Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting To What We Want From Where We Are Pt 1

Have you ever felt disappointment?

If you’re a living, breathing human being of course you have! The difference between how we react to it is what distinguishes success from failure in achieving life goals. Well…I may have assumed a bit here. The first thing we need to have ARE life goals.

So if you want something how do you go about getting it? Mind you I have much higher goals in mind than material acquisitions. This is such a consumerist society that even those part of the underclass get the latest gadget, shoes or electronic goods. The issue is whether that energy was spent doing something that builds wealth and sets you up for a higher quality of life or if you end up digging a hole to fall into.

1. The first step is changing one’s mindset.

Not only to be more positive but to think in the long term. That disappointment is an indicator that we want to reach for something. Now whether it's beneficial for us is another issue entirely, but in general terms it's an opportunity to aim higher. One popular interview question asked is, “Where do you see yourself in five years.” When I researched techniques there were a list of acceptable answers all related to telling a potential employer that time would be spent with them of course, but that was never my intention. I was always going to be on the lookout for a better position. How many of us get complacent, thinking long term employment at one job looks good on a resume? There’s something to be said for stability – if you’re looking for that type of job at that type of company and expect to live that type of life. That also worked until five years ago. Or less.

As we see in this volatile market all of the old rules are out the door. People who would have stayed in positions have been downsized. The ones who’ve stayed are doing the work of three now. Many positions are gone forever and will never return.

Education is very important. Typically that would mean a degree from a nationally accredited program. That’s an important caveat to mention as there’s been an explosion of degree mill schools that basically print up a diploma if someone’s willing to pay for it. Employers have apparently been flooded with unqualified graduates who don’t have basic skill sets. At the other end of this are the school snobs who place importance on those graduating from name schools. Everyone can’t attend a name school. Some may have to think prudently, attending a smaller school or gasp! Community College before transferring to a larger state or private university. Some institutions are simply coasting on their reputations and may not provide much value to an individual and their specific needs.

Others may be best served learning a trade or starting a business. We shouldn't limit ourselves in anything that we do. There’s more to education than sitting in a class, however. Keeping up with changes in technology and trends in society is equally as important. For example there’s are early adapters of these changes and there’s everyone else. There’s people who may be highly skilled in their area of expertise who flourished under the old system but are not able to incorporate newer methods. Like social media.

It is now required for Public Relations specialists to know this medium. It’s also necessary for those who were relying on their government or private industry position that hadn’t originally required much more than a high school diploma (and the means to pass an exam). As more of those positions people assumed they’d have for life are eliminated (I mean who thought a Post Office would ever close?) those that cannot adapt will be left behind.

For example, the blogging platform has been available for a few years now. Many journalists have incorporated blogs into their work out of necessity. Citizen journalism is going to continue to grow as newspapers and magazines struggle to operate under the old model. Their overhead is killing them: the expensive rent of prime real estate to house employees, the expense accounts and other perks are destroying their bottom line.

There’s another aspect that hasn’t been discussed. These entities have been actively engaging in employment apartheid for years. When a company has intentionally hired a majority one gender, one race, one or two ethnicities within that race construct, with similar mentalities they’re not really interested in reaching a wide and diverse population. They expected the larger audience to be serviced by a small minority. So as that very narrow appeal has shrunk it can no longer support such segregation. Hence certain companies have gone under or have to consolidate. Thinking of it strictly in terms of survival it is how it should have been a long time ago. Eventually their “preferred” population would not hold the same clout or retain the necessary numbers to sustain the business model. So I have little sympathy.

Now this is where the adapters of technology and trends come into play. Once the basic skills required have been obtained adding the flourish is easy. In the case of news media stories that didn’t have “value” to some - more likely it was a case of intentionally ignoring things – we can now cover them. Whether it’s an individual who decides to start a blog and write about it or directly hiring a skilled professional who has been downsized we can now ensure the diverse population has a voice. That’s a powerful thing.
  • What ways can we begin to think outside the box?
  • Where do you see needs are not being met?
  • Have you thought of an area that’s lacking but are waiting for someone else to address it?
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

When Your Mother In Law Sues You She's Just Not That Into You!

I had briefly heard of this story in passing but hadn't realized all of the ramifications involved. Comic Sunda Coonquist has been sued by her mother-in-law for making jokes about the behavior of the family. Much humor is rooted in pain and certain comedians are very skillful at dissecting the actions of others. Sunda is a bi-racial black woman, her husband is white and she converted to Judaism to marry him. At the crux of this case is the story of her husband's family who have a history of exclusionary antics. The fact that Sunda's husband is representing her in court has been lauded by some. I think the entire scenario is ridiculous and clearly was escalating for some time.
Croonquist’s act includes jokes about her many encounters with her husband’s family over the years, like her first visit to her mother-in-law’s house. She gave Roker a sample: “I walk in, I say, ‘Thank you so much for having me here, Ruthie.’ She says, ‘The pleasure’s all mine, have a seat.’ ” Then, in a loud aside, “ ‘Harriet, put my pocketbook away.’ ”

On a more serious note, Croonquist said that despite her obvious commitment to Judaism, she has suffered through painful incidences of exclusion from her husband’s family. “It’s not been easy,” she told Roker. “I’ve been asked to step out of family photos. I guess I’m just not right for the bar mitzvah picture.”

