Sorry (Not Sorry): Rehab for the Apology Addict

 

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Thought for the Day:

“Never apologize for being yourself.”

Paulo Coelho

Question for the Day:

Do you apologize for your greatness?

I don’t know if any of you have ever played the Hasbro board game “Sorry!,” but it’s probably one of the most cutthroat children’s games every created.  The object of the game is to be the first to make your way around the board, by any means necessary.  Depending on the card you draw, you may have the option to jump over other players who are in your path, or if you land on an occupied space, you can bump a player out of your way and send them back to the starting position.  If you send another player back to the starting gate, the game gives you full permission give a loud, sarcastic and completely insincere “SORRY!” as you dash their hopes of advancement.

I thought about this game as I began this post because I’m admittedly, a recovering apology addict myself and it’s worth considering the possible source of the problem.  No, I can’t blame a board game, but it’s interesting to consider the message this game sends to young children.  It actually requires one to apologize for getting ahead even if they’re not really sorry.  Though I don’t agree that success should be at the expense of someone else’s progression, I also don’t agree that moving ahead requires an apology. But, this is a lesson that’s taken me a lifetime to learn.

For a lot of us, apology addiction starts in childhood. For example, if you’re teased for being studious, the natural response for a child in search of acceptance would be to downplay their intellectual abilitity.  Efforts to excel academically are usually offensive to classmates who don’t have the same drive.  There begins an initial development of a shame response to one’s own excellence.  This fear of shining too brightly might later be reinforced by the bullying exceptional kids endure in school if they are different in any way.  Kids who have unusual interests, atypical personalities, unique personal styles, or special needs, often feel excluded as if they are an inconvenience to society.  These children grow up feeling as if they have to apologize for being themselves.  Individuality then becomes a problem and something to be tolerated as opposed to embraced.  If not challenged, this discomfort with one’s own gifts can carry over into adulthood.  Little did we know then, but distinctive qualities, quirks, and peculiarities generally lend themselves to success later in life. But unfortunately with more success, comes more haters and thereby more reasons to apologize for one’s greatness.

I remember downplaying my intelligence as a young adult and not wanting to be accused by my peers of “thinking I was all that.”  I remember being embarrassed by my parents’ success and lyin’ about where we lived for fear that people wouldn’t see me as “down.”  The home my folks worked hard to provide became a source of embarrassment for me rather than a testament to their effort to give us more than they had growing up.

When I was accepted to Howard University, I remember minimizing my plans for college and blew off praise of my achievements as  “no big deal” because I didn’t want my friends to be envious or think I’d change.  And as I compared my life to others, I remember feeling guilty about coming from a two-parent home while so many others were not as fortunate.  I wasn’t even convinced that I deserved good fortune because I knew my struggle wasn’t as bad as the next person’s.  What eventually developed within me was a kind of resentment towards my own potential and an insecurity about who I was and what I was capable of achieving.  In essence, I was sorry for my blessings and apologetic towards those who had challenges that I wasn’t responsible for.

For a great deal of my life, I’ve consistently failed to acknowledge my own effort, skills and talent as the major reason for the opportunities I’ve been given. Matter of fact, NOTHING that I’ve accomplished has come easily.  It wasn’t easy to maintain honor roll grades as the only Black student in most of my high school classes.  It wasn’t easy to earn my acceptance into Howard University and then work two jobs while there to support myself.  It wasn’t easy to pursue a Master’s degree when my husband was active military and deployed leaving me to care for our young child alone while working and taking classes simultaneously.  It has not been easy to raise three children with a husband who works two night jobs and it has most certainly not been easy to stay married for 18 years. (And don’t give me the side-eye because if you’ve been married over ten years, you know I ain’t lyin’!) Lol

Success does not come easy for most people, especially for women or people of color so don’t ever make the mistake of not acknowledging the work you’ve put into achieving your goals.  And if others try to make you apologize for your advancement, then it’s fair to assume that they, like childhood bullies, are only mocking your excellence as a way to justify their own lack of growth.

The sad reality is that not everybody will accept you for who you are and value your unique abilities.  Not everyone will appreciate your success.  Not everyone is happy for you when you move forward and not everybody wants to take personal responsibility for their own failures and shortcomings.  It’s much easier to discredit someone who’s elevating than to look within and determine what’s keeping you from doing the same.  I know that I can no longer apologize for who I am, what I have, what I want or where I’m going.  It is my hope that we all get ahead. But if I happen to move passed you because you’ve made the wrong moves in the game of life, then I’ll do what I can to assist you, but I can’t apologize for your struggle.  Sorry! (not sorry).

From  Demi  Lovato’s  book  “Staying  Strong:  365  Days  a Year”


“But let each one test his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else.”

Galatians 6:4

 

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Bebe, Come Get Your Kids!

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Thought for the Day:

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

W.E.B. Dubois

Question for the Day:

Are you raising good people?

If you’re an old head like me, then you probably remember the comedic genius of funny man Robin Harris who rose to fame in the 80’s and 90’s. He was not only famous for his straight-talking, ‘crazy uncle at the BBQ’ schtick, but for being the first to coin the term “Bebe’s Kids” which has since become synonymous with unruly children.

In his routine, Harris describes the “bad” behavior of the kids being babysat by a woman he’s dating.  The childrens’ mother “Bebe” has dumped her kids off on Harris and his girlfriend and he tries to cope with the disobedience and disrespect of Bebe’s kids for as long as he can. Yet, in the end, he realizes that he’d better get as far away from Bebe’s kids as possible before he catches a felony for laying hands on children.

Well, like Harris, I’ve found myself fighting to restrain myself from snatching a few BeBe’s kids up by the neck because my two youngest children ages 13 and 15 have been dealing with their fair share of bullying at school lately.  Both are good-looking, intelligent, and and genuinely kind people, but by today’s standards, that apparently makes you “corny” and an easy target.  The Christian in me wants to continue to encourage them to turn the other cheek and walk away from ignorance, but the the mama bear in me wants them to let these little brats know that they can catch these hands if they keep it up.

It’s crazy because I used to think that sleepless nights, diaper changes and potty training were the hardest parts of parenting. Yet, I’m finding that this stage of my kids’ development is actually much tougher.  When they were younger, it was physically hard to meet their needs, but now it’s the emotional burden that’s taking the greatest toll.  How do I help my daughter embrace her natural Black beauty when there are boys at school criticizing her for her darker skin tone and teasing her about features that she cannot change?  How do I ensure that my son continues to respect women and remains sensitive and emotionally intelligent when other boys at school are quick to label him “soft.”  And how do I continue to sell a good education and self-respect as the winning combination, when my kids’ peers are wondering what’s wrong with them for not focusing all their energy on impressing the opposite sex or racking up sexual conquests?  And yes, there aren’t as many 13 and 15 year old virgins these days as there used to be. So sadly, it’s become a legitimate reason to lose cool points.

