Friday, October 5, 2012

Dolly My Beauty

Dolly My Beauty

            I have a confession to make: I told a lie in previous posts. I apologize. I preached this good sermon about how my parents were my only influences and not TV. Well, that’s not entirely true. There were some TV shows that influenced who I am, but I think the biggest influence on and reflection of who I wanted to be came from my dolls. Listen. When I was a little girl my parents went out of their way to make sure I had every single doll known to man. At one time Mattel and Hasbro couldn’t put out dolls as fast as they could buy them for me. If they didn’t get them from the stores they had them made. I had dolls made from yarn, dolls made from cloth, dolls made from felt, dolls out the wazoo. The only stipulation to this doll craze that we went through (because they were just as into buying them as I was into playing with them) was that they had to be African-American. I think I had about seven Caucasian dolls in life. The dolls had to be black because I spent a strong portion of my time with them. I had to create my fantasy world based on them. How could I enter an imaginary realm where no one looked like me? I already had to deal with that when watching The Jetsons, a cartoon that suggested my people weren’t part of the future. In the world I created I had to be surrounded by people who looked like me, no matter what material they were made of. Good job, Mommy and Daddy. You shaped my artistic side with a blueprint of perfection. Maybe I’m still stuck in the world the two of you allowed me to create. That’s why I don’t fall in line with what the world thinks of me. Well done.
            This thing with the dolls was serious. Although I had more Barbie dolls than anything, that dog-heffa didn’t add much to me as a person. The whole concept of Barbie was crazy to me because Barbie had everything in the world, but Barbie had no job. I always wanted a job. Better yet, I always wanted a career. My mom had a career that required her to carry a briefcase. I didn’t know what a briefcase was, but it made my mother look important; so I wanted one. Barbie had no career and no briefcase. Somehow she had all of life’s luxuries, though, and that alone was supposed to impress me. I wanted to work for the townhouse, the Corvette, the RV, the Jacuzzi large enough for eight friends, and the wardrobe so extensive that I never wore anything twice. And Barbie never really had shoes. I mean, she had those little things on her feet the size of Tic Tacs, but they never stayed on. I’ve been a shoe-whore for as long as I could imagine, so her walking around barefoot with those unreal arches in her feet just irked me to no end. Barbie always had on a ballroom gown but no shoes to go with it. And she didn’t have a man or children. My idea of adult life always included both. Yes, I know Barbie had Ken. My Barbies didn’t. It was decided by my father and my uncle that I wasn’t allowed to have a Ken doll because Ken had no penis. I had to get a G.I. Joe for Barbie because he had a penis and masculinity. Ken, they decided, was gay. Why they cared about a little girl having a doll with a penis, I don’t know. I don’t know why they thought I knew what gay was either, because I honestly didn’t learn what that word meant until high school. (It was like they sheltered me but wanted me to know everything at the same damn time). G.I. Joe was always off fighting King Cobra or complaining to Lady Jane about how Barbie never wanted to do “army stuff,” though. Outside of her wide range of friends – of only whom the minority sect made it into my home (Sorry, Midge) – Barbie didn’t lead a very envious life. Barbie didn’t even have a daughter. A black woman in ownership of all of those worldly possessions with no job to show for it, no husband, and no kids? No thank you. She was fun to play with but not someone I hoped to be.
            My whole family was in on teaching me to take pride in my race through my playthings. Black women were working women. I never had a tea set because tea parties were for idle women who sat around and gossiped. The women in my family got on the phone and gossiped after work hours; after their families were fed, children were bathed, and while they cleaned their kitchens. They never drank tea; they drank coffee, and that was to get them to work to make their contribution toward the bacon being brought home. To them being a wife meant being part of a team. What part of a team sat around a table dressed up and drinking tea during the week? The only time tea was acceptable was when they went to sorority luncheons, functions that served the purpose of raising money. So every Christmas when I put a tea set on my list it got scribbled off and wasn’t given another thought. Not even pretending to be useless was an option.
            There was nothing like taking that five hour trip from Syracuse, NY, to Harlem, NY, on a weekend to visit my mother’s people and hearing someone – anyone – say, “In the morning we’re taking the subway and going shopping. My mother’s side of the family consisted of professional numbers players. That is, they hit the numbers so much that they were able to supplement their incomes with Lottery winnings. (I’m still waiting for this trait to kick in). That meant I was going to reap the benefits of someone’s – or multiple people’s – money from hitting the three-way or four-way. Aunt Lottie was the best one to win, because she spoiled me stinking rotten. (I’m actually about to break down in tears from the memories. She’s gone on to Glory now, and I miss her so). We rarely had to take the subway, which was a good thing, because I was terrified of subways. She was a fancy woman who was all about cabs. A couple of times we took the bus just so she could try to teach me how to do it, but it was mainly cabs. Looking back, I believe she enjoyed buying me dolls because she grew up during a time when there were no black baby dolls. She never told me that, but I remember how adamant she was about me getting a black one whenever we went out. There was a time when I wanted a Jem doll, but she wasn’t buying it for me because they didn’t have the African-American member of the group available for purchase. She knew there was a black girl in the group, because she watched the cartoon with me before we left the house that morning. That day I got clothes and no toys until we got to The Bronx where I was sure to find a doll who looked like me.
            In the first grade there was a book fair/rummage sale at school. I was one of those strange children who danced on the ceiling at the chance to buy books. I think my mom gave me twenty dollars to buy what I wanted. It may have been less, but I remember thinking I hit the jackpot. I could buy as many books as I wanted with twenty whole dollars! Then as I made my way to the register, I saw toys! Dolls! The only problem was there were no black ones. I bought one anyway- a hard, plastic one with short, brittle blonde hair and blinking blue eyes. I only wanted it because it came with a baby bottle and wet itself. Later I learned that the stupid thing didn’t come with diapers; so it was just a mess, especially after my cousin ripped its pants off and flushed them down the toilet. I sat her on my bed with the elite of my dolls which consisted of a cloth doll made of chocolate-colored cloth and long black yarn hair who was named Veroda after my favorite cousin; a yarn doll with cornrows whose name alternated between Alaina and Arajean depending on how I felt that day; a pillow version of the little black girl from Strawberry Shortcake; Montgomery Moose from The Get Along Gang; a Canadian Cabbage Patch named Feinfay (I did not name her that, so you will not hold me accountable for that wrongdoing) who was one of the first ones ever made, so of course she was Caucasian; and Rainbow Brite. There was no compromise with that one. Even if she was purple with lime green spots and orange polka dots on her butt I was going to have Rainbow Brite. I introduced the new doll to the elite crowd. They didn’t receive her well at all. Maybe it was because they were all dressed to the nines, and she didn’t have anything covering her butt by the time I made it to my bedroom to introduce her to them. Maybe it was because her hair was made of a material unlike anything in this world. Maybe it was the blinking eyes. Whatever it was they didn’t take well to her. She wasn’t even allowed to be among the peasants of my dolls. How was she supposed to teach me anything about loving myself? Her shirt was ugly, and she didn’t even wear draws. I looked at her and thought maybe I could do something to help her. Getting her pants out of the toilet was simply out not going to happen. I couldn’t borrow clothes from another doll. She was shaped too funny for that. Besides, she was already a bum. I couldn’t embarrass her any further.
            “With all the black children that go to that school you’d think they’d have black dolls for sale,” I heard my mother grumble as she passed by my room. “There’s a black nun at the school. Why didn’t she tell them to get some black dolls?”
My mother thought everyone should join the effort in teaching her child to take pride in her race. Most of my friends’ mothers shared the same sentiment. Like my Aunt Lottie, they grew up during a time when there were no black dolls. To act like black girls didn’t exist in the lands they created during their recreation time was a crime. Even the mothers of my Caucasian friends agreed and thought it was great that there was now diversity on the shelves at Kidde City. So I committed a horrible crime by bringing this doll into my home. I felt bad for her. She was already a reject and an outcast. I didn’t even give her a name. So I decided to “fix” her. Rather I sought to fix the wrong I did by bringing us into each other’s lives. She wasn’t fancy, pretty, special, or well dressed. She didn’t look like she came from hard work or love. She was nothing to take pride in. She was just there, just something I got money to buy. She was a cheap hooker when I really think about it, a hooker who peed on herself. At least if she was black she could be considered a prize in my life.
