EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Lovely Tears

In Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity on November 28, 2012 at 5:00 am

Today was that day.

That day that left me in tears. I believe that tears are cleansing. When I cry, I have to consider why I am crying and then I either have to face it or ignore it. My tears are a direct expression coming out of me of some emotion. The most important question:  how did I get to this emotional place? (Today I was too concerned with physical surroundings and atmospheric factors. In other words, today was a day full of chaos, clutter, and few accomplishments. )  The next question: how can I avoid this place (or, revisit if the emotion is positive. Today, however, it was ALLLLLL bad)? (I need to be at peace within myself).

After asking those two questions, I make my plan for tomorrow. (I need to be concerned about God and other permanent things rather than things that either time or personal effort can change. No matter what my body is doing, I need to keep my mind stayed on God, however, I need to be spirit-led, rather than body led). Tomorrow’s plan inevitably means learning from today’s tears.

I close-out with a pep-talk (on top of some great music). Today, I reminded myself that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal; that there is a time for all things; that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; that I am in this place but not of it; that for some reason beyond my comprehension, God saw fit to shed innocent blood for my life and that indicates that I have a purpose. I am praising God right now for giving me the clarity of mind to learn from today, and I am thankful for THIS lesson even as I am hopeful for a better tomorrow.

But, more than anything else, I remember that only three things can take me through to tomorrow: faith, hope, and love. But, the most important thing is love. I need to wake up tomorrow and LOVE: love God, love my parents, love my friends, love my colleagues, love studying, love my job.

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Female Alien Fallacy

In Encouragement, Friendship, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on November 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm

“Men understand me better than women.”

I’ve heard this sentiment many times, particularly from Black women–I’ve said it several times myself. In fact, I surrounded myself with a band of brothers in high school. I found more comfort, more sympathy, and more acceptance from those 4 or 5 men than I did from any number of women I knew. I spent my college years at Agnes Scott–an all women’s college and an institution of the highest caliber learning. My friends and colleagues during those years were women of all colors, shapes, sizes, identities, and persuasions.

Today, it struck me that a man (no matter his sexual orientation) has been taught (maybe programmed or maybe even conditioned by society) to process something about my sexuality and my gender role. I know this sounds weird AND sexist, but hear me out. Most of the men that I know (no matter their sexuality) do not care if I wear fishnet pantyhose, or red lipstick, or 6 inch heels. Most of the men that I know do not care if I’ve had 4 children, or if I’m pre-menstrual, or if I’m married, or if I’m engaged. Most of the men that I know do not care if I run a Fortune 500 company or if I work at McDonald’s. Most of the men that I know do not care if I wear MAC makeup, or if I wear Louboutins, or if I carry a K-Mart purse. Most of the men that I know don’t care if my hair is curled, pressed, dyed, fried, woven, shaken or stirred. Most of the men that I know could care less if I lose that 20 pounds or gain another 10. There are very few things that I can do with female-ness that will threaten or intimidate a man (or, at least the men I know).

In reflecting on my friendships with men, I realize that we didn’t “get ready” around each other; we didn’t usually critique each other’s outfits; we spent very little time talking about our love interests. We talked, we laughed, we ate, we drank, we commiserated, we celebrated. More than anything, time and space have diminished those friendships. No traumatic break, no final argument, no climactic snuffing.

Yet, I approach other women as if they were aliens. As if I could only understand another woman insofar as she is exactly like me. How silly! I differ from many of my male friends in every way possible–right down to the genitalia! Yet, I expect a woman to have the same style, the same hair care routine, the same attitude toward family, the same financial status, the same way of getting gussied up, the same physical fitness routine, the same sexual experiences, the same taste in food as I do. I’m so willing to overlook the differences between myself and a male friend, yet not as willing to do so for a female friend.

Why?

