White is the New Black

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Thought For The Day:
“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace, toasted with beauty.  My Lord, she’s a Black woman.”
Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan

 

Question For The Day:
Do you truly believe your Black is beautiful?

 

I hope this post finds all my family, friends and followers (and those who did a random internet search and landed here by mistake) chilling this summer and enjoying some long overdue fun in the sun with your loved ones. I know it’s been a minute since my last post, but alas, your girl is back in effect.  I’ve recently come back from a much needed vacation myself and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful state of Florida this year with my family.  Anytime you spend a lot of time in the sun or on the beach, it’s natural for us ladies to develop a heightened sense of self-consciousness which seemed to confirm the need for this post.  Unless you’re gunning for a heat stroke, summer months require that more of our body be exposed and as is typical of many Black women, I’m working with more than my fair share of T & A.  I found myself concerned with stuff like whether all my Mother Africa hips would fit on the Harry Potter ride at Universal or if I dare go without a sports bra under my swimsuit and risk scarring small children on the beach with each big wave.

For Black women in particular, fun in the sun is not as straight-forward as it is for other women.  For us, spending time near the water not only means our bodacious figures are on display for admiration (and sometimes critique), but we must also contend with our hair. (See: Because I’m Nappy!)  Most Black women can’t just take a quick dip and let our hair air dry into perfect sun-kissed ringlets.  No ma’am, we must stand toe-to-toe with disobedient kinks that generally tend to rebel in the face of water threats.  And even tanning takes on new meaning for the woman of color.  Personally, I love the richer color that extra time in the sun affords, but I sadly know many Black women who shy away from the sun and verbalize their fear of “getting too black” during the summer months.  Though summer should be a time to relax and enjoy our natural world, it is also a reminder that there are indeed different standards of beauty that can make the pool, waterparks, and the beach intimidating places for those of us whose looks defy convention.

Now, all of this was already fresh on my mind when I returned home, but then I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across an article involving Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones that drove my angst all the way home.
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In the article, it explained that this beautiful and talented sister who has literally had me on my floor crying laughing while watching her comedy special Problem Child, had apparently fallen victim to the relentless hate of racist internet trolls.  She had to temporarily leave Twitter all together to stop the barrage of hateful attacks on her looks.  These idiots felt it justified to liken Ms. Jones’ looks to Harambe the Gorilla, a dog, or a man.  They attacked her weight by posing the question, ‘who you gonna call, Weight Watchers?’ though she is far from overweight.  Others went in for the kill and flat-out called her a “big lipped coon” or made graphic sexual references that played directly into the stereotype that Black women are grossly hypersexual and are somehow up for being ejaculated on by redneck pigs.  Prior to all of this, I found it equally disturbing that in a Hollywood where every fashion designer is eagerly chomping at the bit to dress the stars of every blockbuster film, Leslie Jones had no takers for the Ghostbusters premiere until she complained on social media and Project Runway champion Christian Siriano stepped up.  If a job and free publicity are up for grabs what exactly is the hesitation?  What are we as tall and/or fuller-figured Black women supposed to think about ourselves after the Leslie Jones snub?  Do these designers believe their gowns are too good to be wasted on the Black woman?   Would Leslie Jones make a top designer’s dress look bad and if so, why exactly?  I’ll wait…..

 

The inconvenient truth is that we as Black women are quick to proclaim that “Our Black is Beautiful” and “Black Girls Rock” because frankly, someone’s got to do it!  Society’s beauty standards do not applaud broad noses, wide hips, kinky hair, blackberry skin, big lips, thick thighs, and cornrows unless of course they’re on the Kardashians.  Even Beyonce’ proclaiming that she loves her “baby hair and afros” is sort of lost under the mountain of blonde extensions she opted to rock in her most pro-Black music video ever.  Keeping it gully, as far as the media goes, Blackish seems to be a lot more palatable than straight up Black.  Being “too Black” is generally a recipe for rejection as evidenced by the Leslie Jones Twitter travesty.  If you want to be considered a beautiful Black woman by mainstream standards then you better have AT LEAST one of the following though a combination of two or more is expected if you want folks to put some RESPECK on it:

1) “Good Hair”
2) Eyes that are Anything but Brown
3) Keen Features
4) Light Skin

5) Slender Physique with a Small Waist (but of course the big butt and boobs can stay)

Without these features, many sisters may be overlooked or outright rejected by family, childhood peers, and of course men who might even be clueless enough to admit their ignorance.  I’m thinking of rappers like A$AP Rocky who apparently doesn’t think dark-skinned women need to wear red lipstick or Consequence who says “light skin is the right skin.”  Lil Wayne once said that when it comes to beautiful Black women, “I bet that b***h look better red ” and Young Berg apparently “don’t like dark butts.”   Kevin Hart has joked that “light skinned women usually have better credit than these ‘broke ass dark hoes'” ( a myth that as a lighter-skinned woman, I can single-handedly debunk).  Will Smith was checking for the “honey with the light eyes” in his hit ‘Summertime’ and everybody (except the Black woman) was stunned when MSNBC’s Don Imus felt it appropriate to refer to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.”  With so much hate for Black womens’ beauty, what are us nappy heads to do?  Well, you could take a page from rapper Little Kim’s playbook and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you won’t be resigned to life as a broke down “dark butt” for long.

Get a Good Deal on Some Good Hair – If you are one of the unfortunate Black women who was born with 4C kinks that sadly don’t blow in the wind and shrink disrespectfully when wet, then just buy some.  What’s an extra $800 when some Malaysian woman was willing to sacrifice her precious dead ends so that you could achieve true beauty.  You could even take it a step further a dye it blonde.  Trust me, no one will be the wiser.

01 May 1998 --- Rapper Lil' Kim --- Image by © Jack Chuck/CORBIS OUTLINE

Become the Honey with the Light Eyes – Who doesn’t appreciate a good colored contact lens especially when just for a moment people might suspect that instead of Indian, you must have some Swedish in your family. Yes, it’s strange, but you won’t look any creepier than Wesley Snipes in Blade: Trinity or Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn.  Oh wait, they both played the undead.  Never mind, moving on…
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When it Comes to Facial Features, Slice it Up… I mean, Spice it Up! – What better way to deal with those ‘Jackson Five nostrils’ than to let a plastic surgeon practice his Hibachi skills on your face.  Why let a little Elephant Man swelling, blood, bruising, bandages, infection risk and a potential pain pill addiction stop you from achieving perfection.  Check out how well it’s worked so far for the Queen Bee. (sips tea)

 

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Lighten Up – You don’t have to luck up and contract a “rare skin condition” like Michael Jackson to be the “redbone” on someone’s team.  There are plenty of skin bleaching creams that, just like a good bottle of Clorox, will scrub those stubborn Melanin stains right out.

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Get Bodied- Do whatever it takes (lyposuction, lifts, augmentation, implants, the grapefruit cleanse, veganism) just make sure that when all is said and done, the only Black womanhood left on your body is in your bra and panties.  Since it’s the man-hungry, twerk-obsessed Black women we’re talking about, what else matters anyway right?

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Listen, Lil Kim and too many other Black women have lost sight of all that makes us such spectacular demonstrations of beauty.  We’re so busy trying to become “Becky with the good hair” that we’re literally erasing the little Black girl within by convincing ourselves that our crown full of strong, versatile, and dynamic locks is a nuisance.  We resent the attention that chocolate skin attracts when it shines unrepentantly on a summer day.  We apologize for our commanding presence, girth and stature that are likely remnants of a royal heritage.  While we’re making plastic surgeons, beauty supply shops, weave technicians, nail salons, and estheticians rich, others are paying good money to tan, pump their lips with collagen, and enlarge their butts in an effort to emulate the beauty we reject.  Some of us have all but decided that standing in the fullness of our natural beauty is not worth the hassle and insecurity.  When we don’t practice self acceptance and allow ourselves to be brainwashed by society’s beauty standards, we forget that the essence of Black womanhood is indeed beautiful and to be admired, respected and preserved.  Women who vandalize themselves to achieve society’s stamp of approval commit a spiritual atrocity against themselves, their ancestors and our daughters.  By eradicating all that’s organic to Black womanhood, we write our beauty off as irrelevant and out-of-style.  If Lil’ Kim is any indication, not only is Black beauty disposable but essentially, White is the New Black and personally, I don’t want to watch that show.  Without self-love, it’ll never be a hit anyway.

