Are you a wealthy woman? Not the type of wealth that comes from how many zeros you have behind the 1,2, or 3 in your bank account, but the type that speaks about your mind-set, home life or the relationships you have with others. One financial guru and pretty much my financial hero says that the eight qualities of a wealthy woman are harmony, balance, courage, generosity, happiness, wisdom, cleanliness and beauty.
I have never been afraid of the police. In my lifetime I’ve never witnessed the police be unreasonable or cruel to anyone in my circle or someone I knew personally. I admit for a long time because of those three facts, I pondered the “If only they had…” , “Why didn’t he…” , “They were only doing their jobs…” for brief moments when the issue of police brutality was brought up. My cognitive dissonance was off the Richter Scale because I know police officers. I have them in my family and I could not fully grasp the conflicting narrative of “protect and serve” versus ” killing without cause”.
Interesting enough, I weeped strong tears when the Rodney King verdict was handed down. In my teenage heart and mind I could not fathom how those police officers could essentially beat a man like a forgotten dog. ( Even though, an actually dog probably would have garnered better treatment.) I was a budding militant the next day; planning a silent protest an walk-out while walking to school that morning. My efforts were thwarted by loose lips and the school administration. Nonetheless, I was all about action.
However as I look back now, I realize…I thought it only happened on the OTHER side of the country, to those people, and in only those neighborhoods. The anger had never hit home. I had never been sucker punched in my gut with the realization. The sadness never made me feel as if I could not breathe.
As I have had to talk with my daughter over the past two years explaining how fragile our black existence has become and watch her innocence, about that reality slowly become less pronounced on her face, it has been eye-opening and heart breaking at the same time. She is a teenager and her best friends are a real life representation of the rainbow coalition in diversity. In all of her childhood wonder my daughter has never had to confront race head- on. And then there was Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. I have told her the story of my militant high school days and she has witnessed her mom school many on stereotypes, advocacy, service, neighborhood, culture and pride. But, Trayvon was 17 years old when he was murdered, very close to her age and he became the boys she goes to school with. The boys she laughed and ate lunch with in the café. Trayvon became tangible.
I prepared her for the Zimmerman verdict. I informed her, it was a very real possibility, he could walk out of that courtroom a free man. Yet, nothing I could vocalize could sate the silence in our house when the words, ” not guilty” were said. Absolutely nothing I could say could dissipate the sadness in the air. So, we actively participated in rallies, matches, stand-ins and protest for change, not only because we were angry. But, also because my daughter needed to feel and witness that Trayvon’s life mattered.
Yet now, my own beliefs have wavered; do we matter? Back then we had Johnathan, Malissa, Timothy, Tanika, Rekia, and Alesia. Now we have Walter, Eric, Mike, Ezell, Freddie….and Sandra, who could have easily been me driving down the road in broad daylight committing a minor traffic violation of ” improper lane change with no signal” and end up alone and dead in a jail cell…or it could have been my daughter.
When my daughter was in elementary school, her class always made those precious mother’s day cards. Sometimes they even had little plants, handmade coffee mugs or painted plates to accompany them. I am sure there are many moms out there with kitchen drawers or plastic bins filled with these delights from last year or many,many years ago.
( I originally wrote this article for another website in June of 2014. It still rings true today. Now that Mrs. Clinton has entered the race, it will be interesting to see how many pitfalls other candidates and the media will fall into while covering her this time around. During her first campaign, some members of the media and pundits failed miserably.)
Would there be such a faux uproar about how much money Hillary Clinton had Bill Clinton had when they left the White House if it was Mr. Clinton running for President and not Mrs. Clinton? I will not even give you time to ponder that question. The answer is an emphatic, NO.
