Traditional Black Womanhood

Traditional Black womanhood is having a hard time in 2019.  It is having a hard time being heard, respected and taken seriously by anyone, even or I should say especially by other Black women.  It seems that anytime a Black woman speaks from a traditional point of view (I’m not talking politics) she is often mocked and put down.

Fantasia Barino, Gabrielle Douglas and Nicki Minaj have all made traditional remarks about womanhood over the last few years and have all faced criticism and mockery for it.  There is irony in all of the statements made by these well known women however it doesn’t necessarily make the viewpoints invalid and I don’t understand the so called backlash for their remarks.

Fantasia Barino of American Idol fame set off a poop storm this week when she said she follows her husband’s lead.  Her husband chimed into the on line discussion and he made a lot of good points about male leadership in a family.  They made sense and I think this couple is correct in their point of view.

But Fantasia’s public statement upset feminists for some reason that I don’t understand.  Some critics said that Fantasia was being arrogant and looking down on unmarried women.  But we’ve known Fantasia a long time now and she’s never been condescending or pretentious so I don’t think that judgement is fair.

Some of the disagreement stems from the fact that Fantasia makes way more money than her husband.  The pundits have a point there.  Oh and he’s a felon that she married after three weeks.  Fantasia’s marriage definitely raises some eyebrows but I still agree with her opinions about heterosexual, traditional marriages.  Even if I didn’t agree with Fantasia and her husband I would just excuse it as a difference of opinion.  But the feminists are angry this week at the thought of submitting to a man that they chose to marry.  I don’t get it.

Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglass made a tweet a few years back saying that women should dress modestly.  Twitter erupted into a fury.  Gabrielle was maligned for this statement.  The feminists mocked her religious background and of course they brought up sexual assault.  The Twitter mob insulted Gabrielle’s intelligence and implied that she was brainwashed and didn’t think for herself.

I’m trying to understand what’s wrong with valuing modesty.  Do we all need to seek validation by posing mostly naked on social media.  Some women think that is empowering.  I don’t but to each their own.  No one is hurt by Gabrielle Douglas wanting to wear clothes.  I understand that Gabby Douglas came to fame in a leotard in front of a global audience so it is a bit of a hoot hearing her promote modest dress.  But again, I think that she is absolutely correct.

Nicki Minaj recently decided to retire and focus on her upcoming marriage and starting a family.  I think it’s lovely.  That move made Nicki a feminist heroine to me.  I believe that a woman can have it all in her life but she probably can’t do it all at the same time the way men can.

Nicki has had a great deal of success and has made a lot of money and now she wants to place her focus on being a wife and mother.  This is another questionable relationship.  Nicki too is marrying a felon that she out earns by a mile, maybe two or three.  He wouldn’t be my choice for a mate but nonetheless he’s her man and I think it’s nice that she is making family life her priority.  I hope she gets everything she wants.

There was a lot of social media buzz surrounding Nicki’s comments.  Most of the commentary was negative but there were some congratulatory wishes.  I don’t know why anyone would have any negative feedback about a wealthy woman in her thirties pausing her career to begin a family life.  I think it would be foolish to try and balance both.

The world has a one dimensional view of Black womanhood and it is mostly negative.  The world is very comfortable with Black women spreading promiscuous and new age feminist messages but not family oriented values.  I’m not sure why that is.  I tend to believe that things we see in the media groom those that consume certain images and messages.  Certain segments of the population are being groomed for failure from the start.

Black women are seen as traditional and wholesome once they are past their prime.  I think it’s great to see young, attractive Black women expressing wholesome values while they are young.  It’s a shame that their biggest detractors seem to come from within the Black community.

 

The “NYT” Makes Me Cringe

I don’t like the New York Times.  I find a lot of the articles to be cringe worthy.  The NYT caters to a White, affluent, liberal, East coast audience that lacks self awareness.  That’s well and good but I’m not of that demographic so I don’t relate to their stories or understand their tales of woe.  A lot of the stories in the NYT come across as whiny and delusional to me.  I’ve read their stories and sarcastically mouthed the words boo freaking hoo to myself.

Last weekend I ran across an article by a man named Anthony Abraham Jack.  He is a Black man from a poor background that wrote the most cringe worthy article I’ve ever seen in the New York Times.

Mr. Jack is a Harvard Professor now so it’s safe to say he’s made it.  He wrote his article to discuss his experiences as a low income student at Amherst College, a private college in Massachusetts.  He was a poor man surrounded by affluence and privilege.

I have noticed that the American media loves a Black sob story.  They sop it up with buttered biscuits.  Even if a story doesn’t have anything to do with having an under privileged background TV producers and writers work it in to the narrative.

Instead of centering himself, his experiences and his accomplishments in this piece Mr. Jack centered his wealthier classmates by comparing himself to them.  His classmates were irrelevant to his success in school.  He had his own journey and that should have been the story.  That’s it.

I also question Anthony’s choices.  Why did he choose Amherst?  Surely, he could have gone to a state college closer to home in warm sunny Florida.  There must have been something that drew him to Amherst that made the distance from family and expense worthwhile.  He made his choice to go there and he’s a smart man who became success so why make this appeal?  He is complaining about being the underclass of a privileged class.  I don’t feel sorry for him.  Boo freaking hoo!

I would have appreciated this article more if the intended audience was low income college students.  It would be great if someone with Mr. Jack’s accomplishment’s gave helpful advice about navigating their journey to graduation day.  Instead he is making an appeal to the elite to help poor students.  He is empowering those that are already powerful and making low income students charity cases.  He’ encouraging them to walk with their heads lowered and hat in hand.

But that’s how he has been socialized.  Here is the passage in I Was a Low Income College Student.  The Classes Weren’t the Hard Part that made me blow a gasket.

NYT

Good grief, poor kids that want to go to prestigious universities are encouraged by educators to sell themselves as good candidates to schools based on sympathy and sob stories not academic merits.  That’s demeaning and those educators should be completely ashamed of himself.  They should be fired.

These students should let admissions boards know that they are competitive scholars that can win.  If their background is brought up prospective students should let universities know that they are likely to succeed because of their background, not in spite of it.  In fact, they are more likely to achieve than some of their more affluent counterparts because they are resilient and highly motivated by a desire to carve bright futures for themselves.  Perhaps that’s too much of a threat?

I grew up in a single parent home in a working or perhaps middle class neighborhood outside of Detroit, Michigan.  I have three college degrees one of which is a masters degree.  I worked while I was a student all three times I was enrolled in a university.  I didn’t have as much time or financial resources to invest in projects and materials as others may have but I never failed and I always finished what I started.

I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth and my mother struggled financially at times but that gave me a drive and will to succeed.  I never felt sorry for myself.  I never thought I couldn’t win.  There have been many times that I thought I was the one to beat.  And it’s because I haven’t been handed anything and I’ve never seen anyone get handed anything.  I don’t envy or hold anything against people of privileged backgrounds.  I don’t count other people’s money and I make my own way.

I don’t like the New York Times.  They take too much pleasure in Black sob stories like most American media outlets.  It’s not productive or inspiring for Black people and it just gives White people a chance to feel good about themselves (and superior) by joining in on the pity.  Feeling sorry for a man like Anthony Abraham jack is degrading.  He sure doesn’t look helpless to me.  He shouldn’t be encouraging low income students to feel helpless either.  Don’t approach any situation with your head lowered and hat in hand.  If an environment requires that it may not be the right place for you.

“The Bluest Eye” and What it Means in 2019 – Toni Morrison February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

Literary hero Toni Morrison died earlier this week.  Her powerful novel The Bluest Eye is what makes Ms. Morrison a legend in my eyes.  The book was released in 1970 and exposed ugly truths about Black women and self image and the effect it has on an individual’s psyche and overall well being.

I read The Bluest Eye long ago and it has resonated with me for years.  I am a Black American woman and I refer to the story of Pecola Breedlove often as I observe Black people in modern culture.  The story revolves around around a young dark skinned Black girl named Pecola Breedlove.  She is seen as ugly and not treated very well throughout her life.  Pecola becomes fixated on blue eyes that she sees in popular images and wishes that she had them herself.  Pecola thinks that her quality of life would improve if she has blue eyes, blonde hair and light skin.  Was she wrong?

bluest eye 3

I certainly don’t think so.  And it’s sad that the world that Pecola lived in made it impossible for her to accept herself.  Pecola’s dark skin condemned her to a lack of opportunities and second class treatment in the culture of the day.  She was born to be a proverbial whipping boy.  I wouldn’t dare say that things haven’t changed.  It would be incredibly entitled for me as a dark skinned Black woman born in 1975 to say that things have remained the same.  But they aren’t very different.

Globally, people of African descent see beauty and freedom in adopting and mimicking European aesthetics.  I personally have regularly chemically straightened my hair since I was around eight.  It wasn’t my decision to start relaxing my hair but I haven’t made an adult decision to stop doing what I was taught as a child either.  Many Black women go through the expense of wearing fake hair that is usually a straight texture.

I don’t blame or criticize Black women for trying to meet European beauty standards.  Life is competitive and black women want the same things that everyone else wants such as basic respect, career and romantic success.  It’s a little easier to achieve those things when you look like a person of European heritage.  Pecola was a simple girl but she was smart enough to come to that conclusion.

I feel like as time goes on Black girls and women are having a more difficult time accepting their appearance in this image conscious, Eurocentic society.  I had heard of several suicides of young Black girls over the last few years but the first article that I pasted below says that suicide rates among young Black children have doubled between 1993-2015

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/12-old-girl-commits-suicide-113320792.html

Heartbreaking: 6-Year-Old Girl Commits Suicide With Jump Rope

10-Year-Old Colorado Girl Commits Suicide After Bullying

9-Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Months of Being Bullied at Her School

https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/nation-world-news/in-wake-of–year-old-s-suicide-waterford-father/article_3130e765-8b71-5644-aab4-236d2e592496.html

I never realized how much vitriol there was within the Black community towards Black women until I became a consumer of social media.  YIKES!  The voices are often mean spirited and openly hostile towards Black women who are not given much support or positive reinforcement.  Meanwhile images of racially ambiguous and White women are glorified and placed on a pedestal for Black audiences.  It’s a complete mind f—.  I’m not surprised that we have problems and tragedies.

There’s no good way to end this post because the real life stories of Pecola Breedloves continues to unfold.   My hope is that all Black people will learn to accept and love themselves.  I hope that the world learns to accept Blackness but that is doubtful because there is a perception that there is something for others to lose if people of African descent improve themselves and stop being so European focused.  I am grateful to Toni Morrison for illustrating this matter so beautifully.  I urge you to read The Bluest Eye if you haven’t.  It’s unforgettable and timeless.

 

 

Organic is Great Until it’s Too Organic

Every Wednesday morning during the summer there is a little farmers’ market that operates out of the parking lot that I park in at work.  It’s called the KCK Farmers’ Market.  The farmer’s market is in an inner city neighborhood that doesn’t have a grocery store nearby.  It’s great that residents of that community can get fresh vegetables without traveling far which may be a challenge for some.  And government food assistance coupons are accepted.

https://www.facebook.com/kckfarmersmarket/

I recently learned that the sellers are also a part of the community.  I was wondering how far they traveled to participate in the market.  Most of them are Muslim Somali women and a few very well mannered children, Southeast Asian and African American farmers that grow their crops locally.  I think that the market is a win – win for everyone involved so I like to support them.

I don’t buy organic food at super markets because it is more expensive and I have no way of knowing if it’s organic or not.  I’m also not sure if the difference is something worth the extra money.  Some years back I jumped on the organic food band wagon but quit after it started taking a toll on my bank account.  It was back to pesticide laced veggies for me.  The prices at the KCK Farmers market are comparable to non organic food at the super market.

Last week I bought some red potatoes and a bell pepper at the market.  The pepper was a great fresh snack.  I was completely satisfied.  I cut up the potatoes this morning to cook with chicken breasts and I was in for a bit of a surprise.  Half of my potatoes were a bit rotten in the center.  I was kind of freaked out.  I’m not actually sure my red potatoes were spoiled.  I don’t know what I was seeing exactly because I’ve lived my life in a bubble with genetically modified and chemically altered fruits and vegetables that have been sorted for super market showtime.

I wasn’t comfortable with the brownish gray soft spots in my potatoes so I threw half of them away.  The potatoes were probably edible but still.  I had enough potatoes which met my standards to prepare with my chicken and have a hearty side portion.  I was making too much for one meal anyway.  I was planning on having left overs.

So I said all of that to say that there are benefits and drawbacks to everything.  The chemicals may cause you cancer and an early death but while you’re alive you will have pretty fruit with a longer shelf life.  Organic food is pure and raw.  But I, like most people am not quite prepared for pure and raw.  It’s not what most of us are use to in these United States where absolutely everything is manufactured in one way or another.

There isn’t much of a point to this post.  I just thought that my experience with organic, locally grown red potatoes was an interesting learning experience.  I will continue to support the KCK Farmers’ Market.  I may even buy more red potatoes there because I absolutely love red potatoes.  The KCK Farmers’ Market is a great asset to Wyandotte County Kansas that benefits many people in the area.  If you’re ever in the area please support this enterprise.

http://www.kckfarmersmarket.com/contact-us.html

The Greatest Generation

The title Greatest Generation is typically reserved for those that came of age around WWII.  For Black Americans the Greatest Generation is those who came of age during the Black Civil Rights era.  People such as Sadie Roberts-Joseph who recently lost her life to a senseless murder in Baton Rouge, LA changed the world and they don’t get enough respect for their accomplishments.  This post is not a discussion of Ms. Roberts-Joseph’s murder.

Black Americans of the Civil Rights era made the blueprint for protests and activism.  The LGBT movement, feminists and supporters of undocumented immigrants use the Black Civil Rights movement as a tool in which to gain sympathy for their struggles as a basis of comparison.  The Black American Civil rights movement has been a source of global inspiration.

These people were real activists that sought change and got it.  They risked their freedom, bodily harm and death while fighting for their rights against the most powerful country in the world.  I have a great deal of respect for some Black Lives Matter organizers and protesters.  But overall, the younger generation limits activism to hash tags and they accomplish very little.  At times I find social media activism to be counter productive.

I enjoy social media but it is what it is and it’s not what it’s not.  It’s not meaningful activism because it only makes a difference if it’s something popular.  Most social media advocacy is a matter of jumping on the right on line bandwagon.

That’s why the movement to fight sexual harassment caught on but the one to fight sexual harassment in the fast food industry didn’t. There’s no glamour to the fast food industry so not many people are willing to advocate for them.  That’s why there was an on line campaign to bring R. Kelly to justice but there isn’t a mainstream campaign to protect Black children from sexual abuse within the Black community.  That’s why police brutality is not protested until there is a shocking video.  If there isn’t a celebrity or shock value involved social media activism doesn’t seem to catch on very well.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph was not an arm chair activist.  She created a legacy for her community.  Ms. Roberts-Joseph founded an African American museum in Baton Rouge.  She worked with law enforcement in an effort to combat gang violence and drug abuse.  She also organized a Juneteenth celebration and mentored young people.  Ms. Roberts-Joseph was a real treasure to her community.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/us/sadie-roberts-joseph-profile/index.html

Most young, so called activists do not have this same kind of spirit.  They just want to throw their identity in another person’s face to be validated.  There are a lot of issues facing this generation that don’t seem to get addressed.  I feel like most young people are more interested in the trials and tribulations of celebrities than they are issues that affect the middle, working class and the poor.

There are a lot of people that think of themselves as “pro Black” or activists but they complain on social media all day about trivial things such as swirling (inter racial dating), fake hair and twerking.  I think that all of those subjects are worth talking about but Black social media outlets beat these conversations like they are dead horses.  On line activists rarely discuss the other dozens upon dozens of matters that affect Black Americans.

It is rare to run across intelligent conversations on social media about nutrition, education, health care, finance, parenting, inner city violence, domestic violence or the high infant mortality rate in our community.  Most of the conversations focus on a bunch of bickering about other people’s personal choices.  They want to try and change another person’s ideology instead of getting up from behind their lap tops and mobilizing something that will positively affect lives where they live.

And all of that is actually fine with me.  Perhaps people are mostly satisfied with their lives and simply enjoy complaining on the internet.  Heck, I complain on social media too.  But here’s the kick in the pants.  A lot of the armchair activists are very critical of The Greatest Generation.  They are critical of their parenting style.  They are critical of their religious beliefs.  And they are even critical of the activism from which they have directly benefited.

These Monday morning activists question whether integration was a good idea.  They consider The Greatest Generation to be soft because they took a non violent approach to protesting.  But the younger generation doesn’t stand for much at all other than inclusion and diversity.  Neither issue is a priority to me as a Black American.  Some don’t seem to notice that all this inclusion and diversity is pushing them out of influential positions and opportunities.  But go off!

Youngsters don’t put themselves on the line.  They don’t risk anything.  Whether you agree with The Greatest Generation or not their accomplishments and spirit deserves respect.  A lot of Black people that are the beneficiaries of the Civil Rights movement don’t offer that.  It’s a shame and it’s very sad.  But once again Black people turn their backs on their own accomplishments, history and culture.  It seems to be so much more natural for Black Americans to tear themselves down than build themselves up for some reason.

I am a part of Generation X which is a bridge between the Greatest Generation and the people that I’m complaining about.  You may ask what Generation X stood for or accomplished.  Honestly, not that much.  We’re kind of vapid at times.  But at least we respect our elders.

Rest in peace to Miss Sadie.  Her end was tragic but the story of her life is inspiring.  Women like Ms. Roberts-Joseph have always been the cornerstone of Black families and communities and they are deserving of praise.  She makes me proud.

 

More Feminist Confusion

The feminists are at it again.  These people are harder to understand than calculus.  Music producer Jermaine Dupri made a comment that most female rappers today make songs about the stripper life.  Social media feminists got upset for some reason and somehow Jermaine Dupri has become a prudish hypocrite in their minds even though their response is a bit prudish.  I thought feminists were in favor of “sexual liberation” and expression.

I don’t listen to much new rap music anymore.  I’ve gotten too old.  So if I have heard of you that means that you have become pretty darn popular.  Cardi B is a hip hop pop star that has become difficult to escape.  And I’ve gotten introduced to Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls.  I don’t care for Cardi B. at all but I think that Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls are quite talented.

I’m a Bible thumper that believes that there is more power for women in modesty than there is in raw sexuality.  I also believe that these talented young women would be better served by not flaunting their sexuality.  The public will only tolerate that without mocking it while a woman is young but no one is young forever or even very long.  You have to have something to sell and talk about other than sex.  But I’m not the target market for the music industry and I’m in my middle forties.  The City Girls and Megan didn’t ask for my opinion.

I like these girls because I can understand what they are saying.  They aren’t mumble rappers that sound like they are coming out of a cold medicine induced haze.  They are charismatic, energetic, young, brash and beautiful.  They are urban or perhaps ratchet is the better word and make no apologies for it.  Their music is fun.  And yes, they are sexy and put forth a stripper like image.  When I ran across their videos on You Tube they made me smile.  I don’t know City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion’s backgrounds but Cardi B. was an actual stripper.

Hip hop has been filthy, blunt and telling tales of urban counter culture since the late 80s. That’s the draw and the charm.  Hip hop has sold millions and probably billions because it sells a fantasy to those of us that are students, housewives and work cubicle jobs.  They say and do things before an audience that most of us would never do even after a couple of shots of tequila.  Feminism has done it’s job.

The City Girls parents probably hadn’t even met yet when tawdry rap music gained popularity and began to dominate the charts. Megan The Stallion and Cardi B. never really had a chance and most young women are never really given a different option to present themselves as something other than slutty.  But hey, we’re talking about grown, career women and I respect their choices.

Explicit lyrics, filth and racial slurs ahead.

I thought that feminists were in favor of women expressing themselves sexually and on their own terms.  That’s what the City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion are doing.  It’s what Nicki Minaj did before them.  And it’s what Lil Kim and Foxy Brown did before her these girls’ parents even met.  The young feminist response to Jermaine Dupri’s response should have been “So what if they rap about stripping.  What’s wrong with stripping?”  That would have made more sense to double down on their feminist values.

More trash ahead.

Instead they name off a bunch of other current female rappers that have a more wholesome or emo image.  In order to say that all young female rappers aren’t stripper like.  If feminists are truly supportive of these modest rappers why aren’t they more popular?  Capitalism is it’s own form of Democracy and feminists get a vote.

Jermaine Dupri is absolutely right.  Most popular young female rappers are selling sex.  It’s the way of the world and you need to be a real rebel to make a different choice.  There may be a Lauryn Hill or Missy Elliot equivalent for today but she doesn’t seem to be selling much music.  Or at least she’s not selling enough downloads and getting enough buzz to become mainstream like Cardi B.

Jermaine Dupri isn’t young anymore.  He’s forty six years old and it sounds like he’s gained some wisdom along the way.  He understands that there is more power for women in modesty and using talent and intelligence.  I hold the same opinion but I guess I’m enough of a feminist to respect an adult woman’s life choice.  He’s just trying to let young women with aspirations in the music business that their longevity is not in blatant sex appeal.

After all, Lauryn Hill still sells out concerts even though her fans know she might show up two hours late.  And we’ve never seen much of her body or heard much about her sexual experiences.  She did it all with talent and hard work.  Punctuality, not so much.

But feminists are interested in arguing and becoming outraged no matter what.  That seems to be the goal.  They aren’t even standing behind their cause of sexual liberation and expression.  A man got them to rally around modest rappers today which is what he was supporting.  Women stay losing.