 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalms 139:14

 

 

Girl, Bye! 5 Clues You’re in a Fake Friendship

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Thought for the Day:

“We never lose friends.  We simply learn who the real ones are.”

Question for the Day:

Do you entertain fake friendships?

If you’re a fan of old school hip hop, then you might appreciate the fact that Whodini’s classic jam “Friends” is playing in the recesses of my mind as I begin this post.


“Friends, how many of us have them?

Friends, ones we can depend on?

Before we go any further, lets be friends.

Friends is a word we use everyday

Most of the time we use it in the wrong way

Now you can look the word up, again and again

But the dictionary doesn’t know the meaning of friends…”

The song goes on to explain that “friends” shouldn’t be a catch-all term.  All of us, at some point, will have to determine whether our friendships are genuine or if the people we call “friends” are simply users, or worse yet, haters in disguise.  The older I get, the more I realize just how difficult it is to classify someone as a true friend.  I’ve always heard my mother say that if a person is lucky, they will find one or two faithful friends in their lifetime who will always be there when it counts.  Up until this point in my life, I’ve not found making friends to be particularly difficult.  Yet, now that I’m a full grown woman with full grown challenges, I am understanding more and more what she meant.

It was 1984 when “Friends” dropped and I was probably in the fourth or fifth grade.  When it came to making friends in elementary school, it was ridiculously straight-forward.   We pretty much clicked with anyone who was willing to play with us at recess and if you had above par rope-turning skills in double dutch, you could easily be bestie material.  In high school, most of us were searching for a sense of personal identity and validation for that identity, so we generally liked anyone who liked us.  For me as a Black girl going to a predominately White high school, all the other Black kids were my friends.  Sure, I didn’t really like them all, but we related to each other’s insecurities and I knew that with them, I was at least preliminarily accepted and acceptance at this stage is paramount.  From there, it was on to Howard University which also presented few hurdles to facilitating friendships.  College, in general, is a natural breeding ground for effortless connection because everyone is away from home for the first time and scared to death while simultaneously itching to test the limits of their newfound freedom.  Our college friends kept us safe while being willing accomplices in our shenanigans.

After graduation, I still had few issues. There’s a certain comradarie between women who are young and unattached.  There’s the unifying desire for a husband and accompanying fear that one may never materialize which makes young single females an automatic sorority of sorts.  There’s the sense that we’re all in this together (until someone gets a husband, of course). When you’re in your prime and not tied down, it’s easy to be available for spur of the moment escapades and all-nighters at the club.  It’s never hard to find a buddy who’s down for a little “puff puff give” followed by 4 am Taco Bell binges.   Without the stress of a demanding career or growing  family responsibilities, you can be more hands on and involved in your friendships in young adulthood.  Life has generally not gotten too deep yet, and there’s little consequence for dealing with the irritating aspects of a friend’s personality.  If at the end of the day, you can throw back a couple of shots and forget about how badly your homegirl gets on your nerves, then who cares what kind of person she truly is if all you want is a sidekick on Ladies Night?

Yet, now that I’ve moved into my forties, I’m realizing that my cool quotient must have drastically declined because I’m finding it much harder to make new connections.  Back in the day,  having fun was at the top of my list where spiritual development, marriage, raising my family, career, and maintaining sanity are easily today’s Top Five.  Making friends has to somehow be squeezed into the cracks of my life which provides limited opportunity to establish a new crew.  Granted, I live in Mississippi now, but the struggle is most definitely real, and my closest friends are still the ones who’ve stuck with me throughout my life and already know what I’m about.

But to keep it real, another huge part of what has changed is that I have a lot less patience for BS. The older I get, the more honest I’ve become.  I no longer have the energy to pretend to be something I’m not and I was never one to keep up with the Joneses.  I’m not interested in impressing anyone with the material items I’ve accumulated (maybe because I haven’t accumulated much), but I absolutely despise pretending to like people for the sake of having someone around.  I know the fact that I’m busy is partly to blame for my dismal friendship skills, but this growing culture of fake friendships with its two-faces,  air kisses, insincere compliments, back stabbing, gossip , hateration, shade and side eyes seems to not just be fodder for the Real Housewives but something many of the people I meet subscribe to.  People only seem interested if they think you have something to offer. Every conversation seems to resemble a carefully worded social media post in which everything is wonderful and it’s all coming up roses.  I almost feel like something is wrong with me when I try to have a genuine conversation with someone new.  I don’t want to have to pretend to have it all together in order to make friends.  People might give me the screwface if I dare admit that I’m struggling financially or that I don’t always juggle all the balls in my life successfully.  Some days I feel like I deserve an award just for catching up the laundry or making a meal that doesn’t involve a box. What I long for most at this juncture is to be real with God, myself and everyone else.  If I’ve got to put up a front or perform for you in order to appear cool enough for your companionship then I’d rather not bother.  This is why, in my opinion, an ability to be fully transparent is what I would call the mark of authentic friendship.  Yet as we get older and the stakes get higher, there’s so much more to our image to protect.  Instead of recognizing the need for more support, we put up more walls and wear masks that will keep others at a safe distance.

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Are we really friends if all I see is the polished image you put forth?  Are we really friends if I can’t come to you when I’m in crisis?  Are we really friends if I’m embarrassed for you to see my house when it’s dirty or my hair when it’s a mess?  Are we really friends when you cannot be trusted with my truth?  My answer is no, but just in case you’re unsure, here are five clues that may help you determine if your bestie is really a friend or nah.

  1. They Only Come Around When You Have Something to Offer

I have personal experience with this one.  If you’ve been reading me from the beginning, I may have mentioned somewhere that I graduated with a degree in Radio, Television and Film and worked in Hollywood after I graduated from Howard.  I was actually a producer’s and writers’ assistant on television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Jamie Foxx Show.  Now, I’d love to tell y’all that I used to shoot the breeze with Jamie Foxx between takes but the truth is I was more familiar with the computer I typed scripts on,  the mailbox, the coffee maker, and the telephone I was expected to answer.  Yet, anybody that knew what I did for a living seemed to think I was living the highlife.  Not only did I have struggling comedians and aspiring actors trying to date me, but I suddenly had a ton of girlfriends.  I guess they thought I had the hook up and they weren’t always subtle about asking me to slide their headshot to the producers, but I still believed they liked me for me.  Well, when my Hollywood career hit a snag and I started to feel God calling me in a different direction, I decided to take a teaching job in Compton, CA.  Despite being satisfied with my decision, it wasn’t long before I was straight outta friends!  Take it from me, if your friend only wants to hang when you have money, status, and connections but then disappears when the perks dry up, she’s not your girl.  A real friend enjoys your company and values you for who you are.  Real friends just want you to bring yourself to the table, but fake friends are always looking around for the hot sauce.

