QOTD: Do We (as a collective) Really Love Women?

16 04 2015
Photo courtesy of Essence Magazine

Photo courtesy of Essence Magazine

I can’t tell y’all how excited I was to see this image come across my screen this week. I saw the picture Ms. Debbie Allen put up last week (and squealed appropriately), so when I saw this was what she was talking about… y’all, I’m pretty sure I haven’t been excited about a magazine cover like that since it was something I actually worked on. And on top of all the “yassssss” proclamations I saw from women exclaiming the pure awesomeness of this cover, I also saw men on my timeline talking about the power of this cover. They were all right. And it made me so happy to see us celebrate women in this way. I was overjoyed at the love we were collectively showing these beautiful, intelligent, dynamic, and inspiring women.

And then I saw this article about a young woman who was raped during Spring Break in front of several bystanders while no one (not a single person!) attempted to stop the rape from happening. What?!

I mean what?!

How does something like that happen?

Well I’d argue it happens because while we celebrate women seen in the public eye, we live in a culture that really doesn’t love women. Not in the real world. Not when it comes to real life traumas.

How do I know? Because Darren Sharper got 9 years for pleading guilty to raping at least 9 women in four different states. Because women and men alike stood around and watched (or neglected to notice) a woman get raped in broad daylight on a beach in Florida. Because states all over this country (including my own lovely home state of Louisiana) continue to try to do everything possible to regulate what a woman can do with her own body, including but not limited to charging women with freakin’ feticide.

That’s not love, y’all. It just can’t be.

So where’s the disconnect?

How are we able to celebrate images like this and talk about the love everyone has for their mamas when they accept awards and celebrate Hillary Clinton running for President and First Lady Michelle Obama just being all around awesome, but we can’t recognize the pain in the women right in front of us? Is it because it’s too difficult to handle? Is the disconnect something that happens out of necessity or just from a lack of care until it’s someone who is close to you or someone who’s in the spotlight?

I really don’t know the answers to all these questions. But I do know there’s a distinct disconnect for some reason. And that’s not to say it’s exhibited by everyone. Some of us really do show out with our love and support for women, but as a whole? As a collective? In this country? We have some serious work to do.

What do you all think?





Express Yourself… by Voting

4 11 2014

My senior year of high school happened during the infamous 2000 Presidential Election.

And because most of us were at least a few months shy of being able to actually vote, we held an election at my school. Now, I don’t remember the exact tally (because I’m old y’all — for real), but it was basically a landslide for Al Gore. I mean, such a landslide that even though I knew it would be closer in real life, I was genuinely shocked by just how close it ended up being. And then, even more so, that George W. Bush won* (it will always have an asterisk by it, as far as I’m concerned).

I can’t begin to describe to you how devastated we all were that we couldn’t have actually voted when those results came in.

I mean, we wanted to vote before then. But we REALLY wished we could have voted after.

And I’ve yet to let an election pass by since then where I haven’t voted. Mostly because I didn’t want to experience that feeling again. That feeling that if I could have/if I would have just voted, then maybe the outcome would be different. But also because I knew, even then, that as a black woman, I stood on the shoulders of two groups of people who had to fight for the right to vote in this country. And I didn’t want to let them down.

There will be lots of people who speak differently today. Who say and believe that voting doesn’t make a difference. They will say that your vote does not count. Or that it’s not worth the hassle. That it’s all rigged anyway. Or even that the candidates are all the same, so who cares who wins?

But I say that if you have ever wanted to express yourself and your opinions on the matters that affect your community, voting is one of the most powerful ways to do it. By voting, you effectively say — “I stand for this.”

And in a country where too many people feel that their voices are unheard, far too many let that opportunity slip on by. Far too many of us purposely put ourselves in the position to end up just like me and my classmates in November 2000 — wishing we could have made a difference, but powerless to do anything about it.

Don’t let that happen to you. Not on this day. Not for this election.

If you haven’t voted already (by early voting or absentee), please do so today.

And when you’re done, encourage someone else to vote too.





America, Please Step Away from My Vagina

22 07 2014
Pretty much says it all...

Pretty much says it all…

Here’s the thing, America — me and my vagina, we have what I like to call an intimate relationship. And yet, you and your compadres are always trying to be the third wheel in this situation.

