Where is Clair Huxtable?

All of these years showing you how to be a classy lady and this is how we're going?

Black women have no role models on TV anymore.  It is pretty sad.  After decades of fighting and breaking down doors to go against racial archetypes portrayed in black media, it was finally during the 1980s that the representation of black women took a turn for the better.  Black women in media evolved from the mammies, maids, Blaxploitation sex symbols, or ghetto-stricken mothers, and now we were lawyers, doctors, teachers, businesswomen, and entrepreneurs.  These new powerful images were a much more accurate representation of what it meant to be black, educated, and a woman.  And if by chance this was not the environment in which you lived, at the very least it set a great example and a standard of what black womanhood should look like.


So this is what Black Television has came to...huh?

….And then VH1 came along.  And I am not sure if the turning point was the first season of the Real Housewives of Atlanta or the fact that Black America fell silent when shows like The Cosby Show, Living Single, A Different World, and New York Undercover were never replaced with new shows that were on that same continuum of portraying minorities in a positive light not only in our communities but in the world at large.
Successful shows like Soul Food and Girlfriends* that displayed black sisterhood have been replaced with Single Ladies, Real Housewives, and The Game.  Black family shows are in its entirety in the hands of Tyler Perry.  We have GOT to do better…especially the ones that know better.  We can’t continue to support trash just because a black face is on it.  At this point, I am not sure if we want better…or do even we remember what better looks like.


I understand that those great shows had their place and that time has passed but surely regression is not the only option.  We were supposed to go forward and progress from there.  If a comparable show can’t be created just show the reruns. I’m cool with that.  Why aren’t any of these shows in syndication on a major network like let’s say Friends or Seinfeld??  I mean I know the reason but it is not okay…at all.

What we really need. Straigten right on up!


Black is the New White. Hispanic is the New Black: The Minority Hierarchy – Part One

We are well into 2011, and it has become apparent that the lines of racism have evolved.   There is no question that racism, from the subtle to the overt, is prominent within our society and Fox News.  There is still a very clear divide between the rights of White Americans and the injustices of Blacks (regardless of nationality) living in America.  Furthermore, within the Black Diaspora, we are fully aware of how American socialism has taught us to establish our own hierarchy within Blackness- the lightest being the highest to the darkest being the lowest. This self-hate directly mirrors the established protocol of slavery in America- the darker the skin, the bigger the burden.  What may have been impossible to predict that this once self-contained hatred would seep outside of the Diaspora and manifest itself into a Black supremacy ideology that subjugates all other races and nationalities, except, of course, the beloved and revered Whites.
Perhaps the most vulnerable to the ideologies and actions of this new Black Supremacy are Hispanics.  To be fair to Blacks, this ideology that they were slightly superior to Hispanics is simply a trickle-down effect inherited from mainstream America- not necessarily of their own thought process.  However, the inabilities to recognize and empathize with the plight of Hispanics as our own, rest solely on the failure of Blacks to thoroughly educate themselves.
It is the mindset of Blacks, mimicked by White America, that Hispanics entering a neighborhood instantly lowers property value.  Black women feel threatened by the presence of a group of young Hispanic men as they expect to be robbed.  It is automatically assumed when meeting a Hispanic that they are uneducated, don’t speak English, and have no right to live in America.  The familiarity of their story’s resemblance to the story of Black America is… eerie.  The fact this proven strategic conditioning has stood the test of 400 years is… insane.  The perpetuation of such ignorance by a very much still oppressed Black America is… inexcusable.

Finding Our Egypt

Work. Work. And more work.  My apologies.