It’s all proving to be a very difficult place for me to be as a parent.  I’m caught between needing to teach them how to stand up for themselves and wanting to continue to protect them. They beg me not to go to the school and make a scene and insist that they can handle it. However, I’m a mom so, making a scene is what I do!  Plus, if I choose to stay away and let them handle it, they might just take it too far and swing on someone which would make them just as guilty as the person bullying them.  And in Mississippi, it would not be hard for the school administration to lump my kids into the ‘Black juvenile delinquent’ category where they tend to relegate most of our children with challenges anyway.  So what is a good parent to do?  It’s an issue I’d rather not deal with, but these days, not addressing bullying can have dangerous and even deadly consequences.

Take 13 year old Navaeh Robinson for instance who was traumatized after bullies set her hair on fire. https://mybaltimorespirit.com/2072508/black-teen-left-with-bald-spots-and-first-degree-burns-after-bully-sets-her-hair-on-fire/amp/

Or, what about 9 year old Alabama native McKenzie Adams who hung herself after a prolonged period of racially motivated bullying.  She endured constant racial slurs and taunts about being “ugly” until she finally adhered to her bullies’ suggestions to “kill herself.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/12/12/year-olds-family-says-she-hung-herself-after-racist-bullying-including-taunts-kill-yourself/

And the story of Nigel Shelby another 14 year old ALABAMA native who committed suicide behind constant teasing about his sexuality, is probably still fresh on our minds.  https://www.out.com/news/2019/4/22/15-year-old-nigel-shelby-dies-suicide-after-anti-gay-bullying 

Shelby’s mother says that she believes the school failed both her and her son. Apparently, school officials chose not to inform her that he was talking to them about his struggles with his sexuality and the bullying he was experiencing.  They even knew of his plan to take his life and told her to look for the suicide note in his backpack.

Now, I could go in on the teachers and administrators about how they are culpable in a lot of these bullying cases. I have indeed wondered where the teachers are when my children are being insulted and harassed. But as a former teacher myself, I understand that it’s difficult to manage every aspect of a classroom especially since teachers are already overloaded and under supported themselves. Yes, the schools have to do better, but as far as I’m concerned, the bottom line will always be this: The onus of raising good children who treat other people with kindness and respect will always fall on us as parents.

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If you are raising the type of child who teases, berates, humiliates, harasses and abuses other children, then it’s you who I take issue with today.  No, we can’t control everything that are children do, but if you know that your child is mean and hateful and don’t do anything to put them in check, then you are the BIGGEST part of the problem and have essentially become a “Bebe” yourself.  So, today I’m offering a list of behaviors that should be of concern to every parent if observed in their children.

  1. The Use of Self-Hating Language – I’m sure this applies to all races and cultures, but I’m talking specifically to my African American parents today.  If you have the type of child who makes fun of other Black children’s skin tones, hair textures, or features then I have to wonder what you are teaching your child about themselves.  If they don’t know that there is no such thing as “good hair” or “bad hair” or that the melanin in their skin is an asset not a curse, then you may have failed to teach them about the beauty of their history and where we come from as descendants of Africa.  If use of terms like “too Black” are allowed in your home then you’ve clearly adopted European standards of beauty and have taught your children that their beauty is less than that of their White counterparts.  No wonder they’re coming for my kids if they don’t even like themselves.
  2. Not Respecting Differences or Appreciating Diversity – Just as racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny are taught in the home, tolerance can also be taught if it’s important enough to a parent.  If your child is growing up in a home that uses words like “nigger,” “fag,” or “illegals,” then it’s no wonder he/she may be quick to hurl slurs or racial epithets towards anyone who is different.  And no you don’t have to “agree with someone’s lifestyle” to give them respect or treat them with dignity.  And don’t try to blame Jesus for treating other people badly. (see: https://getliftedgirl.org/2015/02/19/dont-blame-jesus/) Christ was the first to embrace those whom the world rejected, so miss me with the Pro-Jesus bullying defense. If evangelicals are so  pro-life, then try teaching your children to respect those who are different so more innocent lives aren’t lost to suicide.
  3. Mocking Excellence – If your child thinks it’s corny to study, strive for high marks in school, or to treat other people with courtesy, then my guess is that their efforts to do the right thing are probably being ignored at home.  Everyone knows that bullying is an attempt to put someone else down so that one can feel better about themselves.  But if you focus more energy on supporting your own child and helping them to be great, there might be less resentment towards other children who are doing their best to succeed.  Disengaged parents with wrong priorities may not care that their child is getting suspended or skipping class. Or, they may take pride in how cool and popular their child is now, even if it’s at the expense of other kids. But believe me when I tell you, they may be winning now, but they’ll surely be working for all the focused and nerdy kids one day and it won’t be nearly as cool then.
  4. Devaluing Kindness – Our country’s sense of morality has already deteriorated to the point that we’ve elected the poster child for bullying to the highest office in the nation.  When it’s okay for the president to mock a disabled person or call a woman fat and ugly, what do we honestly expect from our children?  But, the truth is, basic kindness and respect for other human beings is starting to be a lost art.  We don’t say ‘good morning,’ we don’t compliment each other, we don’t say ‘excuse me’ and our children are following suit.  Any efforts on the part of our kids to be polite and courteous, are quickly rebuffed as a sign of weakness.  Just recently, my son was teased for telling a girl she had pretty toes.  Okay true, that’s a little weird and it’s possible he might have a budding foot fetish, but it was an honest compliment and shouldn’t have made him the butt of the joke.  But these days, kids who show kindness are categorized as weak and constantly have to defend their right to be nice.  If your child has a problem with kindness, it’s a safe bet that it’s probably because they aren’t on the receiving end of much of it on the homefront.

If your child demonstrates some of the above behaviors, then my question is, what are you prepared to do about it?  Will you step in to offer the necessary correction and enforce consequences when they hurt others?  Will you turn a blind eye and make excuses for their behavior?  Will you hold your child accountable or are you the parent who wants to curse out the teachers and principal each time your child gets in trouble for bullying? Worse yet, would you want to fight the parent of the child who’s accused your kid of being the school yard menace?

So, on behalf of of myself and all of the millions of good parents out here who are doing our best to raise decent, productive citizens, please do us all a favor and come get your kids, Bebe!  Childhood bullies may be breaking children’s hearts in the hallways at school today, but if you don’t intervene, it’s YOUR heart they’ll be breaking soon enough.

“Parents, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4

 

 

I Don’t See Nothin’ Wrong: R. Kelly, America’s Blind Eye, and the Fight for Black Girls

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Thought For the Day:

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Albert Einstein

Question For the Day:

Do you turn a blind eye in the name of good music?

