Posts Tagged ‘tell em why you’re mad’

believing black men and boys are valuable even when no one else does

trayvon-and-tracy

I am still raw from last night’s verdict.  I tried to watch the case over the past few weeks but it was too difficult.  People were sidetracked by Rachel Jeantel’s color, weight and grammar.  Sidetracked by a little weed in Trayvon’s system and old pictures of him on social media.  And then last night, I thought I could handle news coverage after the case but a few minutes into watching the defense  gloat and I was sick to my stomach.  And then Zimmerman’s brother came on asking more questions to tarnish Trayvon’s reputation and push the idea that Zimmerman, who is alive, is the victim.  I tend to get angry over verdicts like this, but last night I cried.

After last night, how can we look Black boys in the eyes and tell them they are valuable?  We can’t act like this is an isolated incident when it seems every year an unarmed Black man or boy is killed and justice is not served.  One can’t help but notice how Vick got two years for dog fighting and Placo got one year for shooting himself, but Zimmerman serves no time for admitting to shooting a child.  What we learned last night is that you get a pass for hunting a Black child if you feel scared enough.  We also know that every act of self-defense isn’t considered Stand Your Ground when a Black woman,who didn’t kill anyone, was given 20 years.

And what scares me more, this idea that your fists, your attitude and a slab on concrete are now dangerous weapons at Black men’s disposal and are so dangerous that they can be countered with a gun if you feel threatened enough.  When I heard this come out of Zimmerman’s brother’s mouth, my first thought was of Douglas Reddish and how his case has already been totally rewritten.  Instead of a Black man punching a drunk White man for yelling profanities and racial slurs at him and his girlfriend over lunch, I can already hear how the angry, drunk, belligerent man is the a victim because Reddish used the weapons of his fist and the sidewalk to knock him out.  Because Reddish couldn’t just sit there and take the verbal abuse.

And perhaps the worst part, how so many people were sad about the verdict but not surprised.  Some people weren’t surprised from a legal standpoint.  I don’t really understand their argument, but I’ve heard if enough from lawyers and pundits on television that I have to believe at least some of it is true. But mostly, many people already know that the lives of Black men and boys are never valued as much as others.  This is how you can have a case about murder and somehow manage to place the dead victim on trial.  The irony of Zimmerman’s frustrated muttering, “These assholes always get away,” was not lost on me.

Today I am still sad about the verdict.  Today I still wonder how do we explain to boys that even though there are countless examples of them being killed with no one being found guilty or sent to jail that their lives still matter and that they are still valuable.  Today I wonder how can men balance protecting themselves and their families while juggling everyone’s fear.  How can we look men in the face and say you can no longer protect yourself if you feel threatened because it’s not safe for you?  You’re in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.  It’s not fair and it’s not going to change anytime soon.  I think Cord Jefferson nailed it:  It’s a complicated thing to be young, Black and male in America.

e.

Oprah and Iyanla on fathers, oh my!

Last Sunday, Oprah, Iyanla and friends tried to tackle fatherless sons again.  I want to preface this post with: I’m happy this are discussing this issue and sparking dialouge but I absolutely hate the way they are doing it.

The thing that bothered me most was the faux attempt to fix father and son relationships within the span of two hours.  It doesn’t work that way.  You don’t forgive someone for letting you down in two hours.  You don’t change the way you’ve acted for years in two hours.  You can’t “do the work” in two hours.  And I get that this is a television show, but this is also real life for the guests..

The segment that bothered me the most was between Aveion Cason Sr. and his son.  Aveion had not seen his son in 8 years.  He had just missed his son’s graduation.  His son was very hurt.  What the show should have done was have them start the conversation that would help them improve their relationship and then provide some counseling to continue after the show. Instead, Iyanla fed the sons lines to say to his father (a la DMX and his son) and then the father promised to be there and not let the son down before.  Without know these people, I can imagine the son and father have had this conversation before and I can also imagine that nothing has changed.  And then the father took this opportunity to tell his son that it hurt him that his son didn’t respond when he told him “I love you.”  I can see how that would hurt, but sir, this is a child, your child, who you hurt all the time.  Act like an adult, deal with your pain and don’t put it on your child to change, especially  when you’ve been dropping the ball for eight years.

