Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why Do Men Cheat?

I was talking to a friend the other day about why men cheat. (Before anyone starts, yes, I realize that women cheat too, but the focus of this piece is on men.) As a man defending the behavior of his own kind, my friend was quick to cite to some deep-rooted psychological reasons why men cheat. He equated a cheating man to an overweight person who can't control their eating. (YES, he seriously said this!)

I, on the other hand, think men cheat because they are flat out GREEDY!!! A man could have everything: a good job, a beautiful wife who loves and adores him, and a couple of great kids; yet, he still feels the need to step out on his wife. To me, the only answer to this quandary is greed. Men need to feel like they are in control at all times. Cheating on their wives give them that control.

Furthermore, it seems like men are just going crazy with this whole cheating-thing now. I've seen a guy hitting on other women while at his wife's work function. How triflin' is that? Come on now, if you're gonna cheat, at least have enough respect for your wife to not do it in front of her co-workers. I just don't understand that. DISCRETION is the key word. Don't make your wife look like an a$$ in front of her people.

Maybe I'm wrong and men really do cheat because of their own psychological problems. Hmmm, on second thought, I'm not wrong. Greed drives adulterous behavior -- bottom line. Either way, cheating is just plain wrong. I have seen too many people hurt by cheating men, and I have been approached too many times by men trying to cheat with me. What's the point of getting married if you're just going to cheat? Why risk losing your family? Just to get a little piece on the side?? That's just ignorant.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Kramer the Racist

I was going to post some comments about Mr. O.J. and his "If I Did It" book this week. What a joke! Anyway, considering his book got scrapped by the publisher, that issue is now moot. SO, instead, I was sitting in the nail salon watching the news, and saw a clip of Kramer* from Seinfeld fame ranting while on stage at the Laugh Factory in L.A. (*Because I don't know this man's real name -- because he's never been on anything except Seinfeld -- he will hereinafter be referred to as Kramer.) If you haven't seen this video, YOU HAVE TO SEE IT. Go to and scroll down the page until you reach "Kramer's Racist Tirade." However, I'd like to briefly share with you some of his...let's call them sentiments.

Apparently in response to two black hecklers, he screams at the men stating, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass."

WOW, for real? It's like that? He continued, "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherf**ker. Throw his ass out. He's a nigger! He's a nigger! He's a nigger! A nigger, look, there's a nigger!" In response to the crowd's obvious confusion, he says, "They're going to arrest me for calling a black man a nigger."

For anyone who thinks racism is dead, this serves as your wake up call! The interesting thing will be to evaluate how this plays out in the media. Mel Gibson was almost crucified in the media (in true "Passion" form) for making derogatory remarks about jewish people (and also for calling the female cop "Sugar Tits," which, by the way, is now one of my all-time favorite comments). Anyway, I digress. I am almost willing to bet money that the media will talk about Kramer's racist remarks for all of two seconds, and then quickly move on.

And yes, although the Laugh Factory has now banned Kramer from performing there, DON'T GET IT TWISTED, it didn't do so until TMZ posted the video on its website. The Laugh Factory actually allowed Kramer to perform the very next night after his racial tirade.

Isn't it funny how these white folks get all up in arms about derogatory jewish comments, but just expect us to get over it when white folks call us Niggers and tell us how back in the day we'd be hanging upside down with forks up our asses? Puh-leeze!!!!



Sunday, November 12, 2006

We'll Miss You Gerald!

Gerald Levert is dead, gone, taken away from us. Can ya'll believe it? I still can't. He was supposed to be my husband one day! :) He was only 40-years-old, and died of a heart attack. It's really a shame that his body gave up on him at such a young age.

Black folks, when are we going to realize that we need to start taking better care of our bodies??? We can't eat everything fried! We can't eat fat-infested soul food everyday! According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death for black folks, both men and women.

It's time we do something about this. We have to change the way that we live, by changing our diet and engaging in physical activity. (I am guilty of not doing the latter, so I have to change too!) We also have to instill these values in our kids. I hate seeing overweight kids. It really bothers me because I know that for the most part, their weight can be controlled by diet and excercise, but instead, they're allowed to sit on their butts and play video games all day.

Come on black folks, when 40-year-old men are dying from heart attacks, we need to start making some changes in our lives! If not for you, do it so your kids will learn healthy habits, and also so they can see you grow old. With so many diseases and illnesses out there that we can't control, we need to be more aware of lifestyles to ensure that we prevent the preventable diseases such as heart disease.


P.S. -- I would be remiss if I didn't also recognize the passing of our consummate newsman, Ed Bradley. We'll miss you too Ed!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Don't Fall for the Banana in the Tailpipe!!!

Alright black folks, Tuesday is the BIG day! Tuesday is the day that Democrats can take back control of Congress, and clean up this mess that Republicans have caused. Republicans are working overtime to ensure this doesn't happen. One way they do this is by trying to confuse us by pitting black Republican candidates against white Democratic candidates, and then use the fact that their candidate is black to appeal to black voters.

Case in point: Michael Steele v. Ben Cardin, Maryland's contentious Senate race. Although Steele, the African-American ex-Lt. Governor of Maryland, is considered a moderate conservative, many of his views still contradict the welfare of African-Americans. However, when targeting black voters, Republicans do not address these issues; rather, they focus on their candidate's "blackness" to try to sway black voters. I remember living in Maryland the first time that Steele ran for Lt. Governor with Gov. Ehrlich, the radio ads on WPGC, WHUR, and the other black radio stations were more than insulting. They went something like this (in my best homegirl voice):

-- "Girl, did you know we could have the first black Lt. Governor in Maryland?"
-- "Yeah, girl. And like my momma said, 'What have the Democrats done for us lately?'"

I remember cringing everytime that ad came on the radio, and wondering, "Do they really think we're stupid enough to fall for this mess?" Well, apparently we were stupid enough, because Ehrlich and Steele won. Steele went on to become an ineffectual Lt. Governor for Maryland; spending 3 years studying the death penalty with no results, taking undeserved credit for the improvements in Maryland's teacher pensions, proposing big ticket programs with no ideas on how to pay for them, and knocking special-interest politics while his campaign reaps the benefits of having GOP lobbyists in his corner.

With Maryland being traditionally a Democratic state, of course Steele has to try to distance himself from the Bush administration, of course he has to seem like he is only moderately conservative. That's how politics are played. Do what you have to do to sound appealing to voters during election season, and then do what you do once you're in office.

DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN, in Maryland or elsewhere (Pennsylvanians -- the same goes for you with this whole Lynn Swann mess)!! We are too smart to fall the banana in the tailpipe! These candidates want you to vote for them, not because you agree with them on the issues, but because their skin is the same color as yours. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS! These people are out of touch with what is important to black folks (perhaps growing up in San Mateo, CA, Swann was never in touch with what's important to black folks). Their tax cuts hurt social programs that benefit us. Their international policy kills our children in Iraq. Their reticence about or support of the death penalty, in a justice system that often fails black Americans, results in the inequal application of the death penalty against us.

Please get out and vote on Tuesday; however, vote for a candidate because you agree with his/her policy, not because they are black.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Failing Our Children: Get Off Your A## and Stop Being Lazy

I was at parent-teacher night at my daughter's middle school last week, and for the most part, the ignorance was kept at a minimum. However, as I was waiting to speak with my daughter's math teacher, I overheard the conversation he was having with the parents of one of her classmates. Apparently, the boy has an F in math, and had an F in the first reporting period also. I couldn't hear exactly what the mother was saying, but I could tell she was getting indignant with the teacher, and I could tell he was extremely frustrated; while the father sat there quietly, looking disinterested. I felt like smacking the "ish" out of both of them for being so damn ignorant.

Before questions about whether the white teacher was being fair to the black child arise, let me say that this teacher provides the parents with every opportunity to stay informed about their child's progress. Progress reports are sent home weekly; homework assignments are emailed to parents daily (or, if email is not an option, parents can call into the Homework Hotline to get homework assignments); and the teacher is readily available to provide extra one-on-one help to students before and after school.

Why is it that black folks think its okay to just send their kids to school, and do nothing to ensure that their children are performing at their best level? Teachers are there to provide our children with the information they need to be successful. Parents are there to act as advocates for our children to ensure their success. If we don't advocate for our kids, no one else will. We have to ensure that our kids are not only doing their homework, but doing it correctly. That means we have to take the time to check their homework. On any given weeknight, I spend at least 2 hours checking and helping my daughter with her homework.

