Tuesday, December 29, 2009

...And Why Are You So Mad?

"Always demand respect; if you carry yourself with respect a bum cursing on the street will honor that. Don't allow anyone to talk to or treat you any kind of way regardless of their status or title." - C. Farmer (mom)

The Past:

Black women for generations have been the backbone of their communities and families. During slavery, when black men were sold off to other plantations or killed, it was the female who was left to look after the family. For years black women were subjected to the dismantling of their families (via internal and external circumstances), suffered abuse and rape; sometimes by their own family members. It is strength and resolve that have aided in the endurance of these situations. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks are women who exemplified strength and went on to become some of the most notable women in history. This in totality is our legacy.

Perception, Perception, Perception:

I've discussed this topic with friends several times and our opinions are typically the same. More recently a male friend, in response to a story I told, said "don’t go ABW on them." I think the heart of the matter is purely about respect. If a black woman feels like her boss, son/daughter, husband, or whoever else is being disrespectful they dish out a tongue lashing. Being a black woman I empathize with, as well as, admonish this response. I also understand that at times demanding respect can be mistaken for anger; other times ignorance and plain nastiness is the culprit. Ensuring that you are heard and standing up for yourself is not a showing of anger. Though, if this is accompanied by the infamous neck roll and teeth sucking, parodied in movies, it will be taken as such. I recognize there are those of us who like to use this ideology as an intimidation tactic...i.e. no one wants to piss off the one black woman in the office. That being said I think most would like to be known as a woman just like any other; who may have her highs and lows. That doesn't mean we haven't inherited a little bit of sass from Big Momma or Auntie, it just means we know when to check it at the door. As I stated before, a lot of how one reacts and deals with issues has more to do with personal experience than race. It is when you feed into the stigma that it becomes a reality.

As always be blessed and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stop Dating Our Men

In discussing this topic, I'm reminded of a scene in the movie Jungle Fever (1991). Queen Latifah, playing a waitress, at the soul food restaurant Sylvia’s completely ignores Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra who are sitting at a table in her station. Wesley asks if they can place their order, at which point she hurls insults saying, "Go parade your white woman around somewhere else." This sentiment has been echoed in other films including; The Brothers and Waiting to Exhale, ironically enough this ideology is often present in those films written or produced by black film makers.

In these instances one might say, I've proved the myth right...but what's really behind it all?

First off let me begin by saying, personally I have no problem with black men dating white women. I do however; have a problem with those men who generalize women and date based on that generalization. For instance, I've heard black men say they only date white women because they are easy or gullible. On the other hand I've had black men tell me that they don't date black women because we have too much attitude or lack class. Both view points I deem to be insulting. Prefacing this statement with, in my experiences, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that "most" black women, especially from the later generations, do not have a problem issue with black men dating white women.

The problem as I see it is this...

Until the latter part of the 20th century most black women were portrayed as or thought to be mammies; the overweight Aunt Jemima type with prominent "African features," deemed unattractive. Only those closer in appearance to their white counterparts (i.e. Lena Horne, Josephine Baker) were revered in society. White women on the other hand, were viewed as pure, perfect and the prototype of beauty. It's with this philosophy that black women have a problem. Black women are frequently portrayed in a misogynistic manner or regarded as over sexed booty shakers. Unfortunately, we seldom see black women consistently depicted in a positive light. Add to that; accusations of Beyonce being airbrushed a lighter complexion on a magazine cover, Lil Kim severely altering her appearance (blue eyes, thin nose), and countless "most beautiful people" lists excluding the likes of Sanaa Lathan and Angela Bassett. All of these issues, in effect, add to the myth.

It would be absurd of me to think that every black woman shares my sentiments on this topic. That being said, society is foolish to believe that most black women don't. This country's history is largely predicated on race; race and the prejudices surrounding it will ALWAYS play a part in how we view ourselves and each other. All women have their strengths and weaknesses. Who we are in life varies not just by race; but our upbringing, demographics and personal experiences. It is wise to keep these things in mind before assigning a blanket stereotype. My synopsis is that until we stop allowing society to dictate our "ranking" this will remain an issue and topic for debate.

As always thank you for giving audience to my post. I hope that you enjoy what I've written and feel moved to comment.

Be Blessed!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Purpose Driven Moment

I'm not a deeply religious person, though I am very spiritual. My beliefs and faith in God guide me in everything that I do (though I periodically slip-up). Still, I felt led to talk about this. Sometimes we struggle in life trying to find our purpose and place; doubt plagues our minds and our hearts. If you were raised in a Christian based environment then you know it is at these moments you have to rely on your faith to get through.