2. They Don’t Celebrate Your Successes

Ever notice that your girl is always there when you’re having an argument with your man or when you’re on the brink of losing it, but is strangely absent when things take a turn for the better?  They’re all up in your business when your situation is not as good as there’s but suddenly go mute when they’re no longer a step ahead.  These are the friends that say they support your dreams but then ignore the invites to like your business’  Facebook page.  (Commence rant)  How much time and energy could it possibly require to take a millisecond to tap your finger on a button?  You take ten times as long to pick your nose, but can’t find the time to do something so simple which could actually propel someone’s dream forward.  I mean seriously, IT’S JUST A FREAKIN’ CLICK!!!!!  (Conclude Rant)  Anyway, I’ve found that a real friend is there to cheer you on every step of the way and they want to see you succeed.  They are eager to throw your bridal shower, pass out flyers for your salon, or be your accountability partner in the gym. Yet, if your girl always seems to choke when a well-deserved congratulations is in order, she’s probably running low on Haterade.

3. Being Around Them is Hard Work

Hanging with a friend is not supposed to be a chore.  If I’m really in a funky mood, but have to work overtime to put on a fake smile, do my make-up, make sure my house is on point, and prep my husband on what he is and isn’t allowed to say in your presence then a friendship with you will feel more like a political campaign than a genuine bond.  A real friend will allow you to be yourself.  I can’t be worried about whether or not you believe I “slayed” today so just go ahead and eliminate me now because like Fantasia says, I got no time for it.

4. It’s All About Them

Friendship should be a two-way street and there should be a mutual benefit for both parties.  However, I’ve known people who act as if life is their own independent movie and they’ve cast themselves in the starring role.  The rest of us are just bit players.  If they’re in trouble, you are expected to drop everything and rush to their side. If they reach a milestone, you’re supposed to organize a ticker tape parade in their honor.  Every conversation is about them and they usually don’t even think to inquire about what goes on in your world. I’ve had “friends” where I could literally just answer a call and hold the phone to my ear.  An occasional “uh huh” or “what?” can be enough to somehow participate in an hour long conversation.  The one-up game is also always in effect.  They will always manage to find a way to overshadow your accomplishments.  If you get a promotion, they’ve got a better one.  If you’ve met a new guy, they’re suddenly madly in love with their soul mate.  Your progression is always minimized but they might pat you on the back occasionally for your “lil’ job” or your “‘lil’ relationship.”  When it comes to life with a self-absorbed person, the world is their stage and those cast as “friends” are supposed to feel lucky they’ve even gotten a speaking part.

5. Secret Shade

Passive aggressive comments (If you weren’t my friend, I’d knock you out), sarcasm (Sure, you’ll find a man girl.  Keep hope alive like Jessie Jackson), insults that are passed off as jokes (Girl, your natural is cute but you look like Buckwheat’s little sister from behind), insensitive jabs (Don’t be late or I might divorce you like Mike did), unnecessary criticism (You want to start a blog?  Everybody and their mama has a blog), or negativity (I don’t know why you’re auditioning for that role again.  You’re probably too old for that part).

These covert attacks are all tools the fake friend uses to undermine your confidence and ensure that she maintains the upper hand in the relationship.  If she can keep you feeling insecure, you might just feel lucky to have her and remain committed to moving her life’s agenda forward.  Yet, real friends build you up.  They want you to feel good about yourself and empower you with positive encouragement.  A fake friend hates to see you feeling yourself and will throw just enough shade to make sure you don’t start loving yourself more than you love being her friend.

I’ll conclude by saying that it’s up to all of us to be good stewards of the mind, body, and spirit God has given us by being more careful about who we choose to do life with.  The same way a true friend can enhance your life is the same way a fake one can undermine it.  Personally, I’m no longer willing to betray myself for the sake of being down with anyone.  I’ll continue to trust God to send like-minded people my way who will support me in fulfilling His purpose for my life.  So, if all you have for me is shade, girl bye!  I can’t have you blocking my light.

“A friend loves at all times…”

Proverbs 17:17

 

 

 

Idolatry Much? The Lemonade Stand

 

 

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Thought For The Day:

“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.”

Albert Einstein

Question For The Day:

Do you worship celebrities?

 

Okay, I already know I better brace myself because I’m probably about to be attacked by a swarm of killer “beys” for this one, but that’s okay. I’m not allergic.  However, I do implore whomever may stumble across this post to read it in its entirety before going in and labeling me a hater.  Contrary to popular belief, an honest assessment is not always hate, and critical analysis is not always shade.  Nevertheless, I suspect some “Beylievers” will stand ready to rip this commentary to shreds even though it is far from my intent to diminish Beyoncé’s God-given gifts in any way.  Yet, an objective approach to any dialogue concerning the pop diva generally seems to result in immediate backlash. There may be hell to pay for anyone having the audacity to speak Beyoncé’s name outside of the context of totally lionizing her talents and hailing her the reigning Queen of…well everything, I suppose.

Unless you live beyond the Milky Way, you know that Beyonce’ just graced the universe last week with the release of her latest project, a visual album entitled “Lemonade.”  I, like everyone else, started my subscription to her husband’s Tidal Music (that I will assuredly cancel prior to the end of my 30 day free trial period) so that I could check it out. My honest opinion?   Fire!!!  Beyoncé pretty much developed the perfect  musical soundtrack for the woman ensnared in marital drama.  I mean, homegirl put it down on this one.  If you need some mood music while in route to your husband’s job to slash his tires, play “Don’t Hurt Yourself” cause you’ll surely get the job done.  If you’ve decided to stay out all night at the club in order to get revenge on a spouse gone astray, bump “Sorry” and you’ll twerk all night.  “Sandcastles” will have you in tears as you consider a last ditch effort to salvage a floundering marriage, and “Formation” will have you at a Donald Trump rally crunk!   The album, videos and accompanying poetry were all truly entertaining and resonated with me as an African American woman.  As a Beyonce fan, I think it’s by far her best work and the first time I’ve felt she might be a genuine person under all the industry polish.  Though I am able to admire her talent as an artist and recognize “Lemonade” as an undeniably good album, it seems to be oddly deeper than that for the die hard Beyhiver.

I remember being perplexed after Beyonce’ dropped “Formation” and performed it during the Super Bowl halftime show a couple months ago.  I liked the song immediately and enjoyed the performance but when I came across this poem, I had to scratch my head.

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The poem is awesome, no doubt, but I’m thinking, all of this for a song that boasts of carrying hot sauce and taking a man with quality bedroom skills to Red Lobster for Cheddar Bay biscuits?  I’m looking at Beyoncé’s blonde extensions as she sings about loving baby hair and afros and wondering what exactly does it mean for Beyoncé to “slay.”  I wondered if she was really calling for a revolution when she talked about rocking a Givenchy dress that most of the people who buy her records can’t even afford.  No, I’m not throwing shade, but pondering an honest question.  I can’t tell you how many articles came out calling “Formation” the “new Black anthem.”  But a quick review of the lyrics, apart from the video, would make anyone wonder why riding in choppers, buying J’s, wearing Albino Alligators, or sipping Cuervo pays homage to the work of the Black Panther Party.  What I saw was a lot of people making the song into whatever they wanted and needed it to be because it was Beyoncé who delivered it.  I don’t recall anyone calling the work of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu or Jill Scott revolutionary although they have historically been much more vocal on and off a track about their stance on social and political issues of cultural significance.  Why then is “Formation” enough to deem Beyonce’ the millennial Harriet Tubman?  Is the song honestly deep enough to carry the weight of a revolution or the Black Lives Matter movement or is everyone just geeked up because it’s Beyoncé?

Now, on to the release of “Lemonade.”  This time, I’m not just scratching my head but am truly concerned that the whole world has gone stark raving mad!  Some of the article headlines I’ve come across this go around have completely blown my mind.  Check out these Huffington Post headlines:

-“‘Lemonade’ is basically a video version of Black Feminist Lit 101.”

-“5 Clapbacks to Anyone Not Sipping the ‘Lemonade’.”

-“What to Read After Watching Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade'”

-“Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ Makes Me Want to Be a Better Black Woman.”