They are the Clintons, the former White House Clintons that a lot of people still adore. Of course, they made money after Bill left office and people were willing to pay him to give speeches (despite what he says now about being shocked that anyone did.) Nonetheless, they did have massive legal bills when they departed the White House because Bill couldn’t seem to keep his paws off of interns, ladies from Arkansas, and Ms. Monica. Where people really under the assumption that they we , the taxpayers were paying those legal fees? No. What we did pay for was Kenneth Star’s bill and the “Let’s Impeach Him!” picket signs that were in full force on the GOP side of Washington in 1999.
Just about every time Hillary Clinton is covered on news outlets, there is a great deal of innuendo and expectations that are cleverly ( not so much, depending on the news source) disguised as “thoughtful and provoking”. Even though they are really only being asked because she is a W-O-M-A-N, period. Chris Christie, who was thought of as the Republican savior and direct competition for Hillary in 2016… until a few people in his crew played a game of Billy Goat’s Gruff on the New Jersey Turnpike, is pushing 300+ pounds and had been his entire time in office. Anytime his weight is brought up as a possible hindrance to him being President, people get up in-arms; steadfastly declaring his weight has nothing to do with the job. However, Karl Rove and the good old boy network can state that Hillary may have brain damage from the concussion she suffered when she fell in December 2012 and only a handful of people came to Mrs. Clinton’s defense.
Now, it’s the money issue that people are using to deem her not a worthy candidate for President. Can you imagine reporters asking Reagan, Bush or even Bill, how many “Benjamins” are in their wallets? Or criticizing them for saying their family goes to their local grocery store and making the condescending statement, “Their local grocery store isn’t a regular grocery store”. Newt Gingrich even compared Hillary Clinton to Kim Kardashian a couple of days ago. Really Newt? No…really?
It’s apparent she isn’t the second coming of Jesus. She is flawed. She doesn’t always say the right things in the right way. Some are still upset about Benghazi and what they believe she should have done. Many are still “upset” because she stayed with Bill through all of his downright disrespectful behavior with his mistresses. All valid if that’s the way you view her. Nevertheless, it seems most people are over the bulk of that list. It’s necessary to challenge her on her policies and record. It is smart to ask about her plans for our economic future as a country and her foreign policy. But, please miss me with asking her about her wallet.
Hillary’s intellect, power, ability to at least try to get some things accomplished, likability amongst most voters, history as a Senator, previous presidential candidate of course being, Secretary of State will bring all the boys to the yard…they better get ready.
Are you looking forward to 2016?
The subject of “settling” has come up in quite a few of conversations I have had with friends lately. It was discussed as if it was a disease. Something you should avoid and take medication to defend yourself against. It was interesting to me how the tone of the conversation changed when I was talking to friends who were not single mothers. It was almost as if they decided years ago that if you are a single mother, you take what you can get. That your options are limited so why be ” so picky” about who you date. I had to give a single(mom) while dating tutorial to all of them. After they got over being offended by my decision to speak about something they clearly had no clue about, everything settled down into a deep understanding among us all.
In saying all of that, you would assume that I think settling is something that should be avoided at all cost. However, I think the term is overused and unnecessary. I believe in the 80-20 rule. Most potential dating partners you meet will only be 80% of what you want/need and the other 20% is a wash. The probability that your “special one” will give you 100% of what you are looking for is nearly impossible. So if we believe this to be true, tell me again what is wrong with “settling”? And wouldn’t you have to believe that you are very close to perfection and need little to no improvement to actually say that you will not settle.The problem is not believing that you are worthy of great things. But, the thought that no will ever measure up.
What happened to accepting a person, opposites attracting… compromise even? We have started dating with these long list of 200 things a person must have in order for their potential mate to even become a consideration. Now, do not get me wrong. We as single mothers, and everyone else for that matter should have standards. Standards are things a person should possess in their personalities. Manners, loyalty, trustworthy, etc. Those are standards to me. Almost like what comes standard on a car; things you expect that should always be there. However, the list of 200 things includes things like, must own a home, drive a certain type of car or a nice benefit package from his job. Those things come with the luxury model and you will pay extra for them. What exactly are you willing to pay for these items, that at the end of the day, will not add any value to your relationship?
