April 20, 2014

Do men really want an independent woman?

As a little girl I was raised to be strong, well educated and independent just like my strong, well educated and single mom.  While these are all traits we want to see in our daughters, I wasn’t taught or even told about how to be a wife.  One of my besties and I were having one of our heart to heart discussions which almost always leads to an “ah ha!” moment.

We were discussing her last few dates. She’s beautiful and doesn’t have a hard time finding men, but quality men who aren’t intimidated by her is scarce.  She is in management and has created a great living for herself, has her Master’s and owns property.  Like many young women she desires a man to share her life with.  Why then can’t she find him?  She doesn’t go clubbing and Lord knows I don’t want her to find him there…but what’s she to do and where is she to meet him.  She’s not my only beautiful on the inside and out, educated woman friend in this position.  I’m going to dissect her next dates in an attempt to determine why.  From her past ventures I’ve come up with a list of issues: he may think she’s unattainable (I’m assuming due to her confident air), he may want to control her (that won’t work with her independent trait), he may be too agreeable (responding with yes to everything with no mind of his own), he has no aspirations for more out of life, he may be a homebody or he may be insecure.

I asked her if he was a confident, good looking, kind hearted man who worked at a low paying job if she’d date him.  Her reply was yes, but has yet to experience that type of man “step to her.”  Right now I wish I lived in the same city as her…I’m sure I’d get into a lot of trouble but is it her or them?

I have to admit, I had to learn to tone myself down when I got married (my husband will chuckle).  I realized I didn’t have to be in charge of everything as I did when I was single.  It’s still hard sometimes for me and I wander if she’s being too tough due to past pains and being single so long. As a mom of daughters, I am raising them to be smart, strong, well educated, independent.  I know they see all those things in me…hopefully they see the compromise and sharing that comes with being married, too.

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Friday Reflections: More confessions of a social networker

So, the battle with my inner social networker continues.  The spouse forwarded an article to me last week about actor Bill Nye (The Science Guy) who collapsed while walking towards a podium to do a presentation at the University of Southern California.  While Nye was ultimately okay, the article’s author was more concerned with the peculiar behavior of the USC audience.  According to the article, rather than getting up to aid Nye, most of the students in attendance pulled out their smart phones and began to update their Twitter and Facebook statuses about the event.  Similarly, the article reported another incident where New Orleans comedienne, Anthony Barre, was murdered in the streets and witnesses chronicled his death by updating their statuses and posting pictures of him dying in the streets.

I immediately got into a pretty preachy discussion with a few of my friends via Facebook that involved a great deal of “smdhs” and “wtfs”.  I mostly felt overwhelmed by a generation who could be so emotionally and physically detached from their humanity.  It felt so wrong and unnatural – and I wondered what kind of legacy a generation of passive onlookers could possibly leave.  I stood on my figurative moral high ground and thought to myself, I could never do that.  I would never do that.

Then after a quiet Thanksgiving at home with my family, my husband and I sat down to watch Public Speaking, an HBO documentary on essayist and author Fran Lebowitz (The McCray’s know how to party).  Lebowitz, for those of you unfamiliar, is an author from my hometown, New York City, made famous during the Andy Warhol era for her hilarious social commentary.   In the documentary, Lebowitz, now 60, discusses a myriad of issues including this generation’s apparent disconnection with life.  She noted that she finds inspiration for her writing by traveling by foot everywhere in New York.  She said that, “No matter where you are, if you are doing this-”.  She paused and held her hands as though typing on an imaginary Blackberry.  “You aren’t really there – no matter where you are.” She concluded.

It occurred to me that while I was “smh-ing” and “wtf-ing” about those onlookers at USC and in New Orleans, why wasn’t I allotting similar judgment to my own behavior when I pause to update my Facebook status at the dinner table? Or take a moment to respond to a BBM while coloring with my son?  Or stop my husband from telling me about his day to finish responding to a text message?  I started to wonder just how much time I had spent being barely present in my own life.  A few years ago when my addiction to Facebook was just budding, I joked with one of my friends that I felt like I was beginning to think in status messages.  This leaves me wondering, if I am privileged enough to grow old, just how will I reflect on the hours I spend allowing my mind to attend an imaginary party while the world goes on around me? And if I do decide to become an active member of the planet and limit (or eliminate) my social media outlets, just how lonely will the “real world” be? (Think Bruce Willis in “Surrogates”.)

As a parent, I often wonder that if I am so susceptible to social media outlets what will that mean for my sons’ generation.   In January 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study that 8-18 year olds spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  In a New York Times article discussing the study, one eighth grader reported that she felt her days would be boring without her social media outlets.  In theory, what could be more boring that staring at a tiny screen most of your day and not engaging the world around you?  While my own children are both under four years old, I often wonder how I will introduce these outlets to them… if at all.  What do you think WOH?  How do you manage your own time engaging in social media? How will you or have you regulated the time your children spend on the internet, smartphones, etc?  Something tells me society had a very similar conversation about television at its onset as well.

