Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Week In Review

An Instrument of The Devil...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, hang on to yer drawers. SpongeBob is a tool fer the ho-mo-sex-chel lobby. That's right, he's bein exploited to indoctrinate your children into the homosexual lifestyle.

Cheese and crackers, Batman. What the hell? Attacking cartoon characters? In case you've had your head in the sand, or somewhere else, you pervert, James Dobson and the American Family Association have alleged that SpongeBob SquarePants has been co-opted by the homosexual lobby because he and his friend Patrick, and some other cartoon cuties, including Barney, and others, appear in a video for a kid-friendly remake of "We Are Family." I didn't think the religious wing nuts were paying attention to "We Are Family" since it appeared in another family favorite, "The Birdcage." Song producer Nile Rodgers, God bless his slightly dingbatty appearance (Mr. Magoo with dreadlocks), says there must have been some confusion between a website called We Are, a gay-straight alliance, and We Are Family, which promotes teaching tolerance to children. To steal a funny-as-hell-but-terribly-accurate comment I read, "The bar keeps getting lower, although I swear I heard it hit the floor."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Not one, but TWO more conservative columnists have been outed as 'hos for the White House. Damn, that George is a pimp nizzle fa shizzle!

Jesse, Jesse, Jesse...

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. asked the following questions in his address to a gathering of so-called progresive Black Baptist organizations:
1. How many of you have performed same-sex marriages in your churches (no hands were raised)?
2. When did this (meaning same-sex marriage) become part of our agenda?

Was this not the same Rev. Jesse Jackson that back in
1984 thought gays were ok? Now, all of a sudden, he doesn't want same-sex marriage or gay rights lumped in with civil rights, which he sees as just a Black issue. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse, I've personally seen this kind of tactic. Long story warning...

When I was 20, I worked closely with a progressive assistant pastor at my church, who I came out to. She had been supportive of me, and even supportive of lesbiand and gays, even from a religious perspective. However, not long after, some rumor started to spread that she herself was a lesbian, and pulled me to the side to suggest reparative counseling as in her eyes, and according to Biblical teaching, homosexuality was sinful. Jesse has done the same thing. After falling out of the political spotlight due to the publicizing of his affair, and subsequent parenting of a child with an aide at the Rainbow Coalition, he's taken a strange hyper-moral turn, even taking a dopey turn, "No slave was ever enslaved because he was gay." Oh, give me a break.

I'll keep my philosophy on Blackness and gayness brief: Yes, Jesse, that is true. But I guarantee that is massa walked in on Toby and Big Billy locked in an embrace, they'd both be hung. There are lesbiand and gays who are Black, and dismissing the gayness of a Black person is dumb. Can you only be a feminist if you're female?

Wake up people! Things are taking a terrible turn, and if you ain't scared, you should be.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

America the Spoiled

Perhaps its PMS, perhaps its the 18 or so inches of snow outside, which will be beautiful, all white and powdery for exactly one day (until dirt and vehicle fumes color it gray, followed by black), or perhaps its just because I feel like it, I'm in a crappy mood, which means, folks, the inevitable will happen: I will find a news item that pisses me off. And here it is.

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, I'll sum it up for you. The story is about gym Resolutioners, the folks who join a gym around New Years, who take up space in locker rooms, fitness classes, weight rooms, cardio machines, and trainer time. One woman, whose impressive story about dedication to her fitness routine, says "All of you taking up space should just go away." By the way, Vicki Holland is an occupational therapist, someone who rehabs people with work-related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome -- she gets paid to re-teach you how to pick up a spoon.

Then, 32-year-old banker (we should be impressed again) Stuart Hastie complains about people not knowing rules or putting weights back. I wonder, does Stuart Hastie?

Why devote two paragraphs on the bitching, yet again, of wimpy-ass gym-goers? Because these clowns are typical of the spoiled rotten urban American. They pay for machinery to keep them fit, chemistry to keep them looking younger, and electronics to bring their worlds together. I can walk down the street and answer email with my Blackberry. I can telecommute. I can't get it up, so I'll take a pill. I can't be bothered to find a nice street to run, so I'll get on a glorified hamster wheel. Dollars to donuts, these same blockheads who complain about crowded gyms are rule-breakers and as inconsiderate as the people they complain about: they talk on their cell phones while you're trying to sweat out your last mile, they drop weights that are too heavy or they grunt loudly as if they've eaten too much cheese, depositing their used towel(s) in the bin is too much to do so they leave it(them) in a pile on the floor, they chat with their pals on the stretching mat, but they aren't stretching.