What is the dilemma in embracing and trying with someone who has most of what you are looking for? That except for one or two luxury items, they are exactly what you need. As single mothers, who have been through difficult relationships and then the fallout from their demise, I know we can be gun-shy. Nonetheless, learn from the demise. Do not limit your perception on men because of it.This does not apply to just taking anyone who offers a smile. Please do not create, then live by an Excel spread sheet and ultimately end up alone.
So if a person makes you feel desired, cherished, loved or makes you forget life’s stresses for just a moment and elicits a soft smile by merely existing in your life, yet does not meet numbers 16, 28 and 47 on your list…I say to hell with calling it settling. Let’s call it living.
This article could be about all the multitude of movies being nominated for Golden Globe, SAG or Oscars this year, that most of us have never heard of or it could have been about the fact that “Selma” was snubbed in categories where it surely deserved a nomination, and most have said, a win. It could also have been about the parties or the fashion encompassing the events. However, what I chose to write about are the last three days of the award season.
On Saturday night, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) broadcasted The Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon that is held annually the day before the Oscars. This award ceremony has been going on for a few years. Although, the public was only left with articles, pictures and social media to interpret the beauty of this event. However, Saturday night it was different and I am thankful that we were able to witness this greatness. We were able to see the joy on the faces of the women (and some men) in attendance, we were able to hear the immense joy and service in the acceptance speeches given by the honorees… as the viewing audience was able to feel the power of sisterhood that was palpable in the room. Oprah said, “This event is about black women being able to lift each other up.” Her words did not do justice to the feeling I got just by viewing on my television screen; the room filled with black women who are all great in their own right, fearlessly embracing the greatness of one other. Regina King talked about the universe always having her back and the grace that was present throughout the room. Ruth E. Carter shared that so many legendary black poets’ influenced her to become a costume designer. Iman Milner said that the mere existence of the women in the room gave her the temerity to keep pushing forward after so many “no’s”. Gugu Mbatha-Raw detailed how she was felt embraced and had a sense of family from being in the room. One of The Chocolates of “Orange Is The New Black”; Danielle Brooks thanked all of the chocolate goddesses out there that have paved the way for them.
It is practical; that the competition among black actresses does exist on some miniscule level. It is probable; the media is responsible for creating the notion that black women are at each other’s throats in Hollywood due to the lack of roles available to them and it is possible; these women view the only competition for any role is just the woman they see in the mirror. Yet, on this night none the aforementioned was given energy. When the camera spanned the audience, you could see the love and respect in the eyes of every woman there as the honorees spoke. The aura of the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon was our sisters in all of their glory and true sisterhood is like fresh air.
On Sunday night, The Oscars gave out the golden statues to the best of the best in film and song. The best song honor was given to Common and John Legend for “Glory”, from the movie the“Selma”. Right before they were announced as the winners, they gave a performance of the song that brought me and many others to tears. With the backdrop of The Edmund Pettus Bridge, actors/singers marched along in a reenactment of Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) when peaceful demonstrators were attacked by police while attempting to march into Montgomery, Alabama hoping to bring attention to voter’s rights and discrimination. During their acceptance speeches; Common noted he was able to perform “Glory” on the same bridge that Dr. King marched on and the bridge that once marked the divide in our country is now a symbol of change. John Legend remarked there are more black men incarcerated now, than they were slaves in 1850. “Justice is juxtapositionin’ us. Justice for all just ain’t specific enough.” Selma is now.