            I went into my parents’ room and got a pen. When I returned to my room with the life changing instrument, I sat in the middle of the floor and studied the little doll. She was a homely little thing. Buyer’s remorse consumed me. I only bought the doll because she was there. I never would have picked her out if she was at a toy store. Those horrible, prickly eyelashes would never have won me over. I decided that what I was doing was for the best. Over those rosy cheeks I scribbled with black ink. Rosy cheeks were an overrated concept of beauty, so they had to go first. I scribbled over her forehead and over her chin. Pleased with my act of kindness, I returned her to the elite society on my bed. I swear that all those faces with permanent smiles molded or stitched into them frowned. I looked back at the little homely doll that never had a name. My own face frowned. Except for ridding her of the rosy cheeks, I didn’t do her any favors. She was hideous. Into the Humpty Dumpty toybox she went, unloved and unnamed.
Only during the Christmas seasons was she allowed to resurface. That was the time when my mother swore I wouldn’t get anymore toys because I didn’t play with the toys I got the previous year. So during November and December I dumped out every toy I owned and made sure to position myself where my mother could see me playing with each of them. Cleanup time was like slave labor during that time of year. Soon I came up with the idea of putting on a Christmas pageant and giving each of my toys a part. The pageants never got put on as I could never get the scripts just right, but it let my parents know that I did need more toys because I did play with the ones that I had. The little homely doll with no name was always in the back playing some part where she would blend and not have to be recognized, probably in the choir of dolls shouting the chorus to “Children Go Where I Send Thee.” Then came the year when she boldly asked to be Jesus in the Christmas play, and she had to go. I conveniently left her around the same cousin who took her pants. She had no legs when she returned to me. My mother thought it was tacky to have dolls with missing limbs, so it was bye-bye for the nameless little homely doll who added no sense of pride to my life.
November, 1991. I sat under the dryer at Miss Selena’s boutique, thumbing through Ebony’s anniversary issue of their magazine. The article that interested me was one complaining that there were never any medium to dark brown girls or women with long hair featured in the hair care articles. The writer was trying to point out that such a thing didn’t exist. I was confused because all of my dolls were medium to dark brown, and they all had long hair. Dolls like Dolly Surprise, whose ponytail grew when you made her hand touch the butterfly in her hair, and Lady Lovely Locks, who I called Lillian because the name just sounded so much better than “Lady Lovely Locks,” were famed for their long tresses. My own hair had me on hour two of torture under the dryer because it was so thick and long. At the time it reached the middle of my back when it was pulled into a ponytail and braided, so I was trying to figure out how I didn’t exist. I was a dark shade of chocolate brown, darker than a Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar. The kids in my class called me “burnt piece of toast” when they wanted to be mean, so how was this writer telling me I didn’t exist? The people pointed out that the magazine could feature Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or Chili from TLC. I wondered what was wrong with featuring me. While they were complaining I noticed every model in the magazine was caramel colored or lighter. The writer insinuated that women of darker shades weren’t as beautiful as the models they selected for their magazines. I was confused, because all of my dolls were beautiful and dark. Light-skinned dolls simply did not exist. The writer’s point of view was interesting, because he shared the same viewpoint as the kids in my kids who called me black. My blackness was just a fact to me. To them it was a way to hurt me. I did notice that when I called them “Brown” in that same condescending tone it didn’t have the same sting. So all those years of building up my pride were undone by just reading one article.
Then I turned the page of the magazine and laid my eyes upon the greatest prize conceivable. It was a Kenya Doll. A friend from school was sitting under the dryer next to me and bursting with excitement when she saw what I discovered.
“Isn’t she wonderful? I’m getting her for Christmas,” she gushed.
I was in too much awe to respond. She was the most wonderful thing I ever saw. There were three of her. One was of a lighter complexion, one was medium, brown, and one was dark. They all sported some pink hued version of kente cloth. All three were wide-eyed and beautiful. They had loosely curled afros and came with a variety of hair accessories, including a lotion that turned their hair straight. When you wet their hair the curl returned. Kenya boasted that all shades of blackness were beautiful, negating the entire article I just read. That made me love her. I squirmed in my seat while waiting for my mother to get to the beauty shop. Kenya was the must have Christmas gift that year. She smiled at the doll when I showed her, pleased with what the doll promoted I guess (or maybe she was elated that I finally stopped asking for Barbie’s Dream House, because two hundred dollars was just too much to spend on a toy). The doll became the topic of discussion for that entire season. My mother and my friends’ mothers were always looking for the best places to find them at the lowest prices. Which one would they get? I naturally thought they would buy me the dark one, but I heard my father make a remark so crazy I thought I dreamed him saying it:
“We gotta get the brown one for her. The chocolate one is just a little too chocolate.”
What did that mean?! After all the nine years they spent teaching me to take pride in myself, that I should be sought and no rest should come until I was possessed, they wanted me to believe that there was such a thing as being too black? I was the same color as my father. Did we both need to be punished for our complexions? Too chocolate? Really? I had found the advertisement in a magazine at home. My obsession with the doll caused me to carry the ripped out page around with me. Hearing my father’s comment made me take the page out of my pocket and stare at the dark doll. I thought she was gorgeous, magnificent even. I thought that since she was so dark that she was the most valuable among them all. Before then black dolls were right in the middle of Mother Africa’s color spectrum, neither light nor dark but a perfect compromise that met right in the middle. The dark Kenya Doll was just my complexion, causing me to take even more pride in myself. That is, until I heard my father’s comment. At that moment I had to wonder if the kids at school were right. Was I supposed to be ashamed of how dark I was? Apparently I wasn’t hurt enough when they called me “Blackey.” Well it did hurt then. I cried extra tears to make up for how hurt I wasn’t before versus how hurt I was when I learned the awful truth. It was a perplexing point in my life. I thought if anyone thought I was beautiful my own father did. But since he downed the black doll he downed me as well. On Christmas I received the brown Kenya Doll. By then I was more concerned with getting her than which one of her I got, so I danced on the ceiling and loved her. No longer did I have to write about her obsessively in my diary. I got to actually play with her.
That spring following spring, though, my father was gone but left behind the painful memory that I and the doll were “too black.” I had to do something to erase it. I needed that chocolate Kenya Doll. She had to know that we were worth loving, and we were in this thing together. First I had a different mission that needed to be completed. I had to buy an American Girl doll named Addy. Her stories taught of slavery, escaping to freedom, and building a life after. Addy was the definition of black pride. She had to come into my life. My mother made me save half the money to get her, then she put in the other half. It took weeks of saving allowance and even more weeks of waiting for the UPS man - who coincidentally was the father of the friend who was sitting next to me when I discovered the Kenya Doll – to deliver the package. Immediately after receiving Addy and making her queen of the elite among my dolls, I asked my mother to take me to Hills. I needed to put something on layaway. It only took a month for me to get the chocolate Kenya Doll off layaway. Every weekend I went to Hills with my mother to make a payment on the doll and to inspect her. There was no telling what kind of wrong they were doing to her in that back room. After all, wasn’t it part of their job to convince her that she was “too chocolate?” Father abandoned daughters who were too chocolate. I couldn’t let her think I would ever abandon her. My mission became more of a rescue party than one of pleasure and entertainment. When I got her home I decided she needed an even more beautiful name than Kenya. Ikea was what I named her. Do not judge nine year old me.
In my adult years the lessons taught to me through the dolls are still there, still fighting to be realized by the rest of the world. I guess I’m supposed to equate my blackness to ugliness, but I can’t bring myself to do it. According to what I’ve heard, I’m supposed to have low self-esteem because I’m dark skinned. In addition to this I’m supposed to be clinging to everything that is African in a struggle with identity. I’m supposed to accept that I don’t exist. Life is supposed to just hand me scraps. When it comes to men I’m supposed to accept whatever they give me in a relationship, because my dark skin makes me unworthy of having standards. I’m not supposed to desire to be anyone’s love interest in movies. I’m supposed to be attracted to the Shemar Moores and Michael Ealys because I’m supposed to want to run from my darkness. (Wait. I am attracted to Michael Ealy. Sexy is sexy and skintone has no dictation over that. Hey boo!). The Idris Elbas are supposed to be left to my lighter sistas. I’m not supposed to want a tribe of chocolate babies running around. Unfortunately I can’t conform to these ideas. It’s already been instilled in me that I have a beauty that has been suppressed for far too long. My value takes at least two subways and a cab ride to obtain. I am acquired in reality so that fantasy worlds can be completed. I shape futures. I’m something to take pride in. I teach self-worth. Society, just like the writer of that article and just like my father, has it all the way twisted. I am a thing of beauty. 

