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 Barak 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 Barak 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

Another Love TKO: 5 Lies that Keep Women in Abusive Relationships

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Thought For the Day:

“A house where a woman is unsafe is not a home.”

Question for the Day:

Are you unsafe in your relationship?

I was almost finished with another post when I decided to take a detour and have a brief discussion about domestic violence in light of the recent airing of R&B singer Michel’le’s Lifetime biopic film entitled Surviving Compton.  If you’re from California like myself, there are few names bigger then Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, and Michel’le, when it comes to the story of West Coast hip hop, so I was super hyped to see it.  Like everyone else and their mama, I’ve seen the blockbuster hit movie Straight Outta Compton which chronicles the pioneering mega group NWA’s meteoric rise to fame.  Straight Outta Compton did a good job of elevating Dr. Dre, the producing force behind NWA and the entire gangster rap movement, to hero status.  He was painted as the uber-talented but tragically exploited brains behind the NWA machine who fell victim to the shady financial manipulation of NWA’s manager Jerry Heller and the notorious CEO of Deathrow Records, Suge Knight.  I remember cheering him on during the movie and feeling vindicated on his behalf when he finally broke free from his oppressors and walked off into the sunset to start Aftermath Entertainment and become the ridiculously successful music mogul he is today.  But what I didn’t know, was that his long-time girlfriend and (fourth or fifth) baby mama Michel’le was apparently the original one-woman focus group  for “Beats by Dre” because she was violently abused for the majority of their relationship.  Not only was she physically and verbally assaulted by Dr. Dre , but he apparently really believes that “B*#ches Ain’t S#*t” because he was also a serial cheater who even brought random women into the home and bed he shared with Michel’le.

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Now, I could go in on Dr. Dre and publically rebuke him for his misdeeds, but I imagine he won’t lose any sleep over the few dozen people that may stumble across this post.  So I decided it would probably be more productive if I addressed the women who subject themselves to this type of abuse instead.  As a therapist, I talk to women all the time who choose to stay with dangerous men and by the time they get into therapy, they’ve spent years making excuses for the black eyes, bite marks, burns, cuts, bruises, and bald spots that will no longer stay hidden underneath long sleeve shirts and oversized shades. Mama and ‘nem have talked until their blue in the face about why they should leave, their kids have begged them to get out, their boss has expressed concern in a closed-door meeting at work, and their medical doctors have even begun to ask questions.  For those of us not used to this type of violence, the answer seems pretty straight forward.  “Just leave” appears to be the next right thing, but the more I talk to women who’ve been violated or manhandled by their mates, the more I realize that for them, there are no easy answers.  Tolerating abuse is almost always the byproduct of unresolved childhood pain and trauma  and/or the perpetuation of dysfunctional beliefs passed down from one generation to the next.  How you respond to being mistreated has everything to do with what you believe about yourself as a woman and what you believe about how a man should treat the woman he loves.  Surviving Compton was a good example of how deep emotional scars and distorted beliefs can break you down to the very last compound no matter how beautiful, talented, intelligent, rich or successful you might be.  So in my personal and professional opinion, here are the top five lies abused women believe that keep them locked in the tailspin better known as the cycle of abuse.

5.  If a Man Hits You, You Must Deserve It  

No one deserves abuse, point blank, PERIOD. Yet, for a woman who’s working with impaired self-esteem, she may enter relationships carrying the unspoken belief that she is ugly, stupid, or just not good enough.  Being raised by no count parents is usually to blame for instilling these types of destructive messages.   A childhood history of abuse or neglect teaches a child that they are not worthy of affection and protection.  An abused child becomes used to their parents blaming them for the mistreatment they receive.  “If you weren’t so bad, I wouldn’t have to keep beating the brakes off of you,” is the kind of victim shaming many folks are raised to endure.  If this was normal for you as a kid then it would become second nature for you to fault yourself when the same type of abuse continues in your adult relationships. “It’s for your own good” may work with a child who is easily manipulated and totally dependent on their parents for everything, but it shouldn’t work on a grown woman.  Adult women are fully capable off learning from their own mistakes, asserting themselves, setting boundaries, and meeting their own needs.  Like Kelly Price sings, “you’re not my daddy, you’re my man” and you’d better recognize.

4. If a Man Hits You, You’re Not Trying Hard Enough to Make Him Happy  

Watching Surviving Compton was further confirmation that this lie is alive and well because in the movie Michel’le’s mother told her that when a man hits you, it’s the woman’s responsibility to “fix it.” Men who beat women are weak, insecure, psychologically and emotionally troubled AND have massive anger management deficits, piss poor communication skills, low self-esteem, identity issues, and an under-developed sense of their own manhood in general. Believe me, there is no amount of cooking, cleaning, pampering, or bedroom acrobatics that can fix a man who’s this lost. Abusive men do need help, but they had better call on a counselor, psychiatrist, Iyanla, or Jesus to come and fix it.  There’s absolutely nothing that a woman can do to put a broken man back together again ESPECIALLY when she’s broken herself.