Honestly, I cannot explain to you how it started when I was in elementary and high school. BUT, I believe that I’ve experienced the female alien fallacy from other women, so I use the female alien fallacy to protect myself. The buck, however, stops here. I am not going to insist that my female friends be carbon-copies and reflections of me. Her sexual experiences and sexuality need neither inform nor influence mine; her sense of style need neither inform nor influence mine; her understanding of herself need neither inform nor influence mine. Though she may be different, everything that she is made of is the same human stuff that I’m made of.

Yet, in that same buck-stopping motion, I also refuse to be treated as an alien. For any woman who believes that I am so extremely different from her, I invite you to think of me as an alien who wishes to be left in peace on her own planet. For those women who are ready to accept and overlook differences: I would love to take you to my leader 😉

In an effort to love my body…

In Encouragement, R[evol]ution on November 26, 2012 at 4:06 am

There was a time in my life when I was in my mid-twenties and I was slim, slender, tall and willowy. At 5’9″ I weighed in the neighborhood of 150 pounds and I loved the way I looked. I am no longer in my mid-twenties; I no longer weigh 150; I’m still the same height. But, despite all of that, I need to love the way I look. I live with me everyday. And, quite frankly losing weight is going to do nothing for my insides.

I am going to make an effort to love my hair. Turning white, growing long, frizzing out, curling up. But also bouncy, healthy, and thick.

I am going to make an effort to love my face. Increasingly freckled, increasingly fine lined and wrinkled, increasingly under eye circled, increasingly double-chinned. But also shiny-eyed, full-lipped, and strong cheek-boned.

I am going to make an effort to love my tummy. Always soft, always lumpy, never flat, never rippled. But also healthy, smooth, and strong.

I am going to make an effort to love my legs. Skinny-ankled, big-footed, mosquito-bite scarred, cellulite-thighed. But also long, fast, and just…well, just amazing.

I am going to make an effort to love my skin color. High-yella’ed, winter paleness, easily bruised. But, also cinnamon honey caramel’ed and soft.

I am commanded to love my neighbor as I love myself. I need to start with loving myself.

An important dialogue

In Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on November 22, 2012 at 1:48 am

Ladies and gentlemen of all colors,

It’s rare that I get a response on my personal blog. But, I got one response to my post One Black Woman Responds. Posted for your thought and consideration is the comment left by Macmajii and my response to him (I’m an attorney….we’re never short on words or comebacks; moreover, I’ve posted my words first. Mac’s initial response is at the end). I hope that this is a dialogue that continues not only here but also in y/our everyday lives. What is this thing called race? In the words of Cole Porter, what is this thing called love? How does race affect our attitude toward love? How does love affect our attitude toward race? And, what role does gender play in both race and love (and all permutations of that question)?

Yours,

Michelle

——————————-

Mac:

I guess the thing about your original post that wounded me was the attitude of disdain that you showed to Black women generally. Eventually, in some way, we are all average. In fact, I enjoy my average-ness sometimes–guess that makes me extra-average.

I am deeply in love with my boyfriend. He is an attorney, and I am currently in my last year of law school. But, honestly, I have a lot of baggage; I’m not in perfect shape; and (obviously) I’ve got plenty of mouth. I’ve been engaged before, and it didn’t end well. When my current boyfriend and I started dating, I was terrified of falling in love and being hurt. So, maybe that makes me unworthy of him in your definition? Could be. But, I like to think that what I lack in qualification I make up in love, respect, and devotion. My worth for him is, I believe, independent of my thankfulness for him and to him.