Put another way, my vagina and I have A and B conversations that you (Congress, Supreme Court, the loonies, etc…) are always trying to C your way into.

Why is that? Can someone explain?

I mean, I get it — I’m a pretty fascinating woman (or so I’ve been told), and she’s a pretty fascinating organ, but damn — back the hell up why don’t you? Give us fifty feet!

You know what you’re like, America?

That random person that butts into a Facebook conversation that spontaneously began on someone’s wall. This person has no knowledge of the details of the conversation and can’t be bothered with finding out the background, but simply saw that a convo was occurring and felt the need to chime in.

Basically, America, you’re trolling the walls of my uterus on a constant basis.

Let’s just look at some of the ways this has happened in the past few years.

1. Of course, there’s the recent Supreme Court ruling that said corporations can determine what forms of birth control I use for my body. (Well, technically, it said the corporation could determine what forms its healthcare pays for, but try getting birth control without insurance — that ish is expensive!)

2. Then there was the time the governor of my great home state, Louisiana, made it his personal mission to rid the state of any legal facilities that perform abortion. He’s winning by the way.

3. And let’s not forget Virginia’s attempt to force transvaginal ultrasounds on any women contemplating an abortion.

4. And the Republican Congress’ mission to destroy Planned Parenthood.

These are but a few examples of the way in which the American government has gotten involved in the intimate details of womens’ bodies, but there are more. So so many more.

It’s frustrating. No, actually it’s infuriating to think that men and misguided women who know nothing about me, about my life, and about my body, believe they can make medical decisions for me. That they can decide how and when I choose to procreate.

And let’s be real here — procreation is a big effing deal! It (or the lack of it) literally changes lives of women every single day.

So now that I think about it, I was wrong when I gave my initial Facebook analogy. America, you’re not just that annoying friend who butts into a Facebook conversation without knowledge of the details. You also then attempt to mandate when and how I decide to have the course of my life changed while you’re at it.

And that’s just not okay. In fact, you sound a little loony tunes. And it’s making me think I might need to get a restraining order out on you (because that’s what you do when crazies won’t stay away)… or you could just, you know, go about your way and mind your own business on your own. That would help too.





Standing for Something

29 04 2014

LA Clippers

As a kid, my parents liked to impart certain bits and pieces of wisdom into me all the time. They’d tell me things like, “Honesty is always the best policy,” and “It’s important to pick your battles wisely,” “Our words have power,” and “Never let anyone define who you are.” And while none of those statements are unique to my parents, they stuck with me as a kid because a) I love quotes, and b) they said them so often!

Well, recently one of their wise sayings has been ringing over and over in my head. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Now, full disclosure — my parents were born in the 1960s so they grew up with a very keen sense of what the consequences were of not standing up for your beliefs, but I can still remember the first time one of them said those words to me like it was yesterday. At first it seemed contradictory to their statement about picking your battles, but they soon explained to me that while it was important to pick your battles, the whole idea of picking meant that at some point you had to stand up and fight for one of them.

I was reminded of this lesson twice this past week. Once as I began reading about Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 58 page dissent on the Supreme Court’s 6-2 decision to uphold Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action for public universities. There was something about her dissent that struck me. It probably had something to do with the number of pages or the fact that she decided it was important that she read the  dissent from the bench. But it was also the language she used. She was emphatic, unapologetic, spoke to precedence and willful neglect of the nation. She was precise and calculated, and it stood out to me mostly because it signaled to me that this was her picking her battle.

It was important enough to her to stand up and say on that day, the Court was wrong. And as expected she has been ridiculed for it by certain parts of our nation and media. She has been called emotional and her dissent reduced to a personal attack, rather than a logical, well thought-out, reasoned explanation against what the majority voted for. Now, to be clear, it’s not like she can be removed from the Supreme Court for her statements, but I appreciated the fact that she used her eloquent words to step out and attempt to impact change for the future.

A second instance occurred after the now infamous recording of Donald Sterling was released by TMZ Friday night. Immediately, I began wondering how the Clipper players and the NBA in general would respond to the matter. Would they choose to pick this battle? If you follow basketball, then you know that the video above represents what at least the Clipper players decided. During their warm-ups, they took off their Clipper gear at half court and proceeded to warm up in their suits turned on the other side so the logo was not shown. They also chose to wear black wrist bands in solidarity.

