Archive for January, 2010

How good is good?

Posted in Relationships with tags , , , , , , , on January 31, 2010 by klysha

I hate to be a topic biter, but they touched on a good one yesterday on another blog that I just recently started reading, A Belle In Brooklyn……. soooo chomp chomp. The topic was defining good. It stemmed from the question “Is a good black man still hard to find” then progressed into “how do you define a good black man” or a good man or heck a good person period. They used the examples of Tiger Woods and Matthew Knowles, both of whom are now known to have committed multiple indiscretions in their marriages, and tried to parse out whether their being bad husbands made them bad men.  While a few pointed out that it’s possible for a good person to make big mistakes and learn from them and become better, most commenters quickly decided that Knowles and Woods were not good men because of their actions.  One commenter really got people thinking, however,  when they replaced Tiger and Matthew with Martin Luther King.  Things get a little tougher to parse out when you throw another alleged adulterer, who also happens to be one  of the greatest black leaders in American history, into the mix. The topic really got me to thinking about exactly what good is to me,  how I should identify it in another person, and how I should apply it to myself.  Good seems like such a simple word but it’s surprisingly difficult to define especially when you try to apply the word  good to people.  Now that I think about it good is hard to define when you apply it to a slice of pizza too, as was evidenced by a conversation I had on that subject yesterday. I’m a fan of NY style while a friend of mine is a fan of deep dish and let’s not even go there with toppings and crust. Anyway back on topic…..

I could sit here and rattle off a list of positive, and sometimes equally difficult to define, traits that I think a good person should have (honesty, integrity, strength of character…blah, blah, blah…) but I’d probably accomplish little more than putting you to sleep before you got to the end of the list.  And after all that defining what happends if a person who possesses all of those characteristics 98.7% of the time slips up? Do they have to turn in their Good as Gold Club membership card? What if they slip up twice? Or what if they slip up in a REALLY big way? The only way I can think of, considering my lack of supernatural omnipotence, to determine whether a person is good is through observing their actions.  But does a bad action make an otherwise good person a bad person? And if one bad action doesn’t do it then how many does it take before a person goes from being good to being Earl Simmons ?

Isn’t it also true that there’s no such thing as a perfect and infallible person? If a bad action (or two or eleven) erases one’s classification as good then how could good people even exist? And how can other flawed people even judge whether another person is good? Trying to sort all of this out started to make my head throb just a little on the left side so I decided to stop thinking so hard. Then I remembered that I hadn’t had anything to drink and that dehydration causes headaches so I grabbed a bottled water and put my thinking cap back on. But I still can’t quite get this one sorted out.

I try really hard to be a good person. Actually let me stop lying cuz good people shouldn’t lie. I don’t try all that hard at it, but I hope that the vast majority of the the actions that I take naturally are such that I can maintain my status as a  card carrying member of the overall decent human being club.  And while what other people think of me is truly none of my business, I like to think that most people who have ever been a witness to my aura would agree with the assessment that I’m a good person.  But does my self assessment that I’m overall a good person qualify me to determine another person’s goodness.  And should a good person be trying to judge other people anyway?

After all this thinking I’m still as befuddled as I was when I started this post.  The best thing I can come up with is a touch of inane common sense advice, so file my next few sentences under things Captain Obvious would say.  Anyhoo

Solving all your dilemmas one trite remark at a time

 the best I have is try to be the best person you can be despite the fact that perfection is unatainable. And since we’ve established that perfection is unattainable maybe we should all have a little empathy for other people when they fall a little short of our expectations of perfection. 

Regarding the question that started the whole discussion on the blog I bit this topic from, I think that bit of captain obvious advice I gave can be applied in that search for a “good black man”.  I’m not saying compromise your standards…I kinda touched on that in a previous post….but it might be a good idea to evaluate whether you’re expecting a level of perfection that is unattainanable in that “good black man”. With all that being said, I kinda hate when other people give me whack advice like I just gave because my problem is usually exactly the opposite of setting my expectations too high. But it’s not always about me…not even on my own blog….

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More than just politically incorrect

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by klysha

I was going to post about something totally different today but I just had to say something about the statements made by South Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, regarding giving

"underpriviledged kids, stray racoons....same thing"

out free lunches to underpriviledged children.

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

– Andre Bauer, lieutenant governor of South Carolina
and candidate for S.C. governor

So is he saying that if you feed poor children they will continue to breed? Or is he saying that if you starve poor children they’ll learn to not be poor? I’m confused. 