I recently be-friended someone who was going through some tough times in their life and needed a real friend. Additionally, I was questioning God's reasoning for placing me in an environment with so much turmoil and instability. However, I quickly realized that it was not about me but was a chance for me to use my own experiences to minister to someone else. All in all it is not how many church services we attend or auxiliaries we belong to; it's about showing God's grace through our actions.

I do not believe that our encounters with others are by happenstance. Nor do I believe that the trials we go through are our own. What I do believe is that we often endure so that our victory can be a testimony for someone else. On this day I thank God for turning every adverse event in my life into something positive. I thank Him even more for giving me the strength I needed to get through them. It is because of those low moments that I am able to attest to the high ones yet to come. I can now say that I fully understand what a purpose driven moment is. May God's grace be with you all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm A Flirt

A wink here, a smile there...but what's really good with flirting!

Scenario 1: You're out with your girlfriends in a club on a Friday night. The music is great, the atmosphere is groovy and the drinks are flowing! For once you're allowing yourself the opportunity to enjoy some "me time" with the girls while your significant other is at home. A very dapper gentleman (your type) sends you a drink and requests your presence at his table. You oblige, opting to check him out. When you get to the table he is smooth as silk with his approach. You eventually grin and giggle your way into oblivion. By the time it's all over you're ready to give out everything but your SSN.
It's only talking right...

Depending on how far you take it flirting can quickly turn from an eye wink to something much more sinister. We all like to know that we still have it, but at what cost? Is it going too far to give out a number over an email? Should a drink from a potential suitor be accepted if your married/in a relationship?

In the end it's all based upon the individual and the circumstance. My advice is to be cognizant of how your actions are perceived by the recipient, your partner and others. Flirting can indeed be harmless and even fun, but in the wrong situation can lead to serious trouble.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Feel Like A Woman

A good friend of mine recently, brought to my attention a question about womanhood. Actually it's more of the perception of what being a woman truly embodies. Style, poise, beauty and femininity are often words that we hear to describe women. However, that is just scratching the surface. What about those things within that determine our womanhood. Characteristics like strength, courage, wisdom, and a gentle spirit.

In today's society it is the outward appearance that gives merit to how women are defined. If we wear stilettos over flats we're deemed sexier. If the clothing that we wear is couture than we're considered fashionable. Television, print and radio paint pictures of women that in most cases have nothing to do with our inner selves. Unfortunately, that mode of thinking has us all running around like mad trying to fit into society's ideology of a woman.

That being said, here's what a much higher authority has to say about women...

"She is clothed with strength and honor..."

"She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue..."

"Charm is destructive and beauty is deceitful but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised."

"A generous woman gains honor..."

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who rejects discretion."

"Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies."

Our sense of sight makes it hard to view ourselves and others; from the inside out instead of the outside in. I challenge you all to look at yourselves for who you really are. When you take away the make-up, fancy clothes and sweet smelling perfume what are you left with? Do you have a peaceful inner being that radiates outwardly showing your true beauty? Or are you riddled with pessimism and cynicism; overall a negative person despite physical beauty.

The lesson here is that our womanhood should not be measured by how we fill out a pair of jeans or carry ourselves amongst the elite. It is our character and what we stand for that make us real women.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bag Lady

We've all heard about the "good ole faithful," it describes any possession that's been our go to for ages. Whether it's the ratty pair of sweats, dilapidated slippers or frayed sweater; we hold on never dreaming of throwing it away.

Oftentimes we treat our mental and emotional scars in the same manner. Regardless of how good our present lives may be we drift back to days long gone, reflecting on our hurts and shortcomings. We allow them to play on our psyche, thus inadvertently causing grief. The result; lack of trust, self doubt, emotional detachment and the list goes on. Nothing good comes out of carrying around luggage from the past. In a nutshell it stifles your growth; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We cannot move on if we're constantly referencing what happened back when. Just because the relationship with Bill didn't work out doesn't mean the same will happen with Bob. Just because a friend betrayed us doesn't mean that we should never open ourselves up to friendship again. You get the point.

