Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Single Black Female

I haven't written in a long while, mostly because I had so much to say that I couldn't really organize my thoughts to my liking. Recently, however, I had an experience that I can't seem to get out of my head. It was actually something that I was surprised I had escaped for as long as I had. During Thanksgiving, a loved one was "badgering" me about being single.

I've been trying to convince myself that I mistook his concern and desire for me to be happy for a slight. To be fair, we've never had an adversarial relationship and he's family so I don't believe his intention was to be hurtful. Nevertheless, I took it personally and felt attacked because the question "Why don't you have a man" made me feel as though it was my fault that I am single...and that being single was wrong. Upon further contemplation, I came to realize that it's not my "fault" that I'm single.

It's not my fault that many men don't realize that I have wide hips to birth a nation and an ample bosom to feed a nation.
It's not my fault that they don't know that my behind is round to cushion the 7 times I fall so that I may rise 8, or that my plump thighs...well that's just for his comfort
It's not my fault that men don't overstand that my nostrils are wide to smell the b.s. that Babylon slings my way to break my spirit
It's not my fault that the fellas don't recognize that my nappy hair and melaninated  skin protect me from the climate, a climate that is charged with words and behaviors intended to demoralize, denigrate, discourage, and generally break me
Nah, it ain't my fault.
I'm not single by choice, and I am single by choice. There's a man out there who's seeking what I have to offer, but he's unique himself. So, I guess my reply is that it's not that I "can't get a man," it's that some men just don't get me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Little Birthday Gift from the Universe...

I just had a birthday, and although I admit I was dreading it because lately, I have been buying into society's belief that once a woman reaches a certain age she should be archived, I am thankful for another year of life, experiences, and hopefully wisdom.

One piece of wisdom that has been like a truck blaring its headlights in my rearview mirror is how little other's thoughts and opinions of me really matter. The older I get, the more I understand that everyone has something going on in their lives that skew their view of life and the people in it. What's disheartening is that they often tend to vomit those view all over social media, and many people take social media waaay too seriously.

Some people base the way they deal with someone on how many of their posts a person does or doesn't like, or if they respond with a different opinion than their own, completely discounting their interaction with those people outside in the real world.

The thing, however, that irritates me is the hypocrosy. Whenever you hear about someone committing suicide or being bullied, there are all of these posts saying 'reach out to someone' 'I'm here for any of you' 'bullyng is wrong.' But some of the same people post memes making fun of the way people look or are dressed or behaving, and often these are people they don't even know. I'm sure that at some point, the people in those memes see them. How do they feel? Do they feel bullied? Suicidal? Can they reach out to you? Will you be there for them?

And about suicidal and depressed people reaching out to you; most of them aren't going to call you or message you and say, 'I'm depressed, I'm suicidal.' If you truly care,reach out to people just to check in on them. Making fun of people just because it makes you feel better about yourself and your situation is counteractive to 'being there.'

Finally, stop letting social media be the gps for how you feel or think about yourself or your life. Social media is just a place to let your narcissistic side run free. It's a chill spot for the ego. If you are depressed or suicidal, cancel all of your social media accounts and go find a real face to interact with.

This is one little piece of wisdom I've gained and hope to carry into the next 60 years...feel free to take some too.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty." — Marcus Garvey

"Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none. This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity, which He created in His image. And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been, more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community."~His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I 1963 Speech to the UN

The quote above comes from the same speech as the more well known quote that Bob Marley made into the song "War." It is just as true and relevant today as it was over 50 years ago when Emperor Haile Selassie made the speech. I had to seek out His Majesty's words to try to quell the rage building inside of me due to the circumstances America finds itself in today. But let's face it, hatred and bigotry is swelling around the world.

I was thinking yesterday that if my grandmother, who marched with Dr. King, was alive today, her head and heart would be reeling with despair and disbelief from this deja vu, this flashback to a time long before I was born. She would probably feel like she failed her great grand baby by not making sure the job was complete. But I would have to tell her that she and her generation can't take on the blame because laws change circumstances not hearts and minds.

