Monday, October 31, 2011

Don't Be Fooled: The Importance of Critical Reading and Thinking

I touched on this briefly in an older blog entry, but I feel very strongly the need to write on this again. From my previous post:

Critical reading and thinking means not just looking at what is said, but understanding what it means, and how best to apply what knowledge has been provided.

Until more black women are able to critically regard and think carefully about the "advice" coming their way from various sources, they will continue to leave themselves open to suggestions that, however well meant, had might as well be a dagger lodged directly in their spines.

I bolded that section for a reason. Sometimes, I believe people knowingly offer false information in order to undermine other people. And other times, it is not intentioned at at all; the person just holds a point of view that is harmful, and are imparting the only wisdom they have available to them.

You could compare it to the unfortunate story of a girl being told by the mothers of her church to pray and "Lean on Jesus!" after confessing to being abused by her husband. Thankfully someone else helped her to get out of the situation before she was beaten to death.

I do not necessarily think those women offered that advice with the intent to hurt this young woman. It may have been their experience that it was all they could do in a similar situation. Maybe they felt it allowed them to be "delivered" or was a coping mechanism for their sense of helplessness.

But the fact remains that even though no ill will may have been meant, their advice was dangerous. People offer dangerous advice all the time. On purpose or not on purpose. People put forth solutions and ideas that they may feel very well are useful and helpful, but they are anything but.

I hold no hatred in my heart for such people. I simply treat them the way I do people who knowingly offer input that is meant to harm me.

I listen/read what they have to say in a critical manner, and then act accordingly.

Critical thinking is “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.”*

You read something and then you have to decide whether or not it is true or false (or a combination), and how best to act in response to what you've just read.

Information is more than "tone". So often, black women are thrown by tone because they cannot distinguish something meant to harm them from something meant to help them. Not all truths are pleasant!

How different would the world be if this were so?

I know it's hard dealing with words that make you feel bad, however intended, but active listening isn't just about your hurt feelings.

comprehension >>> retention >>> response = active listening

And in order to listen actively, you have got to be able to think critically. How else are you going to take in information and understand it if you can't get beyond the non-issues and absorb useful and necessary information? How else can you protect yourself against advice and ideals that harm you rather than help you?

How does one go about thinking critically?

I was extremely fortunate enough to have a course on this in my early college years. I advise ANYONE who is in college or plans to go to take this type of course. It requires you to not just read information, but to ask serious questions about it. To look at what is being said, and what is not being said. To not necessarily take something at face-value, but to come up with an interpretation of that information that is as true and accurate as possible. This is at the heart of what it means to read and think critically.

When you are able to do that, you will be much better armed against trolls and de-railers who may creep into your spaces, or even against those well meaning persons that would cause unintended hurt.

Because you don't necessarily look at tone, or bias, or distractions, etc. You look at the most important points to be taken away and then you are able to respond appropriately.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Young black girls open to interracial relationships...?

...It's more likely than you think.

I'm a wanderer; aside from my visits to BWE related sites, I also travel to sites not remotely centered on black women's issues. And when the topic of interracial dating or love comes up, I've begun to notice that not only are a number of the black female participants open to the idea of interracial relationships, they actually scoff at the idea of being unable to do so because of what members of the black community think, even black men.

"If black guys can date interracially, why can't I?" was the often raised question.

Well, even if they didn't, who gives a crap? It's your life, and you're free to love and be loved by whoever you want.

The idea that this seems to be getting across to a host of younger black women is rather interesting. If more and more younger black girls are considering love on a multi-racial/multi-ethnic scale, could it signal the end of self-imposed restrictions by black women in terms of dating? Are we witnessing a new generation of black girls who aren't interested in the "nothing but a brother" talk?

It's a bit soon to tell, but seeing these sentiments expressed entirely outside of black-centric or even black woman-centric discussion is very intriguing.

When black women "white knight" for black men....

According to that wacky and sometimes rather accurate site "Urban Dictionary", white knighting is usually what happens on blogs and forums when a male poster comes to the rescue of a perceived "damsel in distress". Often without even understanding why she is getting pwned, this person butts in and defends her to the virtual death. This practice is, ironically, not looked on particularly favorably. The reason? Often, the person has been called out for saying something rather stupid. So how stupid does the white knight look by coming to the defense of someone clearly not worthy of that sort of digital dedication?