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be at a party when “Step in the Name of Love” by R. Kelly dropped, then you know what living feels like.  That song….smh. Matter of fact, the whole Chocolate Factory album stayed on repeat for me for months after I purchased it. But I’ve been bumpin’ R. Kelly since I was a Howard co-ed when “Honey Love” had me feeling some type of way!  And let’s not even get into “Down Low,” “I Wish,” “When a Woman’s Fed Up” and the whole 12 Play album… Needless to say, I am a fan of R. Kelly’s music.  And because I am, I held off on this pesky “pedophile” business for as long as I could.

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I agreed it was strange when he married a 15 year old Aaliyah. Then there was the infamous “tape.” Now, I haven’t seen it, cause watching a grown man have sex with and urinate on an underaged girl, somehow doesn’t tickle my fancy, whether it’s Kelly or not.  But, since I wasn’t there and hadn’t seen it, what did I know about the tape’s authenticity? Maybe he was set up? Photo shopped perhaps? Stranger things have happened, especially considering how Black men in the limelight are generally targeted.

But then there was that BET exclusive interview with Toure’ after his 2008 child pornography trial that had me befuddled.  In the interview, he was asked about sexual abuse allegations made by several staffers and his own brother to which Kelly responded, “Don’t listen to the people that was fired… (makes sense) …and don’t listen to the people that was hired.” (Huh?) But the real head scratcher in that interview was when Toure’ asked him point blank, “Do you like teenage girls?” to which Kelly’s first response was, “When you say teenage, how old we talkin’?” (Say what, now?)

But raised eyebrow and all, I stayed bumpin’ me some R. Kelly because he’s a musical genius and had earned his self-proclaimed title as the “Pied Piper of R&B.” By the way, I don’t know if anybody knows the original story of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” which is a folk legend from the early 1900s about a piper (musician) who was dressed in flashy multicolored (pied) clothes who was hired by a town to lure rats away with his magical musical pipe. When the town doesn’t pay him what he feels he deserves, he retaliates by using his instrument’s power to lure their children away instead. Now of all the titles R Kelly could have chosen for himself, he settled on the “Pied Piper of R&B.” Just let that marinate for a second. I’ll wait……

However, none of this really fazed me until I read an article just last year in Rolling Stone magazine entitled “Surviving R. Kelly” written by one of his accusers Kitti Jones. Ms. Jones’ personal account was so heart-breaking that I finally snapped out of my trance and realized just how far the Pied Piper’s music had lured me away from my sense of decency.

In the article, Ms. Jones talked about vile sexual acts, and young girls being bound by leashes and called “pets.” She claims Kelly prided himself on “training his bitches” to please him sexually and would ensure that they were under his total control. They could not communicate with their families, could not speak to or look at other men, had to wear unassuming jogging suits, and would even be starved for days into compliance.  If any of the ladies broke Kelly’s rules, they would be punished.  I actually got a queasy feeling in my stomach after reading that article and it drove me to an epiphany.

Why was I, a social work professional who works with domestic abuse victims and sexual assault survivors, so quick to invalidate the claims of so many women? How had I not even considered the possibility that at least ONE of the dozens of accusations made against this man might be true.  And why was it so easy for me to assume that all of these women, BLACK women, were liars, gold-diggers and young “fast things” instead of possible victims? As a Black woman myself who knows what it feels like to be undermined and devalued, why was I one of the first in line to do the same to the next Black woman? How many more headlines would have to surface before I realized that by continuing to blindly support this man, I may be further victimizing myself as a woman of color.

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I could sit here and try to debate the validity of all the claims made against him.  I could note all the alleged payouts he’s made to young girls and their families, the allegations of his abuse and misogynistic treatment of women by his employees, family, ex-girlfriends, and ex-wife. I could add a link to very recent audio where he was caught on tape telling a young girl who’d left his compound that she would “have to be punished” if she returned.  I could even note his own song titles including “It Seems Like You’re Ready,” “You Remind Me of My Jeep,” “Keep it on the Down Low,” “Throw this Money on You,” “R&B Thug” and of course the hit he penned for his 15 year old bride Aaliyah, “Age Aint Nothin’ But a Number.”

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But as dirty as he appears, the fact of the matter is, he was not proven guilty.  There is no indictment that would give anyone hardcore proof that he is truly a pedophile. But it would be a pretty complex conspiracy if all of his accusers, their families, his ex-wife, staffers, and his own relative were all in cahoots to destroy him, as Kelly suggests.  At minimum, his judgement is questionable and we as consumers of his music have the right to know what conduct our money is supporting.

And if he’s out of line, we as the people who support his career have to be willing to call him out and not just resort to the old default retort of “it’s racism.”  Yes, racism is real. And yes, Black men are targets. However, bad behavior has never been a respecter of color. And please don’t give me that tired line of “Well, Hugh Hefner did it all the time, and nobody said anything.” (And?!)  It’s high time we as Black people move away from gauging our own morality against the actions of the most immoral White people we can think of.   If you ask me, I believe Kelly is likely guilty. But what I also believe is that the proof of his guilt is less of an issue than the emotional damage being done to the women he’s (allegedly) hurt when we insist upon defending his innocence.  The real tragedy is the fact that women of color who report instances of abuse are routinely discredited, mocked, ignored and readily dismissed.

Most folks blamed Ray Rice’s wife for how he slapped and spit on her in that elevator back in 2014. Another Love TKO: 5 Lies that Keep Women in Abusive Relationships People wondered what smart comment Rihanna must have made to Chris Brown to deserve that mangled face seen around the world.  And Sandra Bland was labeled deranged and uncontrollable when she accused a police officer of misconduct prior to her mysterious “suicide” in a Texas jail cell.  Arrested Development (What Happened to Sandra Bland?)  If R. Kelly is unequivocally innocent, then what does that say about the character of all the young Black women who have stated otherwise?

The bottom line is this, my friends. Black Lives Matter and that includes the lives of Black women. In our fight against inequality and injustice, let’s not create a culture of discrimination within our own community that ostracizes and marginalizes the women who are responsible for it’s survival.  If a Black woman says that she’s been hurt, we owe her the benefit of the doubt. If we’re adamant about R Kelly having the right to be innocent until proven guilty, then let’s extend that same right to the women who’ve made accusations against him.  Instead of immediately questioning their character, let’s be as willing to defend their reputations and contributions to this world as we are to defend his.  No matter how good Kelly’s music may be, the dignity of Black women will always be worth more. #MuteRKelly #BlackGirlsMatter #BlackLivesMatter #ProtectBlackGirls

“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

1 Timothy 5:20

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Live from the Sunken Place…it’s Omarosa!

 

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Thought for the Day:

“Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on your values rather than your desire for personal gain.”

Question for the Day:

Do you forfeit your values in the name of advancement?

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me and I apologize.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to upgrade this site on my own and have failed at all my attempts miserably.  At one point, I was so confused and overwhelmed that I was tempted to just scratch this blog entirely and start something new.  But, then I decided it ain’t that deep and if this is just a little slice of the internet where I can express my thoughts, then maybe this will continue to do for now. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard to write when you’re frustrated and just flat out uninspired.