Today, this father's day, there are offspring mourning their fathers rather than celebrating them. There is a church in Charleston, SC who instead of celebrating and revering fatherhood, is praying for solace, comfort, peace, and protection because we as a race, the human race, have failed to "become bigger than we have been, more courageous, greater in spirit and larger in outlook." Because of our failure (not just our ancestors') racism is not only still alive, but regaining the strength of Dr. King's days. You disagree? Let me illustrate:

The Emanuel African American Episcopal Church Massacre

 Not a Gun Control Issue
President Obama and other gun control proponents would have you believe that this tragedy would have been averted had we had better gun control laws. Although I agree, we need better gun control laws,  this was not some "mentally unstable" individual with unknown motives who committed a mass shooting because he had access to a gun. This was a racially motivated attack on black people. The shooter himself said it. In 1963, the weapon of choice was fire bombs. But I believe that Mr. President didn't feel he could make this admission because after all, he's the president of the racists too.

Not an "Attack on Christianity"
So in this day, we are so familiar with the diversion tactics of those who push their own agendas and ideologies rather than stand for right. There are "news" agencies claiming that that youth was declaring war on Christianity. But he shot up a black church because black people were in it. The shooter himself said it.

Not a New Thing
In Birmingham, Alabama: It, too, was a racist attack that used a bomb on the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four black girls on a Sunday in 1963. Protests have been flooding the streets in the last couple of years over police violence against blacks, yet, a senator, who is old enough to remember the 1963 bombing, has the gall to say it is "unfathomable" that someone would do this. He knows as well as I do that racists ideology is still being taught and upheld...the presence of the confederate flag at the capitol building in South Carolina should be evidence enough.

The Cause of My Rage

Many of you may have no real concept of what it is like to live as a black person in America...especially as a black woman. Let me give you a tiny glimpse:

  • Trust: Bob Marley said, "Man to man is so unjust. Ya don't know who to trust." Imagine knowing that you are surrounded by at least 5 types of people but not always knowing which they are: 1. People who admit they don't like you because you're black 2. People who don't like you because you're black but don't admit it 3. People who don't realize they don't like you because you're black and thus keep their feet in their mouths 4. People who don't like certain aspects about your "blackness" 5. Those who sincerely like you as you are
  • Abandonment : I have many friends and acquaintances whom I know are good, caring people who are all for equal rights and justice. Yet, when events like the Charleston Massacre happens (in fact, especially this event) they go silent. I see no posts, save for condolences, about the event and I hear no outrage from them. Mind you, there are those who are eternal warriors for justice and I am thankful for them. But to some of my non-black acquaintances, are you aware how something like this effects your black friends? Are you aware how one word of solidarity from you would comfort us? And please realize, some of the 5 types of people I mentioned above are black too. And some of you go silent as well. Do you really believe we have "overcome"? Do you think this is "the mountain top"? And no one steps up as a leader. I would, but I've only got 12 followers on this blog, I clearly can't garner support.
  • Fear : I don't fear for my own life, but I have a bit of fear for these young people behind me who don't know their history nor do many of them have a true knowledge or understanding of what's going on today and the significance of it. Those who do, fight back, but they do so in a way that is unsafe for them because they have no guidance or leadership. Some of those 5 types of black people blame their "insolence" for their unfair treatment, when they should thank them for reminding them that they too should stand up for their rights.

  • Pain: It pains me to see injustices and wickedness thrive unabated. There are good people in the world, many of them are white, and police officers. But when will they stand up for good? All who don't stand up are to blame as much as the oppressors. "our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community." I also have to endure the pain of rejection from all men because the black woman is treated like the wretches of society. I endure stereotypes perpetuated by media and my own people, I endure the curiosity of those who ask me questions like I'm a creature from outer space. But mostly, I endure the pain of having to watch atrocities occur knowing nothing will be done to change it.
These are just a few sources of the rage building inside of me. The mental anguish of knowing I can't stop these things on my own is exhausting. I'm a rasta woman, and yes, we are about peace and love, but we are also about equal rights and justice. So, I'll leave you with the most famous quote from His Imperial Majesty's speech as food for thought:

"On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil."
~His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I 1963 Speech to the UN

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's the "isms" That Will Be Our Demse

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality . . . Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality. “

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace

If I hadn't accredited this quote to Dr. King, some might think it came from The Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh . That is because most religious/spiritual leaders who are true to their faiths know this to be true...universally. Those who are truly interested in peace realize that the way to it is not by forwarding individual agendas or misinterpretations of religious/spiritual texts which seems to be the pervasive trend in society today.

