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Constructive Criticism

starve-your-ego

Ego—depending on the man and how he manages it–instead of allowing  it to manage him, it could serve to help or hurt him. It is my belief that it is perhaps the hardest thing for a man to allow  himself to be vulnerable enough to allow a woman a glimpse into his mind…never mind his heart. It’s hard for the same reason every other thing we fear is hard to do or overcome-the possibility ultimately of failure.

Yet, what is more weak than letting fear conquer you and claim those things that could actually make you a better and mentally stronger person, a better man?  Furthermore, what about the possibility of absolute greatness in love?  A discerning man of a good woman….is truly a brilliant man; he is able to let down his guard as he recognizes that she is his defense and anytime his barriers are down, she is  a massive shield around him, as she, too,  is a woman of discernment and more importantly substance.

Black men, in general, do not seem to do well with accepting constructive criticism, especially from women. This is true for some women as well (I’ll do a separate post on this).

Usually, it is asked: How did you word it? Were you too harsh, too direct, demeaning? uhhh…perception. While it is true that how you  say things can sometimes certainly influence how someone perceives what you say and why you said something, there are many people, no matter how you say it and with the best of intention you present it, who will still have a bruised ego.

Some will say, if you had just said it this way or that way, it would have been received better, but the truth of the  matter often times is it doesn’t matter how you say it, it’s that you said anything at all contrary to them, what they think, or believe.

How, then, are you supposed to have an actual in depth conversation with a man who’d in all honesty rather you keep your ideas and opinions very superficial? How are you  supposed to help each other with personal growth..that is growing both emotionally, mentally, and intellectually, which is such a foundational strength when elevated on an interpersonal level??…when if ever you offer some constructive criticism, perhaps a different perspective– they accuse you of of not being supportive (which is actually stark opposite of what you’re trying to do)  or not understanding.

This is in spite of you first recognizing that you’ve heard them, understand their feelings, thoughts, and ideas towards whatever the topic may be. That’s right— you can not grow with a person like this– and this person is unlikely to grow in numerous ways any time soon; you can not be deep with a person like this and you can not actually get to know a person like this at core-their lack of vulnerability and open communication will  simply not allow you to. The ego is never the composition of the core or character; it, however, simply is a composition lacking in character but somehow still at the core.

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3:07 PM

53sonnenuntergang-m181It’s amusing. The very same people who vigorously shake their heads YES, obviously in agreement concerning white’s (white people’s) “blind eye” to racism, has that same sort of “blind eye” concerning colorism in the US along with other things. The response seems to come to an abrupt stop or somewhere around “No, let’s focus on other people” or “Black folks don‘t have issues with color”. In realizing myself, I quickly realized others around me. For the past, I’d say 8 months, I’ve seen an increasing number of “hits” for “white power”, though I can’t say I’m surprised with a black man as president and all. What comes to mind besides the obvious burning crosses and Ku Klux Klan, is black pride. Yeah, the real black pride. I don’t mean the artificial black pride that comes with trying to pretend everything black is great and that black people have no issues, because that’s just foolishness.

Some things are just too obvious to address, and when you know that, you know these people are lodged somewhere between trying to defend something they know little to nothing about or blind patriots of blackness kind of like blind patriots of America. Black pride as little to do with pretending everything is great with black people, and more to do with acknowledging the good with the bad, that’s black pride because if you don’t acknowledge it, you are just ignoring it which shows a lack of concern or an inability to address the issue at hand; it’s like knowing you are sick and not going to the doctor to figure out the problem—the problem will likely persist. It’s not going to go away simply because you say it has gone away.

 

I remember growing up in MS. My family never really had much but I never felt it. My parents made sure I never felt it. I had a wonderful childhood, a sheltered little black girl, who in at least my sister’s eyes, was spoiled and full of potential. I never felt wronged by the word black, in fact I felt it was something that was more or less a part of me simply because it was just as I was and not because it shouldn’t be.

