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When race, class and culture collide … the obliteration of our post racial America

The elephant in the room is waving it’s tusks. America has had a rude awakening. The masses now understand that we are far from being a “post racial” society. The Voting Rights Acts (VRA) and Affirmative Action rulings, Bloomberg’s defense of “Stop and Frisk”, Paula Deen’s implosion and the George Zimmerman trial have created a collision of race, class and culture; pouring a bucket of cold water on all those who believe we live in a world where people “don’t see color”. What’s been revealed are the racial assumptions and socioeconomic judgements floating just beneath the surface of our conversations, confrontations and political decisions. The notion that we can end racism by keeping quiet has proven to be faulty logic. Across the country in living rooms, barbershops and pubs people ARE talking. Unfortunately, the discussions are most likely between individuals who share similar backgrounds and ideologies. The exchanges that need to happen should include persons of varying political affiliations, ethnic identification, experiences with discrimination and racial sensitivity. Our perspectives are tied so tightly to our prejudices that the pain spills over before any level of understanding can be reached.

African Americans have spent most of our collective time in the US being bought and sold as property, denegrated, abused, disenfranchised and ridiculed. I believe we are suffering from transgenerational PTSD. It seems nearly impossible for the majority culture to understand the injustice and agony of festering wounds. Is it possible to heal the amount of emotional and institutional damage done by hundreds of years of oppression? The benefits of white privilege and the weight of black burden are so tightly sown into the fabric of our country I wonder how it can be mended without ripping the nation to shreds.

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The criminal justice system has found George Zimmerman not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Attorneys and pundits hope to extinguish the growing flame of civic outrage by reminded us that the law doesn’t promise moral justice. Many have said though George Zimmerman may have been found not guilty, he was not found innocent. This patronizing legal double talk adds insult to injury. In plain English we understand that a young, unarmed black teenage boy was racially profiled, stalked and shot in the heart based on the imaginary fears of a man who is now able to walk the streets a free man. Our disgust is compounded by the fear that our sons, brothers and husbands could share Trayvon’s fate based on the belief that the black male is an animal to be feared under the cover of night. It can be presumed that the State of Florida has sent the message to everyone who feels threatned when encountered by a black man that their fright is justified. “Only in America can a dead black boy be put on trial for his own murder.” Syreeta McFadden

Some have attempted to undermine the outrage associated with this case by asking why African Americans aren’t as outspoken against black on black crime. The nation has watched in horror as tens of black and brown people shoot, and often kill each other, every weekend in Chicago. I would argue that we ARE upset and actively working to stop violence within our communities. Teachers, religious leaders, concerned parents and community organizers have created numerous outreach programs and anti-violence efforts to bandage an epidemic that can only be cured by prevention. The depth and breadth of that issue is so profound that it takes thousands of moving pieces working together to create systemic change. The solutions are clear enough: get guns off the streets, turn around a failing school system, end unemployment, increase access to healthcare, etc. These types of socio-environmental adjustments begin with grassroots efforts, but must be supported by local and national infrastructure. Sadly, keeping more young, urban dwelling people alive may not be a big enough incentive to solicit the major investments needed in broken communities.

