April 21, 2014

Real Talk Wednesday: Where’s my GPS? We are SO lost

Unless you’ve living on a deserted island, had your head in the sand over the past few weeks, or just didn’t visit any one of the 100’s of web-sites geared toward the African-American market, I am quite sure you heard about the “uproar” in the Black male community over the latest movie by Tyler Perry entitled For Colored Girls. This new updated version of “Hollywood/Tyler Perry Hates Black Men” sentiment harkened me way back to my sophomore year in high school when a little movie called The Color Purple (which coincidentally just had its 25th Anniversary special on Oprah) hit the screen. I was like, “Wow, same song, just 25 years later!” Just as things were back in the mid-80’s with The Color Purple, brotha’s were UPSET over their portrayal in For Colored Girls (as many of my brethren are about most Tyler Perry films, yet our anger and disgust was/is pretty much non-existent when the discussion of the numerous movies/reality shows/videos that denigrate BLACK WOMEN are brought to the table…but I digress).

The truth of the matter is that, I don’t want to debate the validity on the claim that all Tyler Perry movies denigrate or don’t denigrate Black Men, nor I’m I here to make the argument that The Color Purple did (did not do) the same thing 25 years ago. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t; personally I enjoy a couple of Mr. Perry’s movies (especially Daddy’s Little Girls) although his tv shows are a bit too coonish for my tastes. And when it comes to The Color Purple? Well, easily on my Top 5 all-time movie list. But my question to all of the men out there is: For Colored Girls?? Seriously!?! THIS is what it takes to get us “mobilized”, fired up and pissed off!? When did a handful of movies by Tyler Perry become Public Enemy #1 in the minds of Black Men? When did a movie other than let’s say “Birth of a Nation” become the apocalypse? When did we as men lose our way and get off the beaten path to find ourselves in this predicament? I mean, c’mon when did we become so damn sensitive? Better yet, when did we take our eye off the ball to the point where a movie could actually define who we are as men, husbands, and fathers?

With all the issues we face in our community none of this Hollywood or celebrity dribble should EVER crack our Kasey Kasem Billboard Top 100 countdown! At the end of the day, does criticizing and being up in arms about a handful of movies address our failing schools? Graduation rates? Poverty? Teen pregnancy? Foster children? Single parent households? NO, it surely does not! Sorry my brothers, we do not have the luxury of wasting our time, energy, and talents complaining about such nonsense. Our families and our communities expect & demand better of us (notice I said US!).

Do I have all the answers? NOPE! But, we must start somewhere, and if that means at minimum reclaiming our households, so be it. It is paramount for us not to just be present in the lives of our children and our spouses/significant others, but we must also be active and engaged as well. It was just this past weekend when I literally lost count on how many little Black faces I saw at a holiday event for kids; plenty of Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, and Grandmothers, but I could count the number of Black Men on one hand. And don’t get me started on the countless times I hear brotha’s say, “I have to babysit my kids today.” Um, Babysit? You don’t babysit YOUR kids! There is a mentality that many of us can’t shake, and it’s about time we did. Ask yourself, when was the last time you went to your child’s school, read them a book, gave them a bath, feed them dinner, took them to the doctor, or picked them up from karate class? If you can’t answer any of those  questions correctly, then I’m talking to you. And before you ask, “Well, aren’t you a stay-at-home Dad? So obviously you have plenty of time to do all of this?” it’s not about being home all the time, because trust me I was at school, doctors appointments, bath time, etc… before I was laid-off. It’s about making time for what is TRULY important.

I can hear the choir now, “Yo Bruh, you need to get off your soap box!” Well, maybe I do, BUT me getting off of my soap box isn’t going to change our collective state of affairs is it? For years, our priorities have been all out of whack and now, somehow, a handful of movies are to blame for our lot in life?  I’m not buying it! The fact is the poor choices we have been making are now coming back to bite us in the a%^. It’s time for us to stop blaming the messenger and get to work earning the respect of our wives and our children. Leave the trivial nonsense/blogging of being “dissed” in a movie to others and let’s get to work fellas. It’s due time, and time is way past due…

Next time on Real Talk Wednesday’s, “Boy, I Just Said NO!”

James Higgins

James Higgins

Nothing special about me at all, I'm a happily married, college educated (Go Bison!), stay-at-home father of two wonderful children. Just trying to keep myself, my wife, my children, and my cats sane as we navigate through this journey called family life.

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Real Talk Wednesday: Hello We of Hue!


You may not realize it yet, but you are actually part of a historic & monumental occasion at this very moment! No, I didn’t win a million dollars (and, well, neither did you) BUT you are here to witness that I, James Higgins, have finally arrived on the Internet article circuit!! Yep, this is article one of what I hope to be a very positive experience for all involved. My family and friends have mentioned plenty of times over the past few years, “You REALLY need to write the occasional magazine or newspaper article? There are people who could use your pearls of wisdom!” Now, I’m not sure if they were being serious or just wanted me to shut up and take my ramblings elsewhere (I’ll go with the latter. Regardless of their intentions or if this is the right/wrong time for me to do this, I’m here now! Woooo hooo, break out the streamers and the chocolate milk, I finally have a platform to run my mouth!

