On Being a woman

We are all socialized beings. This socialization impacts the decisions we make in life, love, and relationships. We are influenced by the relationships we see, the religions or spiritual leanings we hold dear and the media we consume: written, auditory, and visual.

I am woman, and while I acknowledge that trying to speak for all women is a large undertaking, that won’t stop me from trying to do so here. Generally speaking, women are socialized to be nurturers and givers. We are taught to take care of home and hearth and taught that our goals, though they may also include occupational goals, should also include being someone’s mother and wife.We are taught that being anything other than feminine is generally an affront to society’s sensibilities. How we take on and fulfill these roles is also influenced by our individual personality, race, socioeconomic status and life experiences. Our definitions of femininity are influenced by the same.

The fulfillment of the roles in itself can be problematic, because it is likely that we get conflicting messages throughout our socialization. For those of us who are told that we can be anything we want to be, we are taken aback when people are surprised by our mechanical, scientific, mathematical, or athletic abilities.  Why is it that we would rather work on a car than cook a 5 course meal? Why would you work in hard labor when you could do a job that might keep your hands soft? Why would you take on a hard science major when you could work in the soft sciences or the arts?  Why do you have an interest in sports when you could be an interior decorator or a fashion designer? Faced with these seeming contradictions we have are all faced with navigating a world that questions our choices. Individually, we make decisions about how much we will conform, or if we conform at all.

If we chose not to conform, we might find ourselves wondering about our choice, especially when our lived experiences tell us we have chosen a harder road. Professionally, we might take the job in IT that makes us feel alive, but find that our day-to-day interactions make us reconsider the position. In predominately male environments, our contributions might be diminished, belittled, or that they are attributed to other males on our teams. We might find that we are paid less than male counterparts who contribute little more than male genitalia. Voicing our concerns might be viewed as an emotional outburst, no matter how eloquently they are voiced. Still, we might chose to fight through, and ultimately distinguish ourselves through hard work and perseverance in what might be correctly deemed  a hostile work environment.

In love or relationship, we might find ourselves fighting a different, but not less difficult battle. For those of us who have a religious background, we are taught that men are the head. Having both the confidence and the wisdom to ascertain that a man is worthy of the position, might cause our femininity to be called into questions. Having standards for them men we deal with might cause potential partners to tell us that we are “too much” or have them telling us our standards are too high. Voicing our concerns about the fit of our partner- a partner who values the fullness of the person we are- might result in well-intentioned advice that falls flat. Women are advised to resolve themselves to the infidelity of their partners, not realizing that making a single exception can result in infidelity becoming the rule, or an accepted practice in a relationship. Women who are advised to stay in relationships where men are physically or verbally abusive because “he is a good man” can end up severely emotionally scarred or dead. Women who are advised to stay in a relationship because a man looks good on paper can end up in feeling trapped because all of their emotional or physical needs are not met. Women who embrace their sexuality might be shamed, called promiscuous or worse because they are in touch with the things that give their body pleasure. As a result, we might decide to stay silent, hide or otherwise diminish ourselves to fit in a box that was never our own design.

In my mind, women are asked to die small deaths everyday. Some of us willingly throw ourselves on the knife to get and keep a man, while others of ourselves find ourselves making smaller, but impactful cuts. We might cut away at our truths by keeping silent about our intelligence. We might agree to just wanting to be casual to keep the company of a man when we desire life-long partnership and children. We might be coerced into ideologies about home, or sexual relationships we do not want. Some of us do so without so much as a peep, while others of us may dam our concerns behind a levy that cannot help but break. All of us have choice, and the choice itself is beautiful. In my mind, allowing the dam to break is the more beautiful choice, as it allows for rebirth and reincarnation. When we learn what we cannot tolerate, it makes us more able to appreciate a partner who appreciates us as we live in the fullness of ourselves. It makes it easier to say no to a partner that offers less than what you desire, makes it easier not to settle for less than we desire. It isn’t easy, it can be downright ugly in the process, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t worth it if we are willing to learn from our missteps, trust our intuition, and wait for the partner we deserve and desire. It’s a beautiful struggle, and I am grateful that it is mine.

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Why is Cam Newton so Polarized?

Sally Jenkins wrote an article that some viewed as tear down of an amazing athlete. I read it and thought it was a love letter.

Cam Newton is brilliant, beautiful, feared and misunderstood because he is walking unapologetically in his purpose.  Since he was a young boy, he knew that he was destined to walk the path he is now walking. He walked that path, with a confidence that some people mistakenly describe as arrogance. According to this prayer, Cam Newton has never tried to be anyone but himself. In a world where fear of what might or might not happen deters some people from pursuing their dreams, Cam Newton has boldly set out to realize his vision.

