Friday, January 27, 2012

Who is BWE and who is not....?

I am so glad that I am about myself before anybody else on this planet. That's not selfishness, that's a survival instinct.

You are beholden to your own self FIRST and what your wants and needs are. This is because you as an individual have the most at stake regarding your own happiness and only you can determine what that means. 

You, yourself, your own. <<<<< That has actually been the common running theme of my blog.

So now, inevitably the question has arisen: 

Who is BWE and who is not

BWE = Black Women's Empowerment. The idea being that you are for the empowerment of black women and girls.

Empowerment is defined as "increasing the spiritual, political, social, racial, educational, gender or economic strength of individuals and communities"(via Wiki)

So what this technically means is you have a movement where the general goal is to help black women and girls as individuals and as a group. 

So again, who can be ruled as for the empowerment of individual black women and girls as well as the whole group? And how does one prove this?

This is a question I am not in the position to answer about anyone else but myself.  You have to observe the behavior to make a ruling and then be the appropriate authority to make the call. So all I can answer is for my own self: I am all about helping myself and others to be the individual level. Yup, I just ruled community completely out. 

You can work to empower an entire group or you can work to empower yourself as an individual. You can also form alliances for mutual individual empowerment. For my own needs and capabilities, keeping it "individual" seems to be the best bet in the long run. 

Persons must decide for themselves who and what they are willing to empower

How people decide to approach this varies. For some, they want to empower everyone. Some want to empower themselves. Others want to empower themselves but are willing to interact with individuals for their own individualistic benefit. 

When you break it down, you realize that what's happening is everyone is trying to make a singular goal THE goal without understanding the individual and their responsibilities. 

The truth is you can't empower anyone but yourself. Other individuals have to empower themselves. 

You can give facts, opinion, statistics, etc. all day, everyday, but until that individual decides to work to empower his or herself, it's not going to happen. Some people will credit others with their empowerment, but what they are really crediting them with is providing the tools to understand what they need to know to get themselves from point A to point B. These women may want to help you, but they can't carry you from one place to the other.

There are some very intelligent, well-spoken, creative ladies in a conundrum over this question. Me seeing everything individually and having my "agree to disagree" mentality, I wasn't even aware there was an issue. But apparently, as I mused in my last blog there really is a rift. It's not surprising. 

With any major movement, you get people who disagree. This is not abnormal, nor does it immediately discredit everyone who is not on the same page. It's only worrying when the ideology being championed is toxic. You see it in the black power movement, in feminism, in any large community of individuals who want different things out of life. The core belief is what's important. If that isn't lost, then neither is the movement.

At the end of the day we are individuals. Individuals have a personal responsibility to make the most of the situations they find themselves in. They are beholden to themselves first and foremost. If that individual wants to reach out to and ally with others, that's fine. But we must always be mindful of our own best interests before anything else. It's simply unhealthy to make your goal adhering to the point of view of others for the sake of their approval. It's also important to remember that you can respect and love each other and simply disagree. The world won't end if you find philosophies, approaches, etc. don't match up with someone you respect or admire. How is being made to do something you don't agree with because you're worried what someone else will think of you empowering? Or not doing something because you're scared of what someone else will think of you? It doesn't, and you'll never be empowered if you make pleasing other people your major aim. 

I admire and love others, but I am not about to go to war with every other BWE person who I feel does not fit my individual beliefs, call them out for it, or quickly align myself with persons according to the "appropriate" belief system as defined by persons who are not myself. I've done a bit of "traveling" around the BWE blogsphere and I already see where this this is headed (tug of war, fracturing, dominance of certain POVs), and I'm making my position clear. Right now, as to avoid any future confusion. 

I am for myself first and foremost. I am not jumping through hoops to prove anything to anyone, regardless of how much I love or admire them. Forget it. 

The only person I am beholden to is myself, and I reserve the right to do what is in my own best interests as an individual. I STRONGLY encourage others to do the same. Let us agree, disagree, argue, but always remember that everything you do, you do for yourself and your ability to learn and grow as a human being. The wants and needs of everyone else follows suit, ranked according to what you feel is best.

The danger in trying to twist yourself into something that someone else wants or believes is that it's not you. You must take what you can from the wisdom of others and apply it to your life. Mold your own self. Make your own choices, your own allies, and walk your own path.

Empower yourself. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Move away from the Bull's-eye Part 2: What we can learn from the "Red Tails Debacle".

I actually thought about just letting the other "Red Tails" post be part two, but I decided to let the dust start to clear a bit before using the situation as an example.