One interesting, or rather disturbing, phenomenon is the reverse happening for black men on the internet. Among the BWE (black women empowerment) collective, this action is known as "sista soldiering". According to blogger Evia, the definition is as follows:

"A sharp-tongued AA or similar black woman who considers it her prime responsibility to fight all racial slights or other forms of racial inequality even when her black male peers express apathy and supply no help".

The above was quoted from one of Evia's wonderful books, all of which I've bought and highly recommend. You'll find them via her blog.

So basically you have women "manning up" to save and defend the race, most of the time on their own. These women are firm believers in "black love" and rather than go to places that support it, will make time to go on interracial dating sites and blogs targeted at black women (note, WOMEN and not MEN) defending the honor of all black men to the death and attempting to shame black women away from getting with "white racists".

Oh, brother.

Even though I've seen this, I feel that in some instances, "sista soldier" is not enough of a specific label for what I see, so I go with "white knighting".

The role reversal we've seen in the black community with black girls raised to anticipate the role as head of household and to be "strong" and "the bread winner" makes this approach make sense to me, because black boys today are often raised in an entirely different fashion: spoiled, coddled, and babied. In today's black community, they are a precious treasure; the "little princess" their sisters can never be.

So what has happened is this reversal means that black males are now viewed in some twisted sense as "damsels in distress": When their honor is attacked on the internet, it is not enough to let them handle their business as men, and rise to the occasion (which, as with the case of the generic scenario never really happens). No, these black women must "white knight" for them, and defend the honor of their slighted ladies.

The thing that bothers me about this isn't just the fact that if the reverse were true, I sincerely doubt we would see this same level of defense of "black love" and dark black women and victims of black male's expressing negative opinions of black women. I've long ago accepted the fact that such a thing will never happen within our racial group as this consideration will never be mutual.

What bothers me is that these women who do this "white knighting" remain unaware of the fact that no self-respecting black man would ever willingly want to think of himself as a "damsel in distress" who needs to be rescued from women, by women. That such men would call on black women to "defend their honor", or allow black women to shield them and protect them as if they were delicate helpless things is itself absolute proof of a complete departure from masculinity. And I suspect this has not gone unnoticed, so even as these persons allow black women to act as their faithful attack dogs, I'm willing to bet they hate them for it just the same.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update: What we can learn from the Amber Cole case...

The more I understand the apparent details of the situation, the sadder it becomes:

Alexander Dill of the Examiner writes, "What Amber Cole consented to was a desperate act she thought would win back her ex-boyfriend, who also happened to be her first love. This was an emotionally starved, emotionally lost young lady whose self-esteem had been so severely damaged that she thought this was the only way for her to win back someone she loved. Don't you see the tragedy in that?" (LINK)

So here we have a young girl who had honestly thought that if she did this "love act" for this clearly undeserving young man, he would love her again and things would be the way they were before she had given up the goods. Those of us who are older and wiser folks know that's never the case, but it was a hard lesson that Amber learned the hardest way possible. Not only did things not go back to the way they were, she was videotaped, the video was posted to the internet and you had potentially millions of people watch it.

Allegedly, two of the three boys have been arrested. For what and whether or not the charges stick are something I'll be following closely.

In a perfect non-digital world, making bad decisions would not be immediately followed by being humiliated on a global scale. I should not know who this person is. But I do, and because she's on my mind, it's something I have to deal with.

In a way, this situation has presented either new life lessons or reaffirmed old ones.

What have we learned from this situation?

According to a number of people, you as a victim are responsible for your own victimization; there is no perpetrator.

Wow, I thought the Matrix was blowing minds with "there is no spoon"! Here we saw, "there is no perp". People were lining up to shame this girl, to condemn her, to freak out about the video, while absolutely ignored the fact that there were others involved, that this was taped and uploaded without Amber's permission, and that spreading and watching these videos is a criminal offense. These very real and very logical facts absolutely escaped the attention of these people.

