Crackhead Mentality

crackheadSoooooo, an older relative of mine had her house broken into recently.  Let’s just call her Aunt Mae.  Yep.  They came through the locked gate, the double-window, bars and the security system.

What did they steal?  Oh, a lot of her better jewelry, some of which she’ll never get back because she had them over 40 years.  But I want to get to the point of this article – what kind of crackhead gets up with the very intention to steal???  Exactly how did that conversation go?

“D’oh, ah.  You know that lady down the street?  (I’m speaking in my crackhead voice now).

She be gone at a curtain time.  So let us go down der and see wha’ she got.

But her got an alarm, don’t it?

I ‘un care ‘bout her havin’ not alarm.  We do it quick, we can beat the po-po der.  Let us just steal something quick and light.

Let us see…a TV?  Nah, nah, nah.  Dat’s too big.

A furniture?  Naw, that still to big, ain’t it?

Hmm…(crackhead is now scratching his temple).  May have to settle on jew’ry.

Yeah!  Dat’s it.  Jew’ry!  We is so smart!  She dun already pulled out the driveway.  Is we got ev’rything?  Den let’s go!”

Then, I imagine the crackheads walked down the street with their crackhead walk.  You know, the way that crackheads do.  They busy their little gnarly crackhead fingers and break down gates, glass windows and such.  They run like skinned crackheads as the alarm goes off and shuffle to where they think the jewelry is.  It’s there.  Minutes are rolling by.  The alarm is still waling and now the crackheads are beginning to sweat.

They get all they can and out the window they go.  Leaving all their little crackhead fingerprints that the officer later lifted and sent in.  What will I say to these puppies when and if they are caught and confirmed as the culprits?  Oh let’s see, what comes to mind?  Oh what name can I call them or will roll off my lips that will wrap up my emotions as well as my Aunt Mae’s?

You.  Crackhead.

Interracial Dating

interractialInterracial dating and marriages have increased substantially according to The USA Today.  In fact, an article entitled, Census Shows Big Jump in Interracial Couples, posted April 2012 in the same online magazine stated, “Among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples)…”  Wow.  That’s a big change.

This move has caused a lot of dialogue as you can imagine.  In the last few years I have read more than enough articles on the subject.  The following is just a few I can personally recall:  I can’t find a man within my race so should I date someone who is not black?  Why do black men date white women? If I date a white man, does it mean that I, as a black woman, am turning my back on the brothers?  I have heard all the reasons and rationales – some hate-tinged, some not, some skittish, and some bold as brass.  But you know what I’ve concluded?  Grown people are going to do what they want to do.  Others may or may not like it, love it, or agree, but once a strong, intelligent person has made up his or her mind, there it is.

Really, the fact that there is a rise in interracial relationships should not be surprising at all.  We live in a technical world; it is ever so easy to reach out to a person, who under normal circumstances, you would not have the opportunity to do so.  That’s what the technical world of the internet does – it opens up opportunities for those who are inclined to take them.  So many barriers that once separated people are just not a problem at all – language, distance, culture or race.  Let’s talk about Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, Twitter, Flicker, Pinterest, Tumbler, and just good ol’ email.

But then there’s the other side of this coin to consider.  My coworker and I was talking about how people will put more time into buying a particular automobile than they would getting to know a person that they intend to marry or are dating.  This same coworker, however; was quick to point out that he knew of instances where a person married only after dating for a couple of months and they are still married years later.  Now that was a risk – even though the same is true with any marriage – we both agreed that a hurried decision like that was a bigger risk whether of the same race or not.  In some cases, the more external differences there are, the more risk factors there are as well.

But ultimately, as time and experience has shown us, managing external responses to interracial relationships are not unmovable barriers but it is something a mature person considers beforehand, knows what she is up against, and prepares herself for it.

Nappy – The Other ‘N’ Word

Pretty woman portraitI had an argument with a coworker a while back.  We both were so excited that natural hair is not just a trend with many black people, but for many of us, it seems to be a part of our way of life.  But here’s where the disagreement came in:  she said black people’s hair is not nappy.  It’s tightly coiled and actually curly.

OK, I agree that it’s tightly coiled and curly. But how about that’s exactly what the Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists as one of the definitions of the word nappy?  And I quote, “Nappy, adjective, of hair:  having many tight bends or curls.”  See, that’s how we get into trouble as humans, we either use words or stop using words thinking we already know their meaning and don’t.  Further, you can turn any word or phrase into something ugly. It’s all in the way you use it.

