Why my Vietnamese Beautician is Decked in Diamonds and I have Only Sold One Book this Month

I have no one else to blame for the level of “success” I am enduring now. No, I am not “enjoying” life as a successful author, I am enduring life as a virtually unknown author and I have no one to blame for that but myself. The beautician at my neighborhood wax, nail and hair shop demonstrated why I am so lacking in any sort of real accomplishment as an author. The stunt she pulled is something I would NEVER have the balls to attempt, even if it meant exponential book sales.

I’ve told you all before that ever since I carried and gave birth to Stone, I have had an increase in testosterone production. My OB/GYN told me that this was a perfectly normal phenomenon and that once I delivered my baby boy, the testosterone levels in my body would decrease and the small, black beard that I had steadily been growing would disappear. That was a lie. 5 years later, I still have to was my chin every two weeks. This vicious cycle of growth and waxing, growth and waxing again costs me $40 a month. That’s $480 a year or $2,400 over the last 5 years. That’s a lot of money that could have been put towards other more important things, like a college savings plan!

Still, what am I to do? Just let my face grow hair and risk public ridicule? For two months I tried either tackling my offending chin hairs myself with a pair of tweezers, but tweezing is nowhere near as effective as waxing or threading. Plucking each hair individually is utter torcher, and the process had to be repeated every few days because chin hair grows in daily cycles.

Last week I’d had enough. Enough, I say! I drove up to Smart Hair in Roswell, signed in, and waited to be attended to. An older beautician with bronzed skin and auburn whom I had never seen before met me at the desk. How old was this woman? Asians, like Blacks, are hard to date. She could have been 40, she could have been 60, I didn’t know. All I know is that she was what I call a “clicking lady”. Her heels clicked when she walked, her expensive, structured hand bag closed with a click and her tasteful, carefully chosen jewelry clicked ever-so-gently with a series of clicks with every move she made.

“You wan’ eye-bwow wakh?” she asked loudly, but pleasantly. The other guests in chairs looked up to see who was coming to get served. They looked back into the mirror after her inquiry was made.

“No,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. “I want to get my chin waxed.”

She looked disappointed. “Oh. I thought you do eye-bwow wakh.”

I informed her that I no longer got my brows waxed and that I only exclusively threaded them now.

“Someone in this shop burned me three times, and I don’t wax by brows anymore. Only my chin.”

She led me to a seat at the front of the store and commanded me to sit.

“Who burn you?” she demanded.

“I don’t know her name,” I admitted. “She was younger. I think her name was Susan, but I can’t really remember.”

“Ahhh…but I not burn you! You let me wakh bwows for you!”

“No.”

“But you have to give me chance, show you I not burn you,” she said aggressively. “I professional skin care.”

“No.”

“I do for you today!” she carried on as though I had never spoken. “You see, I not burn you!”

“No!”

She had been applying wax briskly to my chin as she was talking, pressing and ripping as she negotiated in what manner and locations she was going to liberate my face of hair. She then brought attention to my lip hair or the “Fu Man Chu” as my husband calls it. She wanted to wax that too.

“I usually just pluck that myself. It’s just a few hairs,” I said with what I THOUGHT was finality. The beautician scoffed at me.

“You see? See AAAALLL this hair. I show you!”

As I protested, she slathered wax on my lip and thrust a mirror in my face to reveal the presence of baby hairs on my lip. I explained that the more they were waxed, the more they would grow! She sneered her disregard.

“I told you I didn’t want my lip waxed. You can’t charge me for it!” I laughed nervously.

This was like no other encounter I’d ever had, outside of Accra. In Accra, business women are pushy and aggressive. You out on your armor when you go shopping. In America, sales and business transactions are more cloak and dagger and requires wit and guile of a different sort. I wasn’t ready for this behavior in America!

By this time, the beautician had her hand on my shoulder and was restraining me in my seat. I was powerless…utterly powerless and slightly annoyed at being manhandled in this way. I couldn’t leave because she still had wax remnant on my chin and had yet to clean me up. Her protestations and ministrations had drawn the interest of another patron who came to watch her work on me. With her hand resting gently, but firmly on my shoulder, she ran her hand along my cheek and said:

“I also do you facial. I take away AAAALL bump. Only sixty dollah.”

I’m sensitive about my acne, and thankfully, before I had a chance to respond, the other Asian customer who had come to watch me get waxed (who again could have been 60 years old or 100, I couldn’t say) inquired about said facial. They discussed pricing in broken English as I lay there like a dead black weight.