The comedian said that she has been the brunt of her in-laws’ jokes as well. “They made jokes at my expense. Not on stage, but in temple.”

Insulting your relatives while at your house of worship is a big FAIL!

If we're going to encourage (black) women to "think outside the box" and look for caliber in a mate part of that evaluation needs to be what boundaries are enacted for other family members should they pose a threat to the relationship. After you've been married for FIFTEEN years, have had children and certain family members are STILL doing things that undermine your relationship or your mate they NEED TO GO! Clearly there were no consequences in place for this mother-in-law. Or other members of the husband's family. His sister AND brother-in-law have also joined in the lawsuit - and the husband expresses "surprise" at this!? Get a clue....

This was not an empowering marriage choice to me!

At one point you can be too self-sacrificing - and marry a WIMP! I personally wonder how much racial/ethnic pride Sunda has in herself to have allowed things to deteriorate without standing up for herself. I question whether a black woman who was not bi-racial would have been so willing to let this go. I don't think this is an example of a husband providing for and protecting his wife. I think this is a scenario of deniers, excusers and people-pleasers run amuck. I also think this is one of those situations where other Jews need to step in to police the behavior of one of their own. This family is hurting the "brand" by engaging in such obvious hateful behavior that is clearly based on their own racial prejudice. You can't discuss your own history of oppression by doing it to other people lest you want others to turn a deaf ear to your pleas. Just ask African Americans about that one.....

Here's an interview with Croonquist on the Today Show (yes I also noticed they tossed it to Al Roker not Matt, Meredith or Ann):

h/t Felicia
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Civil Rights Was Not Supposed To Be The DESTINATION!

Note: I wrote this well over a month ago but haven't been able to finish this the way I want. Then I realized it's a blog post not a graduate dissertation (perhaps it's the start of one) so I'm posting because it needs to be discussed. So have at it!

Civil Rights WAS supposed to be part of the CONTINUED journey of the collective advancement of African-Americans. Sadly it became the end of the road. As we who have eyes can see it has all gone downhill since then.
"A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket. "When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you're taking it to the criminal who's responsible; it's like running from the wolf to the fox. They're all in cahoots together". "Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn't need any legislation, you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution, you wouldn't be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now." "You and I, 22 million African-Americans — that's what we are — Africans who are in America. You're nothing but Africans. Nothing but Africans. In fact, you'd get farther calling yourself African instead of Negro. Africans don't catch hell. You're the only one catching hell. They don't have to pass civil-rights bills for Africans." Ballot or the Bullet excerpt.
Malcolm X described his continued commitment to Black nationalism, which he defined as the philosophy that African-Americans should govern their own communities. He said that Black nationalists believe that African-Americans should control the politics and the economy in their communities and that they need to remove the vices, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, that afflict their communities.

If "we" as individuals and our (hold-overs from the 60's & 70's, self-appointed & future wannabe) MISleaders actually did GOVERN instead of defending all manner of mediocrity and depravity blacks in this country would be much better off. Govern is defined as:
  • To bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage
  • Impose regulations direct or strongly influence the behavior of
The African-American women who did all the grunt work behind the scenes were expecting to be rewarded for their loyalty later on. Many (most?) were cast aside and today with few exceptions are forgotten.
As Olson recounts it, the day after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the city's black leaders held a mass meeting to promote a boycott. It was December 1955, and the meeting was packed with ministers and others who wanted to speak, among them Parks. The crowd never heard from her. "You've said enough," one of the leaders told her. And with that, Olson says, Parks became a shining example of the role of women in the Civil Rights movement: they got things started and the men took the spotlight. Freedom's Daughters excerpt
How many of us have considered the physical danger these women and children were put in?We have to remove the blinders or romanticism to properly assess the retaliation that went on behind the scenes. You'd have to imagine if law enforcement would let an attack dog loose on a person in plain sight something even worse occurred in absence of photographers and television crews. Think of Abu Ghraib.

The women who participated in the Freedom Rides and other resistance were likely exposed to untold abuse including sexual assault. I'm sure that was a message the male "leaders" didn't want to get out. Neither would the women want to expose themselves to the public scrutiny. Being raped is traumatic enough but if it was coupled with efforts for equality.....I just can't imagine going through something like that.

If anyone is reading this who personally knows some women in their late '50's - 80's who'd be willing to step forward without shame and tell the TRUTH...try to get it recorded somehow. It's a vital part of our history. Not just from a race perspective, but a feminist/womanist one. Could this also explain why so many women initially held tightly to the idea of "black love" and pairing only with other African-American males?
  • Pauli Murray
  • Maria Stewart
  • Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Ella Baker
  • Septima Poisette Clark
  • Diane Nash
Here are some names you may or may not be familiar with. Without them we wouldn't have had a Movement. There are also many unknown contributors we owe a debt of gratitude to. We know Hamer was beat up and considered less than so it wouldn't fall out of the realm of possibility that some women may have been assaulted as well. Those entrenched in supporting white supremacy murdered white people so nothing was off the table.

