gay folks, folks who whore, folks who cheat, folks who steal, folks who don’t worship properly, and, of course, black folks.  Because no tirade would be complete without some sort of out of pocket statement about the blacks.  Now, a bunch of folks are upset.

A&E is upset about Phil’s disparaging comments about gays, The NAACP and The Human FieldworkRights campaign were upset about the comments on gays AND black folks. Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, and Sarah Palin are upset because of what they see as hypocrisy from political leftists and intolerance of expressed opinions that do not seem to go with the mainstream. Well, I figure, why let these folks be upset alone? I think I will join them and take my ire up a notch as well.

As a black woman, I suppose most people will think I am upset with Phil for his comments about black folks and how growing up in the Jim Crow south, he never “with his own eyes” saw black folks mistreated (maybe he was using loaner eyes while his eyes were out for repair). After all, those black folks had no time to be angry because they were far too busy hoeing the fields while singing and being happy. And, to be honest, what black folks don’t like to do back breaking work all day as indentured servants while crooning a little ditty? I mean, I can hardly write this without jumping up from my chair, dancing a quick jig, and singing about how great it is to be black, female, and equal. But, I digress. No, I am not upset about Phil’s comments. I haven’t ever watched Duck Dynasty, but the commercials alone let me know he is someone whose opinion is completely irrelevant, though I know there are many folks who probably share his sentiments. What has me a little annoyed are folks like Jindal and Palin who think those who are offended, A&E included, are unfair and hypocritical in their offense. To that, I have to say there is a reality with which folks have to deal when it comes to the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech DOES NOT mean freedom from consequences. Sure, everyone can say what she likes, but what makes one think she does not have to deal with the repercussions of her words? This Duck Dynasty nonsense and the conservatives referring to  the pushback as “intolerance” haven’t a clue. Then again, if folks who think like Phil had their way, this little brown woman wouldn’t even be able to read so I could make this point. I have had a few jobs in my day and not even on the most menial of them was I free from parameters on what I could and could not say at work. I didn’t always like it, but I ultimately understood the job was not mine, but simply an offer extended to me by the business that owned the job. That idea made it easy to choose my words carefully because the thought of damaging my pockets just for the right to say something rude, disrespectul, or incendiary for incendiary’s sake just never seemed worth it to me. Technically, I can always say what I like, but I know I can also be fired if what I say appears to veer away from the ethics I agreed to uphold as an employee. There has to be some accountability in there somewhere.

I am also a tad miffed at A&E for stating they were ”bothered” by Phil’s statements about gay folks but seemingly not bothered by his statements about blacks and how “godly” and chipper we were before all that equality gobbledegook came into play. Really, A&E? You all couldn’t even pretend to care? I mean, it’s what everyone else does. Come on and get with the politically correct program and make a tiny effort to shine us on. Sometimes, we appreciate that kind of thing.

I tell you who I am not upset with at all – PHIL. He is exactly who I would expect him to be, he spoke his mind, what little of it there is, and he was just being honest. Phil does not seem like the brightest bulb, but I will always support his right to make idiotic statements because the minute I protest about what Phil cannot say is the minute I start to lose my right to speak my mind. However, just as much as I support Phil,s rights, I equally support the rights of every viewer, offended party, TV network, media outlet, sponsor, and special interest group to protest Phil’s foolery verbally and in writing, pull their money from his show, write to the network, and suspend him for the words his employer felt misrepresented them. It is simply the way accountability works.

As this story gets bigger, I really hope Phil won’t become dishonest and pretend he is sorry for what he said. I think he should absolutely stick to his convictions because it is his truth and I appreciate knowing where I stand with folks from jump. However, as long as Phil opts to share those views with the public, he will have to accept the results. So, during this time of rest, reflection, and relaxation, I hope Phil takes a moment to draw some conclusions over a nice plate filled with his own well-seasoned foot.

