Creating A Vision Board Helps U Get Rid of Disordered Thinking

I once took a sunrise yoga class on the beach in Santa Monica. Yeah…only in California, right? I have to say it was pretty cool to move into the Sun Salutation pose as the sun rose across the beach. It was during the summer on a Saturday. The sound of the water, the seagulls and the smell in the air was heady. It was a great start to the day. There’s a certain aspect attributed to this mythical “California lifestyle” that doesn’t necessarily have to do with being physically present there. The healthier lifestyle, less processed food and yogi aspects can be implemented anywhere. Plus if you live elsewhere you can avoid the smog of SoCal, the fog of NoCal and the earthquakes! Yet nothing quite beats Wine Country – it’s a foodie heaven!!

I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve noted the unemployment rate jumped from 11.9% to 12.2% in California with no sign of abating. Ugh! A serious weeding out is occurring across the country and we all have to step it up a notch. There are so many capable and talented people who may find themselves in challenging situations right now. Those that won’t keep up with technological advances and other changes are going to be left behind.

I want to achieve a certain quality of life that is not dependent on living in a specific location or having a particular job or whether I’m married. All of those aspects have their importance in a patriarchal/racist society but I don’t want to be dependent on external circumstances. I can still work towards being a whole person with a full life while being open to how I get there. Sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error but as long as we have breath we can get there.

Which brings me to the Vision Board. It’s also referred to as a dream board. Some might suggest affirmations or chanting or meditation or prayer. There’s quite a few “practitioners” touting the benefits of envisioning the life you want for yourself. I say do whatever works for you. This board taps into the mind/body connection for changes you want to bring to your life. I did purchase this book written by Joyce Schwarz.

It’s the antithesis of magical thinking. The exercises in this book not only help you think about all of the things you want but help you focus on achieving them. That focus helps dispel the negativity, doubts and questions that bubble up to the surface. It’s more than mere positive thinking – it’s a reinforcement of reordered thinking.

Schwarz uses a sequence she refers to as GRABS:
  • Gratitude – for where we are right now
  • Release – getting rid of unproductive mentalities
  • Acknowledge & Ask – recognizing progress and getting help
  • Be & Believe – authenticity of self and knowing this will work
  • Share – paying it forward
You create a personal manifesto and take it from there. This can be added as another aspect of your life’s journey. You can create a family board, a career board or whatever speaks to you. There’s no wrong way. It doesn’t matter where you are – it begins NOW.

For a peek at a chapter clink the link here.

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Whitney Houston Oprah Interview Day 2: On Michael Jackson & Her Comeback

Houston discusses her friendship with Michael Jackson. One thing I’ve found interesting is how isolated and lonely so many of these celebrities are. They have so much talent and so many resources. It seems as if they get lost in the mix trying to self-protect. Houston says she’s feeling the love she has for HERSELF and that’s a great thing. We must always make sure our needs are being met an we take care of ourselves first.

Houston claims to be drug-free. I’m not going to comment on the fact that despite all of this discussion about Bobby Brown and his abusive behavior she’s friends with R Kelly. Ok I lied. One word comes to mind: hypocrite. Another word comes to mind: denial. That’s all I’m gonna say. When we’ve discussed evaluating how and what we support if we are denigrated by others I have to include the women who support the denigration. There’s much I don’t know and may not understand. I still have to employ some semblance of standards though. That’s all I’m gonna say. ** This got way too gushy for me at the end. That’s all I’m gonna say.

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Whitney Houston Oprah Interview Day 2: How Whitney Finally Left

Houston discusses the decision to leave her marriage. Sigh. I am really having a problem with the language and tone of how she insists on placing ALL the blame on her ex-husband. Has anyone else noticed how she also lays territorial claim to her daughter as HERS. Perhaps some children who’ve lived through their parents’ divorce can further explain this but isn’t this a blatant example of forcing a child to pick sides? Considering it’s Houston with all the “goodies”: money, fame, respect, etc. I can see how that wouldn’t be too hard of a decision.

Also Bobbi Kristina is the only child of her mother. I could be totally off base with this analysis. I do understand how a young girl could see her parent’s destructive relationship and know it would be best for them to part. So obviously if she could articulate that to her mother in person then they must be close. I still think this interview offers MUCH to learn from but the scrutiny is on now. If Houston has stopped abusing drugs for example but picks it up again – which isn’t outside the realm of possibility given the number of years she’s been an offender – she won’t be able to blame Bobby Brown this time.