I struggle with absent fathers.  I struggle with their excuses about why they are gone.  And I struggle with their pain when their children treat them the way they have been treated before.  Later in the show, a father came on and asked what he could do because his son had stopped responding to him.  The father admitted that he had a new family and his stepchildren loved and adored him and that helped him to see what a mistake he had made with his own child.  I was glad Steve Perry was there to tell him that he might have to eat it.  I think what gets lost in these fatherless children conversations is that children have a breaking point.  There comes a  time when they can’t handle the rejection any longer and they shut down.  While I understand that this hurts fathers, it never ceases to amaze me how they don’t understand how their actions have hurt their children.  This confusion grows when it’s men who grew up with absent (either physically or emotionally) fathers.  They know how it feels, and yet, they turn around and do the same thing to their children.

Steve Perry and Geoffrey Canada discussed how some kids punish their fathers to make them feel the hurt they’ve experienced for years.   I was glad that they bought that up because I haven’t really heard it discussed or read about it but it’s something that I did to my father and I know some friends who have done the same.  This defense mechanism allows children to feel power and control in their relationship with their father. For me, it also made me feel better to see my father actually try to be a part of my life, even if was later than I wanted and in reaction to my rejection of him.

Something that I didn’t realize until after I watched the show was that there was only one White guest speaker on the show. I understand that the world wants to believe that Black people are the only ones dealing with fatherlessness, but that’s simply not the case. There are plenty White, Hispanic and (I’m guessing even) Asian children that are fatherless.  I also think people forget that many children experience living in a single parent household when parents get divorced.

I love it when you talk Daddy to me

I must say, nothing makes me happier than hearing about my friends’ children. But my real joy comes when it’s my male friends doing the talking. I don’t know what’s so special about men doing what I’ve started to call “talking Daddy,” but I just can’t get enough. Luckily for me, a quick trip to facebook normally provides my fix. And if that doesn’t work, I simply have to ask my friend Jose how his son is and squeal when his answer is something super sweet like “delicious.” I almost can’t take it anymore.

I love when my friends tell me how their infant does something new or totally unexpected. I love watching videos of babies who have no idea how precious they are as they fall asleep while their parents try to get them to dance to songs. Or even simply little observations of their cognitive development. My favorite is when fathers tell me their child is their new best friend. I eat it up.

Something tragic happened to one of my closest friends, and yet even still, everything cool thing he does, he says it’s for his son. And even in private conversations, I can hear how this child who left the earth too soon has changed his life. My friend still talks Daddy to me.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how much I enjoy Daddy talk given my field of research. I literally read and write about fathers all day long. And I find when I talk about my research, I spend a lot of time debunking this idea that fathers that aren’t married to the mothers of their children aren’t around and that they can’t be good fathers. And I spend the most time talking about Black fathers. Man, they get a bad rap for no reason. Especially when the research shows that as nonresident fathers, they are the most likely to actually be involved with their children.

It was with this understanding that I was totally annoyed when Courtland Milloy came out his face talking about Trayvon Martin and asking where Trayvon’s father was and why his mother was the one leading the charge for justice for her son. I mean, has he watched any of the press conferences? Tracy Martin is always there next to Sybrina Fulton. I mean, Travyon was visiting his father to get his priorities back on track when he was murdered. The next week, Milloy apologized… sort of. I get it, he’s writing about what he sees, or rather what he thinks he sees.

But this selective vision is the problem.  We really have got to stop assuming fathers aren’t around. We need to stop for one second and realize that we’re surrounded by many men talking Daddy to us. We need to start listening.

e.

On Daddy Issues

I hate the way people talk about “daddy issues.”

I think the biggest misconception about daddy issues is that people know how to deal with them. It took me easily 15 years to figure out that “dealing” with my father meant forgiving him and accepting him where he was. It took me a few more years to actually be able to do that. And I was lucky (using that term real loosely here) because my father had an excuse I could buy (addiction and PTSD) but more importantly, because he changed. (I wrote about it yesterday.)  I’m only beginning my research on adults and their fathers, but from what I’ve learned so far, this is not the way it always goes.

More often it’s a painful disaster. A few months ago I read Naked With Socks On’s piece about when he confronted his father about why he wasn’t there. His father didn’t have a good answer, he barely had an answer at all. And when that happens you are crushed. Hell, I was crushed and it didn’t happen to me. Another public example is a scene in the documentary the Prep School Negro. Andre visits his father’s house for the first time and confronts his father about what happened, where he’s been, what the deal was. To be honest, watching this scene was like watching a horror movie. I didn’t want to watch because I was scared of what the father would say.  And like NWSO’s father, this guy didn’t have an excuse and it hurt.  It was literally painful to watch.