I, personally, am aggrieved by the way humanity is treating one another. The world has come up with various ranking systems that boil down to most and least worthy of a humane, dignified, fair, and peaceful life. We climb over each other with our words, economics, laws, beliefs, and other weapons to declare our superiority. I think some would be content to heard all of the people who they didn't like into a cave to rot and die, not realizing that any one of them could change the world for the better one day.

It's the "isms" that will be our (humanity's) demise. Sexism gave permission to racism which led to class ism and ageism and soon to be homosexual-ism (I say soon to be because gays are not a protected class yet so discriminating against them (apparently) isn't illegal, yet...which seems to define "isms.") We as a society haven't yet realized that allowing  one group to be denied rights, dignity, and opportunity opens the door to deny others the same. Let's face it, unless you're a straight, white, Christian male with no disabilities, not overweight  and have never served in the armed forces, you will fall into one group or another who can be discriminated against or berated. (Actually, if you are that male, you probably come under fire for that too.)

Are you aware that in 1964 Congress passed Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). The provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting, and firing? Did you know that Title VII of the act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to implement the law and subsequent legislation expanded the role of the EEOC so that the EEOC enforces laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting, firing, setting wages, testing, training, apprenticeship, and all other terms and conditions of employment?* Or did you think that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only addressed laws regarding African Americans? Note: When you endeavor to deny the rights of others, you subsequently deny yourself rights. (See MLK quote above)

I'm not just talking about incidents that make the headlines either. People on social media regularly attack one another with ease for the way they look and the things they like and do. It doesn't matter that they often don't know anything about the people they berate, nor does age seem to matter. I've seen people denigrating 16 year old Jaden Smith and 14 year old Willow Smith for their thoughts on the universe, simply because they didn't understand the higher energy concepts these children were speaking about. Social networkers have even gone so far as to chide young Jaden for wearing a dress. As someone who was forced to wear a uniform from kindergarten to twelfth grade, I can appreciate a young person who bucks societal "norms" and dares to erase rules laid out for him by ones who don't even know him. And did I mention these are children?

And what about the children? What effect does all of this ranking, demeaning, cruelty, and separation have on the youth? I'll tell you. They mimic that behavior. I work with some of the cruelest beings known to man...the middle schooler. Not only do they have irrational brains due to raging hormones and an "in between" lifestyle (in between being a child and a young adult), they still lack the filters that most adults acquire over the years. They are trying so hard to grow up, and the only way they can figure this out is by watching adults and doing what they do. Don't get me wrong, middle schoolers are also very insightful and thoughtful beings, but their quest during this time is to fit in and belong, so being themselves hardly seems an option because, let's face it, adolescence is an awkward time.

I listen to how these children talk to each other when they're friends and it makes me cringe. My biggest job is teaching them how to be kind again. Then I have to deal with the fallout of their words. There are 12 year olds who want to harm themselves because of the words spoken to them by their friends. Where do the children get this behavior and why do they think it's ok? I'll let you answer that yourself. 

It doesn't seem to matter, these days, what knowledge, talent, skills one might possess that can change the course of humanity. We seem to miss the fact that we are dealing with other human beings. Those who cite religious beliefs somehow overlook the basic tenets of their own faith in order to force everyone to live and believe as they do.

A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. John 13:34
 "O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous." (Quran, 49:13)
Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Torah: Leviticus 19:17-18) 
 I could go on with quotes from most religious texts and they will all have the same theme; love one another. If you are not religious at all, consider Chaos Theory:

Essentially, the theory looks at something called sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This means that even a very minute change in the initial conditions of a system can have dramatic effects on that system over time.To put this in more simple terms, consider a football team. Each individual player has a certain set of quantifiable skills at their position, skills which can be given a score. Summing the scores of all persons on a team, then comparing one team with the scores from another team should give a clear sense of the difference and thus predict the winner of a game between them. This is the linear way of looking at a team, only as the sum of its parts. However, there are many other sets of variables that come into play such as “team chemistry”, whether the game is played at home or away, experience playing with one another, the mood or attitude of an individual player or players, and on and on. These can and do lead to results that are different from those predicted by linear thinking.**
So, when you think you are bringing equilibrium to this "system" we've built with the behavior and laws that you believe will create the environment in which you desire to live, you are neglecting to consider the variables which could upset the outcome such as the beliefs, will, desires, attitudes, and fortitude of others. There are many other variables that can come into play that will skew the outcome because of the "sensitive dependence on initial conditions."