And then, last night B.E.T broadcasted their annual BET Honors event that recognizes the talents, efforts and lives of individuals in the black community. Johnnetta B. Cole, the Education honoree was recognized for her trailblazing spirit let us all know that people should stop teaching little children racism. John W. Thompson, Business and Technology honoree took a 500 million dollar tech company and turned it into a 5 billion dollar Fortune 500 company in a time when there were not many black male executives. Kanye West was honored with the Entrepreneur designation and lamented that just because you may be able to afford expensive clothes and cars, does not mean you cannot still be a slave to them. Usher (Raymond) , the Musical Arts honoree expressed that we all do what we love until we are honored. Theatrical Arts honoree, Phylicia Rashad left us with these profound words, “Legacy is important. Don’t let it go. Don’t give it up.” The B.E.T Honors continually displays the excellence in our community.
These last three days in award season have shown that our talents, our greatness and our spirit does not need to be directed by those that cannot see the immense talents that reside in us. An event created by Essence magazine honors all black women, “Glory” speaks about overcoming and still fighting for our people and our children. The B.E.T Honors shows the expansive deeds of people in our community that are not always the ones we see in the spotlights. Every single one of these events were created by us. There is no need to seek recognition’s embrace from anyone other than the powerful arms of our own village.
Back in 2001, there was this little jewel released in the movie theaters by the name of “Two Can Play That Game”. During this time movies that catered to the black community and showcased many black actresses and actors were arriving it seemed, every other week. Featuring an overflowing basket of acting talent that included Vivica A. Fox Morris Chestnut, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Anthony Anderson, Monique, and Tamala Jones, “Two Can Play That Game” is a movie that was predestined to be a hit because it covered the relationship blueprint that is enacted when a man does something that makes a woman question whether or not, he is really “the one” for her. I will admit, this movie is one of my all-time favorites. I can quote chapter, verses and wardrobe selection without batting an eyelash. After viewing the Unsung Hollywood story of Vivica Fox this week, I had to pop “Two Can Play That Game” into the DVD player for the 12984 time. While thoroughly enjoying myself watching the movie, I contemplated whether the 10 day plan Smith, Shante Smith coveted in the movie could work in 2015.
Ya’ll ready? Here it goes.
Day One: Do not take his calls. If you decide to, be brief.
- This rule most definitely is still a part of “The Relationship Games”. This is supposed to give the wronged an upper-hand. However, with the advent of social media, silence -interruptis is only a click or swipe away. The act of not talking to your mate is already a game that should not be played by anyone over the age of 18. So, not verbally speaking to your mate. But, checking their Facebook status or Twitter account every 10 minutes to see if they have mentioned your name is definitely a no-no for a grown azz adult.
Day Two and Three: Occupy your mind and time by hanging out with your friends.
- This is cardinal rule 1 thru 75. Anytime you are going through a rough patch in your relationship or trying to get past a breakup, hanging out with people who sincerely care about your well-being is good for the soul. In the movie Shante says, “In love and war, maintain military silence.” So instead of sitting at home staring at her phone, she decides to go to church to recruit a “flunky”. A man who will witness her premeditated flirting with a random dude at church and go run tell that. In 2015, you can cut out the flunky middle man and just change your status on Facebook to “it’s complicated”. It still amazes me how much that status bar means so much to so many.
Day Four: Continue not to talk to him.
- At this point in the movie, Keith (Morris Chestnut) has been calling Shante continuously and leaving voice mails that range from contrite and anger, back to contrite and anger again. Shante believes that remaining silent gives her all the power and I suppose in a twisted kind of way it does. Most people cannot stand to be ignored. They will reach out to you in any way possible, even if it is just to argue. She also cautions that it is possible that your man may drop by your house. Today, your man dropping by may happen as well. Seeing someone solely for the sake of having a verbal fight or using sex as the elixir is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. Abort this mission.
Day Five: It is a bad day. (He came over.)
- Keith comes over and they have a screaming match, which in the illustrious words of Tony (Anthony Anderson) set into motion The Law of Thermodynamics by Newton. “Energy is neither lost or destroyed. It is transferred from one party to the next.” No further explanation is needed in this. The concept will always work until the end of time. Any questions? No. Let’s move on.