You just can’t make that kind of brilliance up. Don’t believe a Lt. Governor actually said that, here’s the actual audio so you don’t think I’m just taking a random statement out of context. It’s even better when it’s placed in context.

Now lets just take the political  incorectness of comparing underpriviledged children to stray animal out of the equation. I’m not a fan of masking the truth in political correctness either. (Although I am a fan of tact and there’s clearly none of that present in this statement either but for the sake of argument we’ll ignore that too)

He goes on to point out that if you look at the districts where they give out the most free lunches you’ll see the lowest achievement scores.  So based on his logic it’s clear that giving out free lunch is the problem. 

Mmm kay… let us just reflect for a moment here. Yes it may be true that the districts that give out the most free lunches also have the lowest achievement scores, but it’s also true that regions that spend more on snow removal tend to have more snow storms.  So  of course if you stop spending on snow removal it would help curb the snow storms right???? Or here’s another one, it’s probably also true that in regions where they give out the most free lunches they have the fewest water polo and lacrosse injuries.  So serving free lunch might also be correlated to water polo safety. Bauer should probably get a staff member on top of that right away.

Okay so there’s a good chance that critical thinking was not among the pearls bestowed upon Bauer by his dear grandmom.  

The plan that Bauer is suggesting is to require parents who’s children receive free lunch to attend parent teacher conferences. I actually admire the intent because I think all parents should be involved in their childrens education.  However this ignores the complex reasons that some of these kids are underpriviledged, and unfairly punishes the innocent victims some of whom are are already suffering enough.  What if the parents won’t come to the conferences, do the kids have to go hungry? How will hunger pains help improve their achievement scores?

Now I don’t live in South Carolina but I’ve lived in a place with a lot of poor people before. I remember being one of the few kids in my class who didn’t get free or reduced lunch when I was at my first elementary school. And even when I was in elementary school I had the common sense to know that it wasn’t the kids fault that they qualified for free lunch.  (Just like it might not be Bauer’s fault that the most valuable piece of wisdom he got from his grandmom is don’t feed stray animals) And while both of my parents worked hard,  for all I know we could have been a pink slip away from free lunch at any given moment ourselves.  At some point while I was still I child I learned that it’s important to have empathy, another thing Bauer’s grandmom must have forgotten to pass on to him.

I guess the points I’m trying to make here are:

1) Giving away free stuff doesn’t create poverty.  Poverty was here before free lunch programs were created.

2) Selfishness and a lack of empathy can sometimes make you look stupid.

3) Republicans make me itch.

Want to learn more about South Carolina’s hardest working politician (I got that from his website) go here. This is the guy who wants to replace their former governor Mark Sanford,  you know the one who kept us all entertained with the steamy details of his love affair with an Argentinian woman. It must be something to live in South Carolina.

Maybe we do need another love song

Posted in Music, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2010 by klysha

There’s been an inordinate amount of talk lately (including on this very blog) about the dismal marriage rates and future marriage outlook for black women as well as the related breakdown of the black family.  A number of theories have been proposed about why this is occurring that I won’t bother to rehash here. But one simple theory seems to have been overlooked. While I was in the shower with old school songs playing in the background, in the time it took me to shower, wash my hair, rinse and repeat,  I devised a theory that there may just be a direct correlation between the rate of marriage in the black community and the number of songs about love at the top of the R&B charts.  This might sound a little flaky, but hear me out. 

I believe that it’s been established that music can have a profound impact on the psyches of those who listen to it. Thus all the hubbub over the years about the impact that violence and objectification of women may be having on children and teenagers.  But all the focus on what is being pumped into teens heads has diverted attention away from what isn’t being drilled into their heads. 

I did a highly unscientific analysis of the songs that topped the charts over the decades. If I had the energy I’d collect a statistically valid data set and develop some more accurate illustrative graphs and charts. But in lieu of that kind of time and dedication I’ve developed the rough sketch of what I think the numbers would pan out like below.

