Sunday, October 10, 2010

Man Up Little Boy

**Christopher takes his 3 year old son CJ to the park.  He watches his little boy run around, slide down the slide, and play with all the other kids. Suddenly, CJ runs up to his father in tears.
His father asks, "What's wrong?"
CJ replies, "I fell down and hurt my knee."
"Suck it up.  Be a man and stop crying boy," is his father's response. "There's nothing wrong with you."**

**Crystal picks her 5 year old son Damon up from school.  He looks upset, so his mother asks what's wrong.
"Malik was messing with me," Damon says with tears in his eyes.  "He pushed me on the playground."
Crystal replies, "Boy stop crying, next time push his ass back.  Don't be a punk."**

Scenes like this play out in the Black community every day. Little boys are being taught by their parents to bottle up their feelings and defend themselves with aggression.  I'm sure you probably know where I'm going with this, but I'm still going to go there because we still haven't got the message.

Recently we have lost a lot of young black BOYS to violence. Boys who are barely old enough to serve in the military are losing their lives at the hands of boys barely old enough to drive a car.  It's so tragic.  It takes so much out of a community to lose a CHILD.  We weep, we cry out, we wonder why.  Everyone is looking for an answer.  How do we stop this?  How can we get to these young men?  What is the root of the problem?

There are many reasons behind the actions of these boys.  The media, peers, ignorance, but I think that the illustrations above are the root.  Like many issues of today’s youth, it stems from the home.  What they are taught (or not taught) at an early age, leads to their behavior in adolescence. We as parents, mentors, and elders need to check what we say to these young men from day one. And it really is simple.

We need to teach young black men how to deal with their feelings.  These boys are out here shooting each other because they were always told to suck it up and be a man.  We need to let these kids be kids.  A 3 year old boy is supposed to cry when he gets upset.  Don't spoil or coddle them, but don't act like something is wrong with shedding a tear.

From day one we tell little black boys to be men, stop all that crying and do something about it.  Don't come crying to your parents every time you get hurt.  How ridiculous is it to expect a toddler to act like a man?  If a child gets hurt, they cry.  If a child is upset, they cry.  There is NOTHING wrong with that.  They do not have the knowledge to fully express themselves or the power to control their surroundings.  They get frustrated and they cry.  Hell, at 25 years old, I cry when I’m frustrated.  It's natural, so we need to stop treating these little boys like its wrong.

The little boys who were forced to shut up, hit back, and deal with everything on their own when they were little, are doing just that in their teens.  They get into arguments over simple things and it ends with a dead body.  They were never taught to talk about what the problem is.  They were never taught how to problem solve.  They were never taught that it is ok to be upset, so they solve their problems in the quickest, simplest way. *BANG*

The biggest fear of a young black man is to be seen as a punk.  If he is disrespected and he walks away, he's a pussy.  If someone talks crazy to you, you have to get in his face.  If someone bumps into you, you have to bump back.  If you don't, you're weak.  And Lord knows they were never taught the art of debate.  Why argue?  Hear one thing you don't like and resort straight to violence.  All this leads to is what we see on the news every day.

So what do we do?  When our 3 year old climbs into our lap in tears, kiss his forehead, ask what’s wrong, listen, and offer a solution.  If he’s hurt, kiss the wound and say, “Don’t worry, it’ll feel better soon.”  If someone is messing with him, tell him what to SAY.  Let him know that people are going to be mean, but he doesn’t need to worry about that because he is better than that.  If you want him to act like a man, teach him how to act like man because telling him to man up will make him act like a nigga.

We all need to know that there is nothing wrong with walking away from an ignorant situation.  If someone is trying to start with you, if your friends are about to do something stupid….it is ok to leave.  You have something to work for.  You are too good to end up dead or in jail or having to watch your back every day.  All you have to do is say your peace and walk away.  There’s nothing dishonorable about that.

More than anything, these boys need to learn how to TALK things out, how to THINK things through, and how not to ACT out of anger and frustration.  And if we keep treating these babies like they have to act like men, we are going to keep failing.  The body count will increase and ignorance will continue to spread like an STD. 

I refuse to let my son follow this trend.  People already criticize the way I raise him, but I know one thing is for sure, he'll never end up with a gun in his hand trying to solve a problem.  He will have the intelligence to find a better solution and the self-worth to know he is so much greater than any of the ignorance around him.  While most people are teaching their 3 year olds to be "men," I am teaching my son how to express himself through creativity, reading and expanding his vocabulary.  I am harvesting his talents so that he stays involved in activities and out of trouble.  Call me crazy, but I love that fact that my child is a child and will be until he's an adult.

We should all want that for our babies.  Keep that in mind and pray for a better future.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Self Image

I never thought I was pretty. Growing up I was the ugly, weird, tall, skinny, four-eyed girl. And to top it all off, I was smart. I always felt out cast and boy was I ever picked on. I was never dark enough for the black folks. I was never light enough for the white folks. I was just awkward.