I think the fear of these scenes becoming a reality is why I think a lot of people avoid having the conversation. What in the world do you say to a parent who wasn’t there and offers no acceptable reason? What do you do with that information? I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what I would do. And my guess is, a lot of you don’t know either.

What was the point of me writing this?  Lately, it seems that everyone fancies themselves experts on fathers and fatherless children.  And frankly most of what I’m reading comes from people who have no idea of what they are talking about.  I also have many, many thoughts on how we talk about women who grew up without their fathers, but that is another post.  I say all this to say that I hope the next time someone wants to tell people to go deal with their daddy issues, they’ll think for one second about what that really means, how much time it takes and how it feels.

To be clear, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t “deal,” I’m saying offer some compassion instead of ordering someone to do it.

peace,
e.

it’s a wild world

I made a new friend last week and she suggested I watch Skins (British, not MTV) because it was addictive and she was now obsessed with it.  I can understand show addiction (south park anyone?) but I kept forgetting to watch it.  She reminded me again on Thursday and I’ve been watching it on netflix ever since.  She was not kidding, I’ve been up til 3 am for the past two days watching it.  I made it through two seasons already but I wanted to talk about one scene that really struck me.  It was in the season one finale, and it’s involves Maxxie (the only openly gay kid in the grew), Anwar (the Packistani muslim) and his father.  I guess this may be a spoiler but the show aired in 2007, so meh.

Anyway, Maxxie and Anwar got into a huge fight because Anwar suddenly decided he couldn’t be cool with Maxxie being gay based on religious reasons and Maxxie wasn’t going to have that from an alchol-drinking, drug-taking, premarital-sexing-having hypocrite.  On Anwar’s birthday, Maxxie calls to wish him a happy birthday.  Anwar invites him to the party but Maxxie won’t come unless Anwar is honest with his parents and tells them that he is gay.  Understandable, Anwar is hesitant.

Throughout the episode Anwar’s dad asks him Maxxie, where is he and how much he likes him. Anwar can’t spit it out.  Later Maxxie stands outside the party but won’t go in.  Anwars looks for him but doesn’t see him.  Later Anwar calls Maxxie to share some good news and finds him outside.  Maxxie still won’t come inside.  Just then the dad comes out and talks to Maxxie, and this is when Anwar finally gets the balls to tell his dad Maxxie is gay.  His talks talks right over this, so Maxxie tells him himself.  His dad pauses, smiles and then says:

It’s a fucking, stupid, messed up world.  I’ve got my God, he speaks to me every day.  Some things I just can’t work out, so I leave them be.  OK?  Even if I think they are wrong because I know one day he’ll make me understand.  I’ve got that trust.  It’s called belief.  I’m a lucky man.

Now I know, I know, it’s just TV.  But I’ve just got to hope that some time soon more people can take this attitude.  You don’t have to like it, but let it be.  And maybe if you’re mature enough, you can try to understand it.  When I think of David Katu and other gay people in Uganda and other African countries, people having to prove their gayness to stay in America, hell, adults making fun of the princess boy, I get so sad.  All this hatred and violence, based on religious ideals, because people can’t put enough faith in their God and  that he has a plan that it’ll all make sense some day.  It’s wild, wild world dude.

peace,
e.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

when we won’t take care of poor women

So by now I’m sure you’ve hear of Dr. Gosnell and his house of horrors.

The other night I spent a few hours reading through the grand jury report about the case.  To put it midly, it is horrifying.  Dr. Gosnell has been running this sorry excuse for a medical center for approximately 30 years.  What really surprises me is that he was busted for drugs – not for murdering Karnamaya Mongar in 2009, not for running an abortion clinic so terrible that local agencies stopped referring clients to him, but for being the third largest oxycotin distributer in the state.

We all know that America doesn’t care about poor people and immigrants, but really?