-“White Commentary on ‘Lemonade:’ No One Asked Us.”

-“Beyoncé Has Always Been Political – You Just Didn’t Notice.”

-“Beyoncé’s New Album is Finally Here Because There is a God.”

-“Sugar in Lemonade: Beyoncé, the Religion of Love and the Challenge of Redeeming History.”

-“How You Can Copy Beyoncé’s Yellow Dress from ‘Lemonade.'”

-“Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Candid Analysis of Why We Must Continue to Love that Cool, Refreshing Drink!”

-“What Beyoncé Got Right About Forgiveness According to Science.”

-“The Church Needs ‘Lemonade.'”

Say what now?  THE CHURCH NEEDS LEMONADE? Just let that marinate for a second.

Anyway, as I came across all of these essays, and critical analyses that attempted to deconstruct the underlying complexities of each track, I’m thinking my memo must have gotten lost in the mail.  I didn’t realize that Beyonce’ was elected to speak on behalf of  Black womanhood and that her lyrics were an accurate interpretation of the collective struggle of all Black women.  As a writer, I give much respect to Warsan Shire, the poet who contributed to the project.  Her beautiful words added the richness and depth of African spirituality and that intangible mystique of an old world New Orleans that shines so brightly in the essence of southern Black women.    I give massive kudos to Beyonce’ and her team of creative directors and cinematographers who produced a stunning collection of dynamic visual imagery that, for once, actually served and illuminated the beauty of women of color.  I can dig “Lemonade’s” themes of survival, resilience, self love and family which are all core principles of Get Lifted Girl.  But beyond that, we’re talking about some hot tracks, good vocals, slick talk, and some  catchy hooks that had me a lot more ready to party than nominate Beyoncé for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Can we keep it one hundred for a second and admit that there seems to be an assumption of perfection and an intense protectiveness around Beyoncé that goes beyond normal artistic admiration.  One almost feels like a traitor for having anything but absolute and unconditional praise for her or her music.  If you don’t believe me, try to offer even the slightest criticism on anything related to Beyoncé in any comment section on the internet, and be prepared to face the wrath of the Beyhive.  She is their appointed Queen, and anyone who thinks otherwise is seen as an insubordinate hater. Beyoncé may be a very sweet and down-to-earth person who may have little to do with all the current hype surrounding her. Yet, if you write a song that basically tells other women to “Bow Down Bitches,” it doesn’t do much to convince her over-zealous followers to chill when someone doesn’t immediately fall into formation. IJS

Look, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a fan of a particular celebrity or in drawing inspiration from someone’s talent or life’s work. I probably feel the same way about Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison that Millennials feel about Beyonce’.  Yet, what I’ve been witnessing over the course of this last week is something far more disturbing.  The dialogue surrounding Beyonce’ is obsessive and intolerant of critique.  It is grandiose and overblown.  Beyoncé, with the release of this one album, is essentially being credited with the salvation of Black women.  Because of “Lemonade,” we have learned to read, pray, “slay”, become empowered, stay married, embrace motherhood, and be better women.  I’ve seen people use terms such as “finding redemption” and being “born again” because they’ve apparently “discovered themselves” in Beyoncé’s lyrics.  Excuse me, but isn’t that putting WAAAAAAAY too much on it?  Who needs God if you’ve got Beyoncé?  The current discourse would almost suggest that we all forfeit bible study and just keep ‘Lemonade’ on repeat.  Even Beyoncé herself seems to recognize that people have made her an unwilling deity. At one point in the video for “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” she posted a quote that said “God is God, and I am not.”  The very fact that she has to remind her fans of that is what’s truly disheartening.  Not only does it prove that too many of us are hanging our hopes for healing, growth, and spiritual metamorphosis on popular music but it puts an unfair burden on pop stars like Beyoncé who are imperfect people trying to navigate this difficult journey called life just like the rest of us. Let Beyonce’ live her life and be allowed to focus on the work she’s here to do.  She is not called to be your Queen or your leader.  She can’t be the Black woman’s Savior.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So please ladies, let’s stop worshipping at the feet of “American Idols,” and offer our worship to the One True God.  Salvation, redemption, deliverance, and hope is streaming live daily through the blood of Jesus Christ and you don’t need a Tidal subscription to enjoy its benefits.  I know Christ isn’t trending much these days, but He’ll still be the only one who can quench your thirst when life gets hot and the ‘Lemonade” runs out.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Exodus 20:3

Mommy and Daddies: 7 Questions for the Dating Single Mom

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Thought for the Day:

“The most difficult part of dating as a single mother, is deciding how much risk your child’s heart is worth.”

Dan Pearce

Question for the Day:

As a single mom, do you date responsibly?


 

 

Well, once again I feel the need to apologize for my delayed posting.  Life has been hella real for me over the last couple of months between clients at work being on ten, my husband working mad overtime, and chauffeuring my kids around from band practice to baseball games. Things get hectic for me for sure, but the physical and mental exhaustion I’m feeling now as I begin this post, are in some ways the inspiration for it.  I’ve been wanting to write on single motherhood for awhile, but in all honesty, I questioned whether my perspective was valid enough to explore.  I secretly feared that single moms might take offense to a married woman attempting to speak on their behalf.  Although the struggle is real for married mothers as well, it is admittedly a different type of struggle.  Yet for the record, my husband works two night jobs.  So after 7:00 pm, I feel pretty much like a single mother.  I’m the only one here five nights out of the week to break up the arguments, facilitate chore duty, help with homework, kill the spiders, or unclog the toilets.  It is very difficult to work a full day on a demanding job, and then come home to my second full-time job of parenting.  There are plenty of nights that I just want to come home, crawl in my bed, order some take out and binge watch Nurse Jackie  instead of giving myself a migraine trying to decode the art portfolio better known as Common Core Math.  Most days, I’m just flat out too tired to do anything, including write, but the call of motherhood is relentless no matter what the heck I feel like.  This is why, although I can’t fully understand, I truly empathize with the challenges of single parenting.

For the single mother, life’s demands must feel even more overwhelming because there are generally less opportunities for relief.  At least in my case, I can count on my husband to make dinner before he goes to work and get the kids started on their homework although he leaves all the hard questions for me to explain (side eye).  I know he’ll go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions or pay the light bill while I’m at work.  He can be available to pick the kids up from school if they’re sick and can throw a load of clothes in the washing machine if I remember that my son’s baseball uniform is still marinating in yesterday’s funk.  I also know that at least two days a week he’ll be off and I can squeeze in a few hours of guilt-free vegetation on the couch while he makes up for lost time with the kids.  Though my life as a married woman is harder than most, it is still not as difficult as a single mom’s.  In my opinion, good single mothers deserve double honor because they are doing the work of two people at home, and are usually holding down a job (or two) to boot. If it is up to you to solve all of the problems, remember everything, make all the plans, administer all the discipline, make all the money, pay every bill, and basically be the brains and brawn behind your family’s entire operation, it would be totally understandable for you to get tired of playing all positions and want some help!  If you are a single mother who is wearing your knees out praying for God to draft a new player to your team, trust me, you get no shade from me.  You’re probably praying that a good man finds you the same way I’m praying that a good day job finds my husband.