I understand the difficulty associated with doing this in the many single-parent households in our community, being one of those single parents myself; however, we set our kids up for failure when we don't take an interest in how they are performing at school. This is where the importance of family, or some other support system comes into play. When I was having to work or go to school at night, I was fortunate to have family and friends who helped raise my child, including helping her with her homework.

It was just plain ignorant for that woman to be giving the math teacher a hard time for her son's failing grades. It was even more ignorant for the boy's father to be sittin' there looking like he couldn't care less how his child was doing. Unfortunately for this child, neither one of his parents appears to be engaged in his success, relying solely upon teachers to educate their child. These types of reticent attitudes need to change in order for our kids to avail themselves of the many opportunities presented to them.

By the way, this poor child also has an F in his science class, which I overheard as I was waiting to speak with the science teacher. His parents ought to be ashamed of themselves.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Black Women/White Men

Let me start off by saying that I am sick of the hypocrisy that is exhibited by black men. I recently read an article by a black man in which he admonishes black women who refer to the increasing numbers of black women dating white men as "revolutionary." The article itself is not hypocritical because the writer is consistent -- admonishing both black men and black women who date white people, but it raises some issues that I have with the subject.

The hypocrisy surfaces when black men criticize black women for dating white men, when the black men have either dated white women before (or are married to them), or when they don't consistently offer that same criticism to their brothas who date/are married to white women. I have heard it from black men on a number of occasions, including from black men who are married to white women -- they don't like it when they see a sista with a white guy.

My first response to that is -- WHAT??? My second response is: if so many black men weren't married to/dating white women, maybe there would be more options for sistas to date black men. The writer of the referenced article claims that the numbers of black men married to/dating white women is relatively low (he clearly has never visited Indianapolis, where it appears to be an epidemic); however, even those low numbers have an effect on the ability of sistas to date/marry a black man.

Here are some staggering statistics: generally, there are about 8 black men for every 10 black women, largely due to high rates of infant mortality and homicides. However, when you factor in drug addiction, incarceration and unemployment, the number of eligible (marriageable) black men is reduced to about 5 men for every 10 black eligible women. Yes, 5 black men for every 10 black women!!!

So as my friend would say, MISS ME with your hypocritical attitudes. Although dating white men is not my thing, I don't knock sistas for choosing to date white men rather than sit around and wait for a black man to become eligible.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Crabs in a Barrel



Sunday, September 17, 2006

Opening Our Eyes to the Crisis in Darfur

I promised someone a while ago that I would write an entry of the situation in Darfur. So the purpose of this post is to open everyone's eyes (if your eyes aren't already opened) to the crisis that is happening in Darfur, and hopefully to encourage everyone to do their part in putting an end to this crisis. Since 2003, it is estimated that more than 400,000 Darfurians have been killed, and another 2 million have been forced to flee their homes and are now refugees in Chad. If that's not enough, another 3.5 million people are completely dependent upon international aid to survive.

As background, the conflict in Darfur -- a region in western Sudan -- is between the Sudanese government-backed "Janjaweed" militia and two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. The purpose of the rebel movement is to compel the Sudanese government to address the underdevelopment and political marginalization of the region. In response, the Sudanese government's armed forces, together with the Janjaweed, have engaged in "ethnic cleansing" against civilians who are of the same ethnic background as the rebels. There have also been several targeted attacks against aid workers.

Similar to the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, the world's response to the genocide in Sudan has been slow, if it exists at all. The United Nations has not identified the conflict as "genocide," and is planning to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping mission in January, 2007. However, the U.N. has stated that it will only do so if the Sudanese government consents to the deployment. And although the U.S. has identified the conflict as "genocide," it continues to do nothing to stop this genocide. I guess Sudan doesn't have enough oil for the U.S. to give a damn.

So what can we do? To start, I suggest going to, to learn how you can contribute. Whether you buy a wristband or organize a local group to raise funds, PLEASE GET INVOLVED!!! And please encourage your friends and family to get involved. I also encourage you to post comments reflecting your opinions about the conflict, and also about how people can get involved. We can't rely on our government to look our for our people in Africa.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Guilty Pleasures: "Flava of Love"

Have you seen "Flava of Love?" It's sort of like "The Bachelor," but with Flava Flav as the available bachelor, and a bevy of strippers and wanna be actresses from which he can choose his mate. On the show, Flav is the flamboyant and crass character we all know him to be, who, at the end each show, tells the women to "crown around their man;" while the women constantly engage in backstabbing and cat fights in their efforts to win Flav's heart. It depicts every stereotype about black people, particularly about black women. In essence, it is a modern day minstrel show. Yet, I love it.

What does it mean, if anything, when a group of four professionals, all attorneys, sit around on their lunch break and discuss nothing but the latest drama from "Flava of Love?" Not politics or current events, but the buffoonery and entertainment that is "Flava of Love." This was the scene last week with me and three of my friends/colleagues. We sat around talking about the latest drama and gossip from the show, anticipating today's (Sunday's) episode when "New York" would be brought back from last season. (Those of you who follow the show understand what that means.)

I couldn't help but to think that by watching "Flava of Love," we were in some way validating the stereotypes that are portrayed on the show. That maybe we have a responsibility to the welfare of the black community to shun shows that depict us as buffoons (as so adequately stated by New York's mom last season -- who, by the way, will be back for more later this season) and slutty, foul-mouthed dancers. But then I thought, its just entertainment. One of those guilty pleasures that we enjoy watching, but are not necessarily proud that we watch. The women on the show are grown, so they're not being exploited. In fact, several of them are trying to exploit the show to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

Maybe that's just me trying to validate the fact that I am entertained by Flava Flav passing out clocks to women who he deems worthy of his company. Or maybe I am doing a disservice to the black community by supporting a show like that. Either way, I can't get enough of it.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Out of Control: AIDS in Black America

After watching ABC's special edition of Primetime last Thursday, "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America," I knew I had to write about it. If you missed it, you can click on this link to watch segments of it that have been posted on

You can also click on this link to view information about the segment from ABC's website:

To start, black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are at the highest risk of contracting HIV. To many of us, this is not news -- we've known this for years. But to see it brought to the national spotlight, with the depth of information that was revealed, was really poignant for me.

The segment tried to dissect the reasons why black women are at such high risk, highlighting several possibilities: the rates at which HIV is contracted in the prisons; the down-low ("DL") phenomenon; and a culture that idolizes misogyny. It also called out our religious leaders, Jesse Jackson and T.D. Jakes in particular, questioning them about why this discussion is not being had in the black church, considering that the church is the center of the black community; as well as pointing out how our stars (like Beyonce) go to Africa to raise awareness about AIDS over there, but don't do anything to address the issue at home.

Although there are many breakout discussions that could be had on the Primetime special, I specifically want to address the whole D.L. phenomenon.

I don't know about anyone else, but the D.L. is a topic that comes up OFTEN in my conversations with friends. Yes, we are all disgusted that some men choose the D.L. lifestyle -- not because they are gay, but because they put the health of their girlfriends and wives at risk. And yes, none of us understands how D.L. men can have sex with other men, and not consider themselves gay -- just because they give and don't receive. But what we don't talk about, and what was discussed in the Primetime special, is WHY D.L. men are on the D.L. in the first place.

As was discussed in the segment, and mentioned above, the black church is, and has been, the center of our communities. Because most churches teach that homosexuality is a sin, black folks are some of the most homophobic people in this country. As a result, being gay in the black community is not okay. We (not me personally, but "we" as a community) teach our kids that homosexuality is wrong and that God wants those who have homosexual desires to suppress them. But in reality, people who have a natural affinity cannot suppress those feelings or desires. They may be able to hide them for a period of time, but they can't flat out suppress them and act like they don't exist. (Just take a look at Donnie McClurkin, you can't tell me that he isn't gay!!!)

To me, this attempted suppression results in the D.L. phenomenon. Because our men are taught that it is wrong to be gay, they openly live heterosexual lives while they secretly sleep with other men. Several D.L. men interviewed by Primetime stated that they contracted HIV through their D.L. lifestyle, and that they transmitted the virus to their wives and girlfriends.

