Looking Through Her Lens (My Thoughts on LEMONADE)

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“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer

So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.

I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my  satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)

So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.

Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”

Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”

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Just stop.

Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –

Seriously?

Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.

The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.

We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:

Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12

See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.

So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:

  • could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
  • felt betrayed and stay; AND
  • told the world all about it.

I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you?  I kind of felt like it was more  along these lines:

Life is hard.

Love is hard.

Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.

That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.

But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.

So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out –  some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only  a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .

In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.

Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.

M/P

It’s Never Too Late To Decide How You Will Live

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“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.

So this is the last week I will live in my 20’s and I am very excited about it. I never thought I’d feel this way at this stage in my life. From a very early age, people talk at length about not really enjoy getting older past 30, but I have no plans on turning 30 for the next ten years. I have learned so many good lessons, even the ones that make me cry when I think of how stupid I was or rather hard-headed, because I am sure someone gave me the perfect advice and I just didn’t want to follow it. It’s something special to learn from mistakes, maybe I am wrong, but I have always been a fan of learning. So going into my 30’s, I kind of feel like it’s the first day of school, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was excited about every single first day of school. There was no exception. For three simple reasons:

Something new…

                                                       Something unknown…

                                                                                               Something unexpected…

was going to happen. This is how I view the future, it’s still exciting and I am just a little more equipped. As I get older, life might not be easier, but if you allow life lessons to teach you, you get smarter or that’s the goal.

But I am not going to lie, all of this reflection comes at the same time as a couple of my favorite athletes and  I subconsciously feel as if we’re doing this together. My favorite football player retired this year, and it was announced that my favorite basketball player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year. Yes, I am referring to Peyton Manning and Allen Iverson and there is definitely a connection here.  Trust me.

If you haven’t read or listened to Peyton’s retirement speech, you should, it’s definitely one of the best sports speeches of all time, but clearly I am biased. But there is something that he said towards the very end of his speech that resonates very strongly within me:

“When I look back on my NFL career, I’ll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my teams walk away with a win. There were other players who were more talented but there was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that I have no regrets.(source)

I am sure there are some people who would argue about his talent level, but it is very true that very few out-prepared him and because of this he had no regrets. I am sure there are things he wished hadn’t happened, but when you give it everything you got, and it doesn’t work out, you can’t help but not have regrets. And I would have to argue that is the way to live. There are definitely experiences that give me a little anxiety when I think of them, but I don’t regret them. How can I? Our experiences and mistakes make us unique, but as we get older it is harder to live this way, with no regrets. There are so many external factors, such as family and friends, society or the lack of money, status or power, telling us how to live or how we should live, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the milestones you haven’t hit, who decided them in the first place.

Christians often talk about having a child-like faith, we can similarly take this approach towards the way we live with an adult perspective, and this is why I am excited about gething older. I want to approach life with the heart of a child but with the experience of an adult.

So moving onto A.I. a.k.a Allen Iverson. A few weeks ago when the NBA Hall of Fame induction was announced, Iverson did a number of press interviews and his quotes also resonated with me as I contemplated the end of my 20’s.

But before we go there, we must look at life through three phases.

Phase 1:  Budding (from the beginning – from birth, new idea or new experience)

Phase 2: Maturing (the largest part of our life – This is the part where we’re really living and the most growth happens)

Phase 3: Knowing (Experienced and the time to give back – a wise savant)

Often people think of the cycle of life, or the phases of life occur in one cycle. But to me, we go through this cycle of life a couple of times in every area of our life it seems. In some areas, I am still maturing and very far from being the wise savant that I want to be and others I have already done several cycles. This happens, because even though in some areas we have learned and grown, life knocks us back down on our feet and you have to learn something completely new about something you thought you knew a whole lot about (i.e. being laid off from a job, lost a loved one and learning to live without them, etc.)

I thought Allen Iverson described this best while fighting back tears about becoming a Hall of Famer:

“It’s hard to be a Hall of Famer, I had to fight, I fell, got back up,  fell, got back up, fell, got back up, it’s still going on in my life right now”  (source)

This is the cycle of life that is real. You fight. You fall, but you get back up. And at this point in life, I am very comfortable with living with this cliché. Because some cliques are just freaking true. More over, for those who are unfamiliar with Allen Iverson, he was known for one thing in particular, something I consider most important in life – heart.