Now, I made a post mentioning the controversy regarding the purposeful omission of black women from "Red Tails". And make no mistake, it was not accidental. This movie was largely the work of black men (Lucas paid the money, but much of the writing, acting, directing, etc. involves the decisions of black men). If black men had said, "George, we really need to include black women in this movie in some way shape or form", I'm extremely doubtful he would have refused. There was actually an actress meant to be in the movie. Her scenes were DELETED.

So the cold black and white truth is that yet again you have black men who want to be glorified before the whole world while brushing black women under the rug. I absolutely challenge you to find another ethnic group where there is any type of war epic in which the men who write and direct the movies go out of their way to tell their version of history while completely omitting any trace of their women.

This is unprecedented to the point of insanity. This movie does more than tell the world about black men in a "positive light". It tells the world that the black man does not give a good damn about the black woman: We are worthless, and better off not existing. This is the message being trumpeted loud and clear whether you cover your ears or not. This is what non-blacks around the world will be seeing and understanding whether you like it or not.

There is really just no other way to say this. You can slice it, dice it, split hairs. Try to find some tiny solace somewhere in the gray. I tried to weigh facts myself, sitting on the fence, not sure what to do. But once I knew that the omission was absolutely on purpose I just could not be bothered to give a cent of my money to this project. I stated in my other post that odds are I'd watch it on a movie streaming site if I saw it. I commented that I might even just wait for my parents to buy it. But the more I've thought about it, the more I think I probably won't be seeing it at all. I'll just wait for Skyfall.

What we learned through this debacle was that there was a huge bull's-eye aimed at African American women. The "you are nothing and you don't matter, but give your support anyway like the mules you are" bull's-eye. Like with any bull's-eye, you are not obligated to stand there and wait for someone to hit you. You are also not obligated to move into the path of someone or something's aim so that you can be hit. You can stay right where you are if you are in no danger of being hit or move out of the path of persons trying to hit you all together.

Different people made different choices. Some felt it was worth it to move into the path of that bull's-eye and get hit. Some saw no point in moving to get hit. Other's got the heck out of the way. Some are satisfied, and some or not.

There is definitely a rift within the BWE continuum. Whether or not it's always been there or whether it's widen as the movement tries to formulate an identity is something I don't know. As black women decide whether or not they are willing to compromise their principles when it comes to the image and well being of black women, I imagine there will be more scrimmages. As with ANY movement, people need to realize that the idea of unity for a single idea is virtually impossible. Different people have different motives and will only go as far as what meets their needs. Some people are also about things that are actually less than stellar.

This is why I'm always looking at things at the individual level, the level that you can best predict and control: yourself. Because if you don't have your own back, no one else will. Take the time to consider what is in your best interests. What things best contribute to your needs, wants and desires in a truly edifying way? Only you know that. No one else can make it so.

And it's ultimately on you to decide whether or not you need to move into the path of the various bull's-eyes aimed at black women, or blacks, or certain segments of the ethic group. If you are going to get hit with a bullet, you are the only one at the end of the day that knows whether or not it was worth it. Whatever you do it's also important to remember, to always remember that you don't have to jump in front of that bull's-eye if you don't want to.


This blog actually has gotten away from what I originally intended, but I think that just means I need to make multiple blogs.

The design scheme and name has changed, but post topics will be the same.

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Of gold diggers and not-gold diggers....

It's time to address something that's going to get under the skin of some black women who need to face facts. Ready? Not every light skin, non-BW/WW with a successful black man is a gold digger. There, I said it.

It is of great concern to me that this might be a popular belief among some BW for a couple of reasons:

First, because if the logic were reversed, and we were to say every black woman looking to get with a successful (as in not broke, not been to jail, not trifling, basically daring to aspire for better) non-BM is a gold digger, then how would you feel? Like you've heard it before, and it's tiresome. And if you yourself are not a gold digger and you have no use for ridiculous stereotypes, why on Earth turn around and fling the accusation at every non-BW everywhere trying to get with some famous or wealthy black man? You can't have it both ways: You can't complain about how unfair a stereotype is, and then reverse it to fling at every non-BW/WW. The truth of the matter is, it's just not a becoming trait.

Second, let's assume that it's true that these men want and are with gold diggers. And make no mistake, there isn't a man today that's attached to a gold digger that doesn't know it. There is an exchange going on in that relationship to which both parties have agreed, even if the general public isn't privy. So then, am I supposed to sympathize with the BM who has been taken for half of everything he owns by that "non-BW jezebel"? Let's remember that usually these very public divorces follow too-true accusations of cheating, abuse, and humiliation. Suppose the guy is a scumbag. I'm directly my vitrol at the woman WHY? Oh yes, because I as a black woman wouldn't have the chance to dig gold. It's a fact that many of these color-struck negroes would not allow a dark, non-Eurocentric featured BW to pull the wool over their eyes, but last I checked, this wasn't what a self-actualized BWE supporter was aspiring to in the first place.