“And now, I do you eye-bwow,” the woman concluded. “I do whole face for you, fifteen dollah. I show you I not burn you.”

I stopped squirming. That wasn’t a great deal, but it was still a deal.

“Okay,” I agreed.

“That not mean every time you come here I do for fifteen dollah for you!” she warned.

My eyes were trained on her diamond encrusted Channel charm laying against her neck. I was transfixed by its glitter. This was both a tragedy and a comedy! I told her I understood and closed my eyes, waiting for it to be over. She slathered wax, pressed her paper and ripped. There was no burning, but there was a sense of shame when I left Smart Hair that afternoon. Her will had usurped my own, and despite my intent to spend only $7 on a chin wax that day, I had been expertly parted from $15, plus tip. She smiled and waved me good bye, saying she would see me next time.

And that, folks, is why this Vietnamese beautician and others like her all around America are driving new Acuras and own property and putting their kids through college with CASH. Because they refuse to take no for an answer. Because they don’t give a crap about your past experiences, or your fears, or your likes or dislikes. They have one goal, and that is to get the money that’s in your pocket into theirs.

If I had such a mercenary spirit, I’d be far more successful in my sales as an author… but I want people to “like” me. No one likes pushy people, do they? Pushy people have a funny way of getting over that though, don’t they? Rolling up to the home/successful business you own (not rent) bearing your name on the mortgage/marques has a way of inoculating any sense of guilt.

I should consider hiring that woman as my agent.

 

Have you ever been bamboozled out of money? Better still, have you ever done the bamboozling? How did either experience make you feel? Discuss! ↓

 

 

#Freguson, ‘Murrka, and the Attempt to Make John Legend a Minstrel

He's on Mitt's right knee. I see you squinting.

He’s on Mitt’s right knee. I see you squinting.

Greetings M.O.M. Squad! I won’t keep you long this morning. I just wanted to ask if you’ve been paying attention to reactions to “our” rage. In a sick way, I’m pleased that the definition of “us” and “we” is steadily becoming wider. As more and more Black men sire children with White women, they too have come to understand the worry and fear that accompanies an event as dull as sending your kid to the gas station or walking to Grandma’s house.  Let’s not leave out the kind hearted folks who save our Black sons and daughters from certain doom through the magic of adoption. I wonder if Mitt Romney spends any portion of his nights or weekends wondering if his grandchild will be shot at or shooed away from the country club grounds at age 16? If he’s non-compliant (or doesn’t comply fast enough) little Kieran Romney could find himself in a pool of his own blood. I would advise Mitt to start practicing and strategizing on how to deal with the anguish now.

Radmom thought: Someone really ought to create an app for that. Obviously, there’s a huge market for it…

Denzel JamalNope; not gonna keep you long today because before Michael Brown’s body has had a chance to get good and cold in the ground, I’ve heard tell of another teen shot and killed by South Caroline police. Eye witnesses say they saw an officer order him to the ground with his hands behind his head, after which he was executed in the street. The details are sketchy because police have not been forthcoming with evidence, but they say Denzel Curnell’s death was the result of s suicide. They allege he shot himself on the right side of his head. Trouble is, Denzel Curnell was left handed, according to his family.

This morning I trawling through my Twitter TL, as is my custom, when I came across what can only be described as a very peculiar tweet.

Jlegen

Yes, you read that correctly. Whoever is behind the handle at IBNN News just told John Legend to keep sangin’ and stop opinin’ about what goes on in his country. Now this is where it gets interesting. IBNN News describes itself as:

News and Politics with a focus on outcomes within the Black community by using real investigative reporting and following the money.

It’s just a hunch, but I highly doubt these brothas are doing any “real investigative reporting”. That’s twitter bloviating at its finest. These are a crop of young guys, with little world experience or historical knowledge. What else can explain such a blunder?

Legend’s response was succinct, targeted and was surely devastating to the ego of whomever was handling the twitter account at the time. (We’ve already talked about how one douche bag behind a keyboard can ruin an entire brand’s reputation before it even has a chance to blossom. Here’s another example.) The man has proven – again – that he’s not just a pretty face with the voice of an inebriated angel, but he’s smart and civic minded as well.

Fans and people who can read know that John Legend has spear headed and partnered with several causes to improve outcomes for the nation’s poor and disenfranchised. He initiated the Show Me Campaign  which aims to break the cycle of poverty through education. John also sits on the Boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, and the Harlem Village Academies. He has been lauded for his activism and humanitarian work, and used his celebrity as an accelerant for the success of those efforts. Contrary to what mainstream culture would have you believe, the benefits of Black celebrity do not exclusively manifest themselves in the purchase of exotic vodka or extravagant sea craft.