Sports commentators we’re surprised when Allen Iverson, a mere 6’0” would compare himself to the likes of LeBron James and others in today’s league, but it was all about the heart:

“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.” (source)

And LeBron only seconded what Iverson said, by stating that while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will:

“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all.” (source)

So as I enter into the land of 30, I find myself with the same child-like feelings of giving it my all, even when the cards are stacked up against me, but at least in a more slightly thoughtful manner. This is why I am excited. I have learned to say no, one of the hardest parts of growing up for me, so that I can continue to be excited, and passionate for the things I love, to have time to lead with my heart. So more than anything, I want YOU to stop and think about whether you have decided to live the way you want to live or are you only living by how you think you should live. It’s never too late to decide to act differently…. don’t be afraid to fly.

M/P

So Let’s Talk About this Elephant…

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“When there is an elephant in the room…. Introduce it” – Randy Pausch

For the last few months, I have really struggled to maintain consistent blog posts, and I would say some of it is time and a lack of ideas, but as a social commentator I really do like to comment on politics as much as possible, and every time I sit down this thought is sounding so very loud in my head:

I don’t want to write about the election…

I don’t want to write about the election…

I don’t want to write about the election….

I have of course, since Trump entered the race, written articles about Trump and company, but not out of joy, but more out of necessity. The reality is though, that there is a proverbial elephant in my article that I just don’t want to deal with…. Yes, similar to Elephant in the room. Confused yet?

Just like being in a room full of people and there is an elephant in the room, it is hard to concentrate on the topic at hand until you deal with the elephant. So for me, as long as I don’t address the elephant in my article, then I struggle to write about a lot of topics, because I am kind of being a fraud. My brain will try to push me to the topic and to avoid it, I have several unfinished articles in my drafts folder! So here is my attempt to do just that (I am still not ready, so keep reading)

See I am still waiting to wake up from a dream, and we will have different candidates on both sides of the aisle, and although I won’t like them all, I will feel inspired and excited about the discourse and exchanges surrounding politics again.

I have addressed my party affiliation and race, but never directly. I generally like to get my readers to think about their stances based on my thoughts, but rarely do I go deep inwardly for myself. I am getting uncomfortable just writing these words, but several things have happened over the last few months that have brought me to this place, that I will not be able to write much, until I address my feelings.

It all started with this article on Slate, “How Trump Happened – It’s not just anger over jobs and immigration. White voters hope Trump will restore the racial hierarchy upended by Barack Obama.” – (source) 

I tried really hard not to read it, and trying extra hard to not read quotes or comments surrounding it,  because as a once proud Black Republican, I am questioning if I fit into the independent space (maybe?) that is a result of the party everyone has always told me about. There have been other articles written similarly, but this article seem to be everywhere for me. But it really wasn’t about this article, it was the idea behind it.

…my race and my party…

The idea of racism within the Republican Party isn’t anything new. People have asked me over and over about how am I Republican, how can I support the Republican Party? And if you’ve followed this blog, I usually try to be neutral and not pick sides very often, and only now and then I do to make a point. I find the missing perspective usually somewhere in the middle, because the people on the outskirts are often loud and clear… and that’s what I am here to discuss my unfortunate missing perspective.

So here’s my elephant in the article: facing a party, I have worked for, volunteered for, and have had unwavering support for… has quite a bit of racists, but not like a little bit, but quite a bit.

Now , Trevor Noah did a good piece on his show kind of making light of the fact Republicans don’t want to accept Trump and his supporters, but that they are a match made in Heaven; showing several clips showing GOP party loyalists saying things very similar to Trump. That as much as the GOP want to get rid of Trump, he is in fact for the most part everything that they stand for.

So back to my denial, I am not going to lie. I have more than my fair share of people question my devotion or connection to the Republican Party. That there are a party full of racists, rich selfish people, and that list of crimes goes on while in the same breath, they too can appreciate some of their fiscal policies as in a small Federal government and strong state powers, but the conservative stance on social issues takes it too far for them.