Real talk, I’ve been battling a pretty significant spirit of pessimism since Trump was elected to the presidency.  However, it’s not just him, (even though a HUGE part is him and the traveling circus better known as his White House administration). But it’s also all these public racist stunts, school shootings, constant threats of war, and our country’s general lack of respect for God and life that has caused me at times to wonder if trying to inspire people is even worth it. Is our society too far gone at this point? Is anybody even open to hearing something new and trying to understand themselves or others better when we seem to be more lost and divided than ever before?  At present, a whole lot of folks seem to have fallen into the “sunken place” with no foreseeable way to “get out.”  So I figured, it might be beneficial to examine a real life illustration of this and Omorosa Manigault is a prime example of how dangerous it can be to sip the wrong tea.

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If you’ve seen the movie “Get Out” then you know what it means to have fallen into the sunken place. But in case you slept on the movie, “Get Out” tells the story of a family who uses manipulation, lies and eventually hypnosis to gain control over a person’s body and mind.  The person who has “fallen into the sunken place” becomes entranced and is no longer in charge of themselves and therefore cannot express their values. Their personality is hidden so deeply within that he/she is unable to access it and act on their own behalf.  In short, their mind is controlled by someone who just wants use of their physical being, but does not want them to think for themselves.  Now in this movie, the family committing these atrocities was White and their victims were all Black.  There was this theme in the movie that the Black mind is dangerous if not controlled.  It was fine to use a Black person’s body, strength, and abilities so long as the mind was disengaged and replaced with the mind of whatever White person paid the most money to “purchase” said body.

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Now, I know that sounds left field as heck as a movie plot and sometimes I wonder what Jordan Peele was smokin’ when he wrote it.  But it was one of those movies that kind of sits with you and you can pretty quickly find deeper meaning in it once you get past the initial shock of… “What did I just watch?”

I started thinking of all the people in real life who seem to have fallen into the sunken place. As a matter of fact, if I could blame the mindsets of people like Donald Trump and his supporters, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Kanye West, and almost every new school trap rapper on hypnosis, then I might feel a little better about the world.  But sadly, many of the people whose actions leave me completely befuddled are totally responsible for their own thoughts and behaviors. But since this is Get Lifted Girl! and I’m especially sensitive to the empowerment of other African American women, I felt the person most appropriate to be the poster child for a “Get Out” PSA would be Omarosa because she not only fell into the sunken place, but invited herself to the auction and set her own price.

Now, despite my natural tendency to root for most African American women who achieve public success, I never really cared for Omarosa who was introduced to the masses on Donald Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice.” As a Black woman myself, I know that it’s often difficult for us to get the respect that we deserve when we’ve been historically stereotyped as angry and difficult. So when a woman like Omarosa who has the advantages of intelligence, beauty, drive and a top notch education (from my alma mater Howard University no less) PURSPOSELY decides to market herself as the cutthroat “angry Black woman,” she very quickly got the side eye from me.

So few of us are awarded the platform that comes with celebrity, so you would think Omarosa would use hers to uplift her people and challenge the unfavorable narrative surrounding the image of Black women.  Yet instead, she chose to play into those negative stereotypes and allow them to further her career in reality television. Now all of that was bad enough, but when Donald Trump hired her as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, my side eye turned into the screwface.

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I wondered how on earth she could justify shuckin’ around town with a man who had done nothing but insult, degrade, and mistreat people that look like her.  It’s one thing to abandon decency for fame when it personally benefits you.  However, it’s quite another to allow someone like Donald Trump to do it at your expense.  You know how when White people say, I have plenty of Black friends, but it’s really just that one? Well, I’m pretty sure Omarosa was Trump’s one, so of course he had to call in a favor since she owed him big for her D list celebrity status.

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Even a self-proclaimed “very stable genius” like Trump must have been baffled when his heartfelt appeal to us “Blacks,” who dodge stray bullets in the slums of Chicago, didn’t budge when he asked “What do you have to lose?” when appealing for our vote.  So, enter Omarosa who Trump figured ( like Kanye West, Steve Harvey, Ben Carson, and sisters Diamond and Silk) was just the right person to talk some sense into us. (insert massive “angry Black woman” eye and neck roll here)  I’m not going to give anyone the satisfaction of doing it in real life, but there’s certainly no harm in typing it. IJS

Omarosa couldn’t have been blind to his history of racial discrimination, shady business dealings, and multiple accusations of sexual assault against women.  Most people with common sense do their research on any potential employer, so she must have come across all his slurs against African Americans, even once saying that he didn’t trust a Black accountant to count his money and said “laziness is a trait in Blacks.” I can’t imagine that she didn’t at least wince when he called Mexican Americans “bad hombres” and implied that they were all “rapists.” What did she think about Trump suggesting that we return to “stop and frisk” policing when Black Americans are already disproportionately arrested, beaten and even killed by police? What did she think about all the years he tried to delegitimize the first African American President by challenging his citizenship? Wasn’t she concerned that the Ku Klux Klan had endorsed the man who would be signing her paychecks? And as a woman, how did she reconcile that her new boss was caught on camera bragging about “grabbing women in the p*****s?” I mean seriously, I could go on, but what kind of delusional experience must this woman have been having to decide that ALL of that was indeed just “fake news” and insignificant in comparison to her desire for a seat at the devil’s‘ table?

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Well long story short, she got the job, didn’t win “the Blacks” over, and once again had to hear Donald Trump say “you’re fired!” as she was dragged from the White House. She’s since attempted a lackluster return to reality television in an attempt to garner public sympathy for her poor choices and has warned America that we’re all in serious trouble with Trump in office.  She’s laments to fellow cast members on the “Celebrity Big Brother” couch that “it’s not going to be okay!”

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News flash Omarosa, not only have we already gotten that memo, but we tried to get you to read it when you were stumpin’ for Trump but you kept returning to sender.

But here’s the thing, Omarosa is not dumb and she knew what she was signing up for.  She was willing to sell out her integrity, values, and community if it meant a chance at personal success and financial gain.  Trump knew this about her from her days on the “The Apprentice” and I imagine he intended to use her greed and lust for fame the same way he planned to use the color of her skin to win the election. Omarosa allowed herself to be hypnotized by the lure of power and then cried victim when she realized how deeply into the floor she had fallen.  While the rest of us were screaming for her to “get out,” she was giving us that eerie soulless smile like the entranced souls in the movie.

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She thought she was making moves to secure her future, only to soon realize that Trump hadn’t planned for her to use her mind or call any shots at all. He wanted her physical being, but he had no intention of giving her a voice. Every time she took the podium to sing Trump’s praises, she was reporting live from the sunken place and didn’t even know it.

I hate Omarosa ended up disgracing herself and I hope she can gain some clarity and make better choices going forward. But the rest of us can learn a valuable lesson from her experience.  Avoiding the sunken place will require knowing your values and standing by them, not using others or allowing yourself to be used, surrounding yourself with righteous and like-minded people, clearing your own path to success instead of riding someone else’s coattails, valuing dignity over worldly success, and keeping good company.