While I won’t negate the role that race might play in the criticisms against Cam, I daresay the fact that Cam Newton has not faltered in his belief in his dream despite statistics that would have suggested otherwise has been huge. Cam Newton affirmed himself and laid the groundwork for the position he sits in today. The same people who once labeled Cam a Diva can’t help but give credit where credit is due. Cam walked toward his goal relentlessly and fearlessly. Cam Newton told reporters he would be a great, and this year, he has been. In the face of all naysayers, Cam is poised to become to the first quarterback to win a Heisman Trophy, a collegiate football championship, an NFL MVP and a Superbowl.

What I noted highlighted Sally’s article was despite the fact she criticized him for being arrogant, and egotistical, there was an underlying theme of admiration. Cam walking confidently in his Truth scares people, and fear makes people uncomfortable.  This Black quarterback who has been himself unapologetically throughout his career and has become exactly what he told them he would be is scary, particularly when there has been so much pressure for him to “tone it down” and toe the line. That fear is based in the recognition of someone who acknowledges his gift, and understands the road to achieve his goal may be have bumps along the way.  What they don’t understand is that a roadblock is not a failure; it can either deter you from achieving a goal or renew you tenacity. What they don’t grasp is that we all have a choice, and that God don’t make no mistakes.

Some people have decried Cam Newton as an improper role model for dancing in the end zone and playing a enjoying himself while playing a position that traditionally has more stoic players.  I can’t think of a better role model for anyone than a man who smiles through adversity, does a job he loves and who is walking steadfastly and faithfully toward his dream. I hope that I get to watch Cam Newton make history today. If I don’t, since I know that Cam is walking in his purpose, I have no doubt he will one day.

 

Dab on ’em Cam.

An ode to those lives lost

I wasn’t sure I was gonna write about Ferguson.  Even as I am typing, I feel like I still won’t.

I have seen the posts on social media, watched some of the news coverage, spoken to family, friends, and police officers. One thing that is common throughout is a sense of hurt, and maybe even a sense of loss. Though many thought the election of a Black President said much about us become a post racial society, the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and John Crawford III tell a different story.

I hurt as a Black Woman. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how these men could have been my father, brother, lover, cousin, uncle, or friend. More than that, I hurt as a human. It pains me to know how one life can have value over another, that people can try to justify a man’s death by the supposed content of his character or his life choices to that point. It pains me to know that some people can allows themselves to feel better about a young life gone too soon because he “might” have engaged in criminal activities. It pains me to know that people can gloss over the death of man by the hands of those who are sworn to “serve and protect” by diverting to discussions about Black on Black violence. It stings to know that social media and mainstream media are angling to make this a Black issue.

It isn’t.  It’s a human rights issue.

There is anger everywhere we turn. Some people are angry at the President for not doing more. Some people are angry at the celebrities who are going down to show face in solidarity. Some people are angry at the ones who aren’t. Some people are angry there isn’t a clear leader in this movement and belittle the efforts of the people who have come from all corners to show their support. Some people are angry at the twitter activism. Some people are angry as hell at the police not being policed, at the police for seeming serving and protecting at their whims and making justifications when they don’t. Some people are angry that their idyllic and bucolic world views have come crashing down. Some people are angry that people are attempting to make justifications that these men had to lose their lives for the greater good. Some people are angry that no one is trying to make any sense of these deaths at all.

All of that anger has a place and a purpose, because it allows us to check in with ourselves. When a death is senseless and sudden, no action or reaction seems quite good enough. None of this anger and no one’s actions are going to replace the life lost. I do take pause with people saying that it offers no consolation to a grieving mother to be told that her son died for a cause. If not for a cause, then what? It can be really easy to shake one’s head at what you term senseless acts of violence and lose the person-hood of the life lost. What I do know is that we are poised to effect amazing change in the policing and even the political system. For all the people pointing at the life of Oscar Grant as an example of how the system fails us -which is not an opinion I share- how many of us are looking at the life of Benji Wilson, whose death was a precursor to legislation that stipulated that a trauma victim be taken to the nearest hospital with a trauma surgeon, despite location. What about Mike Brown’s death, a death that has prompted the Hawthorne, California mayor to mandate that all officers wear cameras? What about the deaths’ of all the civil rights leaders who helped us usher in an era where people could believe that we live in a post racial society.

We forget that anger turns into action. Despite the critiques we might have for the activism of this time, it seems we forget that our social media presence is a valid presence. It is a place where those of us who don’t have the inclination or the means to stand in the trenches can voice our opinions and have our voices heard. Do we forget how often breaking news is covered on twitter before we see it on any other mainstream source? We have an option that was not available to our forefathers, so I am glad to see we utilize every means available to have our messages heard. This availability means we hear consenting, dissenting and all other voices, but it also offers us another opportunity to dialogue if we are willing to use it.