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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No Wedding No Womb

Maybe you are old enough to remember Grease 2. Hopefully you remember the Fallout Shelter scene in which Louis tries to convince Sharon to sleep with him. He sings to her, urging to “…do it for your country” and promising that “your mother will approve.” His musical attempt fails as she realizes that he is setting her up.

I often think what would happen if Grease 2 was remade today. I imagine Tyler Perry rewriting the movie and turning Sharon into a “Baby Momma” who is being tempted to have unprotected sex with the man who will inevitably become “Baby Daddy” number three.

It’s not too far-fetched of an idea. It’s impossible to believe that it is when staring at a glaring statistic such as 70% of children born in the Black community are born out-of-wedlock. The status is glorified in movies, in videos, and by newspapers and other media outlets. We have to admit that having children out of wedlock has become so synonymous with Black women, that it is assumed we all wear the title of Baby Momma  even when we don’t. Remember the  FOX- First Lady Michelle Obama drama during the campaign?

But how do we change this? What do we need to do as a community, a culture, to ensure that our children do not repeat the damaging behaviors of their elders? How do we protect our children when we are so lax in protecting ourselves?

These are tough questions, I suppose. Single-parenthood is not new nor is it isolated to the Black community. The stigma, however, is gone and what we have gained is a legacy of negative statistics that have plagued the Black Community more than racism ever could.

The fact is that we have been fostering a culture of “love ‘em and leave ‘em.” We encourage our young Black boys to play the field and to explore. We tell our young girls that they are responsible for their own sexual actions as well as those of their male counterparts. Butfinding someone to blame is not important.

What matters most are the children. What matters most is that children need two parents to guide, love, and provide. They deserve to feel love from those who created them. They deserve to have a chance. If we want to escape this cycle of poverty and anger, we have to stop the cycle of acting without thought.

This is OUR problem.

Check out the No Wedding Now Womb Movement. It only takes a spark …

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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Waiting on the world to change

This post was originally published on Then Came Isaiah in February 2010.  In light of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s recent remarks and similar questionable celebrity behavior I found myself reminiscent of this emotion.

When I was in the fourth grade my mom took me out of the school I was going to in my neighborhood and put me in a school about forty-five minutes across town. She said I came home one day bragging about the 100% I had gotten on a test and when she looked it over, she realized it was full of errors. After examining my school for a few weeks thereafter, she realized it was not a mistake… the teachers weren’t grading my papers properly. So, she put me in one of the top private schools in a wealthy neighborhood where I was one of three brown faces in the whole school (the other two were twins).

I was nervous because up until that point I had gone to predominately black schools but my mom put me at ease assuring me that I always made friends quickly and everyone liked me. She even reminded me that my best friend from summer camp, Sarah, was white… and we weren’t all that different. Sarah even got me a black Ken doll for my birthday – which in the eighties, was impossible to find. So, with my stylish new hairdo and cute new uniform I started my new school.

And she was right…

… at first.

I made fast friends with two girls in the class, Lisa and Clara. I remember my first slumber party at Clara’s house. We danced to Material Girls by Madonna and painted each other’s nails. I loveddd Madonna but in my neighborhood, it was all about hip hop and my brother’s wouldn’t have me blasting a Madonna record. But hey – I taught them the running man, all about my curls and cornrows and my adoration of LL Cool J and it was great. I stayed me – but became a better me, because I didn’t have to just be one side of me – I could listen to my Madonna and my Salt N Pepper.

Anyway, Lisa’s mom used to pick a number of us kids up from school in the afternoon. She would take most of the kids home but because I didn’t live in the area, she would take me back to her house and my mom would come get me after work. It was a great set up because Lisa and I were great friends. One afternoon, I was running to get in her mom’s van and I squeezed into the last seat in the front row. I must have pushed passed another one of my classmates, Gaby, on her way to the van because when she got in the car she was maadddd. She wanted the seat and I took it.

Not one to be intimidated I said, “What’s your problem?”

“You’re in my seat.” She snorted.

“It doesn’t have your name on it.” I responded.

She stared at me for a minute. Keep in my mind – back then, “not having your name on it” was a pretty awesome comeback.

I could see her struggling to say something.  If I close my eyes, I can still see her face as she struggled to say something.

And then she said…

“BLACK.”

She spat it – like it was a dirty word. Like I needed to be reminded that I was different, less than, a transplant into her world.  I was quiet. No one ever said that to me before. No one ever told me I was black and made me feel bad about it.

A few months later, I had a crush on a boy named Jon, who was also my classmate. I wrote him a note.

“Do you like me? Yes or No.”

He called me a Nigger.

I never cried so hard in my life.

I will always remember my kind music teacher who stood with me in the cubby closet until I stopped crying.

Funny thing was, I found out years later that Jon was biracial.

I bounced back but I was guarded. For awhile, I was scared to feel too accepted, sing my Madonna songs too loudly, for fear that everyone was just waiting… waiting for me to cross that invisible line and be reminded.

For the most part, I can look back on my days at that school fondly. I still keep in touch with many of my friends and afterwards, I continued to go to schools were I was in the vast minority and that was okay… I knew who I was… but I was guarded still – just a little.