It felt kind of trivial to discuss relationships without acknowledging a full out revolution taking place in Egypt.  There are many full comprehensive guides online to understanding the situation, so I won’t insult your ability to google and read it at your leisure.  However, I can’t help but be excited to witness, albeit it virtually, my first revolution…at least that I can remember.  To see the extreme measures to have a true democracy, jobs, distribution of wealth, and reform that the Egyptians have taken, I can’t help but wonder where was our, the American people’s revolution, let’s say 4 years ago??  I wonder what actions would be taken against peaceful protesters in a 21st century America.
However, on a deeper and more personal level, I wonder where is Black America’s revolution?????  Do we have nothing to fight anymore??  Has the Dream been realized??  You don’t have to look at the dismal statistics on education, poverty, incarcerations, income and lack of wealth distribution to see what I see every day in our communities.  And while great strides have been made, I wonder at what cost.  We have lost our communities, our family structure, our school systems, our businesses, our children, and our collective causes.  The scenario worsens when those that are privileged to find or create a way out of these statistics seldom look back or reach out.
There is hope, of course.  Every day I am inspired by a young person who sees no limitations to what they can accomplish.  My peers that have a heart of service to our communities motivate and challenge me to do more.  And then I can’t help but think about Harriet Tubman who kept coming back, risking herself and her freedom all in an effort to free her people.  I imagine all of the effort and courage it took only to get to there and the slaves to not know they are slaves.  Even worse, those who knew they were slaves but rather be slaves than try freedom.  How frustrating is that?  And that is where I feel we, Black America, are…still trying to convince the uninformed that there is still a fight that needs to be fought- orderly, non-violently, and tenaciously.

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The Bad Ones Aren’t Labeled

I recently entered a heated debate with a young black man that proceeded to volunteer his thoughts on the high percentage of black children born out of wedlock.  72%, yes, it is alarming.  He essentially blamed it all on black women by stating it is our fault that we continue to engage in pre-marital sex with men that ain’t bout sh*t.  I asked him two things.
Me: Have you ever engaged in pre-marital sex with a black woman?
Him: Yes
Me:  If any of those women were to get pregnant, are there any you wouldn’t marry??
Him: Yes, I wouldn’t marry most of t them.
Me: Well, then sir you too are part of the problem.
While the data is bad, from every angle- terrible, it doesn’t mean that 72% of black children aren’t actively fathered.  There are lots of black men, though they are not with their child’s mother, are an active and involved fathers.  Sadly, you can look in our communities and realize this is not the majority.

Sadly, men do not come with nutritional labels.

The more pressing issue is that most women don’t knowingly engage in baby-producing activities with men they know ain’t about nothing.  Men aren’t labeled like food to give ingredients and percentages of how much sh*t they contain.  Are there indicators? Certainly.  The inability to maintain a job, not taking care of the kids he already has, and overall disrespectful demeanors toward women are all huge red flags.  I am not talking about those obvious signs.  I am talking about becoming involved with educated, well-employed, seemingly respectful men that still aren’t about taking care of their responsibilities.  There are no huge red flags.  The lies are so crafty you don’t know he lying until it is too late.  Sometimes bad men wear the same attire, hang at the same places, and go to the same churches as the good ones.  It is not until it all hits the fan can you determine the real good men from the imposters.  Hell, by that time it is usually too late.

So I don’t know these women having multiple babies by trifling men.  One child??  Yes.  More than one, no.  If they have more than one kid with the man at the very least he is actively fathering their children.  If a woman continues to have children by a man that has shown he doesn’t take care of his kids, then yes, we can agree that the woman is a huge part the problem.  But I am tired of “good” black men blaming our social ills on black women without taking a good look in the mirror first.  Most times, these good black men have just gotten lucky and/or spared an opportunity to show their true colors.  And if you are truly such a good man, then instead of downing women, fill in the gap for the men that fall short so the cycle won’t continue.  Then and only then can you pat yourself on the back.