I used to make the argument that when the Tea Party was created that’s when the party started to go downhill… but did it? I guess that’s water under the bridge at this point. We are here now.

We live in a society now where our social issues bleed so heavily into law-making and  policies that there is no separation, and at this point, we have to make decisions that can challenge our values to support a candidate, and even a party.

Let’s remember the old saying, “You are the company that you keep”. So when I look at people of color who support Donald Trump, to me, they are making a judgment call, that their dignity as a person of color is not as important as something else clearly, and they have every right to do so, but I can no longer take that walk with them. I am not necessarily trying to kick it with Hillary or Bernie either, but for the first time in my life I can no longer identify as a Republican, and that is crazy to me.

But let me tell you what got me here.

At first, I thought it was when a bunch of my family members were calling me a liberal and the best line still is “You ascribe to the liberal agenda”. Like ooh, those are fighting words, and some of them attribute it to me living in liberal ole Austin, Texas, but that honestly has nothing to do with it. The reality is that we have a racist man running for President in a country built on the backs of slaves, and as much as we want to deny it, and the majority of the party support him for it.

If you read the article above, it points out that:

“He (Trump) wins his strongest support in states and counties with the greatest amounts of racial polarization. Among white voters, higher levels of racial resentment have been shown to be associated with greater support for Trump.”

Now, I might not think the Republican Party is racist, but there are enough people in the party that are supporting a racist who will maybe provide economic advancement for them. Is that not the thinking that assisted in slavery? Seriously, if you really think about it, I am sure there were people who thought slavery wasn’t humane, but I think there were equally as many people who decided to not care about whether there was humanity in it. It’s the same thing for anybody who does horrible things, like steal from someone, kill someone, or tortures someone, they put their benefit above another person. And it appears that is the case now.

So  I had to ask what is important to me? What kind of person  I want to be? I am a black woman  who can longer be the person I want to be and a support a party (for now) that does not care about people. Serving others, caring about others, and helping others, that is WHO I am.

I am going to end on this idea, from the article, about Obama as a politician wasn’t that radical, that he is mild as a politician, but Obama, as a black man, a person of color, is the only part of his election that was radical.

“But in most respects, Obama is a conventional politician—well within the center-left of the Democratic Party. Or at least, he’s governed in that mode, with an agenda that sits safely in the mainstream….. Barack Obama is many things, but conservative rhetoric aside, he’s no radical…… We can’t say the same for Obama as a political symbol, however. In a nation shaped and defined by a rigid racial hierarchy, his election was very much a radical event.”

If having a black president was really the precipice to the larger divide, then as a black woman how can I support the party that continues to make the racial divide larger.

I cannot.

M/P

Can We Talk about Consent?

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“There is no policy too sensitive to question, and no subject so taboo that you cannot even mention it”  – Lee Hsien Long

I can tell you I feel a little uncomfortable writing about this, but it continues to be a problem. I was appalled by the case of pop singer Kesha, who is unable to get out of a contract obligation with her producer who,according to the pop star, raped her and the biggest takeaway is that they think she is lying. (source). Of course, the court doesn’t say that explicitly. The article states:

“The judge said that granting the singer’s request to nullify her deal would undermine the state’s laws governing contracts and the court couldn’t do that.”

The court wouldn’t make a person stay in a contract if they believe she was in harm or danger. But they obviously think she is in no harm or danger, and just wants to get out of the contract, and using her lady parts as an excuse. She probably had sex with him to advance her career. Of course. Oh, wait, did I mention she is considered a party girl, and sings about it? (source). To me, this is saying that her consent doesn’t and didn’t matter. What people and what the judge believes, is all that matters. And that is why I am here.

I want to write about consent, because there are not enough of us, who have never  been sexually assaulted, talking about the issue, talking about our close calls. That’s right, not all women, but a lot of women in my generation, may have hung out with a guy who we thought was cute, and we had no intention of having sex with them. We may have kissed a little too long, but we got the courage to say that we didn’t go any further, they got it, and they stopped. Not because they are superheroes, because that’s what you are supposed to do. The thing that cannot be highlighted enough, is that we are in control of our bodies, and when we are with a guy this should respected no matter what. Now, Amber Rose gave an example a couple of weeks ago on Tyrese and Rev Run’s show on Oprah’s network that might be a little too raw and uncut so people would easily disagree with her. She takes it all the way to the point that even if you’re naked with a man, and then you decide to not have sex, no is no. And the reality is why it isn’t enough? Now, I have discussed this with several people, men and women, and I find that they think Amber Rose’s example goes too far. That if you allow yourself to be naked in front of a man, what do you think he is going to do?

