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.

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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

Dear 2016, Have a Seat!

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Thought for the Day:

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”

Ben Okri

Question For the Day:

Has 2016 worn you down?

If you’re anything like me, you’re counting down the days until 2016 makes its exit.  I have never in my life better understood the concept of dog years until 2016 rolled around because surely I’ve aged at least seven times the normal rate over the course of the last twelve months.  With each horrific news report and infuriating political headline, I found myself becoming more angry, confused and disillusioned.  By Thanksgiving, I had worked myself into such a frenzy that I was actually ready to scrap.  Yet 2016 showed no mercy like the 19 year old tenth grade bully who’s on the verge of expulsion and has nothing to lose. It seemed to stay one step ahead, ready to jump me the minute I dared let my guard down and relax.  This year disrespected me at every turn by putting its foot in my behind each time I turned on the news without so much as a courtesy timeout to remove my earrings or put my hair in a ponytail.  So needless to say, I feel like breaking out the confetti and singing a rousing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” this New Years Eve because the bully that is 2016, is finally being expelled.  I know others will be reminiscing over all the good times and grieving the loss of another year of life, but all I have to say to 2016 at this point is “Kick rocks!”

Just in case you’re a person who enjoys racial injustice, death, political corruption and retro hate crimes circa 1950, I’ll explain the reason for my angst.  Here’s my personal countdown of the top ten reasons why 2016 needs to have several seats.

10) Gun Violence on Fleek

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This year has been absolutely ridiculous in terms of gun violence no matter what load of bull the NRA tries to sell us.  2016 saw the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL that claimed the lives of 49 people and injured 53 more.  It also can take credit for the bloodiest summer on record for the city of Chicago with 73 deaths by gun violence and the sniper shootings in Dallas that killed 5 police officers.  With all of this murder and mayhem, it would seem as if America has resigned itself to becoming a real life installment of the Hunger Games.  In my opinion, it’s the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument that needs to be shot because in the real world, INSANE people kill people ESPECIALLY when they have easy access to a pistol.  I am beyond aggravated with the incessant denial of gun advocates who first off, lie and act as if their “right to bear arms” is about deer hunting and second, refuse to admit that gun violence disproportionately impacts poor and minority communities.  In my opinion, the “hunting” defense is just a smokescreen to hide the fact that people who oppose gun control are often paranoid, hate-filled individuals who are intimidated by  said ‘poor and minority’ people and feel incapable of defending themselves any other way.  Therefore, if you make guns harder for people to get, they run the risk of being unable to defend themselves.  So in short, it’s fine for a club full of gays or a church full of Blacks to die as a result of loose gun laws so long as the good ole boys have the right to “stand their ground” when they get scared and don’t have to deal with any extra paperwork.

9) Hate Makes a Comeback

swastika-e1478808882890 Discrimination and hatred have made an impressive comeback in 2016.  First it was House Bill 1523, also known as the Religious Liberty Accommodations Act passed in the “great state” of Mississippi that basically allowed for the legal discrimination of LGBT folks. I’m not trying to make any statement here but I also don’t need to be for or against gay marriage to know that legalizing a business’ right to say “we don’t serve your kind here” is wrong.  Also in Mississippi, steps to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag were rejected by voters who apparently have no idea why a symbol that represents a desire to preserve slavery could possibly be offensive.  Then thanks to Donald Trump, the South apparently did rise again because rednecks and Klansman boldly stumbled out of the woodwork with a vengeance to eagerly relive their glory days down in the land of Dixie.  We saw a resurgence of nooses, blackface, swastikas spray painted on synagogues and even an old-school church bombing in Mississippi. It was like 2016 was one long episode of deja vu and we minorities kept scratching our heads asking each other “haven’t we been down this road already?”

8) America Didn’t Feel the Bern

img_20161231_000001I recognize that not everyone was a Bernie Sanders supporter but I was feeling the Bern.  I appreciated his overall opposition to the financial corruption of the political process and his push for a restoration of a true American democracy.  His platform advocated for equality in public education, easier access to college, a living wage for all Americans, fair immigration policies, affordable housing, and an expansion of Medicare that would benefit everyone.  As a social worker by profession, Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who seemed to honestly and thoughtfully consider the needs of the least of these.  He did not strike me as just another disingenuous politician spewing rhetoric and looking for the next impactful photo opp.  I thought he was real, but I should know by now that America doesn’t do real.  That’s probably part of the reason President Obama is so intolerable to some.  Anyone who dares respect the fact that America is not just here to serve the interests of the White and wealthy, apparently just doesn’t get it.

