Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lord Forgive Me

It wasn't until Thanksgiving Day ended that I realized I was sad.

The day didn't begin that way. I took my time getting up, made the dressing, stuffed Big Bird, put him, the giblets, and the sweet potatoes in my mom's old roasting pan.

I like that pan or pot or whatever you call it. It's deep, has a lid, and I think it's enamel so it's it's easy to clean. When I add an inch and a half or two inches of water in it, my turkeys cook twice as fast and are never dry. The water magically transforms to gravy. I drain it out into a regular pot, sift a few tablespoons on flour into and waa-lah! Gravy.

My daughter Casey helped. In the kitchen our two minds become one, and we rarely get in each others way. I don't recall it ever being this easy cooking side by side with my own mother.

My son felt he had a job too on that day. It was pretending to be invisible when anything was asked of him. No, I would have preferred a little help but he preferred this volunteer position that he created for himself when he began middle school. He's had so much practice with this that one day next year I'll promote him to full-time invisibility. This way, when he doesn't live with us, he won't even have to pretend.

The highlight of dinner was that one of the guests, a congenial retired gentleman on disability, brought his adorable, bright, three year old grandson whom he and his ex-wife take care of. I really enjoyed Mr. X and Baby Boy, who I pray will fare better in life.

You see, Mr. X's son, like mine, got lost along the way from having too many opportunities and choices disguised as fun, but were really traps to addiction and other problems.

I don't think it hit me as hard until this moment of how lost Xavier still is. He began drinking beer from a friend on Thanksgiving evening, despite my plea not to mix alcohol with his medication. On Friday he didn't speak to me at all except to say fuck you bitch when I asked if he was alright.

I sit here now, locked in my bedroom, nearly trembling from a new explosive fit of yelling from him. It began with him complaining that my daughter took my cellphone which I was looking for. Not his, but mine. He growled that I need to discipline her. I said I was more concerned about the way he spoke to me Friday.

Nigga went off. His mouth was like thunder, and I retreated from the storm less lightening struck.

He is not seeing reality clearly. He compounded his problem and mine by grabbing his medicine and taking a full pill against my protests that he'd been out partying again last night, and presumably drinking until dawn.

It is often during moments of intense fear when I see reality the clearest. There are some battles in my life that I could have easily won simply by using reason and logic in finding practical, workable solutions.

Some people, however, are so disturbed and unbalanced that they find reason not only irrelevant because it doesn't serve them, but they become potentially or genuinely dangerous. They will lie on you, stalk you, and destroy you anyway they can to be right, and to continue with their selfishness that is so extreme that it's madness.

In these times, I back off. What looks like surrender or agreement by not contradicting them is really my walking away from a bad situation. The world is so large that no one needs to get sucked into any battles not necessary for their survival. I've thankfully gotten better at walking away as I've gotten older.

Writing calms me. At this moment now, I feel better, thanks also to listening to my favorite collection of R&B Christmas music. I've been through so much with my son, but he is a grown azz man and I need not endlessly tolerate his sporadic but unending disrespect, verbal abuse and selfishness.

At this moment too, I hear him vacuuming elsewhere in the house. I recognize that cycle of abuse. Person A treats Person B real bad, then tries to make up for it by doing something nice. They expect this will erase everything, and think this is a substitute for an apology or taking responsibility for the pain they caused. If you point this out to their entitled azz, they get mad all over again.

If they really wanted to be nice, they'd change their behavior. You can't easily change your thoughts, mood, or perception of the world, but you can change your behavior. Bullies do it all the time when they know they can't win.

It's supposedly part of Xavier's Mood Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and whatever other correct or incorrect friggin' labels stuck on him or anyone else, as though any of them really make a difference.

My preference is the non-clinical, urban black folks label: Fucked Up Personality, as in:

"What's wrong with him?"
"Oh, he has a fucked up personality."


"Why'd she do that?"
"Ain't nothing new. She got a fucked up personality, ya know?"

Works for me, and I'm a therapist. It works because it's raw, and no one wants that label. It's just not cool or fashionable.

Labels are just the packaging around the box. They might indicate what's in the box, but it's the content of that box - the person's character - that matters most. Most people can grow and change when motivated, but it's harder if they get stuck on the fancy wrapping and use it as an excuse to wrap themselves in it.

The superior position and the hardest, is to let one's defects of character stand naked, and then put your character on a fitness program.

I have to trust that somehow things will work themselves out in 2010, that God will protect Xavier for he is vulnerable, and at the same time watch my back (and Casey's) when I physically take that walk...

Lord forgive me, for mentally, I already have.

Click on photo to enlarge to get an idea of the inside of my head.
Hat tip to Kiss My Black Ads

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Heaven, Hell, & Thanksgiving

I couldn't resist.


So much for Big Bird. Now for the serious post:

I read a news story this morning of a 23 year old who became totally paralyzed after a car wreck. Couldn't walk, couldn't talk, couldn't move, couldn't respond. He was deemed to be in a permanent vegetative coma for the next 23 years. Now, at 46, it's come to light that his mind was alert all along, thanks to a neurologist, who listened to a persistent nurse who listened to the family, and did state of the art testing on him.

This case reminded me of the story, Johnny Got His Gun. It was written in 1938, and about a soldier who served in WW1. After an intense battle, he later awakened to a nightmare where he found himself without legs, arms, or the ability to make sounds. I think he might have been blind too, but he wasn't paralyzed, could hear and bang his head up and down. The docs thought he was a vegetable too. Aside from the wretching loneliness, at night he dreaded the mice that would crawl into his bed and nibble on him.

His moment of recognition that his mind was intact occurred when someone on the medical staff realized that he was trying to communicate with his head banging using Morse code.

Later, and I don't recall this part but it's written in wikipedia, that he had a wish to travel the world in a glass case so people could see the horrors of war. No surprise that he didn't get that wish. Unlike the real life paraplegic story, "Johnny" had no family or friends that I recall, and his mind just faded away.

As my mother used to say, hell is here on earth.

Extreme isolation from communicating with others, to not being able to be around safe people or places is surely one form of hell.

This Thanksgiving, if you have extra space at the table and ample food, and know someone who would enjoy spending a little time with your family, think about inviting them. They may not be your age, or attractive, or healthy, or good in conversation and making merry, but including a person like them gives truth to what Thanksgiving has evolved into for many people.

We know the sordid side of this day's historical roots, but so what? I'm just not that bitter about all those thugs involved back then who've been dead a few centuries now.

In my mind, Thanksgiving Day no more belongs to Pilgrims any more than Halloween belongs to whatever folks were involved in witchcraft. I long ago gave both wacked out groups the boot and claimed those days for myself, like a lot of Americans have.

Now Christmas - for me, that's different. Got my beautiful Nativity scene up every year, to hold on tightly to the true meaning, and it's right next to my Christmas tree because that's pretty and it's fun.

This Thanksgiving, we'll have two extra chairs for two extra folks who have no family to celebrate with, and so broke that when I last saw them, they were leaner than this summer. They don't know each other, and aren't people that close to me, but they're happy to have an invite and we're happy to have them over.

As my mother also used to say, heaven is here on earth too.

I wish you a blessed holiday, each and every one of you.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Kids' World: Their Teacher Is Busted For Robbing A Bank, & Making A Suicide Threat In A Suicidal World Is Normal

One of my daughter's former substitute teachers was busted for bank robbery last week. He also allegedly robbed a grocery store pharmacy on the same day, just before the bank job, demanding Xanax and OxyContin.

