Why Rappers Should Open Grocery Stores

Welcome to Another Edition of Light Fridays

I’m so serious that this probably shouldn’t be on Light Fridays… Everyday another rapper/black celeb starts a new clothing line, has a new fragrance, or opens a new restaurant.  All of these products use their fame to sell a mediocre product at exorbitant prices.  This never benefits the consumer, which are usually black people, because it is not a fair exchange of need and value.  To me it is like robbing your own people and is a tragedy.  The problem is further compounded when the poor have to go through illegal means just to acquire a product pushed by a celebrity.
Now, a grocery store in the hood is a novel idea!  There is usually only one grocery store in the hood…maybe.  It usually priced higher than other stores.  It is usually not well-kept.  And most important, it typically is void of fresh produce.  So a grocery store in the hood owned by a rapper would be a win-win! Here’s why:
1) A Grocery Store is Recession Proof. With cd sales down and retail sales down, a grocery store guarantees steady and reliable income. And every other culture and ethnicity has their own stores to get products for their cuisine for cheap. Black people need a place to shop for cheap soul food as well.

This could be your grocery bagger's uniform.

2) Saves the Youth. Most teenagers would rather not work at a grocery store. It is just not the coolest thing to do. But if the uniforms were, let’s say, SEAN JOHN aprons it would be kinda hot.  So instead of selling drugs and gang banging they get the gear for the Free when they work for you. Also, I think it would be hot, if they had to like spit some verses in the interview to get hired.

3) Hip Hop While Shopping. Whenever you go to the grocery store, all you hear is elevator jazz music with no words and no beat.  But the grocery store is the PERFECT place to play your music to promote your own music and music from lesser known artists. I personally would love to hear Jay-Z pumping out of the speakers while I am grocery shopping.
4) Celebrities to Promote Health. Kids normally buy candy and junk food. But if rappers had their celebrity friends take pictures of them eating fruits and vegetables then it would be cool and kids would follow thus promoting healthy eating habits of black youth.

Just my thoughts….

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Sharing Your Story: The Sisterhood Files, Part 2

It seems everyone wants to be portrayed as perfect.  I find this especially true among black women- the need to present themselves flawless amongst other women.  We, as women, have a tendency to go through great lengths to perfect the elaborate details of our outer appearance, not to impress men, but to outshine other women.  It is my belief that most men could care less about, and moreover, don’t even notice the details.  Men have the wonderful ability to assess the overall package without dissecting how that package comes together.  This is very similar to their ability to see the forest without paying attention to the trees, or leaves, or tree trunks, colors and shading, or density like we, as women, have a tendency to do.
So it is no surprise that women go through great lengths to hide any and all flaws both externally and internally.  While the external is superficial and holds no real value, it is the hiding of internal flaws that hinder both the progress of self and of others.  There was once a time long ago when black women would find power and strength in sharing their story, better known as the testimony.  These testimonies would encourage others going through similar situations and serve as a therapeutic release for those giving the testimony.  The black social circles were also a way of passing along pertinent information to help the progress of an entire people.  But now, it is every woman for herself.  You have to find your own way.  I don’t know if it is so much that women don’t want to help as much as they don’t want to tarnish their image in the process of helping.   So as such, many women face the challenges of – abortions, marriages, spirituality, miscarriages, divorce, sexual health, rearing children, owning businesses, education, home ownership, and careers – mostly on their own.  Sure there are usually some small circles available that a woman may or may not feel comfortable sharing but there is no collective mindset or medium to share best practices and lessons learned to aid the progress of black women.
We need some more Harriet Tubmans that are willing to risk it all to go back to show other women the way.  But it seems the more popular sentiment is to say, “Oh, I made it, so good luck to you! You’re on your own.”  And I am fully aware that this problem is not exclusive to black women and can be easily carried over as a black people problem.  But I see more discord among black women than black men in professional arenas so much they will act like they don’t see the only other black woman working in the office in an effort to maintain their position and status. I’ve heard too many instances of black women avoiding having lunch as to not be seen as black women having to be viewed as the two black women that hang out together.  Well, don’t look know, but white people go to lunch together all the time and often get promoted one behind the other.  My point is there is great power in shared experiences and knowledge.  So don’t be so reluctant to share your story focusing on what people may think about you.  After being helped by your story, they will probably be grateful and focus less on the your trees, and more on your forest.