I love some folks the most, but they need to let go. If you are looking for quality men and loving relationships, then you need to focus on that. Stop taking the fact that a lot of these men wouldn't look at you twice personally. Do you want to be some sorry black man's personal Kim K? Is that how you want to be seen by others? As someone who is only valued for a few questionable traits and nothing more? At the same time, stop giving the stank eye to EVERY single high-profile (and especially if the person is damaged) BM who makes it clear that they don't want you. You should be thanking them. That's one less simpleton you'd have to remotely consider wasting time with. If he wants a vulture, let him be picked clean. That's his business and his choice. At the same time...maybe he just loves someone who isn't black. If he can expand his horizons, then so can you right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Bite or To Not Bite the Bullet?

The above is a movie trailer for the upcoming war movie, "Red Tails". This is a movie that was extensively funded by Hollywood giant George Lucas. Lucas had complained about the difficulty of selling the movie in more-racist-than-anyone-will-admit Hollywood where minority dollars aren't considered enough for major investment in any truly serious block busters. If it's not Denzel or Will, you can forget it.

So, he decided to make the movie himself, and there has been a great deal of buzz in recent weeks. I confess, I was buzzing, too.

For one thing, rarely has there been any focus on anything positive done by black soldiers during any war. And there's no denying that soldiers such as the Tuskegee Airmen, "Buffalo" Soldiers, and 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry have had a great deal of historical impact on the United States. The more non-White the cast, the more it's considered non-mainstream, and not worthy of mainstream circulation. Somehow the contributions of these persons to the racial whole of America is not relatable enough. And yet, miracle of miracles, every non-white person on Earth can relate to Patton.

But I digress.

The point is, this movie is seen as a major effort to bring the story of the first African American fighter pilots to the big screen in a big way.

Now, here is the problem that a number of BWE bloggers or black women in general have with this movie: No Black Women.

Uh oh.

BOYCOTT is the word on the street for a number of BW bloggers. For some, this move to boycott strictly about the absence of representation of black women. For others, it's about "the cringe", and BM and WW getting together and BW getting nada (See the "Peanut Gallery").

A line is being drawn in the sand, and only after the movie starts playing in theaters will there be any way to glean which side is successful, and whether or not it's a good thing in the end. The question is now what side do black women want to be on?

Make no mistake, if this movie flops, SOMEBODY is going to get blamed for it. I have no problem with being pegged Public Enemy Number 1 if it means that Hollywood understands (and I love you the most George Lucas, but this would mean you too) that black audiences are not a monolith and that black women want their own non-stereotypical, uplifting movies. Or at least to have some sort of acknowledgement in these types of movies. The fact that these movie makers have chosen to largely focus on the airmen isn't at all strange, but if there was enough time for an irrelevant love story, are you saying there wasn't enough time for a wife or mother back home?

Choosing to not financially support this movie for the above reason is completely understood and respected.

One reason I hope does NOT get trumpeted?

"Why can we not get big budget films made like this where the love a Black man (or any man) has for a Black woman be showcased? Why must the IR thing be shoved down our throats. Think about your daughters."

Oh yes, let's make this about "black love" and how every black woman on Earth wants a black man and we are bitter harpies who will not support a movie because Hollywood won't support BM/BW couples as major movies. Let's totally make it look like this movie failed because black women are haters and desperate and "that's why nobody wants y'all anyway". Think of your daughters? Hey, how about thinking that your daughter might NOT want a black man to begin with and there is nothing wrong with that. How about not fixating on BM/WW pairings and doing more to push BW/WM pairings. And if you thing interracial relationships are evil, then by all means, build a time machine and set a course for some time in the Stone Age. Godspeed.

Some BW may "bite the bullet" and decide it's more important for their male relations to be represented as something other than pimps, drug dealers, and gang bangers. Or there may be no bullet biting at all: Some women are the daughters, granddaughters, wives, etc. of these men, and they want very much for their family's story to be told, and it's something they are proud of. Or they may want to see the movie for some other reason.

I am not going to begrudge them that.

Will I see the movie? I suspect if I do, it will be via the world wide web.

But the one thing that bothers me in this to bite or not bite the bullet argument is the idea that BW are boycotting this movie largely because there is no black love. UGH. I encourage all BWE bloggers and regulars around these related blog-spheres to avoid throwing their lot in with these black people. Do not contribute to this narrow-minded stereotype. Especially since these same simpletons would likely not support a movie focused on BW if she was not an approved stereotype and her man wasn't Tyrone.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Move away from the Bull's-eye Part 1: You're not obligated to be a direct hit!