We also need to reexamine what we believe the Movement was about. If you start to dig deeper and look at things more critically you'll see a pattern emerging where the African-American men who took prominent roles (or small) were interested in advancing their own interests above the collective. That included seeking out mates who were not black. It was a driving impetus for this "equality" fight. They wanted equal access without retaliation by white men to white women.

I'm reading a review by Paige Turner of the book: Freedom's Daughters The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 by Lynne Olsen. Now with my analysis Ms. Turner has a few problematic beliefs that fall into the typical indoctrination of marginalized black women who diminish themselves: the "save all our people" complex as she titles her review, "Women Hold Up the Sky" and her willingness to dismiss Stokely Carmichael's clear contempt of women with his quote about women's best role as "prone". dear. Anyone who makes "jokes" and does bad "satire" displaying racist images as we saw last year means it. Anyone who makes light of rape and tells women their purpose is solely for the sexual gratification of a man is SERIOUS.
Freedom's Daughters draws strong connections between the plights of black and white women, both being in the same powerless boat. There is a good exploration of the complex and conflicted relations between white mistresses and their black female slaves. This conflict was never eradicated but reared its ugly head during the 1964 Mississippi "Freedom Summer" when the inequality of sexual attention given to the female SNCC workers created a permanent schism. "The clash between black and white women in Mississippi seemed to stem in some cases from the fact that each appeared to have what the other wanted. Unlike many white women, black women were not restricted to office work or the Freedom Schools. They were out on the front lines with men, canvassing, organizing, going to the courthouse and in general asserting themselves in no uncertain terms…[but]…when the day was over and there was time to relax, the men took out [their white female co workers]. "Our skills and abilities were recognized and respected," Cynthia Washington noted, "but that seemed to place us in some category other than female". (Sexism, patriarchy, jealousy, focusing on non-caliber men, the unresolved issues of sexual assault of black women by white men.)
Had Ella Baker had her way people would have been charged with taking more responsibility for themselves instead of looking to one decidedly male leader as Messiah. I don't know that the masses would've complied but a few more key individuals would've been great! We can see that legacy being played out TODAY with how many African-Americans are resistant to the idea of true accountability for our "first black President" with their excuses at the ready. Ranging from "give him time to do x,y,z" "I trust him" "he's the President of the US not of black people" those that are afraid to simply ASK for their due because they VOTED for the man at the highest rates of any other group have fallen into the pit of apathy, inaction and learned helplessness. I've discussed how I volunteered, that I was excited about the election and he was my preferred candidate but I have a list of things I expect be done. Like health care being passed with the public option. A lot of my support has always been about ensuring the prominent role of the African-American First Lady & First Daughters being used as an impetus for the rest of us to be elevated not just in the United States but the world. This is our best opportunity to do so and help secure more prominent futures for the next generations.

An important revelation in Freedom's Daughters is the way male and female leaders perceived and wielded power. The legendary and greatly respected Ella Baker of the SCLC, NAACP and SNCC had a completely different view of people management than did Martin Luther King (as I mentioned above). "King ran the SCLC in the same authoritarian manner that he and most of the other ministers ran their churches. To them power meant control over others. Baker had a completely different view of power. She believed that King's job and the SCLC's should be to nurture people, to help them find the power within themselves to change their own lives and the society in which they lived."

Of course someone reading this might protest and ask, "Why are you mentioning the black man and his "failings" or being critical" My reply: Look at the state of black people in America and ask yourself how did we get here? The men declared themselves the LEADERS! They abandoned their roles as fathers and husbands AFTER Civil Rights were won. The 30% marriage rate for blacks [married to each other], the 80% OOW birth rate and the 70% unmarried rate for black women did not happen by osmosis. So the buck stops with them.

There was a point where so many black women stopped looking out for their BEST interests and decided saving the race was more important. There's a handful of black female bloggers discussing this error but NOBODY else is from. I'm certainly not finding groups of black men talking about how we are doing too much and they need to step up and hold themselves accountable. If there are feel free to leave their (names & numbers, lol) blogs in the comment section! SOMEBODY has to speak out. Really, I'm not trying to rehash but we need to fit some more of the missing pieces. I believe many black women are STILL thinking it's certain "undesirables" who are acting up the way I used to before my revelation that it's the majority of men (with an increasing number of women) who are [DBR] damaged beyond repair/recognition (of normative behavior).

I am reading and researching so many stories of WOMEN who risked LIFE and LIMB for the benefits we enjoy and squander so readily and it makes me angry to see their efforts be spit upon by those of us 1-2 generations beyond them and our endless litany of excuses about how we have it so "hard" now. People are struggling but some people are ALWAYS struggling. When is it ENOUGH? There is not enough money in the world to throw at people who'd take it and burn it while offering even more excuses about why they can't function and how it's someone else's fault.