Though you went to a site for Black people, there is not that much difference between your attitude and the attitude of the women you criticize. You never said that all of the women from Africa and the Caribbean felt that way, but your implication was that this was the prevailing attitude. I will be honest that I have not traveled extensively, but in my time in undergrad at Agnes Scott and in law school, I have worked with women from Africa and from the Caribbean. We do have a lot in common (even though some of us were Asian, others Jamaican, others Nepalese, some straight, some bi-sexual, some lesbian), and spending time at an all women’s college taught me that. We each had to figure out how to be the woman she was meant to be; each had to figure out how to balance sexuality and politics and academia and gender roles and family expectations; each had to figure out how she could justify the ways in which she planned to go against traditional gender roles; each had to contextualize cultural, social, and economic factors. A vagina might seem like a mere factor to you, but having a vagina leads to parallel and perpendicular social issues across cultures: childbirth, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, prostitution, rape, menopause, breast cancer, abuse and deficits and deficiencies in education and health care. In fact, your comments prompted me to start a discussion, and I do not actually believe that what you express is the prevailing or predominant attitude.

I object to you calling me “babe.” You don’t know me; you’ve never met me. The term is patronizing and disrespectful–more to the point, the only people who call me any derivation of that word are my parents and sisters (who call me baby girl or baby sister, since I’m the youngest) or my boyfriend (as a pet name–and only after we had been dating for a while. He’s far too respectful to have presumed upon our friendship by calling me that immediately). I will answer to “sis,” “sister,” “miss,” “ma’am,” “miss lady” and even the occasional, “hey, girl.”

I don’t want to get into a semantics battle with you regarding the definition of independent. I do, however, want to point out that the verse you have quoted from I Corinthians 11:11-12 speaks in the context of marriage and body of Christ relationships. Woman is not independent of man, but neither is man independent of woman. You clearly have an attitude of derision: “we know sisters don’t really take the bible all that seriously.” Again, you characterize all black women as hypocrites–a very serious accusation. I do take it personally because I am a Black woman, and I do actually take the Bible pretty seriously (in fact, my final two career choices were either seminary to become a Christian counselor or law school to be a legal counselor). Indeed, the wedding vows that you quote are not actually quoted from the Bible (though, indeed, they express biblical ideas), and it should read, “To honor and obey until death do US (or, you) part.”

I’m not pretending that I don’t know what types of men are not desirable for me–I know exactly what types of men are not desirable for me. But, to characterize these men as lowest common denominators without knowing more about them is presumptuous and prejudicial. You referred to them as “brothers”–I was pointing out the irony in your use of the term.

The cycle of abuse is far more complex than your characterization.

The number of women that you subtract and discount because of a particular characteristic excludes nearly everyone. I don’t believe that all black men are messed up; I don’t believe that most black men are messed up; I believe that many people are damaged and bruised and battered by life. Though I am impressed by the caliber and pedigree of the men with whom you are friends, upwardly mobile doesn’t mean that a person hasn’t been marked or bruised by life. More than anything, extending compassion to another person will illuminate their humanity. There is nothing wrong with being marked and bruised by life–it shows that we are alive.

I don’t want to get into interracial dating because I am the product of interracial dating and love. It’s a non-issue for me. I am loved by my family, and I love my family. Black women should feel free (I guess that means independent) to date anyone of any age, color, or gender. Black men should feel free (I guess that means independent) to date anyone of any age, color, or gender. For the record, I don’t watch Oprah (or any of her spin-offs including OWN, Iyanla Vanzant, Dr. Phil, or Dr. Oz). I have never seen Something New–and I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed the movie with anyone. I don’t spend much time in front of the television and I don’t spend any time scouring the internet for men of any race. So, to be clear, my comment about me being a little Black girl descended from Irish and Asian immigrants meant that everyone should feel free to date any race–my Black grandparents and great-grandparents certainly did.

Finally, the Golden Rule interprets itself: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is linked to the two other great commandments: love thy neighbor as thyself and love the Lord thy God. In order to get in touch with the Golden Rule, you have to love yourself first. I certainly understand your frustration with Black women bashing Black men, but hate cannot cast out hate, only love can do that. Indeed, I would have done well to heed my own advice. My frustration with your words could not cast out your frustration with Black women writ large. All that has ended up happening is that we merely reflect each others’ frustration. Sometimes you imply that your words apply to the extra-average Black woman; sometimes your words seem to apply to all Black women. Do you think that all Black women are extra-average? If so, that might explain why you run into so many extra-average Black women (though, technically, “extra” means beyond or outside of…). It’s the exact same syndrome as a Black woman who complain about all Black men being ______ (fill-in with something bad)–ultimately that bad characteristic is all she will ever see.