His note to the teller was charming: "You have 30 seconds to give me all of your $100 bills or a bullet goes in your head. No dye pack!!", according to the bank and police documents. The note to the pharmacist was similar.

According to the story, when apprehended that evening and found in possession of the money and one of the medications he demanded, he asked the officer, "How did you catch me?"

This rogue teacher also allegedly used a BB gun.

After reading the story, I told my daughter. I thought I was telling her something new.

"Oh, that's old news," she said smiling.

"Old news?"

"Yeah. We heard about it Monday or Tuesday."

"Did he teach at your school?"

"No, but he was the substitute for my science class in 7th grade."

"What was he like?"

"We thought he was hot."

My jaw must've been hanging down because she laughed.

I walked to the living room, and there, told my son and his off and on girlfriend. They looked dumbfounded. Then they laughed.

He said jokingly, "I ought to use my [new] BB gun to do that!"

"Yeah," I said, "and get caught like he did."

All three of them were laughing, and I thought how a lot of antisocial and bizarre behavior is so routine that it's funny. Hell, it was even funny to me after I got past the shock. That story is something I'd expect to see in a movie, not touching the lives of my kids so closely.

Remember the Wal-Mart stampede almost exactly one year ago on Black Friday, which killed a security guard and injured others? They laughed at that too. Not because it was tragic, but because people greedy for the sales and acting like a herd of animals was so damn stupid.

I wrote a post on it then, One Nation Under Greed, and I've been wondering lately if there will be another stampede this coming Friday.

We are living in times that appear so crazy that I have to remind myself that there really is nothing new under the sun, and even if you rarely or never pick up the Bible, the Old Testament as a historical document alone has plenty of stories of pathology. A lot of people remained level-headed despite living among primitive and insane others. Because of this, I don't see all the evil in the world as a sign that we're at End Times, although I do think a social collapse, rioting, and a revolution of some sort in this country is on the horizon.

The economic meltdown combined with fixed news and fringe hate groups are fueling the stress, dysfunction, and outright wackiness in our country.

It's trickled down to my own family.

Last week was a bitch for me. On what was one of the best days I've had this year turned into one of the worse. I felt so successful one morning as I got ready for a job interview. Been waiting to get called for that for months. Ya girl here looked good and felt great, much like my contemporary, Michelle Obama must when she has a good day planned.

So I go to the interview, and I'm hitting home runs and answering questions on how I would deal with a suicidal client.

At approximately the same time, my son is posting a suicide note on his Facebook.

How's that for irony?

I found out afterward while shopping for dinner in the grocery store. A relative saw Xavier's Facebook and called him, but he hung up on him. Then relative calls me.

"Where are you?", he asks.

"In Giant."

"You need to get home right away..."

I can't describe my initial feeling of anger, followed by that familiar feeling of dread as I drove home and walked into the house, not knowing what I'd find. It was verrrry quiet in there, too quiet. Xavier hasn't made a suicide attempt in three years now, and I knew he'd been depressed over his relationship with his girl this month.

At 16 or 17 he stabbed himself in the gut - over being dumped by his first love - and at 18 he walked or fell into a moving car across the street from where GF #2 worked; she had been cheating on him and wanted to break up.

At 19 he felt suicidal and homicidal when GF #3 aborted his baby to go back to her baby's father, but I persuaded him take medication (which he otherwise refuses), and his feelings never progressed to an attempt.

Now at 21 and with GF #4, he struggles with not emotionally suffocating her in this relationship. He tends to do this and it's part of his temperament and the way he loves. She put limits on their time so she could pull her grades back up. He's a one-woman kind of guy, and too possessive, and because of this, sees her trimming their time together as a precursor to abandonment.

So yeah, you could say he doesn't take heartbreak well. I think it's from living in two very fucked up foster homes in his early years. Those homes should have been a safe harbor for him, but instead were as pathological as our society. It's made him insecure, manipulative as hell, vulnerable to alcohol and substance abuse, but also creative and insightful to everyone but himself.

So on that day, I set the groceries down and did a slow and painful walk-through of the house. To my relief, nobody was home.

I had an intuition when I first heard about his Facebook status message that it was directed at his girlfriend, as both a cry for love and a form of emotional manipulation to keep her from breaking up with him. This is why I initially became angry, he used to do this shit with me when he couldn't get his way or accept no for an answer. But not knowing if he was serious or not, and based on his past history, I felt the ensuing dread. His not being home brought an uneasy relief.

Cassie, my daughter, arrived home shortly thereafter. I told her. She's used to his drama, and as a rule, rarely takes it seriously.

"Pffft," she said. "I'm sure that wherever he is, he's fine. That [Facebook] line sounds like something from a song anyway."

Indeed, Xavier does pour his feelings into his music and song writing.

In he walks an hour later. Doesn't mention it. When I do, he becomes angry. When I suggest he get back on his meds, he becomes even angrier. He tells me to mind my fuckin' business.

We go through this same old dance the next day, and on the day after that, I stop speaking to him. I got tired of being cussed out. He hates it when I care when he's most vulnerable because it's embarrassing, but he hates it more when I don't. By that evening, he's very down. Not just from my reaction to his awful behavior, but from longing to work things out with his girl.

He comes to my bedroom door.

"Ma," he says, "I'm ready to take my meds."

Friday evening arrives, and he and the girlfriend, whose done all her homework, are hugged up and happy again in my living room. The world no longer looks so bleak to him.

With my daughter, they all laugh at the science teacher who once taught her, now busted for bank robbery. In their world, all of this is normal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sex Rehab For America

Are you old enough to long for the good old days when the worst STDs were quickly cured with a shot or a pill, and no one had their good health wrecked or died from a sexual encounter or relationship? Or you're too young to remember those days, but imaginative enough imagine what those times were like?

I don't think my young teenage daughter can (more about her in a few moments), and my young adult son doesn't even bother. All they know is that the time period they're living in doesn't have some of the perks that my generation did.

For example:

"A Pap test for one in five American adolescent girls will show an abnormality, but the vast majority of low-grade cervical lesions - up to 90 percent - will get better on their own within three years. Among older women, the rates are lower, but low-grade lesions still rarely progress to the pre-cancerous stage.

These are generally caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV for short. About half of all people are infected with HPV at some point in their lifetime, although the infection often goes away on its own. (Only in some cases does the virus damage cervical cells, causing abnormalities that can be picked up on a Pap test.)

This week the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued new guidelines that women should have their first Pap test by age 21, and every other year after that instead annually, citing that cervical cancer for women under the age of 30 is extremely rare, and that for the 15 to 19 year old group, only one to two for every million teens.

By changing its guidelines, ACOG is breaking ranks with the other main authorities on cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society and the USPSTF both recommend that women get their first Pap test within three years of having sex, or at age 21." (source1, also see source 2)

I trust the American Cancer Society more. Their guidelines make sense to me, particularly if 100% condom use is not in your bag of tricks to keep the cooties and killers away.

And fellas, I don't know what to say about y'all. Guys don't have to deal with cervical cancer caused by HPV, but they catch this virus as much as the ladies, and like them, can also get warts and lesions in those delicate places.