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Whitney Houston Oprah Interview Day 2: Whitney Is An Angel, Bobby The Devil

I admit to being captivated by this interview but I think a few things need to be made clear. This is obviously a very controlled discussion. I’d definitely label Bobby Brown a DBR black male but after one hour of hearing about all the bad things he did yesterday I’ve had enough. Whitney Houston CHOSE him. Time and time again. Year after year after year after year. There had to be a payoff in it. She had ALL of the resources and the exit door was wide open at any time. I’d like to hear about her acceptance of accountability for that. I’m not expecting any.

This is something that’s emblematic of many African-American women. We can discuss the factors and influences that oppress us but there has to be a point when we say “no more”. I wonder why holding on to religious totems or “acceptable” orientation or hanging on to an obvious no-quality man offers such a powerful incentive for self-immolation. This can apply to any woman from any class strata. Being alone is much better than being surrounded by people who tear you down or are bleeding you dry.

I think we need to have a conversation about how striking gutter balls – or striking out – in love (or career, friendships, etc) can have a lasting impact on us. It depends on where we are in our lives, what age these situations occur and our coping mechanisms. Our success in being able to shake things off and still operate from a position of strength can be severely compromised. Our desire to escape the pain, confusion and disappointment can serve as the impetus to our addiction and isolation. It may not be drugs that we turn to. It could be food. It could be television. I could be retreating from life. The vulnerability that we may feel that allows us to have compassion for others isn’t always reciprocated when we need it the most. Having strength in character doesn’t mean we don’t need a shoulder to lean on and sometimes there’s no one available or willing to provide that. Or they may take advantage of us. These types of situations can further aid our in descent even as we’re ultimately responsible. It can make things more challenging…not impossible…but definitely a situation that may cause us to be hesitant even as we’re making affirming life choices.

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Sometimes Love Is A Battlefield – But It Doesn’t Have To Be

I heard this song “Battlefield” by Jordan Sparks on the radio and like the lyrics. I of course give a hat tip to Pat Benatar’s classic Love Is A Battlefield. This has me thinking about the concept of why we “fight” for love and relationships. Sometimes incompatible people are locked in a battle of wills and broken dreams. Other times this could apply to working through an addiction, either your own or being helpless to witness another’s decent into madness. Or speaking of that….it could also be a mental disease or defect. Perhaps it’s a Romeo & Juliet scenario where outside instigators are throwing obstacles at you left and right.

Maybe it’s our own inner demons that we are fighting for as we’ve been discussing indoctrination tactics that keep women subjugated to false concepts are varied and deeply ingrained. The tie that may bind (and the subsequent chains that may shackle us) is some concept of love that we have. Maybe we think certain people and concepts are worth the fight. At some point though we must realize that the one person and concept we should love the most must be ourselves. This may run concurrent with a spiritual practice but I think even in that situation it’s still a relationship and we have to be fully present to have the most fulfilling engagement. Being distracted, pulled into opposite directions, dealing with warring factions (either internal or external), wrestling with adapting concepts that work for us as individuals and being positive above all takes a lot of mental/physical/emotional capital. We cannot run on empty lest we stall in the side of the road.

Isn’t it time for many of us to step forward boldly and declare that we will live our best lives, not one of getting by? If you’re already there perhaps you may want to reflect on how you got there and where else you want to go to continue.
Don’t try to explain your mind
I know what’s happening here
One minute, it’s love
And, suddenly, it’s like a battlefield

One word turns into a
Why is it the smallest things that tear us down
My world’s nothing when you’re gone
I’m out here without a shield – can’t go back, now

Both hands tied behind my back for nothing, oh, no
These times when we climb so fast to fall, again
Why we gotta fall for it, now…

I never meant to start a war
You know, I never wanna hurt you
Don’t even know we’re fighting for
Why does love always feel like a battlefield (2x)
Why does love always feel like a battlefield (2x)
Why does love always feel like

Can’t swallow our pride
Neither of us wanna raise that flag, mmm
If we can’t surrender
Then, we’re both gonna lose we have, oh, no

Both hands tied behind my back for nothing (nothing), oh, no
These times when we climb so fast to fall, again
I don’t wanna fall for it, now…


We could pretend that we are friends, tonight (oh)
And, in the morning, we wake up, and we’d be alright
‘Cause, baby, we don’t have to fight
And I don’t want this love to feel like a battlefield (2x)
Why does love always feel like a battlefield (2x)
I guess you better go and get your armor
(repeat to fade)

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Asking Black Women to Change Is Part of A Larger Spiritual War

Every time I wonder what I’m going to write about, if I’m offering something of substance and whether I should cut back on my blogging schedule of daily posts I am constantly inspired!