For example, Ms. Jealous walks up to Ms. SheGotItTogether and says, “You think you look good.”  See what I mean?  Now, because of one small-minded person, looking nice or being confident seems wrong. I can even remember when I was much younger when one of my older brothers wanted to hurt my feelings they would say with a snarl, “With yo’ blllaacck self!”  My feelings would be so hurt!  But of course after a while I came to the realization that I am black so why should this word hurt my feelings so?  The hurt was gone.

This is true of any word that has been misused to degrade another.  And it doesn’t just start and end with race.  It goes on to include gender, cultural issues, and on and on.  Additionally, it doesn’t always come from people who are different from us. Sometimes they are family members like my oh-so-young and immature brothers.  So what can we learn from this?  What will we do when people (who may be black themselves) call us nappy-headed?

Claim it, what else?

Belle is a Beauty – a Movie Review

001_belle_posterOK, I‘ve got to see this picture.  That was my thought after seeing the preview of the movie BelleBelle is a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay. If you do not know her story as of yet, please take time to look it up and then go see this movie while you can – in that order.

It makes a strong and beautiful statement about women, race, class, and of course, the power of love.  I will tell you briefly that Dido Elizabeth Belle was a mixed-race lady born into aristocracy.  That was the fact that made me pause at first.  The second was the fact that it was written and directed by black women:  Misan Sagay and Amma Asante.  Yep.  You heard right.

According to Ms. Sagay’s own account, it was a monumental feat to complete – from paper to film.  But the results were well worth it.  The cinematography was sumptuous and the style was Jane Austenesque down to the costumes, hair, set, and sprawling castles.  And lastly, the actors were a complement to all of the above.  Veteran actors such as Tom Wilkinson (Lord Mansfield, Belle’s uncle) and Emily Watson (Lady Mansfield, Belle’s aunt) add layers to each scene and drove the play onward and upward.  And my favorite scene?  When a passionate, young lawyer name John Davinier (played by a talented Sebastian Reid) fought for his love, Belle (played by the equally talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and stood up against Belle’s formidable uncle.

Like I said, I’m giving nothing away.  It is your responsibility as the reader to discover and read the true story of such a remarkable account and then see the movie that was inspired by it.  As you would expect, dramatic license was taken with the latter, but that fact neither diminishes the compelling value of the former.

HOW TO FORGIVE ONESELF

provided by Microsoft

Almost everybody can look back and reflect on things they’ve done and regretted.  That’s definitely one option that many (including myself) have indulged in.  But hey, let’s take this opportunity to do differently.  Let’s start with forgiving ourselves. 

Maybe because we were ashamed of ourselves, brought on by some indiscretion; we allowed someone to abuse us and inwardly we knew better.   Perhaps we were mean to people who were trying to be kind or truthful to us – shutting them out of our lives.  Maybe, because of paralyzing depression, we didn’t do all that we could have or got involved in some kind of harmful addiction(s).  The list goes on.  But now is the time to let it go and forgive ourselves.

Scientists say that you will find it easier to forgive others than you do yourself.   Isn’t that peculiar?  I’ve heard it said this way; treat yourself like you would your best friend.  Would you do or say a particular thing to your best friend?  No?  Well, don’t say it to yourself.  Wouldn’t you give your friend the benefit of the doubt?  Then give it to yourself as well.

A chronic state of anger and resentment interferes with life.  According to Sharon A. Hartman, LSW and clinical trainer at the Caron Foundation, “When resentment is interfering with your life, it’s time to forgive yourself.  It’s been said that forgiving doesn’t mean not being angry with yourself, but it means not hating yourself.”  Because, truth be told, we all mess up.  Just don’t live in that moment perpetually or let one stupid period of your life define your life.

Hartman continues, “It’s about relinquishing a source of pain and letting go of resentment. People think forgiving yourself means you are letting yourself get away with whatever you did.  The pain and anger you are feeling are supposed to be our punishment.”  But the point is that the punishment should fit the crime.  Don’t overdo it.

How?

Of course, there’s therapy; but do you have a small number of friends or family on your side?  Or a deep faith?  Then talk it out.  Many have found grace using these avenues.  Grace is defined as unmerited help given to one, meaning, whether we deserve it our not, some assistance was extended.  It is an act of love.

You’ll know when you have forgiven yourself.  Hartman says, “You know you have done it when the memory gives you no more pain and anger.  It’s as simple as that.  You can say, ‘I am free of this,’” You never forget it, but it doesn’t trouble you as before.  But remember, forgiveness is complete when we are transformed or when we have learned the lesson and will not allow ourselves to repeat the action.

Ultimately, by applying these suggestions, we will have a less troubled life.  We will have a longer and healthier life.  And we will want to live a good life despite our frailties. 