I recently watched the full episode 1 of Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, on cable. He told his pro-surfer patient during an exam that he saw a damn "lesion" in his throat. Hope for the guy's sake it was just an oddly placed cold sore or good old fashioned bacterial gonorrhea, which generally is easily cured with medication. I'd give you the link to that episode but vh1 didn't include it in their online show clips.

Personally, as a woman (and if I was a man), I think long and hard about going south on anyone if not in a long term, trusting relationship. And swallowing? Fuggitaboutit.

I can't help but think that upcoming changes in our health care system has something to do with the ACOG's decision, even though on the face of it, it makes sense - particularly for teen girls and women in monogamous relationships with men they believe to be monogamous, and have had few sexual partners, and have been consistent in condom use.

This also comes at a time when recommendations for mammograms have been reduced from the first one at age 50 instead of age 40.

I ain't never been one for getting my titties radiated, but that's a luxury I can afford since breast cancer is nearly non-existent on both sides of my family and only occurred in one aunt after the age of 65. But if my family history was different, I'd be more than pissed if my insurance - if I had any - refused to pay based on new mammogram guidelines.

I also can't help but wonder if the ACOG's revised guidelines are the result of pressure from the Big Pharma Pushers of everything from the mercury-containing, untested Swine Flu vaccine to the anti-HPV vaccine, Guardasil, for girls as young as nine and up to their early 20s.

Even Immigration got suckered into their lobbying - last summer the US Citizen & Immigration Services used the CDC's revisions to make the HPV vaccine "a requirement for female applicants seeking to adjust status to become legal permanent residents."

When I first heard about Guardasil last year, I pointed out the benefits and the rare but not rare enough horrific side effects, and was waffling on whether or not to have my virgin daughter take the series of three shots.

I finally resolved the issue by telling my daughter that it's in her best interest to delay sexual activity as long as possible, keep her sex partners to minimum when she does embrace womanhood, and to marry in her college years or early 20s if a loving man of quality and integrity comes knocking at her door, and dammit, to keep her eyes open for one instead of getting caught up in that hamster wheel of endless dating with guys who only want to endlessly date.

Cassie is still a virgin even though in 10th grade. She has a late year birthday and skipped a grade, so she's the youngest in her class. In addition to being smart enough to stay on the honor roll since 5th grade and being active in sports and clubs, she's blessed with common sense, far more than I had at her age. To date, she's been a worry-free kid in terms of maintenance. If she were promiscuous, I might decide otherwise.

One by one, Cassie's watching her classmates and a few of her likewise nerdy friends take the plunge into sexual activity. So far none have gotten pregnant, but one did have her first Guardasil shot. I hadn't brought up the topic since initially telling her about the vaccine; she remembered the issues and brought it up to me one evening over dinner, several months ago.

"How'd she do?", I asked.

"She fainted, right there in the doctor's office."

For the next few moments, we ate in silence.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Genocide-Lite: Mass Birth Control
For The Black Middle Class

I didn't know it was quite this bad, but finally read it in print from a Yale University study. I'll break it down in a way they can't and wouldn't dare:

A college education for a black woman is the most effective form of birth control.

"Although black women were more likely than white women to have children early in their academic careers, 45 percent of those born between 1955 and 1960 were childless at age 45 compared to 35 percent of white women born in the same time period."

No doubt that a disproportionate number of abortion clinics strategically placed in black communities from 1973 thru the '80s helped snuff out many babies, along with the stigma of having a child out of marriage, particularly while trying to become successful in a white man's world.

What a fucking tragedy, and one of mass proportions.

I should know, having lost the only child I'd ever get pregnant with at age 19 because my dad insisted I'd be stigmatized and never finish college (a lie so he wouldn't be embarrassed), and the would-be father bailed out, insisting that an abortion was the best thing (yeah, for him, and an act of incredible selfishness considering that his azz was adopted).

The study, which is the first to review longitudinal trends in marriage and family formation among highly educated black women, found that black women born after 1950 were twice as likely as white women never to have married by age 45 and twice as likely to be divorced, widowed or separated.

Over half of my college educated female friends have never married. For that matter, neither have the males. I think the abundance of punani after effective birth control became available is the main reason why so many men stopped getting married.

In fact, the wedding train slowed down for blacks and whites. Since we're the canaries in the coal mine, where nearly every sociological statistic shows up at our door first, we can deduce that this is an evolving trend for all races.

Now let's take that train further down history's tracks for a moment.

The Pill, aka the birth control pill or oral contraception, first became available in 1960, and generally prescribed only to married women until around the mid-'60s when the Women's Rights took the spotlight.

Up until then, women had the handy excuse of no sex before marriage, or at least engagement, out of fear of pregnancy and being considered a tramp. That baby mama shit didn't go over well. Many a couple got married because the girl got knocked up. Ever hear of the term, shotgun wedding? Yeah, that's what happened if her daddy was mad enough to take after the guy who did the deed.

Along came the TV show, That Girl, from 1966 to 1971, and it was "the first sitcom to focus on a single woman who was not a domestic or living at home."

Doesn't sound like a big deal at all now, but that show was instrumental in changing American values. It almost sounds like a male conspiracy set up:

John: "Hey guys, I have a good idea. We're all horny as hell and too cheap to pay for hookers. Let's produce a TV show where an attractive actress lives on her own. The audience will be titillated. Young women will be duped into trying this, and can afford it since we've manipulated them to want to work...

Robert: Heh-heh, can you imagine that shit? Wish I didn't have to work.

John: Crazy, isn't it? Hell, they only get paid 2/3 to the dollar. Let them, since they want to compete on our turf. Without their parents cock-blocking, and with The Pill available, we can all get laid.

Max: By nice girls too, not whores.

Bob: Let's have a toast! Cheers!

That Girl came at the time when the country was in the beginning stages of vast social changes. Until after the show ended and reruns became the norm, single women generally lived at home. This made it so easy to just say no to sexual pressure.

The guy who came around had to meet the parents. Mom and Dad were, by default, a protective barrier from casual sex, i.e., what we call friends with benefits now.

A man had to invest more time in getting something going and have the title 'boyfriend' before gained admittance to the Punani Cave of Delight. His real payoff could come in discovering that he might actually like the girl after taking the time to know her, not just the sex.

So yeah, we can say there was an advantage to living at home and having condoms that broke easily and fear of pregnancy. Until the world changed in the blink of a decade, over 95% of black folks got married.

Now let's take ride that train up to the present.

"Black men are more likely to marry outside of their race, and black women are more likely to marry outside of their education." (source)

Read that sentence again and let it sink in.

Brothas dating white and Latino women didn't used to piss me off, but over the past ten years it seems like a damned epidemic. These chicks just won't leave our men alone, probably because of the stud muffin stereotypes.

In addition to the punani-on-demand in the black community, our men have additional opportunities among other races. And men like sex and generally will actively go after it anyway they can get it, whether it's doing it solo, sweet-talking a girl out of her panties, going to a whorehouse, or settling down.

We can include rape, too, which was more common at one time. The majority of black Americans have someone white in their ancestry who raped a black female hostage to slavery, as proof. Ain't just us either. Hawaiians don't look a thing like their ancestors 200 years ago. I learned that when I went to their museum and saw that their royalty looked like a lot of us. We know about rape in warfare in Darfur and several other African countries. Underclass women during old European times didn't have any protection either. Feudal times? Forget it.

So men will be men, no matter what their race. There's no need for any man to rape anymore, nor get married. Punani opportunities abound. That failing, there's always porn, and porn has never been better since the Internet came. 'Scuse the pun.