A few thoughts occurred to me as I was writing Part 2 of Getting to Where We Want. One is that it’s really about getting to where we NEED to be, so take that added dimension into consideration. The other revelation I had is the fight for the minds of black women is a SPIRITUAL WAR as much as one deploying COMMON SENSE.

There are several black female bloggers writing about ways other black women can improve the quality of their lives. Whether it’s interpreted that way is left to the discernment of the reader. Whether the messages being offered have benefit may be open to debate. Whether that message can be ignored is the giant pushback going on right now. Think about it: there’s a few “ragtag” band of women literally shouting in the “jungles” and the “wild” banging their drums. They’re visiting homes (via blog writing) of many sometimes in the guise of one thing but with the intention of something else (all good). They’re imparting knowledge or sharing stories. They’re getting a LOT of resistance. People lie about the positions being offered. Others don’t quite understand what the heck they’re talking about or are only getting 15% of the message.

Some brave woman had to be willing to step forward to address the chaos. If this could be thought of in investment terms it’s a Capital Call for funds so a future purchase can be made. Others have followed suit. We’re from all corners of the world (blogosphere). We’re sending correspondence back and forth but may never meet. We have convergent purposes and can strategize together on some things or offer words of encouragement to each other. We don’t agree in every way all the time. We learn from each other even as we have our own (teaching) purposes. We may not be “leaders” per se but we’re offering examples of leadership (of self) for everyone.

These messages can be of benefit to ALL women but they are specifically being offered to those most in need. That’s what makes this so radical. Black women as a collective should have the same high standards that other women from other groups have. We also have to acknowledge our individual perspectives, needs and ethnicities as it affects who we are and what we may need to do. Reaching for our purpose requires a thorough examination of ourselves and those around us. Everyone doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. If that means leaving behind the majority of other blacks then so be it!

Some need to know of the mistreatment of others. Some need to be challenged. Some need to know how beautiful they are. Some need to know they have options outside of their immediate surroundings. Some need to hear about the successful lives of others. Some need to know the storm is coming. Some need to know they’re surrounded by poisonous snakes who will strike and kill them. Some need to have their blinders removed and their shackles removed. Some need to put into practice steps they already know they need to take. Some are confused and may need time to figure things out. Some will not listen and must be left behind for the survival of others.

Here’s what I know to be true:
  • Black Women should have suitable mates.
  • Black Women should have protection and care.
  • Black Women should have relationships that are fulfilling.
  • Black Women should have opportunities for growth.
  • Black Women should not be around anything that drags them down.
  • Black Women should not settle for anything that is of little benefit to them.
  • Black Women should know how to make life-affirming choices.

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We Need A Training Course on Transgender 101

I can’t help but think how the greater LGBT movement has been so focused on an orientation hierarchy they’ve dropped the ball with regards to “normalizing” trans men and trans women. There’s been a huge push at reducing the anxiety and generating familiarity for lesbians and gays that it doesn’t seem so “weird” anymore. It’s still opposed by many but it’s not a wholly foreign concept. Think of it in terms of how relations between whites and blacks were addressed.

As a cis-gender woman I often cringe at the public fumbles and stumbles of others who are lesbian, gay and straight alike who exhibit their lack of understanding of trans-related “issues”. I have to qualify this with the quotes because I do not purport to understand what it’s like to be a trans woman. Just as a white person will never understand what it’s like to be black or a wealthy person not know all the ways they’ve benefitted from not being poor we all have our own set of blessings and obstacles. I do think the standard should be higher for the lesbian and gay collective but we as individuals can pick up the mantle as we see fit.

I expect reciprocity in my support of all LGBT “issues” but realize that as with many things in this society certain people of color may have an extra burden. I’ve also written about numerous cases of violence against black trans women like Lateisha Green and Duanna Johnson. I have also found that for every person willing to examine how they relate to others many still exhibit virulent discriminatory behavior. Including gays and lesbians. So if they engage in such foul behavior against their trans kinfolk how is that the straights will learn? Not to mention the racism and gender bias that exists amongst the entire population.