We've been bumped, bruised and knocked down at times...but we get up. It's not easy but it is essential to the development of our character. It boils down to this...Life chapter 7 will not begin favorably if we don't get pass chapter 5. We can't change the past but we can change our reaction to it. Stop letting old things crowd your closet...throw away the slippers, sweats and sweaters and decide to pack light!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What About Your Friends

Proverbs 18:25
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

My mother drilled into me at a young age, "be careful who you call friend, the ones closest to you can hurt you the most." Over time I've come to understand what that truly means. Not everyone you call friend will be a friend to you. In my life I've encountered many people that well deserve the title and others who did not. It wasn't until I was older that I became careful not to misuse the word "friend." The term friend means different things to different people. Some consider a friend to be the go to, down-for-whatever party goer. Others view a friend as a lunch buddy they hang out with at work. Then there are those people who see a friend as someone to bail them out of trouble or hook them up with perks. In fact a friend is much more than that.

As women, we tend to form a stronger emotional bond to the people around us. Therefore, our friendships often go deeper than just social gatherings and clothes swapping. The people I've called "friend,"commonly ended up being more like family. Those that I consider to be true friends, even now, are my family. These are women who challenge me to move forward in pursuing my dreams; setting fear aside. Women who have prayed with me at some of the lowest points in my life. Women who will put me in my place or tell me when I am dead wrong; not out of malice but because they know the type of person I am trying to be. Women who know when something is wrong without saying a word and have the wherewithal to offer a word of encouragement. All of these things and more are what friendship is about.

We sometimes find ourselves in a place of life re-evaluation. The things that used to work in high school or college don't any more. And unfortunately some of the friendships we've forged are casualties of change; for good and bad. Like an email I once read stated; "People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." I challenge you all to take a long look at yourself and those around you and ask; "which one am I?"

Friendship is a gift; enjoy it and cherish it while you have it!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

She's Just Not That Into You

Ladies...we've heard of, seen the movie or read the book, He's Just Not That Into You. However, that was from a male perspective. What about those women who just aren't that into a guy. A few of my friends have had some interesting experiences with men they're "just not that into." I have two points of view on this topic...I'll refer to them as Heads and Tails.


You've been tossing around the idea of giving this guy a chance. He professes to be the one, treats you well and may even be willing to drink your bath water. Yet for some reason it just doesn't work. It could be the absence of physical attraction, mental stimulation, or any other shortcomings. More often than not he's oblivious to the fact that each interaction takes serious work on your part and can clearly go way left at any given moment. On the flip side you may have told him that you and he are like ships passing in the night and he still doesn't get it. In the end it simply boils down to you not being interested. Funny enough (I'm guilty of this) we tend to be apologetic when we aren't "into" someone. We blame ourselves for not recognizing a good man and often agonize about not liking this guy. I say, "bull" to that mode of thinking. Really when is the last time you heard a man complain or feel bad about a woman he wasn't into. They chalk it up to lack of chemistry and call it a day. So why can't we do the same? Maybe it's just our caring nature that keeps most of us from being a complete shrew. Either way "the heart wants what the heart wants," so deal with it!


In retrospect it seems like some of the men I passed up during my 20s were probably best for me at the time. There was one in particular, that I deemed boring. He was always nice and tried to woo me on several occasions yet, I never wanted anything to do with him. I was going for the more superficial things; i.e. good looks, popularity, body type, etc. I had a standard and was hell bent on sticking to it. Unfortunately that mode of thinking didn't get me far. Had I given Mr. X the time of day, and not the other guy I probably would have saved myself a great deal of heartache. That all being said, I think everyone deserves a chance. If you give it a chance and it doesn't work then at least you tried. To not try at all limits what could have been a good relationship with a guy who isn't so bad after all.

In the end Mr. Right could very well be everything you never knew you always wanted.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fools Rush In

In the last two years I've been to/invited to; 5 weddings and 4 baby showers. Not to mention countless birth and engagement announcements. It's enough to make your head spin. In all actuality it's no wonder that so many of us "rush in" to relationships; throwing caution to the wind with one goal in mind...GET A RING!

We're proud of our crowning academic achievements, accolades from senior management for saving the company millions or having the wherewithal to purchase a home. However, as we take stock of our lives and start ticking off the boxes we find that we're already 30+; unmarried and without children. Once this happens the proverbial "clock" seems to start ticking louder with each passing day. Simply put it's pressure...from parents, grandparents, friends, family and our subconscious. This pressure often causes us to make erratic decisions...thus rushing in!

I distinctly remember a conversation with an uncle a few years back. I was about 26 years old, single, and having fun. He asked if I were a lesbian because I didn't have a boyfriend or fiancee. I was taken aback for a moment because I didn't think there was anything wrong with my "dating life." I've had friends tell me their families have asked about marriage and children as well. One would think that with the escalating divorce rate and rampant infidelity, our vigilance would be applauded.