I simply hope that you are able to do what I finally did. I let go of the frustration and bitterness; love finally found me. I turned off the television; I turned off the radio; I put down the books; I turned off my friends; I turned off my parents. I tuned in to what love was saying. The bottom line of the media is usually that the biggest fools with the loudest mouths and the most eccentric sets of beliefs are publicized. Going by what the media shows you will leave you in a world of hurt. I believe that I am exceptional in some ways, but I know any number of equally and surpassingly exceptional women and men who don’t seem to be finding each other. I’m puzzled as to why, but I think the media plays a part.

Here is my honest opinion of men of all colors: A man, who knows his own humanity, is a glorious work of art by God Himself. I have never been more fascinated by any other of God’s creations as I have been by men. Black men are an amazing demonstration of resiliency and refusal to bow. Not slavery; not the middle passage; not Reconstruction; not the Klan; not Jim Crow; not a stacked criminal justice system can wipe the Black man off the planet. The Black man is a force to be reckoned with, and regardless of what we say, the Black woman continues to reckon with him as his wife, his girlfriend, his sister, his daughter, his mother, his classmate, his cousin, his neighbor, his colleague. No man or woman is merely average; we are all miracles. But, I guess in that way, we are all average….average, every day miracles of the creator.

————————-

Interesting read. As the author of the article in question, I couldn’t help but offer a rebuttal to your rebuttal on some of the things you mentioned. More like clarifying my points, if you will. I’m not sure if you’ll even post this on your site or not; but at least you can read it yourself and no where I stand, hopefully clearer. I went down the list and answered with the number that corresponds with your own.

1. What criterion would make one person worthy of another you ask? First and foremost, the fact that you RESPECT and HONOR that person. The fact that you have THEIR best interest at heart and mind; not so much just your own. The fact that you can exhibit TRUST towards them. These are the basics that you just don’t find with extra-average sisters when it comes to how they deal with black men. And we both know it.

2. I didn’t run to ABC, CNN, Russian TV or any other such mainstream outlet to vent my frustrations with the sisters. You won’t find one show on mainstream TV where black men in general are on there talking about how successful they are and can’t find a black woman to vibe with or marry. I went to a site for BLACK people to voice my opinion. http://www.thyblackman.com BIG difference!

3. I never said ALL women from the Caribbean, Africa or abroad feel this way. I said that was the prevailing attitude held about American black women based on what those I’ve encountered said to me in moments of extreme disclosure. And its true. I’ve traveled around the world a bit. Have you? Every place I’ve gone where there were other blacks to be found, I asked their honest opinion about ‘us’. And they didn’t hesitate to give it. Don’t shoot the messenger babe.

As for women in Asia feeling they have more things in common with you than not; when was the last time you asked your nail technician or the lady at the beauty store their opinions on the matter? Because I can assure you they don’t feel like they have much at all in common with American sisters; unless you consider your vagina the only important commonality. Asian women typically despise American black women; especially those who service you with hair care products and other beauty related services. And they don’t even hide it! So I don’t know who these mythological Asian chicks are you keep referring to.

4. Definition of independent:

-a neutral or uncommitted person…
-not dependent on or conditioned by or relative to anything else…
-showing a desire for freedom…
-rejecting others’ aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others…

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. And these were pulled randomly from a dictionary when I looked up the word: so they’re not even MY words. Now I ask you sister: what man in his right mind is going to sign up for THAT? Who wants to be with someone who wears the title of uncommitted as a badge of honor? The problem is, sisters have personified the very definition and meaning of the word ‘independent’ without even realizing what it means! There is prophetic power in words!