My mother didn't help much. She over looked a lot. My accomplishments, my beauty, my passion. All she saw were my flaws. "Your stomach looks terrible in that." "Are you really wearing that?" "Why would you wanna go do that?" Nothing positive.

Eventually, I grew into my ears, I got breast, thighs, hips. I wasn't so awkward anymore. I finally got attention from guys. I soaked it all up. Abused it at one point. I was just glad that I was wanted for once.

Now, I don't care. Some people like the way I look. Some people don't. Some people think I'm too big. Some people think my teeth aren't white enough. That my nose is too big. That I need to wax more often. I just don't care.

When I wake up and look in the mirror, I see my kids. I see my features that have been passed down to my angels. My dimples, my lips, my eyes, my complexion, my smile, my hair(when it was natural). I'm happy with me. Whether I gain 15 more lbs or if I lose 20.

People (girls especially) spend so much time caring. I spent 15 years caring about everyone else and forgot that I had to care about myself. I like me. :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#Messy: It's what's trending

1. characterized by a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition: a messy room.
2. causing a mess: a messy recipe; messy work.
3. embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant: a messy political situation.
4. characterized by moral or psychological confusion.
Via (Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.)

It's 2010. A new decade. A few months ago we were all making resolutions. Proclaiming that this would be "our" year. So many people made affirmations and swore to themselves that this would be the year of no drama. The year of maturity. The year of growth. I think it's safe to say that mission failed....epically.

Turn on the TV, flip to the nearest reality show or drama (the genre says it all) I guarantee you will not be surprised with what you see. Bad Girls Club showcases some of the messiest females I've ever seen.  Cat fight after cat fight.  And the word "bitch" is thrown around like a frisbee in a dog park.  The Wendy Williams Show thrives on the messiest gossip and brings on some of the messiest guests.  We get to see clips from shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta and we hear about who Larry King is sleeping with and how it all went down.  If there were no drama in Hollywood, that show (and shows like it) would fizzle and die.

Everywhere we turn is drama, drama, drama. For some reason there is a global obsession with all things messy. From Facebook statuses to the nightly news, if there’s no drama, it’s just not interesting. If a woman isn’t calling another woman a bitch or a hoe; if a guy isn’t talking about all his haters; if girls aren’t being catty and having the most ignorant fights over a man; if someone’s not breaking their vows, it’s not worth paying attention to. This is a BIG problem and here are a couple of reasons why:

1. Children copy EVERYTHING. There’s these things we call kids and we’re supposed to be these things we call adults. Immaturity, games, and lack of wisdom are things for children. And because adults are SUPPOSED to be the mature and wise ones, children emulate all that we do. What if a 6 year old girl is flipping through the channels and sees a clip of one of these reality shows featuring ignorant, promiscuous women fighting for the “love” of some C-list celebrity? Chances are, they might be exposed to this messy behavior and they will more than likely copy it in one shape or form, even if it’s just once. When my niece was 4, she was talking about how Elmo was her baby’s dad and wouldn’t take care of the kids. It may sound funny, but it is a serious problem. Somewhere in the back of her head, she thought that was ok, the norm. And when children get that in their head early on, it’s a recipe for disaster.

2. We become DESENSITIZED. If all we see is drama and BS, eventually it’s just not going to bother us anymore. Think about it. All that we see is petty fights, messy situations, and drama. So when those things enter our own life, we just shrug it off when we really need to pay attention and stay away from such things. There’s not enough shock value. When we hear that our friend got into a fight with her son’s father and he wrecked her car because she called him a bitch, we should be left in awe. Now-a-days all we can really do is say, “I believe it.” And people cheat so often that it NEVER surprises me. I hear, “Girl, do you know that Tommy slept with Tammy’s best friend?” All I can do is say, "oh well." It’s all over the media. Everyone from A-list celebrities to local politicians are making infidelity the “in” thing. This means people are going to keep cheating and keep allowing people to cheat on them. Sometimes we need that shock value to keep us from allowing things to happen.  We need to be shocked when we see women degrading each other.  We need to be shocked when we see folks curse out the parents of their children.  If we're not, it will just keep on happening.

So knowing that absorbing all this messiness is a problem, why perpetuate it?  Why are so many people glued to the TV and/or broadcasting their messy situations on Facebook and Twitter?  It's the thing to do I guess.  Everyone from high schoolers to folks in their 40s, hell some even older than that are embracing the messy way of life.  If you're not into dramatics, cattiness, and the sort, you're just not cool.  I want to challenge everyone (myself included) to ignore miessiness.  Let's have a Messy Boycott. Stop commenting on people's statuses is they air their dirty laundry online.  Stop watching these ignorant show because all you're doing is sending the ratings through the roof.  If we stop promoting this type of behavior, maybe it would cease to exist. (Wishful thinking)

Disclaimer:  I have had my messy moments.  Who hasn't?  :-)