August 2008 archive

eva vs. those hillary supporters

Tonight I just watched Barack Obama make an incredible speech. Tonight I felt incredibly proud and I felt like I was a part of something big. History. And while I watched my future president tell McCain to “bring it fool,” I couldn’t help but think about my friend who just confessed that she is one of those Hillary supporters.

You know the type, the ones that would rather vote for McCain than for Obama or rather not vote at all. Oh the horror! It’s been a rough night because she is a very intelligent woman and to hear her arguments for not voting for Barack, I couldn’t stop myself from telling her that I just couldn’t take her seriously. She asked me if I saw this clip, and said that she totally agreed with what that fool was saying.

She argued that Barack wasn’t old enough and that he didn’t have enough experience. If you know me, I’m fairly young and do many things that people may not think I’m experienced enough to do, but that doesn’t stop me from making it happen. To me, age is a very dumb reason to limit someone, especially when that age is over 40.

Yes Barack hasn’t been in the Senate for decades on end. To me, that is a benefit. He is not jaded. He probably hasn’t been corrupted. He’s spent more time in the real world, helping real people, than being couped up in an office in Washington, DC. Barack’s spent his life working for ordinary people, making change from the ground level. That makes him more appealing to me.

I asked her if it was worth pushing women’s and LGBT’s rights back decades. She said yes because she believed in McCain’s economic stimulus plan more than Barack’s. She did have good points, and sure the plan is not perfect, but to me, human rights are more important than money. I know, it’s simplistic and probably niave, but it’s what I believe.

She said that he never fully answers question, he takes forever to answer. I had to break it down. Barack Obama is a Black man running for President. Everything he says is scrutinized, so he’d better take some time to think about what he says before he says it. I can appreciate that he is thoughtful. And I know what would happen should Obama speak thoughtlessly, we’ve seen what happened to Michelle – as honest as it was, America wasn’t having it. Obama doesn’t have the freedom to be a lose canoon, like McCain. So if it takes my man a couple more seconds to answer a question, I’m ok with that.

My final point has nothing to do with politics, but Obama loves his family, and he really loves his wife. He’s the first politician that looks like he loves his wife and family. What I loved about the DNC was that it was very family-focused. Obama looks like he generally likes the people he works with – he hugs Biden. That warms my heart. He seems like a generally nice person. That is important to me and that is where Hillary ultimately lost me.

In the beginning I could have gone either way and been happy. Then Hillary started losing and acting crazy and I knew that she wasn’t the candidate for me. Then Bill started talking crazy and she never stopped him, and I was over it. Then she wouldn’t quit, and it irked me because had the tables been turned, the race for the candidacy would have been over long ago. Then this whole mess with her getting nominations at the DNC, enough. HIllary, fall back. And then for her not to be there for Obama’s speeck. Sore loser, don’t want nor need that in the White house (again).

So my two cents. I love Barack. All these Hillary supporters who would rather not vote or vote for McCain, I beg of you, get your shit together, take a deep breath, and do what’s right for this country.

peace,
e.

I fell in love last night…

Now I know I wasn’t the only inspired by Michelle Obama’s speech last night.

But I was troubled by the reason she had to make the speech. People are afraid of Michelle Obama and she has spent the past few months trying to explain who she and her husband are, where they came from and assure the general public that they are safe.

It is not easy to stereotype the Obamas. Unlike many other who come from single mother households, Barack got married, then had children and is a very devoted father. Unlike many others who come from impoverished neighborhoods, Michelle (and her brother) stayed in school and graduated from Ivy League institutions. Unlike many others who manage to make it out the hood and avoid it for as long as they can, both Michelle and Barack brought their education back to the neediest of neighborhoods and attempted to create change. Unlike other Black males in politics, Barack has not cheated on his wife (yeah I’m looking at you Jesse and Kwame).  And yet, all these things make them somehow suspect.

It’s frustrating to hear people question if the Obama’s are Black enough. Lord knows according to CNN they are not- they are not poor (but real talk, if you both graduated from Harvard Law School, you shouldn’t be poor or even middle class), they are very educated, they are married, and they are healthy. Michelle questioned, if she’s not Black enough, what does that mean. Shouldn’t we aspire for greatness in our lives, even if we hit a few stumbling blocks along the way?

Michelle and Barack are the American dream. They have done everything many conservatives think, and many liberals hope, people of color should do – get an education, excel, get a job, excel, get married, take care of your kids and do good. Shouldn’t this be something we are proud of? Shouldn’t this actually be the norm? (Maybe that’s another post).