Here, look at the clip.

If you think that a guy should just be able to have a go when they’re naked, what is different when they are clothed? If a girl tells a guy she wants to have sex with clothes on, and changes her mind, what does having clothes or not having clothes on make a difference? To some extent we are saying men have no control of themselves and we should let them have a go anywhere or that the women deserves it? I think they need to exercise some self-control, we let them run some of the most important parts of our lives and country.

So let me take it out of that extreme example.

When I was in law school, my first year, I had a boyfriend. We were still getting adjusted to a long distance relationship. He was slightly the jealous type, but not when we were in the city, in fact, he wasn’t clingy at all, so when I went off to law school, I thought he’d be fine, no problem. Well, not so much and when I would go out, he was one annoying person even when I was just trying to hang with my girlfriends. So one day, I was tired of it, and slightly stressed out about law school and we were fighting quite a bit so I went out with a few girlfriends. I met a guy, a tall, dark and handsome guy, and I may have had too much to drink, and at the time, I wasn’t much of a drinker so when he asked to come over, I was flattered, and hesitantly gave him my address.

After we left the bar, he came over and we were having good conversation, but the alcohol was waning. We eventually started kissing, but my mind was already changing. Talking to him, made me miss my boyfriend at the time. I forgot to mention, even though I invited him over, this was the first time I had ever done this. And I remember how I felt when he tried to push me further and I wasn’t feeling it. I was terrified, and I realized I potentially put myself in a dangerous situation. Why? Because here was this man who was 6’2”, maybe 6’3”, in good shape and everything, and I was worried that he could make me do anything. Eventually, he got the picture with no problem, and went and slept on my couch till the morning. As I laid on my bed, I prayed and was extremely thankful. Because the reality is that it could’ve went really left. Like, it really could’ve been me, and it would’ve been all my fault, because I let him in. But no. The guy accepted my non-consent, and that’s what missing in the conversation. There are plenty of men who understand what no is, so the ones who don’t, they don’t get a pass. THEY DO NOT GET A PASS. If I was in a similar situation, with a guy who didn’t accept my no, why would it be my fault if I am subsequently was raped. (Feel free to explain otherwise in my comment section)

So with any movement there is always a need to allies. I find that a lot of advocates involved with sexual violence are people who have experienced it themselves. What about all the women who have made it through without being attacked? Regardless if you have been in a situation such as myself or you have had sex with one person your whole life, we need more people (men and women) who have never sexually and physically assaulted, especially those who have gone out on a date, and said no.

And then there’s this thing called….VICTIM BLAMING…

It’s one thing when men victim blame but I see a number of women who victim blame, like WHAT?!?! But do you know why? Because it hasn’t happened to them. And that’s the problem. A women who is snatched while walking to her car is the same as the person who is just making out with a guy she likes who doesn’t understand no. We have to stop making concessions for certain situations. We have to continue to push what consent really is, and make sure our boys and girls, men and women get it, therefore, we must continue to talk about it.

More than anything about us understanding consent, there is a special place in hell for women who make up allegations about rape. On March 13th, ESPN will premiere it’s 30 for 30 documentary called, “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke Lacrosse Team rape scandal. I am not by any means speaking to anyone’s innocence and guilt, but the whole situation didn’t help women at all. This isn’t an election where Hillary Clinton wants all the women to support her. Anyone could be in the position of being physically assaulted. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re just one experience from it happening to you. Regardless if it’s sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or anything else. Just because it hasn’t happen to you, because for every women who is victim blamed is one more validation that we are the problem and aren’t control of ourselves and our experiences.

M/P

Moving the Needle

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“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.” – Timothy Leary 

Today I was determined to get a blog post done.