3. Its Normal for a Man to Hit You if He Really Loves You 

It is absolutely mind-boggling to me how many women feel special when their man goes upside their head. After Michel’le was hit by Dr. Dre the first time, she recalled the words of her mother who apparently taught her that men only hit  women they truly love. Some women thrive on the jealousy and control that lends itself to hollering, holes punched in walls, suicidal threats, and ferocious pimp slaps across the mouth.  When an unknown number shows up on the caller ID, the abuser might be quick to accuse his beloved of creepin’ and choke the snot out of her only to later discover it was only the dentist’s office calling to confirm a scheduled cleaning.  But, how was he to know?  He’s just a fool in love, right?  NO, HE’S JUST A FOOL!  Irrational, delusional, and unbridled rage is easily written off as a crime of passion to women who believe that only true love feels that deeply.  But the truth is, LOVE is patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not overly proud, not rude, not irritable and keeps no record of wrong doing. That’s not a sappy Hallmark card people. That right there, is the Word of God.  So if your man treats you in a manner that is in direct opposition to what God calls love, he may actually hate you much like he probably hates himself.

2. I Have to Tolerate Being Hit to Ensure My Needs are Met

At one point in Surviving Compton, Michel’le’s mother tells her she should consider getting hit by a man as successful as Dr. Dre as a “job that pays well.”  If a woman has to pay for room and board with her teeth then the cost of living  has become outrageous and its time to downsize.  I understand that times are tough and that women who lack education and resources may feel it necessary to take care of themselves and their children by any means necessary.  But don’t be confused, abuse by its very definition is exactly the opposite of “taking care” of anyone.  If you would dishonor yourself, sacrifice your body, jeopardize your health, and knowingly scar your children for life then you have essentially prostituted your soul.  Please know that there ain’t a  house big enough, a weave fly enough, a car loaded enough, or a closet stocked with enough Jordans and red bottoms to make spiritual, emotional, and sometimes literal death worth it.  REAL. TALK.

1. He’ll Eventually Change

It is my belief that either a man has the capacity to hit a woman or he doesn’t.  I don’t buy the “she made me do it” excuse although I know there are women who could make self-restraint difficult for any man.  But in general, I believe that most men would never condone hitting a woman much like most folks would never condone child abuse.  Certain things don’t require a meeting and there’s no need to weigh the pros and cons.  I don’t need to debate whether punching a child, kicking an elderly woman, or mocking a disabled person (side eye to Trump) is wrong because like most people, I’m hard-wired to understand that mistreating someone who is not fully able to defend themselves in equal measure is immoral.  Most women cannot go toe-to-toe with a man in a fist fight and real men respect this and understand that it’s not a fair fight.  A man who would exploit his woman’s vulnerability by using physical aggression knowing that she cannot defend herself is simply twisted. There’s nothing any of us can do to alter someone else’s moral code so if he’s capable of abusing a woman, there’s no telling what other lines he’s willing to cross.  A person’s lack of basic human decency isn’t likely to change, at least not very easily. So as Maya Angelou famously said, “if someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  I know we sometimes think we can make a bad man great again, but it may be best to let go and pursue a change you can honestly believe in. (Catch it)

If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out and get help.  It’s wrong and you don’t deserve it.  That is all, carry on.

    National Domestic Violence Hotline       1-800-799-7233.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Ridin’ and Dyin’: Debunking the Thug Love Fantasy

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Thought for the Day:

“Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”

Tupac Shakur

Question for the Day:

Are you addicted to loving dangerously?

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile and found myself struggling to clarify which direction to go with it.  I think part of the reason for my hesitation was the fear that the intended message would be misinterpreted.  Whenever words like “thug” are thrown around, especially in today’s hostile racial climate, people automatically become defensive.  Some may even accuse me of playing into the assumptions of racists who are quick to label entire sections of society as criminal low lives with little to no redemptive qualities.  There are so many negative connotations surrounding words like “thug” and unfortunately the immediate mental image that comes to mind for many is the tatted up, bandana wearing Black or Brown male with sagging pants, flowing dreadlocks and  gold fronts.  This stereotypical image of the average “thug” is why the deaths of so many Black males in our society are too easily justified.  Sadly for bigots like George Zimmerman, being a “thug” comes down to how  one looks, what they wear, and unfortunately, the color of their skin.  Yet, I want to be absolutely clear about one thing as I delve into this post.  At anytime during the course of this writing, if I mention the word “thug,” “criminal,” “rough neck,” “gangster,” “bad boy” or any other term frequently used to describe a man who is generally a threat to himself or others, I AM NOT ONLY TALKING ABOUT MINORITIES or people from the “hood.”  Thugs come in all colors and classes.  There are plenty of white dope boys posted up in trailer parks and White collar gangsters who do their dirt on Wall Street instead of on the actual street.  Hoodlums, jerks, buttholes, dogs, and hoods come in all varieties as do the women who love them and this post is for ALL of them.  So kindly miss me if you’re looking for a reason to run defense because I’m not playing those games today….K?  With that being said, let’s talk about this thug love fantasy, which generally goes as follows:

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Good girl who’s bored with her adventure-starved life meets bad boy.  She’s instantly intrigued by his menacing affect, muscular build and crucifix tattoos that say to the world that he’s a strong God-fearing man though he may live by his own rules.  As he cruises down the Avenue in his luxury vehicle, which good girl’s parents could never afford, he is devastatingly confident. He’s clearly paid and able to expose good girl to all the finer things in life .  He quickly turns on the charm and showers good girl with gifts that make her feel special.  She knows that he’s involved in some type of illegal activity, though she knows better than to pry.  When she expresses concern for his safety however, he convinces her that he’s smarter than all the others and will never get caught up, because unlike his counterparts, he’s a boss. 

It’s not long before good girl sees no reason to continue pursuing school or working her dead-end job because her man’s got her.  Her family and friends warn her that she needs to be careful because her new boo has a dangerous reputation, but good girl blows them off.  All she knows is that her man has been the only person to understand her and accept the fact that she’s not perfect.  She believes she is also the only woman to ever really understand him so she has his back.  She knows what an intelligent and sensitive man he is underneath all the bravado, and that his life would have been better without so many unlucky breaks.  Eventually, good girl decides that her man is the only one who truly cares and it’ll be her and him against the world.  Unlike his deadbeat parents and ungrateful baby mamas, she refuses to be another person in his life to let him down. 

Pretty soon, he convinces her to help him out with his criminal enterprises.  First, it’s just a run or a drop here or there.  Then she starts being a full-on participant, counting his money and the whole nine.  Though good girl wasn’t raised this way, she believes the hustle is only temporary and eventually the two will make enough money to run away together, build a dream home in the suburbs, and start the family life they’ve always dreamed about.  Once they’ve successfully outlived the streets, bad boy will change his criminal ways and love her wholly and completely because she was the only one to hold him down through it all.  He will marry her and she will gladly have his babies who will never want for anything.  She will reap all the rewards that only a true “ride or die chick” deserves and she and their babies will become the only people to finally make an honest man out of her bae.  Thug Love wins again!

Cue Mary J Blige and Method Man’s “You’re All I Need” and fade out as ride or die chick, reformed bad boy, and happy kids ride off into the sunset.  It’s perfect right?  Except there are alternative endings to the story that are much more probable.

Alternative Ending #1  -Bad boy gets arrested and becomes a convicted felon.  Ride or die chick and kids take a four hour bus ride every month to visit him because she can’t afford a car.  They reminisce over the “good old days” through plexiglass for the first year or so until ride or die chick can’t afford to take anymore time off from her second job to visit. Ride or die chick has to deal with her emotionally troubled children who miss their dad.  Though she once admired bad boy’s hustle, she’ll ironically spend her energy fighting to keep her sons from following in his footsteps.  Ride or die chick either resigns herself to working two and three jobs to make ends meet or gets tired of all the stress and applies for government assistance.  Either way, her situation becomes so undesirable for the “good guys” she eventually learns to appreciate, that her dreams of riding off into the sunset with anyone suitable are drastically reduced.

Alternative Ending #2 – Ride or die chick gets arrested and becomes a convicted felon along with, or instead of, bad boy.  Any children they may have are relegated to relatives or the foster care system.  The only success ride or die chick can hope for now, is to become a featured story on TV One’s “For My Man.”

Alternative Ending #3 – Ride or Die chick learns that she’s not that special after all when she catches her bad boy cheating and having more babies on the side.  Though she thought he had her back, she learns that like a lot of other enamored and naïve women, he just had her from the back. (yeah, I said it)  She discovers that she is just another baby mama on his team and spends a significant amount of time scrapping with his other women or hassling him for child support.  Because he doesn’t work legally and doesn’t have a permanent address, her efforts to take him to court and make him pay fail repeatedly.  Her options become similar to what she’d have if he had gone to prison.  Only this time, instead of pining away for a lost love, she’s perpetually pissed off and reminded of her stupidity every time he’s pushing his luxury vehicle down the Avenue with another new random chick riding shotgun.

Alternative Ending #4 – Bad boy gets killed.  Ride or die chick will never have her happy ending and her children will have no hope of knowing their father.  Of course his chosen profession never comes with social security or life insurance benefits so aside from whatever wad of cash his homeboys may offer with their condolences, she’s generally in for a struggle.

Alternative Ending #5 – Ride or die chick gets killed herself.  Any children she has are in for a lifetime of heartache and pain.  They will live with anger and grief forever and be left to wonder why their mother chose a life of crime over raising them.  They may never value their own lives and will probably die early themselves.   If bad boy lives, he’ll probably get over it soon enough.  After all, it’s all part of the game.

So Why Do We Choose Thug Love?

As a therapist, I have a few theories about the type of women who go for bad boys.  By and large, I believe that women with complicated or unresolved issues with their fathers are often the ones who buy into the thug love fantasy.  Here are a few daddy issues that can give you a soft spot for some thug lovin’.

Dad Wasn’t There For You

If your father was absent, preoccupied, or emotionally disengaged, you could be susceptible to falling for the thug type.  Not having a strong, protective, and involved father can feed a woman’s insecurities and make her question her own sense of self-worth. (See:  Daddy’s Girls )  To the woman starved for a father’s attention and affection, a rough neck brother could represent someone who cares enough to fight for her or who is invested enough in her life to tame her or “put her in check.”  On some level, a fatherless daughter longs for discipline and direction.  A take charge type of man could represent strength and security because she knows he will take care of business by any means necessary.  Unfortunately, a “by any means necessary” attitude generally means without boundaries which is why “taming” his woman can easily turn into him going upside her head, being “the man” may become sleeping with every woman in the neighborhood and protecting the one he loves may mean shooting another man for making a pass at his woman.  A ride or die chick may feel flattered that her man would bust a cap to defend her honor, but the tea is, he’ just crazy boo!  There is no safety in being with a man without boundaries so if it’s security you’re after, trust me, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Dad Was There But Had Issues

Maybe you did have a father who was a part of your life growing up, but he was an alcoholic or an addict.  Maybe he was a womanizer, gambler, or had a violent temper.  If this is the case, then a little girl raised with this type of drama, chaos, conflict and unpredictability may subconsciously see loving someone who’s troubled or a little “rough around the edges” as an opportunity to fix someone by being her man’s saving grace.  Unlike her own imperfect father who she was never able to reform, she can try her hand at rehabilitating the new man in her life.  She believes he does not have the internal resources to go straight without the love and support of a bona fide ride or die chick.  However, most of these women learn too late that you cannot change someone else! The only person any of us can change is ourselves and the ride or die chick has enough of her own changes to make.  It would be wise for her to focus on making those changes of her own volition before the correctional system or God forbid, the wrong end of a pistol, makes it for her.

Dad Was There But Strict or Over-Protective

I came from a two-parent home and my father was hard-working and a  strict disciplinarian.  He was a successful aerospace engineer and I often felt pressure to live up to his and my mother’s lofty expectations.  This could have been what fed into my brief fascination with bad boys in my late teens and early twenties.  Being from California, I remember getting my first car in high school and sneaking off to Compton or Inglewood to meet up with whatever dude I had met while driving down Crenshaw or trolling the party lines. I do think it was a way to rebel against the expectations placed upon me by my father who I thought was  rigid and out-of-touch.  My parents had worked hard to move us from Compton to the burbs and I think that like the character “New New” in the movie ATL, I kind of resented it.  I didn’t want people to see me as sheltered or stuck up.  I wanted to be considered “down” by my peers so my attraction to bad boys could have been my response to proving that I was still a cool chick who wouldn’t change no matter where I lived.  I think a lot of women think like I used to and are too preoccupied with “being down” and not preoccupied enough with being smart.

Look, I don’t write this post in an effort to shame my sisters who have a “prison bae” on deck somewhere.  Like I said, I myself was once a fan.  Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to come to my senses and my taste in men changed after I got dogged out one good time by my last straight outta jail boyfriend.  He gave me the story about wanting to go straight and told me that he needed my car everyday to look for a job.  Well, I found out later that after he dropped me off at work in the mornings, he took my car to visit his baby’s mother to have sex and help her run errands.  Here I was an intelligent and gifted Howard University graduate with a loving and supportive family living a real life scene from Baby Boy.   I was stuck on stupid for a minute, but I now see it was a huge blessing.  I deserved more than that and once I rededicated my life to Christ, I knew that I could never sell myself that cheap again.  I was lucky and learned early, but it’s not cute to see a 30 or 40-something year old woman who still hasn’t learned this lesson.  If you truly desire a healthy, stable, and fulfilling relationship then you must decide to leave the thugs alone, seek God first, and not settle for less than His best.  I know thug passion can be addictive, but like any drug, it offers death, destruction and pain in exchange for a temporary high. So if you’re looking to be someone’s ride or die, consider getting down with Jesus Christ. At least with him, the sacrifice is sure to be worth it.

“And there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

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