How did things fall apart so quickly AFTER Civil Rights was passed? The foundation must not have been strong to begin with. Why is ANY critique met with a rush to silence or attack the messenger? Why were the women marginalized and shut out? I'm not so sure I'm willing to say it was all or mostly their "fault" either. There would've been an internal war had women stood up. Yes, I think from my lofty perch I can say they should have revolted but perhaps they were thinking a compromise was better than complete failure for the Movement. It's too bad that we won a battle (Civil Rights) that was miscalculated as a war, only to lose the real war (the entire population going to hell in a handbasket). Diane Nash put herself in physical danger because the "men" thought it wasn't safe to march. Other women followed suit. Perhaps she thought being a female would protect her. It didn't. Now I have to ask the obvious, what kind of coward lets a woman risk physical harm?


Let's repeat that shall we?

No African-American women = No Civil Rights that we all got to "enjoy".

No movement can be sustained strictly by the sheer force of will by a handful of women. Eventually they had to pass away. The men who were made "Gods" were killed. Since no one else has stepped into a leadership role BY EXAMPLE of course things have fallen apart. There's a lot of talking and a lot of lying. There's a lot of personal gain and a big giant collective failure.

It's just a shame that we've regressed. African-American women have been doing EVERYTHING for soooo long most don't even know how NOT to.

So put down your axe, pick, club, etc. Stop the hard labor and LEAVE the plantation. Your Emancipation came years ago only you were too busy SLAVING AWAY to notice. YOU ARE FREE!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Old School Friday - You'd Never Guess It, But...

This week's meme is "I Bet You Didn't Know I Liked". I missed a few weeks there but didn't want to let too much time elapse. I liked all of the Duran Duran side projects even if some of them seem a bit questionable now.

Arcadia -they were very esoteric and worked with Grace Jones!

John Taylor solo song for the film 9 1/2 Weeks. Hey he's the original JT.

Power Station - They did an excellent cover of the Isley Brother's Harvest For the World that should've been released as a single.

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The White Media Sure Loves To Promote Black Woman Angst Don't They?

If I have to read another tired article about how black women have such a hard time with:

a) Our hair
b) Our dating prospects
c) Our bodies

“If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed,” the comedian Paul Mooney, sporting an Afro, says in the documentary “Good Hair,” which won a jury prize at the Sundance film festival and comes out in October. “If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”
Le sigh. There is no political related ideology in wearing our hair with or without chemical processing. It's a personal choice! This is why I am wary of having black men try to deconstruct issues that pertain specifically to black women. Or give dating advice when they themselves haven't had successful relationships. I mean I don't see any movies helmed by us about how their anatomy has been erroneously touted as a means of boosting their insecurities. It would be considered insulting, yet here we are having other people tell us what our "issues" are.

Ladies you shouldn't fall for it. Despite some of the serious issues we discuss here and across the blogosphere these discussions initiated in outlets like the New York Times don't necessarily have our best interests at heart. Considering how the majority of the staff - especially upper management is 99.99999% white and male - I have a hard time believing the our stories are of such interest. What has happened is a heightened combination of curiosity and contempt from numerous quarters since Michelle Obama became First Lady that serves as a catalyst for this.

Now one agenda is to do coverage that serves as the back-handed compliment and the white editors make certain to hire a writer with some black heritage to pen it. In other words to deflect any charges of bias they'll say the (condescending or derogatory) tone and content was at the discretion of that writer. They were of course pulling the puppet strings. At any time they could find a writer who could produce a quality piece of substance that is equally compelling and informative.

Another agenda is to do these types of black people 101 stories where they do a superficial exploration of something that has been a bone of contention for many. Like our hair apparently. It's either feast or famine apparently. They have gone from ignoring us completely or only reporting the worst offenders to having an axe to grind. When do these shrinking sources of legit media offer an exhaustive, inspiring or accurate portrayal? It's a fluke but it does occur from time to time.

Not that I don't welcome media coverage for things like the population of missing and exploited women and children. Or having our beauty touted in a favorable light. There's just no balance. It can't all be about our First Lady or some variation of " Black Woman It Sucks To Be You". There's a fine line to be had in discussing obstacles and in evaluating stereotypes or exposing pathologies. How we respond is equally as important for we can do things that help elevate our image or chip away at recent progress.

We need to be wary and evaluate who wants to engage in these conversations and why. It is often not designed to be helpful in removing barriers but to reinforce them. Why are we letting other people dictate what should be our own agenda with a message we take responsibility for and protect?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Black Elites, the Kennedy Family, You & Me

I've wondered from time to time why it seems certain benevolent whites have often had more sympathy for the plight of blacks than other black people. Especially when it comes to the black elite. Perhaps hate is too strong a word to describe the standoffish attitude, but disdain or indifference could probably work equally as well. The deaths of Eunice Kennedy Shriver earlier this month followed by Ted Kennedy two days ago has me wondering about the legacy of the Talented Tenth. Lest someone accuse me of being envious of those who reside on lofty perches my reply is, nice try but no cigar. I'm considering the numerous contributions the Kennedy family have made that are of benefit to the masses. From the creation of the Special Olympics to the fight for health care we can point to specific things done on a wide scale without needing to search too long for something. Now any comparison would have to take into account the political stature of the family in question, but if you're an elite then aren't you similarly connected? Is it expecting too much to look forward to seeing similar acts of charity from others who have so much?