There is no spoon, there is no crime, there is no pre-meditated act of hate and disrespect against a fourteen-year-old girl.

To completely remove the people at fault for a video going viral in the first place requires such an either highly evolved or de-volved level of disconnect it is absolutely frightening.

How in the hell is someone who did not agree to being taped, having that tape uploaded to the internet, and not spreading it around personally responsible for what happened? SOLELY responsible?

Did Amber Cole do something questionable in giving head to this person in front of her peers on school property? Of course! But how her "immoral" behavior manages to dwarf the act of knowingly humiliating this person by filming it and then illegally distributing child pornography is just unbelievable.

We've crossed from the Matrix into the Twilight Zone.

The moment you participate in an act of a sexual nature, you are "grown". Even worse, you are a "whore" and should be treated like one.

I had to pause after writing that because I was nearly physically ill. This is a notion that reeks of opportunities taken to violate children, and to justify continued sexual abuse. She/he is "grown" now having been "spoiled", so it doesn't matter what else is done.

The idea that you could be sexual with a child and suddenly they are an adult is an idea I've heard of peddled in pornography; the notion of sex as a "graduation to adulthood" (often times initiated without the understanding or consent of the person playing the role of the minor).

I don't doubt for an instant that the corrupt rationalizations for incest and child rape that are brushed over and covered up among people of color are to blame for this casual acceptance of early sexuality in children, especially black girls. How else do you explain the notion that a fourteen year old black girl can't be a virgin. Really? Being a fourteen year old virgin is STRANGE?! Not on this side of the Middle Ages.

Also there is the lack of appreciation for the law, which states that Amber Cole is most certainly not grown. If the law of the land says someone isn't an adult, that's all there is to it. And if you choose to act in a way that defies that understanding, guess what? You are going to jail, and I don't feel the slightest bit sorry for you.

When the person who makes the most significant strides to fight for this girl isn't remotely black and isn't part of the ethnic community, that community is DEAD.

I thought about it, really hard, but I'm just going to go ahead and put a sheet over the corpse. The black community is DEAD.



And it's not coming back.

Anna Belle, a woman who has been fighting tirelessly through her blog to remove all links to the video and hold everyone connected to it responsible is definitely not who you would expect the knight in shining armor to look like. I confess, I was stunned. I think she is an amazing human being, who deserves all the accolades a hero is due in this life and the next.

But look at who she is, and who she is not.

She is not black.
She is not a man.
She is not an influential leader in the black community.

She is just a woman who saw something she thought was wrong, and decided she was going to do something about it.

Meanwhile, the greater black populous remains unaware, indifferent, or unable to get past the first "lesson" this situation has taught us.

What further proof do you need that the black community is dead? Would you like to see the body? Just wait. Word is that two of the young men have been arrested. Should they be charged, I expect black speakers and leaders to be out in force to demand their release.

Suddenly, as with other cases concerning rapists, murders, and thieves, we are to stand up for them and demand the justice system respect their civil rights and let them go. Meanwhile the victims are either drug through the mud or become non-existent (I imagine the former will happen to Amber, she's far too visible to simply ignore).

This is what the zombie black community will have come to: Defending scum because that scum is black and the fact that they are black males will forever override the fact that they are scum. Because, according to the zombie black community, it is more important to defend black male scum than to defend and look out for the black female victims of scum, because they are less than and are to be ignored. Black females are only allowed to not be muddied roadkill when there are non-black sources for their victimizations.

To the zombie black community, to be a promiscuous black girl is more evil than being a rapist, a murder, and a thief. To this walking corpse that doesn't know it's dead, these things are less evil and more redeemable than a little girl who trusted someone to love her again if she lowered herself at his command.

Dig a hole and throw dirt. That's all that's left.

So, there you have what we have learned so far from this rather disturbing situation. And no, I won't be putting flowers on the grave. Given what things have come to, they aren't deserved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amber Cole, and that heavy feeling at the bottom of my stomach...

The feeling in the pit of my stomach is what I imagine it would feel like if you swallowed a whole bunch of pennies. And they just sat there, not digesting, and taking up all kinds of space. Heavy, painful, and very disturbing.

