Monday, July 18, 2011

I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T Do You Know That Means?

I was perusing Facebook recently when I came across a (semi) friend's status in which she was proudly proclaiming her independence. The comment thread was filled with comments from women all making similar proclamations. Me, being the inquisitive (aka nosy) person that I am couldn't help but click on a few of these "independent" women's pages and what I found was A. they all had children, B. they were all single and C. on Father's Day almost every single one of them had negative statuses referring to their child's absentee father. Eventually I made my way back to my friend's page and posed the question, what does it mean to be independent? The response: "I don't need no man, blah, blah, blah," that same tired man hating rhetoric that I have come to find both comical and quite troubling. So I posed another question, if your independence is dependent on your need of a man, or lack there of, are you truly independent? After a few more, "I don't need no man, " anthems I let it go but it definitely made me think. What exactly does it mean to be "independent?" It's a word we seem to throw out rather quickly and there's usually a certain amount of respect in being described as such...But what does it mean? According to Webbie, an independent woman is one who has her own house, her own job, two kids, no man, and is a bad broad. Well, I currently rent, have no kids, a wonderful partner, and while I have no problem referring to myself as bad as hell, there's just something about the word broad that may get you punched if you EVER refer to me as such (please don't test me on that one). So I guess that puts me out of the "Independent" category. So I ask again, what does it mean when we claim to be independent? Most women will say they're independent because they don't need a man for anything. Well, let me let the cat of the bag: men, partners, and spouses are not the be all end all of independence. My independence means that I'm able to what I need to do to accomplish what I need to accomplish and feel secure enough in making those decisions on my own. And the truth of the matter is, I've been that way for a long time. Long before I even noticed the opposite sex. My mom often jokes that I was born doing things my way, often times without first asking or getting her permission. She would make jokes about my, "strong will," and "inquisitive nature," but she was really quite supportive of my exerting my independence at a very young age. As long as I understood the consequences of my actions I had her full support. And that freedom fostered true independence. When I was 18 and decided to join the Air Force, there wasn't a family discussion around the table like you see on television. I came home and informed my mother that I would be leaving for basic training in August. That was in June. When I decided I was sick of relaxing my hair, I simply stopped. I didn't ask anyone for their opinion. I could go on and on about thousands of decisions I've made completely independent of anyone but there's no need. I will say that while I admire women who don't "need" a man for anything, let's keep it real ladies: the vast majority of us want and long for a happy, healthy, loving relationship. For all of my independence and ability to do for self, I must admit, it was nice to have a man around to save the day when I pulled the shower knob out of the wall and water was shooting all over the bathroom. And admitting so doesn't make me any less independent, it simply makes me human.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Muslims in America..

So I just read this awful story on CNN about Walid Shoebat, a man claiming to be an "ex-terrorist" touring the US to warn police officers and other city officials about the dangers of Muslims and Mosques in America. He claims to be a former Muslim and member of the PLO and allegedly firebombed an Israeli bank in Bethlehem. He also claims to have served time in an Israeli jail and absolutely none of this can be verified. What can be verified is the $500,000+ he brings in annually as our department of homeland security pays him for multiple engagements. Sounds a little fishy to me. Spreading fear and hate is bad enough. To turn your back on your people and capitalize from said fear and hate is absolutely atrocious! As a friend to many Muslims I'm so sick of the this anti-Muslim rhetoric and this is actually quite sickening. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were carried out by a group of extremist Muslims. And yes, that was a tragedy of epic proportions, but to continue to preach hate against our Muslim brothers and sisters 10 years later is shameful. How many wars have been fought in the name of Christianity? How many lives have been lost in that same name? How was this country founded? Hell, this country was built on the backs of slaves and wasn't slavery supposedly okay because the Bible said so? I'm not here to start a religious debate or cast stones at any one religion. I'm simply here to stand in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters and say enough is enough.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm Sorry, does my Black Bother You?