I can admit that I hadn’t paid as much attention to the presidential race before, but I know that no other candidates have had to explain so much about themselves before.  McCain is always crying about how the Obamas get so much press but the tidbits that I hear about him and his wife trouble me.  Cindy McCain is a recovering addict, and yet we feel the need to put Michelle Obama under the microscope.  McCain doesn’t know how many houses he and his wife own, if that isn’t on some out-of-touch, super celebrity, mega rich ish, I don’t know what is. And please don’t get me started on the McCain courtship because it involves cheating and divorce. Give me a break.

In the end, when Barack came on the screen, you could see his daughters’ eyes light up.  You could see Michelle glow.  You could feel the love.  It was sincere and it was powerful.  And I totally feel in love with the Obamas again last night.

peace,
e.

crossposted @ SASSY

“Beggars can’t be choosers”

is what he said to me over dinner. Beggers (black women) can’t be choosers (about who they date). Because after, it’s supply and demand baby. Educated, financially stable Black men are in high demand and Black women shouldn’t expect to get one. We should take whatever we can get and be happy.

In an earlier conversation he compared the future to the Matrix 2, where everyone looked liked us – you know, light skinned, not Black or White.  Everyone had been mixed and that was the future and “Black women are holding up evolution by being the only ones trying to stick to their race.”

I’m sorry, but does this sound crazy to anyone else but me?

Here’s what we all know:  The number of never-married Black women has doubled in the past 50 years (it’s around 45%).  The number of married Black women has decreased substantially in the past 50 years.  Quite frankly, this graph freaks me out. 

My boss said that this was a crass way of discussing the lower prospects of an educated black women getting married. Fine and fair enough. That drama has been widely written about and every Black women knows that the more education she gets the less likely she is to get married. That’s depressing – chose between education and men. whomp whomp.

What’s really disturbing me is that lately I have heard some black men (not a lot but enough) exploiting this situatuion. They are exploiting the fact that there are so few educated, financially secure Black men with no children by cheating on their girlfriends and not worrying because “she won’t find anything better.” And what’s more depressing is that some women are subscribing to this notion.

For me, if it comes to having a Black man who won’t respect me and being single, I’m going to have to choose single. Or I’m going to have to choose to date outside my race. But whatever my decision, I sure as hell won’t be begging as I do it.

peace,
e.

source: The Joint Center

7 weeks

ok so if you read my other blog, you would know that I am currently co-authoring a chapter on marriage and health in the Black community. My first draft is due in 7 weeks. That’s still a lot of time, but I’m known for procrastinating. I am working on my discipline, but there are just so many things to do each day – in and out of work.

At any rate, I’ve got most of the data, I know what I want to do it. I’m working on the outline. I’m about to make this happen.

peace,
e.

Missing Men

Yesterday the Boston Globe had an interesting article on the absence of men, in particular Black men, in antipoverty policy. Children have always been considered “deserving poor” because they are largely helpless, and women have long been considered deserving because their plight was usually the result of widowdom. For the most part, Americans have taken care of the “deserving poor” not necessarily through the best means available (read: poorhouses) but nonetheless, the intention was to create a better living situation, and hopefully better life chances, for those in social programs.

The icon of the “undeserving poor,” by contrast, has always been the able-bodied man. Although some programs in the New Deal and the War on Poverty provided them with jobs and training, social welfare policy has otherwise largely ignored men. One practical reason is that as a rule, aid to children – the paragons of vulnerability – has been channeled through mothers. Equally potent, though, is the longstanding cultural belief that men, barring economic disasters, should be able to take care of themselves. Today, especially, low-income men have an image problem. Many are convicts and “deadbeat dads,” widely seen as deserving blame, not bailouts.

But according to a new wave of thinking, the next front in the fight against poverty should consist of policies aimed at these very individuals. Experts say that poor men, caught in profound economic and social changes, now number among society’s most vulnerable members. The economy has shifted its weight to the service sector, shedding the manufacturing jobs that once offered low-skilled men the promise of good wages to support their families. Alarming percentages of poor men – disproportionately African-Americans – pass through the criminal justice system, further undercutting their employability. And child support laws have driven them deep into debt.

I must admit, this is probably the first time I’ve seen mainstream media consider these men vulnerable. Let’s just take a little look at the many systems that keep Black men in poverty.