Over the last four generations many African Americans have managed to move families away from areas plagued with violence. With hard work, education and entrepreneurship, like the Martin family, we have sought refuge in middle class, racially diverse neighborhoods. These individuals, especially with humble beginnings of their own, sympathize with families suffering daily on meaner streets, but there has been a disconnect between the haves and the have-nots in the African American community. Some may discount exactly how hard it is to transcend from a low-income, crime ridden community. Their own personal ambitions, healthy bonds and talents may be taken for granted in comparison to the lack of opportunities afforded brothers and sisters in crisis. Our well-read, soccer playing children aren’t regularly harassed by gang members and street hustlers. The danger they face is different. We prepare them for the racist prism that will cast a dark shadow over their existence as black in America. The truth is that despite all the efforts parents make to educate, socialize and raise our children (black boys especially) with dignity, many will still take one glance and profile them as unrooted, ignorant and menacing. We challenge them to be twice as smart, humble and hardworking; to be mindful of the first impressions they make. We talk about the tone they take when speaking with teachers; their posture when in the presence of law enforcement; their attire while hanging out with friends. As adults we know that one need not be called a nigger to be viewed and treated as one. Many Americans believe a black boy’s childhood ends around 12 years old. After that they become an “unidentified suspect”. Elders worry when adolescents don’t heed advice and experiment with destrictuve behaviors preached against. But, untoward acting out is not seen as teenage angst by police, media, school administrators and other persons of authority. Unruly black males are not slapped on the wrist and sent to their parents for scolding – they’re searched spread eagle on the hood of their parent’s cars just a few blocks from home. They are rarley given the benefit of the doubt, they are instead made an example of. We need not look back to the 1955 brutal death of Emmett Till. The recent murders of unarmed young black men including Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin make us wonder how much has really changed. Some will teach their sons to shrink, be docile and apologetic – even when they are victimized – all for the sake of remaining safe in AND out of our communities. Those who teach pride and self assertion will worry well beyond the parental norm.

A series of current events, beginning with the candidacy of President Barack Obama, have made candid debates about race and politics are imperative to the healing of our country. The myth of a post racial society has emboldened everyone to honestly lay their frustrations on the table. The division and is shocking, but reveals how much work needs to be done.

**This essay is a collection of angry, fretful and fractured thoughts from the last few weeks. My perspective is informed by my role as mother, counselor, community advocate and kitchen table social commentator. I’ve been pondering some topics that I did not breach in this post, but may explore later. Studying arguments for and against educational segregation, Marcus Garvey’s movement and the Reconstruction Era leave me with questions about how the lack of a homeland has left African Americans marginalized and still seeking a positive, cohesive identity within the United States.

Eros, Philia and Agape. What’s Love Got To Do With It?

 

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Some married men and women anticipated the holiday for weeks, looking forward to basking in the glow of love and sweet exchanges with their spouse. But, the truth is, many couples look forward to Valentine’s Day with as much disdain as Friday the 13th. They go through the motions with no sense of love to celebrate. Any displays of affection are obligatory. Others mock or ignore the day all together. For these husbands and wives it is likely that the thrill is gone. The passion has faded. Instead of fortifying their marriage with trust, respect and love, these couples have let coolness and distance creep in. The euphoria of a fresh love has been replaced with negative emotions; fear, complacency, envy, resentment. Though that loving feeling may be buried, it has not necessarily vanished. As our relationships mature so should the depth of which we relate to one another. Rethinking what is means to “love” your mate is a great start.

 

Eros 
When lovers first meet, woo and eventually commit to one another they experience Eros, a passionate love marked by sensual desire and longing. This Ancient Greek word means “intimate love”, something chemically distinct from friendship. We fall head over heels for someone and attraction grows into eroticism. Intoxicating sex and the feeling that you cannot live without this person are characteristics of Eros. Because of the joy and good feeling it brings, Eros can lead to love and marriage – but it cannot keep us there. Even the most enamored lovers must give into the mundane aspects of their union. Duties dictated by work schedules, family responsibilities and finances are a necessary evil that ground a couple, sobering them up from the love-drunk honeymoon period. The limitations of Eros love is it’s selfishness. What happens when you stop feeling “happy”. The moment the marriage hits a rough patch and your partner no longer makes you feel the physical or emotional sensations of the past, your relationship is in jeopardy. A successful marriage must hold on to the heat that Eros brings, but also understand that a more cooperative, sustaining connection must be formed.

 

Philia 
Philia is a love based on friendship between two people, it is patient and kind. Perhaps you started out as friends, grew to admire each other, then strong feelings began to emerge. Couples that share a close friendship have the best of both worlds – romance and companionship. If we closely examine our relationships we are most comfortable around, have the most fun with and feel most supported by our friends. A unique quality of friendships is a reliable give and take that is mutually beneficial; a sense that you have each others back. In marriage it is important that you not only love, but also like your mate. If so when looks fade, sexual prowess wains or money decreases, a sense of connectedness remains. If you and your mate’s affair developed quickly and you’ve never found yourselves in the friend zone, take the time to backtrack especially if your marriage is in trouble. Get to know your partner as a person, not a lover. Explore your interests and hobbies together, get silly and take sex out of the picture for a while.