I think the black community needs to face the fact that some people are just gay -- whether you think it is wrong or not is immaterial. Homosexuality is NOT going away! Our women are under fire, and our homophobic beliefs are contributing to the problem! As long as we continue to teach our children that homosexuality is wrong, men will continue to live on the D.L., and will continue exposing their wives and girlfriends to HIV and other health risks.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Are Black Women Scaring Off Their Men?

This entry is based on an article titled "Are Black Women Scaring Off Their Men?" that has been circulating via email for some time now. The article allegedly was published in The Washington Post, but I cannot testify to its validity. Despite this, the article addresses some valid concerns in our community, and is worthy of discussion. If you have not read the article, I pasted it below for your reference. If you have read the article already, just scroll down past it.

[Are Black Women Scaring Off Their Men?
The Washington Post By: Joy Jones
Have you met this woman? She has a good job, works hard, and earns a good salary. She went to college, she got her master's degree; she is intelligent. She is personable, articulate, well read, interested in everybody and everything. Yet, she's single. Or maybe you know this one. Active in the church. Faithful, committed, sings in the choir, serves on the usher board, and attends everycommittee meeting. Loves the Lord and knows the Word. You'd think that with her command of the Scriptures and the respect of her church members, she'd have a marriage as solid as a rock. But again, no husband.

Or perhaps you recognize the community activist. She's a black lady, or, as she prefers, an African American woman, on the move. She sports A short natural; sometimes cornrow braids, or even dreadlocks. She's an organizer, a motivator, a dynamo. Her work for her people speaks for itself--organizing women for a self-help, raising funds for A community cause, educating others around a new issue in South Africa. Black folks look up to her, and white folks know she's a force to be reckoned with. Yet once again, the men leave her alone. What do these women have in common? They have so much; what is it they lack? Why is it they may be able to hook a man but can't hold him? The women puzzle over this quandary themselves. They gather at professional clubs, at sorority meetings or over coffee at the office and wonder what's wrong with black men? They hold special prayer vigils and fast and pray and beg Jesus to send the men back to church. They find the brothers attending political strategizing sessions or participating in protests but when it comes time to go home, the brothers go home to someone else. I know these women because I am all of these women. And after asking over and over again "What's wrong with these men?", it finally dawned on me to ask the question, "What's wrong with us women?" What I have found, and what many of these women have yet to discover, is that the skills that make one successful in the church, community or workplace are not the skills that make one successful in a relationship.

Linear thinking, self-reliance, structured goals and direct action assist one in getting assignments done, in organizing church or club activities or in positioning oneself for a raise, but relationship-building requires different skills. It requires making decisions that not only gratify you, but satisfy others. It means doing things that will keep the peace rather than achieve the goal, and sometimes it means creating the peace in the first place. Maintaining a harmonious relationship will not always allow you to take the straight line between two points. You may have to stoop to conquer or yield to win.

In too many cases, when dealing with men, you will have to sacrifice being right in order to enjoy being loved. Being acknowledged as the head of the household is an especially important thing for many black men, since their manhood is so often actively challenged everywhere else. Many modern women are so independent, so self-sufficient, so committed to the cause, to the church, to career or their narrow concepts that their entire personalities project an "I don't need a man" message. So they end up without one. An interested man may be attracted but he soon discovers that this sister makes very little space for him in her life. Going to graduate school is a good goal and an option that previous generations of blacks have not had. But sometimes the achieving woman will place her boyfriend so low on her list of priorities that his interest wanes. Between work, school and homework, she's seldom "there" for him, for the preliminaries that might develop a commitment to a woman. She's too busy to prepare him a home-cooked meal or to be a listening ear for his concerns because she is so occupied with her own. Soon he uses her only for uncommitted sex since to him she appears unavailable for anything else. Blind to the part she's playing in the problem, she ends up thinking, "Men only want one thing." And she decides she's better off with the degree than the friendship. When she's 45, she may wish she'd set different priorities while she was younger. It's not just the busy career girl who can't see the forest for the trees.

A couple I know were having marital troubles. During one argument, the husband confronted the wife and asked what she thought they should do about the marriage, what direction they should take. She reached for her Bible and turned to Ephesians. "I know what Paul says and I know what Jesus says about marriage," he told her, "What do you say about our marriage?" Dumbfounded, she could not say anything. Like so many of us, she could recite the Scriptures but could not apply them to everyday living. Before the year was out, the husband had filed for divorce. Women who focus on civil rights or community activism have vigorous, fighting spirits and are prepared to do whatever, whenever, to benefit black people. That's good. That's necessary. But it needs to be kept in perspective. It's too easy to save the world and lose your man.

A fighting spirit is important on the battlefield, but a gentler spirit is wanted on the home front. Too many women are winning the battle and losing the home. Sometimes in our determined efforts to be strong believers and hard workers, we contemporary women downplay, denigrate or simply forget our more traditional feminine attributes. Men value women best for the ways we are different from them, not the ways we are the same. Men appreciate us for our grace and beauty. Men enjoy our softness and see it as a way to be in touch with their tender side, a side they dare not show to other men. A hard-working woman is good to have on your committee. But when a man goes home, he'd prefer a loving partner to a hard worker.

It's not an easy transition for the modern black woman to make. It sounds submissive, reactionary, outmoded, and oppressive. We have fought so hard for so many things, and rightfully so. We have known so many men who were shaky, jive and untrustworthy. Yet we must admit that we are shaky, jive and willful in our own ways. Not having a husband allows us to do whatever we want, when and how we want to do it. Having one means we have to share the power and certain points will have to be surrendered. We are terrified of marriage and commitment, yet dread the prospect of being single and alone. Throwing ourselves into work seems to fill the void without posing a threat. But like any other drug, the escape eventually becomes the cage. To make the break, we need to do less and "be" more. I am learning to "be still and know," to be trusting. I am learning to stop competing with black men and to collaborate with them, to temper my assertive and aggressive energy with softness and serenity. I'm not preaching a philosophy of "women be seen and not heard." But I have come to realize that I, and many of my smart and independent sisters are out of touch with our feminine center and therefore out of touch with our men.

About a year ago, I was at an oldies-but-goodies club. As a Washingtonian, love to do the bop and to hand dance styles that were popular when I was a teen. In those dances, the man has his set of steps and the woman has hers, but the couple is still two partners and must move together. On this evening, I was sitting out a record when a thought came to me. If a man were to say, "I'm going to be in charge and you're going to follow. I want you to adjust your ways to fit in with mine" I'd dismiss him as a Neanderthal. With my hand on my hip, I'd tell him that I have just as much sense as he does and that he can't tell me what to do. Yet, on the dance floor, I love following a man's lead. I don't feel inferior because my part is different from his, and I don't feel I have to prove that I'm just as able to lead as he is. I simply allow him to take my hand, and I go with the flow.

I am still single. I am over 30 and scared. I am still a member of my church, have no plans to quit my good government job and will continue to do what I can for my people. I think that I have a healthy relationship with a good man. But today, I know that I have to bring some of that spirit of the dance into my relationship. Dancing solo, I've mastered that. Now I'm learning how to accept his lead, and to go with the flow.]

Although I understand what is being said in the article, I am still perplexed by the suggestion that black women -- in 2006 -- must cater to a man in order to keep him. I have had this conversation with several men before and its always the same thing. "A man needs to feel like a man." Well what exactly does that mean?? Will dinner on the table when you get home from work REALLY make you feel like a man? Or, will knowing that the bills that we incur from our dual-income lifestyle will be paid on time make you feel like a man? I hope the latter. And I would hope that black men would be able to appreciate that the paycheck I receive from my job -- which consequently makes me get home the same time as you, and sometimes later -- allows us to have a certain lifestyle, and allows us the ability to pay our bills on time.

I think it is extremely hypocritical for men to complain about gold-digging women, or women who only want them for their "paper," and then to turn around and shun the women who are doing it for themselves. As I have told men in the past, the same characteristics that provide me the ability to be financially self-sufficient -- or, Notta Golddigger -- are the same characteristics they don't like at home. You can't have it both ways. If you want a submissive woman, then marry someone who will be financially dependent upon you.