 I am an adult now and I move in many circles. I love everything that defines me and being a women of color is just the icing on the cake for me. I feel like so many things define me that I will never fill anyone’s stereotype. I want my son to feel the same way. I am 6’1, my husband is 6’4… my son will be a tall, beautiful black man. For many – he will be scary, built for athletics… etc. I want him to always know that I love him completely – he can be whoever he wants and I will love him – he can be a clog dancing gay man and that’s okay – I just expect him to be who he is.

 Last week, I read about John Mayer’s statements in Playboy and it brought me back.. If you haven’t heard about it and don’t feel like reading it – aside from some insane things about his ex girlfriends, he said that the fact that he has a large black audience gives him an “hood pass” or a “nigger pass.” He also compared his penis to a white supremacist because he doesn’t date black women. Sadly, I have always loved John Mayer’s music. The first time I heard Your Body Is A Wonderland, I was in college and I heard him sing it acoustic on The Late Show. I thought… wowowow. I felt all tingly and I wanted to be in love. Apparently, I wasn’t actually relating to the music when I bought his album… I was handing him a Nigger Pass.

 I remembered that little girl again.

The one shocked in the carpool van.

Crying in the cubby closet.

I was just reminded that no matter how dynamic of a human being I am, no matter how complex and multi-faceted… for some people, my skin color will be all they see. Believe it or not, I forgot for a second – so caught it in my own class-ism… elitism… my belief that somewhere along the line, I crossed the line and no one cared anymore.

Hey – Barack Obama is President.

I thought everyone saw me.

It made me sad last week… because it hasn’t changed and although I can handle it, I am painfully aware that I will have to feel the reality all over again through my children’s eyes and I am pretty sure that will hurt worse.

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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Sweet Tea Tuesday: Rolling stones

Ah yes, Rolling Stones,The Aftermath: unfortunately, this is not about a rock band, but rather a band of children. Shifts position at the table. This is about me, the four siblings I’ve learned of, and the couple I’ve met in the past 12 years.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I’d heard the whispers of “grown folks’ business” betwixt my grandmother and her coffee, toast and jam crew. My parents were young and free-early 1970s free. My mother-a progressive womanist-sans title at the time -prided herself on being a woman who’d taken on a man, not one taken and stripped of her person and name.

It all seemed simple enough then, y’know when life was simple. I had two sets of grandparents, and as the years progressed and my mother partnered with my stepfather, some aunts and uncles too. Really, who can’t use twice as much guilt-laden grandparental and familial love?! In truth, I know they loved and love me infinitely, but what I also know to be true is that they feared the worst. They wondered, worried anxiously about the aftermath of all of this free-rolling love.

Well, here we are some 37 years later and I’m trying to explain to my children where these aunts and uncles are coming from. Awkwardly describing-whilst trying to decipher-how it is that social networking sites have been more instrumental in the cohesion of our “family” than its founders were. Plugging dates and tracing steps, wondering just how often we’d each crossed paths in one place or another, oblivious of one another. Navigating the tenderness of words, premeditatively placing careted words like “other” between “my” and “brother”. Breathes slowly and deeply.

The dynamic is incredibly complex, because on the one hand I’m morbidly curious and fascinated by the similarities in features, stature, orthodonture, cadence, tonal inflections and more. Yet, it’s apparent each of us, in our own ways are protective- guarded even- of our foundations, of the families we grew up in, the pieces of our Selves we were able to salvage, safeguard and restore as the stones rolled.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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Black Enough (the poem)

by Catherine Anderson

Mama C is away on vacation this week, so in the place of a new post, I am sharing a poem that I wrote three years ago for a poetry reading at the faculty talent show at the middle school where I teach.  Since then the poem has appeared in print and online in various locations including, Color Online, Hip Mama Magazine, and Adoption Mosaic.

Black Enough

I can’t wait to tell you Sam,
that when you were just two
one of my very black students asked me
why I went
all the way to North Carolina
to have you.

I can’t wait to describe to you the look
on that student’s face
when I told him
that I didn’t have you
like his mom had him,
but that your birthmother
placed you in my arms
in the hospital in North Carolina
on Christmas Eve
as she smiled bravely and
kissed you.

Oh. What? He asked. And then,
It’s not that I thought you were black black
he proclaimed.
But I thought you were black enough to have him.

Black Enough.
Black enough?
True I wondered if I was black enough
to walk through the door of Cordell’s barber shop
that first time six months ago
to get your black and curly hair
cut properly, what would they think of me?

And I can tell you that I am just
black enough to keep walking in that door,
where all the men
in that barber shop,
who have never asked me my name
Call you by yours-
Hey Sammy my man-
and What’s up boss?
They ask you
as you strut
right
up
to Cordell’s chair to demand
a lol-i-pop
for a line-it-up
and black enough to notice
as they stare at me
and stare at me
as if by looking
just a little longer
I might become
black enough to them too.

Black enough to notice that
now I own
many more brown and black sweaters and shirts
and brown corduroys
too
because I must want you to think I
am a little more black
and a little more like you

Black enough Sam
to know
that I’ll never be black enough
and because of that
I must never forget
that you
are.

*Copyright May 2007 All Rights Reserved
by  Mama C

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Guest Authors

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