As for what God Himself thinks about an independent woman: 1 Corinthians 11:11-12-

“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is NOT independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.”

But we know sisters don’t really take the bible all that seriously. If they did, they would hold in high regard those words uttered at just about every wedding ceremony: “To HONOR and OBEY, until death do her part…”

5. Really?! You’re going to act like you have NO idea what type of brothers I’m referring to here? Let me help you then: Lowest common denominator types of black men:

*Dudes who need your place to stay because they don’t have their own
*Dudes who drive your car because they don’t have their own
*Dudes who rotate in and out of jail constantly
*Dudes who think going to prison is some kind of rite of passage
*Dudes who never have a job or steady income
*Dudes with multiple baby mommas

Need I go on? As for these guys being my brothers: Not every man of my hue takes his cue from the same values I do. I don’t claim dusty niggas as my brothers. More like my backwards long lost cousins…twice removed…

6. Please allow me to fill in that blank for you. You attracted an abusive person because…
Somewhere deep within the nether regions of your spirit, you believe that abuse is a sign of love. Or maybe you are bored with life and secretly crave the excitement of the drama. Ultimately its for the same reason crackheads go back for one more smoke: addiction. Some people are addicted to their own negative behaviors, feelings and self-value. Some are addicted to the drama.

Ever hear that saying ‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear’? Well I like to say ‘When the abused get tired of their abuse, the abuse magically stops.’ And you know why: because they DO something about it besides sitting there and taking the crap! Its called taking personal responsibility. Something alot of my brothers and sisters find hard to do nowadays.

7. This one was kinda confusing to me, as you seemed to be making a point about not really making a point. The fact remains that once you subtract from the dating the pool the number of black women who are: physically unattractive, hoodrats, baby factories, unpaid whores, too ‘independent’ to keep their tongues out of some other woman’s twat, crazy as catshit, or simply already taken by someone else…the numbers for those who remain are extremely slim.

Society tries to paint us a picture of black men all being jacked up; when the reality is most are not. They’re simply not stupid enough to commit to women who by their own admission are disloyal to a fault. So wise brothers tend to keep it moving until they find some woman who they can settle down with in peace and cohabit with in love. If she happens to be of another hue, so the hell be it! More on this in a sec…

As for my circle of homies: my inner circle includes a few dozen, mostly relatives. Doctors, attorneys, engineers, corporate men, self-employed men, ministers, working class brothers, police officers, etc. My larger circle of homies numbers in the hundreds. Mostly black except for a few hispanic and white brothers; all upwardly mobile. None of them are dusty or deadbeats. Dusty negroes make me itch…

8. Lets go there. Interracial dating only seems to be a problem when black men are doing it. When Oprah did that show about sisters dating interracial, y’all co-signed on it. When movies like Something New starring Sanaai Lathan came out, y’all co-signed it too. There are a litany of websites such as boycottblackmen.com and tons of others dedicated to black women dreaming about getting with men of other races, primarily white dudes. And they be throwing themselves at these guys online. Its actually sad if it wasn’t so comical. I don’t hear much anger coming from my pro-black sisters for these sites or those who run them.

Why should anyone care if black men date women other than extra-average black women who think they are higher than they really are? What happened to all races of women having so much more in common? Remember saying that? I guess that only applies so long as what they have in common is not a black man on their arms…

*In closing, I agree somewhat with your definition of love. But the proper interpretation of the Golden Rule is to treat people the way THEY desire to be treated; not the way you think they should be treated. Huge difference. After all: don’t you enjoy being treated the way YOU like it?

Love Letter to Women

In Encouragement, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on November 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Dear Sisters,

You are my sisters. All of you female-beings who were told that you were ugly and undesirable because your skin is different colored, and your hair  is different textured, and your eyes are different shaped, and your body is different curved, and your music is different rhythm-ed, and your life is different cultured: all of you are my sisters and I love you because you are mine. I love you because you are there. I love you because I have been richly loved.