I feel like a caged bird, and I haven’t had a chance to sing, so I am going to write a few paragraphs about what’s been going on in my head since I’ve been missing in action. Beyonce’s Formationmade headlines, a few (or quite a few) Republican candidates finally dropped out, there’s been a mass millennial revolt against Hillary, and I can’t help but notice the story that hits me to the core… my favorite player, Peyton Manning, may or may not be a good guy… who knows? (Kanye and Kendrick get honorable mentions for doing what they do best, Kanye made headlines for being crazy and Kendrick for a compelling performance at the Grammys) … Of course, I do not have time to write about all of these things, and there are plenty of other issues brewing, such as Trump’s unwavering support. He attacked the Pope ya’ll.

However, as I thought about these headlines and our continued infatuation with celebrity, I couldn’t help but think of the term, “moving the needle”.  The literal definition is referring to the needle on a measurement instrument such as a scale, compass, speedometer, etc. On a scale, your weight makes a significant difference and moves the needle, or like your foot on a gas pedal. Now, the expression, “moving the needle” for the purpose of this post refers to our internal compass, and how does the needle move, what makes a significant difference in its movement? Where do we stand morally, personally, spiritually, or even professionally? We each have one that dictates the decisions that we make, the people we befriend, and even where we spend our money. We inform our compass through experiences, information, and things that we see through our eyes. In my mind, our compass should not be quickly moved based on external factors.

BUT….

At this point in our society, with the Twitterverse, THE Facebook, snapchat, and the other million ways, we have several touch points for our minds with images, words and videos that inform our mindset, our decisions and most of all, our internal compass. Once upon a time, people had more time to hear something, read something and have time to PROCESS information at a slower pace. At this ancient time, people were slower to move the needle to their moral compass, right? Public and personal opinion was not quickly altered based on 140 characters. Mistakes essentially can’t be made, because we have zero tolerance, moving the needle is easy. It’s as if a significant difference can be based on something so small.

But why?  It’s more than instant gratification. Well, unless making decisions or forming opinions instantaneously brings you some form of pleasure, it is more than that. The definition of a decision is “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”. But we are failing to take time to think and have the “after consideration” part. We decide and think later, and sometimes maybe never. And by the time, one person makes a hasty decision, there are flocks of “robots” ready to follow.

But how did we get here? Because we have always been there. GOTCHA! I know right, when I started doing research into ancient democracies, I find that each generation, maybe in a different form have struggled with the thoughts of a few dictated the moves of the masses. Democracy doesn’t discriminate against who the people listen to, it’s just tradition that the smartest, loudest, and sometimes most well-spoken and richest grab the attention of the masses… as it did in ancient Greece:

“Of this group, perhaps as few as 100 citizens – the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers – dominated the political arena both in front of the assembly and behind the scenes in private conspiratorial political meetings (xynomosiai) and groups (hetaireiai). Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, also pointed out that the dēmos could be too easily swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues) and get carried away with their emotions. Perhaps the most famous bad decision from the Athenian democracy was the death sentence given to the philosopher Socrates in 399 BCE.” – (source )

So we have always been here. In democracy, the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers are heard. So this is why Donald Trump is here. Bernie is here. And even Beyoncé. The world was in a frenzy with Queen Bey, because often black stars and athletes aren’t able to use their platforms in the same capacity. Because we (America) are not used to listening despite having wealth and influence. Case and point: Oprah. If we look at Oprah’s effect on Barack Obama’s campaign in 2007, her influence was huge (source), yet she rarely wields her expertise in this area. Although it is old news, I remember her being heavily criticized for coming out and supporting Obama, yet she had a heavy influence on so many other areas of American life. Just google Oprah and her influence and see what you find. So why not in the political arena? Not that I personally want her there (not a fan), but if the Koch Brothers can do it, why not her? I digress.

Another example, 8 months before the Supreme Court decided to legalize gay marriage, the most powerful man in the Tech world, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote a piece in the Bloomberg Business Week called, spelling out that he was gay. (source). Now it’s easy to say, Barack wouldn’t have won without Oprah’s influence, and the Supreme Court was likely going to pass the legislation regardless of any outside force as they are supposed to do. But I think we would be naïve to believe that our leaders, in any industry, affect policy, because the reality is that they do, and it is important for us to understand, believe, and hold our leaders accountable for speaking for us.