The cause is the situation surrounding a young girl (she's not a woman, no matter how anyone tries to spin this) by the name of Amber Cole.

The situation as I am best able to understand it is this girl was talked into giving oral sex to her boyfriend on school property and without her consent, the encounter was filmed and posted to the internet. It was then spread all over the world, and being viewed in countries I doubt this teen has ever heard of.

I will not be linking to or sharing this video or even images of it, as it is child pornography as far as I am concerned. Legally, I'm pretty sure it IS child porn, and spreading it a crime. The consequences if one is involved in something so stupid are pretty heavy, and I'm going to go on record as saying you couldn't fit the "sorry" I have for such individuals found to be criminally liable into the eye of needle.

I cannot pretend to be unaffected by this.

You see that beautiful baby in the picture I posted at the top of page? To me, she is a beautiful little darling, full of all the innocence and wonder you'd expect from an infant. She knows nothing of the world and its evils. To others, she's already soiled.

This is a hard pill to swallow, hence the pain in my gut: Black women are born whores in this world.

We are NEVER seen as innocent. We are instead seen as commodities to be exploited in any and every possible way from the moment we breathe air on the other side of the womb.

For me, 14 is too young for anything of a sexual nature. In the eyes of someone else, they wouldn't believe her to even be a virgin at that age. Not with that skin tone, not from that racial background. She knew "what she was" before she started menstruating.

I will remember, to the day I die, the explanation one uncle gave for raping his 7-year-old niece, and infecting her with an STI: "She was acting all hot towards me."

A grown ass man was sexually seduced by someone who has only been wiping her own behind for a few years? Wow. Imagine that. I know that with child predators and molesters, rationalization of this sort is not outside the norm, but for African Americans, it becomes something else entirely doesn't it?

Because you see, we are in the globally unique position of not giving a damn about our kids. Not all of us....just most. Fathers abandon their children before they are born. Mothers instill the virgin/whore complex into their daughters and give their sons sexual free reign. Everyone comes together to damn any black girl, regardless of her level of promiscuity, to hell for possessing a vagina.

Hardly anyone stands up for a slandered and exploited black child in the black community. She is never seen as worth the effort. No other group of people on Earth hates itself as much as members of the so-called black community, and for the past few hours, I've seen that self-loathing in rare form.

Black men and women talking about how she "knew what she was doing" and it was "her own fault". Yes, because nothing says accountability for one's actions like not being the one filming and peddling child porn. Meanwhile these brain-dead individuals break the law all over the place by watching and spreading this video. Hmm.

But the racial dynamics simply cannot be ignored. Had the girl been giving oral sex to a white boy and white guys posted it, I can guarantee you that there would be all sorts of outrage. How DARE the "white devil" sexually violate and exploit the descendant of slave women who were raped by their ancestors! It should amaze me how okay black people are with the debasement and shaming of black girls and women so long as the person doing it isn't white. It's like no one made the connection that the act of doing so was bad, regardless of who was doing it. And I am cynically inclined to think any response psychologically comes back to the pride and ego of black males; female victims be damned, this would be about the manhood of black men.

Had this been a white 14-year-0ld, I do feel that the video would still have been spread, however I also think there would have been and would be a much greater attempt to hold anyone spreading this video accountable financially and criminally, in both the pursuit of child porn charges and lawsuits.

There would also be a primetime special on teenage sexuality and all sorts of concern for young girls being lead astray by this cruel and immoral world.

People would care about the mental and emotional and physical safety of these young white girls. They would be more apt to talk to them about their sexuality and making smart decisions.

But a black girl? Why bother! She'll be pregnant in a year anyway, right?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Color-struck love?

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, went ahead and made this response a blog post, but I wanted to share my most honest thoughts with a woman who I felt needed it, and hopefully it helps:

This letter is, like last week’s, about something that transcends IR dating: This isn’t about a bad IR relationship, it’s about bad decision making and not listening to your instincts when they try and warn you about DBR persons.

Ladies, you need to stop suspending reality when you go into or try to go into an interracial relationship. What I mean to say is assuming that bad behavior patterns that you are used to seeing in DBR BM either don’t exist outside of the BC or ignoring the warning signs because it’s more important for you to hold onto your non-BM than to recognize that something’s wrong and that you need to back away from this person.