Playing dumb, wearing blinders, ignoring your intuition, rejecting sound advice, and making deals with the devil in the name of personal advancement will always be a recipe for self-destruction.  Not only will you lose respect for yourself but others will eventually lose respect for you as well.  There is no success that is worth your peace of mind and spiritual health.  And when it comes to your soul, God was, is, and will always be the highest bidder. Let’s not keep wasting time trying to renegotiate the terms of life to determine if the world can offer us more than what God has already given. Always remember that Jesus has already paid the ultimate price, so any subsequent deals would be fraudulent anyway.

“For what does it profit man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Mark 8:36

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My Charger? Living on 1% Battery Life

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Thought for the Day:

“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.”

Michael Gungor

Question for the Day:

Are you burned out?

Hello everyone, long time no post!…….. (okay, that was awkward)  So, if you happen to follow this blog, then you may have noticed that it’s been a minute since you’ve heard from me. Well, more like a few hundred thousand minutes cause I haven’t posted anything since April. I thought about sneaking back online much like one sneaks back into work after taking a two hour lunch break. If I just slide in, get busy right away, and don’t say anything, maybe no one will notice. But, I respect the fact that some of you may have actually noticed and if you were disappointed, I apologize.  Yet, I’m not going to try to make excuses though truthfully a lot has happened.  I was studying for and eventually passed my clinical licensure exam in May.  That’s right, your girl is officially an LCSW now. (Whatever the heck that is, right?)  And I was also blessed to move into a new home.  Both of these events were stressful and time consuming, but if I’m being completely honest, the reason for  my hiatus was a lot less praiseworthy.  Keeping it one hundred, I was just burnt out y’all, plain and simple. Though that wouldn’t be an acceptable reason for a two hour lunch break, I hope it’ll explain neglecting the blog for four months.  And if not, I hired myself for this gig, so I guess I’ll let myself off with a warning.

You know how when your cell phone is about to die, the battery symbol turns red and begins to flash with a clear warning, “15% battery life, attach charger now.”  But instead of taking a minute to actually hunt down an available charger, we keep scrolling. “Oh snap, so and so just got married, let me see what her husband looks like…” Then the warning light returns, “10% battery life, attach charger now,” but surely I can do a lot with ten percent so, let me go on and check my email real quick.  “5% battery life, attach charger now.” The warning is getting obnoxious now, so I figure I’d better at least start thinking about connecting to a power source. “But wait, that’s my jam, let me post that before I forget.”  “2% battery life, attach charger now,” but I just need to check my account balance first.  “Kids, who has my charger?”  Now I’m frustrated with everyone else for not knowing my battery was dying. “That’s why my charger’s off limits from now on!,” I scream as I finally get off my behind and try to find one. But hold up, mom is texting so let me text her back.  It’ll only take a second. “1% battery life, attach charger now.” Alright already, dang!  I’m annoyed, but on a mission to locate a charger immediately cause now it’s serious. I’m panicked because I’m expecting an important phone call any minute! But of course, just as I’ve found one and prepare to plug up, I receive one last and final message, “Powering down.” Like all the other times my phone died, I thought I could beat it. But now, all I can do is watch helplessly as my phone shuts down and becomes useless, at least for a little while.  Usually, I’ll go ahead and plug it in although I might be too impatient to let it charge all the way to 100%. Instead, I tend to charge just enough to enable my phone to turn on again so I can get right back to burning it out. I’m sure many of you do this too right?  Oh, y’all gonna leave me hanging?

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Well, it’s clear to me now that I live my life much like I use my cellphone.  Like a lot of women, I have a lot on my plate.  I work a difficult full-time job and have a husband and kids with needs, some more than others (clears throat).  Plus, trying to squeeze in pursuit of my writing dreams, career development, exercise and self-care, spiritual development, community service, church, and a morsel of a social life, can make an already full plate look like something the Klumps would take pride in during a trip to the country buffet.  It’s just too much!  I’m only one person, and I only have so many hours in a day but I was trying to make the most of every second.  Of course, there’s no sin in that, but I am learning that sometimes you have to take the time to recharge to 100% which means that you must put some things down and not revisit them again until your battery is fully charged and for me, I guess Get Lifted Girl! was one of those things.

PauseIn the mental health field, the term “burnout” can be defined as ‘the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in helping professions.’  But you don’t have to be a helping professional to know what it’s like to have people counting on you.  The single mother or father who works while carrying the burden of a family solo can relate.  Those caring for aging parents can relate.  Social activists and community organizers can relate.  Business owners with employees who are dependent upon them for their jobs can relate.  In fact, if anyone looks to you at all for hope and support in these crazy times, then you might understand trying to save face and remain positive despite constant threats of war, terrorism, injustice and for us Americans, a Trump administration.

A burned out individual will eventually begin to feel as if everything is a chore.  There’s no longer enough energy and enthusiasm to go around and even normal day to day activities start to feel like Survivor challenges.  I mean when you start asking God for the strength to get through a load of laundry, something has gone awry.  For me, I found myself preoccupied with the desire for a break.  If life had a pause button, I promise you I would wear that sucker out!  Husband needs quality time? Okay, let me hit pause, sleep for ten hours and then take some vitamins before I hit play again.  Being assigned yet another difficult client at work? Okay, let me hit pause, take a two week vacation, get a massage, and resign real quick before I hit play again….if only right?  But alas, life just keeps barreling forward and without any time-outs to practice reasonable self-care, you’ll be as useless as a dead cell phone in no time.

Black African American Ethnicity Frustrated Woman Working In Str

Here are some signs that burnout may be zapping your energy and derailing your progress.  If you recognize any or all of the following, life may be pleading with you to “attach charger now.”