 

Splitting Hairs

Natural3As a little girl, getting my hair washed, conditioned, blow dried, and styled was like living a mini nightmare. A tender scalp full of thick hair, a trip to the kitchen counter top, and a bunch of warm water mixed with shampoo still finding a way to seep into my tightly shut eyes was never my idea of a good afternoon. I would cry, my mother would fuss, and in the end, I would look what I considered to be pretty then easily fall into a coma-like sleep exhausted from all my tantrum antics. It sounds awful, but it was part of my childhood  and still a  part of my adult reality. During those hours between the kitchen and the living room floor between my mother’s knees waiting for her to carefully part, braid, and barrette each section of hair, I got my first experiences with beautification. My mother wasn’t just providing basic baby maintenance, she was showing me how to care for my hair, how to take pride in my appearance, and how to find my beauty. Sure, I cried myself sleepy, but when it was over, I felt pretty.  Now, it seems like there is some sort of ongoing effort to take away that experience little girls and women who look like me end up feeling as if there is something wrong with their pretty and that is something I just cannot accept.

Over the past year or so, I have read several articles, seen a few television news stories, and heard first hand accounts from black women who are suddenly being made to feel as if their hair in its natural state isn’t acceptable in the workplace or school. Too kinky, too colorful, too ethnic, too….black? I mean, blackness does seem to be the real problem at the base of everything. It is as if we cannot win unless we are weaved out , permed up, or wiggin’. To the masses who disparage us for our hair, we should strive to look more mainstream, which really just means less black and way more white. Recently, I have seenNatural1 stories about a little black girl who was expelled because she had locs (http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/Tulsa-school-sends-girl-home-over-hair/sGcEwBSrm02W8ZSBNnGoXQ.cspx), a hairstyle against school policy, a young black woman who was terminated from Hooters, a place riddled with fake body parts, double stick tape, pushup bras, and body padding, for having blonde highlights her superiors deemed “unnatural” for a black woman (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-african-american-hooters-blond-hair-20131024,0,7218061.story?page=1#axzz2jDjCWRJq),  a woman who was told she should cut her locs or find somewhere else to work (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/new-company-policy-forces-woman-to-cut-dreadlocks_n_4159369.html), and heard a story from my loctician who sent her little girl to daycare with a perfectly lovely afro only to be admonished by the daycare provider to “comb her daughter’s hair.”

Natural2To me, this isn’t just a variety of unconnected stories, but an implication of a school of thought that continues to question beauty as it applies to black women and girls. Despite the various fabricated stigmas attached to locs and other natural hairstyles, people have to be able to see past it at some point and give reality a good look instead. An applicant or employee who has the professional experience, educational background, proper workplace decorum, and references to support being hired for a position or to warrant her educational pursuits in a school should be a shew in for employment, not a target for discriminatory practices.

And just what did natural hair ever do to anyone? Is its beauty too intimidating? Is the strength that accompanies a head of unapologetically kinky hair just too much for the office and the schoolhouse? Are folks afraid all the natural hair folks will form one big army and go around picking, twisting, and braiding everyone against his or her will? Why must we always be made to feel inadequate about the amazing way we were born?

I suppose there really is no way around this clear racial discrimination outside straightening our hair and avoiding any sort of hair color white folks deem unnatural for us, but where is the honor in that? We could provide ongoing education about our hair and how we care for it, but really, why must we explain ourselves, particularly to those who probably do not care anyway? Sometimes, this whole being black thing is some really hard work.

I realize I do not live in the kind of decent world that sees every woman’s beauty instead of creating one standard of it to which all women are to adhere, but that does not mean I will stop trying to create one. I will continue to share images and ideas about black women and our beauty that knock the traditional views of what pretty is and I will get up every day, look in the mirror at my full lips, round nose, brown skin, and five year old locs, and remind myself of a truth I already know; I am just as good for the workplace and the schoolhouse as any woman has ever been. I will never apologize for being natural me. No woman or girl should.

 

 

I Just Don’t Like You. That Is All.

We have all heard it, and most likely, we have all said it a few times; nice “girls/guys finish last.” And IFriendZonesuppose to the uninformed eye, it seems that way a lot of the time. We see a good friend who seems to have all the right qualities on paper linking up with some pathetic nare-do-well and we wonder how many “good” men or women were bypassed to get to the world’s worst boyfriend or girlfriend. I know I am guilty of this thinking from time to time, BUT it is time put it to rest. Friends and I have discussed this recently, and there are a few things single people need to realize about this relationship business.