The reaction to tell a musician to “stay in his lane” when it comes to the plight of minorities is not a new one. I remember my first boss recounting a tale his uncle had told him from years before. I can’t remember what we were talking about. It could have been anything. The office was a mixed bag of races and personalities. We had a conservative Indian, the Irish sales guy addicted to porn, a Mexican IT manager, the drunk Cajun, three ‘regular’ white Americans (two of whom were involved in a sexual relationship. They eventually got married) and me. Anyway, Tom*, our director said this in conversation one day:

“My uncle saw Harry Belafonte on an elevator once.”

“Really?”

“How cool!”

“Oh yeah,” my former boss continued. “He had something he had always wanted to say to him. Couldn’t believe he’d finally had the chance. He goes ‘Sir, I really like your music… but your politics SUCKS!’ and then he walked right off the elevator.”

Portrait

“What did Harry Belafonte say??”

Tom shrugged. “Nothing. My uncle never gave him a chance to respond.”

People of a certain generation will understand exactly what kind of disgust and cynicism – for both parties – was involved in that encounter. Harry Belafonte was big news in the 50’s and 60’s. He was the Calypso King. He was an international sensation. But he was also a vehement civil rights activist, and was very vocal about the tyranny of the majority and the terrorism Black people were suffering under in this country. Essentially, Tom’s uncle was telling Mr. Belafonte to ‘stay in his lane’ and stick to music n’ stop stirrin’ up all that trouble with that equality talk.

Riiiight…

Cue the banjos!

Minstrel

Of course we know that this is an inane idea: that a celebrity should be so narrow minded in their thinking. Celebrities are limited in what they can say publicly of course (because they have to make sales) but there are those times when one is compelled to ignore the glint of gold and speak up for ones convictions, especially when they hit so close to home. The people who live in ‘Fergustan’, and cities just like it, are those who John Legend tries to reach through his activism. Sarah McLachlan has her dogs and John Legend has his people. Should Sarah also be advised to stay in her lane and commit only warbling melancholy tunes and selling them for profit?

sarah_mcLachlan

Like I said, didn’t want to keep you long. Just wanted to see if you had taken note of how folk are policing our reactions…because I have. Now, let’s leave you with a little laugh courtesy of Mr. Legend, shall we? No really, it’s funny. *cackle*

On the Nonconformist, Uppity Negro’s Response to Tragedy and the Establishment’s Problem with It

I love period dramas. After a hard day’s work, there is nothing for satisfying for me than to lock my door, lie in bed with a bar of chocolate and watch Pride & Prejudice or Downton Abbey for the umpteenth time. There’s something about life in the 18th and 19th centuries that appeals to me, even though I know that by virtue of my heritage and race I had a better chance of living out my days as a miserable field hand than a sighing, spoiled debutante waiting for her prince charming to magically appear.

And because I’ve seen Pride & Prejudice and other novels put-to-screen of its ilk hundreds of times, it can’t be hard for you to imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a show called Copper on Hulu. Copper depicts life in 19th century New York, focusing on the slums of Five Points – a district so renown for violence and crime that novelist Charles Dickens, whose themes often centered around the hardship of the working class, had to come see it for himself.

dr freemanIt is rare to find persons of color in period dramas, unless the story is someway centered around slavery. People often forget that Blacks, Asians and even Persians have lived, studied and created in this country for centuries. This is because the face of education, intelligence and success has been depicted and accepted as Anglo-Saxon for so long. What made Copper such a treat for me is that it provided an unflinching view of the immigrant’s (read: NOT Anglo-Saxon) struggle for acceptance in a country that saw them as ‘invaders’, as well as Black people’s battle to achieve person-hood in a nation that saw them as property. Detective Kevin Corcoran (an Irish immigrant) and Dr. Matthew Freeman (a runaway who became a physician) are two of the main characters who play out these dynamics. In one episode, Dr. Freeman and his wife have been asked to harbor Corcoran’s friend Eva in their farm house outside of the city limits. A guard is posted at their door with strict orders not to move. He has to pee, so he runs to a tree and relieves himself. When he returns, someone has gotten into the house.

Eva fires a shot at the intruder, who turns out to be Matthew. The guard is shaken by the scene.

“Please don’t tell Detective Corcoran!” the young officer pleads, before adding these words to his entreaty: “Be a good nigger about this!”