And in other spoiled rotten news, has the Times run out of things to write about? Do we really care where the young conservative hangs out? Funny, how a club frequented by rappers and rap music execs attracts so much more attention, for activities not terribly different from those at venues frequented by YR's (Young Repubs). Oh, silly me. Having a bodyguard is so much worse than having a crooked father.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Balm in Gilead

"There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole;
There is a balmin Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul." --Traditional

In the Bronx, a small city that seems to always be on the brink of something, a 13-year-old girl hid her pregnancy from her strict mother, and killed the newborn in a panic. The father of the baby is 15.

Here is the kind of urban ministerial issue I want to shove in the faces of the pseudo-holy Black ministers driving their luxury vehicles, sitting fat an happy over their thousand-member megaplex churches, oblivious to anything outside of the need to encourage wealth-building and good, male-dominant heterosexual marriages. You call yourself a pastor? Get off your fat rear, leave the safety of your modern architecture cathedral and talk to the people who don't go to your church. Talk to the young people hanging out on the corners. Talk to the residents of the housing projects.

I'm sad and angry. I am furious that our anti-sex society prefers to give nonsense messages about abstinence rather that truth about sex. I'm furious that abortion foes are quick to throw adoption out as options for unwanted pregnancies when the faces of young, unwed mothers are black and brown, and the moralistic cries of adoption as alternative come from white faces who have shown little or no interest in adopting Black and Latino babies -- look at the increasing numbers of White parents who will travel across the globe to adopt a Chinese baby rather than a Black or Latino one born in the good ol' U.S. of A. I'm saddened, deeply so, for the loss of one life, but the complete alteration of several lives. The abandonment of babies has always moved me, but this one moves me further.

I believe there is a balm to make the wounded whole. But, like accessing the Grail or being able to safely pass the Sphinx, we have tests to pass, and we've failed miserably. Compassionate conservatism is an oxymoron, and "moron" doesn't occur by accident in that term. Judgement and pseudo-moralism have replaced common sense. Enough is enough.

I pray for everyone involved. This one is tough.

He Still Ain't My President, Period!

I posted this a few days ago. Forgive me, I must have been drunk to think this was an indication of better times ahead. What was I thinking?

Bush has announced that he won't push for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Although he is against it, for whatever his strange reasons are, he won't try to have his peculiarities burned into the Constitution of the United States. Say whatever you want, but it's time that somebody came to their senses.

Now, if we could get the hell out of Iraq...

"I Stopped Drinking and Found Jesus..."

And, the "American Idol" tragedy continues. Why don't people listen to me? Do you not know anyone who loves you? Or someone who hates you enough to spare your feelings before total embarassment?

And along comes Mary (do do do) "If I make it to Hollywood, I'm going to change my name to Guilbeau." She's the next William Hung, but unlike poor William, who knew he was a flash in the pan and got his engineering degree, Mary will turn up on an "E! True Hollywood Story" after her platinum record, wondering why no one wanted the second record. She'll be picked up on Hollywood Boulevard for delivering a hummer to a clown in a Hummer, in an attempt to pay for her crystal meth habit. Okay, we hope not, but...

Actually, it's to pay for her bipolar meds -- "do you want me to sing like myself? I have lots of voices."

"It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year..."

Oh man, I love this time of year. The air is crisp and cold, and the only things on Tuesday worth watching are "House" and "Law & Order: SVU" (you thought I was going to say "Queer Eye", didn't you?). Or is that really it?

No, boys and girls, it's also time for the audition round of "American Idol." The rest of the show sucks; I hate the competition. I think the butchering of late 20th century American standards is appalling -- where the hell is the melody? You can't find the blasted melody for all the notes around it. And, I think its unfortunate that R&B singers get contractually pigeonholed into singing sappy pop songs.