Now, even though it is completely understandable for a single mother to desire a partner, it is not understandable or acceptable for her to open her life and family up to any and all takers.  The “any man is better than no man” mantra might work if it’s just you and you’re up for another spin on the emotional roller coaster, but most children are not tall enough to ride that ride.  As a therapist, I cannot stand to see women make horrible decisions in their love relationships especially when their kids will often pay the price for their bad choices.  Furthermore, it’s terrible to have an adult in therapy who is suffering with emotional issues or addiction because they are still not over the fact that their mom allowed some boyfriend, “play daddy” or pretend “uncle” to molest or abuse them.  Not only do many women overlook how bad their boyfriends may treat their kids, some will even blame their children for whatever abuse occurs.  That’s not just a plot line in Precious but probably the most common story I’ve heard from troubled clients in therapy.   A quick search of the internet will soon prove that abuse of children at the hands of mommy’s boyfriend is ridiculously common. I think it was just recently that I read a story about a 9 year old little boy who died at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend because he ate the last slice of birthday cake.  Someone in the home got worried that that the boy was being beaten too badly and called an ambulance only to have the boy’s mother wave them away when they arrived.  The boy was beaten within an inch of his life before they finally got him to the hospital where he later died.  Does the death penalty with a huge slice of birthday cake as a last meal sound good to anyone else?

Now, not all the men that single mothers bring around their children are bad.  Single women get blessed with good husbands all the time.  However, if you are immature and not yet the best partner in the world yourself, you may not be ready for or even open to a good man when he comes along.  In fact, many single mothers are not single because they were left high and dry by deadbeats.  Some are single mothers because they were still running the streets and game playing when they conceived their children.  Some were just partying too hard or trying to keep a man that probably didn’t need to be kept.  These single mothers may not be letting the responsibility of motherhood mature them and wouldn’t know what to do with a good man if he showed up anyway.  Stand-up men may enter their lives with full intentions of stepping up to the plate, only to be labeled “corny” or too straight-laced for the single mother still looking to drop it like its hot.  I don’t know why it always seems that the women least in the market for a quality man, tend to find them, but I know that it sets innocent children up for multiple losses and a lifetime struggle with abandonment issues. Irresponsible mothers tend to introduce various men into their kids’ lives just to turn around and end relationships that their children may have come to rely on.  It’s not fair to drag a child through your relationship drama and force him/her to cut off their emotional attachments to the man in mom’s life on a moment’s notice whenever she’s bored and ready to move on.  All mothers know that once you have children, it isn’t about you anymore so you don’t get to “do you” without considering the consequences for your children.  So, if you’re a single mother who’s in the market for a mate, here are some questions to ask yourself before you bring a new man into your children’s lives.

Are your children your top priority?  There should be absolutely nothing and no one that comes between you and your responsibility to love, nurture and protect your children.  I don’t care if he makes your toes curl, can get your furniture out of layaway or is the only man to take you to a “fancy” restaurant with no prices on the menu.  Being a good man to you does not necessarily make him a good man for your children.  If all the special treatment comes at the expense of your kids, then it shouldn’t be worth it.  Are you leaving them home alone more or with any and everybody just so that you can be “booed up” on the weekends?  Are you running the streets with “bae” instead of being home checking homework or cooking meals?  Are you forfeiting basketball money or school picture funds in the name of getting your hair and nails done because that’s what your “baby” likes?  If so, then you are neglecting your responsibilities and allowing a man who may or may not be in it for the long haul to cause you to lose focus on the family that certainly will be.  If he is a good man, he would never ask you to neglect your family.   He would understand why your time may be limited or that you may not be available if appropriate childcare is not in place.  If he doesn’t get why your children are your first priority, then he will never be a man that should be entrusted with their care long-term.

Do you want a good man or will anyone do?  Are you willing to wait on the quality man God has for you or will you take anyone who”accepts” you and your kids?  Remember, having children does not make you defective or handicapped.  Motherhood is not an STD that you have to feel guilty about exposing your partner to.  Bae isn’t doing you any favors because he’s willing to share his PlayStation  with your son.  If he’s a good man and you’re a good woman, then your children would be an additional blessing to his life.  Don’t settle for less than you deserve because you’ve bought into the lie that you’d better consider all the mouths you have to feed and take what you can get.  If you do this, then you’re also teaching your children that they are partly responsible for your bad choice in a mate and therefore must put up with whatever backlash results.

Does the man you’re dating already have children and if so, what’s his relationship with them?    I mean seriously, you want to bring a man with four kids and three baby mamas in on you and your kids?  If he is not taking responsibility for his own flesh and blood, what on earth makes you think he’s looking to be a stand up guy for your children?  He either doesn’t like fatherhood or can’t afford it.  If he’s not paying child support as it is, what part of his check do you think he’s prepared to allot for you and yours? My guess is, he’s already in the rears and has his other baby mamas hounding him for payment.  He might just be “in love” with you in an effort to cut expenses and keep a permanent address off the record.

Do you have unresolved childhood issues of abuse or neglect yourself?   Part of our fragility as human beings is our tendency to heal pretty slowly from deep childhood wounds.  It’s also a common defense mechanism for us to stay in denial about the traumatic events we may have experienced.  Yet, without insight and awareness, many of us will unconsciously repeat our parents’ mistakes.  If your mother only dated men who laid around and drank forties, beat her or who were inappropriate with you and your siblings, it would be very easy to choose this same type of man for yourself.  Be sure that you are not playing a subconscious game in which you choose the same horrible “step daddy” for yourself so that you can rectify all of the wrongs in your past.

What are your deal  breakers when it comes to your children?  What will you allow in your household?  What will you not tolerate?  How is a man, WHO IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND allowed to treat your children?  In my opinion, the only role a boyfriend to a single mom should play is to support his woman in whatever decision she makes in terms of disciplining her kids.  He can help, support, encourage, and teach, but discipline is the job of a parent.  And only putting a ring on it and committing to a lifetime of responsibility for a woman and her children would qualify a man as a parent.  So I’m not understanding why so many women allow their boyfriends  to beat, disrespect, berate, manipulate, and intimidate the children God entrusted to their care.  You may try to blame your man for the sin like Adam did Eve in the garden, but at the end of the day, God is going to come looking for you.

Is the man you’re dating marriage material?  If your boo is nowhere close to being ready or equipped to carry the spiritual, financial or emotional load of a family then why are you confusing your children by playing house?  Why are you carting your kids and your boyfriend off to Olan Mills for fake family photos and threatening your misbehaving children with a sorry “wait ’til Ray Ray gets home?”  That is not their daddy!  I know you like to pretend but don’t make your children play the role because you’re not willing to face the fact that he’s not interested in making you his wife.

Are you honestly even ready to settle down and commit?  Are you in the market for a husband and a father for your children or do you just need help with your Comcast bill?  Are you just looking for a babysitter so you can kick it on Ladies Night with your girls or do you honestly want a partnership?  Stringing men along just to get your personal needs met may work for you, but it won’t work for a vulnerable child who is already struggling with the absence of his/her biological father. They will likely be eager to attach to any good man that might promise to fill that empty seat.  Live-in relationships are always serious to a child with a daddy void, even if it’s not serious to you. If you’re bent on playing the field, then cool.  Just make sure you bench the kids and run your own plays.

Remember ladies, you can audition as many daddies for your children as you want.  There is no sin in dating as a single mother or praying, planning, and preparing for the right man to enter your life. Just make sure you don’t burden your kids with the selection process.  Single mothers who hold it down in spirit and in truth on the daily are Queens indeed.  Many men are willing to “play daddy,” but only a King can be a father.

” Children are a gift from the Lord.  They are a reward from Him.”

Psalm 127:3

 

Side Piece, Be Still

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Thought For The Day:

“Never make someone your priority when all you are to them is an option.”

Maya Angelou

Question For The Day:

Are you settling for less than you deserve?

Well, we survived another Valentines Day, and I pray it proved enjoyable and love affirming for everyone reading.  If nothing else, it should always be an opportunity to show yourself some much deserved affection.  Yet as is traditional, I suspect that Valentines Day once again demonstrated its power to drive the dissatisfied single to the brink of desperation.  In fact, my Facebook timeline proved as much.  I know being “booed up” on V Day is a good look, but if you’d sell your soul for a little companionship and a 2 for $20 dinner date at Applebee’s, you might have this love thing twisted.  Valentines Day, like most holidays that have strong connotations of intimacy and family ties, tend to illuminate our desire for meaningful human relationships.  However, they also have a way of exposing the relationship smoke screens that thrive over text message or appear authentic in the privacy of an hourly-rated motel room, but are ultimately just facades.  If you claim to be involved with a man, but find yourself alone and in distress on major holidays, chances are the smoke has cleared and a broken-hearted “side piece” is all that remains.