Now, there were some people (admittedly me included initially) who wanted them to do a bit more. There were suggestions that the players boycott the game or not wear their Clipper uniforms during the game, but the more I looked at the video of what they did, the more my parents words convicted me. I remembered the word they emphasized when speaking about standing for something I believed in and choosing how to make that stand, and that word was I. I would be the one to have to pick my battles. I would be the one to have to choose wisely and determine that this time, in this place, I was fighting back. I would be the one to have to determine how my stand looked when I decided to do it.

And when I remembered that, I appreciated their stand much more. Regardless of how we feel about Donald Sterling or what we think the Clipper players should have done or should do in the future, the reality is that it was their choice. Their stand. And to many it was a pretty powerful one.

What do you guys think? Have you had a chance to read any of Justice Sotomayor’s dissent and have you been following the fall-out from Donald Sterling’s racist comments? Let’s discuss.

 





So. Much. News. Lately.

28 06 2013
Pretty sure I looked like this at some point this week - all in my feelings and trying to process. Photo Credit: roseash20.wordpress.com

Pretty sure I looked like this at some point this week – all in my feelings and trying to process.
Photo Credit: Jill Greenberg, Photographer

Warning: This post will be one part news round-up, one part rant, and all parts me just trying to process all the crap that’s been going on lately. Proceed accordingly.

Well, well, well… it sure has been an interesting few days/weeks in the neighborhood (of the United States). First, we had Paula Deen get exposed for being an undercover racist — on Juneteenth, no less. And just so we’re clear, at least amongst my friends, folks are less surprised and concerned at her usage of the N-word. It’s the whole “I wanted black people to dress as slaves at a Civil War style wedding” and also consistently treated my Black employees like shit thing that really makes us go, wtf Paula! Really?! And no, none of her apologies hold any weight with me. They sound like a woman sorry for being exposed and losing money, not one who is actually sorry for her words and actions. So she can miss me completely with her “If anyone has never said anything ever that they regret, please be the first to cast the stone that kills me” bit. Ma’am, seriously?!

Then, the Trayvon Martin trial started this week. This extremely important and sensitive case about a young boy who was (allegedly) killed by a white Peruvian man, because he was walking in the neighborhood with a hoodie and looked “suspicious.” And how does Zimmerman’s lawyer start a trial like this? With an eff-ing knock knock joke. Really, dude? Lest we forget that a kid was killed here! But then again, that can be kind of a joke in America, right? At least when that kid is Black. (Okay, let me stop before all my Howard U side comes out on this blog. I’m sorry y’all – I warned you; I’m frustrated!)

This trial has been filled with all kinds of wtf news, not the least of which was the Defense’s questioning of Trayvon’s friend Rachel – who was the last person to talk to him that night. This man asked her 50-11 times if she lied about why she didn’t attend the funeral and whether or not she and Trayvon were more than friends. I get it – he’s trying to show her lack of credibility as a witness and that’s definitely his job. But seriously, I don’t care two flying figs about her relationship with him and how many texts they sent each other. I text and flirt with men who aren’t my man all the time (because I’m single and can), so I mean… What the hell does that have to do with whether or not what she heard was true? Can someone “lawyerly” answer this for me? It’s a real question.

Anyway, if you could listen to any of the testimony that has come out so far from the witnesses and you know, the 911 call where the dispatcher asks Zimmerman if he’s following the person (Trayvon) and then tells him “we don’t need you to do that” (!) and not feel prickly tears attempting to come  out of your eyes… well, let’s just say I don’t know how that’s possible.

THEN, the Supreme Court, in all its never-ending wisdom (and self-hatred… yea, I’m talking about you, Clarence), voted 5-4 to invalidate section 4 of the Voting Rights Act because… wait for it… it’s done it’s job, even though Congress hasn’t? Meanwhile, 5 of the states that were explicitly listed under Section 4 as needing approval from the Department of Justice before changing voter laws have now begun to put new voter laws into place to restrict the minority vote. Sigh. But there’s no connection here whatsoever, right?

Listen, I’m a proud Louisiana native, but this sickens and saddens me to no end. And I definitely don’t trust my state to not do things to restrict the voting rights of its residents. My grandparents fought so that I could have the right to vote no matter the color of my skin, and in one decision, the court is attempting to change that for so many others. All I can say is that I hope at the very least this empowers even more people in my generation to understand that the fight is never over and to always be doing something about it — even if that something is the very small, but very important act of actually voting.