In other words, "all life is interrelated." We are interdependent upon one another to live at peace and harmony on this planet. Trying to force a group or even one person to bend to one's will, will inevitablly upset the balance of nature and eliminate the possibility of peace. All of this wicked  self serving behavior and attitudes serves no purpose but to harm the doer of the deed. "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them."Proverbs 26:27 



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cause and Effect...Make the Connections

It's puzzling to me how many people fail to see that everything is connected.  Causality, or cause and effect, alone connects people, actions, events. If someone at your job is fired, it will no doubt effect the way you work if new policy and procedure need to be put in place; how much you work if the terminated employee's work needs to be covered; or maybe just your lunch companion changes.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is a term used to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing or condition (also known as an initial condition) can affect large, complex systems.*  These connections are also recognized outside science, in an area many think is oppositional, spirituality. In Hindu philosophy, the law of cause and effect is integral. it's called Karma.

So it frustrates me when some people fail to see the connections between two or more events. I realize that many people compartmentalize their lives. They find ways to continue to be entertained, to consume, and to enjoy the "pleasures" of life, all the while separating them from the ugly, unjust, inhumane, and uncomfortable people or events to which they are bound. Somehow, people rationalize this separation saying that what a person/organization/institution said or did (or didn't) has nothing to do with the product they are selling. (I'm sure Indiana hopes more people would think this way...I know some food companies who support gmos do.)

Another example, Duke just won the NCAA championship and many people were rooting for them and cheering them on. No one on my social media feed even mentioned that four days ago, a noose was found hanging from a tree on Duke's campus. Sure, the student who hung the noose was identified and expelled, but this is not the first racist incident on an American university campus in recent weeks.

So, what does this have to do with people cheering on Duke in the championship? Of course you should root for the young people who worked hard for that achievement. You should also remember that those same youth, some of whom are African American, are students on that campus. Usually, where there is one roach, there are others. So, these students have to return to a campus to study with other students who may be harboring the same racist ideologies. But, people have rationalized that the problem is solved with the expulsion of the student. Why is no one calling for ,manditory racial sensitivity (at the very least) courses to be taught at universities across the country? I mean, those places are set up for education, how hard could it be to make it happen? Doing nothing can have as large an effect as doing something.

It occurred to me that when some people compartmentalize life in this way, it is easy for them because they have never experienced the pain or humiliation, of racism, sexism, or homophobia. There are those who, although they recognize these things are wrong and they would never condon or participate in them, it is difficult for them to empathize and have enough compassion to stand up and speak up against them because they have never experienced these things, and probably never will.

But Haile Selassie said, "Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph." Failing to make the connections keeps you silent. Silence condons the acts. Evil triumphs in the absence of condemnation.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Through Pain Comes New Life

Losing loved ones is never easy. It's especially hard when the loss is an ending of one kind of relationship like romantic or friendship because we know that person is still around and we don't get to have interaction with them. You see, most of us get the circle of physical life. These bodies we reside in don't live forever, so we can come to grips with physical life ending...eventually. But because we form attachments by nature, letting go of them is difficult.

It takes Buddhist philosophy to explain the perils of attachment. This is love, Buddha-style: 
"impartial to all, free from excessive attachment or false hope and expectation; accepting, tolerant, and forgiving. Buddhist non attachment doesn't imply complacence or indifference, or not having committed relationships or being passionately engaged with society, but rather has to do with our effort to defy change and resist the fact of impermanence and our mortality. By holding on to that which in any case is forever slipping through our fingers, we just get rope burn."(1)

You see, in order to have attachment you need two things: the attacher and the thing (or person) to which the attacher is attached. But, non attachment is the exact opposite of separation. It is unity, oneness. If you have unified with the whole universe, then there is nothing outside of you, and thus nothing to which to attach.

It may be easier for most of us to know we are all one, connected, than to feel it to the extent that we no longer form attachments. Thus, we go through this pain, feeling of loss while we try to get to that place. So in the meantime, there's another way of looking at so-called loss and the pain of it.