 

 

 

The decline in the number of love songs made may only be one of many contributing factors into the undeniable decline in marriage in the black community, (other possible contributing factors include but are not limited to slavery, global warming, trans fats, reality television, high fructose corn syrup, and Karinne Steffans), but I think this is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored. Of course this data (and I’m using the word data kinda loosely here) begs the question as to whether the music is a cause of or an effect of the breakdown in the quality and quantity of committed relationships. Afterall it’s hard to write a song about deep romantic love if you’ve never seen or experienced it. Or perhaps society’s appetite for songs touting the virtues of love has declined thus the artists are no longer compelled to make the songs. Clearly I haven’t put that much thought into my theory yet.  But perhaps someone with more time and better access to the Billboard top 100 lists through the years should do a more accurate analysis to see if there may be something we’re missing here.

It would take up too much space to post the lyrics of a sampling of songs from the 1960s through 2010 but it would be obvious if I did that the lyrics of the songs from the 60s to today would show a steady decline in references to romantic love, commitment, or how to show love to another person and a steady increase in references to randomly hooking up, getting it in, and creeping.

One could infer that if you grew up in the sixties, by the time you were in your twenties you had been fed a healthy dose of  messages about the virtues of romantic love and having a one and only. So much so, that you were practically programmed to seek this out for yourself as soon as possible.  Whereas if you grew up in the 80s or nineties it’s likely that your idea of an adequate courtship is a meal at the Waffle House after the club.  

Clearly my informal study only scratches the surface. To get more accurate information I’d have to look at not only chart topping songs, but all songs in heavy rotation. And I’d have to listen to the lyrics and the message and devise some type of criteria for what constitutes a message about romantic love. That’s way to much work for a blog post. However, if some entity is willing to pay me to do the research and compose an in-depth analysis I’m more than willing to oblige. Ahem….Yeah so the homework from todays post is for everyone to think back about how many songs they remember from their respective formative years about being in love….This does NOT  include  songs about making love, knocking boots or any derivative thereof. I don’t think there’s any shortage of that happening today.

More on whack dating advice for black women

Posted in Relationships with tags , , , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by klysha

Guess who’s bizzack for the Twenty Tizzle…er Tenizzle…um…yeah let’s put incorporating extrazneous Z’s  in words ala Snoop Dogg on the list of things we should leave in the last decade.

Anyway back in 2009 I wrote a post about my feelings on all the talk that’s been going around lately (and by lately I mean for the past 3 or so decades) about the supposed marriagable black man shortage and the dismal outlook for black women who wish to marry a black man. Unfortunately this looks like an issue (whether real or imagined) that will carry over into this new decade as well.

In my post I made a promise to write a follow-up where I touched on the advice that people give us (black women) regarding this matter. (I actually wrote a post a little while back about rethinking the dating advice we’ve been given but today I’m touching on some different stuff). The specific advice I said I was gonna touch on were the #1 and #2 offenders in whack advice we single black women are constantly given. #1 being lower your standards/stop being so picky and #2 being date outside your race. This advice isn’t particularly whack just for whacknesses sake per se, but if this is the best you have to offer it’s pretty whack.

Let’s start with offender #1

Try lowering your standards/don’t be so picky

Okay so precisely which standard are they suggesting that we lower?

Income, height, looks, maturity, spirituality, education, presence of chemistry, presence of teeth, general hygiene?

*disclaimer - I'm sure this guy would make a great husband for someone

I suppose the characteristics that are important in a mate vary from person to person. I can only speak for myself, and I don’t have a list of specific predefined bars that a guy has to meet in order for me to date him, I just want to feel compatible with him and be attracted to him. I’d also like him to have the personality traits that are conducive to a healthy happy relationship/partnership but that should go without saying. I look for people who I can relate to and who are most likely able to relate to me. For example, because I value education I tend not to date guys who didn’t value getting an education.  If I date a guy who’s vocabulary doesn’t go past 8th grade level we’re probably gonna have fights every time I use a word with three syllables or more because  he’s gonna say I’m “getting smart” with him again. I don’t need that kind of drama. 

No one can tell another person who they’ll be happy being with.  None of the people advising bougie Bonita to give broke-a$$ Benny a chance is gonna be there to help when they get into a fight because Bonita wants to go to the South of France for vacation and Benny is only willing venture as far as his cousin-nems crib in Jersey where they can drive over to Atlantic city for a day on the nickle slots.  