For that last caveat, he receives a slap from the doctor’s wife who storms into the house.

I was gobsmacked. Be a GOOD nigger about this…

By now you may have heard about the murder of Michael Brown, the unarmed college bound student who was gunned down – shot TEN times – by a police officer as he was on his way to visit his grandmother in Ferguson, MO. I’m not writing this post to discuss the senseless shooting of yet another unarmed Black teen. I have long given up trying to understand White society’s disregard for Black life. It’s as futile as trying to catch wind in a Mason jar and just as tiring. And before any detractors yell “But what about Black on Black crime?!” go deal with your White on White school shootings and then we’ll have a conversation.

No, today, I want to talk about the establishment’s obsession with the manner in which Black people respond to the tragedies and offenses meted out against us. There was a brilliant article written this year on this very topic. (Sadly, I can’t recall the author or the title.) The writer expressed his disgust with the media’s preoccupation with the way Black people handled racism and bigotry. He used footballer Dani Alves’ approach to having a banana thrown at him as an example. Mr. Alves, if you recall, walked over to the offensively tossed fruit, took a bite from it and subsequently took his corner kick. Dani Alves was then hailed for his ‘good humored’ and ‘comedic approach’ to combating racism. He was being a Good Nigger, about it.

Let’s go back a little further in history. I recently encountered the tale of Mary Turner, who was a twenty-one-year-old African-American woman, lynched in Valdosta, Georgia. Eight months pregnant, Turner and her child were murdered after she publicly denounced the extrajudicial killing of her husband by a mob. I urge you to read the details of her demise yourself. In a nutshell, her husband had been implicated in the murder of a local White planter and was himself lynched by a mob that exacted their own brand of justice. Distraught, she declared that she would contact the local authorities and have those who committed this crime brought to justice. For that, she was hunted down, captured, strung up by a tree by her ankles, set ablaze and had her body riddled by bullets. Someone sliced open her abdomen, swollen with unborn life. When her baby dropped to the earth it was stomped to death by the indignant crowd. Had she been a Good Nigger about her husband’s lynching, perhaps opting for dignified silence instead carrying on like an uppity Negress with silly demands for justice… Well, we’ll never know. A bottle of whiskey marked the site where her body and that of her unborn child were destroyed. That was in 1918.

Not much has changed in 100 years. This weekend, 18 year old college-bound student was shot dead in the street by a cop that was drunk off his own power. Nothing else explains why any person would shoot a kid who had his arms raised in surrender 10 times at close range. This was not a dog or a deer: this was a young man making his way to visit his relatives. The police have been largely silent as they gather their “facts” (concoct an acceptable story), and in the meantime, yes – people in the community are angry. They are not being Good Niggers about it. As a direct result of this senseless violence – a kid shot TEN times – they are assembling, they are protesting and yes, they are looting.

See some of the headlines major news organizations in the country lead with in the wake of the shooting:

AP kill police

cnn mike brown

In one, you see no mention at all of what led to the chanting. In the other, there is a deliberate circumventing of the core of the real, horrific events surrounding the ‘fatal shooting’. Renisha McBride, who was killed as she sought help from a stranger, was treated to similar scorn by the Associated Press with this headline following the sentence handed down to her killer.

AP-Renisha1

(Twitter went into a veritable frenzy shortly afterward.)

To say that I am tired of talking about Black people being killed in the streets is an understatement. We’d barely caught our breaths after the public strangulation of Eric Garner when news of John Crawford hit our collective radars. And now this…

Statistically, by the time a hit “publish” another unarmed Black person will be killed by law enforcement in this country. As distressing as that thought may be, it pales in the light of the mainstream establishment asking/demanding that we all have a good attitude about it.

 

 

Open Letter to MX5: How I Almost Let Assumptions Rob Me of a Fabulous Friendship

MX5, whom some of you may know from her occasional appearances as a subject in the Motherhood and comments section, celebrated her 40th birthday this weekend. *Throws confetti* She wanted to be surrounded by her favorite people, and I am proud (and astonished) to say I was one of them. The small assemblage of we select few dined on Olive Garden fare and bite sized Snicker bars while her husband regaled us with sweet and amusing stories about his wife.

The theme of the party was Phenomenal 40, and we were each asked to describe MX5 in one word…a synonym for what makes her phenomenal. It’s too bad that no one was recording the event, because there were some really wonderful things said about her. I said (and I’m quite proud of this) that she was phenomenal for her “snap back” ability. After bearing five children, she has snapped back to her high school physique, and effortlessly so. I will never see my high school proportions again. Ever. In this life. And I’m genuinely happy for any woman who can accomplish this (assuming the figure of her teenaged years were the best of her life).