  1. Poor Focus – If you’re mind is always somewhere else and you find it increasingly difficult to be intellectually or emotionally present at work or at home, you could be at low battery life.  I know for me, I began finding it very difficult to focus on my job and as a therapist that can get awkward.  A client might have just finished telling me about how horribly they were bullied as a child, and when asked for feedback all I can remember is that I decided on Taco Sombrero for lunch.
  2. Easily Overwhelmed – When women, in particular, are at our best, we can multi-task like nobody’s business. It’s nothing to manage projects at work, juggle your entire family’s schedule, balance the checkbook, pay bills, shop, facilitate a prayer meeting, and still get to the gym….on a Tuesday.  But when you find that even a minor unexpected event can derail your entire day and send you spiraling into a meltdown, something could be wrong.  I remember getting caught by a train on the way to work one morning. Something that small had me rethinking my entire existence. Had that train been about ten cars longer, I may be out of a job today because my frustration had me ready to call my supervisor and quit.
  3. Increasing Use of Unhealthy Coping Skills – When we get overly stressed it’s natural to look for an escape.  Smoking cigarettes, drinking, gambling, over-spending at the mall, partying too hard, and of course over-eating are some of the more common ways we seek to take the edge off. As convincing as they are, ice cream cones never live up to their promise to make it all better. For me, I began spending way to much time vegging out on social media at work cause it was (and at times still is) a way to distract myself from some of the painful stories I hear everyday. Yet in the end, I just fell way behind on paperwork which only exaggerated my stress.
  4. Complacency – When you just stop caring about your progress and sort of resign yourself to a life of mediocrity you may be burning out.  If you’re already overwhelmed, the thought of going for that promotion or returning to school can feel like a waste of the little energy you have left.  Just like your phone won’t let you install an update at 1% battery life, neither can we get to the next level with little to no fuel in the tank.  When we find ourselves settling for the status quo just because it’s the path of least resistance, it may be time to charge up.
  5. Depression – Burnout feels like a total depletion of all the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism that got us to where we are in the first place.  It may not be that anything is even actually wrong, but still you feel hopeless, angry, and too fatigued to even live your life.  I’ve literally had days where I woke up and felt like there was no way I would survive even one more day. I’ve even decided that there should be a new DSM diagnosis much like SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I suggest that someone develop criteria for MAD (Monday Affective Disorder) cause I’d sometimes be angry enough to take a sledgehammer to my alarm clock on Monday morning, real talk!

The bottom line is this ladies, most of us are at risk for burnout because we as women are trained to take care of everybody else before we take care of ourselves. But just like a cell phone battery, we only have a limitless amount of power if we stay connected to our power source, which is our Heavenly Father.  For me, my metaphorical “chargers” are prayer, scripture, meditation and journaling because they all keep me connected to Him.  But I now recognize that using these chargers just enough to get by, is not sufficient.  There will be times when you’ll need to stay plugged in, and take a step back from some of your responsibilities until your battery has recharged to 100%.  No, it’s not selfish.  It’s ensuring that you’re running at optimal efficiency which means you’ll have more power and a longer life in the end. I’m feeling like I’m getting there now, so hopefully I can rededicate myself to Get Lifted Girl!  I hope this site can continue to be one of the “chargers” in your life. If there was even one person who waited on this post, I sincerely thank you. If it boosts your battery life even 1%, then I’m cool with that.  Stay tuned everyone and be blessed!

“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

Girlfriend’s Guide to Family Values

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Thought for the Day:

“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families.”

John Adams

Question for the Day:

Have you abandoned family values?

Hey everybody!  I apologize in advance because I’m kind of ‘on one’ today and there’s a distinct possibility that I might offend someone.  Of course, that is never my intent but you know how that pesky truth can be.  It has a funny way of disregarding one’s feelings.  Anyway, I recently made the mistake of trying to watch an episode of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and it instantly inspired me to get off my dusty and post something.  Now, as I’ve previously stated, I try to limit my viewing of reality television because, in my opinion, most of these shows are metaphorically assassinating womanhood, particularly Black womanhood with every unnecessary use of the word “shade.”  (See: A Ratchet Reality)  But, the episode I just watched was so ridiculous that it made me wonder what  in the world has happened to the moral fiber of this country?  The irony of this show is that they’re casting people for the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” despite the fact that virtually no one on the show is even married or seems to have the slightest idea about how to maintain a healthy relationship.  You couple all this garbage television with a President who’s been married three times and believes in groping married women’s genitals, and its no wonder America’s sense of family values is as backwards as Kriss Kross in Cross Colours.  But, I think it’s time for somebody to take a stand against this insanity and, as Iyanla Vanzant would say, call a thing a thing.  What we as a society are doing in our homes and in our relationships should be called anything but family much like the women on RHOA are anything but housewives.

In the episode I watched, Kandi (an entrepreneur and married mother of two) was threatening to “choke the s**t out this b**ch.”  The “b**ch” in question was Porsha (an entrepreneur and radio personality).  Apparently, Kandi was none too pleased about how Porsha allegedly lied and accused Kandi and her husband of wanting to have sex with her and have their way with her in Kandi’s hidden sex dungeon.  Porsha implied that Kandi wanted to drug her before taking advantage of her.  Kandi vehemently denied the allegations and had proof that it was Porsha who wanted to have sex with her after a drunken night at a club where the two were intimate and Porsha apparently offered sexual favors.  Kandi had proof of all of this because she pulled out some old text messages from Porsha assuring her that she wouldn’t “rape her on camera.”  (Side note to my older readers including my mama: No, I’m not making this up).  It was about this time that Kandi distributed hard copies of the vulgar texts to all her friends at a formal dinner party to prove her allegations against Porsha.  This was also the moment when I realized that “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” had gone completely off the rails, much like society’s family values in general.

Now God knows, I’m not trying to come off judgmental.  I’m actually a pretty open- minded person.  As a social worker, I am genuinely respectful of people’s differences but being open and accepting of others preferences and just saying that every single thing we can imagine doing in our homes and in our bedrooms is okay are two different things.  When there is absolutely no standard, then our kids will be at a loss for how to gauge what is healthy behavior in a relationship.   This is about right verses wrong, plain and simple.  There are some things that are just flat out indecent no matter who you are or what your lifestyle.  And with our country’s moral compass proving to be so far off course, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s election, I believe it is imperative to return our focus to building strong families that work.  The best defense against poverty, disenfranchisement, inadequate education, incarceration, and  limited access to wealth building resources is the security and influence of an intact and functional family unit.  It is certain that the Trump administration will take few steps to ensure the playing field is level, so it’s up to us to look after our own and set ourselves up for success.

Now, family values are not just about having the standard two parent home, 2.5 kids and a picket fence.  I would never knock non-traditional families, especially if there is no love or safety lost for a child raised only by grandmamma or in a foster care situation, for example.  Families look all sorts of ways, but the basic reality and empirical evidence is clear.  Children who are raised by two people in safe and secure environments are more likely to do well in school and graduate, abstain from premature sex,  live above the poverty line, and avoid the criminal justice system.  When we blow off basic family values and turn weddings into Instagram fodder, marriage into threesomes, divorce into something as routine as a mammogram, and minimize the importance of modeling self-control, decorum, respect and fidelity in our relationships, the consequences for our kids are severe.  A generation of broken and confused children will have far-reaching effects on not just our individual families but broader society as a whole.  All one has to do is watch a little cable television or turn on the radio and it will be perfectly clear why five year olds are twerking, ten years olds are sexting, and twelve year olds are having babies.  How are we going to encourage our children to stop fighting and killing each other, when that’s all the trap music on the radio describes?  Heck, when wealthy professional people get on television and attempt to claw each other’s eyes out, what do you expect an inner city kid without a job to do?  Ill wait…

So with that being said, I’ve comprised a quick list of basic rules, I’m talking about the ground zero fundamentals that could support a reasonable sense of family values.  I’ll call this “Family Values for Dummies.”  As always, feel free to take notes.

