August 17, 2010 Leave a comment
August 16, 2010 Leave a comment
Everyday we enter arenas where we are forced to leave a piece of us at the door. At work, we are requested to leave our personal lives and our beliefs. At church, we are shunned if we bring our shortcomings and our weaknesses. Even with some friendships, we find it easier to leave out certain aspects of who we are to avoid conflict and discord. In this world, where the most adaptable do the best, it is a great challenge to find someone who allows you to bring all of you, all of the time.
In relationships, it is easy to change pieces of who you are without noticing. It can be anything from the way you speak all the way to religion in an effort maintain or build a relationship. Some changes a new person brings are great and needed. Other times, you don’t realize the damage until you look up and no longer recognize yourself. In the latter, the changes so gradual you don’t even know where to start to begin to find yourself again.
Then there are times where someone holds you to such a high and impossible standard, in an effort to maintain this pedestal you repress everything that come naturally. In essence, you are no longer a human responding to stimuli but a programmed machine going through the mechanics of life void of true emotion.
It is then is a prized gift when you find one that allows you to bring all of your successes and failures, love and laughter, hurt and weaknesses, your God and your craziness into the private sanctuary of a relationship. In this sanctuary, there is no judgment. There is only light to see you for exactly who you are- the essence of your being. The sole responsibility to ensure that essence is preserved, balanced, and grows in the betterment of its purpose. The only requirement is that you promise to do the same.
August 13, 2010 8 Comments
Welcome to Another Edition of Light Fridays
I am not the type of girl that asks, “So what do you do?” upon meeting a man for the first time. To me, it is a tacky, pretentious, and superficial conversation regardless of gender. Nonetheless, at some point it is bound to creep into conversation. Generally, I believe people are more than what they do. Very few people are fulfilled in their day-to-day jobs, so potential to be more is still abundant. Contrarily, there are a few occupations that when a man tells me he does, I am automatically turned off and have to restrain from making an outward grimace.
1) Police Officer: There are good cops and there are bad cops. While I enjoy the benefits of good cops doing their job, I would never be compatible with the type of man that wants to be a police officer. Even if I can past the power trips and ego complexes, I can NOT get past the way they walk. It is usually stiff and awkward, and it just screams I’m corny.
2) Code/Parking Enforcement: I live in D.C. with out-of-state tags on my car. Enough said. Seriously, if you have ever tried to park in D.C or NYC, I know you and your wallets have felt my pain. That said, I have a moral obligation not only to myself, but to everyone that has justly or unjustly received a parking ticket to never give you any play. Ever.
3) Preacher: I LOVE Jesus, make no mistake about it. I was raised southern Baptist, so the church is another member of our family. But I could never date a preacher because I don’t want to be preached to every day.
Him: How was your day?
Me: It was okay.
Him: Just okay? You pray about it? You know are too blessed to be stressed!
Additionally, in my experience, it is really, really, really hard to fully process someone’s preaching that you know personally and intimately. All you can think about it the inconsistencies between what is being preached and what is being done. And well, I rather not complicate my church experiences.
4) Politician: I have a personal twitter account were ignorance ensues on a regular basis. This is only a small portion of the recklessness that ensues in real life. So in essence, I would be the “Jeremiah Wright” of any campaign. It would only be a matter of time before you got tired of trying to defend me and will have to totally sever any ties. So in the interest of your political career, I will just save you the trouble from jump.
August 12, 2010 2 Comments
Earlier this year as I was packing in preparation for my move back to D.C., I came across a photo box. A feeling of nostalgia arose, and I decided to go through the old photos. Then of course, one box leads to the next until I came across a box full of folded pieces of paper. Letters. Love letters. Hours went by as laid on the floor reading each one, reminiscing, laughing and daydreaming. It was a good day.