7) The Death of Muhammad Ali

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There are a few people that I consider spiritual role models and Muhammad Ali was one of them.  His death made me reflect on how few people truly stand for God and stand on principle the way that he did. The world lost something special when he passed and though I’m sure he’s floating like a butterfly now, his death still stung like a bee.

6) Straight Outta Options

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I’m not quite sure how it happened, but somehow the last two presidential candidates that America had to choose from, most people didn’t even like.  When the best the country can hope for is to elect the “lesser of two evils” then it’s pretty clear that righteousness at the highest levels of government will go out of style with Obama.  Then you have Gary Johnson’s simple behind running as the alternative but when he was questioned about the Syrian Civil War and the battles in Aleppo, he sounded like a confused Scooby Doo looking for Alpo instead of Aleppo.  How are you going to apply to be the leader of the free world and not even bother to read a newspaper?  I didn’t know how to feel about a country where Clinton, Trump and Johnson were essentially the best America had to offer.  At least Hillary could read, articulate, and spell, which if nothing else, made her the most qualified individual for the presidency.  But what does it say about the future of this nation if reading and spelling become the defining qualifications for the presidency?  No wonder Kanye thinks he’s got a shot.  Sadly, 2016 proved he just might.

5) Harambe Hoopla

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If y’all don’t get that camera out of my face…

I was so aggravated by the whole Harambe situation at the Cleveland Zoo.  If you don’t know the story, zoo officials had to make the unfortunate decision to put Harambe the gorilla down after a small (Black) child got away from his mother and wound up in his pit. I’m not happy that an animal lost its life but it was almost as if people had wished the child had died instead of the animal.  When I first saw the video, I was holding my breathe and the only thought I had was “Lord, please let that baby be okay.”  I was relieved to find out that he was safe and assumed that everyone else would feel the same.  But such was not the case.  Instead, folks were spewing some of the most vile hatred I’d ever come across on the internet.  The family was receiving death threats and folks were calling the entire family the “real monkeys.”  Fox News even felt it appropriate to look into the child’s father’s criminal history despite the fact that he is currently a gainfully employed and present father and WASN’T EVEN AT THE ZOO THAT DAY.  When people like me dared to question whether the child’s race was playing at all in the backlash, we were the racists.  People were super defensive when race entered the debate even though widespread speculation was that the mother was probably “too busy taking selfies on her Obama phone.”  Yeah…no racism over here.

4) Doves Cried 

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For those who may not know this, I am an avid music lover and somewhat of a connoisseur.  I am quite heavily motivated by the music in my life and believe it to be a gift from the Most High God to connect on a deeper level to Him and to each other.  Therefore, because music means so much to me, I am beyond salty with 2016 for stealing so many of the greats including David Bowie, Vanity, Natalie Cole, Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire), George Michael, Phife Dawg (Tribe Called Quest) and of course the one I “adore” most of all, His Purple Badness, Prince.  I’m not sure if doves were crying, but I was.

3) Black Lives Still Don’t Matter

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Philando Castile/Alton Sterling

I wrongfully assumed that 2015 would represent the modern day face of police brutality, but 2016 was not going down without a serious fight for the title. The unnecessary shooting deaths of Alton Sterling who was selling CDs outside a convenience store and Philando Castille, a licensed gun owner who was shot in his car in front of his girlfriend and her child, were two of the stories that made national headlines.  But Gregory Gunn was beaten and shot a few feet from his Montgomery, AL home because he “looked suspicious” and Derives Rogers was falsely accused of breaking into cars in Atlanta and subsequently chased and killed by police.  Charles Kinsey was at work trying to comfort a distressed mentally ill patient when he was shot by police even while laying on his back with his arms and hands up in full surrender. Terrance Crutcher was shot and killed by police in Tulsa, OK after his car stalled on the highway.  Keith Scott was killed in Charlotte by police who assumed he was holding a gun that turned out to be a book he was reading.  These represent just some of the cases that made the news this year all while the officer who illegally arrested Sandra Bland was only convicted of perjury and the case against the officer who killed Walter Scott ended in a mistrial.  None of this is justifiable already but it would surely help the Blue Lives Matter crowd prove that these shootings have nothing to do with race if people like Scott Michael Greene, a White man with a history of “racial confrontations” wasn’t brought in alive after the ambush-style killings of two Des Moine, Iowa police officers.  I can’t help but wonder where all the “minimum force” training goes when it’s a Black male suspect in question.  See: Blacks With The Blues.