Somehow you have found yourself in the center of someone else's bull's-eye. And it's a big one. Big enough to focus on you and the millions of people around you. But what's this? You find that if you move out of the center of that aim, you are less likely to get hit. Keep moving, and you reach a place where you might not get hit at all. What is the logical solution then? To keep standing there, indistinguishable from all other targets, or do you get your behind out of the line of fire?


There, now isn't that better?

I think so, and it's actually come to be a desirable point of view: I don't see myself as always in the line of controversial fire. Whether it's a matter of race, gender issues, or living as a black woman and therefore having to deal with both at the same time. Unless I look at something and directly see where I am unavoidably in the line of fire, I am in no hurry to run and jump in front of a bullet. I do not work for the Secret Service and am not being paid to do it, so what's the point?

Some would say that the point is empathy and unity. Hmm.

The question must now be what is it exactly that I am empathizing and unifying with and what is the cost/benefit of doing so?

There are, and I suspect always will be, racists in the world. And classists, and sexists, and people who are all around unlikable idiots. And yes, some people catch me wrong or I get wind of a bull's-eye on me that I can't get out of the way of no matter what I do. And I do get angry or feel the need to protest, or take some sort of decisive action.

However, I have simply reached the point that unless I find myself feeling that there is a big unavoidable bull's-eye on my back, I have no intention of getting into the line of fire. Especially if the person or persons I would be getting into the line of fire for are simply not worth the effort.

There is a way I see myself and the people I choose to associate with that is absolutely distinguishable and the antithesis of negative stereotypes and behaviors. I strive to be a better person and have no time for those that have a problem with this. Such low class, low minded people are no friends or kin of mine and I don't claim them.

And this is where I part ways with a number of black people. Because unfortunately, the "unification in the face of outsiders no matter what" bug is heavily ingrained. It's at a point where it's practically instinct to, when fighting against stereotypical or negative perceptions, make yourself indistinguishable from other blacks who actually inhabit those negative tendencies, realities, and characteristics.

This is a serious problem. Why? Because for ages, this unification move has been coupled with silence in the face of bad behavior by a portion of blacks, in some cases harmful behavior to an extreme degree. If it's not being silent about harmful behavior while portraying a unified front, it's the actual audacity that some people have developed in seeking to justify supporting of and discourage the shaming of inappropriate actions and lifestyle choices. There is bristling at daring to encourage black women to make their wombs unavailable to men outside of marriage. There are marches for murderers, rapists, and thieves. The enemy and cause for suffering among African Americans must always be seen as an outsider, and I suspect this is to justify this unification stance no matter what the context or circumstances are.

So then unification is coupled with enabling of problematic behaviors. If there were no enabling, this move to empathize and unify would not be an issue for me. But the combination has gone on for so long, that not only are low life and low class people determined to be the accurate representation of all black people (I maintain that if these people were told to shut up from the beginning, words like "oreo" and "wannabe white" and "uppity" would not be allowed to circulate among black people today), for a number of non-whites, this seems to be the case; anyone that is NOT dysfunctional and uncouth is seen as the exception rather than the rule.

Yes, that is an unfortunate and unfair scenario and situation. But too often, even if I or you do not reflect the worse in all of blackness, we are asked to stick our necks out for and stand together with these trifling individuals. Always as a show of solidarity (that is often absent within the race if you don't adhere to the "correct" level of blackness anyway) whenever non-black scrutiny arises in a way that is meant to reflect negatively on certain black folks.

As I pretty much mentioned, I could care less what racists think of me. They're racists, and odds are, they aren't going to change. However there is racism and then there is the belief that the most viable solution in the face of non-African American scrutiny is to bleed together the trifling and the non-trifling members of this ethnic group in order to somehow prove that negative media and public perceptions are not universal.

Rather than separate from, call out, or shame bad behavior (regardless of whether it is truly unique to blacks or not) the instinct is to in some way unify and defend everyone, regardless of whether or not it's applicable to the individual. "WE are not all like that and WE must all oppose this because it is meant to reflect on ALL of US."

No puedo.

For me, the more rational solution is to move out of the line of fire: You are not a stereotype, you are not one for coonery and foolishness, you are not the lowest of the low. There is nothing in negative racial assumption for you to defend or rationalize or own. There is something in it for persons to whom these assumptions apply.