I don’t remember the last time I received a love letter in its purest form- pen and paper. I just know somewhere along the way, pen and paper where replaced with frequent “love emails” to my old hotmail account. By the time gmail came along, these love emails became more and more scarce. Then there was myspace and facebook with wall messages that made the once private exchanges, public. But I believe the final blow to the antiquated love letter was when phone companies finally created unlimited text plans. For an additional low price, you have the option to text as much as you like in 160 characters intervals. 160 characters-that is all spaces and punctuation included. The letters I came across were pages, some were essays explaining the hows and whys of their love. They gave examples of how they have showed their affection and proposed new ideas to woo me in the future. You can’t woo in 160 characters. So when I get these 160 character love texts, I am underwhelmed and under-wooed.
Maybe I will run across a renaissance man that owns college-ruled notebook paper and a bic pen that is not afraid to venture into the world before laptops and ipads, before blackberries and iphones, and simply write. So maybe, 15 years later when I am cleaning up, I will run across his letters and waste the afternoon away reading them and reminiscing about our time shared. And just maybe, we will still be creating new memories for future letters.
August 11, 2010 Leave a comment
This week a fellow Howard Alum posted a photo album on facebook that, within the HU community, went viral. The pictures, featured in LIFE magazine, gave readers an inside look at Howard University’s student life in 1946. One couldn’t help but to look at these pictures and to be proud to be a part of the great legacy of Howard University. However, I couldn’t help but notice the stark colorism in the women whose pictures were featured – fair skin, wavy hair. From a historically black institution’s standpoint, I can understand, though I don’t agree, the need to change perceptions of Black America by emphasizing black students that were in line with mainstream America’s standard of beauty. From the photographer’s standpoint, I can understand the inclination to capture the images that were most striking to oneself aesthetically. It wasn’t until I read the entire LIFE article printed in 1946 that mentions the discord amongst students due to the color hierarchy on campus that I realized that the huge disparity in regards to the skin tone of featured women was not done haphazardly. While almost 60 years later, I am very proud to say I didn’t experience or see any disparity based on hue, I believe within the greater Black Diaspora it is still a very relevant issue in daily interactions and dating.
Geez, where do we start?? In the interest of brevity, I will only focus on dating attractions today.
A week can’t go by without someone tweeting, facebooking, or conversing about their skin tone requirements about the people they are willing to date. Everything from men saying they want a yellow/red women to women rejecting men because they don’t want to have dark skinned children. Or it is the complete reverse. Women will completely reject lighter skinned men and only date the darker hues as to suggest reversing the hierarchy makes everything much better now. While preferences are warranted, the automatic dismal of a person because they are not your “type” in regards to their hue prior to getting to know them is still prejudiced. It is just the worst kind- the one against ourselves.
The thing that is wonderful about being part of this Black Diaspora is because it envelops so much diversity from language, religion, to hue. With the exception of religion, we have no choice what language we learn to speak initially or our shade of brown designated to us. The only choice we have is the type of person we want to be. And honestly, there are only two choices: one that loves self or one that rejects self. When I look at another black person, I am innately inclined to them, regardless of hue, because I recognize they are a piece of who I am. So when I reflected on the men I have dated, I have absolutely no preference whether he is a lighter hue or a darker or any one in between. And I won’t say I look beyond their hue because I don’t. I see it just like I recognize their blackness. I choose to acknowledge and embrace it as a part of who they are and ultimately of who I am. The only commonality that shapes my “type” is the man that made the choice to love himself and thus his people and all of their beautiful hues.
August 10, 2010 5 Comments
“You know how to swim, right?” my friend asked as soon as I entered the house. “Yes,” I replied, “I am a mermaid. Why?” I immediately think a swim party is in the works, instead she begins to express her frustration about a story she had read about earlier that day about 6 people, black people, that drowned in Louisiana at a family reunion. I shared her sentiments and was deeply saddened and frustrated. As opposed to the rapid violence terrorizing Chicago streets, this tragedy could have easily been prevented. As a result, I composed an immediate to-do list for black people to learn.