Still Friends = Still Can Get the “D”

The way the news about Chris Brown’s breakup with that poor girl whose name has been so bastardized on Twitter that I don’t even remember what her real name is anymore (she always looked like a miniature Tina Knowles to me, just in case anyone cared to know my opinion) broke, you would think the unemployment rate was at 0%, world peace had been established, Naomi Campbell found her edges, and Diddy righted everyone he’d done wrong since Bad Boy was established. Long story short, there were a million other things going on in the world, but the blogs and even some credible news sites were putting out updates on the story like it had some effect on our lives. It just wasn’t that serious. When did we as a people start releasing press statements about why we broke up with somebody? Why wasn’t I made privy to this vital step in ending relationships, because I feel like I should have a few minutes to explain why certain relationships didn’t work out so that people can stop side eyeing me?
Anyway. That’s a whole different blog post that my fingers will fall off before completing. No shots fired. Well, maybe a few shots, but moving right along…
            So Chris Brown was in an “open relationship” with the girl whose name everyone keeps messing up, which means they’re with each other, but they can have sex with whoever they want as long as they tell each other before they do it. I have never understood these arrangements, but as long as no one I’m with expects me to partake in this fuckery I’m good. Chris Brown decided he was going to keep having sex with Rihanna… And keep having sex with Rihanna… And keep having sex with Rihanna… Finally he released a statement explaining that he couldn’t keep hurting his girlfriend by continually smashing Rihanna, so it’s best that he be single. Now that’s commendable and everything, but the girl was foolish enough to become friends with Rihanna. I’m sorry. I try to be open minded about a lot of things, but you can’t pay me less than seven figures to befriend a woman my dude is knowingly boning. As bad as the economy is I’m not above whoring out my friendship. Giving it out for free? To a chick he’s been all the way up in? Um…how about no?
            I didn’t care about this mess one way or the other until I came across people’s reactions to his statement. I knew I was going to see some crap about how stupid Rihanna is for going back to the man who beat her, how Chris Brown is a monster who shouldn’t be allowed to breathe oxygen, yadda, yadda, yadda. What I thought was truly interesting were the comments about how he’s going to be balls deep in Rihanna without feeling guilty about it. Given their situation, I don’t think he ever felt guilty about it. He probably just got tired of hearing the little chick complain about it every time he walked in the house. You know how we do, ladies. Everything leads back to who he’s doing on the side:
            “Bae, why it ain’t no more chicken wings…? Oh, I bet that little whore you fuckin’ ate all the chicken wings! Why you wanna watch the presidential debate on CNN? I thought you liked MSNBC? Oh I bet you that bitch you fuckin’ got you watchin’ CNN! You used to wear Hanes. What, you had to switch to Fruit of the Loom because that heaux told you to wear Fruit of the Loom? Why you ain’t said nothing in the past 38 seconds? You thinkin’ ‘bout that bitch?”
            Maybe that’s just me who does that. Maybe that’s why all of my exes hate me, and I’m not friends with any of them. That’s probably why I took this position on the situation.
            Their breakup is the perfect example why I try not to deal with dudes who are still friends with their exes. If they claim to be cool with all or most of their ex-girlfriends then I definitely don’t trust them. I’ve always been labeled by outsiders as insecure. Call me what you want, but I’m no fool. Why break up if you’re still going to be talking every day, going to each other’s houses every day, screwing every day? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I feel that your exes are called such because you’ve X’d them out of your life. They’re an EXample of what you don’t want in a relationship. They’re EXtra baggage that you don’t need in your new relationship. Why should your current mate be subject to you still gallivanting with your previous mate(s)? If you can’t let go of the past, then stay there. Don’t drag other people backward.
“No matter who you fuck with and who I fuck with, we’re always gonna fuck with each other.”
            Nothing in this world burns me up more than this verse of fuckery. What does this stupid statement even mean? Men use this statement so they can get and keep a variety of pussy in their lives; have stupid women throw them a few dollars from time to time. Women use this statement so they can call their ex-man’s phone at 2 a.m. and then start some shit when the chick he’s laid up with gets mad. I have heard more lonely, unhappy heauxs spit this foolishness this year than I care to mention. And the bitch is always single, talking about some ex-boo that’s married or [supposed to be] in a committed relationship. Sometimes she has children with this man. This pisses me off to the highest level of pisstivity because it implies that she’s using children – people who didn’t ask to be here and didn’t ask to be a part of idiocy – to hold onto something that either isn’t there or doesn’t need to be there. This thought process shows a severe lack of intelligence on the part of the woman, because while she’s changing his kids’ funky ass diapers; while she’s dropping off money to him at some undisclosed location because he doesn’t want his girlfriend to know they’re more than just cool; while she’s in the streets yelling out this stupid shit, the man is building something real with his current woman. The money she’s giving him is being used to get his girlfriend’s hair and nails done, putting gas in his car so they can take a day trip out of town to get away from these retarded sideline chicks, taking his girlfriend out to dinner, etc. (Yes, I told all of your secrets. You’re welcome).
            I don’t think people understand how much they’re limiting themselves when they put this link between them and their estranged lover(s). It creates a bridge to the past that needs to be burned at all costs. How can you thoroughly enjoy your future if you’re still holding onto your past? What if there’s someone better for you out there? What if getting rid of your ex permanently can get you to that lover who can give it to you so good that it makes you swallow your tongue? What good does it do a person to keep dealing with someone who lays down with and wakes up with someone daily? One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. It’s insane to keep going back to a person who keeps going home to someone else, thinking one day that person is going to go home with you.
            And again I ask, what about the person in the middle of all of this? You mean to tell me that if I get into a relationship with you then I have to share you with your past? But isn’t the past over? Is there a more selfish way to live? So I have to sit through you texting your ex all day, talking about how good your sex used to be? Our budget has to include the money you toss your ex from time to time, just in case she needs gas or lunch money? I have to be okay with you going to your ex-girlfriend’s house? I have to twiddle my thumbs and wait for you to come home while you’re out with her, so as not to seem “insecure?” Let me answer these questions real quick:
Hell the entire fuck no!
            Who do you people think you are, bringing bullshit into other people’s lives? Why should we (the current mate) be content building a house on someone else’s foundation? Our lives were just fine and dandy as single people. We at least had our sanity. What do we get out of letting these people into our lives who have all this dumbness going on in their own? Absolutely nothing.
            I don’t care what you say. If they claim to still be friends then they’re still fucking. At the very least they’re planning to fuck again in the very near future. How can two people who used to make each other howl at the moon stand in the same space knowing they’re never going to make each other do that again and just be cool with it? Nobody needs to “just say hi” every day. Nobody needs to cook you a meal every Sunday unless you’re providing dessert. They broke up for a reason. Why do they insist on being in each other’s lives? I guess I can say all of this with a clear conscience, because I only have one ex who I’m even remotely cordial with. I feel bad or weird every time he “likes” something I post on Facebook about my new life (like my new baby) because we had plans of doing everything I’m doing with my current dude. How is he okay with that? I don’t even bother acknowledging that my other exes are even alive because I know they still want to smash and still think they can smash. And that’s not gonna happen. Ever. At all. Keeping doors to the past open gives access to them.
            And there may be a few cases where they’re not still screwing, but you can bet your last dollar something is going on that is in violation of their current relationships. A relationship is more than just sex, so cheating isn’t just sex. Just thought I’d clear that up. You’re welcome.
            So, yeah. Chris Brown was good for that statement he made. Grownups take care of their business. Part of taking care of their business is finishing business. He couldn’t do that, so he ended it with
the current and released her from the hurt he was putting her through. That’s a trend he started that I hope catches on and stays forever and ever amen. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