But, aside from my not-so-secret hate of pop, what is most unfortunate is the large number of people whose families and friends lie, lie, lie to them about their frightening lack of talent. Is your child, your friend so delicate that he or she can't take the truth? What about being humiliated on national television, exposed for the god-awful song butcher they really are? Do you really think your popularity at the karaoke bar is enough for you to survive month after month of grueling rehearsals, styling, and inevitable weight loss schemes -- face it, you loser, people like you because they're as drunk as you are.

Here's how not to screw up your "American Idol" audition:

Learn the words to the song you're singing. The words to "America, the Beautiful" are in every public library. Don't sing an Aretha song and fill in the words with "mm" and "yeah."

Learn the melody. Don't try a key change if you're pitch challenged.

And, the real hints to surviving:

Don't, for the love of all things holy, wear a costume or an unfortunate dress, or some other such mess. Similarly, leave the striped polo shirt home. Blink-182 auditions are next year.

Telling Simon that God told you you were destined to sing is suicide. Especially if you can't.

Don't ask people you know if you can sing -- ask strangers. They have no reason to lie. Your friends do.

Okay, the commercial is over and there is another 45 minutes of torture to go...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I Have My Own Dream Part 2

Last year, Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of Atlanta's New Birth Church, led a march to the memorial site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in protest, or rather to support traditional marriage; that of one man to one woman. Chicago's Rev. Greg Daniels claims he'll support the Klan before he supports gay marriage. More than 100 Black pastors send a petition to the Congressional Black Caucus to support the Defense of Marriage Act and proposed constitutional amendment. I won't go into, yet again, my philosophies on marriage, and why I think civil marriage (frankly, I'm sick of teaching Christians how to read the Bible, so I don't care what you choose to read from your dogma) as opposed to religious marriage, should be extended to same-sex couples. I will say that I'm tired of the completely inappropriate and inaccurate use of MLK to defend Black homophobia.

Okay, I promised I wouldn't bring up marriage again, but an examination of Christ's words, those passages highlighted in red in your Bibles, Jesus never said anything about who should marry, and never mentioned marriage except to say that divorce was bad. Similarly, there isn't one statement attributed to Martin Luther King about marriage or about gays and lesbians. If his wife, who we believe knew him best, can support the rights of gays and lesbians, who should dispute that? No one, not Ralph Abernathy, not Bernice King, not Eddie Long.

Let's call a spade a spade. Let's tell the truth. Black people are uncomfortable with difference within the ranks. You can see it everywhere. The Black community has its subcultures:
  • Gangbangers, banger wannabes, pimps, 'hos and drug dealers
  • Rap artists (different from hip hop artists, the ones still interested in the art of the rhyme vs. the money, cars, 'hos lyrics) and athletes, who play blackjack using their marketability and pray hard for 21
  • The rapper/baller wannabes with schoolyard athleticism and marginal rhyming skills that will never hit it big
  • The happily undereducated and underemployed, content to live on welfare or disability, generation after generation
  • The nouveau riche, complete with their Black Ivy League; e.g. Morehouse, Spellman, Hampton degrees, working in finance, law, and similar top-dollar industries, comfortable in their gated communities with the BMW or Benz parked in the driveway, golfing on Sunday afternoons after church, who believe in the American Dream until it no longer believes in them
  • The artist, the new bohemian, working successive administrative jobs until their poetry or neo-soul sells, or they simply get tired of trying and give up
  • The regular guy, who drives a bus or is an MTA motorman, or picked up a good Post Office job, who married his high school sweetheart, had a couple of kids, drinks beer on the weekends with his buddies and plays armchair football
  • The churchie -- more than likely, a single woman who takes pleasure in food because she doesn't have sex to provide it for her as she's holding out for a good man and invests her time, money, and energy in Jesus, as introduced to her by the Escalade-drivin' pastor. Or, may be a closeted queen who sings in the choir, or serves on the church's Trustee Board, who doesn't date because he's waiting for the right woman to come from the Lord

Black lesbians and gays are here in every group. Why, oh why, must we continue to be beaten and abused, 'buked and scorned, simply because Black folks don't want to tell the truth: they find sex between men distasteful and lesbians a connundrum because they're inaccessible. Stop using Dr. King as the proverbial mother's skirt to hide behind. Enough already.

