A Better Village

The truth will set you free.

4 New Year cleanses & how to keep any resolution

So, by now you’ve received all of the Happy New Year texts – with of all the graphics and “2021” boldly flashing across the screen. You’re swearing to, and expecting, a life-changing year. Like most people: You spent December thinking about what your New Year’s resolutions would be, and you may have even decided to ring in the new year with some new habit. Some people will start a cleanse or purge of some sort that they think will give them an advantage for sustaining change in the new year.

But what will make this year any different than all of the rest? How about: A SPECIFIC PLAN??? Here are some PLANS that may assist with your intended growth . . .

  1. Review and remove contacts from your cellular phone. One common “New Year” intention is that folks will rid their life of pettiness and frivolity – which oftentimes is connected with specific people or groups. It could be an ex that keeps popping back up and whom YOU continue to ALLOW back into your life. It could be a rude acquaintance that has some good qualities, but whose influence you’ve decided, overall, is not very positive and something with which you don’t want to be associated. Most of us have been taught that denying our presence in other people’s lives – saying “No” – is rude. We’re taught that we have to give some sort of excuse for asserting ourselves and our RIGHT to live in peace, or else we’re being selfish. We say things like, “New phone, who ‘dis,” instead of hanging up or informing – NOT explaining that our season as anything is over. How about actually scrolling through each letter of the alphabet in your contacts and deleting contact information for people you: A. Do not have consistent positive contact with. These could be numbers you stored in your phone because you bumped into someone from your past (high school, old job, etc.) and politely took their number swearing to keep in touch, but did not. Remove these placeholder numbers. You could use the space for another important contact or memory. B. People you know you need to move on from: old flames that don’t return the affection; unrequited loves; people who you ALLOW to string you along. You get the picture: Define your criteria for necessary and healthy and keep only those numbers.
  2. Evaluate your social media presence. What is your purpose in having a social media presence? What is your purpose for viewing other people’s pages? Is your viewing of other people’s pages healthy? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others? Do you provide too much information to others? Evaluating your social media presence may also include reviewing your list of followers and those YOU follow, to determine who should be removed. You may not even recognize some of the folks you follow and whom you have allowed to follow you.
  3. Write a reflective journal entry. You don’t have to be a prolific writer to produce a reflective journal entry. A journal entry does not even have to be written in complete sentences. It could be phrases, pictures or bulleted points. You don’t even have to write it. You could use your cell phone’s memo or notes application, or any other word processing app, to just jot down some reflections from the past year. You could also voice record yourself reflecting: What did you learn last year – about yourself; about other people; about life; about your capacity to survive the unexpected? How have those lessons shaped the standards to which you will hold yourself? Deep, right?
  4. Clean out your e-mail(s). Between work and other obligations, most of us maintain at least three e-mails. How about going through them in reverse chronological order and putting information and conversations into folders, or deleting e-mails altogether? Chances are: You or others forwarded information to you that you swore you would read later. Now the information is obsolete, or something you may come across again later. Just delete it and make a habit of reading e-mails by the end of the week or deleting it. Maybe this year you will choose an e-mail reading hour(s) and not let your inbox overflow.

And folks: It’s the little things: Sometimes small changes can provide the symbolism we need for reflective growth. It could be something as simple as changing the laundromat or supermarket you go to – or changing your route to work. You might wake up five minutes earlier – or try meditating for five minutes before going to bed. Maybe you will start reading the news in the morning before starting your day. Consistent small changes can be very powerful.

Most people fail at resolutions because they don’t think the whole thing through. They vainly think about the outcome but subconsciously plan to fail by not planning. Every aspect of your change has to be planned. What is your plan for March? For February? Where will you be in the summer and how could that impact your plan? Can you keep the same friends and remain in the same surroundings and accomplish your goal(s)? Every detail has to be planned.

#HappyNewYear #Happy2021 #BabySteps #theLittleThings

#HolidayHeartbreakBET movie review

Movie: Holiday Heartbreak (Spoiler Alert?)

The Holiday season is typically billed as a magical time – an opportunity to explore the potential of miracles, signs and wonders. Television networks take full advantage of this seasonal trend by offering productions meant to restore the innocent hope we had during childhood. We see movies about people finding love at Christmas, people getting things they’ve always wanted and people being enlightened. #HolidayHeartbreak may fall into the Enlightenment category. In this movie, a middle-aged man’s daughter experiences a curse on her love life due to her father’s misdeeds concerning prior romantic relationships.

Overall, as holiday movies go, #HolidayHeartbreak is okay. The main message is clear: Your past can come back to haunt you – and your progeny! There are actually quite a few gems (teachable moments) in this movie: We are reminded that “words have power,” and that we may curse ourselves by avoiding personal development. The person who the father turns to for help informs him that the perpetuator of the curse planted the seed of guilt in his mind. Guilt is a personal emotion; no one can make you feel guilty. Essentially, then, she may be telling him that he is ultimately in control of his destiny. In fact: My favorite aspect of this movie is the subtle lean towards self-examination. There’s also a very clear message about redemption and righting wrongs.

My issue with “movies like this” is that we never seem to address the root cause of the problem. We never talk about the fact that “Black” love is almost non-existent because there tends to be no orientation concerning love and relationships. We don’t educate our children about love, sex and how to conduct themselves in relationships. We don’t teach or show anything about courting. I couldn’t help but wonder if the perpetrator of the curse had ignored some signs that would let her know she was making a mistake. Maybe she needed to evolve.

A few suggestions for future filmmakers: I could picture India.Arie in the role of Michael Colyar’s wife. We could have done without the female actors showing so much cleavage. There’s even a scene where the daughter is sitting in a restaurant at dinner with her father and her dirty pillows are on full display. Why? This is indicative of the hypocrisy in the “Black” community: On the one hand we’re presenting a sweet moment where a father is showing his princess how she deserves to be treated, but the daughter is sitting there with her lady parts hanging out.

While neither the culture nor the religion of the woman who instructs the main character about the curse he is under, is revealed, there is a reference to her lifestyle as “voo doo.” This tradition has enough negativity and misunderstanding associated with it, without this reference. Every time we talk spells, and religions other than Judeo-Christianity, it doesn’t have to be a nod to voo doo. Yet, I appreciate this movie for the idea that we should explore spiritual traditions that encourage personal reflection. Traditional African religion may provide this opportunity.

Another issue: The kiss that was supposed to break the spell seemed forced. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a problem . . .

The main character concludes that the person he hurt the most with his reckless behavior was his deceased wife. I think he hurt himself the most: He missed out on the blessings the women he hurt could have been to him.

Finally: While I appreciate the overarching theme of making amends and redemption, I don’t like that the main character’s apology has to actually be accepted in order for the curse to be broken. Forgiveness is for you – so that unresolved trauma does not eat YOU up inside. We can’t control other people and their evolution. Our healing should not be dependent upon someone else’s proclivity. Females also have to take responsibility for red flags we ignore. Sometimes we choose the wrong circumstances because we are not healed and because we fail to plan for success by establishing criteria and boundaries that we may use as a measuring stick for potential mates.

Another great aspect of #HolidayHeartbreak: The soundtrack!

#FreshPrinceReunion teaches valuable lesson

When people don’t cater to our emotional needs, we are taught to see them as an enemy – especially if those needs weren’t met during childhood.

I am so proud of #WillSmith and #JanetHubert

The revelation that #HurtPeopleHurt is everything – although I’m not buying that 21 year-old newly-minted celebrity #WillSmith was single-handedly responsible for destroying #JanetHubert ‘s career. Will Smith – brave for seeking professional mental health assistance AND for sitting through what he knew would be a difficult confrontation – brilliantly concluded that his dislike of Hubert was due to her refusal to approve of his onset antics and need for constant attention. Smith talked about how intimidated he was of this serious older woman – possibly a mother figure – who did not meet his expectations concerning validation. With the help of Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Smith connects this need for validation and approval to childhood trauma.

The idea of punishing someone for not meeting a dysfunctional and selfish expectation – although I disagree that Smith was responsible for the destruction of Hubert’s career – is a lesson that I hope Blacks (people of African descent: includes Continental Africans, North American Blacks/”African-Americans” and Caribbeans), especially, embrace. Our ability to communicate with each other is often diminished by our willingness to explore each other’s differences. Hubert was different: She is a Julliard trained actress whose expectations concerning professionalism were different than others on the #FreshPrince set, which may have been intimidating for others, who were willing to placate the start actor’s need for constant attention. A simple conversation and the benefit of the doubt, would have likely changed the outcome. But our ability to communicate and appreciate each other’s differences was abolished during #Slavery; we seem to only know how to judge and hurt each other when expectations – unrealistic or not – aren’t met.

How many times have Black females labeled another as “rude,” “bourgeois” (or “boujee”) or “crazy” for not “speaking” (simply saying “Hi” upon entering a room – even though the same ones complaining about this usually are simply waiting for the other person to “speak” first)? How many times have we labeled another as being “arrogant” or “thinking they’re better” for simply being excellent, keeping to themselves or simply not being willing to share personal information about themselves?

One key word from Smith’s conversation with Dr. Ramani during their Red Table Talk show was the word “intimidation.” We are taught to be intimidated by people and situations we cannot control. Smith was intimidated by Hubert because he could not control her with his humor – a defense mechanism he used to control his father’s behavior towards his mother – subsequently keeping himself safe during childhood. We like knowing what to expect; we like being able to read people. This is why some people get mad when they don’t get a greeting, or when others don’t smile at them, or when they make a joke and don’t get a laugh. When people don’t cater to our emotional needs, we are taught to see them as an enemy – especially if those needs weren’t met during childhood. People who have unrealistic expectations of others that involve them getting constant attention usually were deprived of same during childhood.

I have this theory: Stages 1 through 3 are the most important part of a person’s social and emotional development. Ideally, between the ages of zero and five, we learn that even though we are a pain in the ass (literally), people love us and want us here; love is freely given even though we are unable to reciprocate. The amount of unconditional love we experience during this time provides us with a sense of security we later use to maintain our self esteem. People who experience a disruption during their early childhood years grow up feeling incomplete and cheated, and go through the rest of their lives trying to cure the deprivation they experienced at this time, which often manifests as unrealistic expectations of others. They seek to have this void filled through validation from others because they do not know how to self soothe. This is the expectation it seems Smith tried to force onto Hubert. This is the expectation a lot of Black females place onto other Black females. This is often the root of pettiness, jealousy and competition. People feel better when they can control you – or information about you, because these situations yield themselves to control and predictability. We punish people for not living up or down to our expectations.

And we often don’t have “permission” to confront the real culprits – our caregivers, for their lack of emotional support – so we choose the next best – and most available – target. In this case, it’s Smith. I have a hard time believing that a 21 year-old newly-minted Black celebrity had the power to single-handedly “ruin” a seasoned actress’ career – even if she was new to television. But Smith – not network executives – and not his fans who inappropriately handled their feelings about the situation – is the easier target. And shutting down and refusing to speak with other actors on the Show is not Hubert’s shining moment. I understand how Hubert would have felt isolated with everyone else kowtowing to the star actor’s antics, but a seasoned, professional actress, more than 10 years Will’s senior, could have handled things differently. So, Smith, at the very least, is not the only one to “blame” if it is necessary to even do so.

The Lesson: Heal yourself so that your childhood trauma does not manifest as unrealistic (and unfair) expectations of others.

#Lizzo backlash proves hypocrisy #TeamLizzo

You’re damned if you do – you’re damned if you don’t in the so-called “Black” community. If you’re not sexual enough you’re queer, and if you’re too sexual you’re a hoe. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Pop and rap? star #Lizzo has come under fire for a Tik Tok video she made in which she seemingly appears to initiate and/or simulate performing oral sex. (Look it up on social media: I haven’t posted a link because all of the links to the video I have found are accompanied by unfair criticism to which I refuse to give credit – and the video itself appears to have been removed.) Critics report being upset that Lizzo is embarrassing the Black race and have even gone so far as to accuse the popular artist of sexual abuse (because the Tik Tok application to which she posted the video is supposedly geared towards children).

I want to talk about the supposedly “embarrassing” part: Black people need to get over themselves: Whenever negroes get embarrassed, they engage in scapegoating – projecting their inferiority complex onto a more convenient target. This time it’s #Lizzo: Instead of admitting that Queen Lizzo’s weight makes some coons insecure because we think precious “White people” will judge all Black females by Lizzo’s weight image, some folks are acting like Lizzo’s image is so outrageous that she needs to be quarantined. Coons did the same thing to #TiffanyHaddish when she handed out chicken at the 2019 Met Gala. Many “Blacks” attributed their personal shame and inferiority complexes to Ms. Haddish and tried to make her responsible for their lack of self-esteem. News Flash: #Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish and anybody else that does something possibly unnerving does not control your sense of worth or reputation unless you allow them to. Further: The White People you are trying to impress already know that Blacks come in all different shapes and sizes, and they already know that we can be intelligent, well-mannered and positive in every way. And if we’re worried that our collective reputation is being ruined by what’s presented through media, we should . . . wait for it . . . RESOLVE THE POVERTY IN OUR COMMUNITIES THAT DRIVE OUR MEMBERS TO ENGAGE IN ANY TYPE OF BEHAVIOR THAT MAY GARNER A PAYCHECK. Instead, we leave issues unresolved and get “mad” at anyone who exposes our proverbial “dirty laundry” – our unwillingness to take responsibility for our image and collective future.

The biggest issue I have with the backlash is that it is not constructive; it is simply the result of pious Blacks being upset that we’re not putting on a good show for “Massa” – White folks. Another Newsflash: #Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish  and any other entertainer that publishes foolishness is not the first time White folks or anyone else in this world has seen us acting a fool. And until we debrief from the psychological impact of the enslavement process and take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – yes, I said it – PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – for our actions, communities and outcomes, it will not be the last. Negroes spend so much time trying to impress the world, all the while refusing to address the reasons the world looks down upon us. We never recovered from the psychological impact of the Enslavement Process and this refusal continues. This is why we are hypersexualized and ignorant. Lizzo’s behavior is the result of the fact that we STILL raise Black girls to think that their worth is predicated upon how sexually desirable they are – a habit we learned during Slavery. We still teach girls and boys that if they’re not fu*king by a certain age they’re queer. If you don’t publicize your personal life, your discretion is rewarded by questions about your sexuality. This is all while we pretend to follow religious tenets that preach against premarital sex. Anyone who ruins the pious front – that nobody buys anyway – is reprimanded with public ridicule.

We are not fooling anybody with our piety. Look at the statistics: Our birth rates, incarceration rates and number of single-parent households are out of control. Most of the movies we produce show “Black” couples having sex on the first date or soon after meeting. Listen to our so-called rhythm and blues music. We make the most beautiful music . . . about sex. And there’s nothing wrong with sex – if it is done responsibly. But we’re not doing it responsibly. We just want to pretend like we are. We’re like a three inch doily trying to cover a ten foot long table.

Since the beginning, Lizzo has been criticized for her weight. Why? The FACT is that many Black females ARE fat. We’re not exactly known for choosing salads. I recall being told I was “eating like a White girl” by Black female co-workers some years ago when I was seen eating a salad for lunch.

One commentator, when speaking about her ire concerning Queen Lizzo’s Tik Tok video, said we “just want to control our narrative “- code for: “We want to put on a good show for Massa.”

#Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish and anybody else that does something possibly unnerving does not control your sense of worth or reputation unless you allow them to.

I’m surprised folks didn’t start pressuring Beyoncé to speak out against #Lizzo, since the word on the Street is that #Lizzo was wearing an #IvyPark shirt during the video in question. 

Look: #Lizzo ain’t hurtin’ nothing. As the “old” folks would say: “Lee dat ‘chile alone.”

Is #MLKDay now filled with pretension and hypocrisy?

Usually now billed as a day of service and a moment of silence for diversity, one wonders if #MLKDay has the same significance it had when it began being observed in 1986. I remember when Dr. King’s birthday was a day off from school or work and all throughout the day families were favored with documentaries and movies about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s life and legacy. A few years ago, it seems, the holiday became a “day of service” that is supposed to include people honoring Dr. King’s legacy by serving others the way he served. And as Dr. King fought for people “not [to] be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” many people and organizations often promote programming aimed at “celebrating” and facilitating “diversity” on the day set aside to honor Dr. King’s birth.

This is where I get uncomfortable: Many of the same people “promoting” diversity–including many “Blacks”–are often the least diverse. Many people still view articulate Blacks that are not ratchet or street-savvy as “oreos” (Black on the outside and White on the inside). I’m personally more concerned about the hypocrisy that exists within the Black community. Dr. King and his progeny fought for Blacks to not be seen as one-dimensional, but we often judge and stereotype each other. We often practice the same white supremacy of which we claim to be victim: Look at how some Blacks pathologize other Blacks for not being Democrats; look at how anyone who is not condemning #RKelly is being viewed as a traitor. Just look at our implementation of the mob mentality.

We often use #MLKDay to measure how far “we’ve” come concerning the Civil Rights Movement. The “we’ve” is usually a reference to Whites, but how far have Blacks and others come when deviations from poverty are considered to be “acting White,” often more-so by Blacks. 

This, White People, is where I need your help: I need you to point out the hypocrisy you see and be a buffer between critically-thinking Black Collegians like myself and the nonsense we face from Blacks who do not truly understand the legacy of #MLK. Stop being afraid of being called “racist” for being honest. Think about Dr. King walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I need you to be that brave. I need you to understand the psychological impact of slavery so you’re not confused when you see Blacks gossiping about each other for no other reason than to assuage their own inferiority complex. I need you to understand why Blacks will ask for more Blacks to be installed in executive level positions at the office, then tear them down when they get there. I need you to understand the level of jealously Blacks often face from other Blacks and “people of color,” so that you can abate it and truly help real diversity come forth.

True diversity involves understanding. I need you to respond appropriately when you witness Blacks “othering” other Blacks. I need you to have the requisite level of understanding when you notice that all the White women at the office above the age of 35 are married and the black women aren’t. I need you to understand these types of differences and attribute the dysfunction you see to the many generations that the psychologocial impact of the Enslavement Process lived on long after Slavery ended.

And don’t worry about whether or not the Revolution will be televised. There currently is no revolution.

#Lizzo backlash proves hypocrisy #TeamLizzo

You’re damned if you do – you’re damned if you don’t in the so-called “Black” community. If you’re not sexual enough you’re queer, and if you’re too sexual you’re a hoe. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Pop and rap? star #Lizzo has come under fire for a Tik Tok video she made in which she seemingly appears to initiate and/or simulate performing oral sex. (Look it up on social media: I haven’t posted a link because all of the links to the video I have found are accompanied by unfair criticism to which I refuse to give credit – and the video itself appears to have been removed.) Critics report being upset that Lizzo is embarrassing the Black race and have even gone so far as to accuse the popular artist of sexual abuse (because the Tik Tok application to which she posted the video is supposedly geared towards children).

I want to talk about the supposedly “embarrassing” part: Black people need to get over themselves: Whenever negroes get embarrassed, they engage in scapegoating – projecting their inferiority complex onto a more convenient target. This time it’s #Lizzo: Instead of admitting that Queen Lizzo’s weight makes some coons insecure because we think precious “White people” will judge all Black females by Lizzo’s weight image, some folks are acting like Lizzo’s image is so outrageous that she needs to be quarantined. Coons did the same thing to #TiffanyHaddish when she handed out chicken at the 2019 Met Gala. Many “Blacks” attributed their personal shame and inferiority complexes to Ms. Haddish and tried to make her responsible for their lack of self-esteem. News Flash: #Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish and anybody else that does something possibly unnerving does not control your sense of worth or reputation unless you allow them to. Further: The White People you are trying to impress already know that Blacks come in all different shapes and sizes, and they already know that we can be intelligent, well-mannered and positive in every way. And if we’re worried that our collective reputation is being ruined by what’s presented through media, we should . . . wait for it . . . RESOLVE THE POVERTY IN OUR COMMUNITIES THAT DRIVE OUR MEMBERS TO ENGAGE IN ANY TYPE OF BEHAVIOR THAT MAY GARNER A PAYCHECK. Instead, we leave issues unresolved and get “mad” at anyone who exposes our proverbial “dirty laundry” – our unwillingness to take responsibility for our image and collective future.

The biggest issue I have with the backlash is that it is not constructive; it is simply the result of pious Blacks being upset that we’re not putting on a good show for “Massa” – White folks. Another Newsflash: #Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish  and any other entertainer that publishes foolishness is not the first time White folks or anyone else in this world has seen us acting a fool. And until we debrief from the psychological impact of the enslavement process and take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – yes, I said it – PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – for our actions, communities and outcomes, it will not be the last. Negroes spend so much time trying to impress the world, all the while refusing to address the reasons the world looks down upon us. We never recovered from the psychological impact of the Enslavement Process and this refusal continues. This is why we are hypersexualized and ignorant. Lizzo’s behavior is the result of the fact that we STILL raise Black girls to think that their worth is predicated upon how sexually desirable they are – a habit we learned during Slavery. We still teach girls and boys that if they’re not fu*king by a certain age they’re queer. If you don’t publicize your personal life, your discretion is rewarded by questions about your sexuality. This is all while we pretend to follow religious tenets that preach against premarital sex. Anyone who ruins the pious front – that nobody buys anyway – is reprimanded with public ridicule.

We are not fooling anybody with our piety. Look at the statistics: Our birth rates, incarceration rates and number of single-parent households are out of control. Most of the movies we produce show “Black” couples having sex on the first date or soon after meeting. Listen to our so-called rhythm and blues music. We make the most beautiful music . . . about sex. And there’s nothing wrong with sex – if it is done responsibly. But we’re not doing it responsibly. We just want to pretend like we are. We’re like a three inch doily trying to cover a ten foot long table.

Since the beginning, Lizzo has been criticized for her weight. Why? The FACT is that many Black females ARE fat. We’re not exactly known for choosing salads. I recall being told I was “eating like a White girl” by Black female co-workers some years ago when I was seen eating a salad for lunch.

One commentator, when speaking about her ire concerning Queen Lizzo’s Tik Tok video, said we “just want to control our narrative “- code for: “We want to put on a good show for Massa.”

#Lizzo, #TiffanyHaddish and anybody else that does something possibly unnerving does not control your sense of worth or reputation unless you allow them to.

I’m surprised folks didn’t start pressuring Beyoncé to speak out against #Lizzo, since the word on the Street is that #Lizzo was wearing an #IvyPark shirt during the video in question. 

Look: #Lizzo ain’t hurtin’ nothing. As the “old” folks would say: “Lee dat ‘chile alone.”

Is the Black church useless?

There used to be a time when the Black church was a hub of the Black community. The Black church could be counted on for news, information and as a gathering spot for those seeking political and social awareness. At one time, most notably during the Civil Rights Movement (about 1954 – 1968), the so-called “Black Church” was respected by even Blacks and others who were not directly affiliated with Black Church membership. Even Blacks who did not support the Civil Rights Movement respected the role of the Black Church. Even Blacks who thought “church” was too “churchy” respected the Black Church. Some Black Churches allowed civil rights activities to occur at their churches despite their reluctance to support the Civil Rights movement or some aspects of it. Nowadays, this mutual respect is gone. The Black Church is now seen as a bunch of hypocrites who don’t practice what they preach. Evidence of this hypocrisy is blatant and everywhere, from gospel singers having issues with pornography , folks preaching faith and deliverance than having experiences that dictate otherwise, to murder allegations.

Why Black Christians get no respect

There is an obvious disconnect between what we say we believe and what our  lives show.

Our neighborhoods. It is not uncommon to pass by many churches situated on one block or quite a few churches situated within a three or four block radius, in many “Black” communities. The typical neighborhood that features this is one associated with crime, poverty and low-performing schools–all things of which a God with “a house made of many mansions” would be disproving. How are there churches made up of families that have lived generations in “the projects?” Where is the improvement? Many Black Christians brag about their “father in Heaven” being a “king.” Do kings’ children live in squalor?

Sex.   Sex is viewed as a rite of passage amongst most “Blacks”–even amongst so-called “Christians.” I want to clarify that the term “Black” references the entire “Black” diaspora, which includes West Indians/Caribbeans and continental Africans. It’s interesting: There used to be a time when Blacks, especially Black Christian females, were considered to be more pious and chaste than other American women. Some evidence that this is no longer the case exists in one of comedian Marlon Wayans’ stand-up comedy routines where he  talks about how “fast” Black women are.  I was particularly surprised (and disappointed) because Mr. Wayans is “older,” in his forties. I wasn’t expecting this commentary from someone in that age group. I’m also finding that many of the positive attributes that used to be associated with “African-Americans” are now being attributed to other groups of Blacks. But this is another blogpost, for a different day.

If you can’t prove that you are having sex by about age 25, you risk other Blacks–even Christians–questioning your sexuality.  Here’s where the confusion lies for a lot of folks: On one hand you’re told to “wait” until marriage, then when you do, you’re ridiculed. When it comes to sex and “Blacks”: You’re damned if you; you’re damned if you don’t. If you  take too long to get married, your ability to attract a mate is questioned. And if you rush and marry the wrong person, the same questions abound. And, of course, females get the brunt of this imposed upon them–by other females.

Then there’s the lack of guidance about sex. I once attended a program entitled “Sex and the City” at a popular Black church in Brooklyn, known for boasting a membership of mostly  educated middle and upper class Blacks. The program was supposed to be a “real” discussion about how Christians should conduct their sex life. The pastors who facilitated the session seemed to be afraid of even saying the word “sex,” and there was no clear guidance provided, just vague allusions to what pleases God. I think this is because most pastors don’t buy into the no pre-marital sex rule themselves.

A pastor told me that the “no sex before marriage rule” is not bought into by a lot of pastors and is taught to divinity students as a rule that is necessary for keeping order. In other words, divinity students are taught to preach as if they believe that pre-marital sex is a sin because otherwise people will not be able to control themselves. It’s kind of like a rule that is made to be broken. This same pastor also told me that when another elder pastor found out that he revealed this to another person, the elder pastor became upset with him.  Apparently, the rule is there is no rule and the other rule is to pretend you believe and just be pious about it.  In fact, Christians are the first people to gossip about whose having sex and who is not, and what this means about who and what a person is.

I think sex became a rite of passage in the Black community during the Enslavement Process: We were more valuable as slaves when we were breeding. We were paired up according to chronological and physiological maturity. On some plantations, when slaves’ authentic attraction to other slaves were honored, the expectation was that breeding—more slaves–would be the outcome. Blacks continue to perpetuate a lot of thought processes and behaviors we learned during the Enslavement Process. We will not progress about sex, church or any other topic until we engage a complete de-briefing of the impact of Slavery.

Obesity. Name four prominent Black gospel singers that are not overweight. Isn’t gluttony one of the seven deadly sins? Aren’t our bodies supposed to be our temples? Aren’t Christians supposed to represent God’s kingdom? The obesity rate amongst Black Christians is yet another example of the disconnect between what we say we believe and what we practice.

Christians don’t have trademark behavior.  What are muslims known for? Not eating pork. What are Buddhists known for? What are Jews known for? What are Black Christians’ known for? Manipulative preachers who drive big, expensive cars the less fortunate congregants have paid for as they sin and ask for forgiveness.

The so-called “Black Church” is useless because . . . 

It continues to be used to keep the unenlightened mentally incarcerated.  The Nat Turner movie , about a slave whose preaching ability was used to help placate other slaves, shows the role that Judeo-Christianity played in perpetuating the Enslavement Process. I’m not one of those “throw the baby out with the bath water” type of people: I don’t think that one adverse feature of an idea or practice means that anything associated with it should be discarded as well. I do however, think, that our use of Judeo-Christianity has to be re-evaluated so that we can ensure the most optimal use of it. There are definitely some practices within the Black church that are detrimental and useless to the advancement of Blacks. This re-evaluation should be the focus of the next big conference of preachers.

Punk pastors don’t address real issues for fear of offending people and losing tithes and offerings. The criticism #JasperWilliams received after being HONEST about the state of the Black race is proof positive of this. If we had more Rev. Jasper Williamses, who have the courage to offer a critical analysis of the ills that permeate the Black community, “our” churches and communities would be in a lot better condition. The truth is like kryptonite to ignorant/entitled people. For most Blacks, especially Christians it seems, anytime something isn’t being blamed on “White people,” racism or “the devil,” we pathologize the messenger. Blacks now look to the Black Church for their get out of jail free cards.

There’s no clear guidance. Is pre-marital sex okay or not? Do we wait 90 days like Iyanla Vanzant says or not? If you’re “Black” and over the age of 25, and you have no proof that you’ve been fu–k–g–either through marriage, single parenthood, or serial dating or constantly talking about your personal life–even Black Christians will question your sexuality. The most you can get out of church is some good music and a couple of inspirational quotes. Encouragement goes only so far, though. Telling someone that they are the child of a king and that their situation is going to be alright is not practical. Religion is supposed to offer clear guidance about how to conduct one’s life. There is no application of principle because there are no principles! There used to be preachers that had the courage to tell the truth about his or her observations despite the heathens that would get up and walk out of the sanctuary. He or she knew that the folks who stayed were the real saints. Nowadays, punk pastors are more concerned with their rims and their tims, as the the Lauryn Hill song says, than “saving” people.

By most accounts, Black church membership is down. Preachers are scratching their heads and facing building losses because their churches are losing funding due to decreased attendance. Attendance is down because people aren’t getting anything out of going to church. Church offers no relief. You are likely to encounter the same level of pettiness and jealousy you encounter from so-called “worldly” people, while attending church. A single Black woman who walks into a Black church expecting to be “saved” from worldly assumptions is treated like she’s there to sleep with all of the married men. And can’t nobody gossip better than Black “Christians.” The Black Church is not the safe haven it once was. When my baby boomer mother, who grew up in church and raised me in church declared, “The Black Church is f–ked,” I knew I was onto something with this blogpost.

Empty, basic sermons that are an insult to people’s intelligence has replaced the structure and earnest fervor that once characterized the Black church.

Empty, basic sermons that are an insult to people’s intelligence has replaced the structure and earnest fervor that once characterized the Black church. I sat through a minister make an analogy between a watermelon and God’s grace, once. And this was at a large, celebrated Black church known for welcoming educated middle and upper-classed Blacks.

At its best, the Black Church could be a bastion for mass healing. The Black Church is probably still the only way to get Blacks of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and cultures together at one time. Once per week, Black preachers have an opportunity to effect real change–where it really counts–the mind–yet most use it to placate folks’ egos so as not to lose any offerings and tithes.

 

 

 

Movie Review: Acrimony

Spoiler Alert:  This review may contain details that some may view as giving away too much of the storyline.

Kudos to Tyler Perry for unintentionally–or intentionally–putting the spotlight on mental health issues among Black females. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony is part-suspense, part-thriller, with a sprinkle of humor here and there. Although it drags at some points, and potentially leaves the viewer confused, upon reflection there is much to be learned, and I personally hope Mr. Perry continues teaching through film in this way.  Acrimony is not as obvious as Mr. Perry’s typical films. This new style may take a bit getting used to for some viewers, but the value is there.

Perry requires the viewer to put their thinking caps on. You may learn the following lessons upon doing so.

  1.  First impressions.  According to the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou, “When people tell you who they are, believe them!” Tyler Perry’s Acrimonylends credence to this adage. The object of the main character’s desire gets a glimpse of her tendencies when they first meet, yet he continues to pursue a relationship with her.
  2.  Make your own decisions about your relationships.  Part of the reason the main character decides to end her relationship is due to pressure from her family. She then ends up hurt when her  ex-husband’s new wife ends up reaping the benefit of his success. Here’s where there seems to be some disagreement about the turn the film should have taken: Some feel Taraji P. Henson’s character was reasonably upset over her “loss.” I disagree: There was actually no evidence that the ex-husband was ever guilty of the behaviors that are insinuated throughout the first half of the film. Henson’s character is entitled to nothing. She loses fair and square. I guess the question is:  How long do  you support a spouse’s dream?
  3.  Resolve mental health issues.All throughout the film, the main character’s family made reference to her anger issues. She does not get therapy until she is ordered to do so. The main character’s unresolved issues, and other people’s unwillingness to intervene, cause her and others to get hurt.
  4.  Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) may be prevalent among Black females.There is already research that indicates that BPD is disproportionally experienced by females, but one wonders if BPD is disproportionately experienced by Black females. It makes sense when you look at the symptoms against the backdrop of what many Black females tend to experience. BPD is thought to be prevalent among people who experience loss, abuse and neglect. It is a well-known fact that Blacks, irrespective of class, tend to have more experiences with loss, abuse and neglect than others. Dare I say:  These experiences are more likely to be doubled for us, because we seem to have developed an uncanny knack/proclivity (thanks to the Enslavement Process) for hurting each other.

Let’s look at a few of the symptoms. The symptoms listed below are not an exhausted list. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health illness. The goal of this blog is to encourage self-examination and critical analysis.

  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self. The sense of entitlement some females have concerning other females’ conduct towards them comes to mind: Females getting upset when another female does not greet them. For example, some females(1) get upset when another female does not “speak” to them. The offended female usually will not admit that she herself hasn’t “spoken” and is waiting for the victim of her ire to “speak” first. This accusation is code for: “She won’t tell me her business” or “How am I supposed to verify that she is just as miserable as me if she doesn’t even say ‘Hi'” or “She’s not friendly enough for my ego. I need more.” See: Some “females” think they are entitled to information about others, but the desire for this information is usually sinister. See the “Chickenheads” page of this blog for more on this tendency. My guess is this comes from a lack of affection during childhood. Pure and simple: Hugs and kisses validate a person. Affection makes a person feel wanted. When children are denied affection, they grow up seeking it from other people and sources. The anger from being denied it morphs into a sense of entitlement. The main character experiences the loss of her mother at a young age and likely does not have the support of a father, as one is not mentioned. The loss of a caregiver typically has an adverse impact on a person’s sense of self.

In Acrimony, the main character thought she was entitled to her ex-husband’s fortune even though she had ended the marriage. She thought her ex-husband’s new wife was living the life she, Taraji P. Henson’s character, was supposed to have.

  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during a period of elevated mood or energy, they may be signs of a mood disorder—not borderline personality disorder. The birth rates in our communities, evidenced by over-crowded inner-city schools, and the weight issues that often plague Black females, may be evidence of this.
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger.For example, it is inappropriate for a person to be upset about someone not “speaking” to them when another person’s greeting or conversation is not owed.

This blog post is not intended to suggest that all Black females are crazy. It is meant to encourage critical observation, critical thought and change.

Footnote(s):

(1) The term “woman” and “women” are used sparingly, as a reference to humans with female genitalia who have shown through their conduct that they are fully (emotionally, socially and psychologically) evolved. When describing unevolved behavior and people, the term “female” is used.

How Black men can help with the chickenhead epidemic

#GrownManStatus #GrownFolksBusiness #Chickenheads

As one of the chickenhead’s motives is to convince you that she, the chickenhead, is better for you than other females, you can expect it to find subtle ways to persuade your thinking. Remember: The chickenhead thinks that by controlling other females’ reputations she can control who likes or dislikes her victims. Chickenheads often campaign against their victims by exaggerating the truth, and outright lying about their interactions or observations. Chickenheads are especially dangerous when they don’t get what they want. They do not handle rejection well. This rejection fuels their thinking and behavior. Their plan is to make others feel their pain. They will do anything to create a sense of rejection in their victims, including distort reality to make you think that you, too, should reject the victim.  (FYI: This rejection likely comes from not getting enough hugs and kisses as a child and/or not having an appropriate/strong father figure.)

Now here you go being put in the uncomfortable position of having to listen to the chickenhead’s clucks about someone you either actually already like or don’t have an opinion about. It’s hard to tell someone you don’t appreciate what they’re saying or doing, so here are some tips to help you keep your sanity and spot in heaven intact.


1. Don’t get sucked in. Remember that when a female is speaking negatively about another female, nine times out of 10, the speaker is exaggerating what happened because she did not get what she wanted. A real woman speaks directly to her defendant about the issue(s) she has with her. The chickenhead is revealing herself to you simply by speaking negatively about another. If you mess around and encourage the chickenhead’s behavior, you will end up with burnt feathers in your throat:  You may end up missing out on a productive relationship with the victim or end up changing your thinking and behavior in a way that is detrimental to your growth and development. Birds of a feather . . .  Be very careful about the chickenhead’s subtle influences; don’t let it become you.


2. Let the chickenhead know that you don’t think her behavior (gossip, undermining other Black females, lying, stealing joy, etc.) is cute.  Most people find it difficult to address people directly about their shortcomings or something they think a person is doing wrong. We fear ridicule and losing a relationship. But then we lose a growth opportunity: We lose the opportunity to stand up for what is right and the speaker loses the opportunity to learn how to manage her unwarranted ill feelings in a more positive way.

Consider gently nudging the chickenhead towards righteousness. You may say something like:  “How is it helping to speak that way about that person?” or “Have you considered talking directly to her about that?” Sometimes it’s easier to ask questions than to make statements. And the benefit of asking questions is that questions can encourage critical thinking.

Whatever you do, be careful that your response cannot be mistaken for “co-signing.” Remember: The chickenhead is trying to impress you. She erroneously thinks that discrediting other females gives her an advantage in your eyes.


3.  Hold the chickenhead accountable for her actions. Challenge the chickenhead’s inferiority complex by encouraging her to critically think about herself:  If the chickenhead is complaining about something frivolous and petty like what another female is wearing, for example, ask the chickenhead why she doesn’t purchase more suitable clothing for the subject of her ire. If the chickenhead is really concerned about her victim’s appearance, wouldn’t this–or something like this problem-solving action–be the solution? Ask:  How is talking about her behind her back going to help? Ask the chickenhead why the petty subject about which she is speaking is so important to her.

4. Get to know the victim for yourself. Chances are: The victim of the chickenhead’s ire doesn’t even know (and hopefully doesn’t care) she’s even being spoken about. Rule #1: Don’t believe anything a female says about another female–especially if it’s negative–or if the speaker is a confirmed chickenhead. (Check the previous post about how to identify chickenheads and chickenhead behavior.)


The chickenhead epidemic is ruining the Black community. Little Black girls are learning how to put each other down not lift each other up. Chickenheads perpetuate a culture of triflery and pettiness. We likely learned this during the Enslavement Process as a way to survive. It wasn’t useful then, and it’s not useful now. Our numbers and health are rapidly diminishing. Please, Brothers:  Help . . .

Movie Review: Burning Sands (Netflix)

#BurningSands #LessSteppingMoreStudying

Burning Sands exposes the hypocrisy inherent in Black Greek letter organizations. It reveals a lot about what is wrong with some intake processes, but more importantly what’s wrong with the Black community–and the talented tenth charged with leading it. By most accounts, Black Greek letter organizations began in the early 20th century in response to Blacks not being allowed to join White Greek letter organizations, as a way of fostering scholarship and a sense of community among Black collegians, and as vehicles for Black collegians to provide community service. Yet, as Burning Sands reveals, instead of paying it forward many, Black collegians are engaging in counterproductive behavior that negates the purpose of Black Greek letter life.

One of Burning Sands’ explorations concerns some people’s motivation for pledging:  Sometimes a person is interested because they are “legacy”–they have a parent or parents who pledged, or they are  pressured by family members that dominate a particular affiliation. Some people join for social status or help climbing a career ladder. Some people join seeking a sense of family. Of course, reasons for pledging abound and are not exhausted here.

It is the exposé of contradictions that makes Burning Sands most useful. One of the most blaring contradictions explored surrounds the movement towards bonding that is supposed to be typical of pledge processes. For instance, throughout the film, the audience is exposed to line brothers treating each other in unbrotherly ways. Additionally, most–if not all–Black Greek Letter organizations are based on Christian principles, yet many Black Greek Letter members fornicate, gossip and bare false witness against each other and others–and engage in other ungodly acts. In one scene, the pledges visit their dean in his dorm room where a naked female can be seen lying in his bed. The insinuation is not that she was posing for a portrait. Further: Most, if not all, Black Greek Letter organizations are based upon the principle of scholarship, yet some organizations take pride in forcing activities upon pledges that cut into studying time. It is not uncommon for a pledge’s grade point average to plummet while pledging.

Sands also highlights the fact–possibly unintentionally–that Blacks lack leadership. Black Greek Letter organizations are supposed to consist of what W.E.B. DuBois, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, called the Talented Tenth–the small group of Blacks who were fortunate enough to pursue scholarship and who were expected to subsequently lead and pull others behind them. Yet in Sands, an elder member of the fraternity that is the subject of the movie supports the dysfunctional practices portrayed.

Yet, there are some misunderstandings:  Most people’s perception of underground pledging does not account for the fact that some organizations have study hours built into their processes that include big brothers and sisters checking the library to make sure pledges are there and getting their school work done. This is a little known fact that some organizations may downplay as pledging is often exaggerated to make it appear as if it is “so hard” to gain membership. Keep in mind that Blacks tend to have a fascination with scandal. One example of this from the movie is when the line brothers chide one of their own for not drinking and being sexually active. We seem to have adopted the notion that life and lessons are supposed to be lived and learned the hard way.  Maybe Slavery taught us that life is supposed to consist of struggle and sacrifice? We applaud poverty and deprivation and pathologize anyone who doesn’t seem to have had such experiences. Some take pride in their perceived ability to revoke “Black cards” from those who haven’t suffered enough. Black Greek Letter members are often no different. For this reason, graduate chapter membership is sometimes looked down upon–even amongst organization members–because it is perceived to be easier to attain. Some Black Greek Letter organization members literally pretend to have pledged hard just to get respect.

Some members scramble to specify that they pledged undergrad so they get more respect. Yet, the same members who mock people for pledging graduate chapters and being “paper” members are the same ones who brag about famous honorary members who didn’t “pledge.” Would a member who pledged “so hard” undergrad call her 50 year-old pastor who just joined a graduate chapter “paper?” And as discretion is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of “pledging,” what is a member doing discussing someone else’s process anyway?

One criticism of Sands will likely be that Black Greek Letter organization rituals are being unfairly criticized by people who do not understand the original purpose of “pledging.” This may be true. One of the problems with large organizations, especially national and international groups, is that it is difficult to manage individual membership and rituals. Leadership passes these processes down to members they hope they can trust and to whom they trust has the requisite understanding of the organization’s mission and purpose. But the best intentions . . . Feelings get involved: Sometimes credible prospective members are passed over due to petty jealousies; sometimes people become intent on inflicting the same pain that was inflicted on them without regard to the organization’s mission and the lesson that is supposed to be learned; sometimes neophytes want to shed their newness by pledging a line–any line–and allow unworthy individuals to join by haphazardly pledging them without regard to their ability to uphold the ideals of the organization; and sometimes processes are changed out of fear–to appease those who may repeat something about the process they do not understand and cause a misunderstanding that leads to suspension.

Blacks have long had a legacy problem: We tend to start out good, but have a hard time maintaining our success over generations. The state of Black Greek Letter organizations is an example of that.

By some accounts, the Black Greek Letter pledge process was initially designed to parallel a rite of passage. Yet, many leave their processes unchanged and useless to the communities they pledged to assist.

The controversy about Sands stems from Blacks not liking inconvenient truths, and wanting to maintain a facade about Black elite organizations. Folks like to do their dirt in private and put on a facade of unity.  Anyone who betrays this faux unity–who dares to tell the truth, like Gerard McMurray does with Sands, is branded a traitor. (Yet, it’s okay for Blacks to expose the misdeeds of others, which is why movements like Black Lives Matter is not taken seriously. But I digress.)

Hopefully, Burning Sands will spark critical analysis and conversations about Black elitism, the need for leadership amongst Blacks, dysfunctional habits that need to be abandoned, and our inability to maintain generational success.