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I’m Still Cool: Men Stuck In An Era

An example of getting older done well. Still stylish but very age appropiate. This picture of him and his daugther makes fatherhood look great!

I know many men that age well.  These men have no problem embracing the new stages that come with getting older.  These men adapt elegantly to a changing physique and lifestyle to where instead of looking older they are getting better.

Other men get stuck in an era or particular age point where they peaked and have been on the decline ever since.  Some men get stuck at age 17 some get stuck at age 22 and can never seem to let go of the things that once made them cool.  As such, I find men doing the same things they were doing at 15.  It is sad.  It is sadder that I don’t believe these men realize they are stuck like the 65 year old that still wears velour warm-ups with their Kangol hat to the back and a good chain.  Well, I am here to help out because we only promote progress at the Café.

A classic case of a man stuck in 1982.

1) Earrings. If I see you with earrings past the age of 30, I am just going to assume you are either an entertainer or you are not gainfully employed.  Earrings were cool once upon a time in the 90s as hip-hop became mainstream.  It was also part of the rebellion and a mark of counterculture.  It was cool.  But I have no desire to accidentally pick up your earrings trying to find mine.
2) Cornrows. It only took a few decades for R. Kelly to let his cornrows go. Even “Mr. Mario Come & Braid My Hair” himself only had cornrows in his teen years and cut them off to market himself as a grown man.  Nothing is sadder than seeing a grow man still rocking cornrows with earrings in both ears.
3) Jerseys. Oversized Clothes. Jordans. And Air Forces Ones. While jerseys and men that still buy 3XL clothing when they really are a medium may be more obvious, I believe my generation of men is stuck in the sneaker stage where they feel like they need to have every color and every new release.  And it seems that these men know no other sneakers other than Jordans and Air Forces.  The fact is that neither shoe is flexible with a wide range of clothing style as let’s say, Converse for play or a causal loafer for an outing.
4) Car Stuntin’. You know the candy coated ride with 24” rims, yeah, that car only attracts girls that are still in high school or have a high school mentality.  Actually the girl attracted to that car may be the perfect match.
5) Photo Shoots of Money. I still see this and it makes my stomach cringe. I don’t understand if you say you don’t want a gold-digger yet take pictures with your stacks of money to attract women.  You are only attracting women that want your money, not to mention it is tacky and juvenile.  The only thing worse is money pictures in front of your candy-painted car.
6) Using Bitch Haphazardly. I understand that men begin to respect women at different ages depending on maturity and teachings.  But pass a certain age, a man should respect most women and phase out of referring to every woman as a bitch or hoe.  You know that old man that still is bitter about some girl breaking his heart in 6th grade and as such calls every woman everything but their name?  As a man gets older he should only use bitch when applicable to that specific person and/or set of actions.
7) Lack of Discretion. Some men still brag about doing everything moving.  They are still trying to have the highest count of women laid in their group.  But most men phase out of that and get to a point where they want more.  While most men wait it out for as long as possible before settling down, most men don’t want to be the last one still clubbing nightly trying to find the latest jump-off.

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Giving It Up: How Soon Is Too Soon?

Men, typically, want one thing.  Sex.  It is the common denominator that binds race, hue, religion, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic background.  Well, it is true.  So it is a refreshing to a woman when a man comes along and wants MORE than that one thing. You know, these are the men that actually care about your well being, your interests, and your feelings.  But upon first glance they all look the same.  The men that care dress the same as the ones who don’t care at all.  Both types of men go to the same restaurants, have memberships at the same gym, and get their hair cut at the same barber shop.  So I can’t necessarily say I am upset with the woman that decided she was going to wait…no, not wait until she was married but waited until she was sure to which group he belonged.
Contrarily, the infamous 90-day rule of thumb seems ridiculous both in theory and practical application.  A preset time limit, regardless of circumstance,  seems like a recipe for disaster and disappointment.  Moreover, it makes your body and those intimate interactions, a prize that can be won after a simple and basic challenge of merely waiting.  I am infinitely more than that.
So that begs the question, “how soon is too soon to have sex?”  This question is applicable to both men and women.  For the men, how do you separate the hoes from the wives based on how easily the goods were obtained?  And for the women, how do determine a man’s true intentions without making him wait?  If you make him wait too long do you risk losing him altogether?  Well, if he will leave because you want to be sure you can go ahead and scratch his name off the list.
I’m going to jump out there and say most men, even those that sincerely care about a woman, will not play a 90-day waiting game.  However, a man that cares about you will wait until you are ready, whether that is 2 weeks down the line or until you are married.  Maybe it is beyond caring if he waits until you are married because that is a special and rare love.
I do believe it is the woman’s responsibility to take value in her own body and make sure the man is worth her time and her most inner self.  The man should show as much enthusiasm about outdoor activities as he does with indoor activities.  He should invest in your well being.  He should encourage your best.  I know some may say, it is just sex and not that serious.  But your body, man or woman should not be a free-for-all festival where anybody can have access.  A good male friend of mine always says that because a woman has exactly what a man wants she has the power.  Some admittedly abuse that power; however, the tragic cases are those that don’t know they even have any power.  Well, knowledge is also power.  And getting to know someone takes time and effort.  So until we both know each other, whenever that time comes, that is how long it will take.