Would I like an excessive amount of money? Yes. Do I want education to be a goal for all my family members? Absolutely. Generational wealth? Ditto. An intact family. For sure. A network of people with influence? Sign me up please. But do you need to be an "Only One" to have those things? Last time I checked, we are free. Perhaps once and for all we should be certain to shatter any delusions about any black person being under any obligation to do anything for anybody else. We're not an island, however. Being that we discuss why black women should be able to make decisions as free agents when it comes to indoctrination of the "black community" mindset of self-sacrifice and in not choosing race as the most important quality in a potential mate, why not be free to form our own neighborhoods, make friends and follow Dale Carnegie's book about influencing others?
The black elite in the South of the United States started forming before the American Civil War among free blacks who managed to acquire property. Of the free people of color in North Carolina in the censuses from 1790 to 1810, 80% can be traced to African Americans free in Virginia during the colonial period. Free blacks migrated from Virginia to other states as did their neighbors. Extensive research into colonial court records, wills and deeds has demonstrated that most of those free families came from relationships or marriages between white women, servant or free, and black men, servant, free or slave. Such relationships were part of the more fluid relationships among the working class before the boundaries of slavery hardened.

Catering services and other skilled employment were important because they had the white contacts needed to remain within the “status quo”. The black elite also enjoyed the benefits of living within the white neighborhoods which further isolated them from the darker-skinned negro which caused them to blame them for the downward shifts in life-style choices. They felt that by “emulating” the white man could social standing and class be achieved. Wikipedia would seem the more things change the more they stay the same.

Now we know there's class of white elites and they probably break it down a bit further by ethnicity/culture as well. Other groups have their "One-Percenters" also. We can learn something from non-black (and non-African American) elite groups. They actually make an effort to maintain some cohesiveness amongst their collective. Sure Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh and their band of merry racists will trot out the red meat to throw at the white underclass but that's to keep them chasing their tails and being mad at non-whites. It's a well-documented misdirection so the wealthy can stay wealthy. If people don't do their own internal analysis of ways they've been indoctrinated they'll never progress.

I'm just curious though: what does the so-called black elite do? I think at one time it was a few people who banded together for the purpose of surviving and thriving. The focus on building intact families is normal human behavior. Yet there were always other pathologies in place that weakened their efforts from the onset. The men were engaging in gender-based skin shade racism against darker-skinned black women. I imagine that would be akin to white elites demanding all the women in their class had to have a certain hair color from birth. You can alter hair color though. Charities are great. Great publicity. Foundations can do a lot of good. They also shield family wealth and are tax-free entities.

We have a history of great philanthropy from many families. We recognize names like Rockefeller, Ford or Vanderbilt. We cannot ignore these families built their wealth doing things that would be frowned upon - or were outright illegal. When non-whites try to do the same thing no one is willing to look the other way. Some want to be invisible which is prudent. Are we wrong to have expectation of them giving something back? Families like the Johnsons - who started a publishing empire with Ebony and Jet magazines DID do something great. They contributed to the media the image of civilized, productive family-oriented and hard-working blacks. [It's a shame they weren't able or willing to change with the times and adopt to keep the magazines solvent. By comparison Black Enterprise has a print and digital version, a video widget and an Editor In Chief who uses social media.]

By contrast you have another Johnson who created BET and sought to destroy all the work of the former. I'd say "Bobcat" Bob has been wildly successful. Oprah isn't a member of the black elite though I suspect she has done more to uplift black women and girls than most of them combined. Oprah is likely to be included in Lawrence Otis Graham's follow-up book to Our Kind of People though. It gives an account of the black elite, a registry of who's in - and who's not. It seems the categorization of who gets in may have shifted slightly to allow for some favored people. The strictest definitions used to be that you had to have generational wealth. Oprah's billions are newly acquired during her lifetime which is no mean feat!! Michael Jackson is a record-breaker not only for his music but as we've discovered since his death the most generous music artist with his philanthropy.

We're constantly discussing behaviors and pathologies of the working class or lower classes and why certain things just don't work in our best interests but it's incomplete without evaluating members of the upper crust. As a collective there may be obvious separation but numerous individuals display some of the same behaviors they frown upon. We don't need to know every single venture but we can study patterns of behavior to guide us what future steps are likely to be undertaken.
"If you, as an African American, have ever wondered why some "brothers" seem to ignore your existence, even if you have the same education, this book will fill in a lot of holes for you. As I read it, I continually said to myself "So THAT'S why so and so treated me like I was the invisible woman!" I feel more sad than angry for the blacks described in the book. They are caught in a no man's land partly of their own making. They believe they are above other blacks without the family bloodlines, wealth, and education they have. Yet the Caucasians who should be their peers reject them as social inferiors because of their skin color--even if it is lighter than most other African Americans. It's a tragedy; their skills and talents are needed by us all, yet they are lost because of their own snobbery and the racism of others. Read this book, then live your life differently from these black "elite." Amazon reviewer quote.
I read a blog called The Black Socialite. I find it informative. The blog host had to turn off her comments section well over a year ago due to the vitriol of those who had axes to grind, but some people did have legitimate criticism. A certain former hip-hop Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was featured in a post for example. It was before he was charged with his crimes and booted out of office but the word had already gotten out about his nefarious behavior. So in situations like that I think it is not only necessary but wise to question why certain people would be thought of as "separate and special" from the masses when they're simply (would-be) criminals with a "pedigree".