Have you ever watched a co-worker do or say something, and thought to yourself, "I would probably get fired if I did that?" Or been asked your opinion and when you give it in a professional, respectful manner been called negative or aggressive? Have you been accused of not being a team player? Now look in the mirror. I bet your skin has enough melanin to classify you as a person of color. I've found that all too often in the workplace our non co-workers of color (aka White folk) are very quick to inscribe these negative attributes on the backs of their colored counterparts. I was once told that an email I sent asking if I could purchase bagels for my early a.m. meeting was aggressive. Mind you, I didn't use unnecessary capital letters or bold print. No exclamation marks or any other emoticon generally associated with being angry or aggressive. I simply asked a question and offered a few solutions only to be told a few weeks later that my email seemed angry. Seriously..I seemed angry about bagels. Sounds ridiculous right? Unfortunately I've heard of far too many similar experiences from my other Black and Brown working friends. We've been asked to share an opinion on ideas and later been told that our opinions are negative or that we are not team players because we choose to pass on beer and baseball outings. We've all watched our co-workers with Blonde hair and fair skin express similar opinions and be applauded for thinking outside of the box. Go figure. I've come to realize that my very presence in certain work environments can be quite intimidating. It doesn't matter that I laugh often and make sure I exchange at least one pleasantry with everyone daily. According to them I'm Black, so I must be angry about something. Of course, my cocoa skin comes in handy when they need a token to show their diversity, but the minute I open my mouth, I'm the "Angry Black Girl." I've found myself overcompensating to ensure I don't intimidate people. I use phrases like "okey dokey," and make sure I include stupid smiley faces on emails to make sure no one thinks I'm angry. When asked my opinion about something, if I don't agree I simply don't speak up. All of this extra work (for not nearly enough pay)is enough to actually drive a sista crazy! Am I the only one to experience incidental intimidation, solely based on skin color?

Leave My Womb Alone!!

It seems like every time I turn around my womb is being discussed in some form or another. Whether it's the House voting to strip Planned Parenthood of Federal Funds or Michelle Bachmann calling Planned Parenthood a "criminal enterprise," and threatening to outlaw abortion it seems like a woman's right to choose has become great fodder for public debate. And then there's the constant defending of my choice to not become a mother at this stage in my life. When did a woman's right to choose become a public debate? We all know that Roe v. Wade affirmed a woman's right to choose to abort a pregnancy, but now it seems like we have to defend our choice to not get pregnant in the first place. If I had a dollar for every time I had to explain to people why I don't have kids yet, I could probably give Sallie Mae at least half of the cash I owe her. The truth of the matter is, I love kids and can't wait to start my family, but it seems as though the increase of baby mamas and baby daddy's has diminished the importance of having a nuclear family. Blame it on my mama, but I still believe in marriage before children. For years she not so subtly let me know that I better not bring home any children without bringing home a husband and for all the things that didn't stick...that did. My decision to remain kid free before marriage isn't a knock to the many wonderful single moms out there doing it. I was raised by a wonderful woman who played the roles of mommy, daddy, and sibling (yes I am an only child) and I know some extremely hardworking single women who are raising our future Queens and Kings. And while raising a child is probably the most gratifying job in the world, it's also the hardest. I look back on my own childhood with amazement at how my mom managed to move us out of LA and into the suburbs, yet still battle LA traffic to make sure she was home in time for school recitals and award ceremonies. She made sure I had at least one fan at every basketball game and she wiped away my tears when someone or something disappointed me to the point of crying. She made all of it look so easy, but trust me, she let it be known that single parenthood was the hardest thing she had ever done. And that's one of the many reasons I have yet to bear children. While I'm all for independence, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a partner to share that responsibility with. And call me crazy, but I want to have one last name in my household. I have a friend that was with her boyfriend for almost 10 years and had two children before she decided to marry him for that very reason. And then there's the whole financial responsibility that comes along with children. Unless my dear Auntie Sallie Mae starts taking diapers and formula as payments, my current financial situation does not allow room for children. I was seven with a passport and want to provide a similar lifestyle for my children. Funny, but even my dear mom has jumped on the, "When are you going to have a baby?" bandwagon. I would share my real answer with her but I can't be held to deadlines when it comes to my womb (soon mommy, I promise). Bottom line is, I can go on and on about my decision to not have kids right now, but I shouldn't have to. Parenthood should be a joy, not something a woman should feel forced into by society.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Black, Educated....and Broke