I am confident that I examine the ways in which I express my gender privileges if only because I’m willing to be put through the paces by others. We have to be humble enough to consider the fact that being well-intentioned is no guarantee of complete success in dismantling our prejudices. There is a big difference though from deciding to hate in thoughts, words and deeds.

There’s been a discussion at Pam’s House Blend about the review of this dance crew on an MTV dance competition show by a recording artist. The comments by Lil Mama displayed a lack of understanding that should be addressed but are by no means as offensive as statements made by gay politician Barney Frank for example. Any standards for evaluating behavior should be applied across the board. I see this as a teachable moment IF people are willing to learn. Like most reality shows they’re edited to promote high drama and ignorant behavior for ratings.

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Doing My Part At Liberating Black Women – Including Myself!

This is a multi-tiered initiative.

First I must take care of myself – then others.

To that end I have a few projects in the works. I am a creative (writing being one of my endeavors) but have not earned my living at it. I am seeking new avenues for myself, approaching meeting my goals differently and assessing the current economic/political landscape. What a reality check! I also want to ensure that as many of us get out of the “Matrix” as possible and have full, active lives.

In order for me to continue with these endeavors I must ask for some assistance from readers, commenters, naysyers, lurkers, etc. You now who you are. I am requesting donations to help fund my writing/activism as well as assist me with a pending move/career change. Think of yourself as an early-adopter in the next Microsoft where your return will greatly outweigh your investment. I’d prefer to not leave Northern California as I LOVE IT but the reality of the market has forced me to reevaluate that. I’m open to all viable options and am listening to the voice from On High.

In case the widget doesn’t work I’ve added a link here and to my sidebar.

I know I usually don’t discuss any of my personal religious beliefs for a reason but I have found that we can ask God questions and get a definitive reply. For example there was a man I was very interested and one night out of the blue I was told to ask him about his relationship status. He was married! I had no idea. I was given a clear answer to my questions about his character as I had prayed about it. No I didn’t “like” what I found out but it was best to cut my losses early on than waste my time with an inadequate person. I dodged a bullet there!!

I asked a question about my efforts at realizing my goals and this was the answer I got amongst other steps I will need to take. I feel a little awkward about such a public display but I have to follow through with this. We can have abundant, fulfilling futures but they usually require we step outside of some of our comfort zones. As I create multiple revenue streams in the future I need to take care of some immediate needs today. I’ve set up a Chip In account on my sidebar to accept donations. I will be happy to reciprocate in kind to other’s endeavors as I’m able.

I appreciate all that I’ve learned from other bloggers and readers who’ve offered so many words of wisdom. I am continually challenged and think I’ve finally come into my own. Now it’s time for the next step and it needs to be taken boldly. I have an e-book of blog posts in the works (donations of $50 and up will get a copy), a fiction novel based on my Cinderella post and an SEO marketing consultancy. I am also continuing my education in the media arts. I must still increase my social circle, work on getting into better physical condition and limiting/eliminating toxic influencers. All of the things we discuss here and at other blogs for the free agency of women.

Two more quick things:
SXSW InteractiveSXSW Interactive features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer.

1. I have submitted a panel for SXSW 2010!! Logo/Info borrowed courtesy of SXSW. Voting started on Monday and I need your support. The title is Black Female Bloggers and the Future of Media under my name (Faith Dow). If you click on the link and it doesn’t open it’s because the interest is so high for panels their server keeps crashing. You just click a thumbs-up button after a brief registration. It’s quick trust me.

2. WAM! 2010 is accepting proposals. Women, Action & the Media is a conference for activists, journalists and all interested parties of gender justice in media. We know who’s getting the stub! It’s not a coincidence that their theme is:

I had already submitted my panel idea to SXSW before WAM! released their area of focus. While I work on this proposal I wanted to give everyone a head’s up that you too can submit one and I think many of you readers should.

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Interracial Dating Options Vs. Doomsday Marriage Prospects for Black Women

I was deciding whether to write this as two separate posts but I thought of the intersectionality of this latest dire prediction of unmarried childlessness for black women at MSNBC with what was a successful effort at combating it should be explored. The Free Your Mind dating event that was held in Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago was well-received!! Look for it to come to a city near you.

The organizer for the seminar, Fleace Weaver was interviewed by NPR.

Fleace Weaver, an L.A. socialite and the organizer of the night’s event, got the idea after noticing that many of her black friends had it all — a career, house, independence — but no man. Weaver is black. She dates men of all colors — black, white, brown — and wants more black women to do the same. “I am an international lover. All right; I am an equal opportunity lover,” Weaver says. “That means I love who is good to me. I don’t want anybody just because they’re a certain color.”