We black Americans are the canaries in the coal mine. Trends of all sorts tend to hit us first and hardest than other groups, from drug use, unemployment, crime, declining marriage rates, and unmarried motherhood and no motherhood.

Let's revisit that last statistic. Another reason black women marry down (which translates to economically and/or educationally marrying below her accomplishments) has to do with how well the sistas are rockin' it in college.

Of blacks who get college degrees, 67% - or two thirds - are earned by black women. This means that twice as many black women compared to black men are now finishing college.

Among whites graduating college recently, the percentages are 57% women, 43% men. Among forty-five year old white women with college degrees, 35% of them (compared to 45% of us), have never had a child.

So ain't that a bitch?

You chase the American dream of seeking knowledge and wanting to have job where you get paid well for doing something you like, only to get cheated in one of the worst ways possible. No marriage, no babies, no grandkids. Your direct genetic line ends with you. Endless dates which may have been fun until you were ready to get serious.

What will you have to show when you end? A degree and copies of important paperwork, rather than copies of you walking around?

[Helpful hint: the biologically childless person can leave a legacy in the way of helping others or contributing to society, so try not to feel too bad if you missed that train. Who knows, maybe God had another plan for you.]

The brothas ain't exempt either. A lot of the educated, professional ones don't marry or have children, and they ain't all gay. They're workaholics. And the richer they get, the more suspicious they get of women who throw themselves at them or are simply interested in them because women have always been attracted to successful men, and never have so many women been so starved for love and wanting a family.

People also tend to become more set in their ways as they get older. At 21, you've got a lot more flexibility in your tastes and habits than you will at 35 or 45. You're also more likely to be guarded or become bitter or neurotic from heartbreak and disappointment as you get older. As they say, once bitten, twice shy.

Given this culture's lifestyle, if you're a young adult now, those stats may be much higher by the time you turn 45.

My regular readers know or have a sense that I am a pacifist. I like people, and as a women, I like men. Got mad love for all of humanity. I have a good grasp of how and why most individuals become the way they do. We are products of the times and whatever bubble we grew up in.

If you ain't noticed, bubbles are bursting everywhere.

In this post, I am speaking as a militant. Bust yours. Seek wisdom over knowledge.

The solution is as simple as what black folks did through the 1960s out of necessity, that for you, will be choice: get married, or if you find yourself single with an unplanned pregnancy, don't terminate it if you're a woman, nor encourage the woman to abort if you're the man.

In other words, don't be scared. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Don't be selfish either. Babies nearly always come at inconvenient times, even for married folks. Except for rape, incest, and sonograms that show the mother's health is in danger or that the fetus is impaired, selfishness is all that abortion has ever been about.

It's also a sign of confused thinking that so many say in one breath, I could never put my baby up for adoption, and then in the next breath say, I'm going to have an abortion instead. Just 'cause you can't see it yet don't mean you won't if you give it time to grow.

Your life can be put on hold for awhile to restock the pond. Fuck it if you're in college; you got your whole life to study. And this might surprise you, but it is possible to be married and/or have child while taking college courses at the same time.

If you're a black woman, that unwanted pregnancy might be your only shot; keep those above statistics in mind that 45% of college degreed, 45 year old black women never had children. Too bad they didn't do a study on what percentage of them had abortions. I'd like to read that shit myself.

For those to whom this applies: Brothas, you know all the public and private reasons that you date outside of your race, and Sistas, you know all the reasons you don't.

For both of you, I call you out on this bullshit, and that it is based on stereotypes and/or fear. I'm not even gonna make a list of reasons. You know what yours is, so deal with it by doing something differently.

Chasing the degrees, cheese and getting sexual gratification from endless dating has been made to appear not only normal but desirable. The education part is, but then again, maybe not, if the compromise is your future generations.

The rest is really a detour, which has led our race into what adds up as mass birth control for the black middle class.

As a result of our collective lifestyle changes in the past 30-odd years, the educated class is no longer reproducing itself, and it is they who become our teachers, counselors, medical staff, businessmen, politicians, tax payers and voters. Not having a generation of them around will be more dangerous in the long term because this makes any oppressor's job easier.

Call it genocide-lite.


Main sources:

1. Marriage, Family on the Decline for Highly Educated Black Women, Yale University, 8/2009
2. Black Women: Successful & Still Umarried, NPR, 9/2009
3. Black-White Differences In The Process of Educational Reproduction, Yale University 4/2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kit's Semi-Satire:
Programmed To Hate

A few days ago, I ran a post titled Let's Test Your Racism. The video used and ensuing comments there and elsewhere are an interesting study in social perception, both within a race, and from people belonging to a different one.

In this post, I'll try to do something I haven't seen done elsewhere in Blog Land. It may have and I just haven't seen it. I tried to make it entertaining and thought-provocative.

What do you like or admire about people different from you? You can include those of different races, too.

I thought of this question because the public has been directed to focus on negativity, especially since 9/11. This intensified after Barack Obama, the first black man who became President, entered the scene. I think it also stems from America's changing demographics in race, as well as economics - the latter of which is declining for many, and thus the competition for resources like jobs and even scholarships are more intense.

Have we been unwittingly programmed to talk more about what we dislike or hate in others, than what we like or admire?

People don't like to hear that they're being controlled, but we are to quite a degree through over-exposure to negativity, and subliminal messages. We have become a culture where negativity has been normalized.

Thus, I have no idea if this (what we like as opposed to what we dislike in other groups) is something that you readers feel comfortable sharing.

It's odd when I think about it. Imagine this is the first thing you say to your kid after their first day in school: "So, honey, tell me all about what you don't like about your teacher and new classmates."

Sounds ludicrous but we're almost there.

Here are several scenes I came up with, and you can let me know if they gave you a few laughs. While they are (hopefully) funny, you may have actually had some of these conversations with people you know:

Scene 1

Ladies, how about this: You meet a new guy and go out on a date. Later, you call or text your best friend.

You: I went out with a new man.

Friend: Oh great! Can't wait to hear what you can't stand about him.

You: I kinda like him.

Friend: Oh come on. Think hard. There must be something.

You: Well, he's not hard on the eyes, treated me like a lady, seems intelligent, and has a sense of humor. Single. No kids.

Friend: Aha! Bet he's on the downlow!

You: I didn't get that impression.

Friend: That's why the call it downlow, dummy. Or maybe he has insanity running his family. You have to think about the kids, you know?

You: What kids?

Friend: I swear, you're so innocent. If it wasn't for me helping you out, you'd get screwed over by this guy. Can't let your guard down.

Scene 2

For the guys: You've been going out with a new lady for two or three months. You throw a get-together and invite your buddies over to meet her. Later they have a little chat with you.

Them: She's fine alright, but what's her deal? She a gold digger or what?

You: I don't think so. Why'd you ask?

Them: Her clothes. Her hair. Her jewelry. She looks high maintenance.

You: She hasn't seemed that way to me. She has her own job.

Them: She got kids?

You: Nope.

Them: She's close to 30. Watch out, bro, she probably wants to drop a baby soon and has her eye on you. She mention marriage yet?

You: Well, we have talked about how we'd both like to get married and start a family one day, but I didn't feel pressured or anything. It was just conversation.

Them: Uh huh. She was just feelin' you out. Better dip out now before it's too late. Don't want that ball and chain around your neck, ya know?