As we were lauding MX5, I had a sudden memory. I was certain that I had shared it with her previously. She looked at me with disbelief when I said these words:

“I didn’t think I could ever be friends with MX5…not ever.”

“Malaka? What?”

“Yeah, girl!” I laughed. “We discussed this, remember?”

She tilted her head and replied, “Uhhh…NO. We have not.”

Oh. My bad. Well, we’ll discuss it now.

****

 

Dear MX5,

Gurrrrrl, I didn’t think I could ever, EVER be friends with you. It’s not because you’re a horrible person or ever HAVE been; quite the contrary. It’s because you are and always have been too good.

Get thee behind me, adversity!

Get thee behind me, adversity!

The perception I had about our friendship that would never be lie in the fact that I had made certain assumptions about you, and in turn had projected those assumptions about how you might feel about me: those being that you would have no interest in being my friend, either. My salvation is still half-baked, and you have always been a Super Christian – the epitome of that Proverbs 31 Woman we are all told to strive to be. In fact, I see you as the Sparta of the Proverbs 31 Woman, capable of just about anything, defeating calamity whenever it crosses your path. I’m more like a Rahab, a whore who let down ropes and ladders to the enemy in order to spare her family from the horrors of the onslaught the armies of Israel would bring to the inhabitants of the city.

The pairing of Rahab and the Proverbs 31 Woman makes no sense on paper, but you and I have proven that it’s a beautiful thing in practice. Yes, I think our friendship is a beautiful thing!

Prior to getting to know you, I had always seen you as someone I could not possibly relate or have anything in common with. Now I look back at all the years wasted and could kick myself for not trying to ingratiate myself with you earlier! I cannot recall when we first became friends, but if I’m correct, the bond was probably centered around the two things we’ve consistently had in common for the last 8 years: pregnancies in tandem and a love of coffee.

It was such a joy to share the company of another woman who knew exactly what I was going through at exactly that moment, and more importantly, share a laugh about it. That was the other thing I had assumed about you years ago – that you were reserved and didn’t like to laugh. Imagine my surprise when I found out how funny you were! It’s always a treat for me to be in the company of comedic people, because I really do love to laugh; and you, my friend, keep me rolling.

Can you imagine how bleak my life would be if it lacked your companionship? How many times have I sent you two-word texts Coffee today? and waited breathlessly for a Yes. One day I’ll take a selfie of my crestfallen face when the reply comes back in the negative. I can FEEL my cheeks succumb to gravity.

Though I know I am not your very bestest friend (only Elder B and FX5 can occupy that space), I would like to believe I am among your good ones. I will endeavor to remain in that space with the same vehemence that kept me from entering into a kinship with you almost 15 years ago. Those who – like me – have made assumptions about your quiet, dignified social demeanor and misread it for haughtiness are missing out…but I’m not going to tell them that. They’ll have to go through the same trial of discovery I did. They too must know the torment of years wasted judging your persona when they could have been basking in the awesomeness that is MX5!

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

A’ight, girl. Text me later.

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of a Truly Grateful Heart

I am not what you would call “the nicest of persons”. It’s shocking – I know. Nevertheless, this is something I have come to accept about myself. Knowing that I am capable of tremendous c callousness has led me to expect the same in my children. After all, the adage ‘The apple never really falls far from the tree’ was coined for a reason, right? You expect your children – or any person with whom you share a nurturing relationship with – the pick up a least a few of your peculiarities. But is it also in the nature of children to do something outside of your expectations and beyond that charted course you’ve laid for them.

My daughter Aya is perhaps the sweetest child I’ve ever met. (Bear in mind that I don’t spend my waking hours purposefully seeking out the company of children, so that doesn’t give me much of a sample to choose and make comparisons by.) My other three children are just as I would expect them to be, having such a mother: loud, unruly, selfish when necessary (and it’s always necessary) and shrewd. They take and take and are always looking for more. I have accepted this as normal behavior…or at least I did, until I started paying more attention to Aya’s antics. The girl is proof that sometimes, the apple falls from the tree, rolls down a hill, falls into a pond, goes through several stages of genetic mutation and comes out a coconut. Yes, both are round and firm, but couldn’t be more different than the other. Where I am callous, she is tender and where I have a cold view of the world, she sees light and goodness.

I worry about the child.