I sincerely do wonder whether or not the fact that the significant other isn’t black is playing a role in why some women put up with bad behavior. Is it something that they would not put up with if the person were black?

The letter writer was concerned about the fact that this man was cheating on her with another black woman. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of BW trying to snag someone else’s non-BM. Maybe it’s petty competitive womanly instincts, or it may be a direct symptom of the encouraged “man-sharing mentality” in the BC. In those situations, where and when a man comes onto a BW’s radar (even if he’s taken) and she thinks she has a half decent chance with him, she feels she has to go for him immediately, because God only knows when another man will come along. And his DBRness is rendered irrelevant by their desperation. (Note for the letter writer: Before you get too distraught over the other woman, odds are he’s already cheating on her, and was likely cheating on the both of you with a BW neither one of you knew about).

But for some reason, it’s easier to make this about “IR confusion”, than addressing the problem for what it is: An inability to accept the fact that race is neither a determiner of bad behavior, nor will it shield you from it.

MLK Jr. brought up “content of one’s character” over “color of their skin” in terms of how a person is judged. For a lot of black women who date out, it’s new territory to be sure, but I feel like so much emphasis is placed on the skin tone, that these people forget that it’s the most irrelevant part of the relationship. You are making a connection, for better or worse, with another human being.

If you decide to make such a connection, the most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself and that other person. Also be certain that there is mutual respect AND self-respect.

One thing I am proud of you for is not caving to this person sexually, because I do sense very strongly that it would have backfired on you badly. This person was NEVER with you for sex. He was with you so that he could leech off of your love and kindness (and money). He knew he could get sex from anyone; it’s not an exclusive commodity. Besides, there are a number of women who have financially and sexually supported men, only to be cast aside at the first available opportunity.

Your body is your own, and only you can decide when you are ready to physically commit to another person. Too often, that decision is taken out of the hands of black women, either by the expectation that she be physically active before she’s really ready, or by being violated by predators. Sexuality for black women is a tricky issue, often heated due to differing philosophies regarding religion, society, etc. BUT, you only need to be concerned with your own body and life decisions.

At the same time, understand that because you choose to be abstinent, you do not need to compensate financially or emotionally (through forgiving behavior that is inherently hurtful and disrespectful) in order to “make up” for it. This is what I suspect happened with you agreeing to buy cars for this male and continuing to be connected to him after finding out about the other woman.

If you’re going to wait to be intimate until after you’re married, be certain that you are on the same page with any future man you are seeing and that he understands what this means, and fully respects it (and that doesn’t mean being on the lookout for outside booty). If a man is really looking to be with and marry you, then they’d be looking to expedite the trip down the aisle anyway.

And as everyone else has said, do not financially support any man that’s not your husband and if at all possible, avoid going near men who are so financially unstable that they are reliant on you. The truth is many men resent the idea of needing a woman financially in the first place. Losers will take your money gladly, but they’ll just as gladly secretly despise you for making them feel emasculated. So don’t even go there.

In any case, best wishes for the future, and definitely take the time to reflect and do so carefully before trying to get with anyone new, regardless of their racial make-up. DBRs are rarely hidden personalities; their words and actions give them away. So when those red flags pop up one after the other, DON’T IGNORE THEM OR MAKE EXCUSES! Get the heck out of there!

The above was an attempt to reach out to a black woman who decided to date interracially for love and marriage and the man turned out to be bad news.

But there is something else that really bothered me, about this letter and about other similar scenarios I've seen and read about involving black women who seem to be going into IR dating absolutely color-struck.

It's worrying because it's not the exact same color-struck that some BM who date and marry out experience, but I wouldn't shy away from calling it a close cousin.