And, on the flip side, to my lesbian sisters and gay brothers: if you want to have a party on the Sunday night before the Monday holiday, just call it a special Sunday thing. Do you really think "a holiday explosion" featuring a booty shaker should be "in honor of Martin Luther King?" Have a party, have a booty shaker, but don't connect it to Dr. King. And, how about really doing something positive for the community? If you have the time, and you probably do, become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Write a check for a worthy organization. Come out. Don't allow preachers to continue abusing you with the Bible.

I do have a dream, and I believe it will come true. I believe that the next wave of liberation will come from within the Black community, but only if we are honest and willing to do the work necessary to bring all parts of the community together.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Just When You Thought Uncle Tom Was Dead Redux

I couldn't help it. It was like indigestion causing you to reexperience last night's dinner. I was just so amazed by the gall of the current administration that I couldn't leave this story alone. I promise this is the last I'll talk about it. Okay, I'll try not to say anything else, but I'm making no promises.

So, reading further into the Armstrong Williams story, I discover that this isn't the first instance of the Bush administration planting stories in the media. Again I say, if you have to sell your story or sell your policy, perhaps it doesn't have the substance it should. Prior to the No Child Left Behind cookie, we find out the Drug Enforcement Agency has also planted stories to support drug policies, and had similar plans for the new Medicare policy.

For contrast, I did some quick research on what is arguably the world's most famous government-sanctioned media machine: the BBC. According to their site, the BBC started in the early 20's, but in reluctant response to the growing number of radio hobbyists broadcasting their own programs. The government wised up, recognized the potential of radio, and set up 2 stations. Fast forward to today, the networks of the BBC are run by a board of governors appointed by the Queen upon the recommendation of ministers. Funding comes from a licensing fee paid by viewers, to ensure that programming is free from influence, including that of advertisers. Another, more interesting aspect of its mission, is that the BBC is not massaged by the government, and there have been strikes by employees in response to possible government interference. Doesn't sound like much on the surface, but imagine CNN or AOL shutting down because it thinks the government or a special interest is too involved.

The real reason why Bush 2 et al were able to get away with their shenanigans is because they believed they could. Sure, they hid the identity of the story submitter, but the bottom line is they though up the plan and executed it. Not so value-filled, is it?

I'm not going to start a rant related to the 2000 election, the 2004 election, the stuff I don't get about the Electoral College essentially superceding the voice of the people, the villifying of lesbians and gays in the name of morality, or how things are supposedly wonderful for people of color based on the few black and brown faces pasted up by the White House while the rate of HIV infection among black and brown women is skyrocketing; young people of color are turning more and more to crime or the military as a means of support, and we're arguing about whether or not businesses can handle raising the minimum wage to $8 an hour (never mind that unless you live in an area with a really low cost of living, $8 is nothing). I will say that I'm scared as hell about what the future holds considering the dirt we've already heard, and it's not even the 10th of January yet.

Just When You Thought Uncle Tom Was Dead...

I've never been a fan of these self-promoting, holier-than-thou commentators who come from the boonies full of good moral guidance they're just itching to share with the masses. I especially find irritating the ones of color like Larry Elder who "came from nothing and made something of themselves." Mind you, I'm not averse to calling my people out on their bad behavior, but this whole thing with "let me prove what a good negro I've become" is just sickening.

Quickly, Black Gay Republicans. I'll leave you to think about just how wrong those three words are together, but on to my favorite, the coon du jour, Armstrong Williams.

I knew in my gut this guy was destined to be a tool, and sure enough, it has been revealed that he was paid by the White House to pimp the "No Child Left Behind" plan. Now, I might be wrong, but I'm thinking if you have to pay someone to push your plan... it ain't such a good plan.

So much for traditional values. Give me nouveau values. At least there's some integrity.

Friday, January 07, 2005

I Have My Own Dream-Part 1

In today's news, the arrest of one of the Klansmen involved in the murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights activists from New York, was announced. It only took forty years. In the immortal words of Fannie Lee Chaney, James Chaney's mother, "Mighty long time."

I was two years old when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, although it seems like a thousand years ago. To anyone younger than 30, it wouldn't seem possible that racism would show its ugly head after Dr. King's death, but I have had firsthand experience.