Disclaimer: Because I am a woman and hear these complaints most often from men, I’m addressing them for the most part, but this is just as much for women because we are equally guilty.

  1. Being nice is a choice to live well, not a key to hearts – I see rants, memes, tv shows and movies in which men complain ad nauseum about how nice they are but still end up in the “friend zone.” I am going to shock the world by informing people being nice does not make you entitled to a show of interest, a phone number, a romp in the sheets, or a promise of marriage. Be nice because it is who you are. Be nice because you were raised well. Be nice because it benefits you as a person. Be nice because you enjoy it, but for the love of everything sensible, STOP being nice if  you are just doing it because you feel it will entitle you to a woman’s affections. Mastering the art of common decency is not an all access pass to every woman you decide you like. Get over yourself.
  2. No one owes it to you to like you back – After the initial indignation caused by rejection wears off, there are often laments about not understanding how a woman/man isn’t interested. People go through the checklist: 1) I’m NICE 2) I’m smart 3) I have a job 4) These are my original teeth 5) I have my own place to stay, etc…You get the picture. It is as if we are programmed to believe if we cover the basics of responsible adulthood, whoever we like will be obligated to like us back, but this is absolute manure. All these behaviors are part of being grown up, they are not guarantees for relationship action. Being smart, employed, and housed all while maintaining one’s original set of teeth has nothing to do with the presence of mutual attraction. Seriously, get over yourself.
  3. Disinterest in YOU does not equal interest in an abusive relationship – This is, by far, my favorite and the most commonly used flawed logic when one is rejected altogether or placed in the friend zone. A man expresses his interest, the woman passes on his advances but let’s him know she digs him as a friend and would love to maintain that platonic connection, but because he is convinced she is required to like him back, he automatically assumes she is not interested in him and all his “niceness” because she has her eye on a handsome man who will punch her in the eye, take all her money, and leave her pregnant with quintuplets while he is wooing his next victim. Really? Now, I will be fair and say sometimes scenarios like this happen, but logic should tell that man he dodged a bullet because the woman who likes that kind of man is probably not the type of woman he should have wanted to date anyway. Consider it a bullet dodging of sorts. But the majority of the time, the woman doesn’t pass on the man because she would rather be abused. She just plain isn’t interest. Maybe his breath stinks, maybe they have few or no common interests, perhaps she isn’t physically attracted to him. The reasons can be numerous, but whatever they are, she has a right to them and that “NO” doesn’t imply she would rather be slapped around, spoken to disrespectfully, or robbed of her hard-earned dollars. Really, everyone, let’s get over ourselves.

Despite our quests for rationalizations that fit our ideas, there are times people who we like  just aren’t going to like us back. No one likes rejection, but it is real and it happens to everyone in one area of life or another. The most important part is to avoid internalizing it and lashing out at a man or woman who is simply trying to make the most sensible decision for him/herself. If I am amazing in all the important ways, I maintain that whether the man I care for likes me back the same way or not. Someone else’s “NO” never changes my awesomeness and there is no way I should let it. So people, get over it and get back on the grind.

Here She Is – Miss. (Real) America…

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/a-lot-of-people-are-very-upset-that-an-indian-american-woman

Growing up, I would always let my grandmother sucker me into watching corny “beauty” pageants, or as they are now called, “scholarship programs”. Back then, all I saw were  young, blonde, long-haired white women with super white teeth, skinny bodies, and random “talents”, like bell ringing, competing to win money for college, free travel, minor prestige, a car, and whatever other prizes were offered. As a five or six year old, I even found myself in a pageant. But things were not quite so complicated then.

Back in the day, when I watched those pageants, it was a given the contestants would be white and mostly blonde. Sure, there were a few women of color and some brunettes sprinkled through the group, but one always knew the winner would look like America’s myopic standard of beauty despite the occasional anomalies like Vanessa Williams. NinaDavuluri

Over twenty five years after the days I would sit and watch those pageants, I can see not much has changed. If anything, the short-sighted perpetuation of one way to be beautiful has gotten worse. This was evident by the racist rantings of tweeters upset the 2014 Miss. America winner, Nina Davuluri, has the nerve to be brown-skinned and dark-haired. Of course, her Indian roots have made her the victim of all sorts of stupid allegations and insults, including the one that says she isn’t American and is probably a terrorist of some kind because she is Indian. I wish I could be surprised by these responses, but sadly, they are par for the course for most black and brown folks in America. In this faux post-racial society, racists are emboldened and have taken their attacks to another level. The more people insist we live in a colorblind society, the more racist bigots rear their heads via social media sites like Twitter to let everyone know they are still very much alive.