I have dealt with such persons, know they exist, and am more than aware that they are content to own the bottom of the barrel and be paid for merely existing and taking up space. They will fight you tooth and nail over Mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel, and every other stereotype that originated in white racism. These despicable lies have become their truth, and they are either too stupid or scared to let them go. And so, they've made it reality. THEIR reality, because logic says that stereotypes cannot be true all of the time. It's a point I feel that is best proved by moving away from persons whom are more accurately represented by these negative perceptions, and out of the line of fire.

"It's unfortunate that this is true about THAT group of people and THEY need to get THEMSELVES together. I and the people I associate with are not like THAT and certainly want more for ourselves. Yes, we would prefer jobs to welfare and THOSE persons who do not are simply shameful. It's one thing to need help, but THOSE people are only interested in living off of others and it's wrong."

What I just did was called Othering. That is when you seek to distinguish undesirables from yourself, both because you are not an undesirable and because you have no desire to be confused with one.

A major issue is that when a group of African Americans try to Other the undesirables that exist within our ethnic group, they get hit with the "Uncle Tom"/"Traitor to their race" label. The idea being that WE need to stick together NO MATTER WHAT (level of dysfunction must be allowed or tolerated) in order survive as a single race.

There is a difference between the special black snowflake means of separation and the need to separate as to not be confused with garbage, and while one is side-eye worthy, the other could have saved black people everywhere a lot of trouble.

But that will have to wait for part two.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thoughts for the New Year: Positivity Is Energizing; Negativity Is Draining...

Coming off of last year, I am extremely optimistic about getting things done in 2012. For one thing, I was able to stick to some major goals (losing weight, excelling in my college courses, learning to cook), and I just have really good feelings about 2012 overall. I find that one of the reasons (and you probably see this as well) people give up on their resolutions is they expect instant success and progress.

It's a YEAR LONG resolution! That means it's something you want to change over the course of months, not mere days. So keep that in mind moving forward!

As for myself, one of my resolutions for this year had to do with positivity. First, maintaining a positive outlook on my life and having a can-do attitude. I've found it's generally easier to go about accomplishing goals if you actually believe that it's something you can do.

The second and more important part is not allowing my positive energy and mindset to be drained by negative people. Some people, purposely or unintentionally, are energy vampires. They will suck you into their realm of negative thinking and drama if you let them. And that can be costly to you.

Being around negative people can literally feel like you've had the life drained out of you. This not only affects your ability to maintain a relationship with that person, it can leave you lacking in energy when it comes to dealing with other pressing matters in your own life. You're just so plum tired from worrying about other people and being drained of energy that you end up putting things you shouldn't (like your own best interests) on the back burner.

This is a BIG no-no. I've had to learn this the hard way because of this tendency I had to be nice and giving. A little too giving. People, even those who sincerely love you, are not above using the crap out of those who make themselves available to be used. This can be even worse when coupled with negative drama-queens and drama-kings.

That's why I strongly recommend trying to eliminate or strongly ration the emotional access these people have to you, and not just time spent in their presence. Remember, you don't have to be there with someone physically or actively doing something for him or her for these individuals to take a toll on your energy. If the person has topics or requests that you sense are going to drain you, politely (but firmly) state that you don't wish to talk about it, can't help, etc. but that you sincerely wish them the best. And change the subject.

Do NOT let yourself be compromised into the position of emotional crutch. This is much different than being able to confide hopes and fears equally, so that it is a shared experience of emotional bonding; when you feel drained, there is a lack of equilibrium where it is you who have mainly given up your emotional energy and time; the other person usually could care less about your feelings and experiences.

I actually know of a person who had a narcissist for a best friend at one point, and that person would try to make her feel guilty if she tried to bring up her OWN thoughts and feelings. For the friend, it was about her own needs and trauma and it was "selfish" this person to try and "take attention away from what SHE was going through!" That's pretty much what she said and I'll venture a guess that it's also why they are no longer BFFs.

Life is give and take, and so is energy: If you must give it, be sure you are receiving your fair share of it as well.

Now, getting back to positivity, it's not too hard to believe my experiences with it are the complete opposite; Positivity is very energizing! Ever noticed how pumped you are when you're in a great mood and everything is going well? Ever notice how people want to be around you more or smile more when you feel good? Positivity energizes and strengthens, and that's why people prefer to be around positive people.

Unfortunately, that's also why negative people are drawn to you...only, there is no give and take, as I said. Some seek your energy to fill the black hole that is their perennial existence, with no attempt to give anything positive back. And after stealing your light, Sookie Stackhouse, they are off to find a new target.

So, the best bet for this year is to maintain a positive outlook on life and try generate positive energy. At the same time, avoid negative vampiric persons as much as possible while working to virtually eliminate the energy these persons can take from you.

I am certain that sticking to this formula will help make for a much better year over all.