Yes! It bears repeating since a quick peek at the comment section at NPR had some pushback, but nothing compared to the all-out attack by the naysayers and denigrators at another forum that linked to the article. I included it so those that may still question how many are focused on uplifting black women versus those ready to attack any progress are bearing fangs at the mere idea of them making affirming choices! These Internet Ike Turners and outright haters take pleasure in causing confusion and holding women back. It’s imperative that we keep moving forward, try something different and let the miserable hang with their kind.

In the Marriage Eludes High-Achieving Black Women article at MSNBC, some of the usual stats are bandied about. If you’re successful you’ll be less likely to marry or have to marry down blah blah. And be childless.
Michelle Obama may have become an archetypal African-American female success story — law career, strong marriage, happy children — but the reality is often very different for other highly educated black women.

They face a series of challenges in navigating education, career, marriage and child-bearing, dilemmas that often leave them single and childless even when they’d prefer marriage and family, according to a research study recently presented at the American Sociological Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

One big reason why these women remained childless is, as one might expect, that they go unmarried, experts say. “Their marriage chances have declined,” Brueckner explained. “This may sound trivial but one reason is that they outnumber men in this education group.” The disparity in education is important because Americans have a strong tendency to marry those with equal levels of education, a trend that has only grown stronger since World War II. “So since there are fewer men with the same education,” Brueckner continued, “you either have to find another group you can marry or you are out of luck. You have nowhere to go.”

Highly educated black men tend to “outmarry” (marry outside race, religion or ethnicity) at a higher rate than black women, researchers say. Think of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates or Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Both married white women. (Funny how they chose two men who have displayed they have NO VALUE to us!!)

Black women are either much more reluctant to marry outside their race, or do not have the opportunity to do so. The answer is both, Clarke said. In interviews with a large number of black women, she found that community pressures on black women to marry black men can be more intense than the reverse. Of course if highly educated black women felt free to have children outside of marriage, they could still have a family. When some white women make that choice it is often seen as a kind of liberal empowerment.

But according to Clarke, black women are concerned about looking “ghetto.” Public interpretation of our actions matter for everyone, but especially for black women, Clarke explained. “When it comes to the issue of black women and should or should they not make a choice to have a child alone, these women are very much aware that the decision to do it makes people question their class status. We associate single unwed child bearing with poor African-American women.” Not all women who remain unmarried and childless are unhappy about it. But for a set of sometimes complex social reasons, some high-achieving black women find themselves disappointed.
This article brings up some interesting points. Married black women and apparently these “reluctantly single & childless” achieving black women are NOT having children at the rate of the underclass. That should be considered a seriously alarming trend because of the conditions of the residential areas and the mentality of many who are there. Your best and brightest not only won’t be able to compete, they won’t exist.

Now back to the NPR article which refutes this “you will die alone with cats theory”:
But Weaver argues that Mr. Right doesn’t have to be Mr. Black. “There’s no reason for us to believe we have to be alone. The only thing that’s keeping us from finding someone is that we limit ourselves,” Weaver says.

If black women are set on “black love only,” Weaver says they may be passing up good men. “Some of you all out here have gotten some signals, and you all missed them. Or you got signals, and you all blew him off because he wasn’t chocolate,” Weaver says. “But we’ve got to get over that — unless you want to be home with chocolate cats.”
Indeed the MSNBC article glosses over the indoctrination tactics used to hold black women back to me. It also doesn’t address the intra-black ethnic and cultural differences and how only certain groups of women have a more difficult time deciding to date caliber versus skin color. Which we’ve discussed here and at other blogs. There are plenty of men available for those willing to seek them out and it would be most beneficial if articles like this would speak truthfully and tell black women to stop limiting themselves.

We are free to be with whomever we want, to marry or remain single, to become a mother or not, to live anywhere and be treated with the respect and accord bestowed upon any other woman.

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Tameka Raymond’s HuffPo Op-Ed on Colorism Is A Must Read

I noticed a few people were discussing this essay on various social media platforms yesterday but I just got around the reading it. Wow! The soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Usher Raymond certainly has her head on straight as far as recognizing the intra-Black racism, petty jealousies and assumptions by strangers goes. She took great pains to make a definitive argument of the larger psychological issues as well as the added attention due to her celebrity status. She laid it out and offered her own introspection of how that negativity has affected her.