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The Struggle

It is around this time in my life that people are moving out of the post-college transition and are making headway in their respective fields.  Most are happy that success is in within grasp and relieved that the struggle is over.  Others had no struggle at all and success has always been a given as they have sailed through life this far with no major setbacks.  But there are some lessons in life only the struggle can teach.
I’ve always said I never wanted to be with a man that has never known what being broke feels like.  There are serious life coping skills that come having only a dollar to your name.  Here are the lessons I think the struggle teaches:
1)      To be compassionate.  If you have always had everything you needed, it is hard for you to be compassionate toward those that need a helping hand.  These people tend to think the system is fair and their taxes shouldn’t go to help others and thus become Republicans.  However, it is the man that picks up an extra sandwich for the homeless man outside that wins my heart.
2)      Lose that sense of entitlement. After a while of good things coming your way, it is hard not to feel like success is a given.  However, good things require hard work and even then our efforts can be futile.  In the struggle, you find there are no shortcuts to long-term success.  And in every set back, there are the valuable lessons of how to be more effective and more efficient in pursuit of greatness.
3)      Learn how to make do. This one is most important to me in a man because everything may not always be in abundance and I need for you to be able to make do.  Every night there might not be shrimp and steaks, some nights there may only be an 8-piece and fries and I need you to be okay with that and not flip out.  I’ve seen one too many recession stories of a man taking his whole family out before killing himself after he lost his job.  I don’t have time to be dying because you can’t handle the idea of moving back to the hood.
4)      Find a way to have a good time anyway. Speaking of the hood, everyone knows the hood has the best parties, hands down.  There are no fancy dresses or tuxes, no champagne with chocolate fondue fountains, and no live ensembles.  All you need to have a good time is some music, some red Solo cups, and a few friends that can appreciate a good time without the bougieness.

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Cougaring

Welcome to another edition of Light Fridays

Don't let Chilli get a pass because she LOOKS younger than him.

After watching Usher’s Behind the Music this week, I can’t help but think that a) Usher and Chilli are obviously still in love with each other and b) Chilli is a cougar.  In the show, Chilli mentions that at the age of 22, she was fascinated about how cute Usher was at the tender age of 14.  Of course, when he was of age they begin to date. But at what age does cougaring begin?

Most people associate cougars with being significantly older women that have loved, married, divorced and now preying on her son’s barely legal friends.  But I think a cougar can be born at any age and way before a messy divorce.  Some women just have a thing for younger men.  The ability to mold a man and to be in control is intriguing and a lot more feasible at a young age.  So my theory is that cougars are the women that have left a relationship they couldn’t control and seek to be in one that they set the rules.  Or he could just be that fine.  I don’t know.
But I do know when a reader, formspringed me inquiring if I would date anyone more than 5 years younger than me, my answer, in short, was no.  For one, I am not usually in environments with people 5 years younger than me so the odds of me falling for a younger man are slim.  Secondly, I encourage people to enjoy where they are in life.  I don’t want to put pressure on him to rush this life process in an effort to appear mature or to be what I desire him to be.  Life experiences are an important part of what we bring to relationships, and if you only have a few then we really don’t have much to talk about.  Lastly, I know plenty of great men my own age that I see no need to go cruising The Yard to pick up babes.  I’m good.