1) Swim: The history of black people not learning how to swim can be traced back to slavery, as slave masters feared that slaves would escape if they knew how to swim. Some even thought that slaves, if they knew how to swim, were capable of swimming all the way back to Africa. (I know,right?!!) For the slaves, memories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and stories passed from one generation to another created an innate fear of large bodies of water. However, since then, blacks have learned to read, write, and run, all of which at one point all were also forbidden. There are and will always be exception to the rules, the rebels- the leaders. But at this point, what is the hold up on learning how to swim?? It is time. Drowning is usually preventable. Get lessons for you and your kids. The babies can learn how to swim as early as 6-24 months. When you teach them how to walk also teach them how to swim.
I refuse to believe, that we will let our children drown because we don’t want to get our hair wet…
2) Think Critically: The drowning mentioned happened at a family reunion with people watching helplessly. Deep sigh. We have to learn to look beyond what we can’t do and focus on what we can do. Black people, at times, seemed to be crippled by fear and unwilling to exercise their learned skill set to create new methods to achieve a desired result. For instance, if no one can swim, take off your shirts and tie them together to form a rope to throw in the water to pull the children out of the water. Grab some tree sticks, form a human chain, call 911 ask how to float, I’m sure there is an app for how to swim, take the table clothes to pull them in, grab the spare tires out of the cars and throw it out there for them to float on until help arrives. All possible and feasible solutions as supposed to do nothing.
Beyond that, we as a people need to stop taking information as is, without investigating the source, the motive, and the purpose. One of my favorite professors in college handed a student a book and asked him to demonstrate how he reads books to the class. The young man look puzzled and then proceeds to open up the book and flip through the pages until he reached the page where the story began. The professor asked him why he skipped through the first 10 pages or so. Like most of us, the young man thought the information prior to the beginning was useless. But perhaps that is the most important text in the all of the book. It gives the year published, which would be cross-referenced with world and local events of that time period, it gives city published, it gives publisher which should be researched to see what type of media are they known to put out and for what purpose. So with all of the background information it is easier to process and assess the information being presented in the actual story. So when President Obama and his administration were sent a sound bite of Shirley Sherrod speaking on white farmers, the source, the motive and the purpose should have been researched and assessed before acting.
3) Travel: The world is bigger than your hood, your city, your state, and your country, and Essence Festival. Move around, visit, and try things you never tried before. While I am on the fence in regards to the sushi wave that has hit the black bourgeois, it does expose black people to other cuisines that once were unappetizing to the masses. Traveling allows us to see how other people operate, live and thrive. This serves a two-fold purpose: 1) it puts things that don’t matter in the proper perspective and 2) it makes you recognize and value your strengths.
4) Live within means: Black people will go through great lengths and money to appear to have it all together meanwhile bills are past dues, car in repossession, and bank account on negative, but we look good. The fact is for most of us, living within our means does not include savings. It means spending as much possible until the next check comes in. You work hard, so pay yourself first.
5) Open businesses: I am talking about legitimate, “you need a permit and business license to operate” businesses. When asked, I always say one of the reasons I left Texas is because so many people were content with getting a “good” job and making $60,000 for the rest of their lives. That was the definition of success or making it. And while the money is not a huge issue, the complacency in working for others, specifically white people, until you can’t anymore just seemed to resemble slavery too much for me. And while I am not self-employed as of yet, it is something I am not only aspire to but making moves towards accomplishing.
My grandfather washed cars. It is what he loved to do and he did it well. So much so that when he opened Miller’s Auto Polish and Detail Shop in downtown Dallas, he was the first black business to open up a shop in that all-white area. He was also the only car detailing shop in the area. He had no degree, I am not sure if he even finished high school. But he had a business mind that kept his business open until he was no longer physically able to run and manage it. My grandmother did hair. She also had no college education, but when she decided to open Miller’s Beauty Salon she knew it would do well. And it did. It was open for business until the day she passed.
But that was two generations ago. The next generation, more educated in a westernized system, exchanged their family inheritance for 401K’s and health benefits and taught my generation to do the same. It has been a detrimental exchange economically, educationally, and politically.
There are and will always be exception to the rules -the rebels. The leaders. Let the recovery begin.