2) So Hard to Say Goodbye

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Like my parents and grandparents, I never imagined that I would see an African American man elected to the presidency.  So to actually witness it will go down as one of my generation’s greatest blessings whether most of us realize it or not.  Not only was there a Black man, his beautiful Black wife, and their two intelligent and poised Black daughters residing in the White House, but together they are a family that makes it easier for the rest of us to hold our heads a bit higher .  I personally believe President Obama has done a good job as President but because he is African American, he will likely never get the credit he is due.  Most African Americans were raised to understand that we need to be twice as good as our White counterparts to get half the credit.  Only an African American President could provide affordable health care for millions of Americans, restore diplomacy with Cuba, kill the man responsible for the 9/11 terrorists attacks, raise the minimum wage, revitalize the automobile industries, and put and end to the worst recession since the Great Depression and still be considered a bad President. Yet despite all the hatred and congressional resistance he’s faced, he and Michelle have remained the epitome of dignity, class, and grace under pressure all while being a shining example of healthy Black love.  It will truly be hard to say goodbye, especially in light of the number one reason 2016 has pissed me off…

1)Donald Trump and the “Rigged System”

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At first, it was obnoxious but kind of funny that Donald Trump believed he could be President.  To me, his candidacy announcement was nothing more than an awkward Kanye-style publicity stunt that would blow over by the primaries.  But the power of hate was not to be denied as his verbal lashing of Mexicans, women, Muslims and “the Blacks” seemed to speak directly to the hidden insecurities of the fear-filled bigots mentioned in reason ten and it wasn’t long before all of their pent up Obama rage reached a fever pitch.  They would subsequently unleash an unprecedented “whitelash” against Obama, Democrats, and America’s increasing diversity (with a little help from Trump’s Russian homeboy Putin, of course).  Ironically, Trump whined about the “rigged system” for months when he thought it would work against him.  Yet now here he sits, the winner of a Presidential election despite the total absence of any qualifying experience, poor grammar, questionable judgement, recorded evidence of sexual assault against women, a history of unscrupulous business practices, pending lawsuits including a child rape case, multiple bankruptcies, a former nude model for a wife, and a loss of the popular vote my nearly 3 million ballots.  If anyone doubts that White privilege is at play here, please take a moment to imagine how far Barak Obama would have gotten in his campaign if he had the same history. Still don’t believe White privilege is a thing?  Yeah, okay…. (See: God Don’t Like Ugly: Trump and the Christian Vote)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s felt pushed to the edge by 2016. Lately I’ve been walking through life like Grandmaster Flash talkin’ about “I’m tryin’ not to lose my head.”  The daily grind of work, marriage, kids, finances, and other stressors in our personal lives is pressure enough on its own.  Yet when you look outward to a broader society that is riddled with hatred, injustice, intolerance, pain, and flat-out evil, it gets really hard to hold your peace and keep the faith.  I can personally testify to feeling quite low at several points this year, with November 9th being the lowest.  My anger and disappointment in my country should have driven me to my knees, but instead it drove me to a lot of cussing and fussing and several scathing Facebook rants.  I found myself to be more short-tempered with clients at work and a whole lot more impatient in general. I was less gracious, easily offended, and woe to the person who dared tell me they voted for Trump because they would live to regret it!

Yet, as a child of God, it wasn’t long before I felt convicted about my attitude. If it’s intolerance and hate that has me so vexed, I basically forfeit my righteousness when I become the very thing that I despise.   Therefore, I’ve had to make the conscious decision to take all my frustrations to the Most High and leave them at his feet.  I will not let the world change me but instead remain committed to being used of God to change the world.  I have to remember that I am in this world, but not of it.  I cannot allow anything, even a Trump presidency, to steal my joy and I hope everyone reading will resolve to do the same.  I wish you all much peace and blessings in 2017.  I hope it proves to be a better year for us all.  But just so we’re clear…

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Lol!  Happy New Year!

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trail, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12

God Don’t Like Ugly: Trump and the Christian Vote

 

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Thought for the Day:

We aren’t called to be like other Christians, we are called to be like Christ.

Stacy L. Sanchez

Question for the Day:

What does being a “Christian” mean to you?