"There's a War Going on Outside"

"There's  a war going on outside/No man is safe from/You can run but you can't hide forever/From these/Streets that we done took..." -Mobb Deep "Survival of the Fittest"

I have this sinking fear that in about 6 months from now, we're going to wake up in the middle of a war. Looting, rioting, killing, an eye for an eye, and I'm scared the whole point will be lost in the midst of getting the free 3D TV's and expensive shoes. (I'm not saying I don't like expensive shoes; I'm just saying I don't feel comfortable obtaining them in the name of a life being lost). My biggest fear is for the blind. There are so many in denial that war is being declared right now. It's sad, scary, and unhealthy to abstain from reality. It began with Trayvon Martin. A 17 year old was shot for walking away from the store carrying a bag of skittles and an iced tea. The hoody he was wearing made him look suspicious. For that he deserved to die. A person who chased him felt the need to defend himself against his choice of clothing for that chilly, rainy night. Trayvon Martin is dead, and his killer hasn't even been prosecuted. He said the words "F___in' coon" before killing him, yet people - black people especially - want to deny that this is a race issue.

I'm used to those who are not negatively effected by racial profiling and all that comes with it being in denial about what's happening. In fact, there is a large group of people who believe that since slavery is over, racism should be forgiven and forgotten. To them it is no longer existent. It's especially evident in the remarks made about tragic events that are clearly racially motivated. In book reviews regarding the South during the Great Depression comments such as, "There were too many references to prejudice. After slavery, things weren't that bad for African-Americans," let us know what is really thought of our plight. That's to be expected from those who didn't have to go through it. Those who aren't descendants of a people who was dragged from its native land and forced to work on the land of another could never understand. They are not my concern. The people I am fearful for are the ones who say, "Don't make this a race issue. Everything is not about race." An Arabic-American woman by the name Shaima Alawadi was found beaten to death with a note that called her a terrorist and told she should return to her own country. A little girl named Aiyana James was shot to death by police with no repercussions suffered. You can say "don't play the race card...," since the race card was played when the trigger was pulled.

Instead of acknowledging the issue at hand they ask, "Why should we care about them when we haven't done anything about the madness that's going on in our town?" It's because of what these tragedies represent. They signify the beginning of the end for us. After slavery they had no use for us. The gang violence and drug wars help, but they're not killing us fast enough. There are still some of us left who don't want to be involved with that foolishness, and that just won't do. We need to either leave or die. Since America puts us under the impression that we have some rights, we're not going anywhere. Therefore, they have to kill us. The more of us that are in denial, the easier this will be. "Everything is not a race issue." No, it isn't, but when people of color are being killed without their assailants being prosecuted, it's obvious that the murders are racially motivated.

"Where was the outcry for Jon Benet Ramsey and Cailey (forgive the misspelling) Anthony?"
I clearly recall there being heavy disappointment in the outcome of the Anthony case. However, at least there was a trial. George Zimmerman, the Chicago police, and the security guards are all walking the streets. They're free to destroy their next target at will.

"Where was the rally and vigil when that happened to my cousin?" 
Why didn't you let anyone know that happened to your cousin? Why didn't you start a rally? Why do nothing and then get mad at people for getting involved with causes they actually have knowledge of?

"Trayvon Martin's shooting happened a month ago? Why are people just now getting upset about it?"
It takes the spread of information in order for people to become knowledgeable about it. Likewise, it would be impossible to know of every single hate crime that happens against people of color. The person who updates that website would have to have Superman's speed in order to keep up. Besides, who would sit there and read such information all day without having a breakdown and going crazy?

"Why does it take an event like this for people to get angry?" 
Life is all about balance. Sane people become upset when something happens to upset them. Who walks around militant all the time? Life still has to be lived. Children still have to be fed. We still need to be educated. Nobody needs to be angry all of the time, but when something like this happens people need to take notice and be outraged. In addition, they need to be alert. We need to be alert and ready for the war they have started. Robbing Wal-Mart will not make us victorious. Being in denial that what is going on is not going to win.

"Well, I'm only half black, so none of this pertains to me."
I'm sorry to tell you this, but no one cares that you're half black except you and maybe the other people of mixed race who sympathize with your plight. You can identify yourself as whatever you want. To the rest of the country, though, you are black. We have been dictated by the one drop rule. That one drop, or that "half" of a black person in you is what will be targeted. Your other half will not be spared, because you are seen as a contaminated specimen. You'll be tossed like bio-hazardous waste. Look at George Zimmerman. Never in life have you heard of a Hispanic man with the surname Zimmerman, but they were quick to point out that only half of him was white. Only half of him was worthy of being connected to them. They were quick to discard him because he made them look bad. They did it to him, and they'll to the same to anyone who taints them. They'll try to save him. They just won't have anything to do with him.

It's easier for those who haven't been through it to sweep it under the rug. My concern is those African-Americans who choose to be in denial and make excuses. "What about blacks killing blacks every day? Where's the outrage for that?" Those individuals are helping the cause of the other side. Many of them also choose to live a life that has only two options- death or jail. That's a separate problem to deal with. This sudden swelling in the number of UNARMED people of minority races being gunned down is a bigger problem. The more the real reason for it happening is denied, the more it's going to happen. It's war. We are the survivors. I'm afraid that all we'll be concerned with is the amount of free crap we can get from the riots that amount to nothing. Still they'll be in denial about the fact that they are targets.

How could you look at this dead boy and not immediately think of Emmit Till? An innocent boy was killed by a Caucasian man. His parents are left to grieve. Immediately an excuse is given about why it happened. Emmit Till was killed for whistling at a white woman. Trayvon Martin was killed for looking suspicious. He was wearing a hoody. He knew better than that. He shouldn't have been dressed in such an intimidating article of clothing. Even if it was raining when he walked to the store to get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea. Even Geraldo Rivera said it: His hoody killed him just as much as the man who pulled the trigger. It's his fault a man sitting in an SUV got out of the car, chased him down, and demanded to know who he was and where he was going. Who cares that we teach our children not to speak to strangers? As a young black teenager, he should have known he had to answer. Why? Because that man was white, and he was black. He was a suspicious intruder in his own neighborhood because he had the darker skin. Just like Emmit Till's, his life was taken because he was a threat to their world. No, the truth his he was killed because Zimmerman knew Florida's law would let him get away with it.

After the tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin, they tried to show us how they were doing us a favor. They wanted to tell us why he wasn't in school that day. He wasn't in school that day because it was a Sunday. Then they wanted to bring up the fact that he was once suspended from school for having an empty bag of marijuana. Excuse me, there was marijuana residue inside of the bag. In addition, his Twitter page was put on display. All that America saw was that he was living a teenage life. Every day they've tried to come out with something else, trying to prove that his life was taken as a gift to us. They were protecting us from a future thug. All that they've shown is that two parents are left to grieve the loss of their son, and they don't care. They didn't care when they left his body in the hospital as a Jon Doe, and they still don't care today. That's why Zimmerman is free, and Trayvon Martin is no longer with us.

Then there's this group who thinks hunting down Zimmerman an taking the eye for an eye approach is the answer. The fact that they will be arrested and sentenced to an unspeakable amount of jail time. Zimmerman will still be free. Some media outlets have already crafted a monster out of Trayvon Martin's childhood events.  In the meantime, Zimmerman's friends and family members are making him a victim. Headlines such as "Zimmerman's Brother Says George's Life Will Never Be the Same" and "Zimmerman Couldn't Stop Crying the Night of the Shooting" serve to form some type of pity party. If the media has already victimized him, don't people take that as a warning? A grown man kills a child, yet it's the grown man who they're trying to get sympathy for. It's not the parents who lost a son. It's not the millions of African-American boys around the country who now fear walking down the streets. We're supposed to feel sorry for a man who shot a boy who was walking home from the store, armed with nothing but an iced tea and some candy. What do people think breaking windows, burning down buildings, and stealing things from stores is going to do? The L.A. Riots after the Rodney King verdict were a mess. I was only 9 or 10 when they happened, but I remember the chill that set over my body as I watched them and grieved for my people. We looked like animals on national television. The riots weren't worth it, and they did more harm than good. What will be accomplished by going to this man's house (or his current location) and beating the life out of him? Once again we will be the thugs he accused Trayvon Martin of being. I'm just as angry as anyone else, and I want justice, but I know that our outcome won't be the same as Zimmerman's.

Finally there's the group who thinks we should comply with what these bigots want. There's even a video going around telling how African-American males should conduct themselves in the world. In my opinion, this group is the worst. Supposedly African-Americans were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Freedom means we don't have to follow a dress code or behave in a certain manner. How a person conducts him or herself depends on his or her upbringing. It is up to the parents to tell them what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong is not determined by a person's style of dress. It's also not determined by who you answer to when asked who you are and what you're doing in your own neighborhood. Right and wrong is determined by action alone. Anyone who wants to fall under a bigot's dictation rather than fight for his or her right to be who he or she is promised to be under the American Constitution is a disgrace. Geraldo Rivera, you are included in this message. You should be fighting for your son's right to wear a hoody without being labelled suspicious, not telling him he's made himself a target by donning one.

Friday, March 23, 2012

B$#@& You Wasn't With Me Shootin' in the Gym!

"Kobe my n&*$@ I hate it had to be him/B$#&% you wasn't with me shootin' in the gym!/(Huh! B&^#$ YOU WASN'T WITH ME SHOOTIN' IN THE GYM!)" -Drake and Rick Ross "Stay Schemin'"

I take severe issue with a lot of this song, but a special part of me dies every time I hear this line rapped by Drake and then co-signed with extreme emphasis by Rick Ross. I could dissect Drake's entire verse until the world is dying of laughter, but I'm sure some more famous blogger already has. Instead I want to focus on this particular part of the song. Stay Schemin' talks about how people are always plotting on their material possessions and sometimes their lives. Therefore, they feel the need to stick to and stick to their male friends like glue. In theory that's fine, but then Drake of all people starts his verse, and their case crumbles.

For those who haven't heard the song, he's talking about the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant divorce. At the time of Drake writing this verse, Vanessa Bryant was scheduled to receive $150 million dollars in their divorce settlement. Would you like to know why? Because Kobe Bryant cheated on her!!!! For some reason men become outraged when a husband is ordered to pay his wife money after they part ways. I don't get it. He was out there doing God knows what with The Lord only knows who. Not only did he violate his vows; he put his wife's life in danger. HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, and a myriad of other diseases easily could seal her fate when he gets done with his extramarital rendezvous. Does that matter? No. He's just that selfish. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he might have used condoms. Those aren't 100% effective. What about the emotional turmoil she suffers as a result? Her feelings don't matter because she got to live a life of luxury, and she had a man, right? People who think this way really need to get their lives together.

Nevertheless, the line is hilarious to me. Drake and Rick Ross need to cut it out, acting like some reverend/deacon tag team who preached some marvelous sermon with this one line. For Rick Ross, it's simple: Of course she wasn't with him shooting in the gym. He wasn't with him shooting in the gym. Nothing about Rick Ross says he's been to the gym this century. In fact, it sounds like he lost his breath co-signing that single line. Did he pass out after yelling it? I wanted to pass him my Albuterrol after hearing him say it the first time. In the infamous words of Jay-Z, "We don't believe you! You need more people!"

And then there's Drake. I'm no fan of his. In fact, after he remade Back That Thang Up I was done with his existence. His last album set masculinity back about forty thousand years. Just about every song was about rescuing strippers from their degrading lives of nudity and lap dances. Then there was Marvin's Room, the king of all haters' songs. He's supposed to be the savior of womankind, yet he comes with this foolishness. So it's okay to save strippers, but husbands shouldn't have to take care of their wives? What am I missing here? No, she wasn't with you "shootin' in the gym," but she was taking care of your kids, sitting at home alone while you were on the road acting like you were God's gift to the world, keeping your vows fresh while you defiled your marriage. No, she wasn't with you in the gym, but she was sitting at home being ridiculed by your sex scandals. No, she wasn't with you shooting in the gym, but she did make the sacrifice of having a husband who was there year-round for a husband who was on the road most of the time. No, she wasn't with you shooting in the gym, but she did give up a life of privacy to be followed around by paparazzi.

It kills me that there are men out there who think that once they get caught messing up that the wife is supposed to either grin and bear it or kick rocks with flip flops and no socks but be mute about the pain. Somehow if the tables were turned, Vanessa Bryant would be labelled an ungrateful heaux with no morals. But because Kobe Bryant is a man with a penis who can shoot a ball into a hole, she should shut up and enjoy the diamonds on her finger. Listen. No diamond in the world can heal the wounds that being cheated on causes. The shine may make you turn a blind eye to it, but I guarantee it can't make you forget it. When a man betrays his marriage it causes the woman to pick herself apart, wondering what she did wrong. Why wasn't she good enough? What did the other woman (women) do so well that she didn't? If she twerked her booty just a little bit more would he have remained faithful? Was she the wrong skin tone? Did she not fry the chicken right? (Well, Vanessa probably didn't have that last thought running through her mind, but you get my point). Then she has to decide whether or not she's willing to forgive him. Forgiveness is a stressful process to endure. It doesn't make it any easier if the only part he's sorry about is getting caught. It makes it even more difficult when there are escape clauses like, "A man's gonna do what a man's gonna do." Then she has to refrain from retaliating in any way that will send her to jail. It's a difficult thing to deal with.

So then she decides to leave. She and her children were accustomed to a certain way of living prior to his infidelity. I for one would never rely solely on my spouse for income. Life is too unpredictable for that. However, I've never been married to a millionaire. I can't judge others for what they decide to do. All I can say is that a lot of athletes' wives don't work. Instead they raise the kids and make the family look good. Some of them use their husbands' names to become entrepreneurs. Some don't, and that's fine too. According to Drake and Rick Ross, because a wife decides to walk away before she gets burned to the point of no return (you can take that both literally and figuratively), she deserves nothing. She wasn't an LA Laker, so she should get nothing. Yet it's okay to take Peanut and Smash and them - your "niggaz" - to the bar and treat them to bottles like they're girls, buy them cars like they're girls, look out for them like they're girls. Your woman is the giver of life, the carrier of your legacy. Why is your honesty and loyalty tied to people who share your gender and can do nothing for you but suck up your fame and fortune?

I get a real hearty laugh when Drake says, "Kobe my n^&&@, I hate it had to be him..." This sounds to me like the fact that he has championship rings means he doesn't have to remain loyal to his wedding ring. Kobe didn't seem to hate when it was him stepping outside of his marriage. How did Kobe Bryant become the victim here all of a sudden? So he loses money, so what? The snatch must have been worth it for him to risk destroying his family. So wearing gold and purple means he doesn't have to be held accountable for his actions? Isn't that as bad as saying, "I sure hate Keke Wyatt had to go to jail for shooting her husband. She has such a lovely voice"? What does one have to do with the other? Like DMX said, "You do dirt, you get dirt." That's the bottom line.

I could go on and on about how hilarious this part of the song is to me. I'm not talking sarcastic hilarious either. If this song comes on in the car when I'm pulling up to my house, I make it a point to sit there and listen to it until that part comes on. Then I laugh so hard you would think Def Comedy Jam came back. I guess Drake got tired of whining about all of his girly problems, so he decided to complain about someone else's. The sad part is that we spend so much of a girl's childhood telling her how much a man is supposed to love her. She grows up to find out that men are only loyal to each other. They're so worried about what other people are trying to do to them and take from them, yet they tend to sweep under the rug what they do to hurt others. It's called accountability. It goes hand and hand with responsibility. Men will never know that, though, as long as they have other men (or Drake) sticking up for them, telling them that their status in life nullifies their obligations to the women who they love. Well, keep being more concerned with those dudes who ride for you. After you're done burning out the women who stand by your side, those dudes and their stupid song lyrics will be all you have.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Parents Just Don't Understand...And They Shouldn't...No One Should

It's night time. Your son leaves the house to go to the store to buy Skittles and an iced tea. He never comes back. Instead, the police come to your doorstep and tell you that your son is dead. For what? He isn't gang affiliated. He isn't involved with drugs. He walks the streets unarmed. The police tell you that the head of Neighborhood Watch said that he was walking around "looking suspicious." When he left the house he was wearing a black hoodie. Apparently, that is reason enough for the police to come to your door and tell you that your son is dead. In addition, they tell you they won't be arresting the shooter because there is not probable cause to arrest him, and the person who shot him has a college degree. They bid you goodnight, leaving you and your feelings standing there with your mouth agape.

By now we have all heard the story of Trayvon Martin. We've all seen and signed the petition. Right...? Right?

If you haven't, you can click the link and do so NOW

We have heard the story, and we are outraged. We're confused. We're hurt. More than anything, we are wondering when racism will come to an end. Parents are wondering when they should expect this to happen to their children. Can we as parents even allow our children to leave the house? We've heard the tapes. We've reviewed the facts. Trayvon exited the store and began walking. It doesn't matter where he was going. The only things he carried on his person were Skittles and an iced tea. George Zimmerman, the self-appointed head of Neighborhood Watch, is sitting in his SUV and decides that he feels threatened by Trayvon's presence. Sitting in a vehicle, he feels threatened by someone who is walking down the street, minding his own business. Trayvon is on his cell phone, not paying George Zimmerman a bit of attention. Perhaps he felt himself being watched and made eye contact with the person staring at him. That's not really a threatening move. He puts his hoody over his head and kept walking. Zimmerman calls the police on a non-emergency number. If he truly felt threatened, wouldn't 911 be the correct number to call? The police tell him not to pursuit the person who is "threatening" him. Zimmerman gets out of the car anyway, proclaiming, "They always get away...Those people need to pay."

Who are "they?" What people is he referring to?

And then, like all people who truly feel threatened by someone, Zimmerman gets out of his car and chases Trayvon. During his pursuit, he even calls Trayvon a coon. Because he is being pursued, Trayvon calls 911, screaming for his life. It's not use. He is shot in his chest and killed.

There are several problems with this story. For one, how can someone who is chasing a person feel threatened? How can an unarmed person be a threat to a person with a gun? Then there is the obvious issue: Trayvon is a child. Zimmerman is a grown man. The issue of self-defense must also be factored into this. In order for it to be self-defense, doesn't a person have to be attacked? Sitting somewhere in your car puts you in a pretty odd position to be attacked by someone who is unarmed and minding his own business. The law of self-defense states that in order for that to stick a person has to be shot in both legs. Trayvon Martin was shot in his chest. Let's not forget that he was chased down to the final minutes of his life.