 

Agape 
Agape love is beyond Philia and Eros love. Selfless and non-judgemental, it is considered as the highest form of love. Agape is given without self benefit, expectation or reciprocity. When the situation is not ideal one continues to love from their spirit, no matter how hard it might be. In Ancient Greece this is the kind of love that warriors felt in order to sacrifice themselves to win the battle. Are you a soldier of love? Agape love is born in the most difficult of times; when what you want or need from your partner is gone. You hold on, and if you can make it through the strife you will emerge a stronger unit. Unconditional love does not mean staying in an abusive relationship. There are times when it is best to walk away, but marital vows urge us to stand together for better or worse. If it’s possible to love despite disappointment and shortcomings, at the most difficult times in your marriage, that is the mark of the truly committed.

Want a happy marriage? Commit to the Four F’s

It comes down to this. Being married isn’t easy. Even if you’re Claire and Heathcliff everyday isn’t like the one when they got dressed up and sang jazz medleys. It takes work, maneuvering, patience and a laugh or two. In my mind if you and your partner can commit to the 4 F’s – Finance, Faith, Fun and Fuggin’ (it’s phonetic) you might just make it.

When it comes to relationship advice everyone’s serving up something.  How to get a man, keep a man, please your lady, tease your lady, speak the five love languages, listen with your heart, screw like a man, smell like a woman. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I will try my best to not make this that. THIS is for young to middle-aged married, or might-as-well-be-married folks (common law that includes you), that can appreciate my limited insight. Take a joke and enjoy when keeping it real goes a little wrong.

Finance

No, it’s not ALL about the money, but let’s be honest, broke people aren’t particularly fun to be around. They’re bitter as shit! And bo-ring. Before marriage you should have your financial houses in order – his, hers, ours. If this is not possible you better get busy making up for lost time. As a friend once told me cash doesn’t fix every problem, but it sure makes getting through a rough patch a little more comfortable. Retail therapy saves marriages … and a shopping spree to the dollar store just doesn’t cut it. Would you rather bitch about your pushy in-laws or how many hours he’s working in a BMW or on a bus stop? Who wants to screw when there are bills due?

Before we can talk about spending money let’s take a minute to discuss making a little scratch. If you don’t have shit and they don’t have shit, guess what? You’ve got nowhere to go but up! Put your heads together and get creative. Work hard, go back to school, write a business plan – do something. Stop talking about it and do it! Put in the time and the effort and eventually things will turn around. *Single or “just dating” folks, if you’re reading this and you and yours fall into the “neither of us have shit” scenario head for the hills and cut your loses! Who needs that headache?!? Lol! I kid; I kid… #Ambition #MakeItInAmerica and all that hip hop jazz.

Now what if your marriage consists of one have, and one have-not? The key is equal contribution. Honey pays the bills? You better get your Betty Crocker on! Quick. In heels. If you are the have-not and a dude, two words. Keep Busy. Get Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on that ass! Fix something, volunteer, become a gym rat. Do ANYTHING that can demonstrate you are not a lazy bum. “I was down coaching the boys at the youth center.” “I’m working on this 6 pack baby.” “I was in Home Depot learning how to spackle some shit.” I mean, who can be mad at that? As for the more financially sound of the duo, give willingly and regularly. Don’t make your Mr. or Mrs. beg. Nobody wants to have to ask you for $20 every day. That sucks and then you look like a real jerk. Just drop the $100 and keep it moving. Don’t trust them with the bank card though… I’m just saying.