My immediate family is a range of shades of brown. My father, brother, and I of a darker hue and my mother and sister of a lighter hue. Though this was the reality, in my family, the range in skin color was not discussed but our common blackness was, and it was almost always a pleasant conversation or at least one full of humor.

I can recall looking in the mirror as a young girl and admiring who I was physically and mentally. Again, I had a pretty good childhood, family always around, and again…a pretty sheltered childhood as well. Then into society and away from my family’s protective words, hugs, and kisses, things changed. An unsuspecting child that thought that every other black person more or less had the same ideas about blackness as myself. Wrong. WRONG.

Wow, did I quickly get the low down and dirty on the many divisions that exist between black people by personal experience and through others’ experiences from skin color and class to black Americans and Africans who came to America—not useful things, not productive things, but hurtful things. I don’t want to go into too much detail then this entry would be entirely too long, but Africa, which is now divided up into countries is divided because some colonialism, took place at some point, with that being said color would by virtue play some part to that exposure, just by virtue [skin bleaching, perms, etc]. In America the same sort of thing but much worse, and the same can be said for the Caribbean and for similar reasons. It use to really bother me a lot all, today in my mind, it’s just another ill of this world.

Black pride to me is the same as it was 17 years ago, black people, regardless of where they are from, who share a common blackness, though different cultures because the one thing we can not change regardless of how rich, poor, smart, the language we speak or the language we don’t speak, African, or African American–black is the color of your skin, and that’s not a bad thing–not at all. It makes me wonder when I hear black people say “She/he thinks he/she is too good, or he/she says they are mixed with Indian, well, he/she is just plain ole black like everyone else”—wtf is plain ole black or plain ole anything dealing with blackness? Is black a step down from everything else? I’m going to need people to think first, speak later. Now, I have a letter to write.

Aftermath|of CNN’s Black| in America

Some are saying OK…we get the problems….where are the solutions?

What can WE do?

Well, I say to you…..put the same or more momentum in this as you did for Obama and that is your solution. This is by no means an overnight success but change is possible; it takes dedication and hard work from people who are passionate about their people and the future of black America. It’s the first step of many steps.

Resources:

The following link is a list of local and national organizations and programs designed to address many of the issues raised in “CNN Presents: Black in America” and “CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream.” Some of the people or guests featured in the programs are involved in some of these organizations

CNN does not endorse any organization, and information is provided only as a resource and inspiration to help people explore the many local and national organizations involved in these areas.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/07/18/bia.resources/index.html

I imagine a lot of people probably do not know about these programs. The links are extremely helpful.

 

BET:

  1. Write letters to the network and president demanding change in videos and programs shown on BET that promote negative stereotypes and images of black people that our children often  use as a reflection of themselves, and demand more educational programs.
  2. Boycott the program (children and adults alike) so that BET will loose money and their ratings will drop. I assure you; this will ring loud and clear.
  3. Here are three petitions that are currently going around; bring awareness and send these things  to those you know and those you don’t know to the dangers of such programs:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/change-bet.html

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/betterBET/

http://www.petitionnow.com/BETVIDEOS/petition.html

 

In Addition:

  • Promote education at home:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2147355_promote-early-reading-home.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art

 

  • Start some educational and inspirational after school programs in black schools and churches:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2335689_start-after-school-care-program.html?ref=fuel&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=ssp&utm_campaign=yssp_art

 

  • Start free parenting class in your community –even if it is only one or two days out of the week.

http://www.fathersworld.com/fulltimedad/issue2/bf.html

http://www.blackparents.org/

 http://www.babycenter.com/0_fathering-classes-could-you-use-one_8249.bc

 

  • Start free abstinence classes, not just Safe sex, in your local black churches and black schools, especially HBCUs:

http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/247/27/

 

  • Send copies of the CNN’s Black in America special to your church and school.  (This is something I am very intent on doing)

Black|in America|Part I: A Positive Review

From what I saw on the program, they did go over some  positive aspects of Black America. I wouldn’t say the entire show was aimed towards this, but all the same there were very positive aspects. Can we ignore the bad in search of something good? Were we expecting an entire show dedicated to the positive aspects of black America when half of black America is, indeed struggling?