To understand what I mean, let's look at all the reasons black men who date lighter-and-brighter use to justify their preference. They see these women as beautiful, passive, supportive, feminine, lovely, non-emasculating, worthy of their money and respect, etc. And at the same time may see black women, especially the darker and less "mixed" she appears to be, as a slew of other things that culminate with her not being worth a damn. They may sleep with black women, but they will not give them the deferential treatment they afford to non-black women. They also will not give black women even the most remote chance of "slipping up". Heck, in the minds of a number of sorry black men, a woman wanting child support for a baby he helped create is the equivalent of being a gold-digging skank. It's not much of a stretch to assume they would not willingly abide any truly awful behavior in a black woman. However, have you noticed how many would abide the same behavior (and worse) with a light-skinned BW and non-BW?

Well, before you crow too loudly at their stupidity, I suspect that there are a number of BW who are unfortunately inclined to behave the same way. That is to say, abide DBR behavior in a non-BM that they would not abide in a BM. This is not the same as failing to understand DBR behavior in any man, I mean black women who either consciously or unconsciously ignore warning signs of DBR behavior in men because of their skintone. Nothing against the persons, but even questioning the possibility that stories of textbook damaged behavior were made up to "scare" IR-interested females. Now, this isn't unreasonable, because some black males are so out of their minds this isn't beyond them. However, is it really so unbelievable that damaged males of various ethnic groups act in a similar way?

This selective understanding of male behavior based on race is something that some black women need to address.

And I'll try to address this in a future blog, because I don't want this one to be too long. Stay tuned, please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Watch your back....

Why watch your back? Because not everyone has your back.

No matter whether overt or hidden, harm meant or not meant, blood relation or total stranger: Sometimes, your best interests take a hammering.

Some people will blatantly attack you for even thinking about bettering yourself.

"Crabs in a barrel".

"Misery loves company".

These attacks are easiest for people to see and fight back against, at least if their self-esteem is intact, because the unpleasantness is obvious. The bitterness and bad feelings are right in the open.

But what do you do when someone is saying things that sound rational and kind, but actually work against you? Do you dismiss the fact that what they're saying is more harm than good because they don't sound mean? Do you nod along because their version of reality sounds so much sweeter than the real thing?

For instance, take the idea of embracing your physical beauty as a black woman and doing your best to take care of and improve it. For us, our Achilles heel has been our weight, at least for the past twenty or thirty years. We are as a race of women being pushed into the mammy and sapphire corner, and they're now trying to slap lipstick on the hybrid and sexy her up.

Reminder: these were images that were created for black women by white racists. Mammy, Sapphire, and Jezebel never belonged to black women. They were stereotypes said of us, spitefully and mockingly said of us, and somewhere along the way, there was some confusion. Now, black women will fight you if you try to push them away from giving their all to living in these roles.

But rail against physical stereotypes and improve your looks, and along come others to assure you that "you don't really need to lose those pesky 100 lbs" and that "you're lovely just the way you are and one day your prince will come".


I guess when they were giving doses of naive romanticism, I missed mine because aside from the idea of there being someone out there for everyone, I also acknowledge that the dating world is like every other aspect of mating in nature: Competitive as hell.

Women are dirty when it comes to things like this. Not all of us, but enough to the point where you have to watch out for yourself.

The choice to lose weight, to change uncouth behavior, to dare to be feminine in a way that upsets "the natural order" - you can't expect that your opponents in the dating world are going to take this lightly. Perhaps consciously, perhaps subconsciously, there is going to be resistance. And the methods used are not going to be pretty.

Mostly because the underhanded means of taking you out will attempt to be made in the guise of friendship and love: Hey, I'm just looking out for you!

Is there anything uglier than playing someone against herself? I doubt it.

Now, not all advice offered will be pleasant and pretty. This is hardly the best way to judge advice, because honestly, we as humans shy away from anything unpleasant. That's just the way we are. We avoid the unpleasant and cling for our very lives to whatever tickles our fancy.

So good advice may sound harsh, and we turn away from it, and bad advice sounds pleasant, and we listen.

As for why we do this, I believe that we have trained ourselves to resist and fight off perceived attacks by their tone, more so than what is said. So if something sounds "hurtful", regardless of whether or not it's helpful, it will be rebuffed. And if something sounds "pleasant", even if it is meant to harm us, it will either not be rebuffed, or be allowed equal consideration due to the gentle-sounding nature of what is said.

This is unfortunate. Critical reading and thinking means not just looking at what is said, but understanding what it means, and how best to apply what knowledge has been provided.