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Over-feeling Yourself

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending a wide away of people from a vast array of educational, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I appreciate each person equally for who they are and what they bring to the table.  I had no idea beforehand people that would be more successful than others.  Nor could I predict the role some people would play in my own successes.  I know I am blessed to have such a successful circle.  What perplexes me is when I stumble into people that are overly pretentious, snobbish, and flat out stuck up.  It is despicable to see how some people feel that they are beyond acknowledging and replying to people- whether on a social site or in person. Real life celebrities are more humble and gracious than some people.  Or is it that everyday people think they are a celebrity.  Everybody can’t be Kanye.
Black people who are pretentious make me sick to my stomach.  Black people who by the hair on their chin barely made it out of the hood are the very worst.  I often refer to them as the pseudo-bourgeois because they have absolutely no assets in which to be bourgeois about. You know, the ones that rent their house, lease their car, rent their rims, spend money they don’t have to have the latest bag or shoes and then have the audacity to be arrogant.
A very small percentage of black people do come from relatively affluent families (in comparison to other blacks but are still wwwayyyy behind whites).  While they still get no pass for being stuck up, it is more understandable.  Sometimes snobbish attitudes are passed down from one generation along with their inheritance.  However, the trip to poverty can be swift with a few bad investments, a loss of business, and/or criminal charges.
Then there are those blacks that have made it and are established despite the odds against them.  They are first generation professional degree graduates, entrepreneurs, and businessmen.  And in my experiences, it is these people that are the most grounded after their respective successes.  I suspect it is because to come out of nothing you need both an exceptional work ethic and people to help you along the way.  Those same people that helped a person should also be contractually bound to remind you from where you came and keep you grounded.  After all, success means little without the ability to connect to the people that got you there.

Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful. – John Wooden

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To the Black Women that STILL Love Black Men

***This was requested a while ago, but it seems as if the timing is most appropriate now.***

Recently, it seems that black men have been attacked from every angle possible.  From the media coming at Obama’s throat, from black women, from another Tyler Perry production,  and even cartoons on youtube are having a field day magnifying the shortcomings of black men.  There was once a time that at LEAST, at the very least, black women would support and defend black men at all costs, but it seems most of those have jumped ship…  I say it is their loss because it is clear black men are still a prize…even white, asian, and latinos women recognize this.  And really how can you not see it?
Black men are fine…as hell.  Personally, I don’t see how a woman could ever abandon that godly physique.  Shoulders so wide and broad that they are strong enough to love you, children that aren’t his, your family, and your past.  And after a long day at work, his arms embrace all of you effortlessly and instantly relieving the stresses of your day.  It is with his magical touch that finally your guard can come down and the façades worn to appease corporate America can be taken off because in his presence you have entered a safe place.  And you value this because it is the place where you get to be just you.  Only his full lips can smack your cheeks that force the most genuine smile out of you.
Black men are confident.  As a matter of fact, black men set the bar on confidence.  He is confident about the things he has done and equally confident about the things he has never done.  You see, this confidence rests not on what he does but who he believes he is regardless of others’ opinions. It is that confident stride, whether it is the brother in the mail room or the one in the corner office, that grabs your eyes attention every single time.
Black men are strong.  I know this is a label often reserved for black women- the strong black woman.  However, the strength it takes to be a black man that goes day to day without the respect, praise, or recognition deserved is in a league of its own.  Often they have no voice at work or have to fight harder for gain the respect of his white counterparts, and then come home to black women.  Well, we know how that goes.  Even with his boys, there is only so much as men, as black men, that they can share without appearing weak.  So the load, the burdens, the pressure, the frustration, failures, hurt, and pain they just carry…silently.  Every day.  Yet, somehow they find a way to be the charming, funny, lighthearted yet soulful men in which we depend to always do what is needed of them without exception.
All they ask in return is a little understanding, respect, and allow them to be men without undercutting their efforts and roles.  I know, they are completely unreasonable, right?
So to the black women that look beyond what is fed to them through media outlets, to those women that don’t use black men as a scapegoat for their own issues, to those that love and believe in black men without exception, you too deserve an applause.  We’re fewer in number, so we have to make sure we cheer louder so our men can hear us.

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Can a Woman Raise a Man?