Since most have already pointed out the negatives of the program, I’ll point out the positives that I saw:

The black family with both parents and 5 children, all of which they successfully sent to college, except one because she/he was not of age yet and the parents have their own family business.

They covered a child who successfully made it out the “hood” and went to Julliard for dance and we all know Eric Dyson’s success story.

I remember them talking about the rapid increase of black business (up 45%, I believe) in the last decade which often the media ignores.

I remember them covering a large family who annually held family reunions, strongly stuck together and helped each other, and knew their family history tenfold.

They talked about the large number of black sisters who hold a degree. They talked about the many intelligent, financially well off sisters who are doing  very well for themselves.

They covered the 2 year experimental program in NY for less fortunate children which actually pays children to go to school and is designed to help motivate young black children in learning and give them a more promising future that would probably otherwise be bleak. So far , it has proven to be a successful motivation tool for learning.

I’d give the program a chance to play itself out before I denounce it. I’ll be tuning in tonight @ 8pm central time for the Black Men segment.

Besides this, I was watching it with some family members (cousins, aunts)—some of whom fall into the category of single parent mothers and they were very pleased to have an open dialogue about these issues and it opened their minds to many other things mentioned on the program. I think overall, it was more helpful than harmful.

Following|in Her Footsteps|and in His Shadow

Approximately 70% (66% to be more precise) of single black women are raising children. A disheartening 50% of these single black mothers live in poverty, and if one lives in poverty it is very likely that they will stay in poverty. This is increasingly becoming more of the rule than it is the exception. Soledad O’Brien’s Black in America  Part 1  on CNN only confirmed what I have always known and that is that the children of single parent households generally  follow in their parents’ footsteps, or shadows  when it comes to the absent father.

Black children who grow up in single parent households are more likely to:

  • Go to jail (mostly males): It’s no secret that many young, black men are incarcerated.
  • Get pregnant at an early age/Become “Baby Mommas”: With no father figure around, a lot of them go looking for a father figure and the love of a father that they never really had. Despite some women’s best efforts for their daughter not to make the same mistake she made, this seems to be the trend, especially for young girls whose mother had them at an early age.
  • Become “Baby Daddies”:  Considering this is, more or less, what his father did to his mother, this is the example his father set for his son by default.
  • Drop out of school: Nearly 50% of black students drop out of school and never graduate.
  • Join a gang (mostly males): 80% of black males who join gangs are those who have no father figure in the household. A lot of them look up to “OGs” or Original Gangsters as father figures. The OG is merely his name’s sake, and only cares about increasing his money through drugs and elimination of his competition through murder—-enter the young black troubled mind looking for a fatherly figure.
  • Get caught up in drugs: A lot of the black men in jail are there because of drug-related crimes. Murder, rape, and theft are also reasons.

The other side of this is some children know the mistakes their parents made and want to avoid them at all cost so that they can have a better life and future for themselves and family, however, statistics show that these are a small minority.

I am reminded of my two small cousins, one is 1 ½ and the other is 2 ½ —both are girls. Of course, I only want the best for both of them but I fear for them that they may very well following their mother’s footsteps or linger in their father’s shadow. God knows I pray that they are a part of that small minority and that the minority one day becomes the majority.

Now…why were/are some people mad at Barack and Cosby again?

Paying|Children|to Attend|School

1 student every 26 seconds drops out of school in America. Nationally, only 53.4% black Americans get a high school diploma. What happen to the other half? Numerous factors, of course, weigh in on this statistic.

As Soledad O’Brien’s part 1 report in the CNN special of Black in America reveals, some people are taking steps to change this. In New York, there is a program in process that actually pays children to go to school.

The program last 2 years and is obviously experimental; the children who participate in the program start young (10yrs old), and they get paid for scoring perfectly on test given.

As crazy as this may sound to some, this isn’t anything new. In the mid 1990s, Mexico implemented a similar plan except it paid poor parents to keep their children in school and to take them for regular health check-ups.