If what the Spirit tells us is true, we share particular attributes with the living God. These include the capacity to love, hate (as in a disdain for anything that would harm something/one you love), joy and so on. The bible, particularly in Psalms, talks about a grateful heart and the power of thanks giving. It alludes to the pleasure the Lord takes in our thanks. Most of these scriptures never resonated with me until I got older, saw the world and ultimately became a parent. Have you ever done something for someone- bought a gift or performed a random act of kindness and in place of receiving a “thank you” had these words follow instead:

“Oh, this is nice, but I would have much preferred if you had got the bigger/other one instead.”

Or

“Oh. You only bought one? We are six in the house. You should have got one for each of us.”

After a while, you just stop trying to please certain people, and eventually, you may begin dodging them altogether! But when you encounter someone who is truly grateful, truly appreciative of even the small things, you find yourself looking for ways to bless or give to them. I think it may be the same way with God.

Interacting with Aya has revealed a lot to me in this area. As we were sitting in church on the first Sunday of the month taking communion, she whispered a series of questions to me.

“So…this bread is Jesus’ body, Mommy?”

“Yes.”

“And the juice is His ‘blood’?”

“Yes.”

I went on to explain the mechanics of the crucifixion. The kids had – to my horror – seen a clip of Passion of the Christ which was slightly traumatic for them. Still, it was a good tool in that moment.

“God used to require a blood sacrifice to cover our sins…things we’ve done that are bad,” I explained in as elementary a fashion as I could. “Jesus’ blood was the ultimate sacrifice. He did that so God wouldn’t be mad at us anymore.”

She raised her eyes in surprise and smiled, mulling over the words. “Oh. Well, that was nice!”

Then she earnestly took her communion.

Aya is always looking for ways to share and to help others. Last year, she spent a good part of second grade helping one of the kids in her class who was struggling with math with his classwork of her own accord. No one appointed her to the task. She doesn’t want to see anyone left behind or missing out. This morning was the kids’ first day back to school, and as I lay in bed, still in the throes of my Nyquil induced coma, she told Stone to go back to the bathroom and re-brush his teeth. My husband asked her why.

“I want him to have a good first day at school. I don’t want anyone to tease him,” she replied.

See what I mean? If it had been up to me or Nadjah, we would have told the boy his mouth stinks of sulfur and to handle his stank breath! The result would have been the same, (i.e. Stone would go to brush his teeth) but the impetus is completely different. Aya didn’t want Stone to have a bad day, whereas we wouldn’t have wanted to smell his bad breath. See the difference?

That being said, I’m always looking for additional ways to show Aya that I appreciate her kindness and her gratitude. The first words from her mouth are always “thank you” whenever she receives anything, and she is very timid when it comes to asking for more. But because she’s ALWAYS so grateful, she gets more. It’s a vicious cycle of blessing!

There are different approaches to getting, and each has its own benefits. There’s taking by force, birthright, a sense of entitlement and what-have-you. I think that these methods are what we are accustomed to in society. But as a mother, a woman and a retail associate, I can tell you that being sweet and grateful will get you much further than privilege and brute force ever will. Yes, you may get what you deserve with an entitled attitude, but you will get MORE than you deserve when you consistently show appreciation. This latter attitude has led to an abundance of kiddie wealth, as Aya’s grateful heart has benefited her siblings on several occasions.

 

Have you encountered anyone who inspired you to show more appreciation? Do you find yourself running away from people who never/rarely show thankfulness? Should your giving be a function of the other person’s reaction, or should it not matter? Discuss! ↓

gratitude

 

Let’s Face It: Most Pastors Aren’t Equipped to Deal with ‘Sexual Immorality’

Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good, and that includes quite a number of men who stand behind their Plexiglas or stained oak pulpits Sunday after Sunday. To say that they are “heavenly minded” is even being generous, in my books. These men are usually “budget minded”, conjuring up sermons in their sleep that will create the next wave of controversy and get tongues wagging and donations flowing in.

What easier way to do this than to play the pimp?

Oh, don’t be fooled! Many men of the cloth are little more than ordained neighborhood pimps. Why do you need 4 churches on the same corner? Why are so many messages focused on money? Why is Sunday morning STILL the most segregated time of the day in America? Why does every talk surrounding sexual purity begin and end with a woman’s responsibility in the matter?

In Africa in particular, men of any faith (and pick your poison) are not generally men of learning. They read a few books in even fewer genres and draw conclusions based on something they heard Kenneth Copeland or John Hagee say in 1988. Television, movies and music are bad…unless it’s Christian television. Let me tell you something about Christian TV, folks. It’s utterly irrelevant to a lost and dying world. People have real problems, and a cute Christmas story about how one boy lost his puppy who miraculously made its way home isn’t going to provide a solution to hunger, anger or poverty.