I have worked really hard over the last year and a half to draw attention to this blog.  For someone who is not technically savvy, I’m really proud of what I’ve done with it so far.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion that this post will probably undo a lot of the progress I’ve made in terms of accumulating followers.  When you’re blogging, it’s all about numbers.  You want as many people as possible to read, follow, like, comment, and share your posts and I’ve fought tooth and nail for the little bit of attention I’ve gotten thus far.  Yet, even though it is important for me to grow my support, it is much more important that I remain honest. If Get Lifted Girl! is my own little slice of the world wide web, then I won’t waste the opportunity to use my voice by simply saying what I think most people want to hear.  I tend to have unpopular opinions in general but the older I get, the more I respect that quality in myself.  I have no desire to compromise my views for the sake of gaining more recognition quickly. That may mean that I continue on as the author of a struggle blog, but I have to write from an authentic place.  I’m committed to sharing my perspective in spirit and in truth, even if that means offending some folks.  Inconvenient truths are always unpleasant to hear, but if they can be received and accepted, they can transform and elevate.  Nevertheless, I’m preparing myself for a mass exodus of followers and multiple Facebook unlikes because I’m about to go in.

Like half of America, I am still reeling over the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.  I knew there were people who would overlook his lack of experience and race-baiting rhetoric but I honestly thought those people would be in the minority. (Well, I guess they were if you’re considering the popular vote totals.)  I figured, surely a man who was caught on tape boasting of grabbing womens’ genitals and making aggressive sexual advances towards a married woman by “moving on her like a bitch” wouldn’t stand a chance.  I assumed that a man who called Mexicans rapists, suggested a return to unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policing practices, advocated the profiling of Muslim Americans, and faced litigation for not renting to Black tenants would be deemed an obvious racist and therefore, unfit to lead our diverse nation.

I naively reasoned that Trump’s indecency was evident considering how he frequently called women fat and ugly and made fun of a handicapped man. Surely people would find nothing noble about a man who’s been repeatedly accused of sexual assault, filed bankruptcy multiple times, constantly engaged in petty beefs on social media, not paid taxes in years, been slapped with multiple lawsuits for unscrupulous business practices, or who’s made inappropriate comments towards under-aged girls. And I don’t know what to think of a father who would comment on how he would date his own daughter if she weren’t his child.  With all of this evidence, most of which was documented on video, I was fairly positive that this would surely disturb the moral sensibilities of most Americans, especially us “good Christians.” Call me crazy, I guess.

Now before you start the “Hillary was no better” spiel, you should know that she was never my first choice for President.  I preferred Bernie Sanders out the gate and took issue with Hillary Clinton’s contributions to supporting the notorious Crime Bill of the 1990s and welfare reform initiatives during her husband’s presidency that had a significantly adverse impact on poor and minority communities.  And yes, the email situation was shady as heck, but with Bernie out of the picture, we Democrats had to do the next right thing.  Though not a staunch Clinton supporter, I could recognize that she shouldn’t be completely faulted for her husband’s policies whether she supported them or not.  She also had a lot of humanitarian work on her resume including her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, health care and family leave for military families, and has been an international advocate for womens’ and LGBT rights. When I compared overall intentions, experience, temperament, and basic decorum, to me, the choice was obvious.  Though not blind to the fact that she’s no saint, it’s not like she was caught on tape being an outright horrible human being like her opponent.  It was basic common sense to me.  But alas, November 8th proved once again, that common sense is not that common.

I’m not going to lie, I was and am still quite angry.   As an African American woman who has never had an issue with the law, never been on pubic assistance, is married to a veteran, works full time and pays taxes faithfully (unlike Trump) and raising responsible children who will undoubtedly contribute positively to society,  I guess I expected more. I expected my country to have my back and  reject intolerance, ignorance, misogyny and bigotry. Had I been lulled into a false sense of security with President Obama in the White House?  Apparently so, because I actually anticipated that a country who most recently elected the first Black president was indeed changing and would never stand behind a man who was enthusiastically endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.   Yet, such was not the case.  In fact, for millions of people, Trump’s lack of basic dignity and respect for women and minorities apparently didn’t matter at all.

Consequently, I am deeply concerned and, at times, downright afraid for my childrens’ futures like never before. Knowing that they are growing up in a society comprised of so many people who could easily disregard bigotry and chauvinism if it means their interests will be served first, is alarming to say the least.  As a current resident of Mississippi, (yes, I know, of all places to live right now) I’m not surprised that there are bold-faced bigots in the world who make no bones about getting behind anybody who gives them permission to hate.  But what I am surprised about and find completely unacceptable as a Christian woman is how many people say they voted for Donald Trump because he was the “Christian candidate.” (Insert screeching tire sound, black skid marks on asphalt and the pungent aroma of burning rubber)

Hold up, wayment…….