Until more black women are able to critically regard and think carefully about the "advice" coming their way from various sources, they will continue to leave themselves open to suggestions that however well meant had might as well be a dagger lodged directly in their spines.

Pop music is addictive?

Saw this over at Apparently, the reason you've got the latest hit on replay is a matter of self-medication. O_o Take a look:

Yes, pop music is basically cranial crack, to the point that scientists have actually been able to predict which songs would become big sellers by hooking kids up to an MRI scanner and playing previously unheard pop tunes for them. When a future hit came on, the pleasure center of the brain lit up like a Christmas tree.

Here's the curious thing: The participants were also surveyed about the songs, and the reviews they gave them were significantly different from what their brain scans revealed. Yes, although the songs gave their brains the kind of high you usually have to break a bunch of laws to achieve, they consciously went against their brainwaves in order to seem less inclined to pop music than the MRI scanner showed they were.

And not only does your brain go apesh*t when it hears catchy, poppy music, but also it actually derives pleasure from predicting the melodies as you listen, anticipating the emotion associated with certain types of music. This leads to a one-two punch where you get one thrill when your brain is expecting something to happen, and when it actually does another rush of dopamine comes in from an entirely different part of the brain. And this is where your brain enters Addict Mode. The easiest way for it to get its dopamine fix is tunes that are simple, predictable and repetitive -- so that's what it prefers, no matter your views on the artistic merits. That's right -- no matter how carefully hipster you are, or how hardcore a metalhead image you maintain, your brain is secretly into Bieber.

This is really interesting, as it sort of explains why pop music is, well, pop music.

Pop = Popular

I'm starting to suspect the difference between overt pop music lovers and those who "hate" mainstream music is one group has no rep to protect, and in order to comply with certain perceived social norms, must vocally contradict their brains. :D

Food for thought...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The difference between being empowered and being coddled...

I have been a bit busy so I haven't had a chance to discuss topics of interest that I've come across of things I've been thinking on, but I'm going to make the effort with this, because it touches on previous posts, as well as something I've observed around the BWE blogsphere.

BWE or Black Women Empowerment means different things to different people. That much is very clear. The basic gist, from what I can comprehend, is that there is a movement to help black women take control of their individual destinys, to reject the toxic dialogue with elements of the so-called black community that would see her harmed, and to choose a path that is optimal for her own survival and happiness.

The above seems to be the "meat and potatoes"of the message. (Interesting note, when I first saw BWE on a black woman's blog, I thought it stood for "Black Woman Exodus".) However, there are other connotations as well:

- A "safe-space" from the world, which seems to have it out for black women
- A place you can be "honest" about your feelings regarding black men, white women, and anyone else you feel is a problem for today's black women.
- A call to action
- A blog space for venting
- A place to learn
- A place to try and convince others to expand their dating and marriage prospects.

There are a number of ways, from the positive to the negative, to describe BWE.

However, one of the most worrying for me is the element of expectation that the BWE is a place for being "encouraged". And when I say that I don't mean uplifted....I mean coddled.

There is a striking similarity between this expectation of BWE bloggers and participants in this context and the expectation one finds in the black church. That is, the idea of going to church to be told all this wonderful stuff, and how everything is gonna be alright, and how the LAWD will fix all your problems and send you the perfect man, while you sit there and do nothing.

With BWE, it becomes: "We will tell you all the wonderful things, and ever so gently point out failings, and never ever tell you things you don't want to hear about yourself, or about potentially harmful behaviors, attitudes, and habits".

This is coddling. This is telling you half the story, and omitting things because they don't make you feel comfortable. This is expecting people to not be blunt because it upsets your sensibilities.

Most times, I do try and be polite. Sometimes, however, I feel that there is just no other way to address a problem or a situation than to call it as I see it, with no sugar-coating whatsoever.

As the image above suggests, YOU, are ultimately responsible for your own empowerment. Though you look to the wisdom and experience of others for guidance, these woman cannot uplift you; you must uplift yourself. You must make the decision to do what's right by yourself, and to go forward. THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EMPOWERED.