  1. Three is a Crowd – To watch a show like “Love and Hip Hop” for example would seem to suggest that a marriage is nothing without an extra set of genitals to choose from.  I’m all for having a choice but relationships can be difficult enough with one person, let alone trying to manage the sensitivities and expectations of extra folks.  I don’t really buy that having an extra person in your bed will make your relationship stronger.  I can’t imagine staying in love with someone if the next man is making my toes curl. If you’re bumped to coach in your marriage when you paid for a first class seat, eventually you’ll want a refund.
  2. Don’t screw other people – No, cheating is not the new normal and EVERYBODY DOES NOT DO IT.  I am so sick of people who cheat trying to perpetuate that BS to justify their lack of self control.  There are plenty of monogamous couples who do not cheat on each other.  But if you’re entering into a marriage with the hidden belief that fidelity is impossible or unrealistic, then you wont set high standards and will allow behavior from your mate that you really don’t desire.  No, you don’t owe your man an extra vagina if he doesn’t believe yours is enough.  Maturity is realizing that sometimes, there isn’t more and you need to make the most out of what you’ve got.  You can’t always go back for seconds and never being satisfied with what’s put in front of you means, you’re just greedy.
  3. Fist fighting is for the playground – I know everybody still loves Chris Brown despite the fact that he went upside Rihanna’s head and we swoon over Empire’s Terrance Howard despite his numerous incidents of domestic violence but let’s be careful not to continue this tradition of normalizing abuse.  Fist fighting the ones you love is not what happens in a healthy family. You put up your dukes on the school yard not in your backyard.
  4. Watch your mouth – Your husband or mate is not a “nigga, fool, punk ass, or a mf” and your woman is not a “bitch.”  If you believe those words apply, then what’s your malfunction for deciding to spend your life with them?  Your words have the power to build up those you love or break them down to the very last compound.  Don’t go complaining about what a “real man” or a “real woman” should be doing if you are not even willing to speak to them like a real person with real feelings.
  5. If they’re not trying to marry you, don’t have their baby – If he has not proposed marriage, he does not see you in his life for the long haul.  So why then do we women insist on intentionally making permanent babies with people who are likely just transitional.  That’s like buying a house because you finally got a decent paying temp job.  You’ll be underwater in no time and there are no benefits! (Especially for the child) #FACTS
  6. Marriage is supposed to be permanent – If you’re going to get married, can you at least entertain the possibility of forever?  There’s not supposed to be an escape hatch that’ll conveniently present itself every time you’re relationship hits a rough patch.  If you want to be married, you want to work on a marriage…forever.  Happily ever after does not exist, but a relationship that two people commit to working on for a lifetime, just might. (See: Forever, Forever Ever? (Part I)
  7. If you make a baby, raise a baby – There is no good that comes from deadbeat parenting.  You will essentially be starting a child’s life with the burden of a broken heart and a void that they may never be able to fill.  On some level, he or she may always wonder if they were the reason their parent was not around.  The result is often a diminished sense of self-worth which can lead one to make the unfortunate decision to become a cast member on a show like Love and Hip Hop.  Lord knows, we don’t need anymore of those.
  8. Your butt shouldn’t be on social media if you you’re married with kids – Do you really want your son’s friends enjoying your booty shots, twerking videos, or sex tapes online?  What exactly are you doing when you’re secretly trying to accumulate more followers on social media than your daughter?  It’s no wonder marriage feels so tangential these days.  Not only are people assuming cheating is normal, but online flirting, solicitation, and inappropriate chatting is going down in the DM though we cant seem to properly “follow” our mates or “like” our own families.  Seriously, log off already and focus on being a spouse and a parent. (See: Assed Out )
  9. Work and take care of your family – Michael Jackson famously stated in his hit “Wanna Be Starting Something” that “if you can’t feed the baby, then don’t have a baby.” Those babies you had so much fun making will need food, diapers, clothes, shoes, field trip money, football cleats, school supplies, braces, shots, daycare, summer camp, dance lessons, haircuts, school pictures, band instruments, glasses, prom money, and college tuition.  If you’re only plan to support your family is to marry a baller, hit a million views on YouTube or get cast in a music video or reality show, then you do not need a family.  And if you are in love with a man who does not work, I hope you love Uncle Sam just as much because he’s likely going to become your new Sugar Daddy.  (See: Wake up, Wake up! (It’s The First of the Month)
  10. Invite God back into your family – I know it’s 2017 and everybody is too “woke” for Jesus but no matter what you believe, you have to agree that there is a strong correlation between a strong faith and family values.  People who defer to a higher authority instead of making their own rules tend to set more boundaries in relationships and have a greater sense of accountability that governs their behavior.  Everything won’t fly if you believe in a God who is all-knowing and invested in what you do with this life He’s given you. When one recognizes and appreciates God’s love, he/she will be mindful of how that love should show up in relationships.  I’m sure many people will disagree, but it may be very difficult to succeed at the game of life if you make up the rules as you go. A playbook (Bible) and a coach (God) go a long way in building a strong team (Family) and winning in our relationships and in life. (Joy)

 So, my best advice for anyone wanting to tighten up on their family values and forge new and improved relationships is to start by submitting to the Most High God, loving oneself enough to understand and receive the blessing of family, and to love, cherish and respect those in your life without exception.  It would be kind of hard to be a “dummy” in relationships with that kind of game plan.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

You’re the Trump Card, Now Play It!

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Thought for the Day:

If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.

Tom Dreeson

Question for the Day:

Are you expecting too much from the government?

I am so sorry for my delayed posting everyone.  I’ve had a very busy new year so far, and its been all I can do to maintain reasonable job performance at work and manage my family’s intensifying schedule in the face of dwindling motivation.  It’s difficult to encourage other people to think positive when the current state of our country and world often has me feeling less than optimistic myself.  I spent the majority of last month dreading the inauguration of Donald Trump and counting all the ways I was going to miss Barack and Michelle’s presence in the White House.  Seems no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get Boyz to Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” out of my head as Donald Trump began to move on the White House like a bitch.  However, I desire to be a source of inspiration for anyone who follows this blog, and I want to take my own advice and not let the newly whitewashed administration damper my attitude….. but I’m struggling.

It’s difficult to hope for a bright future when it feels as if we’ve all entered a lost episode of the Twilight Zone in which someone intentionally hit the reset button on American History.  I want to believe that I matter in this country, but the reality is, America elected a man endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.  That pretty much proves that like Michael Jackson once sang, “they don’t really care about us,” or at least not all of us.