A fetus grows in its mothers womb for nine or so months. They are one, literally attached by the umbilical cord. The baby gets comfy, spending its time sleeping, eating, chilling. But as the baby grows, it becomes too big for the very space to which it is connected. So mommy, in all her wisdom, pushes the baby out when she feels it stretching for more space. This is a traumatic event for baby, and mommy. The birth canal is tight, mommy is squeezing, and the pain mommy is facing just to give baby enough space to grow is excruciating. But soon, baby emerges into this world with tons of space to grow and become who he/she is meant to be.

Loss of friendships can feel traumatizing and painful, and we may still not understand why things had to change once we're out of the womb. But with time, patience, and faith, our new worlds will take shape and all will be revealed. To all of the friends I have lost, I'm sorry for whatever I did or didn't do, I wish you well, and thank you for the push.

(1) http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/love-quotes.html

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Business of Life

Birthdays always make me reflect on the past year to illuminate my lessons and growth. Sometimes lessons only become apparent to me when I step back and view them from another perspective. One day, someone I care about did something that made me feel unworthy of love and respect. I immediately checked myself saying, "you've got to stop outsourcing your self worth." The thought then came to me; if I ran my life like the top business people ran their businesses, I would probably end up more mentally, emotionally, and physically in the black. I then thought, why aren't I? I mean, my life is serious business, right? So, consider this my annual report.

1. I outsource my self worth- (I'm too dependent on others’ opinions of me)

I've spent far too much energy trying to please, impress, or get the attention or affections of other people. Usually my tactic has been to change, unconsciously, little things about the way I act, speak, dress, or anything else that I think will get others to love me or just like me. I, of course, am not able to change the true me and thus feel unworthy when I am revealed and eventually rejected.

The truth is, it's not other people's jobs to like me, that's my job. Plus, not everyone we meet is meant to like us, nor are we meant to like everyone we meet. If you don't fit the profile, move on to the next person. Keeping your self worth in your own hands strengthens the value of your company...you.

2.   Not enough faith in my product (I don’t believe in myself enough)

      Many of us don't give ourselves enough credit for our capabilities, our triumphs, or our resiliency. There's no reason each of us can't experience the peace, joy, and abundance we seek. We keep rejection, 'failures', and beliefs handed down to us by well meaning loved ones close enough to recall should we dare to stretch beyond our comfort zones. "To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." ~by William Arthur Ward 

Risk is part of business and life. But when you take stock of your gifts and match them with your passions, risks become calculated and a bit more viable.

3.  Not getting a good return on my investments (I give too much)

Women tend to have this problem often. We're usually nurturers and so our instinct is to give until it hurts us. Giving is great. I think we should give more than we take (take, not receive). But, some people are uncomfortable with receiving when they feel they can't match and return the gift. Even if you don't expect anything in return, the receiver may feel an imbalance in the relationship and pull away. Worse are the people who take advantage of your kindness and generosity and end up using you. 

The key is balance. Let's say you were investing in a young person's future. Would you pay four years worth of tuition in the first year, or would you pay year to year, or semester to semester waiting to see if the young person thrives or even decides to continue their education? It may sound manipulative, but it's really just pacing.

4.   I don’t hold my board accountable for my expectations of them (I give too many chances to those who wrong me)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. This isn't about forgiveness. We should absolutely forgive, for our own sakes. This is about knowing when to say when. Like with giving, some people will continue to try to get away with as much as they can as long as you let them. We teach people how to treat us. We should let our expectations be known and hold others to those standards. If they are unable to hold up their ends, forgive them and terminate the relationship.

5.  I don’t know my true market (I sometimes choose the wrong company) 

Like any business, you have to know your market. We are the sum of the five people with whom we spend the most time. If you are choosing the company of those who don't support your dreams and ideas, or who don't respect who you are, you are marketing yourself to the wrong demographic. You may admire people for different reasons, but that doesn't mean they are a good match for your companionship.

Well there you have it, my annual report. I hope by this time next year these lessons have been mastered and my dividends (peace, love, joy, abundance in all areas of my life) have increased exponentially. I'm not perfect, but I believe true perfection is in striving diligently for it.