Scene 3

Or this one: you just settled into a new neighborhood. A group of people show up at your door. You think they're there to welcome you.

You: Hi!

Them: Hi. We're here to welcome you, but also to find out if there some things about you we should hate. Usually this takes time, so in the interest of speeding up the process, please fill out this brief form. If we hate the same kind of people and things, you're alright with us.

You: But what if we have our differences but also like the same things... uh, you know, share some common ground?

Them: No. We don't care much about that. We find that groups who share the same hatreds have more unity.

You: Well, I really try not to hate anyone or anything too much. Kind of stressful, you know? But I do like to garden.

Them: Yeah, we saw that silly-looking scarecrow in your backyard and the pink flamingo in the front. We already added those things on our list to hate about you. What other stupid azz hobbies you got?

Scene 4

The President: On this historic day, we have been contacted by aliens from another planet. They brought us samples of their food, music, and fashion. They would like to get to know us.

Media Pundit: Sure they do. We don't need anymore undocumented workers.

Straight Talking Politician: Green people suck. We should have no dialogue with them.

Popular Pastor: God made Man in His image, not Green People. They even have a different name for their 'god'. They're really Satanic and here to destroy us.

Big Pharma: They'll introduce the Green Flu, but we already have vaccines in the making. Delay any contact until our shots are available.

Defense: If their Green Flu gets too bad among our people, we'll nuke 'em. As a result, we need Congress to appropriate more money to our budget.

The CDC: We haven't actually seen any cases of Green Flu yet, but we're on high alert.

Wall Street: They're socialists who want to deregulate and destroy the American way of life. That's their hidden agenda.

Cop: I don't like their looks, especially those outfits they wear. Probably a bunch of sex-crazed druggies. If I see one driving around, I'm going to pull him over and do a search on principle. Got my taser ready.

Ordinary Person 1: They look funny. I don't like their hair. It's not like any of the hair on any of our races. I wonder if they get fur balls and vomit them up like my cat? Ugh. They probably do it and when you least expect it. They're gross.

Ordinary Person 2: I tried their one of their recipes. It stank up the apartment and hallway. Why do other races always have strange, smelly foods?

Ordinary Person 3: Their music is worse than those people who we already don't like.

Parent to Teen: Do not date them, or for heaven's sake, have sex, marry or have babies with them. I'll disown you if you shame us.

Child: Can I play with their kids? They look like fun.

And the children shall lead the way...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's Test Your Racism
Yes, You Too, Black Readers

If you have seen this video elsewhere, what was your initial reaction?

If you haven't, it's very important that you watch it before reading ahead.

I am so not kidding. Do it. I'll wait. You need not watch the whole thing unless you want to; a minute will be fine.

Last month, I saw this video on YouTube, and since then, a few blogs. I think it should be used as a social experiment to test for racism.

Comments I've seen show a lot of people, white and black, assume the kid is and will grow up ghetto and ignorant.

They are so into the negative stereotypes in their head that they:

- Make criticism that the child won't ever learn anything of value. They assume this simply because she dances so well before she can talk or learn her ABCs. By the way, not all black babies can do this.

- Are blind to the books in the background. Did you see them?

- Appear oblivious to the affectionate bond and the fun between the baby and teenager, perhaps an older sibling, and don't seem to value this. It's like it's irrelevant.

-State the home is dirty and ghetto. Looked like a reasonably clean apartment to me.

- Consider it irrelevant and unimportant that the baby is rhythmically gifted.

- Criticize the music and words in the song, Do Tha Stanky Leg, as though it will corrupt the baby, or that white folks didn't boogie off the Hokey Pokey for generations. You know the lyrics:

You put your right hand out, You put your right hand in, And you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, That what it's all about!

For whites who see only the negative, I think they have an underlying jealousy and feel threatened. I seriously wonder if they wonder this: If (some of) our kids can do this at barely two and still in diapers, what can they do in the sports arena or in the bed at 20?

Historically, if white men who were racist had not been so insecure and worried about white women running off with black men, they would not have passed laws to prevent this, nor did unspeakable acts of cruelty to them post-slavery right up to the 1950s. The oldest black men in my family never shook the fear of even looking a white woman clerk or waitress in the eye, well into the 1970s. As teens and young men, this simple action could result in a beating or death.

And let's not forget about Jesse Owens winning the 1936 Olympics. You may know that Hitler had some strong feelings about this. However, Jesse Owens recounted that "Hitler didn't snub me - it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Jesse Owens was never invited to the White House nor bestowed any honors by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) or Harry S. Truman during their terms. (wikipedia)

Okay black folks, enough of them and their baggage. How about us?

For blacks who only see negativity in the video, I think they have absorbed the unconscious bigotry of whites against our own kind.

We have grown up watching mainly them on tv, in the movies, on magazine covers, billboard ads, commercials, even on the boxes of the food we buy and the products from the drug store, all of our lives.

We have learned to see the world through their eyes, and this includes the distorted way so many of them see us.

This is both good and bad - it's sort of like being bilingual where you can speak two languages. To some degree, this is called assimilation. Seeing the world from two cultures is part of this, and having this ability is necessary for optimum black survival.

For example, many of us talk a little differently when with each other, and are more reluctant in sharing our opinions or our unique brand of black humor out of fear of being misunderstood, thought ignorant or even hated.

On the other hand, over-assimilation can breed various degrees of self-hate and contempt for our own people who display behaviors that are common in our culture but not appreciated by the mainstream because it's not part of theirs.

Under-assimilation is a liability too. These are the folks most likely labeled ghetto, which is another word for low class, ignorant, and stupid. Unless they're successful in fields like music or have some unique talent, they have a tough time getting good jobs. They don't know how to dress for an interview, job, or play the Office Game if they get one. Some - not all - see rejection and contempt in every white face, and may not be particularly comfortable around blacks who know how to "talk white".

I hope this is food for thought: You know it's bad when a family having fun with their baby, doing something as simple as listening to music and dancing, is seen as threatening and/or undesirable.

If you did not see anything negative in this video negative except a concern that this well-balanced baby could possibly fall off the table and the teenager present wouldn't catch her on time, you flunked.

This doesn't mean you're a bad person, but some introspection might be in order.

Addendum, 6 AM, 11-12-2009

You might want to start with comparing this video below and the YouTube comments to the one above.

Hat Tip to Nubian Soul

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The DC Sniper Dies Today - I Ain't Forgot How You Terrorized My Family

One of the DC snipers, John Allen Muhammad, is scheduled to die today. In late 2001, his actions terrorized me and my family on a personal level. My feelings about his date with death is good riddance, bitch.

Below is an excerpt from one of my September 2008 posts, Cognitive Dissonance.


On one October morning, I left home with my daughter to drive her school and then continue to work. The Sniper hit my area. Yeah, I'm talking about John Muhammed and the teen, Lee Malvo who accompanied him.

I recall the first day well. At the time, I lived off Georgia Ave in Maryland and would drive 14 miles south on it toward DC to my job. I was one of those idiots who would stop at Star Bucks each morning and pay $3.50 for a large Mocha Frappuccino. I liked the ones they made at Leisure World the best and the lines were shorter.

That morning, however, I had to return a movie video in another location near my home, so rather than be late for work, I went to their Starbucks. This saved me and my daughter from the trauma of seeing, or maybe being victims, to the murder at Leisure World.