I suppose I could get all self-righteous and start talking about how there is only one true race; the human race, how we should all see each other for what’s on the inside, how we all bleed red, and how we are all Americans despite our skin color, but I’m not really into that stuff. As a tackler of life’s tomfoolery, I feel inclined to just speak the truth as I see it without any sort of sugary coating to make people feel better about swallowing it. I actually like folks to know what I’m giving them is medicine. SO, what I really think is Americans need to stop closing their eyes to our ugly parts and start a dialog based in truth about race and citizenship in this country.

Brown and born and raised in America? You’re an American. It is just that simple and those wrapped in a blanket of ignorance and intolerance need to be shamed in much the same way they tried to shame Miss. Davuluri for being born too dark and with ancestry in a country dummies clearly cannot locate on a map. I do not wish to live in a colorblind society. I actually enjoy the idea of many races inhabiting one world and coexisting in the most amazing way. I love and respect the idea of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. That’s what makes the world in general, and America, in particular, so wonderful. However, there is always that subset of douches aiming to homgenize the world to suit their narrowminded ideals. My advice is for Miss. Davuluri to put up her figurative middle finger and keep it moving. She is gorgeous, she is talented, and she won that pageant fair and square without tattoos, military fatigues, blonde hair, or a penchant for hunting wildlife. If she isn’t proof there is more than one way to be an American, I don’t know what is.

Early in life, I realized beauty pageants…CORRECTION: scholarship programs were kinda wack and corny and seemed to imply looking good in a swimsuit or being good at tapping glasses of water with a stick made a woman well-rounded and smart. I don’t knock the hustle, but it isn’t my thing. Nonetheless, any woman who wins fairlydeserves the respect that accompanies the title, so today, I salute Miss. Nina Davuluri for trailblazing through the manure and staking her claim to the Miss. America title. Congratulations and don’t forget that middle finger, Nina.

Have a Seat, Miley

So, yeah, it happened. Little Miley Hannah Cyrus Montana got on an international stage, put her nonexistent ass on a married man’s crotch and proceeded to bounce her would-be hind parts. Ugh, just thinking about this long enough to write something makes me cranky and acknowledging it even happened makes me feel like I am giving credence to it on some level, but I believe I have to speak my mind.

Nope, Miley was not the first young woman to ever get on a stage and behave like a two dollar crack ho. Sadly, she will not be the last, though she may be the worst. Gyrating for a crowd is nothing new. I mean, one would be hard pressed to find a male or female pop/rock/r and b/rap, etc… artist who has not resorted to dry humping the air or shaking his/her ass for viewers, followers, and “likes”. So, for me, it wasn’t really the movement of her pre-pubescent boy body or the foam hand she used to simulate masturbation. It wasn’t even the fact she disrespected her upbringing,  fan base (whoever they are), Robin Thicke, or his wife and child that have my dander up, though all of those are pretty legitimate reasons to be disgusted. The source of my irritation comes from a much different and far more personal place.

For me, it is not just Miley. It is also that white woman in line behind me at Walmart with her slicked back ponytail, extra dark Wet N’ Wild lipstick, and hoop earrings calling me “girl”  in that extra familiar way because she thinks her trips to the hood, her black boyfriend, and that lipstick make her able to relate to me. It is Robin Thicke stealing from the legacy of Marvin Gaye, one of the most amazing musicians in the history of soul music. then suing his estate to protect his right to thievery. It is the taking of the worst parts of us and using them in a way to tell their white followers that this is indeed the way to “be black”.