What I find truly unfortunate, is that many women spend their entire lives living in an alternate reality.  They willingly engage in toxic love affairs that hold them hostage in a never-ending cycle of bait and switch that promises rewards that never materialize.  These women remain on the outskirts of genuine connection and may waste their best years admiring the greener pastures of committed love from the other side of the proverbial picket fence.  These “outside women” believe their man will eventually let them in, not realizing they’re the ones who have locked themselves out.  These are the other women that wayward husbands seek out when they feel like exploring the wilder borders beyond the monotony of home.  These men (and I use that term loosely) are more than happy to jump the fence every once in a while.  Cheaters are down to explore because they hold the key and can return to the safety of holy matrimony whenever unchartered territory becomes too treacherous to navigate.  While I’ll address how to deal with a cheating man in a later post,  today my aim is to speak to the heart of the “side piece” who waits patiently from a safe distance until her man can come out and play.

Side pieces are the coleslaw to a man’s fried chicken or the baked beans to his ribs.  They’re the tasty side item that can supplement a greedy man’s diet, but they’ll never be ordered as the main dish.  So if you or someone you know is a certified “side piece” who is wasting valuable seconds on the clock trying to call the game from the sidelines, this post is for you.  So what sorts of cognitive distortions are to blame for the miseducation of the side piece?  What is at the core of this brand of dysfunction?  Well, I personally wouldn’t know, but I’ve been a counseling professional long enough to offer some suggestions.  I give you Side Piece Memeology 101.  Feel free to take notes.

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Side Pieces Have Bought Into The Fantasy

I might be one of very few Black women who never got into Scandal.  No shade to Kerry Washington or Shonda Rhimes who I think are both beautiful and incredibly talented, but my multiple attempts to binge-watch on Netflix continue to fail.  To keep it real, I frankly just don’t buy that a character as commanding and gorgeous as Olivia Pope with all her intelligence and propensity for problem solving would be compromising enough to be the side chick, even if it is to the President. Yet because she does it with so much flair, I think side pieces everywhere have convinced themselves that like Olivia, they too can make adultery look fly!  There’s nothing sexier than sleeping with your man right under his wife’s nose and knowing that he’s willing to sacrifice it all for your love.  But the inconvenient truth is, Scandal is a television show, you ain’t Olivia Pope and your man is likely nowhere close to being President.  That kind of reckless abandon works for dramatic television but is often not pragmatic for the average Joe that’s stepping out on his wife.  Most real life two-timers wouldn’t risk losing a job at Target.  They can’t afford a divorce or the subsequent child support payments for the sake of anyone’s “love.”  Real talk, he probably just wants to hit it. All the extra backstory and sentimental context you try to attach, is probably all in your head.  IJS

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Side Pieces Believe “The Wife” Will Relent

Well, you might get lucky and get with a married man whose marriage has truly hit the skids.  His wife might have already checked out and is grateful to the side piece for taking him and his disobedient penis off her hands.  But by and large, most wives aren’t going down without a fight.  If she has invested a significant amount time in her marriage and/or has minor children with your man, she is not going to just step aside and let you take her position.  If and when she ever decides to leave him, it won’t be because you’re tired of waiting your turn.  She is entitled to half of everything he has, is raising his children, and knows everything about him including all the stuff he doesn’t want you or anyone else to know.  If this was a game of spades, his wife would be holding ALL the books and you’d be set before the game even began.  The wife will always play her hand because she knows she’ll win in the end, one way or another.

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Side Pieces Live in Denial About the State of Their Man’s Marriage

I know he gave you the sob story about how his wife just doesn’t understand him and how they’ve simply grown apart.  He’s staying for the kids and doesn’t want to disrupt their routine.  He would leave tomorrow if it wasn’t so “complicated” and of course, sex with his wife is nothing like it is with you.  Poor baby, right?  The side piece then becomes this sad soul’s rescuer, his refuge.  She convinces herself that she’s his savior and the only one that can hold him down during this most difficult season of his life.  This is all plausible until he announces he can’t be in contact for two weeks because he’s going on a Disney cruise with his family (but just for the kids of course).  You notice his upgraded wedding band and the new minivan he’s driving, but still you believe he’s suffering through all his wife’s birthday parties, family reunions and school recitals. He’s really trying hard not to obsess over your good lovin’ and is counting the seconds until he can once again bask in the sanctuary that is your studio apartment. (sips tea)  Moving on.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Day Is Coming

Married men who cheat are master manipulators.  They appear to be quite adept at holding the carrot of commitment just out their side woman’s reach. She then might dedicate many years to trying to grab it.  False promises and well-timed gifts have a way of confusing a woman with limited self worth.  One might become so preoccupied with waiting for her man’s divorce announcement, that she forgets to pay attention to the realities of her own life.  If she’s not careful, she might wait through her child-bearing years or wait her way out of greater job prospects.  She may end up waiting forever all because she’s afraid of leaving too soon and missing the big pay day.  If this is you, here’s the news flash.  The check is going to bounce and so should you.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Man Is Trustworthy

I know it’s been said before but it’s worth repeating.  If he would cheat on his wife with you, surely he would cheat on you with the next chick.  My guess is you’re likely already being cheated on. You might think you’re auditioning for the role of Wife but might actually be an under study for the role of Side Piece #2.  We women have a terrible habit of trying to mold and shape men into who we want them to be.  Like K. Michelle sings, you can’t raise a man.  If he is an adulterer, he has proven to have major character defects including dishonesty, disloyalty, and minimal integrity to name a few.  I think a man like that needs Jesus, but you believe a sample of your goodies is all he needs to be saved.  Please note: good sex does not equal good man.  Just because you can trust him to satisfy you in bed doesn’t mean he can be trusted to satisfy you in life.

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Side Pieces Believe Their Man Deserves Loyalty

Many side pieces wouldn’t dare dream of cheating on their cheater.  Perhaps it’s all the expensive suites at the Red Roof Inn or the plethora of hand me down bling he’s thrown her way that makes her feel strangely indebted.  How in the world do you owe a relationship born of unfaithfulness your fidelity?  You may owe his wife an apology for sure, but you would owe him nothing but deuces if you finally decided to walk away and pursue a legitimate relationship.  How crazy is it that an adulterous man would expect his faithful side piece to “keep it home” while he makes his home elsewhere?  If you fall for this type of hype, then like Malcolm X said, you’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok!  Get your life girl!  He’s certainly gotten his and you wouldn’t be playing the margins if you were truly a part of it.

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Side Pieces Deny Their Lack of Self-Esteem

I know you look fierce in the Louboutins he bought you.  You probably feel like the baddest bish https://getliftedgirl.org/2015/03/20/the-baddest-bish/when you’re able to stunt on all your girlfriends who wish they had a man to “take care of them” like yours.  Say whatever you must to save face, but you and all your girlfriends already know the truth.  Knowing that the man you love does not value you enough to offer you commitment, sacrifice, dedication, or partnership is most certainly hurtful.  Subjecting yourself to this type of pain is the mark of a woman with low self-esteem.  We women will demand what we deserve in almost every other aspect of our lives.  If we’re skilled in our professions, we won’t let someone pay us minimum wage.  So why do we keep accepting pieces of a man instead of holding out for the entire package?  I recently watched Tyrese and Rev Run’s Show It’s Not You, It’s Men and Rev Run said something that also bears repeating.  “If you truly love yourself, you’ll take crap from no one.”  Only women who question their value will sell themselves cheap.  A man who would step out on his wife, is looking for a rock bottom discount that will cost him as little as possible.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a “behind the locked glass” kind of woman where the side piece has relegated herself to the bargain bin.  Still cute or nah?