August 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Last week, a friend of mine decided to start a twitter war on the topic of prenuptial agreements. Most women were against the agreements. Most men were for them. There are no surprises there. However, I think the women’s reasons against prenups hold little weight in reality. The typical response was “I don’t want you planning for a divorce before we get married.” Or “you can’t love me and not trust that I wouldn’t take all your money.” But someone made a very profound statement, “The person you marry is not the person you divorce.”
I have never been married. I’ve only been in a few long-term relationships, and even with a civil break up there is something as a woman that feels like I am owed something more than what I walked into the relationship. In the uncivil break-up, I wanted everything- even the stuff I didn’t want. I just wanted to ensure he had nothing. I didn’t take everything, but I WANTED to. We were no longer the same people that we were when we entered the relationship. I can only imagine that the ending of a marriage would bring out the very worst in people.
The person who started this heated debated equated a prenup to getting insurance on a home. No one in their right mind would buy a house without thorough and comprehensive home insurance. However, a home is a financial investment while marriage is a spiritual and emotional investment that requires undeniable faith that it will work before hand.
I always think it is funny the people that are most adamant about prenups have little to no money. In fact, prenuptial agreements with less than $250,000 in assets are rare. Most can’t even afford to pay a lawyer to draw up the papers, yet alone have an accountant that can hand over a list of assets. This eliminates 70% of the people out of the argument because most of the time when people get married, they both have very little to their name. Financially, nothing is at stake. What is going to be on the prenup? I get the couch, you get the television?? My point is that most people will acquire things because of the support of their spouse and it is hard to put a value on that prior to having it established.
Reason and logic are not completely out of the window on this matter because there are cases where a prenuptial may be warranted, even advised.
1) There is more than a $250,000 differential in annual income. If am pushing the upper 6-digit income and you are the most awesome 7th grade teacher, I am getting a prenup. That is unless the administration passes a bill to pay teachers what they deserve, but until then- prenup!
2) You’re marrying a recovering jump-off. People can change. It might be true love. But if you know that person is prone to cheating and or smashing the homie(s), then a prenup is strongly advised.
3) Non-renewable income. Let’s say someone wins the lottery. Since it is not a renewable source of revenue, I would want a prenup just in case you squander yours away while I hire an accountant and lawyer to protect my investments.
In conclusion, a prenup does not guarantee you will avoid getting taken for everything. A golddigger WILL find a way. If all else fails…there is always child support. Kelis.
August 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Welcome to another edition of not-so- Light Fridays. The words took a different direction, what can you do?
For over almost 10 years, I had a best friend in Dallas. Whenever we were in the same city, we were inseparable. We would run errands together, eat out, hang out at each other’s homes. He was the type of friend that could just pop up unannounced at 8:00 in the morning to see if you wanted to go get breakfast. Depending on budget, time, and gas, we would go to one of three places- The Waffle House, I-Hop, or the Pancake House. All of each visited, where at a very specific location in the Dallas area. We eventually dated one summer. It was perfect. It should have been perfect enough for me to move back home to Dallas after my studies in D.C., but it wasn’t. So I stayed in D.C, and we both fell in love with other people. And such are the rules of engagement with new girlfriends and old too-close-for-comfort friends, we eventually lost touch. He got married…one week after I moved back (which I thought was permanently) to Dallas. It was a tough blow.
Initially upon my move back to Dallas, I thought I would run into him sooner than later. I still shopped at the same places. I still dined at the same places we frequented. I still took all the same routes we used to take. So I was puzzled when months went by and I never saw him. Eventually, I forgot about him. I stopped worrying if our paths would ever cross again. And after a year of being back in Dallas, I decided it was time to move back to D.C. I began saving, planning, and praying . I felt there was nothing left in Dallas for me and I was stuck in an unproductive routine. Work, run, and then home. Until one day, after work, and after my run I decided to head to Wal-Mart to pick up a few items. As I begin to turn the corner, I felt his presence close, I look to my right and there he was turned away from me. All I could get out was “Hey.” He turned around. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. And just like that, I realized that he had long been out of my system. I felt nothing. I felt no connection that was there before. All that was left were the remnants of familiarity.