When I was in first grade, I got in a fight that resulted in a pencil stabbing in my left hand. Like many of my peers, I still (at nearly 40) have a blue spot in my hand, courtesy of the graphite pencil point. My parents would not have me subjected to this thuggery, and promptly found a school in nearby Bellerose, a nice White community not too far from my own community of St. Albans. I would have to be bussed. In 1974, only six years after Dr. King's death, the presence of my brown face, and that of many of my peers, caused an uproar. Nine months later, toward the end of the school year, I had the dubious distinction of being called a black cookie by some white kid in the lunchroom, for reasons that escape me, but are irrelevant anyway.

Fast forward five years to the last day of school following my first year in junior high school. Bussed again from my neighborhood of St. Albans to Floral Park, the next neighborhood over from Bellerose, it seemed the White community was still unhappy about having Black, and now Asian and Latino kids coming into their schools. Our bus was attacked, pelted with bricks, stones, and bottles; the windows broken, cuts and bruises coupled with hysteria. The kid next to me ended up with a gash on his head that bloodied my favorite yellow skirt.

The local news stations and the Daily News covered the incident, and a few kids were arrested. Meetings were held between the parents, with dismissals such as "it wasn't a racial incident, it was just rowdy kids; boys being boys." Never mind the racial epithets hurled along with the bricks. And so, September rolled around, and school started off with a palpable tension between the Black kids and the White kids. All this about 10 years after Dr. King's assassination.

Since then, I've been:
  1. Asked if Black people tan and sunburn
  2. Asked how do I wash my hair
  3. Accused of shoplifting in a health food store by an anonymous White man who thought two young Black women reading a product label and laughing hysterically indicated mischief
  4. Had a White woman moved to the far side of an elevator we were riding, clutching her purse tightly.
  5. Followed by a store detective in Macy's and
  6. Followed around a small coffee store in Park Slope, the predominantly White neighborhood I currently live in.

A few years ago, a homeless White man asked me for money, and following my refusal called me a nigger bitch. And in early November, on my way home from the gym, I passed another homeless White man who was counting a roll of singles. The exchange went something like this:

Me: Excuse me.
Him: You're not gonna rob me, are ya?
Me: (snickering) Put your money away, old man, and be quiet.
Him: I know you people. You're all thieves.
Me: Be quiet, old man, or someone will rob you.

I share all this because these incidents shape who I am. I'm no longer angry, as it's way too much work to dwell on the past -- you learn from your past and learn to make your future better. I am Black, and will always be Black, even if I'm struck today with vitiligo, and every surface of skin turns white. Black folks themselves have occasionally rejected me; more than once, I was pegged an "oreo," Black on the outside, White on the inside because I was smart, did well in school, and was articulate. I have occasionally rejected Black folks; I can't stand loud-talkin', undereducated, ambitionless, irresponsible baby-makers who prefer to sit around getting fat off of my tax dollars. No matter what, I am part of them, and they are part of me. Yet, when "the dream" is discussed, it seems the other parts of me; the woman, the homosexual, need not apply.

More in Part 2.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

That's What I'm Talkin' About!

Finally, a voice of reason. Americans have a love/hate relationship with a thousand things. We revere sex, but only in the context of heterosexual marriage, and God forbid you've got a great sex life but you're neither married nor heterosexual. We hate the French, but are obssessed with how they manage (or at least the women do) to stay slim, while we get fatter and fatter on factory-farmed food.

Although I'm not a fan of skinny, except for my fries, this woman makes it all make sense. I'm surprised it took so long, but at last, a French woman talks realistically about why French women manage to not get as fat as we do. Mireille Guiliano has written a book called "Why French Women Don't Get Fat." This isn't a miracle diet book, and I'm sure some of the suggestions, especially the Magical Leek Soup, are dicey at best. Mind you, it's the same thing everyone who talks about real weight loss and good habits says: move more, drink more water, don't eat seconds, and eat a little of what you really want. The best tip is "Sex and laughter keep women looking their best.

If that's the secret to Catherine Deneuve's hotness, vive la France!

Wow -- A Bad Idea All The Way Around

Dang, it's only January 6, and already I've been forced to shake my head at the latest of the lame. The first "Wow" of 2005.

Ooh, I Should've Gone to College 'Cuz I Need a Day Job

I have been, and will continue to be, highly critical of that entertainment genre known as "pop." Truth be told, if I wrote a pop tune, and someone bought it, I wouldn't turn down the royalty check. However, I know what it is, and I know it ain't Music, with a capital "m." More often than not, pop stars, pop idols, pop whatevers, are formulaic and marginally talented. Technology makes them sound great. Personal trainers, stylists, and hair & makeup artists make them look great. Their label's promotions machine give them street cred. And their talent, or lack thereof, is hidden far from the public eye.