So, my next question is, what now?  How does a person begin to move forward in a country that has proven itself to be biased against minorities and women?  And as a minority woman, what can I do to combat this exclusionary mentality that might relegate me and my loved ones to the bench while the White and wealthy are the only ones allowed to hit the field?  I could do like so many others and take to the streets in protest.  I could march, boycott, sit-in and write my congressman which are all valid steps toward taking a stand and I truly respect the power of protest.  I believe that Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Al Sharpton, Sen. John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Nelson Mandela, Fannie Lou Hamer, Harriet Tubman, Huey P. Newton, Gloria Steinem, and many others taught us an invaluable lesson.  They all demonstrated by their example that there is a time to reject intolerance and hate.  There is a time to refuse to comply, resist unjust laws, and use your collective economic power by refusing to spend money  that supports the interests of those who oppress you.  There is a battle to be fought and won and we all need to determine what side of this fight we’re on, get engaged and prepare for battle.

However, as important as ‘fighting the power’ might be, I believe that we are most dangerous, effective and powerful when we realize that the change we’re after should not be expected first from others, but should start from within. (See: Black Mystery Month)  I am frankly tired of begging and pleading other people to stop being racist, stop being chauvinist, stop being misogynistic, and stop seeing me as less than what I am.  At this stage of the game, I’m more interested in what I need to do to succeed and ensure that the weapons my enemy desires to use against me, will not prosper.  The idea that our validation, safety, and security rests in the hands of our government has always been a slippery slope, but with Donald Trump at the helm, it’s likely a recipe for disaster.  Therefore, I propose a shift in perspective.  I’m suggesting that we can no longer afford to wait on the government to change its perspective on us, but do for ourselves what others are simply not willing to.  I’m not going to waste energy expecting someone like Donald Trump to change his mind about me.  Instead, I’ve decided that I need to be my own representative and live life in a way that will make me as immune to his bigoted policies as possible. Though I cannot avoid racism and bigotry, I won’t make it easy for anyone to victimize me either.  If you come for this law-abiding, educated, gainfully employed, fully engaged wife and mother who also happens to be a social work professional, your bigotry will be obvious because only racists hate in the face of their target’s excellence.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Barack Obama. I refuse to let my value be determined by anyone else, least of all Donald Trump.  I didn’t vote for him, but I can absolutely vote for myself.

I plan to spend this year discussing the changes we can all make in our individual lives that will help us survive a Trump Presidency.  Everything we do from this point on matters.  Here are a few things we should no longer expect from this new America and what it might mean for those of us at risk for being caught in the crosshairs.

DON’T EXPECT: Equality and fair treatment in the criminal justice system.

With Trump vowing to be the “law and order” President and an Attorney General with a history of racist practices, we should not expect that the mass incarceration epidemic will subside anytime soon.

What Does it Mean?  It means, keep your behind out of jail!  Now unfortunately, for minorities, there’s not always a way to avoid being profiled or wrongfully accused.  If you are falsely accused of a crime and have minimal resources to defend yourself, it might be that even living on the up and up is not a guarantee, which is a tragic reality.  However, intentionally living on the wrong side of the law has never been more dangerous. If you honestly want to survive in a country that has decided you don’t matter, it might be time to rethink the thug life.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about your health and well-being.

Trump and his posse wasted no time in taking steps to repeal Obamacare and are, for some odd reason, proud to be yanking affordable health insurance from millions of Americans.  There have also been talks of cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which means the support systems many people have come to rely on are in jeopardy.

What Does it Mean? This means that it might be time to cut back on the Cokes, Whoppers, and soul food and start getting more familiar with the produce section at your local grocery store.  We might need to chill on the Newports and Hennessy and start moving our body like Michelle Obama told us to.  If we refuse to make health a priority, I believe we’ll be in for a rude awakening when it becomes clear just how little money has been invested in keeping us alive.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about poverty. 

We all know that Republicans are always hollering about “entitlements” and I’m sure they will get busy slashing other programs including affordable housing, food subsidies, and aid to dependent children.

What Does it Mean? It means, let’s get back into school, and take a class at a time if you have to.  It may mean working as many jobs as you are able to, cutting frivolous spending, focusing on saving, and investing more time and energy into your children’s education so they will learn not to depend on the government for support.  As a social worker, I know how important certain programs are for needy families, but I no longer trust that my government is willing to acknowledge institutionalized racism and other disparities and disadvantages that make this support so vital for some.  Therefore it’s critical that we work against a welfare mentality and focus on doing whatever we can do reduce our dependence on anyone other than ourselves. See: Wake up, Wake up! (It’s The First of the Month)

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about a woman’s reproductive rights or the special challenges of womanhood or motherhood. 

I am not an abortion advocate, but I recognize that it is not my place to be judge and jury over another woman’s body or choices.  However, our government seems to be taking steps to interfere in a woman’s right to decide for herself what to do about an unplanned pregnancy.  This is especially ironic considering its intolerance of “entitlements” that would support a poor, single mother if she decided to give birth to her child.

What Does it Mean? This means, though you may pride yourself on ‘turning up” and “getting your freak on” you’re asking for trouble if you’re not exercising discernment in choosing your partners, practicing safe sex when you are sexually active, and setting yourself up for healthy relationships. Being smarter about your decisions and your approach to relationships in general can minimize the risk of more fatherless, single-parented, and economically disadvantaged homes that would be at the mercy of a Trump administration for assistance.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to acknowledge that all lives matter. 

In his first month in office, Trump has managed to trample over the rights of Native Americans by approving pipeline construction that puts the protected territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation at risk.  He’s also moved to ban many peaceful and lawful Muslims from entering the country, and has reaffirmed his commitment to building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country despite their contribution to American industry.  There seems to be a growing disdain for people who are different as evidenced by the increasing hate crimes occurring all over the country.  It is simply not safe to be a minority in this country, and frankly, never has been.

What Does it Mean? This means that our lives have to matter to us first.  If we object to the unnecessary killing of unarmed Black men by police, we have to be equally appalled by the unnecessary killing of one by another Black man.  If we will not tolerate others using racial slurs or insults towards us, we cannot use them against each other.  If we know that the government will not advocate for poor and single parent homes, lets work harder to maintain our relationships, stay married, and keep both parents in the home for their children.  If the government will not advocate for our children if they get caught up in the criminal justice system, lets rally around our youth by teaching, mentoring, and guiding them away from a life of crime.  Let’s work harder to stay sober minded and refuse to contribute to the destruction of our own people by peddling poison and enabling behavior that does not edify and uplift our community.  As an African American woman, I have always supported the efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement but I maintain that Black lives have to matter MOST to Black people if we are ever going to reach our maximum potential.

There is nothing wrong with demanding that our political leaders acknowledge our interests and work on behalf of ALL the people they were elected to serve.  However, my name is not Vladimir Putin, so I didn’t have anything to do with Donald Trump winning the Presidency.  Yet, even though he may have won this first round, the rest of us still have a chance.  As long as we remain focused, creative, ambitious, smart, and play the hand we were dealt with integrity and skill, we can still win this game.  He might have the name, but YOU and I are the Trump cards, and there’s never been a better time to play them.

“What then shall we say in response to these things?

 If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:31