The Million”, another experimental program implemented, is a cell phone that disables text messaging, certain internet features, and other distracting features of cell phones while children are in the class. These particular phones allow children to learn and take test via their cell phone incorporating traditional teaching as well. When outside of the classroom, the cell phones function normally.

Most of the children in these programs are children from poor backgrounds and/or broken homes, which makes them all the more likely not to graduate from high school among other things.

Some people may look at this as a “bribe” of some sort, and basically, it is. It serves  more as motivation for the children than anything else.

People above the poverty line may take motivation from those around them, family, friends, etc. On the other hand, 33% of all black children live below the poverty line and these children typically do not have this kind of motivation in their lives. Most of their families/friends are poor like I mentioned earlier, so they don’t have the degree(s)/careers and such for a child to “look up to” so to speak. Often the things that they do have to “look up to” is very bleak.

For people like you or me who may look at things from a long-term point of view, we may think motivation lies in getting the diploma, degrees, and then great careers, supposedly, that are to follow. We are motivated in knowing we will eventually get to that point with the right steps taken.

However, these children mostly look at the “now” because most of their circumstances are based on the now and not the “later”.

For example, if there is no food in the refrigerator and their mother/father doesn’t have the money to buy food today for them to eat because they don’t get paid until 3 days after today, and the parent is barely living and providing pay check to pay check—- the child is still hungry and waiting for those three days will not cure his/her hunger.

So far, the program has been successful but it is simply too soon to tell if the true success of graduating these children from high school, furthering that into college, and giving an overall promising future will actually be achieved.

The “N”-Word|In 2008

To the bewildered:
To begin, let me first say that I disagree with the word myself. However,  you probably don’t  realize that the word’s meaning, for black people who do use it, is completely different from the meaning someone white may think. Most whites look at it as a disrespectful term because of the historical aspect of it, and for that reason I and other blacks think so too. The historical aspect is to degrade and belittle black people.To black people who use the word, it means, almost as if to say, “You’re one of us” but without the negative connotations that are tied to it historically. 

When Whoopie Goldberg, from The View, made the comment about “owning” the word, this is how black people feel who use the word. They feel because they have been degraded with the word down through the years, they would take it for themselves, in turn, and use it to their own advantage, as oppose to their disadvantage. I believe this came from the hurt, shame, and pain of it all.

With that being said, what reason would a white person have to say it and what would their meaning be for those who think a double standard exist? Most certainly, it would not be for the same reason I just stated above—and that is what makes it offensive coming from them. To make this simpler…think of it as reverse psychology because it is very similar. I just wanted to say that for clarification as to the differences in how some blacks view the word and how whites view it.

To my fellow black readers, and still the confused- As for my personal take on this:

My rejection of this word has absolutely nothing to do with me wanting not to sound “black” and has everything to do with respect for my ancestors, people, and myself. Unfortunately, there are so many African Americans (old and young) who use this word for each other, and either way one looks at it, it’s still negative even when said by us—truth be told, a lot of us don’t see it this way. I am not sure if this is out of habit or upbringing but it’s disgraceful all together.

When my great grandmother and granddaddy were addressed as, subjected to, whipped and killed in the names of “coon” “colored” “nigger” day in and day out— there’s absolutely nothing to take from that word, and just because one takes off the “er” and gives it an “a” at then end, makes no difference. It’s like calling a stone a rock—it’s more or less the same thing…..coming from an insider.

Check out: http://www.abolishthenword.com/

I am compelled to say, however, that most people were shocked at hearing Whoopi’s comments concerning black and whites living in different worlds. I’m sorry to break this to anyone living in “Dream Land“, but she is right.

 We have yet to reach equality for all; discrimination is still at large.

The double standard that Elizabeth talked about on The View is more in the “democracy” of America than anywhere else. There are double standards in education, there are double standards in housing opportunities for blacks, double standards exist in the media, there are double standards even with buying cars in America—- compare that to the black and white world. Want proof?

http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/Highlights/2007/HFeb07.htm

http://faculty.winthrop.edu/stonebrakerr/book/automobiles.htm