You wake up in the morning and go forth into a world that isn’t necessarily accepting of you. So, I remind you that you have the power to be accepting of yourself.

Accept your hair. Short, long, wavy, curly, kinky, straight, black, brown, red, blond, relaxed, loc’ed, braided, cornrowed, sewn-in.

Accept your figure.  Leggy, hippy, short-waisted, long-waisted, willowy, thick.

Accept your strengths. There is nothing wrong with being strong, as long as you can…

Accept your weaknesses. That way, you will know when to ask for help.

Accept your past mistakes. Contextualize them as part of your present strengths.

Accept your past triumphs. But, don’t allow these to define you and, therefore, stagnate you.

Accept your past relationships. Maybe it was your fault; maybe it wasn’t. Take time to get to know yourself and who can contribute to your healthy life.

Accept your family. Those people may or may not be healthy for you, but you came from them. You are here; they are here. Accept the fact of their existence at the very least.

Accept Love. To accept it, you have to give it. Reach out to others in kindness; share the smile that you have worked so hard to have. Once you start to give love, you will find it easier to accept love from God, from men, from women, from children.

Accept God. He is there. All love comes from Him. When you accept love and when you give love, you are touched by a drop from the endless, bottomless ocean of Love that is God.

You are worth acceptance. I know that because I am worth acceptance, and I refuse to believe that I am exceptional in that regard. You exist for a reason: accept it.

Love,

Michelle

One Black Woman Responds

In Encouragement, Friendship, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on November 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Just one. Only one. I do not speak on behalf of Black women writ large. I speak on behalf of me, just me, only me.

I’ve been noticing a trend–I’ve tried to ignore it. But, it’s starting to get under my skin: the trend in which Black men take Black women to task, AND/OR Black women take Black men to task, for supposed failure in the relationship/dating/marriage/sex/sexuality realm. Both are equally annoying to me. Since, however, I am a woman I will tend to express my frustration using the illustrations that are more memorable to me.

I, personally, dislike this cartoon as much as I do any prolonged illogical rant about dead-beat dads, saggy pants, and rap music. These caricatures are unfair to Black women and Black men. But, sadly, these caricatures have been marketed, purchased, assimilated, and digested lock, stock, and barrel. In the interest of full disclosure, one particular article set me off today.

Currently, I am in a long-term relationship with a Black man. Before that, however, I was unattached for about 5 years. Don’t let the sweet taste fool you, I was interested in/went out with/got to know men during that time. Obviously, none of those men were for me.  Perhaps one of them might have been in a long term relationship that he chose not to tell me about; perhaps more than one of them used abusive words towards me; perhaps one of them was interested in playing the field. Perhaps there were nice, decent men with whom I just didn’t mesh. What I can tell you for sure is that all of them were Black. For a minute, I was bitter, I was hurt, and I was tender towards all men–including Black men. That’s life–you get hurt and you lick your wounds.

But, I am concerned about the sisters and brothers who are younger than I am and believe that bashing and bitterness are ways to live and to be. We all get hurt–but hurt is not a state of being. Emotional hurt is a temporary place that you are until you get healthy, until you learn how to compensate for your weaknesses, until you learn to live in your strengths. There were several troubling ideas expressed in “Rant Against the Extra-Average Black Woman.”

1. Being “worthy” of another person. Personally, I believe that no person is “worthy” of another. What criterion would make one person worthy of another? Education? Appearance? Money? Attitude? All of that seems particularly superficial. A better question for those ready for a committed relationship to ask is whether or not the person with whom you are in a relationship is thankful for you and whether or  not you are thankful for them.