As I drove in that direction, I heard a zillion police cars and they were heading to my favorite coffee shop where I would have been had it not been for the movie return.

Those mofos hit nearly every place I go to on that day and week, including the Post Office located on the side street of the K-Mart. They killed a bus driver there. They also murdered someone at the then-new Shoppers Food Warehouse in the evening as I drove home. This was really brazen - it's right across from the police station. People left flowers in the grocery parking lot. Once in awhile I think about this when I shop there, and in fact, bought groceries there yesterday evening.

They also killed someone at a gas station off Georgia Ave where I don't refuel, but it was scary as hell pumping gas anywhere in my area. I'd make my young daughter lay down in the car so she wouldn't be a target. She seemed to think it was a bit of game but would also peep up while I pumped, with me fussing, "put your head down!" I was hardly the only parent doing this.

I later found out they'd shot a bullet in the old Michael's Craft & Art Store the day before their first murder, also where I was a frequent customer.

Xavier was shocked to learn about the carnage in our community when he was released from the hospital. Even he wondered if whatever evil that tried to get him couldn't since he'd been locked up and medicated, and instead moved on Lee Malvo, the luckless and just as confused teenager. It was a sobering thought. Xavier finished the rest of his 8th grade without significant problems until he hooked up with run of the mill bad boys the following summer.

Long before then, the police finally caught these creeps, but the military planes and jets continued to fly all over the area as Bush got ready for war.


I wonder if they'll ever bring those other criminals from that time period to justice. Y'all know who know I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jesus On Food Stamps

Born to a homeless family and pretty much in a barn, with only his parents and some animals to keep him warm, Jesus would have been on food stamps in 2009.

Years later, one of his most memorable miracles was feeding four to five thousand hungry people with a few loaves of bread and a small basket of fish. This is cited in Matthew 14:13–21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15.

I bring this up now because I just got wind of this news: Many US Children May Live In Families Receiving Food Stamps. That's the least offensive link I've found summarizing Vol. 163 No. 11, pp. 973-1072, November 2009, of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine journal. You have to subscribe to read the full article, but you can read their abstract summary here.

It says that up to 50% of all American kids and 90% of black children will grow up in a household by age 20 where they or someone receives food stamps.

As an African American, I felt bad. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Their statistics feel like bullets that wound me.

I also doubted the conclusions. I mean, 90%? Come on. How many times have people lied with statistics? Or been wrong? But still... I wonder. What if it's true, or even remotely true?

Why are their projections so bleak? Research-gathering techniques of that magnitude sucked 30 and 20 years ago. The internet didn't even begin to get good until ten years ago.

If the government wasn't going broke and we hit Great Depression II with a vengeance and could afford to feed that many households of all races, then it might become true. Otherwise I just don't see it.

And, if they redid this study using stats of only the past decade, I wonder what their projections would be?

I know I live in an area of the country that is friendlier toward my people than nearly anywhere else. I speak of the DC-MD-VA beltway loop, where good government jobs, military and corporations abound, where the real estate market has held fairly steady while other areas have plunged, and so forth. Jobs have been tight this year but not impossible to get.

Hardly any the folks in my social circle have ever needed food stamps, and if so, it was only for a very brief time between jobs. Sure, I've had goo-gobs of clients who have relied on them, but the educated black middle and working class is strong in the DC area.

With this in mind - that my culture is only one of many subcultures in Black America - I grieve if the estimates are accurate.

I keep in mind that they are only statistics based on the past 30 years and projections of the future, and are not necessarily reflective of the present.

This is what's missing in so many news stories. It's all over the place and watered down or distorted to make it look like a current reality or a foregone conclusion... and for what purpose?

To give mainstream White America yet another reason to pity us?

To be fairer to us when we apply for jobs and in the workplace?

To throw up their hands and write us off as hopeless cases not worthy of saving when economic shit really hits the fan in 2010?

Or worse, to hate us en masse for our (unwanted) poverty, and at so many of us who are struggling for a figurative meal of fish and bread?

Jesus on food stamps... I picture this in my mind. It's the only thing that keeps me from feeling worse, and that we're not in such in bad company after all.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kit's Satire: Ideal Part Time Jobs

I'm on the light side this weekend, and have been thinking about some ideal, part-time fluff jobs, perfect for folks looking for a second gig. Feel free to add yours.

~Presidential Check Writer~

You can handle this job! Yes, I am certain that nearly all of you have a great deal of experience writing checks, so add that to your resume. Our Commander In Chief is too busy to fill out all these "bailout" checks. You can do this, and he only needs to sign them.

Just remember to not use the word "welfare" around him. I think he likes to call it "economic recovery" money or some other fancy phrase to make the rich and the tax payers feel better.

~Food Disposer for Gordon Ramsey~

Didn't your grandma or mom teach you to carry ziplock bags whenever you ate at buffet restaurants? Remember how embarrassed you were when other customers or the wait staff caught you? You've got experience then! You can dispose this celebrity cook's magnificent meals right into your refrigerator, as fresh and crisp as it was on his show. The all paid travel benefits will be a plus.

~Vibrator Tester~

Someone has to do it, right? Both women and men can apply to determine if the latest interesting little device can give a good shoulder massage. That's what they're for, right? Just be sure to take out a life insurance policy, however, in the event that faulty wiring in the encasement causes a power outage in your body.

~Medical Marijuana or Alcohol Sampler~

Don't lie. Bunch of y'all got experience in this area. For every batch of legal weed or ale, somebody is working in Quality Control and testing that shit. Might as well be you.

~Reality TV Show Audition Screener~

If you can scan a crowd and quickly identify a bully, nutcase, nerd, skank, dimwit, or a beautiful girl or hunky guy willing to do anything for love, fame or career, apply for the next season of shows.

My favorite was Real Chance of Love (their Stallionaire Guide To Dating clips are pretty funny), and more recently, I Want To Work For Diddy 2.

"Ahahaha... These silly hoes thought we were looking for love.
But thanks for letting me tap that ass."

"What, you think this is easy?
Work for me anyway so I can send my kids

AND the next 20 generations of Diddys to college!"

Even if you have a long history of dating or working with "unforgettable" folks, that's experience, so apply to screen those candidates. Afterwards, you might even get a date with, or can give a job to, someone who didn't make the cut.

Then you can blog about them.

~Doomsday Clock Watcher~

If you can tell time and periodically holler out, "It's still five to midnight!", apply now.

There's actually a doomsday clock. It's was started by and is maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. As said in wikipedia, "The number of minutes before midnight – measuring the degree of nuclear, environmental, and technological threats to mankind – is periodically corrected; currently, the clock reads five minutes to midnight, having advanced two minutes on 17 January 2007."

These mofo's actually think the world will end when their clock says so. They probably drink too much coffee and worry too much, then try to get everyone else to worry with them. I used to do that, and I know just thing they need.

I'm gonna apply for that job. When they're yapping it up on their umpteenth coffee break, I'm gonna push up the time to past midnight, just to eff with their heads.

Betcha they'll be applying for some of those other jobs by tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Barack Made History One Year Ago Today
Open Comments

Open comments today, but only for readers who were pro-Obama last November.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bang Bang

This one's gonna make some of you mad at me.

Xavier, my 21 year son, recently brought home three of his regular friends and a brand new BB/CO2 gun. They each had new ones too.