Here are some simple facts. We have a vocal vanguard within the ranks of the so called Black Elite who are still out there inflicting pain on some people. They often quoted in the media and they run around making outlandish statements about class, color, and ‘pedigree.’ They are a small but loud minority who had to claw their way to the manor and are somewhat vicious in their treatment of others......They are NOT representative of the majority of the so called Black Elite. Most of the people featured on this blog go to work each day, volunteer tons of hours for community service, and leverage their resources for causes that matter to them.
That Toure article about the Martha's Vineyard crowd comes to mind. It's where the Obamas (non-elites) are vacationing, er summering right now. Now my personal pet peeve is to ask why the President is on vacation with health care circling the toilet but that's just me I guess!

So I imagine it is very similar to those of us from middle class and working class backgrounds having to see the black underclass and those with that mentality wear their dysfunction like a banner, waving it proudly. Especially if they've achieved fame and fortune from music or starring in a reality show. It's not only embarrassing but it's down right infuriating. We have a lot of fools running in our midst. Yet I wonder if by the very nature of someone declaring themselves special don't they have an added responsibility somewhere down the line? Why can't non-elites offer a similar critique often levied against them by others outside their group?

If it's just about them and their family why do they deserve any attention at all? They're not the ones keeping the Civil Rights Industrial Complex (i.e NAACP, etc) going, it's whites donating a majority of the operating expenses. Regardless of their lofty positions they are still in the end deferring to the dominant group. Why haven't they effectively elevated themselves to a dominant position? Own a major network? A movie studio? Run a distribution network? A major chain supermarket? Having 3-4 generations of an intact family is a feat considering the obstacles blacks had in place, but does that make your family elite or simply smart with a little luck thrown in? Comparing yourselves to the plight of others in your racial category who aren't doing well isn't exactly a high standard. Wouldn't a more accurate analysis come from measuring oneself against other groups' elite families?

When you do that there is no comparison. Real execution of domination required working in concert with the masses because we are a minority population in this country. Instead it would seem many have actively worked against them. So like so much within a diseased and disordered mentality there are those who like to believe they are surrounded by rarified air. Just like those of the underclasses who blame everything on "whitey" and don't want to change. Where does that leave the rest of us? Getting into one group's "club" isn't a guarantee of a quality life it's just a membership to hang out. It's another system of control. If we're leaving the Matrix we have to be free from ALL falsehoods.

I have to note that blog host hasn't revealed her identity (wisely), is an African American woman, seems to be compassionate and is fully divested. She doesn't reveal much of her life but has mentioned she's an AKA (sorority member) and her significant other is a white male. I mention these things because I think even amongst her peers she is probably living the life of a "radical" akin to how many of us regardless of our social class are taking steps towards doing. So brava to her. It just proves we have to be our own women regardless of any preconceived advantages. So many members of prominent families engage in questionable behavior that often gets swept under the rug. It only proves that in the end we're human and solely responsible for our mistakes...and what we may contribute to society in the wake of our absence.

Supplemental Reading: Our Time Will Come, But Not Likely In Our Lifetime and Banking On Our Own

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do You Sometimes Wonder How Dysfunctional Relationships Become the Norm?

Per celeb gossip news rapper Nelly and singer Ashanti broke up last week. When I read it I wondered why it was a surprise. The guy made a music video where he slid a credit card down the butt cheeks of a woman. That speaks volumes about his character, values and how he views black women as disposable objects. Plus they'd "dated" for five years. You know where I'm going with this. If you've spent x amount of time trying to get someone to commit to you and they don't, they're just not that into you. Not to mention the fact that's not smart dating!

In the other singer/rapper break up news pairing Kelis and Nas' divorce was very acrimonious. She had to hire a forensic accountant to track money he'd claimed he didn't have to get the settlement she felt she was entitled to. She's since asked for a lump sum payment instead of monthly allocation. Many of her former "friends" in the industry have dragged her through the mud and other male rappers have predictably called her every name but her own. I'm sure they'd still have sex with her though.

I'm not surprised by the actions of these "men" because spotting the disdain they reserve for black women is like playing Pin the Tail On the Donkey without the blinders. Yet I'm still seeing comments from black women joining in the fake outrage. How dare she ask for any spousal or child support! Perhaps she wants to nurse her child and bond with him yet to hear some women talk she should "get a job". It's part of that Superwoman/Mammy/Mule myth.