People say imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I suppose one could opt to view Miley’s fledgling efforts at “onstage hood rat appeal” as some sort of compliment for all the other crass women who came before her. I, however, do not choose to see it that way. Instead of a compliment, I see Miley’s actions as yet another example of the way non-blacks (read that to mean mostly white folks) like to take the most dire parts of some black cultures and subcultures, bastardize it just a little bit more, and use it as a blanketed expression to describe ALL black folks for a profit. It really turns my stomach. Miley can tell you how she learned to twerk, but she probably doesn’t know who Madam C.J. Walker is, what the Voter’s Rights Act of 1965 meant and still means to black Americans, or even the significance of commemorating the March on Washington this week. Naw, Miley does not care or know about any of that because she is more interested in repeatedly presenting her skewed view of what “black” is as if there is only one tried and true way.

Truthfully, I have no issue with anyone adopting certain aspects of black culture and subcultures because they are fascinated by it, feel connected to it in some way, or just respect the artistry, construction, or thought process behind it. The problem I have is when one pretends to adopt it out of genuine interest, profits from it as if it is their own creation, then denigrates it and throws it away when it gets old. Taking a tiny section of a population and relegating an entire race to that small group’s set of behaviors is the ultimate form of racial stereotyping.

Cyrus said she wanted to make music that “sounds black”, but I keep wondering what black sounds like. In my world, black sounds like B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, and Leontyne Price. It also sounds like Darius Rucker, Trinidad James, and Talib Kweli. Black folks are as broad in our musical stylings as we are in our politics, religious views, thoughts on relationships, and fashion. Black folks are not all one way. We do not follow The Black Handbook that provides us guidance on what to wear, what slang terms to use, and how to shake our behinds for the masses, but for some reason, a group of non-black people seem to have gotten together and written it without our knowledge.

As far as I am concerned, Miley can faux-twerk until her heart is content, but those sad little gyrations will never define who I am, no matter how hard and fast she tries to twerk it. I will not continue to be objectified and pigeonholed by a group of people who are just arrogant enough to believe they have the right to say who I am without my input. I will never understand how the need to make a mockery out of black folks’ legacy of creativity is acceptable as a marketing ploy so more teenage white girls with vivid imaginings of life in the hood will buy more records and concert tickets. This imitation is not flattery, it is foolery of the very worst kind.

It’s Just a Piece of Paper

A couple weeks ago, I came into the office to find my coworker posted her newly earned graduate degree right at the entrance of her cubicle. Knowing it was yet another of her thirsty cries for attention, I kept walking to my seat and never said a word about it even as others gathered around with questions, kindness, and kudos. I didn’t keep quiet out of disinterest. I think education can often prove invaluable in the pursuit of career advancement. I kept quiet because she finished school about four months ago and those of us in the unit already got a card and wished her well. More than that, I kept quiet because the hard work was over and the degree, after all, is just a piece of paper.

How many times have we heard that? Whether it is a college degree, a marriage certificate, or some other touted document, there are always those who will poo poo it and relegate it to “just a piece of paper”. But it really is more than that, isn’t it?

A deed to one’s home is a sign of the hard work, penny pinching, sacrificing, unexpected repairs, and good times spent in the house. It represents memories, and most importantly, ownership. It is the same way with a college degree or a marriage certificate. They all legitimize life changing events and validate those who hold them.

Were these documents just pieces of paper, no one would risk life and limb or a piece of freedom to get them. There would be no movement of gay folks asking to be given equal rights in matters of matrimony. Adults wouldn’t be moving home with their parents at great peril to their autonomy with the goal of paying off credit debt and saving money for the down payment on a house if a deed was just a piece of paper and people like me wouldn’t go into debt funding an education if a degree was just a piece of paper.

I suppose there are many reasons people try to downplay the relevance of certain “pieces of paper”, but I believe the main reason people do it is to make themselves feel better for not having the relationship, feeling, sense of pride and accomplishment, or professional prosperity attached to that paper. It is like touting the virtues of sleeping on a sidewalk under the stars because one is homeless. Whether we want it to or not, paper matters.

I am NEVER going to comment on my coworker’s advanced degree because its presence in her cubicle entryway instead of in her place of residence on the wall of a home office like normal people is obnoxious and pathetic. I will, however, always respect the work she put in to earn it because it is more than just a piece of paper.