And of course, in the midst of all this, Chicago’s crime rate continues to climb the charts, while 21 more schools closed this week (out of 49 so far). Really? We haven’t learned that access to education is one of the most effective ways to quell the crime that we continue to see in our communities across the country? No? Why not?

Anyway, that’s just a peak at some of the news my brain has been trying to process this week. That’s not even getting into the SCOTUS decision on DOMA, Texas trying to shut down 95% of the abortion clinics in the state, and the guy who’s being held captive in China by his employees. Needless to say, like a good friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, it’s just been “So. Much. News.” lately. Which of these have caught your attention? Let’s attempt to process together, shall we?





My Thoughts on Christianity and Homosexuality – in Video

3 05 2013

I’ve been listening/reading a lot of the commentary out right now in light of Jason Collins’ announcement, and in particular, because of what he said about his Christianity in the open letter. And it’s been, frankly, quite disheartening.

I will never be able to understand how people who claim to follow Jesus Christ – who preached love, forgiveness, and humility – can seek to condemn those around them who are not like them. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself drawing closer to God on my own volition and seeking His Word and studying to show myself approved and guess what? I’m even more convinced that He didn’t call us to judge, hate, or condemn those around us.

In fact – He said the exact opposite. In 1 John 4:20, it says:  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

In layman’s terms – How can you claim to love God but hate the people you see every day? You cannot.

And so, I could go through and list all of the scriptures that align up with my thoughts on Christianity and Homosexuality, like others have attempted to do on the other side of the spectrum – but really, that one says more than enough. Plus, this video below is more powerful than what I think I could write on the matter.

Thank you to Shonda Rhimes for creating such a powerful scene.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!





A New Kind of Deal Breaker?

5 04 2013

political deal breaker

When I was younger, I’d look at James Carville and Mary Matalin’s relationship and marvel at how they seemed so happy despite the fact that they believed in two completely different political ideologies. I mean, he was a talking head for the Democratic Party and she a talking head for the Republicans, and yet, whenever I’d see them around each other on TV, they seemed like the happiest couple. Now granted, I don’t know them from Adam, but at least from outside appearances, they looked like they were able to accomplish something I wasn’t sure was possible – be in a healthy and loving relationship despite having staunchly different views on how the country should be run.

Maybe this incredulity of mine was heightened because I engage in the political/government and journalism world, so the idea of them working (and working well!) was and is still a heightened miracle to me. Maybe it’s not something that people who haven’t lived in DC or places like it for 10 years would even be concerned with? IDK. But either way, it always amazed me that they pulled it off, mostly because I didn’t think I’d actually be able to do the same.

Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say I don’t think I could be friends with a Republican. I am friends with Republicans, but to seriously date one? I wasn’t sure how it would work. What would happen when I got really passionate about a particular political issue? How would I feel if I looked over while reading my Hillary Clinton book and saw him reading Dick Cheney’s book? I just wasn’t confidant I’d be comfortable sharing my life with someone who didn’t agree with me on those issues.

Well, I had a similar thought these past couple weeks watching some of the conversations play out on social media about topics such as date rape, marriage equality, affirmative action, etc… Granted, these conversations are becoming quite political, but they tend to actually vary within political parties. For example, I know more than a few Democrats who disagree with me on the issue of marriage equality. And you know what? I found myself wondering if I could really date someone who believed differently than I did on those issues as well.

Not because I don’t respect others’ opinions, but because I think they’re so important, I’m not sure I’d be able to look at him the same way if he thought differently. Is that wrong? I mean, it probably is and it’s probably all kinds of intolerant, but it’s true. And it led me to question whether socio-political issues were becoming a major deal breaker for me or if they had been all along and I just never acknowledged it. And I don’t mean deal breaker in the “I’d like him to have straight white teeth, but as long as they’re not jaws-looking I’m ok” sense of the phrase “deal breaker.” I mean, as in the “I respect all religions, but can only see myself seriously dating another Christian” type of deal breaker. Am I alone in this?

What do you all think? Could you seriously date someone who disagreed with you on some of the top socio-political issues concerning our country right now? Why or why not?