Defining Reciprocity: Black Women Are Still Being Told To Put Everyone Else First!

Yet the buck stops here.

Some women think of themselves by their ethnicity or race first. Some women think of themselves by their relationships (i.e daughter of or wife of someone). Some women think of themselves by their station in life or job. Still others are considered by gender in relation to a political agenda…but still have their race or class status hand in hand.

One of the most freeing aspects from reading the essays of empowerment as discussed by certain bloggers is that we are FREE. Their words are a much-needed inoculation against the insanity messages being spouted as facts today.

  • We are free to date whomever we fancy. Character trumps skin shade.
  • We are free to explore our orientation or identity and establish it as we see fit.
  • We are free to explore our individual tastes. Go see the world!
  • We are free to live our lives as we see fit. Our standards are what matter most.
  • We are free from being conjoined with random black men and tying our existence to them.
  • We are free – or we should be – from the myth of the “black community” and upholding its “tenets” of enslavement.
  • We are even free from needing the understanding or approval of other black women for our individual choices. Even the ones that claim to be in support of empowerment.

Why is that so many are invested in telling us what we “should” be doing? I had a conversation with someone who asked me when I was going to do “community service” and help the children. This was the tail-end of a conversation about a black male student who was beaten to death. I think the “people” that need to “step up” are black men and the Civil Rights organizations. Since we know it is NOT black women causing the majority of the violence, the misogyny and the denigration why would anyone assume we have the power to “fix” other people (esp. black boys and men)?

We know them by the fruit of their labor.

Now, I’m not mocking the benefits of offering assistance but the idea that I should feel in any way obligated to encourage, uplift or elevate other people (and their otherwise abandoned, mistreated, or cast-aside kids) is rather presumptuous. I’m certain this will be considered heresy to some but far too many black women have sacrificed themselves at the altar of “saving all of our people” for naught. Things have steadily deteriorated and the depravity will only multiply.

Black women need to stop riding the rescue wave for others and take care of themselves first!

I am a black woman, an African-American but that is but ONE aspect to who I am. I’m also an artist, a writer, a singer and a budding gourmet chef. I’m also a Gen-Xer, born in the USA, grew up on the East Coast and the first-born child. I enjoy a variety of music, love to travel and enjoy plushness. I cry at poignant commercials. I am many things yet sometimes I am no one in particular. Who says I have to be ANYTHING other than WHO I WANT TO BE?

Yesterday, I had to be very firm in setting boundaries with an individual who was willing to take advantage of me. Lack of communication and setting a bad precedent in behavior will only set a path in motion that’s nearly impossible to reverse. After hearing about their various issues with this and that and feeling empathy but recognizing I was about to be steamrolled I had to put my foot down. I was very reluctant to do so but at the end of the day who’s looking out for me if I won’t take care of myself first!!

When we try to be “nice” and overlook obvious flaws to “get along” with others we are not doing ourselves any favors. There will always be some issue that takes precedence. Once people see they can be “abusive” or take advantage it only escalates. It may be a joke at one’s expense, a harsh word or demanding considerations that overextend others. It may be borrowing money with no intention of repaying, asking someone to look the other way or withholding affection.

I wanted to know whether this person would respect my wishes and set aside their self-interest for the greater good. Their response was to become rather combative because I wouldn’t “understand” their difficulties. Actions speak louder than words. It’s why women are referred to as bit*hes when they don’t respond to street harassers or make unpopular decisions. People are very quick to turn to anger when they don’t get their way and lines are drawn in the sand. “Do it my way or else there’ll be hell to pay!” That is the ultimate in manipulative behavior.

When there is mutual respect, concern and affection…you know a true FRIENDSHIP or KINSHIP…people will look at the big picture. It’s one thing to ask for help. It’s another thing to insist the need for alleviating one’s challenges/difficulties at someone’s expense. Sometimes misunderstandings do occur and things should absolutely be resolved. Sometimes people know exactly what they’re doing in crossing a line. Setting boundaries is not the problem. It’s about respect for self – and others by insisting on them to begin with. There’s no need for emotionalism or lingering anger when they are established and adhered to. No one is going to convince me otherwise.