And while I’m sure pro-lifers are going to jump all over this, the issue really is not abortion.  Late term abortion is illegal.  But what Dr. Gosnell was doing wasn’t abortion, it was murder.  In late term abortions, the fetus never gets a chance to breath.  It is killed before it fully exits its mother’s body.  But not at The Women’s Medical Society.  The grand jury reports numerous live births, in some cases the infants were alive for up to twenty minutes before Dr. Gosnell and his staff murdered them.  And the murders were barbaric – snipping spinal cords with scissors?  There are better ways, hell we put down stray animals more humanely than that.

Initially I was confused how mothers could sit by and watch that. Surely you don’t need that much education to understand how Dr. Gosnell was performing these abortions was incorrect.  But then I read about how his untrained staff administered the anestesia and tried to keep the women knocked out during the births so that they would be still and quiet.  Apparently the running practice was to get the women in during the day, induce labor and have them sit around the office all day until the doctor came in at night to finish the job.  By the time the doctor came, some women had already given birth.

The whole thing is a nightmare.  I’m sad for the women who had no other options but to go to this doctor.  He overcharged them, hid his numerous mistakes (like leaving pieces of aborted fetuses inside the women’s bodies and puncturing internal organs) and kept them from getting any real medical help when they were in trouble (in the grand jury report there are at least 2 instances), and he murdered two women.  I would have thought one woman dying in his clinic would have been enough for a thorough review of the clinic, but no.  Apparently some people had reported the clinic to [], but no one followed up.

While I would like to imagine the Dr. Gosnell is the only doctor who preys on poor women, I know he is not.  I’m scared for other doctors that continue to fly under the radar.  While I can appreciate a doctor breaking the law to help someone in need, I cannot appreciate what Dr. Gosnell did.  I know that the new health care bill does not include provisions to immigrants, but hopefully low-income women can get assistance they need in a sanitary, safe  and caring environment.

peace,
e.

thank you “i see his penis out” woman

I kept seeing links to the video all week and finally decided to check it out this morning.  Long story short, some asshole rubbed his condom-covered peen on a woman in a not crowded subway and she was not having it.

I thank her for it.

I’ve lived in New York for about five years now.  Thankfully no one has felt the urge to expose them self to me, but like most other women, I am constantly harassed walking down the street.  I try to keep it civil. For example, if a man says I’m beautiful, I’ll say “Thank you.”  Not because I am thankful that he paid a compliment, but because if I don’t say anything I will inevitably get hit with “Why you so saditty?” “You’re not that cute anyway!” or the ever classic “Bitch.” *rolls eyes*

Anyway, I’ve become pretty numb to this weak holleration, but what happened to me on Saturday night still bothers me.  I was walking to a party (just stop, I don’t want to hear about how I should not be parading around Brooklyn at night) and I’m waiting on the corner of Washington and St. Marks and this man comes up to me and tells me I’m beautiful.  Blah blah, I say thanks and turn back to the street.  I’m wearing my headphones but I can tell he’s still talking.  I take one ear piece out to hear better.  In retrospect, I should have just kept the headphone in and continued to ignore him.  He repeats what he said and I make the fatal error of asking him what did he just say because I can’t believe he just said what I thought he did.  But sure enough he really did say “I would love to eat your p*ssy out.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat the hell?! Seriously?  When did this become the hot pick up line?

So I’m stuck at the longest light ever and this dude continues to talk about my no-no area, about how pretty it is, about how he’d have me limping in the morning and continuing to tell me that he’d eat it up, because apparently, that is the ultimate compliment he can pay.

I really wish I could have snapped back into reality and say all the things I wanted to say.  I wish I would have told him that my very pretty pink petal is definately out of his league and he needs to take all this wack game somewhere else.  Alas, all I could muster up is “Wow, that is crazy inappropriate” and continue my prayer to stop light gods that that light would finally turn red so I could run away.

The light finally turns red, I literally run across the street.  All the while, this guy is now yelling about how beautiful my vagina is. *sigh*

While holla back has been trying to fight street harassment for years, the reality is that legislation is not going to stop it.  Other easy answers, such as telling parents to raise their sons better, or telling women to not engage these men so they aren’t confused into thinking this constant harassment is a compliment that makes women feel good, are also not the ultimate solution.  In fact, I’m not really sure what is the answer.

What I do know is that next man that decides he’s going to disrespect and humiliate me like that will get a hell of a lot more than “wow, that is crazy inappropriate.”

peace,
e.

disturbing news

The more I watch the news, the more worried I become about our youth.  Last month it was the brutal murder of Derrion Albert.  Yesterday it was the gang rape (and beating) of a 15 year old at Richmond High School.  The crimes themselves are disturbing enough.  The bystander effect hurts my soul.  There have been many studies showing that the more people witnessing an act of violence, the less likely anyone is to help.  It’s scary to know that if I’m being attacked, it might actually be better if only one other person is around as opposed to a crowd of people.  I can understand some of  the rationalizations of why people don’t jump in and help.  But what I cannot understand is why some people would join in on the violence.  CNN reported that as word spread about what was going on outside the dance, more people came to watch and some people joined in.  That is just sick.

Today CNN posted a follow up of the victim’s friend giving it to the school.  Granted,  she spends most of her time talking about how she is a minority at the school, how she doesn’t feel safe and how another school (that is mostly White and Asian) has more security and handled a similar situation in a much different (read: better) way.  From what Kami Baker says, I imagine the victim is White or Asian.  If she’s White, it’s a wrap for these dudes, who I’m imagining are mostly men of color.

As is usual in cases of violence against women, other students are blaming the victim – ugh. I’m so done. I don’t care if she was drunk.  I don’t care that she wasn’t popular.  It’s not an excuse.  I get it, blaming the victim takes the responsibility off the bystanders and other people.  It’s still fucked up.  I was watching another video where a chaperon was shirking any responsibility claiming that if she left, it was her and her parent’s responsibility to make sure she got home safely.  That’s fair, but this girl did not even make it off school grounds.  In my opinion, if she still’s at school, she’s still your responsibility.  It was a 2.5 hour gang rape. That is a long time.  And if word got around to all these kids, I don’t believe that no chaperon, security guard or police officer saw all these kids running to this random alleyway.

I don’t understand rape, I wouldn’t know else what to write.

peace,
e.

Roland Martin puts fathers on blast

Fathers, and pretty much anyone that deals with them.

I’ve called on pastors nationwide to stop the stream of momma, grandmother, aunts and female cousins coming to the altar for baby dedications with no man in sight. That pastor should say, “Until I personally meet with the father, I will not dedicate this child.” Somebody has to hold that man accountable for his actions.

It’s time that men hold their “boys” accountable. Actor Hill Harper had a friend who once said that he hadn’t seen his child in some time, but he found time to play basketball with Harper. Hill said, “Unless you call your child now, we can’t play ball.” See, Hill had to force him to accept his responsibilities.

I’m down for men holding other men accountable.  Not sure how I feel about pastors refusing to baptize kids.  It’s not the kid’s fault the parents don’t get along and the dad wants to disappear.

I mean we even got kids trying to hold their dads accountable.  Al B. Sure’s son wrote him two public letters, and the fool still hasn’t even responded. lame.  ABS, do better dude.

But for real, I think men should hold themselves accountable.  I don’t know that I would want my dad to acknowledge me solely because his friends won’t ball with him anymore.  I want my dad around because he is my dad, because he loves me and because he wants to be there.

peace,
e.

Eva vs. homophobia: Part 1

Entitled part 1 because I’m sure there will be many more of these.

And here we go again.  I feel like I’m constantly arguing with my peers about homophobia.  It always surprises me how educated people can be so freaking ignorant.  For the past week I had been arguing about bisexuality.  Among the gems thrown my way were: “There’s no such thing as bisexuality, once you have intercourse with someone of the same sex once you’re forever gay.” and “Bisexuality (and not homosexuality) is what is wrong in America.”  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bible pushers.  I honestly just don’t think Jesus would love everyone but homosexual, I just don’t.  I don’t think God hates gay.  I don’t think homosexuality is a choice, and even if it was, I don’t think people should be controlling what others do in their bedroom.  I think gay marraige should be legalized and I think it will be within the next decade.

I think Black people especially need to get over their homophobia.  I believe men on the DL is such a problem because of homophobia.  I think if Black gay men could be out and accepted (at least in rates similar to the White community), I think there would be a lot less DL and more out (and happy) men.  In terms of bisexual men, there is little to no incentive to be honest.  I’ve met numerous women who flat out refuse to date a bisexual man, even if he was perfect in every way.  It blows my mind.  With all these women crying about being single and the lack of eligible men, how can we completely shut off a whole group of men.

</rant>

peace,
e.