New Year's Resolutions

Instead of waiting until Thursday, I decided to start my New Year's resolutions yesterday. I figured that Monday was a better day to start new goals than Thursday. Besides, most of my goals aren't new. I've just started and quit them a few times but need to finally 'get 'er done'.

Goals for the new year:
  • Continue to grow my business (an exciting promotion is in the works)
  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Expand my social network
  • Meet my future husband (why is this so hard to say out loud?)

I've been reading up on how to effectively network, how to get past social anxiety/shyness, and the like. I've also been working on the Black Girl Tees website. Its been down for a while, but I just didn't realize how daunting a task it is to move from one hosting company to another. That's definitely a new business owner lesson learned! My goal is to have it finished by Jan 1 so that I can announce the new promotion. I doubt that I'll make it though. I still have to find a dress and shoes for New Year's Eve as well as a purple dress for a program I'm attending on Saturday.

Yesterday I started my gym regimen again. I usually build up the return to the gym as this huge thing in my mind, so that I irrationally believe that that return workout will be painful, I'm very out of shape and it'll be pretty difficult to get back into the swing of things. But it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined it'd be. Also, I chose two activities for this week - First Fridays for networking, and a club I've been meaning to check out on Saturday. While I admit that nightclubs aren't the best places to go out and meet eligible men, I know I need to get out of the house before I turn into the crazy cat lady. Besides, all work and no play makes Prosechild a very dull girl.

What are your New Year's resolutions for 2009? What are your plans to accomplish these goals?

A Different Perspective

My mother is a single parent. She did an outstanding job of providing the necessities that I needed - which also means that she could not afford many luxuries. For most of my childhood, she did my press 'n curls and relaxers at home (and I probably still have the burn scars to prove it! lol). I have many memories of sleepy Saturday mornings, being perched on a chair next to the stove, wincing in fear as the hot straightening comb came closer and closer to my head.

These experiences instilled in me a willful determination to do my own hair. This also fostered a deep mistrust for hair stylists. I'm sure every black woman has had the experience of not getting the style she wanted, after giving explicit instructions on what she desired. Or, more tramatic than that, looking on in horror as her hair is being swept from the floor, after a 'trim' that was more than what she wanted. For years I have been my own 'kitchen-tician'. I don't believe in getting my hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks. If my goal is to keep hair on my head, then why am I cutting it off? I also don't get relaxers very often, typically I go 3-4 months between touch-ups. Now my hair grows quickly and its very tightly coiled, but having done my hair all of my adult life, I'm adept at taming new growth and several styles to deal with my dual hair textures.

My hair is pretty long now - well past my shoulders. I'm suffering from a sort of hair anorexia. I don't realize how long it really is, until someone else is combing it (which is rare since I don't like stylists) or until it gets caught it the straps of my tote bag or folded into my scarf. Then I am surprised that something is there, and look down with wide eyes that its my hair! In my mind my hair is still chin-length or just above my shoulders.

Lately I've been wearing my hair in a bun. And not a cute bun, either, adorned with accessories or stylishly set. I'm talking about the kind of bun where you brush your hair for a few strokes, gather it up and tuck the ends unto itself. I blamed it on the cold weather but its more the result of my laziness! Yesterday I was determined to end the lazy streak (but still not feeling it for myself), so I went to the Hair Cuttery for a wash and set.

It was actually refreshing to get a different perspective on my hair. I have the typical dry hair that black women have. So I'm not used to women of other races gushing about how beautiful my hair is, which happened yesterday. I complained to the stylist that my hair was cut in layers, but I could not get it to look full and defined when I rollerset my hair. "Your hair is not cut in layers," she said. "Look, its just an angle cut." And she was right! That was a little embarrasing that a stranger could determine things about my hair that I just knew, in all my kitchen-tician expertise.

I have long ago accepted the unique hair texture that I have, and that my hair does not turn out like the typical black woman: wraps don't look right, I don't like heat so flat ironing is out, and my hair doesn't 'lay' in the way it 'should'. So I just rollerset my hair and let it be. Both of us are happy that way. I could continue to fight my hair into submission, but what's the point? As black women have made our hair our 'crowning glory', it is definitely a mark of self-esteem and our standard of beauty as black American women to sport beautiful hair. Having to come to terms with hair that doesn't 'bounce and behave' was a hard pill to swallow. But in the end, when I took into account the individual properties of my hair, and worked with them instead of against them, I became much happier about my crowning glory and let it 'do what it do'.

So while most black women I know hold their hair routine and salon appointments as a cultural badge, I choose to lovingly care for my hair myself. That allows me to not compare myself to others and to remove myself from the unstated hair competition. Now, if I could just shorten the time it takes for me to do a perfect rollerset, I would be in hair heaven...

Goodbye, Eartha

One of our most enduring icons of black femininity has passed away today at 81. May you be at peace. You will be missed.

Merry Christmas!!

Whatever your reason for the season, I hope you spend it full of family, friends, and laughter. We have so much to be grateful for and I hope we bask in that gratitude today. Merry Christmas!

Make time for yourself in a busy season

I am still recovering from the holiday parties I attended and meeting I hosted on Sunday. Time didn't permit the opportunity for my normal Sunday beauty routine. I contented myself with doing my nails last night, as they needed some touch-up polish.

One thing I noticed when I moved to the DC area, is the frequency in which black women get their nails done. I'm sure that black women across the country get their nails done alot, but most of the women I know here - especially older women - religiously get acrylics. Especially the older women in my life. A few years ago I found myself getting into it too, but after wrecking my nail beds I weaned myself away from the habit.

What I especially enjoyed about getting my nails done was the feeling of being pampered. For 30 min to an hour, and only $20 (depending on where you go...) you get the feeling of being taken care of. And usually we are the caretakers, so its a wonderful feeling to sit back and have a beauty treat, if only for a little while. When I decided to stop getting acrylics, I knew that I'd want to carry that same pampered feeling into my beauty routine.

So for 20 minutes, I sit quietly, clear my thoughts and just take time to pamper myself. I love the way my hands look when I do my nails. They look soft, moisturized, cared for and colorful. I admit that as a native Floridian I often choose polish colors that are brighter than what most women would choose, but that's just a part of who I am. I love color, sunshine, brightness and happiness, and I incorporate that into my nail routine.

My polish of choice is Orly. I know that many women rave over OPI, but I find that their polishes are thinner and more transparent than Orly. I only apply two coats of color, to minimize thickness since I use a base and top coat, and I don't get the same color density or payoff with OPI. I also find that OPI chips and doesn't last as long. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I like the rubberized grip on the neck of Orly polishes. I tend to buy creme colors instead of wines, berries or shimmery colors. I also notice that black women grativate toward these colors as 'safe' colors. Again, this is reminiscent of avoiding the 'jezebel' stereotype I mentioned in my makeup post. Life should be lived live and in color, and not in fear of others' perceptions.

So if your Christmas will be hectic, I suggest just taking 10-20 minutes to have quiet time for yourself to do your nails. You'll feel just a tad bit prettier, a little less stressed and your hands will thank you for the attention.

This brought tears to my eyes

This was forwarded to me in an email. I got misty-eyed reading this - the thought that this type of man is now leading our country - that really touched me and gave me even more hope for our country's future. I usually stay away from posting anything Obama (we're really getting inundated...) but I couldn't pass this up. This email also brought to mind Bush's visit to an elementary school on 9/11 and that dumb look he had on his face...

CHICAGO - President-elect Barrack Obama and his wife took their daughters to work at a food bank on the day before Thanksgiving, saying they wanted to show the girls the meaning of the holiday, especially when so many people are struggling.

Ten-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha joined their parents to shake hands and give holiday wishes to hundreds of people who had been lined up for hours at the food bank on Chicago 's south side.

Sasha wore a pink stocking hat over her pigtails and Malia had on a purple striped hat as the family handed out wrapped chickens to the needy in the chilly outdoor courtyard. Those seeking food on Wednesday at St. Columbanus also received boxes with potatoes, oranges, fresh bread, peanut butter, canned goods, oatmeal, spaghetti and coffee.

The president-elect, dressed casually in a leather jacket, black scarf and khaki pants, was in a jovial mood, calling out "happy thanksgiving" and telling everyone "you can call me Barack."

He told reporters that he wants the girls "to learn the importance of how fortunate they are, and to make sure they're giving back."

The soon-to-be first lady said the Obamas wanted to give their children "an understanding of what giving and Thanksgiving is all about."

The Obama family's activities in the courtyard quickly drew the attention of schoolchildren whose windows overlooked the courtyard. They put up a sign against the glass that read: "We love our prez" and screamed when the president-elect waved to them.

Obama then turned to his wife and suggested they go visit the kids. Secret Service agents, looking surprised, disappeared inside the building to accommodate his request.

Minutes later, hundreds of children were brought down to the school auditorium, and Obama loped onstage as they screamed and cheered.

"I just wanted to come by and wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving," he said. He then asked the children what they would be eating for Thanksgiving dinner.

So lets recap.

He took his kids to work in the cold…?
Instead of getting someone to line up and dish the gifts? Instead of telling them 'You are kids of a VIP. Therefore there are things that you can’t do.

To show the kids that people are suffering? Yes, that people are suffering? They have to live understanding the importance of giving back to the community.

Let us learn from this great family… and for those who have children, this is a wonderful example of raising our kids.

What's really going on?

A few years ago, I was appalled to learn of the personal history of Martin Luther King Jr's children. Its hard to fill those shoes, we all know - but his children seem to experience hardship that is hard to justify. Every black family (hell, every family) has dysfunctional behavior, bickering among themselves, and disagreements, but at the end of the day you love your relatives if only for the fact that you share common ancestors. Being that their ancestor is one of the most acclaimed Civil Rights and humanitarian leaders in history, I guess I expected more from them. I was upset that one of his daughters died relatively young, and had not passed on her father's legacy by having children. I was surprised that MLK III had just gotten married and produced the first King grandchild. And I was very disappointed by the lawsuits and countersuits that they've filed against each other.

This morning, as I was reading my subscribed blogs, I came across this story:

Harry Belafonte was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and a follower of the civil rights movement but now Belafonte has come up against the King estate
over King memorabilia that he was set to auction off at Sotheby's. The
papers include a three-page handwritten draft of King's first anti-Vietnam
war speech in 1967 and notes found in his suit pocket after his 1968
assassination. Belafonte said the papers were given to him by King and his
late wife, Coretta Scott King, and that he was planning to donate the
proceeds of the sale to charity. But the King estate blocked the sale of the
papers, which were estimated to bring in up to 1.3 million dollars.

The estate believes the documents are "the property of the estate of Martin Luther King Jr" and were wrongly acquired. Belafonte withdrew the documents from auction. The Telegraph reports that the once-cordial relationship between the King family and Belafonte went wrong after the death of Mrs Scott King in 2006. Belafonte was asked to give the eulogy at her funeral but later was uninvited.

King's children have been at odds with each other over the estate's assets and have filed lawsuits against each other. In 2006, the King estate put 10,000 items from its collection up for public auction but withdrew them after a last-minute bid of 32 million dollars from the City of Atlanta to keep them at Morehouse College, King's alma mater.

This is really sad, that after the blood, sweat, tears, jail time and lives given in pursuit of their father's dream, that the King children are carrying on this way. I'm not saying that they don't have a right to protect their father's image and control his property, but they can't control everything. And the manner in which they're attempting to control these things just comes across as a greedy attempt to gain financially from their father's importance without regard for the tarnish they're bringing to the King name. King's legacy to our society is priceless and can never be bought or sold. I wish that the King children could see that.

Rest = beauty

Lately I've been feeling like I'm going going going. I went out Friday night, had to work on Saturday then went to a friend's "Martinis and Karaoke" night. I had so much fun during this weekend, so today I chilled with my homegirl and did absolutely nothing. I had never seen Moulin Rouge so she insisted that we watch it. The movie was good and right up my alley.

But I was still a little bugged at my lack of productivity. Sometimes, "resting your nerves", as granny used to say, is as good as giving yourself a beauty treatment. Every black woman I know is working with a full plate.. or two, or three. We don't take enough time to rest our bodies, our minds, our spirits. We put everyone else first and by the time we get to ourselves, there's not much left. That's why I decided to make Sundays the day for my beauty routine. So today I paused for the cause and let myself be at ease. I still didn't feel totally guitless about it. The to-do list always beckons.

Before we know it, it'll be Christmas, then New Year's, then time to work on those resolutions that we hope to keep this year. Taking time for myself isn't a bad thing. The more I think of it, the more I need to work it in. I should add "resting my nerves" to the to-do list!

I hope you had a beautful day, no matter how you spent it.

Standard of Beauty Sundays

On Sunday (or any day of the week that I have free time) I usually treat myself to a mini spa day at home. I'll do my hair, nails, exfoliate, do a facial mask or play around with makeup. So starting today, I'll post my thoughts and suggestions on the standard of beauty unique to Black women. More specifically, not about what that standard is, but about ways in which we can improve our personal standard, be it by more attention to grooming, new habits and products that are generating buzz in hair, makeup and fitness circles that I frequent online. I definitely won't turn this into a beauty blog.. there are other more talented, devoted and thorough bloggers (please see my blogroll) who can provide beauty tips. I'll be presenting more of an overview to certain aspects of beauty, and how those aspects relate to black women's self-esteem and standard of beauty overall.

The first brand featured in this new aspect of Black Women and Girls is M.A.C. makeup.

M.A.C. stands for Make-up Art Cosmetics. To industry insiders, M.A.C. is the go-to brand, the highest quality, and is used by celebrity as well as every-day makeup artists alike. M.A.C. used to be one of my obsessions in grad school, but now I have less time and disposable income to invest in it. One of the reasons why black women love M.A.C. so much is that M.A.C. loves us: for the foundation alone, M.A.C. has a hue that matches almost every African-American skin tone. There are varying textures for the foundations, which allow a woman to choose the amount of coverage she can get in her daily makeup look. Don't get me wrong... Fashion Fair, Black Opal and Milani are wonderful in that they cater to black women exclusively... but if you belong to the cult of M.A.C. then you know there is no comparison in terms of quality, coverage, wearability (I find Fashion Fair to be too heavy for my oily-prone skin) or availability. Iman makeup is also wonderful, but I can't find Imani as easily as M.A.C. and there are more resources on the internet for one to become well-versed with M.A.C. products.

The reason that I advocate M.A.C. for black women is because they did not have an economic epiphany in order to include us. If I had known about M.A.C. in high school or early college (I was introduced to M.A.C. during my senior year, but didn't begin wearing it until 3 years later) I wouldn't have felt like I was playing catch-up with my beauty regimen. I am glad that there are drugstore lines such as the Queen Collection but I also feel like the brands that cater to black women now have previously left us out of the beauty loop for years. It seems that only in recent years have large cosmetic companies tried to appease the black female spender by including a few shades in each product line. But with so many shades to cover, a few shades just doesn't cut it.

Speaking of those few shades, I frequently see women who are either wearing the wrong shade of makeup or are wearing poor quality makeup. I'm not assuming that drugstore lines are always cheap; but you can definitely see the difference between a good quality eyeshadow and a cheap one. I invest in my foundations, eyeshadows and blushes, and buy my mascaras, liner pencils and some glosses from the drugstore. I don't really wear lipstick as I have a hard time finding shades that compliment my dark lips (I spent weeks looking for the perfect red lipstick.. and I'm not 100% happy with the one I finally chose). And I'm sure that other women, when confronted with this hunt for quality brands that have foundations to match African-American skin tones, either give up or settle for what's accessible and affordable.

Another aspect of black women's relationship with makeup is the age-old stereotype of being a jezebel. One of my grad school professors once commented on the fact that she never wore red lipstick or a certain style of dress because she did not want to be perceived as a jezebel. My thing is, if you will judge me based on a lipstick shade and not my character, then you are not someone worthy of my time or presence. Sistahs I urge you to not live your life based on the perceptions of others. If you act or abstain from action based on how someone at church feels about makeup (I never really understood why wearing makeup was frowned upon in church), how your significant other feels or a prohibition that exists only in your mind, then the issue that you face is much greater than which foundation most closely matches your undertones. You show these people how spiritual, queenly and worthy you are by the level of self-care you give to yourself. Makeup is only a way to enhance the beauty you already have; if someone does not agree with that, don't let their perceptions cloud up your life.

So if you're on the hunt for a great foundation, love quality makeup or are just curious about the M.A.C. experience, just stop by a counter in Nordstrom or a free-standing M.A.C. store. Also, here are some of my favorite links and videos related to M.A.C. Enjoy and stay beautiful!

Common Makeup Misconceptions and Questions by Black Women

Studio Fix Guide

Applying Eyeshadow for Beginners

Scandalous Beauty - this is the makeup artist that made the videos I posted. She's great, check her out!

Coastal Scents Online Store - inexpensive cosmetics brushes

Makeup Addict website
- amazing resource for all thing M.A.C.

M.A.C. Sistahs - a Livejournal community for women of color who use M.A.C. - another indispensable M.A.C. resource

What does it mean to settle?

I just read a thread on a discussion board, and it got me to thinking. The thread was started when someone posted this article: Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr. Good Enough. To summarize:

What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I
might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an
enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of
a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be
relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back
then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good
romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go
on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage
isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small,
mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.

I really feel what the author wrote. In an age where we grew up with the fantasy of being swept away by Prince Charming, I totally understand her point. And, in a lot of ways, women in my age group have unrealistic expectations of what marriage should be and the criteria used to evaluate a man for marriage potential.

But, at the same time, I can't help but feel that the author doesn't feel our pain. For the 45% or so of black women who have never been married, we're not, for the most part, sitting around saying "Craig was a nice guy, but he doesn't like to read or travel, so I can't get with him." Most of us are hoping that, even though we gave Craig a chance, and he won't go on yearly vacay, he'll still find us worthy to marry. Is the dating world really that different for single white women? Maybe it was 10 years ago, when the author was around my age. But some of my friends of other ethnicities are facing something similar to what I'm facing. We don't have as much choice of settling for a husband, because a lot of men aren't looking for wives. Or, for that matter, serious commitment. That may be a result of growing up in the 'me' generation.. or maybe, like the author points out, we're using dating criteria to choose mates for marriage.

Now I was nodding my head and agreeing with most of the logic of the article, until I got to this part:

“By the time she turns 37,” Chris said confidently, “she’ll come back. And I’ll bet she’ll marry me then. I know she wants to have kids.” I asked Chris why he would want to be with a woman who wasn’t in love with him. Wouldn’t he be settling, too, by marrying someone who would be using him to have a family? Chris didn’t see it that way at all. “She’ll be settling,” Chris said cheerfully. “But not me. I get to marry the woman of my dreams. That’s not settling. That’s the fantasy.”