Sometimes we must ensure our dignity remains intact even if our needs cannot be met at that time or in the preferred manner. Getting along with another person, an organization or even a community should NEVER include being used as a doormat or being self-sacrificing to one’s detriment.

Black Women Hair Angst Should Not Be Open For Public Consumption

I could actually take the “Hair” out of the title of this post and leave it as is. Black women angst should NOT be open for public consumption!! I find these conversations to be challenging, painful and difficult. They require time and great care as we sort through things. The issue is they’re often full of pain and tied to other issues involving the abandonment and denigration of black women (in particular African-American black women) at the hands of black men.

So when Chris Rock appeared on Oprah yesterday to discuss his documentary, “Good Hair” I cringed. Again, it’s another hijacking of stories that should be told and controlled by BLACK WOMEN but is only given “validity” by those black men who decide to cash in on them. That cashing in may be monetary compensation or notoriety. This goes hand in hand with other black women engaging in patriarchy-based sexism who agree to defer to these “experts” simply because they are MEN.

Curiosity on a subject is usually an indication you need to examine an issue further but to then make a cottage industry out of it at the expense of your “subject matter” is all about YOUR hustle. Any real assistance that emerges is a residual affect. The assumption that black men (who frequently devalue other black women in their personal and professional lives) can suddenly decide to “come to the rescue” of black women in one hand with the “answer” in the other is disturbing to me. It’s not sincere. Not when pathologies and pain are laid bare in a public forum AND they’re trying to make money from it.

The participation of black women is still 100% required for any such projects to be successful. I’m still annoyed that Steve Harvey, the thrice-married cheater is giving any woman advice on how to have a successful relationship – and given validity. Especially when he’s being sued for stealing the concept and content from another black woman. Then we have Tyler Perry allowing a black woman writer-director to be pushed out of the For Colored Girls project in favor of….himself. I could go down a list.

As more and more black women take the pill to get out of the DBR Matrix our movements have not gone unnoticed! Now our real oppressors want to further obstruct the path to freedom by seeming to champion us. Like any sneaky saboteur they will grin in our faces while steadying the knife to stick in our backs. We must never forget the oppressors are also in competition with those of us who want to succeed. It’s part race and part class warfare. Lest anyone wish to dispute this ask yourself how you’d feel if it was a white male director making a documentary about “good” hair and referring to childhood photos of Oprah as her “slave” look. All of our skin folk are NOT our kin folk!

Here’s a “good” moment from yesterday’s Oprah episode – but again Rock has to insert himself and his opinion as if what he thinks about Solange actually matters. He is spot on in his political commentary but has a clear animus towards educated and successful black women. I still remember the way he put down Michelle Obama during his comedy routine from last year and his poor attitude toward his wife. As if making a joke out of married life and devaluing relations between black men and women accompanied with laughter removes all the hatred.

Speaking of which – where was Malaak Compton-Rock in this conversation? Why isn’t SHE on stage (ok at least in the audience)? It makes you wonder about all the rumors of their marital strife. I sense much of it stems from him and his attitudes. If he is sooo concerned about the well-being of his daughters and screams from the rafters about what he says to reaffirm their beauty why is there such an ongoing problem? Actions speak louder than words that’s why. Like so many weak, insecure and often limited-educated African-American black men (regardless of their income) their short-comings are obvious to everyone but them.

**Carmen Dixon mentioned me in her latest post! Thanks CD.
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When Stumbling Out of the DBR Matrix These Are Great First Steps

Or you might consider this part of your escape route when deciding which pill to take when you decide to get out of **DBR-Ville!!

This scene is from the television show The Game. I have mixed feelings about this show overall but this was an excellent example of what a woman should be doing with her life. In case you can’t watch it from work the female lead is treating a patient who overhears a c conversation. She offers counsel to her by referencing women who style their hair a certain way as a metaphor for not taking chances in life and weeding out those who would hold her back.