We don't hardly live in the country. There are few squirrels and birds to shoot, not that I condone that, but the men in my fam have a long history of enjoying that kind of shit. My dad hunted for food in his youth; my brother to a much lesser extent and both for sport.

Xavier doesn't even know that, to my knowledge; must be some kind of Boys Club they're born into.

So, in the absence of small animals that are viewed as rats with wings or fluffy gray tails, they were shooting each other in the backyard. You know that game: bang-bang you're dead. With pellets.

"You don't have health insurance," I said after I found out. "And that thing looks real."

"Yeah, ain't it great?"

"You're an idiot. Keep it outta my sight."

You might wonder why I don't 'make' him keep it out of the house. I could tell him this, but experience proves that he'd lie and sneak it back in anyway.

You might wonder why I don't kick him out.

That answer is easy: he'd quickly become a menace to society. This may be one reason why so many young adult males live at home. I think some of their mothers have sized up the odds pretty well that their young, poorly paid or unemployed black son would have no recourse than turning to crime. A man has to eat, you know?

He did bring home a real gun once. This was maybe two years ago. He thought it was a good idea to have one "for protection". That was one of the biggest fights we ever had.

I had an idea who gave it to him too, and without even confirming this, called that nigga up and cussed him out. He fortunately has a lot of respect for me, and took his shit back promptly.

That man-child almost landed in jail a year later on a robbery charge - one of those "I was just with them, Your Honor, and didn't know it was gonna go down" scenarios. I know his mama lost her shirt for his high priced attorney.

Along with not doing bail nor feeding fat attorneys, that's one thing I have never done for Xavier and told him long, long ago I never would. That's actually a lie, but it has kept him fairly honest. If he became a true victim of a racist cop, and the free public defender was incompetent and could not be replaced, I might help him out, depending on the circumstances.

Ssshhh. Don't tell him that, though.

So now, he's got this BB gun. It also has something called CO2, which allows it to shoot out air when there are no pellets in it.

That was actually fun.

All three of us were in the kitchen last night, including my daughter. Well, make that four, the dog was there too. So Xavier was playing with this awful toy. I made him prove to us there were no pellets in it, so he removed some thingy in the gun.

"It's only air and doesn't hurt," he said, putting it back together. "See, watch."

He shot his hand. You could see the CO2 gas come out in a poof. When he shot "air" at me, I blinked in surprised. It didn't hurt at all.

The child in me can be a bitch, and so can my curiosity and human nature. Next thing I knew, I surprised our poodle by shooting air at his azz.

It was one of those you-had-to-be-there funny moments.

He didn't like the 'pop' noise, and was startled, but he didn't leave the kitchen, no matter how many times we did it to him or each other. It really was fun.

Well, I'm dead certain some of you are horrified. I am too, because reading about it gives it a distance, where I can see not just the trees, but the forest of that mistake and that of others.

In the forest of my childhood, I grew up with cap guns and water guns and toy machine guns in addition to the Barbie dolls. That shit was fun back then, playing cops and robbers and all that. So playing with Xavier's BB/CO2 gun was like revisiting a time of innocent play.

The story turns dark from here.

A few hours later, he was on the computer. His BB gun was on the bed next to him. I came in to see when he'd get off. Saw the gun on the bed, picked it up, and bang bang, playfully shot him in the back of the head.

No, Your Honor, it was an accident. I was just there, the gun was just there, and I didn't mean to paralyze him, really.

Air hit the back of his head, and he turned around and laughed. I was laughing too. It was like my golden cap gun days.

Then suddenly, it hit me. I was horrified.

"Xavier, what if you had loaded BB's in this thing since earlier? I could have really hurt you!"

"Pffft! I don't have any more pellets. I told you that. It wouldn't have happened."

"But what if you had???"

He still wasn't getting it.

"Ma, I said I'm out of pellets. It's fine."

"But what about the next time? With me, your sister, or your friends?"

He hates conceding a point. The best I got out of him was a hmmmm.

"I won't lie to you," I said. "It's fun, but it wouldn't be fun if we were on the way to the ER now to remove a pellet from your scalp, or if you or one of your friends got shot in the eye with it. Or worse, a cop saw you with it and shot and killed your black azz."

He was quiet. Quiet is good. It means he's thinking. When he ain't thinking, he's arguing against my point of view.

Then Casey walks in. We're all nosey as hell in my family. She's in on everything and heard the conversation.

She says to Xavier, "Me n' Tyrone and Jill saw it on the coffee table on Halloween. He thought it only had air in it. I told him it had pellets but he didn't believe me and fired it..."

"I'm so sorry, Mz. Kit. I didn't mean to shoot your daughter. At least she still has one good eye."

"Where?" I asked.

"He shot one of the living room pillows. He said he was sorry."

"Is there a hole in it now?", I ask.


We look at Xavier.

I say, "Could've been her eye, ya know."

He goes, "Hmmmm."

"Well," I say crisply, "Wouldn't that have been a memorable Halloween."

There's really nothing else to say without belaboring the point and beating a dead horse, but I do anyway.

"You really need to get rid of that thing, and until then, keep it locked away."


I do some things very, very well as a parent. Sometimes, however, I screw up badly or am a terrible role model. For all my training in the helping field, I don't always know what to do or not to do. Human nature is so unpredictable, and people - your kids - have a will of their own, which, short of kicking them out, must be negotiated with reason and diplomacy as they get older. Yelling only makes them stubborn, and threats make them sneaky.

To make it worse, the values I grew up with don't apply for this generation, and haven't for a long time. Not to make excuses, but sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in a time warp. For example:

My mother smoked through her pregnancies and throughout my childhood.

Seat belts were non-existent.

You could buy paddles just for beating your kids. The word child abuse did not exist.

My daddy taught me how to drive long before it was legal.

As a kid, when I went to the grown up parties with the folks, it was common to hear one adult tell another, "Jack, before you go, take one for the road!", and if Jack wasn't "too drunk", he just might take that beer or cup as he walked out the door with his wife and kids.

In my late teens, I had several boyfriends who routinely smoked weed while driving, and one who always had a beer nestled in his crotch. All but one, by the way, turned out to be suit n' tie successful in life.

And everybody had guns, including the kids, many like myself, who had an arsenal of toy weapons.

Oh but how the game has changed.

Parenting is like a war game. You battle for their safety and often their souls, and you battle to adapt to the changes from your childhood where the rules were different, but now there's more to lose.

I don't know if or how I'm gonna get that damned BB gun from Xavier, but at least I got some hmmms' out of him. It may not be enough, and may be our next battle ground.

While part of me doesn't want to overreact to a BB/CO2-Air gun, the larger part worries more about under-reacting. What if he and a friend play in a park at night (which is illegal, it can only be used on private property), or it became visible in his coat pocket, and a cop sees this and blows him away?

I'm sorry Mz. Kit, we tend to shoot first in these situations and ask questions later.

I hope I win on this one, because there's one post I never wanna write: My Son Is Dead.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blogging For Confidence
And Other Random Thoughts
About Family Dynamics & The Sexes

If you missed it yesterday or today, it's gone for now. Several people who caught it enjoyed it immensely, and I thank them for their comments. I'm speaking of a short story I wrote about the monstrous horror of what went wrong in one family.

People blog for many different reasons and cover a seemingly infinite number of topics.

Well readers, I've been blogging for confidence.

I was given the gift to write well long ago. Luck would have it that I had a wonderful Catholic school education through 7th grade, and my public school English teachers for 8th through 11th were excellent.