If you two are a pair of haves and you’ve got marital issues then it’s likely you’re failing in one of the remaining three F categories. Read on…

Faith

Sometimes you just have to trust that you made the right choice in picking your mate. Even when you hate them. Because usually it’s just in this instance that you want to strangle them. It’s not like this ALL the time. If enough moments pass you will most likely get over yourself and love them again. Most of you probably prayed this person into your life. Or begged, or stalked, or trapped… but I digress. Trust your instincts and have faith that things will work out. It might be blind faith, but it was blind love that got you into this marriage to begin with. You promised for better or worse, let’s just hope the best is yet to come.  At least sleep on it, have the strength to try again one more day… Boo to this being all serious, but it’s real. #KanyeShrug

Fun

Fun. Remember that? Think back really hard to before the kids came along. Having a good time together was once very important to you two. Is it still? Fun means for you to enjoy each others company, preferably out and about as a couple. Hopefully you share at least one pastime.  Don’t go on a movie date every damn time! I’m talking grown folks stuff like concerts, sports, clubs, outdoor adventures, etc.  Sometimes doing 19 year-old shit is fun too though. Get a hotel room. Smoke a joint in the car and then go dancing. I won’t tell. And if you’re so old and boring now that you don’t even know what you like to do anymore – find out together.

Surprise each other with stuff that your better half really enjoys.  Ladies, this may  push you out of your comfort zone. Be spontaneous and try to be genuine  convincing. If your honey is into something stupid like model trains, go to the Choo Choo convention once a year. You knew he was a lame when you married him, don’t be surprised by how much now! Go. Smile. Toot a horn while you’re there.

If  you need some tutoring appeal to your partners passion. If you want to know why everything stops on football Sunday, treat your Mr. to game tickets and he’ll be more than happy to teach you the basics (and brag on how fab you are for weeks). The key is to be a happy, engaged escort. Nobody wants to drag a sourpuss around while they’re having the time of their life.  That’s why your ass gets left at home all the time. Let him know that you’re having a good time doing something outside of your routine, even if it’s just for his sake.  Then take your turn and do you.

Fellas, be considerate and let your girl have a little fun! She will tell you what she wants to do indirectly in daily conversation.  “I heard such and such band was coming to town soon, so and so says this new restaurant is a must try.”  It’s not as hard as you guys make it. Take her to the theater, to a nice dinner, etc. but THEN appeal to her alter ego. Most women have a tiny part of themselves that wants to get either wild, silly or slightly hood with their man. Your job is to know which category she falls into and how to bring that out of your girl. Think back to when you first became exclusive. You were probably very intimate at that stage of your relationship. Recreate some of those good times.

Fuggin’ (it’s phonetic & I’m a lady)

If you’ve been married for a minute and you’re getting some action on the regular consider yourself lucky. I used to think it was a myth that marriage killed your sex life, but it can be true IF you’re not careful.  General consensus is that if you’re not pleasing your spouse in that special way they will find someone else who will. That is a risk you run, but more often the problem is not O.P.P. it’s Y.O.U. They’re not doing someone else, they’re doing ANYTHING else.  ESPN or their latest Nook download is more exciting than you. Sorry to break it to ya. They may even be jack (or jilling) off while you slumber by their side. Damn homie. So how do you get that old thing back?

Somewhere between making love and the all out nasty smash lies the “fugg.” It’s that specific type of coitus that’s the best of both worlds. The joy of having sexy time with someone you know intimately without it being routine and boring. Hot sweaty sex, sprinkled with a little love-making. Not every time needs to be about french kissing and candlelight. Romance goes a long way, but so does an ass smack! The secret to a great fugg session is to mix passion with porn. I’m no sex therapist, but my biggest tip is to switch it up. Try something new and don’t be embarrassed. Do it somewhere different, somehow different. Just Do It!

Love/Hate

Everyone hates their husband right? Or is it just me? I mean I love him just as much as I hate him but still… it’s like a pendulum. Marriage means learning to love one day at a time and getting over it when you swing deep into the dislike domain. I’m sure tomorrow will be a love day.

Through the years

A friend (I use that term loosely after this exchange)  just told me, “Women are nutty at 20, quirky at 30, which later becomes full flown crazy at  40, 50, and 60”. I replied, Men are immature at 20, egotistical at 30, disillusioned by 40 and then the cycle starts all over again with a midlife crisis.

Welcome to my Word!

I’ve unleashed my alter ego and she is keeping it 100% real regarding love and relationships. Even if it goes wrong it’ll be funny as hell.

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