I loved the fact this older woman gave such common sense, no-nonsense advice to the younger (still confused) woman. Her advice is to NOT let OTHER people dictate the standards by which you live! Skip ahead to the portion starting at 1:45 and end at 6:00. A quick backstory: this series is about the relationship between a med student and her NFL player boyfriend. It is based on the real-life story of Staci Robinson who wrote a book titled “Interceptions”.

For the series to work the guy is supposed to be decent underneath blah blah blah but honestly he seems to be a lesser value man and the female lead isn’t setting high enough standards – which is why their problems constantly obstruct the relationship. They often break up and during one of their off periods he impregnated another woman. The ensuing conflicts from the conflict is why they’re not together during this period and the female lead makes another poor decision by sexing her supervisor. This show is a paint-it-by-numbers of WHAT NOT TO DO!

In TV-land things will be wrapped up but the reality is far more tenuous and can have negative generational ramifications. Of course because the male leads on this series are supposed to be a high-profile individuals the implied message here seems to be that any woman who chooses to be with them is going to have to tolerate a lot. Next!

Last time I checked a pig wearing lipstick is still…just…a…pig.

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How Black Women Stuck In the DBR Matrix Fall Down The Rabbit Hole Even Further

We don’t have to stay in the Matrix.

I have a lot of sympathy for the young woman featured in this segment. This was from a Tyra Show episode on racial perception. It had the usual discriminatory attitudes and inflammatory behavior but this woman is clearly hurting and very very confused. She’s adopted the negative attitudes and insecurities stemming from black men who reject women with features like hers. To add further insult to injury she believes the lie that other men would also reject her.

I was relieved that Tyra kept insisting that her experiences directly related to the men she’s been dating. I’d also add that I suspect some other people in her life are also guilty of stomping on a more positive and accurate outlook that prevents her from being her best and living her fullest life. Hopefully she listened and some of that disordered thinking has been expelled.

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Reality Star Ruby Discusses Her Life

Reality tv star Ruby Gettinger was featured on a segment of the Wendy Williams Show last week. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the tv version of Wendy is much more personable than radio Wendy. She’s had some interesting guests on. During this interview Ruby discusses her 300 lb. weight loss, the struggles of changing your palate and why careful observation of portion size is necessary. She also goes into some details of her personal life and hopes for her future.

Ruby mentions the mind/body connection and how one’s mindset can be a stumbling block. I think anyone looking to lose a significant amount of weight has to resolve the underlying issues surrounding their initial weight gain. For some all it takes is a change in eating habits and the addition of an exercise routine. Others need more support.

To successfully let go of the past we have to move forward. Ruby has been an inspiration because she is someone most would have written off. It’s nice to see an example of a determined woman willing to make every effort at change.

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Polanski, Phillips, Kelly and Other Would-Be Predators

Well this is interesting. Director Roman Polanski has been detained by the Swiss gov’t after he flew there to attend a film festival. The United States will possibly seek his extradition after he fled the country during his rape trial in the 1970’s. This is one case that has always “baffled” me. I always felt as if a) Polanski got away with the alleged sexual assault of a 13 year-old b) if so then her mother should have been prosecuted right along beside him for allowing the situation to unfold the way it did c) male privilege, specifically white male privilege trumped everything d) how serious was the US gov’t in prosecuting the case knowing he lived in France the entire time.

In light of the most recent allegations from Mackenzie Phillips about her own father having sex with her doesn’t it make you wonder if the majority of men are depraved and how they are usually protected because they have “talent” or are inherently male? On the other hand you have this seeming explosion of (usually) white female teachers targeting their male students as well. Sometimes I don’t think their crimes are being taken as seriously as they ought to either.

Is there anybody left who has normal relations?

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Old School Friday – OSF Tribute

Oh I really like this week’s meme! It’s TRIBUTE WEEK!!! WooT!

I want to include so many music artists but this would be the LONGEST post ever.

The premiere song restylist of our (ok my mom’s) generation. Nobody can touch Aretha Franklin.