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Side Pieces Are Chronically Jealous

Hate is a preventable disease.  Why make yourself sick counting the next woman’s blessings instead of discovering your own? If you’re salty about all the time and luxuries the wife enjoys then take it up with your man.  If he hasn’t done as much for you then clearly, there is no competition.  You can’t beat someone at their own game so if you’re tired of coming in last, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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Side Pieces Deserve More

The bottom line is this.  All women are worthy of authentic, committed love.  Being married is not an indication of better looks, character, or personality.  As a married woman, I can assure you that we often carry the same emotional baggage as any single lady, which is why side pieces with poor self-esteem shouldn’t get a pass.  We women can’t continue to use our issues as an excuse to sin. Sleeping with a married man is wrong, period.  It hurts other women, breaks up families, scars innocent children, contributes to the delinquency of an undisciplined husband, and often leads to the spiritual death of the side piece herself.  If you’ve already wasted too much time chasing an illusion of love, please stop.  Side piece, be still and know that the one you’ve been waiting for, is God.

“Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

Waiting for Captain Save ‘Em: 5 Ways Gold Diggers Play Themselves

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Thought for the Day:

“A man is not a financial plan.”

Question for the Day:

Are you looking for a man to save you?

Alright, so how many of you are looking forward to Valentine’s Day because it represents an opportunity to cash in on an expensive dinner or a gift that can hopefully be featured in your next well-crafted social media post?  I can see my timeline now.  Endless pics of open jewelry boxes and dew-kissed bouquets of flowers complete with sticky sweet hashtags like #someonelovesme or #frombae. I can hardly wait. (deadpan)  Don’t get me wrong y’all, I enjoy nice things too and would love to have a little something extra to add to my jewelry box this year.  Yet, with me and my husband’s current budgetary constraints, I’ll be satisfied with some form of extravagant dessert and a foot massage.  I’ve never been a materialistic person, but when you’re raising three kids and have experienced real financial hardship, stuff that is often purchased to represent love becomes far less valuable than the respect, trust, and loyalty that actually IS true love.  What matters most to me now after almost fifteen years of marriage is that my husband continues to go to work, be a good father, stay faithful, and support me.  As long as he does these things, I don’t really need an expensive token of affection because a man’s “act right” is worth infinitely more.  However, many women still believe that “love” is all about the dollars and cents and have lost sight of what makes a healthy relationship truly precious.  Strangely enough, a West Coast hip hop icon was one of the first to teach me this lesson.

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If you were anywhere near Cali around 1993-1994 you couldn’t go far without hearing E-40’s “Captain Save a ‘Em” bumping out someone’s subwoofers.  I was about twenty at the time and remember going home on summer break from Howard University and being introduced to it by my boyfriend at the time.  This underground classic is still to this day, one of my jams.  If you’ve never heard it, it basically suggests that women who have expensive tastes or children in need of support should be on the look out for “Captain Save ‘Em,” a man who might be eager to offer financial support in exchange for sexual favors.  I’m being really politically correct here because I realize that my super spiritual sisters may take offense to me admitting that this is my song, but it is what it is.  E-40 has a unique cadence and way of dismantling vocabulary that is not only profoundly original but often, flat out funny!  Not only is this song’s beat off the chain, but I laughed out loud the first time I heard it.  I actually still own the single on tape and found myself playing it while taking a trip down memory lane, courtesy of the most awesome cassette tape collection this side of heaven.  Yes, I still bump cassettes.  You can take the girl out of the 90’s but you can’t take the 90’s out of the girl!  I think my favorite line is:

“Make that man take care of your kids, make that man call your kids his, make is butt get out there and work, make him buy you a Dooney and Bourke.  It’s all part of that brother take care of me, sex-whipped man come save me!  Girls out there be on the lookout for Captain Save ‘Em  yo, cause he’s saving those.” 

Classic!  Of course, I had to do the church lady edit here because there were quite a few curse words in that excerpt but I respect y’all enough to keep it clean.  (Google it on You Tube though if you want to hear the original, but consider yourself warned)  Anyway, though not for children, the song is appropriately provocative in its ability to paint a clear picture of the quintessential “gold digger.”  We all know women like the ones described in the song.  There are indeed women who see men as their own personal ATM machines and infinite lines of credit.  Like American Express, they’re accepted everywhere and typically have no limits.  You’ll find them trolling the VIP section at the club or sniffing around music video sets, hopeful that one day a brother with sufficient ends will come along and save them from themselves.  As a counselor, I’ve talked to women who are quick to give me the screwface when I suggest a second job or returning to school in response to their financial hardships.  Yet more often than not, they are perfectly content to keep using men and compromising themselves if it means regular access to someone’s paycheck.

An inconvenient truth is that many women will spend more money, time and energy on looking attractive enough to hook the big fish rather than on becoming the big fish.  Some ladies could easily put themselves through college for all the money they spend on lace fronts, red bottoms, gel manicures, boob jobs, and butt enhancements.  If you’re willing to pay layaway accounts all over town for over-priced clothing or pay for your Brazilian hair in convenient monthly installments, then you can certainly make a student loan payment.  (ijs)  Ironically, many women are much more willing to invest in the external, though internal beauty is the only thing that will keep a man of substance engaged long-term.  Materialism in and of itself is issue enough, but using a man to feed this unhealthy need to self-validate takes this dysfuntion to a whole new level.  I believe men shouldn’t be automatically expected to do for a woman what she refuses to do for herself. Yes, it is a man’s responsibility to provide for and protect his woman, but women are also called to be help meets for their men.  I don’t think the entire burden of a woman’s financial security should fall solely on a man’s shoulders.  In fact, I suspect that a man would take greater pride in taking care of a woman because he wants to rather than because he has to.  If you can’t eat unless your man gets paid, then you’re a child, not a partner.  I personally don’t believe this is ultimately what men look for in a mate.

In this age of “The Real Housewives,” the sacrifice of female dignity in exchange for the latest handbag is par for the course.  Nothing seems to matter so long as you have a man that can afford to satisfy your need to keep up with the Joneses.  We women have gotten way too comfortable with letting our own personal growth and development go so long as there’s a man with deep pockets prepared to pick up the slack.  If you are a woman who is refusing to invest in your own financial future because you are banking on being “saved,” here are 5 reasons why you’re ultimately playing yourself.

  1. If the relationship fails, you fail. – I am a big believer in fighting for relationships and making marriage work, but the reality is, many just don’t.  Add to that the fact that a gold digger and her financier’s relationship was likely rooted in a money for sex exchange as opposed to true love, and it’s fair to assume the relationship won’t have legs.  If you had no education, no career, and no savings when you entered the relationship, you are essentially one “deuces” away from skid row!
  2. It’s too much pressure – If the only cards you’re holding are your looks and bedroom skills, then maintaining those advantages becomes your full-time job.  Age will become an ever-looming enemy that threatens to take you out at any moment.  There’s always going to be someone younger, tighter, and freakier willing to step in the minute you’re caught slipping.  One too many nights in your bonnet or  ill-timed “headaches” and you may find yourself replaced.
  3. You are no longer your priority – When you’re indebted to a man for everything you have, he has to be your priority.  Your plans and desires will have to take a back seat, because keeping your man happy will always be the first order of business.  You don’t have time to “do you” because “you” ain’t paying no bills!  Isn’t that what we tell are kids when they start insisting on their own way?
  4. You’re self-esteem will eventually suffer – Gold digging may be cute in your twenties and might make you the envy of all your hard-working girlfriends who must fight their way up the corporate ladder. Yet if you’re a forty plus woman who can’t even go to Wal-Mart without asking your man for gas money, it’s no longer a good look. Self-sufficiency is one of the best ways to develop a sense of competency.  It’s easy to boast about how strong you are as a woman, but genuinely high self-esteem requires that you prove it.
  5. It sends the wrong message – As the mother of a daughter, I would never want my little girl to believe she is limited in the level of success she can achieve independently.  It will always be important for women to model for their daughters that the right man will be an asset to your life but not its entire value.  I want her to know that she can be as rich as she decides because she was born with God-given treasures that pay immeasurable dividends.  A gold-digging mentality sends the message that we women are not enough on our own and need to be upgraded to any relevant level of worth.  If you’re not willing to tell your daughter as much, don’t live it before her either.