As an unmarried, professional black woman, I take offense to the notion that I can go into a courtroom and aggressively argue my case on behalf of my client, and then I'm expected to go home and cook dinner for my man? I had a hard day at work too; why can't he cook for me? Why can't he listen to my concerns? Why can't we have a mutual respect for the time we each have to devote to work? So many questions, so few answers. Somebody talk to me.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Buying Black: The Problems We Have Building Wealth Within Our Community

After an unannounced week-long hiatus (my bad!), I'm back and I'm wondering, when was the last time you patroned a black-owned business? When was the last time you made it a point to seek out a black person to perform a service that you need (i.e., plumber, painter, doctor, lawyer, etc.)? Chances are that you, like the majority of black folks, do not make it a point to find a black person when you are trying to spend money. This is why black folks, unlike other racial/nationality groups, have been seemingly unable to build wealth within our own community.

Black folks spend over $650 billion in the general marketplace (statistic provided courtesy of The African-American Connection, a website designed to encourage spending within the black community --, but how much of that money do we actually keep in our communities? The answer is very little. We are more likely to give our money to everybody else BUT us. THIS MUST CHANGE!!!! Where possible, I always try to find a black person with whom I can spend my money. For instance, both my daughter and I have black doctors and a black dentist. However, I am only one person, and cannot do it alone. We must ALL do it to really effect change.

Playing devil's advocate, I have heard the complaint (and am guilty of making it also) that black businesses tend to be unprofessional in how they deal with their customers, and our frustration with that deters us from using black businesses in the future. However, I'm sure we've all had bad experiences with non-black businesses also; so its really not fair for us to hold black folks to a higher standard. I can understand if you don't want to use that particular business anymore, but I'm sure you can find another black-owned business that can do a good job.

If you look at other communities, namely Jewish and Asian communities, they do a superb job of keeping wealth "in the family." Many times, they almost exclusively use services or buy goods from their own. They are also quick to seek and offer referrals to each other to maintain the wealth within their communities. I understand that these groups differ from us in that they willingly came to this country to benefit from its opportunities, but at some point we have to stop making excuses and just make it happen.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Wannabes vs. The Jigaboos II - Colorism in Dating

Because last week's topic was so popular, I thought I'd continue this week, just with a different angle. As an extension of the discussion of colorism and its effects on the black community as a whole, this week we'll focus on how colorism affects the way some of us date.

I've often heard darker-skinned black men say they prefer dating light-skinned women. I've also heard light-skinned women say they prefer dating darker-skinned men -- even I have been guilty of that before, although I have dated light-skinned men in the past. I've even heard of darker-skinned women wanting to have a baby by a light-skinned man, so their baby can have "pretty skin" and "pretty hair."

As silly as all this may sound, its definitely real. As was discussed last week, black folks are known for differentiating themselves based on the tone of their skin. But it becomes something different when we start preferring a shade of skin that is not our own. To me, its a form of self-hate. A dark-skinned person who only dates light-skinned people clearly has a problem with his or her own skin color; and the same is true of light-skinned folks who only date dark-skinned folks -- although there is really no negative stigmatism attached to the latter. I guess its okay for black folks to want to be blacker, but not lighter.

I think this preference, especially dark-skinned men who only date light-skinned women, further divides the black community. Sometimes if I am out with a dark-skinned man, sistas look at me like I might as well be a white chick, taking away one of their chocolate prospects. I really take offense to that because I'm not white, I'm black, just a different shade of black than them.

To take it a step further, I think the problem is further exacerbated by black men who think that any woman who is light-skinned with long hair is cute. I've heard brothas make flattering comments about light-skinned women who were clearly not that cute (not to be hater or anything, but let's be real), and when asked what they like about these women, the answer is always that she is light-skinned with long hair. Whereas I've also heard comments like, "She's cute for a dark-skinned girl."

I realize that these issues with self-hate stem from problems that probably run deep into childhood, but again, I just think its silly that we continue to perpetuate the white man's ideology that "lighter is better," and that we allow ourselves to be divided as a result.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Wannabes vs. The Jigaboos: The Different Shades of Black

Remember the memorable scene from "School Daze" when the Wannabes and the Jigaboos sounded off against one another in West Side Story fashion?

"You're just a jig-a-boo, tryin' to find somethin' to do!"

"Well, you're a wanna-be, wanna be better than me!"

Classic. For those of you who have never seen "School Daze," first, where have you been? Go rent it and watch it -- it's classic black cinema. Second, the Wannabes were the pretty, light-skinned, long-haired, economically well-off women; while the Jigaboos were the dark-skinned, militant, politically and socially conscious women. That scene from "School Daze" forever memorialized the tensions that exist within the black community: light vs. dark. "Colorism," as it is called, is the practice of placing value on skin tone.

What are the origins of Colorism? There are several theories, many stemming from slavery; however, they typically reach the same conclusion -- the assumption that light-skinned folks receive better treatment than their dark-skinned counterparts. As a person from the light-skinned group, of course I have to disagree with that contention. But perhaps I'm biased.

Whatever the origin of Colorism, I often wonder why it still exists. I remember while in law school a comment was made about me that went something like this: "She's always trying to straighten her hair!" HUH? I don't get it. Was that person implying that I'm trying to be white by straightening my hair, or that I'm trying to be black? Either way, I don't understand the relevance. Being light-skinned doesn't give us some sort of "free pass" into white society. Trust me, white folks still see us as ni_ _ers.

Have you ever noticed how some of the most militant black folks are light-skinned? Most people don't understand how this happens, so let me try to explain why I think this is, at least from my perspective. We (the light-skinned folks, that is) spend our entire lives being questioned about our "blackness" by dark-skinned people. This comes about in many ways, some subtle, some not so subtle. I know growing up (and to some extent even now), dark-skinned girls assumed that because I was light-skinned I was weak. Again, those of you who know me know that I don't back down from a challenge. (That comment is in no way intended to promote using violence to solve problems!) :) Anyway, you get what I'm saying. We spend our lives defending the tone of our skin to our own people. So yes, at times we end up being more militant than the average person.

Just like the problems that exist between white and black, I think Colorism will always exist within the black community -- unfortunately. However, we have to understand that Colorism only makes it easier for white folks to divide the black community.

Part of the beauty of black people is that we come in all different shades. Embrace it, love it and stop the hate. If by chance the sista girl who made that ridiculous comment about me in law school reads this, here are my comments to you: stop encouraging division within the black community; and don't hate the playa, hate the game.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is School Desegregation All It Was Cracked Up To Be?

We all know that the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, integrated schools in this country. Prior to that decision, schools were segregated by race: white and black. White schools had more resources than black schools, which translated to the belief that white students had more opportunities than black students. Thus, leading black Americans turned to the courts, with the best of intent, to give African-Americans the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

But has desegregation really served the purpose it was intended to serve? A half a century later, are our children really reaping the benefits of integration? Sadly, I have to answer in the negative.

First, integration brought with it the loss of thousands of professional jobs for African-Americans, those of the teachers and principals of the formerly segregated black schools. Consequently, our children suffer because they do not see people who look like them in positions of power at school.

Second, the public school systems in most major metropolitan areas are still segregated, just not by legal mandate. As more and more of the white population conduct mass exodus to the suburbs, and those who do not move to the suburbs send their kids to private schools, most urban schools are filled with children whose families cannot afford to move to the suburbs or send them to private schools -- mostly black, and now, Hispanic children. And because the suburbs bring in more tax money and spend less on city services than the inner-city, suburban children end up having access to resources and opportunities that urban children do not have.

Additionally, just because a black child attends a suburban, or more privileged school, does not mean that child will do any better than their urban counterparts. Black children in mostly white suburban schools face a different set of problems than black children in urban schools, including racial and testing bias. For instance, in suburban schools that utilize "tracking" systems -- better known as advanced placement, gifted and talented, or the honors program -- black children are consistently underrepresented in the higher tracks because of a history of discrimination in education.

So what is the answer? I don't know that legally-mandated resegregation -- where black children are taught by black teachers -- is the answer to our problems, but the status quo is having a detrimental effect on our children.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why You Gotta Act Like That?

Have you ever been out shopping and come across some black folks who are extremely rude for no reason? Or, have you ever experienced black folks acting like they've never been anywhere before? Fresh off vacation, I came back wondering why some black folks feel the need to be rude and obnoxious to people for absolutely no reason at all.