I have had the opportunity to dialogue with an aspiring member of a police department. Even though his reactions initially made me very angry, they also made me very sad. His first response was “well, I can’t believe that he didn’t do anything to make them escalate” though he also said that training for police men covers escalation and de-escalation of force. He also made clear that “I am trying to make sure I make it home at night, so if it comes down to it, I will do what I have to do”. This same gentleman also admitted that he had been a victim of profiling more than once, but also reported being more aggressive with Black Men.  He also suggested we teach our sons and daughters what passive and active resistance.

I hurt for him and others like him who take the oath to protect and serve and learn that this service may not be equal to all man kind, though it should be. I hurt for people who believe so hard in that motto that they can’t believe that people who swear that oath can betray it. I hurt for people who forget that police officers are people first, people with conscious and unconscious biases that they play out in in their personal and professional lives.

 

Situations like theses remind us of the opportunities we have to change. If one person changes their mind about the importance of basic human rights for all despite color or creed, then change has come.

 

Fair Trial….unless it concern’s the fair skinned

For a little variety (and to add a little testosterone), I brought in  guest blogger. I had no doubt he would hit it out of the park…but you can decide for yourself. Enjoy.

SHOUTOUT to my Dear Friend/Mentor/Spec CeCe for letting me guest-post on her blog!

I know that everyone has had enough of the never-ending Tiger Woods sex scandal escapades. And I really didn’t want to say anything about it, either. Really, I didn’t. If there is one thing that I cant stand more in any facet of media, its saturation, especially when its regarding something completely and utterly repetitive. Nobody wants to hear the same thing over and over again, unless we are talking about the American media consumer. We’ve heard this story before, people, and not too long ago either. Don’t believe me?

There was this NBA player who had made a pretty decent name for himself. Won multiple championships, Olympic Gold Medals, endorsements from the largest companies you can think of, given a leading role in box office smash movie, his own insanely successful shoe brand, and the other perks you get when you are the global sports icon. Not a global sports icon, THE global sports icon. Well, if you haven’t already figured out who this is (idiot), its Michael Jordan. The same Michael Jordan whose wife filed for divorce, allegedly because of Michaels incessant cheating ways. Did you know that? For those who did, you probably remember that this wasn’t really given much coverage, not NEARLY as much as Tiger Woods did. But why?

I think its safe to say that Tiger and Michael during his heyday were on the same level of the sports hierarchy. Its also safe to say the things Tiger said/did/texted were pretty much identical to the things MJ did while he was married, considering they’re good friends.(Quick Richan Note: Birds of a feather do flock together. Know your circle.) So what caused Tiger to get such a backlash from the public for HIS infidelity, what did Tiger do that lost him so many endorsements and the admiration from some of his female fans? Why didn’t MJ have to have a Obama-style press conference apologizing to the whole world for doing what many sports superstars are guilty of?

Heres why: Tiger did all of these things to a white woman.

Before you think im just “playing the race card”, keep in mind that when speaking of America’s history in their portrayal and exploitation the black athlete, there’s not much else in the deck. *shrugs*. If you want more information on that, I strongly suggest you read William C. Rhoden’s book ’40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete’. Do I have to give you a history lesson on America’s feelings on interracial relationships? Yeah, we’re entering a new time where people are more open to change, but lets not get it twisted for one second. When it comes to the MAJORITY of White America, its still frowned upon. Less than 50 years ago, you could get killed for even looking at a white woman if you were a black man. Just because laws were made to prevent the murders doesn’t mean the feelings that inspired the murders went away. Lets be honest, if Elin Woods were Tanya Woods, this story would have gotten as much coverage as Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault accusations—which is barely any. We are in the midst of a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback being accused of sexual assault for a second time. We haven’t heard so much as a peep from that guy. We haven’t seen one corporation back off from him. Kobe Bryant, however, was accused of sexual assault once in 2003. He had to have a huge, tearful, press conference pleading his innocence. He was a global PARIAH. He lost his endorsements. He lost respect from virtually everyone. He was even blackballed in his own league by players. Only until he won his championship last year can you say that his journey back from that disastrous fall finally complete. Two months ago, NFL player Eric Green was sued by a transvestite woman for $10 million dollars for sodomizing her. That sounds like an much more eye-catching story if you ask me. If it was a white woman, I bet you would have heard about before now….yeah, Im pretty sure you would. You’re going to sit there and tell me that they don’t have it out for the black men that dare to defile their precious white woman. Give me a motherf#*$* break.

Tiger was utterly HUMILIATED. Humiliated to the point where he, a proud world champion of his sport,had to formally apologize to the entire public for transgressions in his PRIVATE life. He is taking an incredible personal, financial, and psychological toll from all of this.  Im not trying to defend a cheater, but I will definitely defend a Black man who is getting torn to shreds because Middle and upper-class White America want to give him a 21st century lynching because of their racial sentiments.

I have way more to say, but this is a blog. Not a dissertation. Follow me at @Ar_Aye_Gee17.