Well, her job for the past decade has been "entertainer" which is already a type of fantasy career most will never achieve. I get the impression those who live with less expect other women to do so and resent any elevation in status. Remember the number of defenders of Chris Brown who claimed Rihanna had asked to be beat within an inch of her life? These are the relationships that are being held up as "normal" relations between blacks? This makes me want to tell black women and men to stay away from each other period - but that I know there are exceptions. Yet the sad thing is they are exceptions because I do think the majority are toxic. The "celeb" status of the couples featured only exacerbates the inherent pathologies underlying their conflicts.

Then you have the "educated" idiots like Michael Eric Dyson who may be degreed but have no common sense. His attempt at uplifting the word ni**er as an art form earns him a permanent FAIL. Skippy Gates' defense of 2 Live Crew which I highlighted in an earlier post helped usher in the gangsta rap/bling/ho culture. Directors like Tyler Perry reinforce a narrow definition of black womanhood based on religiosity and stigmas. Let's stop allowing these black men to uplift the gutter at our expense.

Denigration for breakfast, lunch and dinner for more than a decade and why do people wonder why 14 year olds (and younger) are committing crimes like rape and murder? Think about all the adults who buy Grand Theft Auto for children. They're being taught to objectify women and to become criminals. It's not a game. It's indoctrination. It should be considered a form of child abuse as its unsupervised use creates a mini Hitler-like person.

What's the solution? Well this may not be a one-size-fits-all response. The wound is so deep it's time to cut off the limb to save a life. A tourniquet may have worked at one time but too much time has passed denying the wound was there to begin with. Our choices will likely reflect our mentality to begin with. It also comes down to how shrewd we are or are willing to be. We don't want to keep playing catch-up while life is passing us by.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For Those Women Wondering How They'll Divest & Where They'll Go

It's nice to see the media attention being given to Dr. Roxanne Shante this week. To bring you up to speed she was one of the earliest female MCs in hip-hop. She recorded Roxanne's Revenge which was a reply to UTFO's song Roxanne Roxanne. For a more recent comparison think of TLC's recording of No Scrubs. Either way it's been a long time! I've been meaning to write a post about the dearth of women in hip-hop but I find it so difficult trying to lift it up as a genre as a whole.

I had to double-check my Deploying A Little Negro Spirit music posts and sure enough I hadn't touched it with a ten foot pole. We won't be discussing the misogyny in rap/hip-hop because it's a rather moot point I think. The hateful attitude some black men have toward black women is obvious to anyone who wants to acknowledge it. So "music" being used to reflect that is just one of the ways they've been allowed to get away with it.

I had forgotten about Dr. Shante's story of triumph and she deserves the accolades. She signed a record deal and got swindled out of money. She was an unwed teenage mother living in a housing project in NYC. She could have faded into obscurity and continued down that path so many of us warn other women about. She obviously had a vision for herself despite her less than ideal circumstances. She didn't give up on herself or resign herself to a life of constant struggle. Why? She had a clause put in her contract that required her label to pay for her education for life. Of course the label tried to renege on the deal but she persisted. She went to college and continued to grad school eventually earning a Ph.D in psychology. She worked hard, studied hard and moved on. She's now a married mother of two with an education no one can ever take away.

We've discussed getting out of the Matrix and the death of the "black community" as a once-useful entity that doesn't sustain women. We should be free agents able to live our lives on our own terms. I don't think discussing the decay resonates with enough of us and things are far worse than many think. It can be difficult to see it when you're in the middle of it - or far removed from it. There's also a question about how challenging it may be for those who need to leave to separate themselves emotionally and physically if there are a lack of resources or children involved. Perhaps it needs to be stated that everyone who should get out won't. This is a continuing message for those who are willing and able.

Education can be one of the ways out. The Obama administration has a program for mothers to return to school or to start attending period. If you think about it that record label's promise to pay is akin to the financial aid awards that are available. There's a financial aid database you can apply through. Even for those that may have to bring themselves up to speed comprehension-wise or find a less expensive school by choosing a community college. Plus those schools just got extra funding since the 4-year universities tend to be better endowed financially.

The statistics already bear out that black women are finishing college at a much higher rate than black men. If you're living in an unsafe neighborhood or surrounded by people who think of failure as the norm it's best to leave as quickly and as safely as you can. Planning your move to a safer area may require you not sharing this information with anyone who'd seek to hold you back. You can go to the library and seek assistance with doing a search. Why not choose a school in a different city or move to a better section of town? With the state of the economy parents with physical custody of their children may be looking to split costs of living expenses. Of course screening is necessary but this is one way for people to pool their resources while taking a course of action.

It has to be better than living around people like the mother of one of the Dunbar Village suspects who says things like:
“So, if that’s the case they say my son raped somebody, how is that when, I got raped when I was little I told him about it and he was going crazy. They said I couldn’t have no kids I thank God I had 13 kids…

“They’re trying to give these kids, 50 to life, for something they probably ain’t gonna live to do.