2. Black women as Uncle Toms and sellouts. I beg of you, please read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It’s actually quite a touching story and Tom himself is both pathetic and heroic. The idea, however, that talking to someone who is not Black about my relationship with a Black man makes me a sellout is fatuous and wrong: simply because I’m Black and my boyfriend is Black immediately means that there is nothing that our relationship has in common with the relationship of people of another race? Wrong. Moreover, the author’s implication that the only race to which information about Black relationships should not be disclosed is White is problematic, and by problematic I mean racist. Furthermore, the fact that the author of the rant is doing the exact thing that he’s annoyed with Black women for doing is too ironic for me to actually be able to explain.

3. Differentiating among African-American, Caribbean  and African women. The old colonialist tactic of divide and conquer rears its head again. Please don’t fall for this, my sisters of all colors and countries. We have more in common than we have that separates us. Don’t forget how many years it has taken for us as women to recognize that women in China can identify with women in Africa can identify with women in the Caribbean can identify with women in North America can identify with women in South America. I do not believe for one moment that “these women think you are highly disloyal, impossible to get along with and greatly deluded. They totally don’t understand your way of thinking.” Perhaps some women from African and some women from the Caribbean don’t like Black American women (and even me personally)–but, to suggest that ALL women from Africa and the Caribbean feel this way is….wrong.

4. Independence as a problem. The author of the rant says independence “spells nothing but trouble for a brother who’s in the know. Because relationships are a team sport. And nobody wants a ball-hogging player on their team always trying to steal the spotlight.” Independence is one thing and being a turd is another. Unless I’m very wrong, team sports require individuals who can both act independently and act as part of a team. A quarterback has to know how to pass the ball, but s/he damn sure better know how to run the ball if s/he’s gotten stuck in the pocket. Before I met my boyfriend (and even when we were just colleagues/friends), I had my own politics, my own relationship with God, my own money, my own fashion sense, and my own -ness. For the record, he had his own, too. It would be completely ridiculous for me to ask him to give up his -ness for something that makes me more comfortable and vice versa. Again, I am all for my man having his independence, but at the same time I expect him not to be a turd. Selfishness, unreliability, non-communicativeness, and disrespect have nothing to do with being independent and everything to do with being a turd. I’ll be honest–I have my moments of being a turd.

Brothers, please trust me that you want a woman who is independent. If something happens to you physically,  mentally, or emotionally you will need a woman who will not fold under the pressure. Sisters, I say the same thing to you. Furthermore, as a Black person  it’s a little troubling to consider that another Black person would not want me to be independent, considering the long struggle for independence that brown people the world over have engaged, and are engaging, in.

5. The lowest common denominator type of brothers. I’m offended for whichever Black men the author had in mind when referring to “the lowest common denominator.” If you think he’s the lowest common denominator, is he really your brother?

6. You attract what you are. I find this idea problematic, though often repeated. What does this say to women and men who are in abusive relationships? You attracted an abusive person because ________? Someone fill in that blank for me because I have yet to be able to find a satisfactory fill in myself. Perhaps attraction isn’t a simple science, but rather involves a complex interplay of personality and timing.

7. There are not enough good sisters/brothers to go around. Sigh. I’m over that argument. Very over it. The author makes clear why he and his “homeys” are not running into “good sisters” based on the litany he runs through. I’m sorry that some women are carrying baggage (aren’t we all?); I’m sorry that some women have issues with men (find me one who doesn’t have some issue); I’m sorry that some women are bi-sexual (you thought all women were straight?); I’m sorry that some women are playing the field (you thought we were all deep into monogamy?); I’m sorry that some women are too hood (Cinderella called…); I’m sorry that some women are too religious (huh?); I’m sorry that some women are too ugly (really?); I’m sorry that some women are already in committed relationships (???); I’m sorry that some women are too absorbed with media. Except, I’m not really sorry. The women that you’ve turned down as unacceptable are indeed some other person’s treasure. So, actually, I’m happy for those women. Just like the men who I dated were meant to be with other people. Such is life. Lick your wounds and move on. To quote a dear friend of mine, “there is something to be said for moving on gracefully.”