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Say what now?  I’m not sure what Bible the owner of this T-shirt is reading, but the Bible I read pretty much confirms that Trump is a walking embodiment of the seven deadly sins particularly in the categories of greed, lust, wrath, envy, and pride.   I know most evangelical Republicans consider themselves conservatives, but the harsh reality is, Jesus Christ lived a lot more like a bleeding heart liberal.  If you are a Christian, you are saying that you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and are following his example. Yet if Jesus embraced those who society rejected, why do Christians support the building of a wall to keep immigrants out?  If Jesus defended the accused, why do Christians support the idea of an illegal “stop and frisk” and resent the Black Lives Matter movement in the face of increasing police brutality?  If Jesus mandates that the wealthy share with the poor, why are Christians so opposed to public assistance and why is it okay for Trump to not pay taxes?  If Jesus concerned himself with the sick and diseased, why are Christians so eager to repeal Obamacare and leave so many of our nation’s poor without health insurance?  If Jesus commanded that above all else, we love Him wholly and love our neighbor as ourselves, then why are Christians not outraged that the KKK endorsed Trump?  Why is he tapping known White supremacists and anti-LGBT officials for appointments to positions at the highest levels of government? Why are Christians agreeing that Muslims and immigrants are rapists and terrorists, and cheering as Donald Trump threatens to rid the country of all the “bad hombres?”

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Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount stated clearly that we are not to commit adultery and that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed it in his heart.  Yet, Christians voted for a married man who bragged about trying to bribe a married woman with furniture to get her into bed.  He also proudly admitted to getting away with manhandling women’s vaginas because he’s rich. Jesus teaches us to have special respect for the crippled and the lame, yet Christians overlooked Trump mocking a disabled reporter.  Jesus teaches us that those who harbor anger will be judged, but Christians voted for a man who rages on Twitter at the slightest offense.  I could go on, but I’ll settle for my short list today.  When you honestly weigh the words and actions of Donald Trump against the life of Jesus Christ, how on earth could he EVER be considered the “Christian candidate?”  Oh right, because he’s “pro-life,” got it.  I never understood how abortion conveniently seems to overshadow every other sin during an election season, especially when there is no indication of such a distinction in the Bible.  But I’ll let one of my November 9th Facebook rants tell you how I feel about the pro-life argument.

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I honestly believe that if Jesus Christ himself ran a political campaign, his ideals probably wouldn’t line up too much with a traditional conservative agenda.  Jesus Christ instructed us to sell what we own, give money to the poor and follow him.  (Luke 18:22)  Jesus instructed us to invite the crippled, lame and blind to sit at our table and offer hospitality to those who cannot repay you. (Luke 14:12-14)  Jesus teaches us to be meek and lowly in heart. (Matthew 11:29-30)  He teaches us to be humble in spirit (Matthew 18: 1,4)  Jesus teaches us to love our enemies.  (Matthew 5:44) He also taught us to repent for our sins and ask for forgiveness when we have offended someone. (Luke 11:4) Now be straight with me, does any of that sound like Donald Trump?

So, if you intentionally and eagerly voted for Donald Trump and firmly assert that you are not in any way prejudiced, here’s where it gets awkward.  If you had to look me or any other minority in the eyeball and tell the truth, what would you say?  You might say, ‘Hey CC, sorry that Trump is a racist and everything but I simply want to make sure that life is better for me and because any bigotry or misogyny he might affirm is less likely to personally affect me, I was able to overlook it.’ If we’re keeping it one hundred, that’s the only thing any “non-prejudiced” Trump supporter could truthfully say because there is no denying the vile things he’s said and done.  If you were to speak the truth to me, I wouldn’t like it and I probably wouldn’t respect your choice, but I could at least respect you for your honesty.  But for the love of God, please don’t blame Jesus for your vote and justify it by claiming it was the “Christian” thing to do. (See: Don’t Blame Jesus )

The Jesus Christ I know and love would never choose privilege over principal.   He is not intolerant, divisive, unforgiving, hateful, prideful, greedy, lustful, rageful, or undisciplined.  The Jesus I serve is slow to anger, patient, kind, merciful, forgiving, inclusive, selfless, and ever concerned with the needs of the least of these.  He offers the same love to all and is partial to none.  Therefore, if you voted for a man like Donald Trump in Jesus’ name, you might be a hypocrite, plain and simple.  I suppose I can’t fault anyone for voting in support of their own personal interests, but don’t say it was because God told you to do it.  Pinning Donald Trump on Jesus ain’t cute, and frankly, God don’t like ugly.

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

1 John 4:20