I loved reading and could spell my azz off. I had a clue on how good I was in 8th grade, when my teacher had the class do a spelling bee. I was one of the last two standing. My classmate missed the word, but I sounded it out and used the weird rules that I somehow know without knowing and got it right. Even the kids who took little interest in English watched to see if I'd blow it. You could hear a pin drop. I got it! The teacher looked astounded, and dropped her head down with one of those, "damn" expressions, as in, damn, how'd she get that?

Boy that felt good!

My 9th grade teacher saw my book of poems and encouraged me to enter one. I was shocked with I won 1st place in that DC citywide poetry contest.

The thing is, my parents weren't into my poetry. They really didn't understand it. Left me feeling like it wasn't all that important.

It's kind of weird because my father wrote and sold poetry to white men just so he could see it published. Wouldn't be in his name, but at least he saw it in print.

I wish the hell I had a list of those guys now, not to sue them, but just to know who those fuckers were.

Maybe he didn't want to see me get hurt like he had been. Instead, he encouraged me to study journalism in college since I liked to read so much and could write a decent essay.

Well fuck, that field had a very low glass ceiling too, so low that a dwarf might bump her head.
Like my father in the 1940s or 50s, I couldn't break the racial barrier in the early '80s. I managed to get two gopher jobs - "go for this and go for that" - in black media places, but sexism was rampant.

I got fired by one old fart (old as in his 40s, which was old to me back then), because I wasn't interest in getting with him, and he got jealous because I started dating a guy my own age who worked the technical end of radio, who quickly became one of my best boyfriends ever. He was fired a week after me.

The degradation I saw a number black women go through, and the racism black men and women had to put up with, made me think long and hard. I gave up on journalism and pursued social work, and shortly after that, mental health. It was a rewarding career, financially and mentally.

At the end of some days, I went home feeling like I'd done God's work. And I had.

In 2006, I began writing again for the first time in years. My parents were dead, but none of my family members were supportive.

I'll never forget when I read an excerpt to a novel that I
knew was great writing, and this relative said something really cruel. The way he did it reminded me of the little cruel acts my father would do to me after I learned I was infertile.

He would say, while grinning, when I'd tell him that I was going out on date, "Don't get pregnant!"

Mind you, he was the number one person who pushed me day and night to get an abortion when I was 19. The men in my family are mixed bag. They can show you love and support - usually in areas that interest them - or they can say the cruelest things just because they're assholes.

So this time, with this relative, I confronted him.

"Why did you say that? Do you really think that?"

He became uncomfortable.

"No. I don't know why I said that."

He really didn't.

It hit me then that he was jealous, and his poisonous words were a knee-jerk reaction. He writes very well and should be doing his own thing in that area, but something holds him back. My success will trigger his insecurity and make him feel like he's wasting his gift.

Plus, he had wanted to edit my work after reading the first chapter because he said he liked it - but he wanted a huge cut off any profit... something crazy like 25 percent, rather than my paying by the hour for his help. Suddenly, my story wasn't good anymore.

Jealousy is so destructive. Even when you know the person is jealous, if your confidence isn't 100%, you might feel uncertain and insecure. I was getting demoralized by own family at their lack of interest.

Not everyone had the green with envy issues. Two close relatives simply didn't like the point of view of one of the characters. They'd scan a few pages, hone in on one, and start ripping the whole story apart. For one it was over religion, for the other, the character was too ghetto.

Folks can real pissed if their own values or beliefs are challenged by the thought processes of someone who thinks differently than they do.

"Do you believe this?", one demanded.

"Nooo, but my character does."

"Why don't you write about nice people with happy endings?"

"We all start out nice at birth," I explained. "For a bunch of folks, it goes downhill from there, and there are reasons for this. Read the story and you'll see."

"That's okay," he said dismissively, "it's not my cup of tea. By the way, I read a really good book recently that you might like."

Fuck you too, you unsupportive son of a bitch, I thought to myself.

Not a single one of my friends would take time to read my stuff. I know if I was their damn boyfriend or some nigga they wanted, they would. I got no dick, they had no time for my dumb hobby.

They'd yap for hours and in multiple phone calls over how some nigga done them wrong. I can't tell you how much those conversations bored the crap out of me after the age of 40.

If ya ain't happy with him, ain't you learned by now what to do? And don't you know the warning signs when shit
first starts going downhill? Ain't like he's gonna marry you anyway so stop sweatin' the man.

Oh damn, how my girl friends hated hearing that.

That wishful thinking shit causes more heartbreaks than reality. Reality is raw. Only 30% of black women will ever get married, and we can expect half of them to divorce, so enjoy your kids if you got any or get a dog if you don't.

If you prefer cats, resist the urge to get more than one. My past two never wanted to share the litter box, and who wants to be over 40, unmarried, and thought of as the cat lady? Having one cat instead of one dog does have one great advantage - you don't have to rush home after work to walk it.

(Anyway, I got a little off track here. My bad. Told ya this post would be somewhat random.)

So I got into writing fiction three years ago, and lots of it. Posted one on-going story on the Internet and got 500 hits each time I added a new chapter.

Problem was, racism reared it's ugly head. My characters are black, and they had a lot to say. The cyberhate was mind-blowing. I still can't even talk about it, it was so bad.

But what was also upsetting was the poverty of black support. I know they were reading the shit because I'd see their user names in the 'room' where the story was posted, but proportionally, they were stingy as hell with the comments.

I mean, what's up with that?

I learned there really is truth that black male writers (and bloggers) get more attention from readers than black women.

Some bro can write some half-assed shit in one paragraph and get ten comments - or worse, write stuff that is sooo fuggin' wrong that if a woman wrote that shit, half of her readers would bail.

We got sistas out here in Blogland who routinely write quality stuff, but get far less attention. And it's not that I resent the kudos good male bloggers get, it's that I resent that women too often are not treated equally, even by other women.

I often think we're all starved for black men, even black men.

We hunger for their voices, opinions, and guidance, so much so that a woman can say the exact same thing but it not have the same impact.

It's not just a black problem either, it's a human problem. This is why male preachers will always dominate houses of worship, no matter what religion. Same goes for the political arenas. It's like everyone wants a daddy-figure to tell them what they need to know.

I can't complain too much, though, my male readers have been very good to me, and I have as many of them as the ladies. I attribute this to trying to be fair and looking at both sides of an issue, and being nurturing to them as well.

All of you together, the brothas and sistas, and my white readers too, have given me a sorely needed gift: confidence.

The few comments on my short story, which was only up for 48 hours, were so nurturing.

Last night, my son had four friends over, all between 20 and 23. I read it to them and they were mesmerized. Their excitement, like that of my readers here, was genuine. I got from you and from them what I could never get from own friends and family, with the exception of my beloved son, Xavier, who has always been one of my biggest fans.

Collectively over the past 18 months of my blogging, you have healed my soul.

My next step is to submit that story and some others, with the hope they'll get published in a book. This is why I switched it to 'private view - invite only' on my other Keep It Trill companion blog.

I don't know if I will succeed, but after blogging for confidence and succeeding in that, I'm ready to try - again, and this time, eff the haters.

Tonight I want to thank all of you. Here's a toast to you. Cheers.


P.S. - Please excuse the excessive bold highlighting and earlier typos. This unusual post was so long and filled with randomness, that I figured highlighting the different shifts in thought would be helpful.