I definitely have come around to this notion (read my old blog posts), because I personally want to believe that people should be of their own mind, and not be influenced by others, but history would tell us this is a lie. There is a responsibility for the populous, for us to be informed, so that we can make smarter decisions about who we choose to follow, but people with money, power and influence must be responsible with their actions. We need our leaders to move the needle. But intentionally and deliberately. I cannot not write enough posts about how we need to be paying attention to this upcoming election, Republicans and Democrats, and we should drive the issues that matter to us. I think Donald Trump is a baboon, but the people he’s speaking for are out there screaming and supporting him. Bernie and Hillary are talking about black lives, because of the Black Lives Matter. So yeah… let’s get with it, and move the needle.

I’m Back, move the needle with me.

M/P

Oh Me, Oh My: My Journey To Get In Touch With My Inner Girl

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“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I just got off of vacation and I really wanted to write about my experience and all the things I learned, but my mind decided to fight me and make me write about something, I promised I would never write about, but here it goes. Beauty. Fashion. All the things girly. Yeah, I never imagined writing about anything around the subject, because there are so many more pressing issues in the world, but as I delve into the evaluation of feminism or just simply watching how Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are being treated differently as women, I can’t help but think on these things to some degree. This is what makes a woman, we are layered, and even when we try to avoid certain experiences they sometimes still seem to creep in on us. What we look like still matters just as much as what it’s in our mind, if not more so, unfortunately. So I am in the middle of a feminine revelation, or shall I say transformation. Yes, America, the #1 tomboy has started doing things a little different and I feel compelled to kind of talk about it. I promise at times I was annoyed in writing this…How dare we be defined by a social norm. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s just say I have subscribed to the notion, that being “girly” is a thing and it looks a certain way.

So I have a lot of girly friends. Why? I am not sure and I really don’t know why, opposites attract, maybe? I am a bona fide Tom Boy, and I have a number of really good guy friends too. Not to mention my brothers and I are really close and they taught me everything that I know about sports and in fact, I always love to brag that I know more sports than the average man.

When I went to college that was the first time that I had to face the reality that I didn’t do a number of things that normal girls do. (Well, actually the first time I had to really deal with this is when I was 11 and was mistaken for a boy), but for the first time living with women other than my mother was a culture shock.

Now, of course, there are no absolutes, but there were a number of things, girly things, that I didn’t do. I won’t mention them cause who wants to be that transparent. To further take me down the road of girliness in college, I joined a sorority. Sometimes, outside of the amazing relationships that I’ve built, how did I manage that? Sometimes I used to feel like an impostor when it comes to “girl” things. What is a purse, why were heels even made, make-up – that’s for clowns, right? I used to feel like life would be easier if I were a man. And not because of the obvious benefits men get, but my personality, demeanor and my likes and dislikes used to be very much geared similar to that of a typical male. Heck, GQ is still my favorite magazine (I mean the articles are good and it’s full of half-naked men). I couldn’t even name more than 3 woman magazines.

So over the last few months, I decided to pamper myself, doing things like maintaining my nails, wearing make-up regularly, keeping my eyebrows on point, being dutiful in cooking and cleaning around my place, and diligently eating healthier and exercising. Oh, and my hair has been on point (most of the time). Growing up, with the exception of hair, things like this I was never taught to focus on. It was always about education, be strong, and fight for your rightful place in the world. I have never gone shopping with my mother, nor have we have ever made a trip to a nail salon or things of that nature.

*Enters my first real relationship (with a boy)*

So to only complicate the situation, the first guy I dated, was very much high maintenance. He would always take longer to get ready then I would. He definitely liked a kind of women who was well manicured, done up from head to toe. Over those 7 years, I tried to do it. I failed miserably over and over. We were in a long distance relationship after I left college (thank GOD), and I would go through a mini-transformation every 3 months when we would see each other. I would always tell myself, I would keep my nails done, hair laid, but nope, that rarely happened. I was never comfortable. I never enjoyed getting done up. It was very robotic to me.