While I was on vacation, I went shopping in an area where a lot of cruise ships dock -- which brought a large influx of black folks to the area. While in one of the stores, I saw several black folks being loud and obnoxious, and acting rude to both sales associates and other customers. It's really embarrassing to me, because inevitably, people will attribute that behavior to all of us.

For instance, I remember being in Miami some years back. The weekend prior to my being there was Memorial Day weekend, which is a huge "Black" weekend in Miami. I remember getting into cabs and the cab drivers saying things like they couldn't believe I was being nice to them, and they were so happy the Memorial Day weekend festivities had ended because the people were extremely rude to them. Sadly, the cab drivers expected that because I was black, I would be rude to them just like the others were.

Why do some black folks act like they don't have any home training? I don't get it. For whatever reason, I always thought that black folks had more home training than everyone else; but that belief is seriously in question.

Maybe I'm just holding black folks to a higher standard, or maybe some black folks really haven't been anywhere and don't realize their behavior is rude and obnoxious. Either way, it's still embarrassing to me.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Just Because It Comes In Your Size, Doesn't Mean You Should Buy It.

After spending Sunday at the amusement park, and getting home at 11:00 p.m. -- with a full day of work ahead Monday -- I decided this week's entry will be a little more lighthearted than some of my recent entries.

Like I said, I spent Sunday at the amusement park, riding rides, eating good -- and unhealthy -- food, hanging with my friends, and of course, people watching. And of course there were a lot of people wearing things they had no business wearing, which was magnified due to the fact that the amusement part has an adjoining water park. And although I didn't see too many black folk in the wrong on Sunday, black folk (and other folk) have been known for wearing clothes that don't necessarily complement their body types.

There are certain things I don't want to see when I go out. Among them are cellulite on the backs of thighs; guts peeking out from underneath shirts, as if they are in search of freedom; and breasts resting upon stomachs. Yuck, yuck and yuck!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting people for not having perfect bodies -- because I know mine ain't all that. All I'm saying is KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS!!!!! Just because it comes in your size doesn't mean you should buy it, let alone wear it. And just because you may be comfortable enough with your body to rock that mini with the low-cut midriff -- despite the fact that you are 5'2" and 200 lbs -- doesn't mean you should subject the rest of us to the resulting mess. Hell, I may be comfortable walking around butt naked, but that doesn't mean I would do it. God forbid I subject anyone to THAT mess!


Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Juneteenth?

Today, June 19, 2006, is a Texas holiday called Juneteenth. For you non-Texans who may not be familiar with this holiday, I'll elaborate. The Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in this country, became effective on January 1, 1863. However, due to the lack of union soldiers in Texas, life in the lone star state remained unchanged, with slavery continuing beyond that date. It was not until June 19, 1865 that union soldiers finally showed up in Galveston and Texas slaves learned that they had been freed some two and one-half years earlier. Juneteenth was officially established as a Texas-state holiday in 1979.

Juneteenth elicits celebrations and festivals all across the state of Texas. Church and community groups -- sometimes dressed like slaves -- put on performances, and have cookouts and barbecues to commemorate the late emancipation of Texas slaves. All-in-all, Juneteenth is a big deal in Texas.

I have never felt strongly about Juneteenth one way or the other, but I wonder, should we really be CELEBRATING the fact that black folks in Texas were forced to be slaves for two and one-half years longer than black folks in the rest of the country? If anything, shouldn't the descendants of those freed by Juneteenth be seeking reparations for the two and one-half years of free labor their ancestors performed?

Don't get me wrong -- I recognize and appreciate the resilience that it took (and is taking) to bounce back from realizing that you were enslaved during a period when you didn't have to be; however, I think black folks with roots in Texas should be doing more than just pulling out the grill and slapping some meat on it.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Save the Verbal Assault for Your Lyrics, and Stop Dissin' Oprah!!!

I am sure you have all heard by now that some hip hop artists have openly "dissed" Oprah for not inviting rappers to appear as guests on her show. Ice Cube, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and Killer Mike (WHO?) have all publicly made comments -- some more harsh than others -- criticizing Oprah for her lack of support to the hip hop community.

50 was quoted saying he thinks she caters to older white women. According to 50, "Oprah's audience is my audience's parents. So, I could care less about Oprah or her show." Cube said, "[s]he's had damn rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show," and then complained that Oprah invited Cedric the Entertainer and Eve to her show to promote Barber Shop, but didn't invite him. Ludacris complained that he was treated "unfairly" by Oprah when he appeared with the cast of "Crash" on her show. "She edited out a lot of my comments while keeping her own in," said the man with hoes in every area code. Killer Mike (again, WHO?) called the queen of daytime television a "dumb broad."

There is so much to which I can respond, so where do I start? Well first, the name of the show is "The Oprah Winfrey Show." With that said, when Cube, Luda, or 50 (I won't even address Killer Mike because no one even knows who he is) has their own show, they can invite whomever they want to invite. Until then, get over it. Oprah is not here to ensure the popularity and success of the hip hop community, or of any of the individually-named rappers who have spoken publicly against her. It's ironic that all of these rappers, from Cube to 50, have gained vast amounts of wealth by promoting lyrics that are derogatory to black women, and then now want the most powerful black woman to bow down and show respect for what they do. Such hypocrisy.

In a statement to Ed Lover on a New York radio station, Oprah dispelled the rumors that she doesn't like hip hop, informing Ed that she has some 50 on her iPod. I too am a fan of hip hop, but seriously, these guys need to grow up, show some maturity, and realize that Oprah doesn't owe them any handouts.

--Notta (a fan of Oprah who is not an older white woman)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What's the Big Deal About Gay Marriage?

So gay people want to get married. What is the big deal? Amid the ongoing problems this country has faced since Katrina, and the death and destruction of our military overseas, President Bush is pushing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. However, surprisingly or not, many black folks -- specifically, the black church -- support Bush in his efforts.

According to a 2004 Washington Post article, "opposition to same-sex marriage in the black church may influence black voting in the presidential election. A survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies showed that 18 percent of black Americans say they support President Bush, who has said he would support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage."

I have had this debate with many people, including some in my own family, and I am always disappointed to hear them constantly refer to the Bible as their source for condemning gay relationships. First, the Bible does not say anything about same-sex marriage. Someone please correct if I am wrong. Second, people -- black and white -- love to refer to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as the pinnacle anti-gay passage in the Bible. But why do black folks think it is okay to give the Bible such a strict, plain meaning interpretation? If the courts gave the U.S. Constitution the same strict, plain meaning interpretation, black folks would still be only three-fifths of human beings and enslaved, as the drafters of the Constitution intended. However, the courts have recognized -- very slowly -- that the Constitution has evolved over time, and it has a different interpretation now than it did back then. Likewise, I think Christians need to realize that the Bible is a living and breathing document that must evolve over time. I cannot understand why people are so against gay relationships and marriage. I cannot see how those relationships in any way affect the lives of heterosexuals. I am sure many people with disagree with me, and I urge you to post your comments. Intelligent disagreement is better than no discussion at all. But answer me this: how does the marriage of two same-sex people jeopardize the state of marriage between heterosexual people?

Focusing on gay marriage rather than the deaths of our soldiers and the people left homeless by Katrina? At least we have our priorities straight.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tired Black Man?

***To gain perspective into this entry, you must have first viewed the video being referenced. If you have not received an email titled "Tired Black Man," and have not viewed the video contained therein, please click here before reading any further.***

Tired black man? Hmmm. He's right, he is tired, just not in the way he thinks. He's tired because he just perpetuates the stereotype that black women are angry and bitter. He's tired because he perpetuates that stereotype without considering the wrongs black women have suffered (and continue to suffer) at the hands of black men. He's tired because he thinks his worth is based on the financial security he has provided for his family, rather than the emotional support that his family really needs.

The website says, "Now It's Black Men's Turn To Exhale." Like I've said in the past, I love black men, but ya'll can be some of the most dense people on earth. As I have had to explain to many a man in the past, "Waiting to Exhale" was not a movie with four black women bashing black men. Rather, it focused on the bad decisions that women make in life, including their bad decisions about men. So perhaps our "Tired Black Man" is just tired because he keeps picking the wrong women.

To the "Tired Black Man" and all the men out there who are like him, it sounds like YOU are the ones who are bitter. It sounds like you are trying to pawn off your poor judgment and bad decision-making skills on women, rather than taking accountability for your own actions.