Women innately have superhuman abilities that when determined makes any task possible.  This is especially true when it comes to providing for the ones she loves.  Women have the unique ability to balance a career, school, and family all while carrying a life.  Women can also manage their careers, education and own businesses and make it look easy.  However, women do have limits that no matter how hard they try they cannot achieve.  Taking into account the state of black men and the black community, the limits of motherhood may make it near impossible for a woman to effectively raise a man.
As much as I applaud single mothers and their tenacity and determination to give their children their absolute best, collectively I am not sure how good of a job black women have been doing raising productive black men alone.  Just based off the results of children coming out of broken homes by looking around my immediate and national communities, it is obvious that the current system is failing.  If you had a job where you worked 12 hour days, worked overtimes, never slacked, always gave your best yet still didn’t perform well I don’t believe anyone would fault you.  Similarly, the role of the single mother, though gives her best, still may fall short.  The reason for this is solely due that raising a man was never intended to be done by just a mother.   It requires a man to teach males how to become men. In the same manner, it takes a physicist to teach physics, and an engineer to teach engineering.
Originally, I thought that only men were needed to teach men how to be men. However, in having this discussion with some men, a man shared that it takes both a man and a woman to raise a man:
It takes both mother and father to raise a boy into a man.  As a boy grows up, the mother teaches the boy compassion and how to love.  This is why boys are closer to their moms.  At the same time, the boy is watching his dad how he does things, how he carries himself, the respect he has for the Lord, and how his dad treats his mom and interacts with others.  When the boy comes closer to being a man, he will need his father or a good role model to follow so that he can be the man that God wants him to be.  So to answer your question yes [a woman can raise a man], but without both that man will be incomplete, and he will have to learn the rest on his own. ~ C. Askew
I totally agree and this prospective sheds light on an otherwise bleak forecast.  A woman can raise a man with the help of a man whether it be the father or a good role model in her son’s life.  Or a man will try to fill in the void on his own which has been proven asking too much from a child.  I believe as a single parent, it is as vital as supplying food and shelter to seek and provide good role models for whoever is lacking in their responsibility in that child’s life.  In this parents will take the first step in raising productive children thus changing our communities…for the better.

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The Identity Crisis of Black Men: Big Meech, Larry Hoover

I’m a hip-hop head.  On any given evening after work, I turn on my rap playlist on my ipod and instantly become gangsta. On my commute home, blasting my music, and reciting lyrics- I am murdering cats; I am a dope boy; I’m balling out in my Lambo just living the life.  Then I get home, put my car in park, turn off my ipod, and return to normal.  It is easy for some to compartmentalize rap music as just entertainment.  However, it becomes the demise of a community when it is the most desired lifestyle because it lacks true substance.  It is even sadder when these rap artists are so confused on who they are they feel they need to portray drug lords to have a viable market and street credentials in the black community.  I have called it the “Big Meech, Larry Hoover” Complex.
Though I an not a black man, I have had lifetime court side seats, and I am the loudest cheerleader, supporter, endorser and sponsor for Black Men.  And from that standpoint, collectively, black men are lost and confused -some, most…not all.  They are trying to define themselves though socioeconomic status, religion, sex, and sexuality.  They have no idea what their role is in their family, community and society which is understandable because it is not like there are millions of examples running around.  And while black women are not far behind, I think there are more positive examples of black womanhood than black manhood.
So exactly what is the standard of excellence for black men?  Well, it varies.  There is not one definition of success for it can be achieved and measured a thousand different ways.  The focus should more be on setting a clear standard for failure- the denying of true self, circumstances, values and mores to mimic those images selectively dispersed through media for validation, economic gain, and/or achieve a certain status.  The face of what it means to be black and a man is vast; however there should be a collective agreement that black manhood will no longer hold the connotations of one that neglects his responsibility to his education, his family and children, his community and ultimately his respective betterment.
And while there is nothing wrong to have aspirations to be a hip hop artist, I would like to see more of young black boys say they want to be next Kanye, Common, Lupe, or Mos Def- those that are true to both the art and their own stories.  Then maybe we can raise the next generation to appreciate who they are and thus define the roles they play in their families and communities.  Then they may even to aspire to be teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and be the catalyst needed to change not only the images of black men portrayed in media but also globally redefine what it means to be a black man.

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Rejecting Self: The Skin Tone Game

All Black. All beautiful.

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.

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5 Things Black People Need To Learn How To Do…Now

“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.

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