My favorite gypsy rock-r-lady who writes songs that tear your insides out – Stevie Nicks.

In honor of her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame eligibility enjoy a little Laura Nyro.

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Mackenzie Phillips From Rape to "Consensual" Incest – The Ways Women Compromise to Cope With Abuse

“I can’t be the only one.”

So says the daughter of Mamas & Papas founder John Phillips. Deconstructing the source of unresolved traumas that initially led her to abuse drugs as a teenager and up until now seems to be a never-ending process for Mackenzie. In this clip from her interview with Oprah she says she doesn’t remember all of the details of when the sexual abuse began but eventually she “consented” to the continuation of an inappropriate sexual relationship with her father for a decade.

My immediate reaction is to wonder if she’d be sexually abused as a child all along and couldn’t remember as a coping mechanism but because the psychic ramifications were so great that it fueled her need to shift it in another destructive pattern (the rampant drug use) instead. I also wonder if this was a scenario of “trying to make lemonade out of lemons” on a much deeper and depraved level by “agreeing” to the continuation of this abuse.

How often are we as women complicit in our own debasement to hold onto relationships from those we have familial ties with? Or to hold onto concepts and status quo? The Phillips situation is taking it to a whole other level but if we’re honest with ourselves how often do we compromise – even sell our souls – for the semblance of “order”? Be it saving a “community”, involving oneself intellectually, romantically or emotionally with DBRs, trying to rescue destructive or irresponsible family members, choosing a boyfriend over your child, not having a vision for oneself, being negative or whatever internal blocks that come to mind we need to have a plan for our elevation in place. Otherwise we’ll get stuck or worse drown either at our hands or through the actions of others. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves in quicksand instead of dry land.

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American Writers & Artists Series with Tom Kavala

Thanks to Muslim Bushido for introducing me to this great website. The focus of AWAI is to help people develop skills to acquire financial security, independence and freedom. Like many things floating around in the universe we should take what’s useful to us and has appeal to our particular needs and discard the rest. I hope this offers encouragement and inspiration.

SWING TILL YOU HIT IT

I’m going to tell you something my Uncle Mike once told me. If you want to know who’s responsible for most of your problems, take a good long look in the mirror. If you could kick the person most responsible for your problems, you probably wouldn’t be able to sit down for a month.

Painful, in my case, but true – and a lesson I have to relearn from time to time.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of our own way. We need to stop looking only at where we are and start looking at where we can be.

Here’s a perfect example …

The little guy was having a tough time. My two-year-old nephew and I were in the living room, playing baseball. I was pitching a Wiffle Ball to him as he continued to fan the air with his little plastic bat.

My wife told us to take it outside before we broke something, so I continued to pitch to him in the backyard. I’d pitch the ball to him and he’d swing – and miss. Pitch…swing…miss. Pitch… swing… miss. Thirty to forty pitch… thirty to forty misses. I could see he was starting to get discouraged.

Every time he missed I’d tell him, “You can do it. C’mon, swing for the seats. You’re the best hitter there is.” And still he missed every single one.

Now I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after thirty to forty swings, I noticed that every time he swung the bat, he swung in the same place. It didn’t matter whether my pitch was high or low, he always swung in the same place. So I aimed at his bat.

Whack! He hit it! He got so excited, he dropped the bat! He’d never hit a ball before! He didn’t know what to do! So he just ran in place squealing with delight, with his eyes wide, and his little arms flapping like wings.

I laughed and yelled, “Run to first base.” He ran the wrong way.

I said, “This way.” Around the bases he ran … all the way home … right into my arms. We fell backwards, laughing and giggling, into the soft spring grass. It was the best day of my life. How ridiculous it would have been if I had just given up on him after one or two swings. He wasn’t a good hitter when he started, but he stepped up to the plate every time…and kept swinging.

Stay With It

Nothing can defeat you unless you first defeat yourself. When asked what was the greatest attribute of a soldier, Napoleon Bonaparte answered, “Endurance.” It wasn’t loyalty…or courage…or skill at arms. It was endurance – the ability to keep going no matter what.