We’ve been discussing the underlying pathologies that motivate many African-Americans here and at other forums for quite some time. I can’t recall the last time I’ve read a thorough examination of these by another AA person who wasn’t a) a blogger trying to encourage other black women to free themselves b) an academic or infotainment hustler c) a man. So I cheered that this message will likely get more attention – but unfortunately it will likely be due to the pop culture consumption of various parties and not from a concentrated effort by those trying to free their minds. Still I hope that something sticks. I’ve pulled some quotes which I found particularly poignant that I’d like more blacks to evaluate in detail:

I am a dark-skinned African American woman with features that reflect my ancestry. It is a fact that many African-Americans are often mixed with an array of other ethnicities (as am I), which allows for the spectrum of our features to be as distinctive and special as we are diverse. Why is it felt that the more diluted our traditionally African features become the more aesthetically acceptable we are considered?

That all-too-familiar disdain and lack of racial or ethnic pride amongst African-Americans has not been resolved. We must also be careful about not mislabeling the potential self-hate of an individual versus the choice to devalue others. This manifests itself in familiar patterns by the way some black men pursue white-skinned women and how black women who don’t know each other can be at odds with one another just because. People who are engaged in adversarial interactions cannot coalesce to form networks that would elevate larger groups. So the focus remains on external aggressions (i.e the white racism argument) instead of recognizing how so many undermine each other.
Often dark-skinned women are considered mean, domineering and standoffish and it was these very labels that followed Michelle Obama during the campaign for her husband’s presidency and which she has had to work tirelessly to combat. I was appalled when I heard a Black woman refer to Michelle Obama as unattractive. The conversation turned into why President Obama picked her as his mate.
This is bigger than Michelle Obama. This is the manifestation of that colorism, hueism, skin shade hatred and black on black racism that does more damage today than its historical origins. It is also specifically targeting black women, African-American women who are unabashedly black with recognizable African features. It is used to shame them and make them more compliant for abuse. Like the street harassment I discussed in yesterday’s blog post. Yes, we know it was part of the “Master’s Tools” to create division amongst slaves and maintain control over a much larger population who could have easily risen up and slaughtered their captors. Psychological warfare is dirty and brutal. As I’ve written previously SLAVERY IS OVER. There is NO EXCUSE for blacks to take this practice, magnify it by thousands, add more depravity on top of it and then say that white people started it. I also touched on that hack piece by a hack writer who attributed an anonymous quote to disparage browner-skinned black women.

As I began to delve into further research on this topic, and the more I read, I concluded that many of our people do not like what they see in the mirror. There is an adage “hurt people, hurt people”. If this is true then we must examine the root of negative words and judgments that are passed on people. Perhaps we show progress in our wallets and lifestyles but not in our mind set. I nearly lost my life over something as superficial as having a flatter mid-section and trying to adapt to society’s traditional definition of beauty. I truly believe that everyone has a right to delineate what they deem is attractive, but we must not confuse perceived “attractiveness” with authentic “beauty.” It is important for African Americans, especially, to realize that true beauty is a spiritual element that lies deep within an individual’s spirit.

I appreciated Mrs. Raymond’s candor about going to such lengths to be considered attractive and acceptable. It’s one thing to follow a strict regime to be healthy and at one’s best. Chasing eternal youth and the appearance of external perfection is something else entirely. I thought about how Dr. Donda West, Kanye’s mother lost her life while recovering from a similar surgical procedure. Despite her education, financial resources and residual celebrity – or perhaps because of it – she felt something was lacking and tried to address it externally. She also had a browner skin shade and noticeably African features. Not that plenty of other women don’t choose to go to such lengths as well but I can’t help but wonder would the drumbeat of disdain be less fervent if others accepted themselves as they were and encouraged others instead of tearing them down?
I also watched the documentary about Lisa Lopes (from TLC) that aired on VH-1 yesterday. Ironically she had been filming herself, friends and family for a project and it ended up being her legacy after she was killed in an auto accident. It was packaged beautifully and was very compelling. Her candor about her struggles and insights she offered gave me a different perspective. She was a flawed but brilliant woman – like so many of us. So when I see certain black women in the spotlight I observe how they are treated by others and what standards apply. It isn’t pretty. Still I admire the efforts by many to live their lives on their own terms and not some self-imposed double standard of acceptable “black” behavior that is often demeaning anyway. I hope Mrs. Raymond’s essay gets through to some black women who would have otherwise not heard its message of uplift.

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