“They should put them in a community education where they can learn that. You know like a program or something. Locking these kids up ain’t gonna solve nothing. You know."
You can choose LIFE versus DEATH. It's really that simple. This is also the time for all of us to evaluate where we stand in our lives. Obama is reappointing Bernanke to the Federal Reserve. There's quite a few finance experts who warn the economy is going to get worse - which is the opposite of the Bernanke's feel-good message. Unless you're in the upper wealth percentile or a banker I'd rather be prepared than lulled into a false sense of security. For all of our obstacles, hardships and reasons why we can't do something, perhaps this is the time to do a complete about-face. Since so many claim a special relationship with their version of God don't you think this would be the perfect time to put that faith in action?

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Monday, August 24, 2009

How Black Women Went From Being ENSLAVED By White Men To Black Men In Less Than 50 Years

I present to you the letters from William Lynch slave master giving instructions how to break a person enslaved to keep them in servitude. Read it and be outraged. Then read it again and think about when blacks were emancipated but how most of those emasculated men felt the need to exert a false sense of control to regain their manhood. They couldn't compete or subdue white men so they turned their attention to black women. Some claim the letters are a fake. Even if they are the indoctrination tactics used as outlined in these letters were absolutely deployed with spectacular results. Look at the current state of the majority of blacks post Civil Rights (and even post Obama's election) and you will find a state of chaos that didn't exist as little as 100 years ago. Today so many of us are confused, bewildered, dumbstruck and resistant to change. So many are broken. We need a renewal of our minds.
For fear that our future generations may not understand the principles of breaking both of the beast together, the nigger and the horse. We understand that short range planning economics results in periodic economic chaos; so that to avoid turmoil in the economy, it requires us to have breadth and depth in long range comprehensive planning, articulating both skill sharp perceptions. We lay down the following principles for long range comprehensive economic planning. Both horse and niggers [are] no good to the economy in the wild or natural state. Both must be BROKEN and TIED together for orderly production. For orderly future, special and particular attention must be paid to the FEMALE and the YOUNGEST offspring. Both must be CROSSBRED to produce a variety and division of labor. Both must be taught to respond to a peculiar new LANGUAGE .
Psychological and physical instruction of CONTAINMENT must be created for both. We hold the six cardinal principles as truth to be self-evident, based upon following the discourse concerning the economics of breaking and tying the horse and the nigger together, all inclusive of the six principles laid down above. NOTE: Neither principle alone will suffice for good economics. All principles must be employed for orderly good of the nation. Accordingly, both a wild horse and a wild or natur[al] nigger is dangerous even if captured, for they will have the tendency to seek their customary freedom and, in doing so, might kill you in your sleep. You cannot rest. They sleep while you are awake, and are awake while you are asleep. They are DANGEROUS near the family house and it requires too much labor to watch them away from the house. Above all, you cannot get them to work in this natural state. Hence, both the horse and the nigger must be broken; that is breaking them from one form of mental life to another. KEEP THE BODY, TAKE THE MIND!
In other words, break the will to resist. Now the breaking process is the same for both the horse and the nigger, only slightly varying in degrees. But, as we said before, there is an art in long range economic planning. YOU MUST KEEP YOUR EYE AND THOUGHTS ON THE FEMALE and the OFFSPRING of the horse and the nigger. A brief discourse in offspring development will shed light on the key to sound economic principles. Pay little attention to the generation of original breaking, but CONCENTRATE ON FUTURE GENERATION . Therefore, if you break the FEMALE mother, she will BREAK the offspring in its early years of development; and when the offspring is old enough to work, she will deliver it up to you, for her normal female protective tendencies will have been lost in the original breaking process.
We see this in the out of wedlock birth rate which is currently hovering in the 80th percentile. Like then black women are being used as breeders to maintain numbers. Many have no protection for themselves or their children, but how often do you see them marching for, being angry about some injustice against, acting as a gatekeeper or bodyguard for black men? When is it ever reciprocated? In fact other black women love to attack each other when one "steps out of line" and expects to be treated like any other woman from other groups.

I was just reading messages on Twitter where one was complaining about a celebrity's divorce/child support settlement saying that the woman needed to "get a job". She just gave birth to her first child less than two months ago! The fact the woman filed during her pregnancy speaks volumes about the lack of quality in her former marriage. When this story was first reported there were a lot of black men (and joined be a few black women) who were griping that she was "getting over" and asking for too much because all she deserved was __. As if they were personally involved or even know them!

It seems that whatever racist tactics had been deployed by whites to keep a population compliant was transferred to blacks by CHOICE to use against each other. I feel the need to remind people it's 2009 and high time to let all that crap go. Since trying to have normal conversations with indoctrinated people is futile I think it's just best that those of us outside the Matrix separate ourselves instead. These dead concepts are killing people and I for one want to be part of the LIVING. I'm not interested in being part of a system of control to use my time, energy and breeding capabilities for others to exploit. I want my MIND intact, fully functioning and LEFT ALONE.

Supplemental Reading:
Womanist Musings - Black Women Should Lightenen Up? On Health, Optimism & Bias
Muslim Bushido - The Mass "Gaslighting" Of African-American Women

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