People are coming with the weak defense about the way he was dressed. Who cares how he was dressed? Yes, there are some rowdy teens out there. Yes, there are times when men dressed in hoodies make us feel uncomfortable. Those men have to be doing something other than minding their own business to have any effect on me. If those people do something threatening to me, I don't chase them down and shoot them. I cross the street and walk a little faster. It's never what they're wearing. It's their actions that make me feel like I need to take action against them. They don't deserve to have their lives taken unless they first try to take mine. Trayvon didn't do this.

Yet Zimmerman has not been arrested. They say it's not a race issue. Those of us who are not in denial can accept the truth. We can liken this to the story of Emmit Till and realized that nothing has changed between 1955 and 2012. The fact that we have to get a petition signed to get the right thing done causes us to sit here in disgust. As parents we wonder if our child will be next. Why is this child killer allowed to walk free? Because he has a college degree? We don't buy that. As parents we don't want to know if the outcome would be different if the tables were turned. We don't want to think of another child's life to be taken just to prove a point. What we want is an understanding. Why are parents burying their children? What was so threatening about the bag of Skittles he was carrying? Should we stop allowing our children to buy Skittles? First we had to teach our children that Officer Friendly is a bigger myth than Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy combined; now we also have to tell them that Neighborhood Watch is really watching and waiting for an opportunity to take their lives. The people who are supposed to protect them are their worst enemies. We the parents don't understand this. We shouldn't have to. No one should.

Once again, please sign the petition to have George Zimmerman arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, please click the link:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Descendants of Excellence

I have to giggle, because what I'm about to say makes me feel old as dirt. Last week I read the best book I have read this century: They Tell Me of a Home by Daniel Black. The storyline wasn't what made this book great. Of course it was interesting, but there was so much more to this book than just a story. This book was a piece of LITERATURE. It was what Sojourner Truth died for us to be able to do. It was what Alice Walker was paving the way for. I'm sure Ralph Ellison smiled down on this book once it was published. The plot and setting created a movie in the mind of the reader. A person was able to feel, think, smell, and see exactly what was going on in this little town. Rather than making the reader think his or her friend was just telling one long story, They Tell Me of a Home engaged the reader in a series of events. The book sparked the desire to change. It made the question "Why?" be asked over and over again. This is what real literature is made of. It saddens me that more books written in modern times don't possess this quality.

Having only one book published, I'm still learning, still growing, and still developing myself as a writer. However, I've been reading since the '80's. I know what makes a book good and what makes a book excellent. I'm not trying to be mean or slander the reputations of anyone who has published a book. I just want us to put more effort into our quality. Daniel Black did just that. There are other authors, however, who don't, and it's disheartening. The English language has been butchered. The books read like the transcript of a "Girllll, lemme tell you..." telephone conversation between two girlfriends. Getting lost in them doesn't happen as often as the need to the end of them. It's sad. Their subject matter sounds like something we can relate to. Then in the midst of all the label dropping, bad spelling, misuse of homophones, and inconsistency in story, the audience loses interest. Once upon a time, those who were gifted in writing wrote. In present time, anyone who seeks a quick come-up puts a book out. No matter how mediocre the quality, they put it out. If the person is popular enough the book sells. Those whose hearts and souls are in this, who are doing this for the love and not the fortune and fame, are left sitting on the proverbial shelves collecting dust.

What's really sad is when a person possesses talent but won't take the time to develop it. Paying for editing isn't even given a second thought. They have a good story but aren't grammatically gifted. The good story is ruined by events that are inconsistent with the time period in which their books are set. They don't know the difference between "want" and "won't." At the beginning of the sentence, Veronica is speaking, but somehow the tagline is marked with Dana's name. We authors love burning the midnight oil. Some of our best ideas come to us after one a.m. That doesn't mean we can send it to be published first thing in the morning. At the very least, we can get a second set of eyes to look at it and make sure all of our ducks are in a row.

They Tell Me of a Home really made me feel bad about not majoring in English in college. I felt like the main character's craft was so polished. Formal training seemed to take his talent and turn it into something brilliant. I was left wondering if my writing was lacking something because it was never sharpened with an English degree. My professors in college always read my writing and told me I was in the wrong field. Even though I held a 4.0 GPA, they could tell by the way my papers were written that my heart was in Language Arts. They were 100% correct, but writing doesn't pay the bills. Now I do it on the side, but I wonder what level my writing would be on today if I took it to a university and let them mold it. I guess it's too late for "what if's" now, but when I look at work I'm disappointed in I can't help but wonder what flaws are in mine.

As African-American writers, we are the descendants of excellence. Booker T. Washington, Mildred D. Taylor, Sojourner Truth, Ralph Ellison, and the like did not pave the way for us to produce mediocrity. I know we say, "It's just a word; stop being so anal," but there's more to it than that. We want to get our people back into reading. By writing about things that our people see in everyday life we are doing just that. Then we speak of things our people dream of seeing. But we spend so much time promoting the names of designers who could care less about us, not paying attention to detail, and trying to make every character a superstar that we forget what writing is supposed to do: change lives. We need to go back to memorable characters like Miss Celie, Cassie Logan, T.L., etc., who were able to make an impact on our hearts and minds. We put out poorly formatted books, and it's insulting to the readers who have spent their hard-earned money on supporting our efforts. We say, "Who cares if I used the wrong form of 'their'? It's urban fiction, not a college essay." What we're really saying is we don't give a crap about those who fought for us to be educated and those who fought for us to be able to legally know how to read and write. Forget all of those who are learning from us. All they need is a book. They don't need it to be great. None of this is true. We are the descendants of excellence. We should be standing on the foundation that was given to us and building toward the next level. Let's do better.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

PSA: Children Are Not Joysticks

Until recently I looked at the single mother journey from one angle: the one I could see through my eyes only. I have two children whose fathers refuse to be a part of their lives. My oldest son's father says he doesn't have to take care of our child because he was a high school student when we conceived him. Therefore, he didn't know any better and should not be penalized as a result. He also told our son not to call him ever in life and cut off all contact with him. My ex-husband, with whom I conceived my youngest son, told me he couldn't take care of our son after our divorce because it would hurt his girlfriend's feelings. She felt him paying child support, calling our son, and spending time with our son was disrespectful toward their relationship. While I pray often the two of them will come around, I think I deserve a badge of honor for not killing either one of them. Because of them, my view on being a single mother is that she is a hero. Recently, though, I found out that every single mother doesn't deserve to be celebrated.

I never subscribed to the theory that women become single mothers because they chose the wrong men. The phrase, "She knew what she was getting into" always sounded like rubbish to me. Then I was introduced to a whole new world. In this world women have ten and eleven children, all with different fathers, and they spend their days making the fathers' lives living hells. These fathers are paying child support, yet the mothers don't allow them to see the children. The minute they get into a relationship they make their children call the new boyfriend daddy. This means that at a minimum, the oldest of eleven has called eleven different men daddy in his or her lifetime. Not cool. The minute the relationship ends the mother bashes "daddy" to all of the children. Also not cool. These things could be prevented, but in a quest to be loved they have these children in order to become attached to someone who may not necessarily be worthy of or desiring to be tied down. At the end they're left with a child. They try to use the child as a set of puppet strings. When this doesn't work they become infuriated. Their nights and days are spent harassing their children's fathers. This leaves little room for them to live their own lives. Instead of taking care of the children that they refuse to let know their fathers, they spend their days stalking the fathers' social networking pages, stalking the fathers' new girlfriends, and trying to figure out how to get more child support from the fathers. It's rarely because they need the extra money, but they are using it to hurt the fathers. This is especially true if the father has improved his life since breaking up with her.