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Loving the Pieces

Even the smartest of women can find themselves in the most bizarre and unhealthy situations with men.  There are sometimes situations where all of the knowledge is overshadowed by passion and stupidity.   If they are lucky, they get out before too much damage is done. However, sometimes the magnitude of the folly is not comprehended until the damage is near catastrophic and the heart is broken and her spirit is in pieces.  The most tragic cases are when damage is done and spirits are broken due to no fault of her own…
I am no exception.  I am not exempt from the folly on my part nor the damage forced upon me due to no fault of my own.
I love being back in D.C.  The dating pool has gone from 1 to 100 seemingly overnight.  There are the new and the old, all moving forward in their respective directions.  But I would be lying if I denied that something was missing.  Or maybe there is just much more there- more time elapsed, more stresses, more damage.  All I know is I feel a disconnect where there once was passion and, at times, love.  This unusual disconnect had been so heavy on my heart I reached out to a few people to find a possible reason and solution.
Two things said spoke to my spirit.  One, my best friend of 26 years reasoned that subconsciously I know the men that I am dating are not what I want long term and as such my heart won’t let me become emotionally involved.  She, though not a professional therapist, counseled that my detachment with men was a defense mechanism to prevent further damage.  My mind was now in control, and as a smart woman I did know that while these men are great, they are not great for me.
However, I still had a looming fear that when Mr. Great For Me came along that I would no longer know how to love that man.  I worried/worry about if I am capable of just trusting and put all of my fears of being hurt behind me as to not sabotage a good thing.  I wondered/wonder if I will even be able to recognize a good thing when I saw him because some of my heart is still in pieces.
All of these fears were at the forefront of my mind, when the one that hurt me most called.  Most women in my position would have just ignored the call but like love, forgiveness too, requires action.  In the mist of explaining to him how I was adjusting to being back in D.C., he asked how I was really doing and handling life.  So I begin to explain to him these fears and he immediately understood his role in some of the damaged caused.  And he said the second thing that spoke to my spirit.  He said, “I know it is hard, but don’t over-concern yourself with the how and the whys.  The right man for you will leave no doubt if you should trust him.  He will take the time to make his motives transparent.  And don’t deny yourself something real trying to pull it all together first.  You are still a diamond, and the right man for you will love the pieces.”

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Do You Love Me?

“Do you love me?” used to be one of my favorite questions to ask…daily.  Well, maybe not daily, but often…too often.  In my prior relationships, I had grown accustomed to hearing “I love you” every day, multiple times a day to the point I thought it was mandatory in relationships.  I was wrong.
In my earlier relationships, I was young therefore my relationships had limitations.  Prior to going to college, all dating was under the supervision of my parents.  And well, they made sure I had everything I needed therefore I never to had to depend on a man to meet my basic needs.   Even early in college, I had a wonderful boyfriend that frequently sacrificed on my behalf, but still my parents were my primary providers and as such my parents made sure I had everything I needed.  Even the visiting in these relationships was limited to house and dorm curfews.  So maybe the constant verbal confirmation of love may have been more warranted because of the parameters of youthful relationships.
When I entered a relationship, as a semi self-sufficient adult, I was perplexed as to why this man rarely said he loved me.  I don’t want to exaggerate it because my memory may be foggy.  I’m sure he told me loved me once a week or so, but it wasn’t the constant after every phone conversation, all day, every day affirmations.  Well, for one, we were usually together, so honestly there wasn’t much need for phone conversations.  However, in his presence, the roles were very clear.  He was the man and I was the lady, and as such, my daily needs were met by him.  And I am not just talking about financially, but my overall well-being was important to him and therefore he responded accordingly.  Things are so much easier to see in retrospect.  Sadly, at the time, his lack of verbal confirmation made me constantly question the ifs and whys of his love.
Strangely, enough my parents rarely say they love me too.  They rarely say we are proud of you because they expect greatness without excuse.  But they have and continue to make countless sacrifices on my behalf…and my prolonged educational endeavors.  And when I visit them at their work, all of their co-workers say how much they talk about me and how proud they are of me.  The co-workers ask me about my latest occurrences or projects as my parents have usually raved about me to them.  I would say that makes me feel even more special from hearing it from my parents themselves.  While I can think of an infinite amount of sacrifices made, there was this one day when my world crashed.  I was in D.C. and they were in Dallas.  I made one phone call full of tears, and they were in D.C within 12 hours.  You see, my parents don’t have to tell me they love me because I have absolutely no doubt that they do.  Their love is fully ingrained into my mind, my heart, and my spirit.  Their love is who I am.
I decided to take this same thought process in my, now adult, relationships.  I deafen my ears to words to heighten my vision to be truly receptive to the feeling of being loved.   No longer, do I need the constant verbal confirmation of what I already know.  I completely understand that love is an action verb and not a verb of being.  The “I love you” is in what they do.