I cannot fathom the expectation that BWE exists to coddle you, to tell you things you want to hear, and exclude things you need to hear, just because it upsets your delicate sensibilities.

I hope enough people, especially black women, watch the video at the top of the previous post, and pay very close attention. These women, who had no consideration for their digital actions, paid the price, and I sincerely doubt this is a singular incident involving a woman missing out on a good man because their dirty laundry came out during the worst possible time. It's completely unfair, to be sure, being judged for one's "past". But that's the way the world works.

It's not fair that the standards of beauty for women are so skewed, especially in terms of health and fitness, but I sincerely doubt this will change, and crying out the exception, will certainly not affect the rule.

NWNW is not about shaming women who've had babies out of wedlock; it's about stopping other women from going down that path. I love you the most, but if this doesn't apply to you, shut your trap. At least, if you are fixing it to L I E to young girls about their prospects should they as black girls have OOW children. Exception =/= The rule. You and yours may have turned out great(?), but pretending your life is the automatic reflection of everyone else reeks of narcissism and a disconnect from reality. The statistics in the African American community are already grim, and treating it as anything else is practically a sin. It's disgusting how people are attempting to co-opt something that is about preventing unnecessary pregnancies, and potentially ruined lives, in addition to millions of tax dollars that could be spent elsewhere.

Issues of this sort are divisive, and some take it as a necessity for unity and cooperation to not address them. Hogwash. I say being empowered means hearing everything that can help you make informed decisions concerning your life. Just because you don't WANT to talk about something, doesn't mean others are obligated to be silent. Just because something is blunt to the point of pain doesn't mean it wasn't said in love. Tough love isn't called that for no reason.

The basic truth is, to be empowered, you must take responsibility for your life and your choices. I keep saying this over and over for a reason: Because it's a truth that some people need to realize.


YOU are the person who is at the end of the day accountable. Do not go rushing into the arms of BWE bloggers and participants expected to be coddled and to be allowed to use them as a sounding board as you vent your grievances with the big bad world, whilst doing nothing to change your situation. While expecting them to not talk, or speak in gentle soft voices, about foolishness and nonsense. That's not being empowered; that's being pacified.

This isn't a Sunday sermon a lot of women would be ready to hear, but I hope the point reached the right people sitting amongst the pews.

Having said that, I'll think of something a bit more "cheery" for the next post.

The nightmare of self-accountability in the digital age...

The above video was found through this post, and highlights a fundamental issue, concerning how to conduct one's self on the internet.

Many young ladies, drunk off of the wine of youth and left with the sense that in the 21st century, you can do ANYTHING and not suffer consequences, have taken to behaviors on the internet that are simply not becoming.

They cry "slut-shaming" if you attempt to inform them that spreading their ladybits while lying on their backs and then posting the images to the internet for anyone to see is not a good idea.

I don't believe in "slut-shaming". To be blunt, I don't believe you can shame the unashamed. However, I do think it's worth noting that in today's increasingly digital world, a woman cannot afford to be coy or stupid, or to pretend that the ideals of feminism are reflected by immediate reality (SPOILER: They aren't.)

FACT: If the first impression a man has of you is that you are a sex object, because that is the image you put forth of yourself, then that is the image that is going to stick.

FACT: More and more employers are including the online activities of their prospective employees as part of their background checks for jobs.

FACT: There are consequences in the non-digital world for actions and events in the digital world; despite your efforts to "compartmentalize" your "online" and "IRL" behavior, they are not separate things.

This is why I am not about to put anything regarding my body parts online, and why I'm happy that my name is an odd combination of common and extremely rare (basic first and last name, very specific middle and hyphenated ending). Nothing really pops up for me aside from my artwork.

So the basic impression is, "Wow, she's a nice artist!" :D

I am not about to hinder that by cyber prostitution, and I don't advise anyone else do the same, especially as a black woman.

It's a stone cold fact that our image is not protected, and regularly drug through the mud. Who the heck in their right mind would contribute to negative stereotypes regarding black women as hypersexual cattle?

It's a no-go for any woman with class, decency, and a sense of self-respect.

If you don't want to be confronted with your virtual dirty laundry, the best bet is to simply not have any.