This guy is Ian Blankson from my book, I swear!

This guy is Ian Blankson as I dreamed him from my book, I swear!

I got on a rabbit trail. I’m sorry. We were talking Pulpit Pimps. Today, I’m focusing on the ridiculous utterances of Dag Heward-Mills. For the benefit of full disclosure, I have never heard the man’s sermons, read any of his books or sat through any of his messages. I only heard about him today when someone tweeted his parable about an apple and shared the same message on Facebook. I am completely open to the possibility that his words COULD HAVE have been taken out of context, but since these words were on HIS wall and he has full control over his messaging, I have to hold him accountable in that regard. Plus, he looks like the sort of man who would vehemently defend his misogynistic remarks. Or is there another, less insidious word to describe this? I can’t think of one.

apple bishop

As much Bishops, pastors and youth leaders like to talk about sexual purity, they have NO idea about what’s going down in these here streets, let alone what leads to two people between the sheets. And because they are willfully ignorant, the easy answer to all the ills that plague society because of “sexual immorality”, is to leave it at a woman’s vaginal opening.

How many times have we heard phrases like “Ladies, close your legs to married men” or forced girls out of school because someone got them pregnant? (For the record, I hate the term ‘fall pregnant’. No one falls and gets pregnant, like it’s a scab. Someone had to intentionally insert and inseminate.) It takes two people to have sex, but the burden of protection and in this case –purity – falls strictly on one gender!

What is this?!?!

A documentary entitled “72%” has recently come out, which follows single Black women and discusses the 72% rate of Black children who are born out of wedlock. I have made it a point to watch this documentary in the near future, because I’m curious to see what kind of spin – if any – they put on the subject of single Black motherhood. Despite the picture society paints, the number of women who willingly enter into single motherhood which is in itself the engine behind the wheel of Black poverty is very low. I’ve outed myself on this very blog on numerous occasions. I never WANTED to be an unwed mother. In fact at the time of my first pregnancy, I had just come off of two years of committed celibacy. Unfortunately, I met a sexual predator, whose prowess was so magnetic that a year and a few encounters later, I was at Northside with staples in my belly and a baby in the NICU.

If pastors really want to tackle sexual immorality and keep women from become bruised, half eaten apples, perhaps they would do well to address the men who are doing the bruising and eating! After all, does an apple get up and walk into somebody’s mouth? Tsewww. Swine.

Men of the cloth have virtually NO idea what kinds of things men say or the lengths they will go to to get a woman in bed. These extremes are all a part of the cycle of shame in our civilization. Boys are ashamed to be virgins and girls are ridiculed if they are not. And because boys are socialized to be aggressive and reared to have a sense of entitlement, it only makes sense for them to run out and sleep with as many females as possible!

If these pastors knew the kinds of mind games and promises that the average run of the mill man makes to “young, unmarried women” they would easily fall prey too. But of course, they don’t have to guts to ask. I understand that they are doing it from a heart of wanting to see family whole and all that good stuff, but until they are ready to investigate and address the problem from all angles, wish they as a group would just shurrap on the matter!

So, Bishop Heward-Mills and all those who follow this philosophy that women should be “pure”, please go and talk to your sons. And to the business men. And to the radio presenters. And to the gateman at the Port Authority. Share your message of sexual purity with them too! As always, I am here to help. That is why I have created this instructional video. Taking a cue from the bishop, I too have used fruit to help me with my illustration.

You’re welcome.

Ehhh. Discuss.

Are You a Candidate for a Transgendered Relationship?

*Note: This isn’t a blog about abortion. Rather, it’s a blog about Black men’s perceived attitudes towards abortion. I’m sure by the end of it, there will be plenty of offence to go around. You are all very welcome.

 

hollywoodLet’s just be very clear: the type of Black masculinity we see parading around in the streets and on our television screens is manufactured. Robert Townsend told us as much in his groundbreaking 1987 film, Hollywood Shuffle (which I see is on Netflix and will be watching today!). Portraying an aspiring actor, Townsend finally lands a gig in a Blaxploitation film as a gangster. As he delivers his lines, his White/Jewish director commands him to be “more Black”.

“What do you mean?” asks Townsend.

“You know…grab your crotch. Slur your words,” the director says enthusiastically. He demonstrates the appropriate portrayal of ‘street talk’, grabbing his crotch, hunching his back and slurring his words.