The sad part is that this way of life is based on bitterness and the inability to control men. "Daddy issues" may play a part in it, but it's mostly because they thought their children were going to keep these men doing what they wanted. They live with this idea that as long as they have these men's children they'll have control over what's in their pants. When they find out this isn't true they become outraged.

Making a baby is a two person task. If it is in a woman's mind to have a baby with a man because she wants to control him, she should first take into consideration what she will be gaining control of. If she wants thousands of dollars in child support, she probably should find somebody who brings home thousands of dollars every pay check. It makes no sense to have a baby with the guy who laces the sneakers at Foot Locker and then try to get $1500 a week in child support from him. It ain't gonna happen. Then she says she won't allow the father to be a part of the child's life because he's not a "good, Christian man." Okay, if she didn't meet him in church she shouldn't be surprised by that. She met him in the club, on "the block," or at some party where they traded shotguns and shared a bottle of Hennessey on someone's couch all night. If she wanted some wholesome man she should have gone to church and gotten pregnant by a deacon or a saint. Then no matter how things ended between them, regardless of who was at fault, she doesn't feel he should move on. It's okay for her to have ten or eleven children, but if six or seven years later he decides to have another relationship she's going to do whatever she can to make him miserable. She still carries that bitterness and resentment from their breakup. It would be better for her to try to be civil and move on as he did.

At the end of the day she is left with a bunch of kids. Instead of cherishing them as the blessings they are, she uses them as pawns in a game. She loses every time. Not only does she lose, the children lose. Because they are nothing more to her than joysticks in her sick game, they don't get to know their fathers. All they get to learn is her side of the story. They grow up resenting men who spend years fighting to spend time with them. By the time they are old enough to learn the truth their relationships are damaged, many times beyond repair. It's a sick, sad world we live in.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Love, Najae" available on Kindle for $0.99 February 1, 2012

It’s hard to see your true beauty when not even your own parents can admit that it exists. All Najae ever wanted was to be loved and to be seen as beautiful. Her parents were preoccupied loathing her existence and regretting the mistake that was her life to see that. She spent her life being her father’s secret, her stepmother’s enemy, and her mother’s lie. It took one terrible event to open everyone’s eyes to the real problem. With an ashamed father, a capitalistic whore of a stepmother, and an almost bipolar biological mother, who is she to trust for the solution?
After spending just one weekend as her father’s daughter rather than a skeleton in his closet things are changed forever. A few skeletons of her own began to seep out. They caused her to run into the arms of the only person who ever made her feel wanted. Could it be true love? Could the attention from one man compensate for fifteen years of abuse and mistreatment? Or could this road to heartbreak be the beginning of a beautiful ending? 

Wanted: Role Models (Or you could make a good impression for your own damn kids).

The time to have that talk with my mother regarding the choices she made raising me is drawing nearer and nearer. When I was growing up she set the example for me to follow. She was the present, powerful force who shaped me. I may not agree with everything that she taught me. The fact remains that she did teach me. She also acted as that filter between fiction and reality until I was able to create a filter of my own. I didn't look up to people on TV because if it didn't come on Nickelodeon or TGIF then I didn't watch it. Oh there were some adult things I watched, like Dynasty and those old movies about that blonde named Tammy who had the most interesting adventures, but I watched those with my mother. I also watched music videos, but I had to sneak to do that. During the day at my grandmother's house I watched The Price Is right and  soap operas. No one complained about Victor Newman and Sammie from Days of Our Lives being bad role models, because the TV wasn't raising the children. It was understood that those were adult programs. Fast forward to the present, things have changed. The media is the third and most active parent. 

It seems that every time I read what's going on in the contemporary portion of the news world, someone is complaining about someone else not being a good role model for their children. Amber Rose isn't a good role model. Kim Kardashian isn't a good role model. Beyonce isn't a good role model, and neither is her fetus. Nicki Minaj isn't a good role model. It seems that a lot of people are spending their time protesting. My question is why aren't the people who are protesting these people the living example their children need? Why are they looking up to people on TV? Why do they even know who these reality show stars are? Be that person your child needs to see in order to be inspired to be someone. The time being spent complaining about celebrities and what they're doing in front of children's eyes could be spent making sure your child doesn't know who these people are. Sit down with your child and read a book. If they still have take your child to work day then participate in that. If not then spend time reinstating it. There was nothing I loved more during childhood than dressing in business clothing (there was no such thing as business casual back then; it was dress for success or stay home) and learning about working. Working. Going to a job and earning a paycheck. Spending that time made me want to grow up and get a job. Because of that I have been employed since I was fifteen years old. 

As if complaining about who is and isn't a good role model isn't enough idiocy, now they're complaining about who has a Barbie designed after them. First it was Nicki Minaj. Now it's the Kardashians. They're saying, "I don't want my child to have a Kim Kardashian Barbie doll because Kim Kardashian is famous for making a sex tape and being a ho. She's no one for my child to look up to." Stop it. First of all, why is anyone's child "looking up" to a piece of plastic? I was fortunate (spoiled) enough to have every single Barbie doll Mattel made, every car, and every accessory except the Barbie Dream House (and I'm okay with not having a $200 toy; my Barbie had a town house with a porch swing). I never wanted to be Barbie, never wanted to look like Barbie, never wanted to have what Barbie had. Do you know why? Because with all the things that Barbie did, Barbie never had a job. Well, if you count Barbie and the Rockers she did, but in my mind I was a better singer than them and was going to be more successful. Also, Barbie's man was a chump. I wasn't even allowed to have a Ken Doll because he wasn't anatomically correct. (Don't ask. My uncles and my father were some disturbed people). On top of that, any time a Barbie came out that was crafted after a celebrity it was a collector's item. You couldn't tuck it. It sat in its original packaging, on a shelf until someone created something fantastic like eBay where you could sell all of your unopened toys and make 9 millions of trillions of dollars. As a child who loved to play with toys I had no interest in a doll you couldn't play with. If I could keep the shoes for more than three minutes, then that was a waste of my life and time. 

So why are we so hung up on other people being role models? Why are we relying on reality TV and music to set better examples? I was raised to filter the difference between entertainment and something to pay attention to. If the person was in church, school, or the workplace then it was a safe bet I could follow that person's lead. Of course the church ripped that theory to shreds around the time I turned twelve, but that's a different blog post for a different day. If the person was on TV, I should probably laugh at them and nothing more. Not even The Cosby Show was to be taken seriously, because my mother was a disciplinarian in the physical sense. As much as I loved A Different World, not even that was to be taken seriously because almost every student in that school had parents who paid for college. After my mother landed her role as a single mother she made it clear that I should start looking for scholarships. It was she who shaped me into the person I am today, not Laura Winslow, not Lisa or Bart Simpson, not Super Mario Brothers, Denise I. Smith. She made it so that I didn't know who Amy Fisher or any other controversial person during my childhood was known to me. Why don't we get back to that  form of parenting and stop worrying about what the people who are famous for nothing are doing?