8. Dating outside one’s own race. I’m not going there. This little Black girl descended from Chinese and Irish immigrants is not having this discussion about who is what color and what that means. Love is love, and it definitely transcends color (and always has).

Love is not something to which one is entitled. Love is something that can only be gotten when it is given. The best way to start giving love is by loving your neighbor as you love yourself–requiring you to love both your neighbor and yourself. That means loving your neighbor and yourself regardless of the state that you are in, or the state that your neighbor is in. Keep in mind that when you are looking for love, you are actually looking for someone with whom to exchange love. You are not looking for an ego-boost, a trophy, or a reason to live.

National Novel Writing Month…

In Somewhat disjointed rant... on November 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

It’s National Novel Writing Month.

I haven’t contributed. I haven’t started one. Because no matter what I write, I am always the protagonist. I have not figured out a way to write a long story that is not somehow about me.  I can write all kinds of short stories that are not about me. Stories that are not about me are awesome. So, in honor of National Novel Writing Month I will write short stories.

That’s the best I can do. I’m trying.

Church Refugees

In Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity on November 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I know you are out there. Maybe like me, you’ve been a part of church for a while. Maybe like me, you’ve been Christian for a while. Maybe like me, you believe that your relationship with Jesus Christ is the most profound and affecting and effective relationship you have.

Maybe like me, you are not actively involved in a church. I am not going to go into all the details, but I truly do feel like a refugee from the church (notice I say “church” meaning the gathering of people, rather than Church meaning the body of Christ). There was too much going wrong, too much pain for me to remain where I had come to feel at home. So, I left. No one put me out. No one asked me to leave. I left.

And, I felt lost. To be sure, I had arrived in a new place. A place of quiet. A place of predictability. A place, honestly, of sleeping in on Sunday morning.

But, surely, that couldn’t be right. I could not and should not feel at peace. I was worried about finding church again before I lost my way.

Today, this song reminded me that all things come together for His Glory–even though I may question why and how. His answer is just watch and pray. I was reminded that since I have left church, I have found Christians and Christ-lovers in all kinds of places. Since I have left church, I have new ways to talk to people about the love and grace and acceptance that all find in Christ. Today, God sent me a quiet message that I need only keep my eyes on Him and give others the compassion, kindness, and love that He has filled me with.

It’s not about finding church, it’s about being a part of the body of Christ. I have no doubt at this point that someday I will find myself in a church again. But, for today, I am listening to the voice that leads me. For today, I am His and I am enjoying this place of renewal and peace and quiet. For today, I am loving the family and friends that I am surrounded with. For today, I am at home in Him.

Maybe like me, you needed to hear that, too. We are not refugees because we have never left behind what we know to be true.

Friendship Nuptials

In Encouragement, Friendship, Love and Romance on November 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Being a friend is serious business. No matter how short-lived the friendship is, friends leave their mark on your life. In some ways and in some instances, a friendship can be a more intimate undertaking than a romantic relationship. It just hit me that I’ve been far more careful and studied in my dating life than I have in my friendship life. Maybe I should be just as careful and studied in my phileo friendship life.

I would never allow a romantic interest to say mean things to me or disregard my feelings or exit & enter my life at a whim. I would never allow a romantic interest to place demands on my time or make me feel guilty about the things that I choose to do with my time. But, somehow, I have allowed my phileo friends to do these exact things.

I require respect from my romantic interest, as well as compassion and honesty. I am open and honest with him, and expect the same from him. I don’t like to sweat the small stuff, and since we are attempting to forge a long-term relationship a lot of things have to be categorized as small stuff. I expect disagreements, but I expect that our disagreements are between us and that we can both be honest about exactly why we are upset.

Maybe these things are not just for romantic relationships, but for healthy relationships period? Or, should I expect something different from my romantic relationship with a man than I should from my phileo friendships (that happen to be mostly with women)?