By the way -- before the comments start -- unlike the sistas in the video, I DO have a man.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

"What's Up Ni@@a?" -- Double Standards in Racial Slurs

"Nigger - a black man with a slavery chain around his neck; Nigga - a black man with a gold chain on his neck."
--Tupac Shakur's distinction between "Nigger" and "Nigga," as cited by Wikipedia, the free online dictionary.

I CRINGE when I hear black folks use the term "nigga" in the presence of white people. I cringe because I know that by hearing black folks openly use and accept that word, white folks will think it is okay for them to use it. However, I will admit that I too have been guilty of using this word, but only in the comfort of my friends (not all black people -- just my friends). Does it make it any better to use the term "nigga" when white folks are not around, or does it make me -- and others like me -- hypocrites?

Whenever I use the word, I am usually telling a story, and referencing some ignorant person in the story. It's not that I purposely say it, or on the flipside, that I consciously try not to say it, but it just seems to flow as the best way to describe the level of ignorance of certain people. I am not necessarily saying that it is okay for me to use that word while in the company of my friends; however, I do think there is a distinct difference between that, and between using the term "nigga" openly and freely among white people. I know, based on experience, that white folks WILL take the liberty to use that word -- and more importantly, to think it is okay to use that word -- once they have heard a black person use it in his/her daily conversation, a comedian use it during a performance, or in rap lyrics.

Unfortunately, the Hip-Hop community shoulders much of the responsibility for widespread acceptability of "nigga." In a show about the TV series "Black.White" -- where a white family and a black family "swapped" lives, Oprah told a story about being in Africa, and being called a "Nigga" by an African man. When told the use of that word was inappropriate, the man told her that based upon the lyrics in rap music, he thought that is how all African-Americans referred to themselves, and shockingly, what they want to be called.

Black folks -- STOP SAYING THE WORD "NIGGA"AROUND WHITE PEOPLE!!!!!!!! Stop speaking so loudly at restaurants and other public places, to the point where white folks all around you can hear you refer to your boys as "niggas." I suppose that we all should try to refrain from using the word altogether, but in the meantime, we really need to curb our willingness to say it so freely in public. As long as we continue to do so, we can expect that white folks will think it is okay to refer to us as "niggas."

Call me a hypocrite, but that's just my honest opinion.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Expiration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- Is Our Right to Vote in Jeopardy?

The short answer to that question is: no, our right to vote is not in jeopardy, per se. However, certain provisions of the landmark Act are set to expire in 2007, which could potentially affect our ability to vote if the implementation of discriminatory practices is allowed. Specifically, Sections 5, 6, 9 and 203 are set to expire. Here's a quick breakdown of each section:
  • Section 5 -- Applies to any state or county where a discriminatory test or device was used as of November 1, 1964, and where less than 50 percent of the voting age residents of the jurisdiction were registered to vote, or actually voted, in the presidential election of 1964, 1968, or 1972 (about 16 states altogether). Requires these states to submit proposed changes to any voting law or procedure to the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C for pre-approval, to prevent those states with prior discriminatory practices from instituting future discriminatory practices.
  • Section 203 -- Applies to communities with voters in at least one of four language groups -- American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and those of Spanish heritage -- if (1) more than 5% of the voting-age citizens in a jurisdiction belong to a single language minority community and have limited English proficiency (LEP); OR (2) more than 10,000 voting-age citizens in a jurisdiction belong to a single language minority community and are LEP; AND (3) the illiteracy rate of the citizens in the language minority is higher than the national illiteracy rate (affects jurisdictions across 31 states). Requires these jurisdictions to make language assistance available at polling locations for citizens with limited English proficiency.
  • Sections 6 and 9 -- Gives the Justice Department the ability to send observers and monitors around the country during election season to protect election-related civil rights.

To find out if your state or jurisdiction is one affected by these expiring sections, click here:

Whether or not your state is one affected by this, black folks need to pay attention to the possibility that these sections could possibly expire. ANY depletion of voting rights for ANYONE, or of the mechanisms that keep this process fair, is a bad trend for everyone -- not just those directly affected by the expiring provisions.

Black folks -- TAKE ACTION!!!!!! Click on this link to find out how your voice can be heard:

Congress needs to know that we won't sit by quietly while our right to vote, and to do so in a manner that lacks discrimination, is being chipped away!!!!!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

You Drive A Benz, But You Live With Your Momma????

Have you ever met someone whose priorities are, let's say, a little out of whack? For instance, take the guy with the phat ride (I really don't say things like "phat ride," but I thought it was appropriate here) -- decked out in 22's, chrome package, luxury sound, with chinchilla seats -- who lives with his momma. Or, there's the female who wears all the latest designer clothing, carries only Gucci and Louis Vuitton purses, and always has the latest pair of Manolo's in her closet, which happens to be inside her apartment.

What do the people in these two scenarios have in common? They have both fallen victim to a lack of priorities. Instead of focusing on long-term financial goals, they focus on depreciable material things, so they can look like they have money when they really do not. I'm sure most, if not all, of the women reading this have been approached by that guy -- living with his momma, but trying to impress you with material things. Just like I'm sure the men reading this have met women who appear to have it all together -- always dressed to a T -- until you find out their finances are a mess. Unfortunately, this epidemic infects many, many, many folks in the black community. And although some people like to characterize this behavior as irresponsible, I think it runs deeper than most people think.

We all know that systemic racism has historically inhibited the earning potential of black folks in this country, which results in many black folks growing up poor, or without much money. They are never taught what it means to save or invest money, or to use credit wisely, because their parents never did any of those things. Schools, especially those in urban areas, typically don't provide education on these types of things because they are too busy teaching their students to take standardized tests (especially now, courtesy of Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act"). Thus, naturally, when these same people get a little money in their pockets, they want to indulge themselves with the material things they were deprived of as children, rather than invest or save their money.

So where are our children supposed to learn how to be fiscally responsible, if their parents and their schools fail them in that regard? The answer to that is they don't learn it, which results in the guy with the "phat ride" parked at his momma's house. I guess the question really should be: how do we break that cycle? Honestly, I don't know the answer to that, so I'm hoping someone out there in blogger-land can share their thoughts on this topic with the rest us.

In the meantime, I'll say this to both the men and women who are victims of this epidemic: it is not attractive for you to act like you have something you don't. Get your finances together, and invest in some appreciable assets before you go spending all your money on rims and accessories.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

White Privilege: The Benefit of Being White When Accused of Rape

Imagine this: Three black members of an HBCU's football team are accused of raping a white woman. The police issue a search warrant two days later, and subject the entire team to DNA tests. Meanwhile, the players/suspects roam free on the streets. Sounds good, but its not likely to go down that way given those facts. Now let's switch it up a little. The players/suspects are white members of a prestigious university's mostly white lacrosse team, and the victim is a black woman. Does this change the outcome? Sadly, it does.

This is the story from Duke University that has made national headlines. A black woman has accused three members of Duke University's lacrosse team of rape. The alleged incident occurred on March 13, 2006, and the victim reported the incident in the early morning hours of March 14. Two days later, the police obtained a search warrant for the house where the alleged incident occurred, finding several items the victim stated were in the house. Also on March 16, 46 of the team's 47 members (the lone black team member was ruled out as a suspect because, well, he's black) submitted to DNA tests. Those results are expected to be out this week. Meanwhile, Duke's lacrosse team continued to play two games (on March 18 and March 21) before forfeiting two games. Finally, on April 5, the University cancelled the remainder of the team's schedule this season.

With the DNA results coming out this week, I felt it appropriate to discuss this issue. I can't say whether or not a rape actually occurred (well, I can, but that's not the point of this discussion); but I can say, with some certainty, that the story would be different if the suspects were black, and if the victim was white. We already have evidence of that; remember The Scottsboro Boys and Emmett Till (and Emmett Till was only accused of whistling at a white woman, not raping one)? Yes, those events may have occurred at a time when racism was more tangible and visible than it is now, but I think too many of us become complacent because we don't see as many outright acts of racism as we used to.

White privilege, which I think helps to explain why the members of this lacrosse team continue to walk the streets (specifically, the three members the victim identified by name), IS racism. Let's say it again: WHITE PRIVILEGE IS RACISM. And although many white folks like to claim that white privilege is nonexistent, we know -- or should know -- different.