Perhaps, if you're as old as I am, you'll remember back in 2000 when Enrique Iglesias was exposed as a marginal talent, singing painfully off-key on a track that Howard Stern played on his show. Senor Sexy then went on the show to sing live and prove that the sucky voice on said tape was him goofing around. I heard both the tape and Enrique's performance, and I still think he sucks. He's lovely to look at, with the perfect 5 o'clock shadow, and wooly cap, but I'll pass on his recordings.

And then there's Ashlee Simpson. First, I'm laughing my behind off at the thought of American nursing homes in 50 or 60 years being filled with Tanishas, Shaquannas, Rayquans, Tiffanys and Ashleys (and all attendant spellings thereof), Heathers, and Ambers, but I digress. Ashlee, for those who may not know, is the sister of the third or fourth most in/famous blonde in America, singer Jessica "I pledged my virginity to my father at twelve, and he gave me jewelry in exchange for no schwing without a ring" Simpson. Ashlee has made a conscious effort to establish her own pop status, dyeing her hair black, dressing more like Avril Lavigne than Beyonce, and yes, trying to sing. Horribly.

This latest in the never-ending parade of pop-pathetiques can't even lip sync in order to hide her lack of skill. She blamed her band for her botch on Saturday Night Live, then tried to claim heartburn burned out her voice. And, she was booed, yes, booed, during her halftime performance at the Orange Bowl. Ouch. How can you not bring your A-game to a halftime show? Do you not know that every halftime show since Nipplegate has to beat that? Even Destiny's Child's halftime performance on Thanksgiving Day, as hot as it was, wasn't nearly as exciting as Janet's boob job (seconded only to that punk Justin Timberlake's exposure as a boob a few days later). Sports spectators see halftime shows as filler until the game returns. Therefore, if you've got the stones to do a halftime show, you'd better be exceptional. Your performance has to be good enough to distract me from my 2-beers-full bladder, my second bag of peanuts craving, and my ringing cell phone. You'd better be so good that I'll tell Jesus to wait a second, I'll catch the Heaven bus at the next stop. You'd better be so good that the audience at "Showtime At The Apollo" loves you. But, no. She couldn't come through, and 75,000 college football fans booed her live, with a few more booing her from the comfort of their homes.

You've got to give it to her management for pulling off the greatest entertainment con since the empty Al Capone vault incident. Nipple, anyone?

And, from the Destined To Fail Files...

The New York Daily News announced "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day" , a campaign designed to end the unwed parenting syndrome in the Black community. 10 couples, who are already living together, will receive an all expense paid wedding; dress, reception, the works. A ceremony will be performed by Rev. Herbert Daughtry, pastor of the House of The Lord Church in Brooklyn. The idea is from the mind of author Maryann Reid.

Who is Maryann Reid, you ask? She writes novels on Black relationships. With titles such as "Sex and The Single Sister," and "Use Me or Lose Me," Reid has captured, according to her, I guess, the voice of the single Black female who has a successful career and just wants a good man. I'm not a single Black female; hell, I'm not even a heterosexual, so I can't justly criticize -- perhaps she does know what she's talking about. However, I do find it curious that a still-single woman who writes freely about sex outside of wedlock (and explicitly, I might add) is suddenly on the marriage kick. She's a relationship consultant on a Lifetime show. I'm sorry, but how does a single person give me advice about marriage? And if she isn't married, why is she trying to encourage others to marry?