Whatever you want to accomplish in life will take persistence. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Work – continuous, hard work – is the only way to accomplish anything that lasts.

In life you will pay one of two prices. You will either pay the price of persistence or you will pay the price of regret. The price of persistence weighs ounces. The price of regret weighs tons. So never give up on what you really know you should do.

One of the greatest examples of persistence is Dr. Theodore S. Geisel. He wrote a book. He went from publishing house to publishing house. All he heard was “No”. He kept knocking on publishers’ doors and after hearing “No” a staggering twenty-three times; he finally heard “Yes”.

If you have kids – or if you ever were a kid – you know him by his pen name: Dr. Seuss. His books have sold over 220 million copies.

Then there’s the lady who went to seventeen publishers and got seventeen rejections. Number eighteen knew a winner when he saw it and published her work. The book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the first of the fantastically successful Harry Potter series. Today, with over 400 million copies sold, and published in 65 languages, J.K. Rowling, is one of history’s most successful authors. Suppose she had stopped at rejection number ten. The world would be a poorer place indeed.

Home run legend Babe Ruth also held the record for striking out.

Basketball great Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Harlan Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, is today a household name. But there was a time when, believe it or not, nobody would endorse his chicken recipe. He got rejected a mind numbing 1,009 times, but he persisted.

Talent, brains and athletic prowess are all wonderful things to be blessed with, but you can’t always rely on them. Talent comes and goes with different success stories, but persistence is a constant. Persistence is the hammer that drives the nail of success.

Keep Looking for Opportunities

So what do you do? Anything. Something. So long as you don’t just sit there. If you screw it up, start over. Try something else. If you wait until everything is perfect, you may find that it’s too late – opportunity will have passed you by.

One of the most powerful success principles is: Never give up! The choice of giving up or going on is a defining moment in your life. You may not be able to turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.

When I was launching my resume business, I noticed that business tended to drop off periodically. At the time, my business consisted mostly of writing resumes for graduating college students. The problem with student resumes is that they’re seasonal. I’d see a spike in business for two months or so before graduation, then it would peter out.

So I went in another direction.

I joined my local Chamber of Commerce and networked until I found a couple of executive recruiters who absolutely hate to write resumes. They are too busy trying to find and match job candidates to openings their client companies have. They have neither the time nor the patience to help some candidate write a killer resume.

That’s where I come in.

Now whenever they get a good client with a weak resume, they hire me to spruce it up. I get a ton of business from them, and here’s the best part – it’s steady work, because these recruiters are busy. And since their candidates are all executive level job seekers, I make a lot more money per resume.

Opportunities are everywhere; you just need to look for them. You can look at a setback as a blessing or a curse. Just having an opportunity to consider things that were previously out of your realm of interest can produce incentive to move in a new direction.

Your choice is simple. You can either stand up and be counted, or you can stay down and be counted out. Defeat never comes to people until they admit it.

So keep chipping away as quickly as you can, but even if you need to slow down for a time … or move in a different direction … still keep chipping away as much as you can.

Do today what others will not, and you’ll live tomorrow as others cannot.

Because success is a choice, not a chance. And, you have a choice to make now – whether to be at Bootcamp or not. Choose to be successful. Decide on the kind of life you want, or life will decide for you.

It’s not your circumstances that are important, but how you respond to your circumstances. Wherever you find your vision, you will also find opposition. Winners are not afraid to struggle in order to win.

Yes, it’s hard. Money is tight and you have a lot of other commitments. I know it’s hard; that’s why you have to go at it hard. That’s why you need to be at Bootcamp. I’ll be part of a panel discussion on Friday with four other entrepreneurs about additional ways to create revenue streams. All things you can easily do yourself. Remember, only those willing to try the impossible can ever achieve the spectacular.

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Spare-Time Biz Success, a free newsletter that gives you information on the hottest work-at-home opportunities that allow you to make extra money in your spare time and enjoy the financial benefits of a full-time career. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/spare-time-business/.

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