I, like the majority of my friends have a college degree from a pretty good school. Most of my friends even have secondary degrees which I too plan on one day getting. I'm just as well rounded, if not more than most. I am a military veteran, was a student leader in college, and was even a member of a month long human rights delegation in Rwanda. Finding a great job after college was supposed to be a breeze. But here's something else that almost all of my friends have in common: we are Black, Educated, and BROKE! Yes, the majority of us are employed, but in this economy it's harder than ever for recent college graduates to get a foot in the door with these high paying companies. It used to be simple. Go to college, get a great internship, and at the end of your internship, the company realized how awesome you are and offered you a nice paid position. Unfortunately in today's economy so many companies are barely staying afloat and free work is really their only option. So where does that leave those of us with the unfortunate circumstance of being a recent college graduate? Well, most of us are working in jobs where we're barely able to pay rent, bills, and dear ol' Aunt Sallie Mae. CNN recently ran a story aptly titled, "My degree isn't worth the debt!" and quite frankly, I agree. A college classmate of mine and I always refer to our degrees as, "The most expensive piece of paper we've ever bought," because that's all it's been to us thus far. Will I admit that having a college degree helped get my foot in the door at my current and previous employers? Absolutely! But I'll also admit that I've only worked for small non profits with salaries that barely cover the monthly cost of that degree. And quite frankly, I have not done anything in my professional career that I don't think I could have done without this private college education. Leaving the non profit world and going corporate isn't quite so easy these days either. With so many people competing for so few jobs, unless you have at least 5 years of experience in that new field, don't even bother applying. And that's for an entry level salary barely above what I make now. Between the recently laid off, who may have 10 years plus experience, and other recent graduates, it's pretty competitive out there. I'm not saying we should start telling our youth not to go to college, but as a former youth worker I was and continue to be extremely honest with the young people in my life. College is a major financial undertaking and whether you graduate or not, Sallie Mae and the Department of Education are going to want their money six months after you leave that campus. And although I know that my college education was in investment in my future, I am definitely not living the adult life I imagined. Frivolous shopping, last minute travel, and regular happy hours are for now, things of the past. Rather than living like Carrie Bradshaw, I am living like a recent college graduate with massive debt. I am (impatiently) counting down the days until I make that December loan payment so I can throw these bad boys back into deferment...and go back to school. I know it's crazy but I still haven't abandoned the idea of getting my Master's Degree and in turn getting an awesome job doing what I love and finally making enough money to not have to worry. Until then, I will continue to be Black, Educated, Broke....and FABULOUS!!

Check out Default: the Student Loan Documentary if you still need some light shed on this growing situation:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure I know how the new Justin Timberlake Mila Kunis movie ends. I'm going to go on a limb and say that after years of being regular friends, and a few random, innocent hook ups, the two of them will realize that they've had feelings for each other all along and will utter those three magic words, "I love you," and share a long, sloppy kiss as the credits roll. That sounds like the perfect way to begin a relationship...if you live on the silver screen and not in the real world. While Hollywood likes to romanticize the idea of having sex with no strings attached, in reality, it very rarely works out. Someone almost always winds up hurt, and it's more than likely the woman in the relationship. I've seen it time and time again. Woman meets man. Woman and man share a physical attraction for each other. Man tells woman he's not looking for a relationship, but he still wants to sleep with her. They become friends with benefits and everything is fine until A. The woman catches feelings or B. The man finds a woman with whom he has a vested interest and now the friends with benefits relationship has to come to an end. Now the woman friend is left to pick up the pieces and wonder why she never transitioned from being his "friend with benefits" to his girlfriend. Part of it, is because by entering into this Friends with Benefits type of relationship, you in essence, agreed to be The Wet Hole. You basically let him know that he can come and go (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED) as he pleases. He's mentally moved you from prospective girlfriend to late night booty call. And from my experience, once a man categorizes you, it's hard to switch lanes. Bottom line, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying (safe) sex with no strings attached, if that's really all you want but women, please be honest with yourselves.If you want more, let it be known up front because not everyone is going to end up as lucky as Mila Kunis.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stop Being the Wet Hole