Day Six: Not as bad as day five. However, this day is where you stay busy and occupy your time.
- Shante dusts off her little black book and goes out on dates with a smorgasbord of foolishness. The” wanna-be Prince” dude, the “still lives with his momma” dude and the dude that believes he is the creator’s gift to all women. In this day and age, finding a date is as easy as a 10 piece puzzle. The dilemma comes in deciding if your relationship is worth saving. If you want to get back on the right track with your man, then do not play this game of ring- around-the-dates. It serves no purpose other than creating unnecessary drama. If you do not want him back, then date until the wheels fall off.
Day Seven: Turn the tables and knock him off his feet.
- Shante says you should go to Victoria Secret and get the sexiest thing you can find, get your hair and nails done, take a long, hot bubble bath and wear a dress that accentuates all of your curves. Then you should go over to your man’s house, get him to a point where he has to have you and then leave. Umm, where do they do all of this at? You should take a trip to V’s, pamper yourself with the new hair style, nails, and bubble bath. But, then you need to find something else to do rather than going over to his house and blowing oxygen onto a simmering fire. Contrary to popular belief, some women enjoy sex as much as men. You’ll end up going over there and never leaving. “The CIA ain’t got ish on a woman with a plan.”
Day Eight: Stock up on groceries.
- After all of this back and forth Shante believes that this is the night Keith has been tortured enough. It is finally time to give him back the keys to the kingdom. So fill that fridge up with all of your favorites and get a few bottles of wine. You all may be in the house for a few days. I’m guessing in 2015, this more than likely still goes on. Couples will throw a welcome home party for the other if they break up for 8 hours. So, holding one after 8 days should be the equivalent of a New York New Year’s Eve celebration.
Day Nine: Kick back and wait for him to beg for forgiveness.
- As life goes, all well laid out plans do not always stick to script. Shante is asked to attend an event being thrown by one of her employer’s competitors, at the last-minute. Little does she know, Keith shows up with Connie, (The proverbial… ummm “woman with many dudes”) who Shante does not like at all. He ignores Shante and she believes she has to up the ante’ in this love game. So, she recruits a dude from the streets by pretending to be a damsel in distress, invites him to the event and proceeds to spend the remainder of the event flirting aggressively with him, all while Keith is watching and losing his mind. Keith confronts her and she enacts the coup de grace by “accidently” dropping a condom from her purse. He tells her if she leaves with the random dude, he is leaving with Connie. Shante is not moved and leaves with the dude. She expects Keith to be in her driveway when she gets home. Of course, he is not. In this day and age, it’s possible that your dude will go home with Connie and it is possible you will hook up with the random dude from the streets. However, it is probable that you two will give each other the side eye for the remainder of the evening, talk about how foul you both are to your friends, send text messages saying “Wyd” or “So, you are going to do me like that?” and start this cycle of foolishness all over again. The best alternative is to just enjoy the party and then go home, ALONE.
Day Ten: Stuck on Stupid.
- Shante is at the same place she met Keith, lamenting how the 10 day rules did not work for her. She realizes that when it comes to love and relationships there are no rules. Well, luckily this is a movie and they wanted it to have a feel good ending, so Keith is at the same place, sitting in the dark corner sulking. Shante apologizes to him and they lived happily ever after.
More often than not, if you go through all this drama in dating today, there will be no Hollywood ending. If your man does something that threatens to damage the foundation of your relationship, you need to open your mouth and tell him. You cannot use silence, go on dates with men you would never be bothered with on any other occasion, use temptation or tricks to punish him for messing up. You have to be bold enough to have a conversation with him, whether you want to or not. The ability to communicate your hurt without damaging the other person’s spirit is learned behavior. No-one is born with this skill. So, if you get it wrong the first time, keep at it. Relationships never succeed when one person believes they are the ruler and their other half is the peasant. In the end, two can indeed play that game. However, who really wants to?