Real talk ladies.  It’s time to close our legs, open our minds, and cut the gold digging out.  Trying to build upon a foundation of men, money, and designer heels might give you a temporary sense of accomplishment, but it’ll eventually lead you into spiritual bankruptcy.  If you find yourself broke, busted, and disgusted at the end of every relationship, then it may be time to pursue a relationship with Jesus, the only one who truly saves.

Hall Pass Revoked


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Thought for the Day:

“A relationship is built for two.  But apparently, some people don’t know how to count.”

Question for the Day:

Are you accepting infidelity?

Well, we’re approaching Valentine’s Day so the season of balloons, teddy bears, five extra pounds in Walgreen’s chocolate, heartache, piles of snot rags and forlornly chick flicks is upon us.  Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, this is the time of year when we all give greater consideration to our relationships (or the lack thereof) and the happiness of those relationships (or the lack thereof).  We’ve all read enough self-help books by now to know that relationships, in general, are complicated. Yet if many of us would just stop betraying the God in us by acting a donkey in the name of love, our relationships wouldn’t be nearly as complicated as we make them.  I thought I’d focus the next few weeks on trying to address a few of the more controversial relationship issues and how they impact our sense of self-worth as women.

I’ve written previously on singlehood and marraige and am convinced that tomfoolery in relationships has no regard for marital status.  Single women tend to get a bum rap and are made out to be desperate and irrational in their relationship pursuits.  This is not only stereotypical and biased but it lets all the crazed and delusional married women off the hook. Jumping the broom has never been the cure for relationship insanity.  If you were boo obsessed as a single, your poor husband won’t stand a chance.   If your self esteem is on life support, your nuptials won’t revive it.  If anything, you’ll flatline in marriage if you’re not healthy going in.  Far too many women are willing to compromise their values in exchange for a relationship status upgrade on their social media pages.  Don’t be confused, dealing with all manner of foolishness is a game married women play (with skill) everyday.  Tolerating abuse, disrespect, and infidelity is often heralded as “standing by your man” but if you ask me, it’s more like you’re standing under him while he wipes his feet on the doormat formally known as your soul. Being a “ride or die chick” doesn’t make you special if you’re mate is doing all the riding and you’re doing all the dying, but recognizing this is often difficult.

Exhibit A: Monique

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Several weeks ago, I came across an article about actress and comedienne Monique and I almost strained my optic nerve giving her the side eye.  In the article, Monique asserts that she allows her husband to cheat with her permission.  She then went on to proudly proclaim that it was her idea as if she was going to earn some extra cool points for this illegitimate brain child.   According to Monique, she and her husband are “open to the world” and “open to being honest with each other all the way through.”   I agree so long as you are honest about opening the flood gates to all manner of bacterial crud and outside babies.  She’s not alone either.  I also heard about Toya Wright, ex-wife of Lil Wayne and soon to be ex-wife of producer Mickey “Memphis” Wright. Apparently, Mrs. Wright allowed her husband something like eight “hall passes” per year.  Shockingly, that approach to keeping your man satisfied still wasn’t enough for Mr. Wrong, I mean Mr. Wright, and the two are headed for divorce court.  Just about every ratchet reality show would have you believe that man sharing and threesomes are the new normal or that one can borrow someone’s spouse as easily as taking a neighbor’s new lawnmower for a spin.  Well, if you’re going to try to pass open marriage off as the thing “cool” couples do then fine, but let’s  not act like making this kind of choice has no deeper implications.  And sorry Monique, but saying it was “your idea” does not erase those implications.  Allowing your mate to fertilize the grass in everyone else’s yard will mean it’s ALWAYS going to be greener on the other side of the fence.  Most millenials love bragging about how evolved they are.  Traditional marriage is archaic and limiting.  Monogomy isn’t “natural” and the result of conforming to European standards. Everyone’s on that “new new” and proud of it until a stranger approaches you and wants to spill the tea over your man’s special move when you didn’t even know he was that flexible!  Knowing that the most intimate experiences shared in a marriage are not sacred has got to hurt on some level.  And if it doesn’t, I’d question what kind of love you really have.

Now, I don’t mean to throw Monique any shade like most of her critics who say that her weight issues have damaged her self-esteem and are likely contributing to this decision.  As a woman who is also BMI challenged, I know that being heavier doesn’t necessarily mean you have poor self-esteem.  However, I’m not sure why a woman who is rich, famous, talented, and holding basically ALL the cards in her relationship is even putting open marriage on the table as an option.  In my opinion, all women deserve monogamy, but when you’re rich and accomplished to boot, how hard should it really be for your man to keep it zipped?   If you love your wife, should it be difficult to commit to her when she not only loves you back, but can also make life easy for you?  From what I can see, he must feel like the luckiest man on Earth.  He has access to all the privileges of his wife’s success without any of the hard work it took to earn it.  She runs around pampering him and proclaiming in every interview that she is happy to leave her success at the door and serve him as her king when she gets home.  All this and a hall pass to sweeten the deal?  What man wouldn’t commit to this situation whether he truly loved his wife or not?  If you ask me, Monique has made it very easy for this man to stay with her which makes the therapist in me wonder if she is afraid that if she expects more, she might not get it.  A woman with low self-esteem might try to preemptively eliminate all of her man’s struggles to make remaining committed to her as easy as possible.  If I just let EVERYTHING be okay, he will never do anything that will force me to have to consider leaving him.  Or better yet, he’ll never feel uncomfortable enough to leave on his own accord.  A woman as gifted as Monique has the right to expect fidelity from her husband.  Did she offer the “hall pass” because she wanted the freedom for herself (as she claimed) or because she was trying to circumvent the pain she might suffer if he cheated on her unknowingly.  Maybe it isn’t about her self-esteem and she really thinks it will make for a stronger marriage.  Well, let me think. If my husband allowed me a hall pass, I would wonder what that says about his feelings for me.  If he’s willing to share me with “the world” then perhaps he’s just not feeling me anymore.  In general, folks never lend out what’s valuable.  It’s the raggedy stuff you no longer care about that’s easiest to let others borrow.  Knowing that my man doesn’t value me any more than a cup of sugar, wouldn’t exactly scream STRONG MARRIAGE OVER HERE!

 I don’t know a married woman alive who wants a marriage that is “open to the world.”  The world is full of viruses, scorned lovers, keyed up cars, baby mamas in need of child support, and other women who might gladly snatch up your husband and value him enough to officially take him off the market.  If you truly love your man, there is no way in the world that the thought of him spooning with another woman after a roll in the sack doesn’t bother you!  If you claim to be okay with that then you either don’t love him anymore and are shopping him around to the highest bidder or you’re a glutton for pain and punishment.  But trying to pawn the “hall pass” off as the key to contentment in a marriage is anything but honest.  You tried it Monique, but apparently you still have some learning to do.  It’s time to get back to class ma’am, you’re hall pass has been revoked.

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“Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.”

Hebrews 13:4