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7 Approaches I Hate: The Try and the Fail

When we were younger, it was easy to determine if a guy liked you through their actions.  The hitting, chasing, and pulling of ponytails were all clear signs of affection.  Most of these boys grew to men, and as such, their approach toward women matured.  However, sadly, some approaches have not matured and I am finding myself looking around in search for the monkey bars and jungle gym because surely you are not a grown man still using playground methods to get my attention.
The following accounts are true stories.
1)        Poking. No, not facebook poking or the grown folk poke, but a true-to-meaning poke. Why is your index finger assaulting my shoulder every 3 minutes as we are in this training session and you sat down next to me even after I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to be bothered?  And now, I have to pretend to really care about what this presenter is saying because you are annoying me and my shoulder.
2)        Baby- oiled pictures. Not only does my shoulder get harassed, but dudes now harass my phone by sending pictures of them rubbed in baby oil looking like an audition picture for Playgirl.  I am so confused as to why you feel like if I was on the fence about you from jump this would be the deciding factor.  Well, it did help me to decide- it is a firm “hell no” now.
3)        Checking-in for no reason. Why are you giving me a play- by- play of your day?  We are not/have not/ will not be together in no shape, form, or fashion.  So, I don’t care that you are leaving work for lunch, had Panera Bread, and now are off about to jog then showering.  I don’t need any details.  If I care I will ask the generic ”How was your day?” And all I expect to hear is any variation of “it was fine.”
4)        Penis infomercials. You know how you are in the middle of a nice date, talking about politics, Haiti, and going green then all of a sudden he starts talking about how flat he lays it down in the bed.  Then he starts quoting Trey Songz and Drake.  I have confused written all over my face because I completely missed the segue from my reusable grocery bags to his penis.
5)        Respond to every tweet/status. For some people it doesn’t matter how irrelevant or personal the tweet is they somehow find a way to respond in some way.  I see you because you are forcing me to, but you are about as annoying as the poker.
6)        Random confessions of love. This happens more than I’d like to admit, but you really don’t know me well enough to be professing your love for me. And, no, being a facebook/twitter friend does not mean you know me, it means you know of me.  Knowing me in real-life is much more intricate and challenging than knowing the virtual me.
7)        Volunteering to do completely ridiculous things. Why are you on the floor trying to massage my feet?  My feet don’t even hurt. Get up please.  People can see you.

I am sure you have your own real life accounts…

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Fear of Doing Better…Than You

How some men date minus the cameras...

Men are often stigmatized with the label of fearing commitment.  As they go from relationship to relationship, girl to girl, it is all in search for the best.  It is not saying that that the current girl is not the best, but how can he be sure?  So perhaps, subconsciously, there is a method to cheating, the randoms, and overall lack of commitment to one that seemingly is a good fit.

In my observations, men do not have any problem committing.  They commit to their favorite teams, to their favorite shows, video games, pastimes, hobbies, academics, careers, family, friends, pets, organizations, so on and so forth.  The only place where there is inconsistency in their ability to commit is in relationships.  So the fear of commitment is no longer a viable claim and must be ruled out.  So what is it? It has to be something.
I have concluded that men do completely understand the gravity of marriage and the commitment it requires.  In understanding that gravity, creates the fear of doing better, well, than you.  It is a hard pill to swallow when you realize that all of the girls in between and after were because he was not convinced that you were the best for him.  And once you remove your feelings from the equation, on a basic level, it makes sense.  Everyone likes to sample the options before making a final selection.  However, sometimes a man does all of that sampling to decide on his earlier option.  But after all of that sampling, he might be surprised to learn that he is no longer what is best for you.

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