If that sounds or looks familiar, it’s because every Black boy who grew up without a father in the age of television learned what it means to be a Black man from a Hollywood Jew. Sadly, Black men in belted jeans and polo shirts pounding away on their keyboards don’t make for very exciting television. Someone could script and cast a complex Black male character who hacks government files and enjoys a glass of red wine at the end of a hard day of data mining, but like 18th century Negro doctors and inventors, we know those don’t exist.

Likewise, Black fatherhood has been portrayed as something to avoid at all costs. Apart from Bill Cosby and James Evans, there have not really been many models for strong Black fatherhood on television. I guess you could lump in Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, but I don’t think that was his kid. We would be kidding ourselves if we denied the power of media over the choices we make and the behaviors we employ. Every time I use the word “amazing”, I want to slice myself, simply because I am completely aware that “amazing” is the only word the Kardashian Klan is capable of using to describe any positive experience, no matter how miniscule. Now, if I in all my Magna Cum Laude amazingness am that susceptible to hypnotic, grammar crushing powers of the Kardashians, how much more the average 18-35 year old male?

The images Black males see reflected back on television screens and the pages of magazines don’t exactly scream power and responsibility. You can have power – yes – but it must only be over your bitches and ho’s. Your responsibility begins and ends with keeping yourself iced out and throwing your ‘thirsty’ she-rabbit a few carats to keep her satiated and silent. Of course, you and your doe will be expected to have sex, and while doing so, it must be hot, heavy and aggressive. A Black man is only a man if he can ‘lay the smack down’ on that azz. Sex would – ideally – be unprotected. You’ve heard somewhere on television or one of those ridiculous misogynistic morning shows that you can’t climax with a condom on. Alas, your little bunny gets pregnant. The solution is obvious.

“You need to handle dat,” you tell her callously, head cocked to the side with your hand on the same, mustering as much bravado as possible. Alternatively, you never bother to look up from your Play Station.

“What?” she screeches.

“You know…go get an abortion.”

You explain to her that you’re not ready to be a father, and that you never really had a choice in the matter (something else you heard some dimwitted television character say), and repeat that she needs to take care of dat.

“Besides…we can’t afford no kids no way.”

She’s looking at you like you’re insane, because you seem to have forgotten that you’re a 35 year old man and not some witless 17 year old with no possessions and nothing but his sexual stamina to his name. Then she looks around at all the junk you’ve purchased in the last 3 months: new rims and a sound system for your car, a big flat screen TV, a trove of sneakers in the closet. She silently walks out of the room and 9 months later, you’re a father. Tada!

Let’s go back to a certain sentence in this conversation. You said “I never had the choice” when it came to becoming a father. On the contrary, sir, you did. Men know pretty early on whether they want to have kids at some point or not. Men who don’t will go to extreme lengths to ensure that they are never (ever!) responsible for a pregnancy. 30 minutes of out-patient surgery will guarantee that you never sire a child. Men who want to leave themselves open to the possibility wear condoms. Then there are the men who think their penises are a part of an elite military corps, where they can dive in and pull out at the most critical moment. Finally, there are those dudes who blissfully, carelessly, wantonly bust their nut and wonder 6 weeks later how “this happened”. Their bewilderment is always amusing.

I know quite a few of that last group of guys, and even though some of them have gone on to become wonderful fathers, I can’t help but wonder if they would be excellent candidates for relationships with transgendered women. No, seriously. If the idea or reality of being a parent causes you that much grief, there ARE other dating/relationship options available to you.

"Orange Is The New Black" New York PremiereA transgendered woman has everything men of this sort need. Let’s face it: transgendered women are just as hot or hotter than your run of the mill born-with-a-vagina woman. Necessity dictates that they invest a lot of time into hair, make-up and clothing. You will never have to worry about your transgendered girl looking scruffy! From what I hear (from this guy who sleeps with a transgendered woman), they are skilled in the art of and provide excellent fellatio. And finally – and most importantly – you will never have to worry about impregnating a transgendered woman. She will never have a period, PMS, cramps or ensure your progeny through child birth. If you play your cards right and act now – make that switch before it’s too late – you’ll never have to worry about car seats or school fees for the remainder of your days. And no, you will not be “gay”; you’re still with a “woman”. You will, in essence, have the best of both worlds.

It’s something to think about.

Are you a candidate for a transgendered relationship? Is the idea of fatherhood so appalling that it might inspire you to consider a new type of romantic partner? We could be looking at the future of Black relationships. You heard it here first! Discuss. ↓