Rushing in to anything, especially a relationship is never a good idea. It takes time to build a foundation and learn what a person is like. Being with someone or getting involved just for the sake of being, is often our demise. I am a firm believer in knowing how to be alone FIRST. This may sound extreme but if we cannot go out to dinner or a movie with ourselves then we don't need to be in a relationship. We have to stand on our own before we can be a crutch to someone else. Now when I say crutch I don't mean taking on a lot of mess or being naive. I am referring to a support system, yin and yang...the ultimate balancing act. How can we help keep balance if we aren't balanced?

A final thought...being alone is not an automatic negative. It's during our alone time we've probably grown more and learned more about ourselves than we ever could while in a serious relationship. It's a time to really pay attention to our own needs and get ourselves together mentally, spiritually and physically. Sometimes we are being prepared for our future husband. So, ladies the next time someone questions your relationship status simply smile and say, " I'm happily single!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

You Say She's Just A Friend

We've heard it a million times the age old adage...men and women cannot be friends.
So what's the answer?

Adult humor aside, male and female friendships (in my opinion) have one of two outcomes: 1) a blissful co-existence where all parties are best buds or 2) a contentious relationship between girlfriend/wife and friend. Case in point...I had a friend with whom I'd known since high school, we were like brother and sister. And you know what his "new girlfriend" could not stand me. Our friendship was the topic of several arguments; needless to say he and I barely talk anymore. What's sad in my case is that we were NEVER anything more than friends. No spark, flare or attraction...nothing. He used to refer to me as being like a piece of furniture...just there.

Though Chris Rock jokes about being in the "friend zone" or "d**k in a glass case." From the outside looking in that may be an accurate perspective. Personally I believe men and women can be platonic friends but theory begs to differ. Theory says: He would love to have sex if the opportunity arose and she naively believes that he sees her as just "one of the guys." Additionally the actions of others, significant others in particular, can make it almost impossible to have a successful friendship with the opposite sex. A hug, reference to the past or maybe just too many giggles can cast doubt. Be honest...did your mind wonder when your boyfriend introduced you to the attractive woman he's known since college, who hugged him a bit too long?

Let's face it, we live in an environment where we're always sizing up the competition. Songs like, "Don'tCha" by the Pussycat Dolls don't make it any better. In the end, we have to be confident enough in ourselves and our relationships to know that we fit the bill. So, the next time you and your guy run into the gal pal from college compliment her on her shoes, flash a smile and keep it moving!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Is The Total Package?

In a day where relationships are built more on financial compatibility and less on emotion; my girlfriends and I often question what characteristics are most important. Attraction and chemistry aside; what can we live with and what are the deal breakers? Is it a man's education, status in society, credit score and luxury car that make him the "Total Package," or is it something more substantive?

Let's take a deeper look...

Don't get me wrong that Wharton MBA looks really good on paper. It will open doors to an elite society before the ink completely dries on Mr. TP's degree. The 850 credit score ensures a house in Georgetown and a credit limit that would put the FED to shame. All things considered; what does that really say about the man? That he has good tastes, manages money well or he's an overachiever.

Material things last but so long. When it's all said and done if a man doesn't have a caring spirit, unconditional love and compassion and understanding; he's already lost half the battle. In today's society we're told that bigger is better, excess is accepted and the little things are just that...little. A single rose pales in comparison to a dozen. A dinner at Longhorn just doesn't have the same flair as Morton's. And God forbid you buy jewelry from any other store than Tiffany.

A final thought...

An Electrician can be just as much the "Total Package" as a Banker. It's not your title or status but what you do with what you have to make your life and your partner's better. It simply comes down to character. Will this man have your back all of the time? Will he sacrifice for you to make you happy? When you're feeling down can you count on him for encouragement? Is he a friend as well as partner? Can he make you laugh? Those are the things that matter most.

My Mr. TP isn't 6'2", he's 5'10". He doesn't weigh 200 lbs all muscle, but is 175 with a slim athletic build. He doesn't drive a Mercedes but owns the car he does have. He doesn't go on trips around the world but takes modest vacations. He doesn't know about all of the fashion raves in Paris but looks damn good in a suit. All in all he makes me laugh, loves me unconditionally and keeps me grounded. More importantly he's a man of God...what more could I ask for?!

Until next time be blessed!

Ms. Ty