"A man can find pleasure in any wet hole."

We've all heard it. A woman telling a man that he'll never find any sex better than hers. Or a woman telling her girlfriends about her "good, good," and how it has her man sprung. I've even ran across a crew that refers to themselves as the "Good Pu**y Crew." Seriously ladies. Let me tell you like my dear friend told me, a man can find pleasure in any wet hole. This was my Facebook status a few weeks ago and someone asked me to elaborate, so here we go.

For a man, good sex is pretty easy to come by. If she gets wet and does more than just lay there, the average man will enjoy it to the point of ejaculation (was that technical enough for you?). Don't get me wrong, there are certain moves that will surely blow his mind in the bed, (I've really been trying to perfect the Lynn Spin since the days of Girlfriends) but what takes sex from good to great is the work you put in before and after you get down with the get down. Thanks to my love of music and sports, as well as my time in the Air Force, I've made tons of male friends. I've been privy to conversations that were both disgusting and enlightening. My conclusion: men will lay down with a willing and able body but they'll only start relationships with women who stimulate them mentally. Unfortunately too many women aren't willing to put in the work it takes to capture and keep a man's attention outside of the bedroom. How many women are willing to step outside of their own comfort zones and learn his mental triggers? Can your man cry in front you without feeling like his masculinity is being threatened? How many women are versed in more than just reality television and fashion and are able to talk politics and gender roles with their man? How many women can chill with him and his boys on Sunday and watch the game and know that Adrian Peterson's fumble just cost the Vikings a trip to the NFC championship? And most importantly, how many women are comfortable enough in their "independence" to know that they don't "need" a man, but damn it, they want one! And when they find that man worthy enough to settle down with, how many women are willing to come home after a hard day at work, throw on that apron and make a meal so good that he has to call his mama and let her know that his lady can throw down too? Not too many. But to have almost every woman tell it, their "good good," is the best in the world. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with knowing that you can satisfy a man in the bed, but I take comfort in knowing that I satisfy mine outside of the bedroom as well. So ladies, let's move beyond our "wet holes," and put in the work towards long lasting, healthy, happy relationships. And once we've put in that work, let's perfect our own versions of that Lynn Spin!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

White's Only Scholarship

I've been slacking on my writing and reading, (blame the holiday weekend and my social butterfly ways) but this was something I had to share.As a college graduate of a predominately White, private institution, and a recipient of one of those "Student of Color Scholarships" the idea of a "White's Only Scholarship," is not only offensive, it's one of the most absurd things I've heard in a minute. Not only is Marcus Carter out of his mind, so is Colby Bohannan. I'd like to ask Mr. Bohannan, how does the number of the scholarships that are established for minorities compare to the general scholarships? And how many of those general scholarships are awarded to people of color? How many universities, outside of our HBCUs have a problem recruiting and maintaining quality white students? I don't see Harvard, Yale or any of our other Ivy League institutions designating "White's Only Scholarships," and I also don't see a decline in their white student population..Go figure...And Marcus Carter, I hope you don't have younger siblings, family members, or children that are ever in need of money for school. And if they do, the better not apply for any of that minority money...I wonder how Mr. Carter will feel when he realizes that he was simply a tool in Black face used to push the agenda of White man....

Here's the news piece: