Crossing the Line

A line has been crossed in hip hop. The rapper Meek Mill has offended audiences. If you haven’t heard you might be wondering what could possibly offend hip hop fans. Rap lovers have been listening to lyrics depicting violence and disrespecting Black women for decades. Rappers have made music glorifying idolatry and every sin known to man. Hip hop artists are known for being brash and irreverent. That’s their brand.

Well, Meek Mill said something Vanessa Bryant didn’t like. Basketball widow Vanessa Bryant reacted to a line in a Meek Mill song that made reference to Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash that took his life. And that ladies and gentlemen is the line you don’t cross with hip hop fans.

They don’t mind music that has degraded their culture and has poisoned the minds of young people globally for three generations now (myself included) but don’t you dare say anything to upset the princess of Black America, Vanessa Bryant.

That’s right. Instead of worrying about your own children and the influence that hip hop has on them, instead of worrying about the influence that hip hop has had on you, let’s worry about the woman that inherited $600 million and won’t give her in laws a dime and no longer wants to support her own mother. Let’s worry about the woman that is so notoriously mean that it was written about in the LA Times. Let’s worry about her.

Meek Mill’s song was definitely crass, insensitive and tasteless. But that’s what rappers do. That’s what’s made them billions. Why is Vanessa Bryant the one person on the planet that needs to be treated with kid gloves? I’m not defending Meek Mill. I don’t give a darn about him. But I don’t give a darn about Vanessa Bryant either.

My concern is how ridiculous Black people look rallying around this woman who doesn’t really acknowledge them. She doesn’t even acknowledge her Black in laws. Black people look very stupid putting this woman on a pedestal. I don’t know of anything that she or her husband ever did for Black people, LA or Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia.

This is why Black people have a hard time being taken seriously or getting respect. Black people are happy to be subservient to Whiteness. It’s very sad to see. Had Kobe Bryant been married to a Black woman Black Americans never would have rallied around her in such a way. I promise you they would have had criticisms of her just like they criticize Kobe’s parents.

The only women Black Americans choose to protect and put on a pedestal are women with significant European ancestry. And that’s a huge factor or why Black people struggle so bad.

Anyway. I don’t care about either of these characters. I think Meek Mill has apologized. I guess that settles it for Vanessa. So in the eyes of Black America I guess it’s settled. Their princess has been satisfied. I hope a grain of this chivalry and grace will be applied to Black women by Black Americans one day.

The United States of America is NOT a Free Country

Visualize freedom. What does that look like to you? Freedom would allow men to walk down a street without suspicion or harassment from agents of the state. Freedom would allow a middle aged woman to be in the nude in her own apartment without armed government employees bursting through the door.

Freedom wouldn’t mistake eccentric behavior for criminal behavior and inject citizen’s with sedatives. Freedom would not tolerate armed bureaucrats breaking into a couple’s apartment and killing in the middle of the night. A free country would not allow municipal representatives to spray a nine year old girl in the face with mace.

None of this would happen or be tolerated in a free country. Yet it has been tolerated in America since the end of the Civil War. The United States of America is NOT a free country. The freedom of Black citizens is what is typically compromised by law enforcement and that is why it is allowed to happen at the officers’ discretion. However, no one is really free when police officers are given the power and grace that police officers have.

I am African American and I have never been manhandled or falsely arrested by a police officer. Most of my interactions with the police have been relatively polite. But all it takes is crossing paths with the wrong officer. If I’m pulled over by an officer I’m at their mercy and I’m expected to submit to whatever treatment they decide to dole out. They can easily create a tense situation and escalate the scene and give themselves and excuse to put me under arrest or kill me. An agent of the state such not be given such a wide margin.

Despite the wide margins police officers are given to work they aren’t very efficient in preventing or solving crime. City streets are still dangerous, people are missing and we have a drug war that’s been going on for forty years. Yet jaywalkers end up getting arrested and people end up getting killed when they are pulled over for a bad tail light.

There is absolutely no benefit in giving police officers so much space, grace and praise. They aren’t doing anything with it accept terrorizing Black citizens and feeding their egos. Police departments in America diminish our freedom.

The police officers are one part of a dysfunctional system. But they are the part that apprehends, intimidates, beats, tortures and kills. They are the foot soldiers and flunkies of the racist American justice system. American can not call itself a free country under the circumstances of the last one hundred fifty six years. America isn’t displaying bravery either.

Modern Dating Scam:  Candor and Honesty

I believe that candor and honesty are important in a relationship.  In a perfect world everyone would be upfront and honest during the courtship period.  However, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Men engage in dating like relationships all the time for various reasons and they aren’t always forthcoming about their end game. 

Women usually start dating men with the hope that they will find a long lasting relationship or possibly marriage.  This post is for the benefit of women.  This is advice on how to conserve your time and energy and how to protect your heart.

In my dating experiences I have always been upfront and honest about my intentions, standards and expectations.  That was a mistake.  I was honest with people that didn’t deserve it.  I revealed things about myself that made me vulnerable to manipulation and I was taken advantage of and used.

I’m not saying that women should lie when they meet a new suitor.  (I’m also not saying they shouldn’t).  I’m saying that women should hold their cards close to their chest.  Don’t tell him that your goal is marriage and children.  A woman would tell a man that so that if he has different intentions he can go about his way. 

Sometimes that works but sometimes he will ride the wave as long as he can.  I’ve been amazed in my life at how far some people will take a lie.  Men will take fake relationships until the bottom falls out of them.  If a man knows that that is your goal he knows he can waste 1-2 years of your time or more and then just break up. 

To you his sticking around is an implication that the relationship could turn into an engagement, marriage and happy family. The illusion of that can be used as a carrot to dangle in front of you.  All your honesty did was let him know how much of your time he can waste.  Men are out here having long relationships and starting families with women and never revealing their true intentions.

Observe and be judgmental as hell.  Be petty.  Quietly tear him apart.  Make decisions as you go along about whether he is what you want or not and if you’re compatible.  Don’t be afraid to cut ties.  Don’t be afraid to block numbers.  This is your life.

Studio shot of beautiful young woman playing poker. Black And White.

Don’t share your values.  Men lie and will put on whatever persona they think they need to in order to bask in your energy.  If you have strong political opinions and you could never be friends with a person with opposing views don’t say that up front.  Let him reveal his values and then you decide if they match yours or not. 

The same goes for religion or lack thereof.  Let a man reveal his spiritual life to you.  If he is compatible with you great.  If his beliefs are disagreeable to you cut ties and quietly move along.  No explanation is needed and nothing is owed.

When I used to use dating apps a common question was:  “So what are you looking for?”  I was always honest and told them.  I wish my answer had been “it depends on the kind of guy you are” or “that depends on what you want”.  Try and make them talk. 

If they start talking about vibes and s— you should probably bail.  If he says “let’s see how it goes”, abort mission.  He is lonely and just wants to enjoy your feminine energy.  He wants to toy with you. 

He doesn’t deserve your time and energy.  Even if you aren’t looking for marriage or a long term relationship this probably isn’t a man worth your time.  He is aimlessly kicking a can down the street of life.  That’s not what you need if you are over the age of twenty two.

If a man invests time in you he will learn your heart, mind, values and what you want for your future.  In time you will know if he’s a person that can be trusted with your secrets and if he deserves honesty.  There’s no reason to put it all out there too early. 

It’s important for you to know what you want.  It’s important for you to have standards.  It’s important for you to know the terms of a relationship you may want or don ‘t want.  It’s not important for your date to know.  Make them earn privileged information by proving that they can be trusted with it.

Men are fake and phony.  They are chameleons and con artists.  Most of them don’t really have any personality or spine.  Most men today will conform to any situation or opportunity placed before them.  But if you meet one that is genuine he will prove himself to be a gentleman who you can trust. 

That takes time so don’t rush things by blabbing about your standards and what kind of relationship you want right out of the gate.  If you reveal too much too early you will probably get a yes man.  If you’re a nice honest person that wouldn’t think of lying you naively will think you met a good match but in reality he just molded himself into someone that the thinks you will have sex with. 

So don’t share too much information.  Offer the absolute bare minimum.  Keep conversation light and say as little as possible.  If communication ceases,  good.  He probably didn’t have any genuine interest in you as a human being and wasn’t prepared to invest in a relationship.  Move on. 

It doesn’t really benefit you.  Women get too anxious in the dating game these days.  You don’t have to worry about wasting your time and energy if you don’t invest too much time and energy in men that haven’t been vetted.  Keep your cool and relax. 

Don’t reveal too much up front and take your time.  I’m not saying to lie as much as I’m saying to shut up and don’t offer too much information.  Your date isn’t entitle to that.  Honesty needs to be a two way street so make sure you’re not dealing with a snake before you start pouring your heart out.

Pandemic Winter Book Review: The Cobbler

I recently finished The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell From Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden. I ran across this book on a library shelf. I was familiar with the brand and owned some of the product but I had never thought of Steve Madden as a person. This book is Steve Madden’s life story. For the most part it is an interesting read and I would recommend it.

First off, I enjoyed the conversational tone of the book. The language was very direct and blunt. Madden is from New York and this book was written the way New Yorkers tend to talk. The author did not try to be deep, woke or intellectual. Reading this story was like talking to a person in a bar.

The Cobbler is fairly short but it touches on a few different subjects. I’ll start with what the book is not. The book is not primarily about fashion, design and trends. Those things are discussed but it’s not the focus of the book so if that’s what you’re looking for this book isn’t for you.

This book touches on family ties, addiction, business, a possible personality disorder the stock market, marriage, divorce, parenthood, incarceration and social injustices. There is a lot going on which can probably be said for all of our lives.

Steve Madden’s story starts in Long Island, NY with his mother, father and two brothers. He talks a bit about his family dynamic and childhood. In his teen years he begins his career as a retail sales person in, you guessed it. A shoe store. He expanded his career in the shoe business as a young adult as a designer, manufacturer and sales representative in New York City.

Steve started his shoe company with $1,100 in 1990. The company did relatively well but he knew the company couldn’t grow without additional cash flow. Steve had a childhood friend named Danny that lent him money to to take his company private. It was a part of a scheme to flip stocks.

Danny worked with a man named Jordan who inflated and sold stocks. The deal was that Steve had to sell his stocks after they were inflated. This deal was depicted in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Wolves of Wall Street. Steve served about two and a half years for stock manipulation, money laundering and securities fraud.

Steve Madden’s incarceration is the most interesting part of the book. If you enjoy programs like Lockup or Locked Up Abroad you may enjoy The Cobbler. Steve describes prison life and some of the characters he might while locked up. Incarceration gave Steve an understanding of inequities in society and how racist and inhumane the American prison system is.

Steve employed several people that he met while he was incarcerated. He knew that he was fortunate to have a business to return to while other inmates had no opportunities. I really appreciate the author did not get sappy and all kumbaya (which is getting on my nerves) while discussing these matters. He was very matter of fact. Steve Madden supports a non profit organization that helps ex prisoners and homeless people.

Steve got engaged in prison which was cute. He married one of his employees that was with him since the early days of his company once he was released. After his incarceration Steve Madden returned to work and his company grew and became a global juggernaut.

This is an interesting book and inspiration can be gained from it in many different ways. It’s a short read and a little slow in parts but it picks up in the middle. There are heartwarming parts of the book as well as some laugh out loud moments. Overall, would recommend it if you have the time.

Pandemic Book Review: Parable of the Sower

SPOILERS AHEAD!

It’s 2021 and COVID cases are increasing which makes pre COVID life impossible. Social activities are very limited so there is more time for past times like reading. My first book review of 2021 is Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I would recommend this book.

Octavia Butler is an African American author. I appreciate Parable of the Sower because if features a Black, female protagonist and most of the characters are Black but race is not the vehicle that moves the story along. Parable of the Sower is not a typical Black story that involves Civil Rights, inner city life, music, slavery or sports. I don’t have anything against that subject matter but I love it when writers give Black characters range beyond those roles.

Octavia Butler

The story takes place in California from around 2024 to 2036. American society has spiraled downward. The economy is in shambles and Americans are living in poverty. Crime is out of control. Homelessness is commonplace. The government is rife with corruption. The nation’s infrastructure has crumbled.

The United States regressed one hundred and fifty years. Every shameful part of our past was a part of the books present. People were enslaved. Workers were routinely hurt in factories. Child labor was commonly used. A large part of the population was illiterate. Drugs and addictions were ubiquitous. A plague was spreading and making people ill.

Racial tensions were high. Nationalism and hate crimes had been on the rise for decades. A presidential candidate from Texas used this vulnerability to gain support. His campaign promise was to make America great again. Octavia Butler wrote Parable of the Sower in 1993.

The book moves a little slow in parts but I would encourage readers to stick with it. The story is a part of a series and there isn’t a very exciting payoff but I was floored by the author’s insight. If Donald Trump read I would have sworn that he based his campaign on Parable of the Sower. We all know he doesn’t read so I will assume that Butler was clairvoyant. She died in 2006.

If you enjoy dystopian novels add this to your reading list. I think you will enjoy it.

Bella Thorne is a Feminist Icon

Bella Thorne is an actress that was on a Disney show called “Shake It Up” in the early 2000s. She is now twenty three and she is a social media sensation. She is worth $12 million. Bella recently caused a stir on Instagram when she created an Only Fans account. Bella Thorne’s IG controversy makes her a feminist icon.

If you’re not familiar with Only Fans it is a feature on Instagram that offers exclusive content for a fee. The exclusive content is often nudity. Bella Thorne charged subscribers $20 per month for Only Fans and made $2 million in six days. The controversy is that Bella did not post any nudity to her Only Fans.

To my understanding subscribers were upset that they didn’t get to see any nudity for their $20 monthly subscription. Sex workers that use Only Fans were upset that they are putting their body on display for a low monthly fee while Bella made millions in one week fully clothed.

Bella didn’t promise nudity and Only Fans wasn’t intended to be a soft core porn site even though that’s what it has turned into. She used feminine mystique and the power of suggestion plus her fans’ imaginations to make herself $2 million in six days.

You gotta love it. She knew her worth and she knew she didn’t have to take her clothes off in order to make a boatload of cash. Bella had nothing to gain by displaying her body.

Bella is smart enough to know her audience. I doubt that most people know who she is and if they do they wouldn’t give her a dime. She knew who would be titillated at the prospect of seeing her flesh and she marketed them a fantasy that made her richer.

The average woman can employ the same strategy in her personal life. If Jane Doe opened an Only Fans she would need to work harder than Bella Thorne and most won’t make $2 million in a week. But the lesson to be learned is that women need to know their market and who appreciates them. Put yourself in front of the right people and don’t work too hard. All women can prosper from Bella Thorne’s model.

The Black People Have Spoken

Donald Trump is trying to invalidate the 2020 presidential election by undermining the votes of Black Americans. Donald Trump is only challenging votes in states with cities that have large Black populations that voted Democrat which caused him to lose the state. He’s only questioning the votes in Black areas.

This is undemocratic and blatantly racist. This is an assault on the rights of Black Americans. Americans that support the actions of Donald Trump and the GOP or that are apathetic towards it are shameful cowards that don’t love democracy, The Constitution or America. They don’t cherish fairness or freedom.

Whether anyone likes it or not the Black people of America have spoken and our voices matter. We voted in record numbers and helped to oust a president that would have never been elected in the first place if Americans were not so racist, gullible and stupid.

Trump has lost nearly every lawsuit his filed over the integrity of the election. Now the AGs of various states are suing WI, PA, GA and MI over the legitimacy of their elections. In other words the great states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan are being asked to defend their Black citizens rights as Americans.

We the Black people of America have spoken and we overwhelmingly think Trump is unfit for office. We exercise our right to vote an now it is being challenged by Republican politicians. Their actions are blatantly racist and should not be tolerated. Donald Trump is trying to over turn election results and he thinks the path of least resistance is trampling on the will of Black voters.