Black History – 15 Interesting Facts

February

If you didn’t already know, February is Black History month.  This month-long celebration started out as the Negro History Week Celebration first organized by Carter G. Woodson.  It was chosen because two birthdays came during this time –Frederick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s.

I ran upon some interesting facts about Black History and just wanted to share.  Take a gander at the information listed below.

Xavier University, a historically black college in Louisiana, has one of the highest success rates in the country of getting their graduates into medical school.

Spelman College in Atlanta is NOT the only historically black college for women, Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina is the other one.

Victor Blanco was the Black mayor of San Antonio in 1809 – before slavery was abolished, while Texas was still part of Mexico.

Frank Wills, a Black security guard, discovered President Nixon’s cover-up which later caused his resignation as President of the United States. Despite Wills’ discovery, he struggled to find work for the rest of his life.

Benjamin T. Montgomery, a former slave, bought the plantations of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the end of the Civil War, and became one of the biggest cotton planters in Mississippi.

Rex Ingram, a Black actor, bypassed the stereotypes by playing a meaningful role in the film “The Green Pastures” in 1936.

Sophia Tucker and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College, used just $100 to found this Historically Black College.

The African American advisors to President Franklin D. Roosevelt were called the “Black Brain Trust.”

Vermont was the first U.S. territory, in 1777, to abolish slavery. Pennsylvania was the first state to do so, in 1780.

Dr. William Hinton, a Black physician, is credited with creating a test to detect the syphilis disease.

In 1959, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors in Prince Edward County, Virginia, voted to close its public schools in a show of “massive resistance” against integration.  The vast majority of the county’s 1,700 African American students and some white students went without formal education from 1959–1964.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Sainte-Domingue (Haiti), built the first permanent settlement in what would become Chicago in 1779.

Alonzo Pietro, a Black Spaniard explorer, set sail with Christopher Columbus to the “New World.”

Walter S. McAfee is the African American mathematician and physicist first to calculate the speed of the moon.  On January 10, 1946 a radar pulse was transmitted towards the moon. Two and a half seconds later, they received a faint signal, proving that transmissions from earth could cross the vast distances of outer space.

Henry Highland Garnett, born a slave in Kent County, MD was named Minister of Liberia in 1881. He was also President of Avery College in Allegany, PA.

Rare Disease Day – February 28, 2014

RDD_whiteThere are well-known diseases such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis.  And then there are rare diseases in which the names alone could take up a whole line.  Try saying trimethylaminuria (TMAU) three times.  TMAU, although reportedly not fatal, can be crippling due to extremely unpleasant symptoms like foul breath and body odor due to the body’s lack of ability to break down a certain common chemical found in food.

Not a problem you say?  Try being a nine-year-old kid that stinks to high heaven while going to public school.  Not fun.  And yes, this condition affects young and old.  There is no cure.

Maybe you’re one of many who like to look at shows about strange disorders and diseases.  We as humans have a never-tiring fascination of strange medical conditions that people may develop or are born with.  I can remember watching a show where a young man was growing tree-like warts all over his body.  Another time there was a lady on a program whose legs were so swollen that movement was almost impossible.  Both of these conditions baffled the medical community.  Myself, I was stunned to learn of such ailments.

But it wasn’t until I was personally touched by how rare disease can alter your life that I learned that you not only should feel something, but should do something as well.  That’s why Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2014, is so important.  The US 
Rare Disease Day website states:

“Rare Disease Day is an international advocacy day to bring widespread recognition of rare diseases as a global health challenge. The day is celebrated on the last day of February every year. In 2014, it will be observed on February 28th.  In the U.S., any disease affecting fewer than 200,000 people is considered rare. This definition comes from the 
Orphan Drug Act of 1983 and is slightly different from the definition used in Europe. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans. In other words, almost one in ten Americans are suffering from rare diseases.  Besides dealing with their specific medical problems, people with rare diseases struggle to get a proper diagnosis, find information, and get treatment. The rarity of their conditions makes medical research more difficult.”

Anyone can be involved in Rare Disease Day and there are many suggested activities. The day has been established as a grassroots advocacy day and we encourage everyone to participate in some way!

This website focuses on Rare Disease Day activities in the U.S. To learn what’s happening around the world, go to the global Rare Disease Day website at 
rarediseaseday.org.”

If you are suffering with a rare disorder or know someone who is, then this event was created for you.  Additionally, for those who are moved to do something and even if you can’t do much, just do what you can.  
NORD, the National Organization of Rare Diseases, will accept donations as low as a dollar.  Hey, it all adds up.

Remember, Alone We are Rare.  Together We are Strong.