Don't get me wrong. I fully support informed marriages, or similar relationships, between consenting, able-minded adults. I too think the baby mama/baby daddy thing needs to stop, but as I've said in the past, we need to stop equating the wedding with the marriage. Too many women with marginal self-esteem, suffering from Cinderella syndrome, think that a wedding is the second step in their journey to complete womanhood (the first being graduating from college, with having a baby as third). If you can't make reasonable sexual decisions; i.e. making him wear a condom, what makes you think you should enter into a legal agreement with him? That's what marriage boils down to. You can draw up paperwork to cover property obtained during the course of your relationship. You can draw up paperwork indicating what will happen to your child should the two of you die, sign an affidavit saying you're in a committed relationship for purposes of health insurance. Lesbian and gay couples do it all the time. Non-married couples who have been together for 10, 15, 20 years have done it, and they're happy. Getting married is great, but not for the wrong reasons, and getting married to meet some cultural norm that isn't working is short-sighted. How about starting with responsible dating? One of the craziest lines I've ever heard is from the movie "Claudine." Shortly after the main character's man has left her, she's riding the bus to work with her female friends, talking about man troubles, and one character proclaims "I'd rather have a dirty pair of pants in the sink than no pants at all." Why don't we help women to stop believing that? And why can't we teach men to stop acting like a committed relationship is a prison sentence?

Quiet as it's kept, Ms. Reid's latest book, "Marry Your Baby Daddy" is scheduled for release in September, the same month the eponymous campaign is supposed to jump off. As with Ashlee Simpson, you've got to give it up to her management and promotions team. This isn't an entertainment con, but a cultural one, and that's even worse.

Perhaps Ms. Reid is pulling a Star Jones-Reynolds. Maybe this stunt is a way for her to get free weddingalia, but to engage the public in it is just lame. Let's see how this plays out.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

...and a New Year Begins

One of my mom's favorite exclamations is "Oh, life!" I would love to know where that came from as it's just so fitting. She says that whenever she wants to throw her hands up in exasperation or she doesn't know what else to say. Whenever I think of New Year's Day and all the stupid things that are associated with it, I too cry "Oh, life!"

Blacks (American and Caribbean) have culinary traditions for New Year's Day. We eat black-eyed peas for good luck, prosperity, and children. We eat collard or other dark leafed greens to attract money, pork for "fatness" or abundance. Some Southerners believe it's bad luck for a female to be the first to cross the house's threshold. Every New Year's I spent with my ex involved finding some male friend to walk through the door before us. And every New Year's Day meal featured black-eyed peas, collards, and pork.

Other "traditions" aren't as rooted in spirituality or superstition. The drinking of champagne, spending more than you ever have to get into the same club you go to, finding someone to kiss at midnight, are all mildly amusing, but increasingly tiresome. And the worst of all is the resolution.

New year resolutions are guaranteed to break your heart before the year has even begun. Most resolutions have the same theme: make myself better physically, financially, romantically, emotionally than the year before. Lose 20 pounds. Gain 20 pounds. Join a gym. Find a boyfriend. Dump my girlfriend. Get married. Get pregnant. Find a new job.

Forget that resolution crap. Here is what we should all do: Be.

Be happy -- laugh often, but primarily at yourself, and seldom at others.
Be honest -- eventually, people will figure out that you're not as smart, as good looking, as brave, and as confident as you think you are. You'd be surprised how well people will treat you and how well you'll sleep at night if you'll just be yourself.
Be healthy -- Get your fat butt off the couch. Give up one glass of soda or fruit-flavored beverage in exchange for a glass of water. Kool-Aid doesn't count, nor do those fruit-flavored waters that are sweetened.
Be generous -- I guarantee you have at least one thing you don't need, be it a dollar or a perfectly sound item of clothing, or a spare can of corn.
Be responsible -- Stop having unsafe sex that may result in another child you want the government to pay for, or in a disease you won't recover from. Stop blaming your problems on others and act like an adult. Stop feeling unjustly entitled; life is tough. Suck it up.
Be frugal -- do you or your children really need a pair of sneakers that costs as much as one-third of your salary? Credit cards aren't free money. Think before you buy, and don't buy from a business that doesn't respect you for your ethnicity, your gender, or sexual orientation.
Be a good friend -- good friends have good friends. Bad friends are an endless vacuum, sucking the life out of their good friends.
Be a better lover -- no, I don't mean in the bedroom. Be the kind of lover you want to attract. Be faithful if you want someone to be faithful. Be present, attentive, if you want someone to be present with and attentive to you.
Be assertive, not aggressive -- We have plenty of loudmouths and bullies. Stand up for yourself, but without stomping on the feelings or rights of others.
Be good to yourself -- None of us is perfect, no matter how badly we want to be. Take it easy on yourself.

So you did some things in 2004 you weren't proud of, or you didn't do what you wanted. Forget it. Just be.

Have a wonderful year.