Along with the rest of the country, I am interested to find out the results of the DNA tests. In the meantime, I can only continue to wonder how this story would differ if a white woman accused black students at North Carolina Central University of rape.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Marriage Is for White People

"Ain't nothing going on but the rent. You got to have a J.O.B., if you want to be with me. No romance without finance." Remember that 1986 song by Gwen Guthrie? At that time, black women generally needed the black man's earning potential to sustain their families. We all remember that back in the day, it was the black man's role to be the "breadwinner" in the family, and that many times, women married -- or stayed in dysfunctional marriages -- because they couldn't afford to be alone. Oh my, how times have changed.

Like last week, this week's entry discusses another article that circulated via email last week. The article, titled "Marriage Is for White People," addresses the low marriage rates for black people, as compared to people of other racial groups. The article also states some very interesting statistics that support this phenomenon:

  • African-Americans have the lowest rate of marriage of any racial group in the U.S.
  • 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites.
  • African-American women are the least likely in our society to marry.
  • In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent.
  • A black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today.

The author attributes these statistics to her observation that "black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field." She continues by stating, "as men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn't bring much to the table."

WOW, it's like deja vu. I feel like I've had this very conversation with several of my girlfriends before, and this article has sparked more conversation (and more opinions) about the subject. Personally, I can definitely relate to the author's observations. When I was in my early to mid 20's, I was much more willing to settle down than I am now. As I look back, I can objectively say that back then, I was probably looking for someone to provide me with stability -- not to make me rich, but to make me feel safe and secure. As I have gotten older, and accomplished more in my life, my standards in men have changed. As the article states, "Women's expectations have changed dramatically while men's have not changed much at all..." "Women now say, 'Providing is not enough. I need more partnership.'" The author also states, "Most single black women over the age of 30 whom I know would not mind getting married, but acknowledge that the kind of man and the quality of marriage they would like to have may not be likely, and they are not desperate enough to simply accept any situation just to have a man."

Those comments really resonate with me because I can relate to them. Financially, I'm pretty self-sufficient, so I don't need a man to provide that type of security for me. Rather, I need a man to be my friend, my confidant, and my partner, as the article states. Personally, I feel like black women have stepped up their game, and are bringing a lot more to the table; whereas black men really have not done the same. Instead of just bringing financial support to the table, black men need to realize that they need to bring emotional support to the table as well.

Perhaps some of these attitudes toward marriage cause, or are caused by, the information related in last week's entry about the state of the black man. Either way, I think it is a topic worth discussing, and I look forward to your comments.

If you have not read the article, click here to access it:


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Plight Deepens for Black Men: A Review of the Infamous NY Times Article

I am sure most, if not all of you have read the NY Times article that spread like wildfire across the country last week. The article, titled "Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn," paints a dire and desperate picture of the state of the black man in America. The statistics referenced in the article are not only shocking, but are extremely disheartening and hurtful. Here are some examples:
  • More than half of all black men in the inner city do not finish high school.
  • In 2004, 72% of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless -- which includes those unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated.
  • About half of all black men in their late 20's and early 30's who did not go to college are noncustodial fathers.
  • Among black dropouts in their late 20's, more are in prison on a given day -- 34% -- than are working -- 30% (based on a 2000 census study).

The article, along with scholars who studied the phenomenon, attribute these staggering statistics to "terrible schools, absent parents, racism, the decline in blue collar jobs and a subculture that glorifies swagger over work." There are a myriad of different conversations to be held on this topic, but I think the breakdown of the black family is at the forefront of these issues.

As the article states, the crack epidemic of the 80's led to a steep climb in the incarceration of black men. Consequently, the sons of those incarcerated (along with the sons of those who were addicted to crack) were left fatherless. Inevitably, those boys have grown into men, without the benefit of having had a father, or some other positive black male role model around, to SHOW them how to be men. And herein starts the cycle of desperation and despair that will continue to infect our families if we don't change something.

Additionally, the article cites stricter enforcement of child support laws as a "special factor" that contributes to this "deepening plight" of the black man. "Improved collection of money from absent fathers has been a pillar of welfare overhaul. But the system can leave young men feeling overwhelmed with debt and deter them from seeking legal work, since a large share of any earnings could be seized." The article goes on to say that child support obligations "amount to a tax on earnings" to these black fathers. This mindset evidences the problems that arise when fathers are absent in the lives of their sons. Boys who grow up without fathers will more than likely grow into men who shun their parental responsibilities.

So where does the cycle start, and where does it end? Ideally, of course, black men would take care of, and serve as role models to their sons -- positively impacting their sons' lives by teaching them what it takes to be a man. However, reality is where the old African proverb -- "It takes a village to raise a child" -- comes into play. It is incumbent upon the black men who have overcome the odds to serve as role models to the throngs of young black men growing up fatherless. It just takes one person to positively impact a young man's life, and to show him another way of life.

Too many times, black men "make it" and don't look back. They take care of their families and pursue their careers, but they don't reach back into their old neighborhoods to serve as role models. THIS HAS TO CHANGE before there will be any hope for our young black men to overcome the odds facing them, and before they can learn how to be men. The cycle must be broken. And sadly, because we cannot rely upon the absent fathers of these young black men to break the cycle, successful black men (successful in the sense of "overcoming," not just financial) must step in to serve as role models.

If you haven't read the article, click here to read it:


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

This post is fairly simple and straightforward in that it consists only of a story and a lesson. The title probably makes you think this entry is about father-less children, but it is not. Please read on...

I was in Chicago most of last week for a conference. My last night in town, which happened to be St. Patrick's Day, some friends and I went to the Funky Buddha to hang out. Directly across the street from the Funky Buddha is an Irish bar. (I'm sure you can tell where this is going by now.) As my girl Renee, one of her old co-workers Ben, and I made our way past the Irish bar as we walked to Ben's car, a group of white people walked out of the Irish bar. As we walked through this group of white people, one of the drunk white guys says to me, in a very nasty and condescending tone, "Are you a mulatto -- Who's your daddy?" As if to imply that he had just finished raping my black mother. Ben immediately turned around and asked, "What the hell did you just say?" I immediately turned around and asked, "What did you say to me?" One of the white women in their group (who clearly had issues with this guy already) points to him and literally screams "You're a disgrace!!" (Although it wasn't quite clear whether she was referring to his inappropriate comments or something that happened earlier.) The guy back peddles a little at that point and says we just walked into the middle of a bad situation. Ben then encouraged us to move on as that situation was not going to get any better.

Okay, seriously, who says that to someone? The three of us, still stunned by the comments, went to breakfast and had a good laugh about it. However, it's really not funny at all, and is in fact very sad. It's 2006. Yes, 2006, and white folks still think it is okay to make comments like that to black folks.

Quick history lesson courtesy of Ben. The origin of the word "mulatto" is from the Spanish and Portuguese word "mula," which means "mule." And as Ben pointed out, a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. The fact that white folks (not all, I know there are exceptions) think it is okay to refer to me as a mulatto, and then ask who's my daddy, is a problem.

So that's the story. The lesson is this: Don't sleep. Racism is alive and well. Many white folks may be able to mask their racism most of the time, but trust that it is embedded in the back of their heads, and only takes some liquor to bring it out.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Black Folks and the Oscars

During the week after Three 6 Mafia's history making Best Original Song Oscar win for "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp," I spoke to several people who took issue with Hollywood's acceptance and acknowledgment of that song -- which they felt glorified pimp life -- as Oscar-worthy. Those conversations led to conversations about how Hollywood has acknowledged (or failed to acknowledge) African-Americans in the movie industry in the past.

Many black folks nationwide, not just my friends, expressed embarrassment, anger, surprise, and a whole litany of other sentiments over Hollywood's "limited" acceptance of African-Americans. "Limited" in the sense that they believe that Hollywood only acknowledges the work of black folks when they play crooked cops (Denzel in Training Day), sex-craved widows who sleep with the white men who pulled the trigger on their husband's electric chair (Halle in Monster's Ball), and chauffeurs to old, cranky white ladies (Morgan in Driving Miss Daisy). However, I had to disagree with many of those comments, simply because black folks have won Oscars for good roles also (i.e., Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field; Louis Gossett, Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman; and Jamie Foxx in Ray).