August 5, 2010 2 Comments
I’m pretty sure love just happens. And I completely grasp the need for a tangible concept that warrants love making. But as of late, I wonder if love can be made or manufactured if you will.
For men, it seems like making a woman love him is a plausible notion. The socialized mindset appears to teach men that if they are persistent enough, then they can eventually win a lady regardless of her initial stance. Thus, men will go to extreme lengths to win the heart of a woman, even if he knows she doesn’t love him. I suppose in theory, the idea is noble to risk all in an attempt to have the woman of your dreams. What about her dreams? Do they matter to a man? Does he care if he is her 28th choice as long as she eventually gives in?
For women, our pursuit of love is very different. Not only do we want to win the heart of the man of our dreams, but we want to be the woman of his dreams. Anything less than him feeling as passionate about her as she feels about him, is not a win at all. It is a crushing defeat, and thus most times a woman will retreat. Women don’t consider a forced love, really a love at all. But hey, what do we know?
Contrarily, pre-arranged marriages do have the lowest divorce rates. But sticking it out doesn’t equate to love or compatibly. I am sure a man thought of this idea. However, I am sure some learned to love each other and found love within this arrangement. Some may not have any other love in which to compare their feelings with an arranged spouse. But to those that have had real, true, and tangible love knows when it is absent, even if a man makes the most valiant effort. Some things just can’t be manufactured. It is or it isn’t. Be green and only accept the organic.
August 4, 2010 Leave a comment
August is here and we are in the midst of wedding season. Beautiful brides-to-be, in preparation for the big day, are constantly being offered unsolicited advice on how to perform their wifely duties. They need to be good cooks, good housekeepers, the best lovers on earth, so on and so forth. In essence, brides have the pressure to be perfect. So I found it only appropriate when my friend whose wedding date is quickly approaching posed the question, “What does her fiancé need to do to prepare to be a good husband [to her]?”
Grooms seemingly are only posed two questions: “Are you ready for the big day?” and “Are you sure you are ready?” There typically is not an onslaught of must-dos for the groom-to-be. Additionally, there is not an abundance of black husbands and fathers to serve as role models. And sadly, since the finale of The Cosby Show the portraits of black man as a husband, father, and businessman are scarce. As usual I took matters into my own hand and created a small council of married people- two wives, two men, none of which were married to each other. Per these conversations, I devised a list of things a man must do in preparation to be a good husband to his wife. It’s only right.
1) Lead by serving: The title of husband comes with a ton of responsibility. Now in addition to take care of yourself, you take on a family. Your personal needs sometimes take a backseat to the needs of the family. So while women are told to cater to their man, sometimes a man will have to cater to the needs of his wife and family. A great husband understands that by doing what is necessary to keep his wife happy, she will innately go above and beyond for their husbands. By serving her, you give her the morale boost needed to keep going. It is also a symbol of appreciation for all she does on behalf of the family.
2) I ain’t yo momma: Apparently men are prone to thinking their wife is supposed to be a replica of their mother. However, the wives expect the men to fully weaned before entering a marriage. T hat means don’t run to your mother after every argument. Don’t expect your wife to clean up after you daily. In other words, don’t make your mother a THIRD person in a two person union. It also means that you will have to use your words to communicate your thoughts, wants and needs and not pout like a child so the wife have to play the guessing game.
3) Be Married before you married. According to both men, you need to already be in full husband mode before you even make it official. Neither women nor men should expect a dramatic change overnight. And we all know practice makes perfect.
4) Patience. Seems obvious, right? However this is not so much in the dealing with nagging or arguments sense as it is to learn that everything will not come instantly. It is kind of like when you were single, and you wanted to go to get something to eat. It only took a few minutes to get dressed, leave the house, grab some food and get back. But whenever you add another person in the equation the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B usually increases. The time triples when children are involved. In the marriage, things that were once simple are now a process and it takes patience to handle those old challenges as well as tackle the new challenges. However, this time it is different, now you have a wife dedicated to helping you tackle these challenges together. And well, that is the blessing of marriage.
*shout out the council*