  • * education – If CNN didn’t beat this into the ground, the high school drop out rate for African Americans is now up to 50%. We all know that not obtaining a college degree, let alone a high school degree, significantly decreases one’s lifetime earnings.
  • * incarceration – you send a Black man to jail and his likelihood of finding employment to sustain him, let alone and his family, drops at an incredible rate.
  • * child support - I’m not advocating that men don’t pay, but simple changes will make it much easier for men to pay. For example, if we stop considering incarceration “voluntary unemployment” and stop adding onto the principal while men are in jail, this would make their arrears repayment much easier upon their release. Or instead of taking out the entire amount of arrears from a man’s paycheck (and leaving with him with nothing in that paycheck), we should leave enough money for men to support themselves.
  • * lack of low skill labor – this has been a problem since the 1970′s and employment is becoming more technical and analytical. Low education and low skill men are going to continue to have a hard time finding a job that provide liveable wages and any sort of benefits. That said, low skill jobs are not going to return. We need to educate these men and provide them with the skills to compete in today’s workforce.

The article points to many initiatives to help these men – most through financial incentives. That makes sense, a major reason men turn to crime is financial, however, this has been met with resistance.

In certain quarters, these ideas have generated controversy. Conservative critics oppose the expenditures, while others, especially feminists, fear that limited antipoverty funding could be diverted from poor women, who are by and large still struggling to raise the kids. From this perspective, the question is, why should men who have shirked their obligations be rewarded with assistance?

“If men were taking responsibility for their children, they would be receiving benefits,” says Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

These objections underscore one of the central challenges of any strategy designed to benefit poor men. Although policy analysts describe them as among the most vulnerable citizens in contemporary America, they are commonly viewed as more menacing than helpless. Many of them have broken laws and are severely alienated from mainstream society. The new proposals raise the question: How can you justify devoting scarce resources to helping people who most Americans see as culpable for many of their own – and society’s – problems?

And there’s the problem. Even though they need a lot of help, men are not considered deserving. And in some cases, ok a lot of cases, men are directly responsible for their current situation. I get frustrated when I see men refuse to acknowledge their role in their predicament and instead blame the system or “the man.” Yes, there are systems at work against you but you dropped at of high school, committed a crime, etc., etc. I question the effectiveness of a program if a man cannot accept the role his decisions have made on his situation, and also how those decisions affect others – his children, his babymama, his family, and his community.

And before you get all, she’s blaming the victim on me, I do understand the frustration of feminists and conservatives. Yes these man make poor decisions, but we need to give second chances. One dumb decision a man makes when he’s in his teens or early twenties really should not haunt and hinder him for the rest of his life. We need to recognize that if we don’t help these men the problem will get worse.

My thought is this, if you help Black children while they are the “deserving” you won’t need to help them when they are the Black men, and therefore “undeserving.” Seems simple enough to me.

peace,
e.

I uploaded the article to my server in case it’s down on the Boston Globe site – you can read it here.

This is why I write

Welcome to my latest blog, get comfortable. I’m a twenty-something living in New York City and doing social research at Columbia University. Got my MSW in 2007 and am going to apply to PhD programs this winter. Currently studying for the GRE’s (again… whomp) and trying to learn as many new words as I can before October. I’m getting my PhD so I can do research on the topics I want to, as opposed to what my boss wants. I enjoy what I research now but there are so many things I want to know about and I definitely have my own way of doing things. Since I can’t fully conduct the research I want to now (IRB and data contracts get in the way) I’ll play with my thoughts here.

Unlike SASSY, this blog is geared more towards my professional interests, namely Black fathers and families. (Hence that pic to the left of my dad and I) Why these? Well besides that fact that it’s now my career to study these things, I believe that strengthening Black families is a key component to improving and empowering the Black community (yeah I’m all about it). And if you couldn’t tell, I’m Black and I’m at that age when you start to worry about your future – are you going to get married? when? to whom? will you have children? Ladies, I’m sure you know the drill.

And of course, I’m always trying to improve my writing. I’m sensitive about my writing but constructive criticism is always appreciated.

A final goal of this blog is to grow some balls. Yeah I said it. I don’t say (or type rather) a lot of what I think. Although I am a self-professed hater, a lot of what happens in our society either totally pisses me off or utterly confuses me. Sometimes I don’t want to express my thoughts because they may be unpopular or because I’m afraid I’ll appear dumb. I’m trying to shake these fears, because it’s ok to be unpopular and/or dumb and if you engage me, maybe we’ll learn and broaden both of our horizons. At any rate, these are just my thoughts. Take em as you wish.

So stick around and enjoy friends.

peace,
e.