Although I completely understand where these folks are coming from, I have to caution us from being SOOOOOO critical of the Oscars. We have to keep in mind that not all white folks who have won Oscars were playing the good guy-type roles. (Consider Sean Penn in Mystic River [where he played a thug], and Charlize Theron in Monster [where she played a serial killer]). So we can't expect that all black folks who win Oscars are going to be playing "desirable" roles. I think we have to take it for what it is, which is another honor for a black actor (or black songwriter), and another barrier broken. However, I will agree that black actors are not given opportunities to perform in Oscar winning-type roles; which of course contributes to the low numbers of African-American Oscar winners. (Let's be real, we know we're not winning any Oscars for Soul Plane or Booty Call!!!)

I included the list of African-American Oscar winners below for your reference. As for Three 6 Mafia, I agree, it probably is hard out there for a pimp. It's hard out there for all of us. I could write a song about how hard it is out there for a lawyer, but it probably wouldn't get much air play, let alone an Oscar nod. So I salute Three 6 Mafia for writing the first rap song to break the Oscar barrier.


African-American Oscar Winners:

  • Hattie McDaniel, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Gone With the Wind (1939).
  • James Baskett, Honorary Award "for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world in Walt Disney's Song of the South" (1946). [awarded at the 1948 Academy Awards Ceremony]
  • Sidney Poitier, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Lilies of the Field (1963).
  • Isaac Hayes, Best Music, Original Song for "Theme from Shaft" from Shaft (1971).
  • Louis Gossett, Jr., Best Actor in a Supporting Role for An Officer and a Gentleman (1982).
  • Irene Cara, Best Music, Original Song for "Flashdance...What a Feeling" from Flashdance (1983).
  • Prince, Best Music, Original Song Score for Purple Rain (1984).
  • Stevie Wonder, Best Music, Original Song for "I Just Called to Say I Loved You" from The Woman in Red (1984).
  • Lionel Richie, Best Music, Original Song for "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights (1985).
  • Herbie Hancock, Best Music, Original Score for 'Round Midnight (1986).
  • Denzel Washington, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Glory (1989).
  • Whoopi Goldberg, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Ghost (1990).
  • Cuba Gooding, Jr., Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Jerry Maguire (1996).
  • Halle Berry, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Monster's Ball (2001).
  • Denzel Washington, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Training Day (2001).
  • Sidney Poitier, Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award "for his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence." [awarded at the 2001 Academy Awards Ceremony]
  • Jamie Foxx, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Ray (2004).
  • Morgan Freeman, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Religion and Politics -- Appropriate Bedfellows?

During presidential election season, how often do we see the white candidates, both Democrat and Republican, parading themselves at black churches, spouting off about how the issues that are important to African-Americans are important to them? After election season, do we see the candidates (victors or losers) at the black churches anymore? The answer to this question is two-fold. No, the candidates no longer have a physical presence in the churches. However, their presence is still alive and well in the churches, by way of the pastors.

Historically, the African-American church has been the central institution in the African-American community. In days past, they were the gathering places not only for worship, but also to address the economic, social, and political impact of a racist and segregated society on African-Americans. Yes, political. Black churches and their pastors have historically served as champions in the fight for equality for African-Americans, and against the oppression we have endured from the white community.

So why, you're probably thinking, does the title of this entry suggest that the marriage between politics and religion is inappropriate? I think this relationship becomes troublesome when pastors start using politics as a way of advancing their own beliefs, rather than advancing the needs of the black community at large. As leaders of the black church, black ministers have a massive amount of access and visibility among the black community. Politicians know this, and that is why they attempt to use the pastors to get the black vote.

This practice is so much more evident now because of the increasing support that black ministers are giving to Republicans. (Note -- I said "increasing" support -- which means I recognize that not all black pastors conduct themselves in this fashion.) For me, this really became evident during the 2004 presidential election, during which the Republicans used gay marriage as their platform (and only platform, I might add) to attract the black vote. They know that black folks are some of the most homophobic people in this country, and played on that by getting black pastors to support them solely for that reason.

So is it okay for Republicans to line the pockets of our black pastors with a little money, in exchange for their support (and indirectly, the support of their congregations)? As a sidebar -- I hope you don't think black pastors provide this support for free. I have personally seen some very high-profile and prominent Indiana elected officials (both on a state and local level) "give" money to a group of black pastors; in exchange for the group's support of Republican initiatives.

Personally, I think this sort of behavior is completely inappropriate. As leaders of our communities, I think black pastors have a duty to conduct themselves in a way that best serves the black community at large. This does not include using one issue -- gay marriage -- as their platform to support Republicans; while ignoring the issues that really affect the black community, such as unemployment, lack of healthcare, and a failing public education system.

I know this post will offend many religious black folks, so I am prepared to deal with it, and look forward to your comments. However, I think it is an atrocity for some black pastors to use their power in a way that ultimately defeats the individual struggles of members of their own congregations; and I think it is time that they are held accountable for that.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Do I Look Like A Dog???

Ladies, have you ever seen a cute guy -- either from across the room, or walking down the street -- the two of you make eye contact, you start thinking about the possibilities, and then he pulls one of those, "eh, let me talk to you for a minute" (while giving you the finger motion to come here), or worse, the head nod that is supposed to be your signal to approach him?

This happened to me the other day. I was walking down the street with two friends and a guy stepped out of his souped-up Escalade and did the whole "come here for a minute"-thing. I don't get it. Was I supposed to be impressed with his truck and want to come talk to him? As my friends and I discussed, it probably wasn't even his truck!!! But I digress -- maybe some hoodrat would've been impressed and responded to his inappropriate gesture; but again, any woman who is about something wouldn't respond to that.

Now I know there are many men who know better than to pull some mess like that. But for those who don't know any better, let me take this opportunity to "learn" you on some thangs.

First of all, I know your mommas taught you better than to act like that. It is not only rude, but also disrespectful to motion for or call out for a woman like she is a dog. Last time I checked, I didn't have four legs or a tail, so act like you have some home training.

Second of all, any woman who has some self-respect about her is not going to respond to that mess!!! Sure, if all you want is some hoodrat or chick with low self-esteem, then that's definitely the way to go about deciphering those women from those of us who respect ourselves. However, if you're really trying to find a quality woman, you may want to lose that wack-a@@ rap, and step up your game a bit.

But ladies, don't think you're off the hook. As I said a few weeks ago, men only do what you allow them to do. Obviously, some of you are falling for that crap. Here's the thing, STOP FALLING FOR THAT CRAP, and men will stop doing it.

Hey, maybe it's just me. Perhaps other women like to be treated like dogs. Either way, I feel like I need to walk around with a sign on my forehead saying I don't respond to head nods or finger curls.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Do Snitches Really Get Stitches?

"[I]t's not in [Yayo's] character to speak to the authorities." -- Tony Yayo's attorney speaking in response to questions about his client's knowledge relating to the killing of Busta Rhymes' security guard outside of Busta's video shoot.

For years, the saying "Snitches Get Stitches" has been used as a way of enforcing/confirming (however you want to look at it) the fact that black folks generally don't report crimes that occur in our neighborhoods. Historically, when crimes are committed in our neighborhoods, we turn our heads and act like we didn't see anything. Why is that? Is it because we are afraid of retaliation? Or is it because we just don't like the police? Either way, I think it's a topic that needs to be addressed. In this case, is silence really golden, or is honesty the best policy?

I can only imagine how the family of a murder victim feels knowing that there are people out there who know what happened to their family member, but who refuse to come forward with that information. If it were me, of course I would want to know everything about the murder, and would want the persons responsible prosecuted. But if the shoe was on the other foot, and I had bore witness to a murder, I can't say for sure that I would be willing to come forward with that information.

What responsibility, if any, do we have to each other to report the crimes that we witness, be they major or minor? Of course it's easy for those of us who no longer live on the block to say that those who do should report the various drug deals, gang activity, and whatever other crimes plague the neighborhood. We don't have to live around and see these people everyday. But by not reporting even the most minor crimes, I think we jeopardize our ability to complain about the status of our neighborhoods. We have to take it upon ourselves to be responsible for the things that occur in our neighborhoods. And we have to stop hiding behind fear and the police to do so.

Just my two cents.