 It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s really important to you and no one else can decide that for you. I could go on about this advice….but I just got bored with that topic…so

on to #2:

Date Outside Your Race

 

I just love this little tidbit of advice. They make it sound like it’s just as easy as pie for a black woman to find a like minded white (or other man) who is cool with bringing a woman with a pressing comb home to mama. I for one haven’t been turning down an onslaught of advances from white or other non-black men. (Well okay there were a few, but most of them were guys I wouldn’t date regardless of race. i.e. the older drunk white dude at the black club because he can’t get enough of the sisters, and the Wegro dude who I kept running into wearing the FUBU sweatsuits who would holler at me everytime he saw me with no recollection that he had tried to holler several times before).

For one thing,  in order to date non-black guys I have to place myself among them in a setting that would encourage personal information exchange. Due to my taste in entertainment I don’t often find myself in these types of settings. On the rare occasion that I do find myself in a bar or other local spot frequented by people of other races I’m usually very close to invisible to most of the guys there. Granted I have had some white guys make small talk with me at the bar on occasion but that rarely (by rarely I mean never) goes beyond small talk. I’ve never had one of these guys actually request my number or offer theirs. But this is okay because I’ve never encountered one of these guys who I felt the kind of vibe with that would make we want future interaction either.

Which brings me back to my first point. I like to date guys I feel compatible with. If I found a guy of another race who I truly felt compatible with I’d have no problem dating him.

Okay I’m kinda lying about having NO problem dating them. Dating them generally comes with a bevy of problems that I just wouldn’t have if I dated someone black (and lord knows dating has enough problems on its own), but if the feelings were strong enough I would be willing to overlook those problems.  What problems you might ask?

Well here are a few problems that I have heard quoted by other black sistas and a few of my own with dating a white  guy (i’m focusing on white guys since dealing with all of  the others would be a very long and complex post that I would have very little basis for since I’m not nearly as familiar with all the different “other’s” culture)

1. You always have the question in the back of your mind “Is he dating me because he has some kind of jungle booty fantasy or is he really interested in me as a person?” (Okay I’ll admit that this is a somewhat irrational fear for me since there isn’t much that’s jungle about my booty, But I like to dream that I’m just a few turkey sandwiches away from growing a coveted jungle booty)

2. Dancing…granted a lot of black guys can’t muster up more than a two-step but at least most black guys can two step on beat…..most white guys not so much

3. Thin lips

4. Having to explain cultural references. Just by living in America we all get a fair amount of exposure to white culture.  But black culture is mostly portrayed through stereotypical images and from the perspective of the token black person in film and television. The explaining of cultural references could still go both ways, of course, because even though I live in America and observe peculiar white behavior on a regular basis, I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the desire to participate in extreme sports or to climb mountains in the snow.  

 5. Mushy hands (seriously why are so many white guys hands so mushy???)

6.  Maybe it’s just me but I have a slight fear that by dating a white guy Id be somehow betraying my great great great great grandmother who was likely raped by a white slavemaster at some point resulting in my lightish skin color. Then again my lightish skin color could be due to the rest of  my blacaucinativeamerican heritage. Who knows but the fear would still be in my mind.

7. pink p*nises

These are just a few of the potential issues we could face as a couple, but the fact still remains that just getting to this coupledom with a white guy is probably even more complicated than actually getting to coupledom period for a black woman (heck any woman) in DC.

I could add a third bit of whack advice to this list. It was a tidbit dropped by America’s favorite (twice divorced) relationship “expert” Steve Harvey. He suggested that black women date older men.  So let me get this straight……because black men are determined not to abandon the sowing of their wild oats until they are officially the old cat in the club, black women have to resort to dating your grey haired cat daddy friends to have a chance at reproduction within the bounds of marriage before our eggs dry up.  No thank you very much.  Some women might like dating older men, but I for one prefer dating guys within a few years of my own age. Up to a ten year age gap  I might consider (although 5-10 years older is REALLY pushing it for me) but anything more than that and I’m brushing up on dating my dad’s peers and that’s just gross.  I could add that bit of advice to my list but somehow adding it feels like validating advice from Steve Harvey and the progressive woman inside of me just can’t do that in good conscious.

What all of these bits of advice imply for black women is that marrying one of your peers is a long shot at best.  They’re trying to tell us that our only hope if we actually want to get married is dating someone in a different socioeconomic bracket, age bracket, or race.  I for one have much much love for black men and refuse to give up on them quite that easily. I only want one (and I want the one that finds me to think I’m as awesome and I hope to think he is) and I’m not in much of a rush (I have an oat or two left to sow too).  So while I’m open to expanding my horizons, I refuse to do it out of the sense of panic that the media is creating for some of us.