*end of my relationship*

So 7 years later, I was free, the inner tom boy came back with a mad vengeance. I still liked to dress cute and do my hair occasionally, but I think over the following year or so, I rarely touched make-up, didn’t keep my nails looking decent, or even appropriately put jewelry together. For a period, I was going through the loss of a relationship so I wasn’t being horribly judged, and since I wasn’t really dating, I got several passes. As time went on, I wanted to start dating again, and I befriended some new male friends who provided me with a new perspective (that I am not sure I agree), but for the purpose of this article, it is the thesis statement and basis of this article.

This idea that most men (heterosexual) do like women who keep up a certain maintenance, because they can’t help but be visual, and it’s not from a place of shallowness, but why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself together and healthy?

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This “maintenance” involves maintaining healthy habits with exercise and maintaining certain “feminine” social norms (yes, I’m cringing as I write this). I personally feel like I should be able to do whatever the hell I want, and I should be accepted in that matter. But I decided to think I was wrong, and started making small changes, and began this transformation, and guess what I found.  I have completely different interactions with the opposite sex, with men I know and men I don’t know. But even more so I have different interactions with women too, even in my professional space. I have worn make-up more often to work, and see the differences in the interactions, and it’s puzzling to me. What does this mean? Am I not the same person, behind the make-up, clothes and nails?

When I used to look at famous people, who after hitting a certain level of stardom and maybe were a little over weight, they ALWAYS lose weight if they can. The reality is that people treat you different, and if I am not saying it directly, they seem to treat you better. Yes, I said it, and whatever that might look like to you. And I get that, but I was just raised differently. That the external just means less. That focusing on my appearance says nothing about you. I have met a number of women who focus on all those things, and not much else, and when they gain a little weight or circumstances make maintaining that look difficult, they are lost, and obsess over their appearance, because their interactions rise and fall based on their appearance and it’s sad.

I was fortunate not have to deal with these issues for a very long time, and I am very happy that it only took me 3 months out of my life, but I, like most women have to at some point in their life, wrestle with the social norms of femininity as it relates to being a women and what it means. I will never forget the first time Hilary Clinton ran for President and they were having legit discussions about pant versus skirt suits in regards to her “femininity”. It. was. disgusting. (and let’s not forget, I am not a Hilary Fan, unless you attack her womanhood, homey don’t play that). But I will tell you all this, I have enjoyed getting my nails, getting to have a “nail” lady, and trying new things with makeup and getting compliments from men and women alike.

But what I have learned, which I am sure many of you all guessed, but that it’s really about balance and there is no right answer. You can go overboard with anything, focusing too much on your outer appearance or you can look so bad that no one wants to be your friend. But it really is more than that. That this journey is one of the million things that makes our experience as women different and AWESOME. We produce strong young men and women, because we have to juggle so many different norms. That men don’t get to have the complicated and interesting life that women get to lead. Yes, I just said that. That we have to challenge ourselves, question ourselves more than they do especially in 2016. There is still a struggle with roles for women in the workplace, in the home and in relationships. Whether there is a spiritual component or not in your thinking, women are questioned about the way they parent, the fact they have no kids, are we too emotional or not having enough emotion, so that we are considered a bitch, and the list goes on.

I will never subscribe to this idea that I have to look a certain way to get the attention or affection of a man, but being pampered, getting in touch with my inner girl was and IS nice, but it is my friends, not mandatory to be kick ass. Being kick ass is just what women do whether you are or not in touch with your inner girl. So just do that. Kick-Ass!

M/P

 

 

 

Four Women That I Know

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“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller

I have been working on a post about women and the strength of our relationships for quite some time. (Seriously, like 6+ months) I’ve gone back and forth between several themes, and couldn’t settle on just one. The idea of a strong ancestral matriarch, where I roar, is my go to choice.  The women who’ve come before me roared and as a descendant of those strong women, I am strong. But I wasn’t feeling it. Other times, I want to write to women that we have a responsibility to support each other first and foremost and not play second fiddle to our relationships to the opposite sex. How women relate to each other shouldn’t be dictated by this male dominated system.  For instance, the idea that women should forego our innate womanhood to support each other simply win over the attention and affection of the opposite sex. But, yeah, I wasn’t really feeling that either. Last and definitely the least, the topic on balancing our time between female friends and male friends has been done to death.