Since I decided to join We of Hue I have had plenty of people actually shocked that I have chosen this avenue to discuss my insights. Most folks, who know me, know I do NOT have time for nonsense or ignorance of any kind. So it wasn’t a shock when the questions started, “Why in the world would you want to waste your time writing for We of Hue (WOH), or any site for that matter? Isn’t there too much yelling, name calling, and not enough intelligent discussion on many of these sites?” Well, the way I see it, it was about time for me to get involved with some folks who also enjoy a nice healthy debate and some intelligent dialogue, and WOH feels right to me. Not only that, but what better way than the Internet to “educate” and “inform” those who truly seek to change their community? That’s not to say that the authors and readers of WOH will not/don’t disagree on issues, but I decided to come aboard because I believe that disagreements will not turn into name calling and personal attacks (either from the authors or the readers). My people, we have A LOT of issues which are tearing at the fabric of our community and the time for all the trivial garbage has to stop. WOH is the place where I hope we will focus on the “message” and not so much “the messenger”.

The fact of the matter is that as a college educated, married, stay-at-home father of 2 young children (how often do you hear all that in the same sentence?) my “voice” is not being well represented within the confines of the Internet, the media, movies, music, etc… I don’t need to go into the LONG laundry list of ways Black Men are portrayed/ not portrayed in society (but I will in my next article). I came here because I know that by no means am I the only one out there who is fed up with much of what is taking place in the Black Community and the overall lack of accountability, not only from our “leaders” (and I use the term loosely), but from each of us on an individual basis. And while I am not a “journalist” by trade, I am a concerned father and husband who hasn’t had his head in the sand his entire life. I’ve been around the block a few times both personally and professionally so I do have a solid foundation for many of the topics I plan to discuss in the coming months/years: topics such as Parenting, Adoption, Children, Education, and yep…Marriage). You may agree with some of my “rants”, and disagree with others, but my hope is that I can get you to walk away saying, “Not only did that piece get me thinking, but I’d like to discuss it a bit further and maybe even look at changing my thoughts into action.”

A few years ago a movie came out entitled, “Finding Forrester”. No, I’m not going to go into the plot, etc… but there is a scene that I think pretty much sums up my involvement with WOH and wanting to bring about some change in the way we think about certain issues, and what is truly important and what really is a waste of time. In the scene, a much older mentor, William (played by Sean Connery) asks the younger high school student mentee, Jamal (played by Rob Brown), “Is that a soup question?” Now, seeing that quote stand alone without the context of the movie is tough, but it essentially meant/means, “Is the question you asked pertinent or important to the goal you are trying to meet?” Well, my goal with WOH is to get us ALL talking and doing things to move our community forward. Unfortunately if it isn’t a “soup question” I will not be talking about it in “Real Talk Wednesdays”. Whether or not T.I and Wesley Snipes go to jail, or The Real Housewives have a reunion, or the Kardashian sisters are having men problems are not “soup questions” so I won’t be wasting my VERY valuable time writing about such nonsense nor waste your valuable time by having you read it. I’m quite sure you have many other sites you can go to and get the latest celebrity gossip, I would rather spent my time in a more “constructive” manner)

I am REALLY looking forward to my relationship with We of Hue; from our founder, to the authors, and most importantly those of you who take the time to come and visit…the readers. But for today, it’s now time for the Iron Dad (you know kinda like Iron Chef; that and I also do a lot of ironing to bid you all adieu, the kiddos are ready to play.

See ya next time on Real Talk Wednesdays when I will “attempt” to go into why we Black Men have a problem with certain movies and why we need to STOP whining all the time and literally man up!

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/alvarez-tostado/363243422/” title=”Dad and daughter by tostadophoto.com, on Flickr”>image credit: Dad and daughter by tostadophoto.com, on Flickr</a>

James Higgins

James Higgins

Nothing special about me at all, I'm a happily married, college educated (Go Bison!), stay-at-home father of two wonderful children. Just trying to keep myself, my wife, my children, and my cats sane as we navigate through this journey called family life.

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Boy… Oh, Boy: Raising a Black Man

So, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that the little half-pint taking up residence in my body is… drum roll, please… another beautiful baby boy.  This will be my second child and second boy.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some moments envisioning what it would be like to actually shop in the pink section of the kid’s clothing store but as the only girl with two older brothers and countless male friends growing up… being a Mom to another boy just feels right.

Upon finding out I was having another boy, family, friends and strangers alike all had something to offer.  Mostly words of encouragement.  Mothers of teen girls tended to tell me that I should quit while I was ahead, because boys make much better teenagers.  One mother of an older son who had just gotten married warned me cautiously, “Have a girl, have her for life; have a boy, have him until he finds a wife.”

Deep, I know.  Still not quite sure what to do with that information.

While I am sure, one day, I may feel a tinge of loss when my son goes off to be someone’s husband or partner, “losing him to a wife” is really the least of my concerns.  What am I actually concerned about?

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Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is native of New York City and reluctant resident of the DC Metro Area. She is a writer in her heart but a lawyer by profession. She is a wife and also a mom to two boys. She is a self proclaimed and self loving oddball. She is determined to find both spirituality and happiness and like any true totalitarian matriarch, impose both on her family. She is wise enough to know that this may not happen simultaneously.

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