In my heart of hearts, I really want to talk about four women that I know.  I haven’t been able to write about them, despite several attempts, because my pen to the pad couldn’t quite capture their story, their lives, and their struggles.  They are so diverse in ethnic groups, ages, careers, and societal roles.  The four women I know aged with wisdom, seasoned with laughter, and equipped with love.

Sometimes words can’t encompass the most precious things in life. You must experience it and it must be felt. When you enter into their house, you can feel the love. One of my favorite lines from a Toby Mac song is, “When love is in the house, the house is packed”, and their house can get very packed, because they let people in with open arms. I am never ashamed to take someone to meet these four women that I know.

As I sit here, I am in that house, of these four women bonded by sisterhood that blood could never have forged, but of life and circumstances brought them together. I’m forever indebted to these four women, one who is my “real” aunt, but all of them, are family.  When I was broken, they loved me back to life with their generosity, but most of all their spirit of kindness and love. You can fake a lot of things, but a true spirit of kindness is hard to mimic.

So when I stop to think about these four women who roar, they roar mightily, but not in the way you would think. You would never hear, because the roar is not loud or boastful, it is in the small things that show they really matter. And each one has a unique roar that form harmony in their universe.  As a daughter of a science teacher, I couldn’t help but to describe their qualities to the elements of nature: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.

Fire – One is like fire which associated with energy, assertiveness, and passion. She is the spark, full of life and energy, with an extra dose of spunk. There are days the fire shines brighter than others, but the best quality is that she is always warm. Her heart warms the soul of anyone who comes close.

Water – I think there are several ways to look at water, but for me, I believe the two things I love most about water is its calmness but even more so its steadiness. Although constantly, moving and changing, water is a steady, calming force the nurtures the soul when things are dry and brittle. She rises early and calmly to not disturb anyone who is slumbering about. All of her manners are calming from her speech to reading.

Earth – is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, and hard work. It is seen nurturing and seeks to draw all things together with itself, in order to bring harmony and rootedness.  She tends to mother anyone in her orbit. Her decisions are for the good of everyone. She has weathered many storms which allow her sound advice to be valued.

Air- One of the most important elements in life, it is necessary for survival or we would all perish. It fits into the nooks and crannies and fills the open space, it knows where the breaks and cracks are in a foundation. Air is also about movement. She is always on the move as she goes about making the environment comfortable for everyone.

These elements have the ability to destroy as well to heal and soothe. They have chosen to use their superpowers for good.

That pretty much sums them up: Warmth, Steadiness, Strength, and Harmony

So I don’t get to visit these four women as often as I would like, but whenever I tell people, I’m going to visit my 4 aunties, sometimes people get confused. I do have 7 aunts. I sometimes have to break it down, and people will reply, “So you’re Aunt lives with 3 roommates?” But its so much more than that. I am going to visit my 4 Aunts. So, I guess I have 10 aunts.  I am blessed!

The reality is sometimes people just don’t get it and that’s what I’m really want to write about. Their house is made of love, and it’s different and people don’t always get it, because it’s not normal for 4 grown women to live in a house together after the children are grown, until death did you apart, or divorce. But that’s what is wrong with America these days. For every group, there’s a box, and sometimes people got outside the box to only end up creating another box. So it makes sense when people are confused because people don’t conform.

When things are true, you don’t have to explain it. Often times, the world, friends, co-workers, and even our family want to understand who, what, why, when and where you’re doing something. I’ve learned at some point in life you just have to do what’s best for you and EVERYTHING else is truly background noise. If you are unable to let go of conventions and boxes, you might never find the right fit, and be muddled with unhappiness for most of your life.

These four women I know in a subtle and silent fashion have taught me to be content with myself without being loud and boastful. To just walk in my purpose regardless of who understands and is watching, and that comfort and love will come to you. And that’s what is most important.

In Beyoncé ‘s video Pretty Hurts, she is asked, “Miss 3rd Ward, What is your aspiration in life? and she replies, “To Be Happy” , that rings so true to me. We do anything to be happy, except the one or two things that really makes us happy.

In the New Year, let go of the things that are keeping you from your happiness.