You guys know it sticks in my craw when black women are told to settle for janitors or garbagemen. While the man gets the woman of his dreams, what do we get? The author points out that the man of your dreams doesn't exist because you dreamt him up; but is it really too much to ask, to hope for a man who intellectually stimulates you? I too think passion is overrated and even leads to bad relationship decisions. But what about standing up for what you want? Granted, those wants have to be realistic.. we all aren't going to meet Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome who drives a BMW and can bring you to the height of ecstacy. But why settle for someone you're not attracted to, not on the same socioeconomic level, not much in common with?

The author justifies her stance on settling:

This doesn’t undermine my case for settling. Instead, it supports my argument to do it young, when settling involves constructing a family environment with a perfectly acceptable man who may not trip your romantic trigger—as opposed to doing it older, when settling involves selling your very soul in exchange for damaged goods.

And this I definitely agree with. But I guess I need to really think about what it means to settle. To me, settling is being with someone who doesn't treat you well simply because you've already been together a long time. Or, settling is choosing someone simply to not be alone - regardless of how you actually feel about that person, and the assets (or lack thereof) that he brings to the table. I guess I feel so strongly against settling because my parents' marriage was one of convenience and they had very little in common, in terms of goals, outlook on life, and temperament. But at the same time, I have no illusions of a grand romantic adventure. I simply seek a partner who has the same vision for economic stability that I do, who is honest and family-oriented. Maybe I'm just at that age where I'm not ready to settle (per the author's definition), but I can't do it. And, ironically, neither can she.

Post-Holiday Recovery

Unlike alot of people I know, I had to work today. I have never partaken in the Black Friday madness.. and its usually MADNESS! I work across from a mall and the parking lot was bananas when I arrived at 8:30 a.m. Just thinking about all those people pushing and shoving down the aisles of Target drives me up the wall.

But I'm sitting here struggling to hold on. I definitely overate yesterday. I usually feast in moderation, but yesterday was different. I visited three separate families since I live thousands of miles away from my family. I've never done that before and I definitely failed to pace myself accordingly! Everything looked so yummy - as my grandma would've said, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who ate too much yesterday. I had planned to work out after work, but alas, I forgot my gym shoes at home. I will get back on my gym routine tomorrow. This definitely shows that, if I want to avoid unnecessary weight gain, I have to be dilligent around holiday time. Especially since the next holiday is only weeks away.

No More Mr. Nice Guy (Part II)

I have been in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner smells for the last few hours. I figure that the best distraction from the succulent scent of turkey is to go ahead and write part II of "No More Mr. Nice Guy". Only two more hours until its time to dig in!

Lately, I've been hanging out with a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. Her and her ex-beau had been together for nine years (that, IMHO, is entirely too long.. and deserves a post of its own). She found out that he'd cheated on her - even went so far as to introduce her to the sideline chick. After a while, the sideline chick felt compelled to come clean, and the sh*t hit the proverbial fan. So I try to check on her as much as she can tolerate. I know the pain of a broken heart, and I just couldn't imagine what it must be like for her. She seems ok... for now.

As I pondered the Julie Hudson criticism and the role of Mr. Nice Guy, I realized that alot of self-proclaimed Good Black Men are not that 'nice'. I was really cool with her guy, and had no indication that he was capable of that level of deceit. This was not a guy who constantly ran the street, who had questionable habits or treated my friend with disrespect. In the end, however, he was a liar. And lying to someone you love is not a nice thing to do.

According to the site No More Mr. Nice Guy (no relation to this,
A nice guy's primary goal is to make others happy. Nice guys have been conditioned to believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, they will be loved, get what they want, and have a smooth life.
  • Nice guys seek the approval of others.
  • Nice guys try to hide their perceived flaws and mistakes.
  • Nice guys put other people's needs and wants before their own.
  • Nice guys sacrifice their personal power and often play the role of a victim.
  • Nice guys tend to be disconnected from other men and from their own masculine energy.
  • Nice guys co-create relationships that are less than satisfying.
  • Nice guys create situations in which they do not have very much good sex.
  • Nice guys frequently fail to live up their full potential.
I'm sure we all know a really nice guy. The kind of guy who doesn't have an ounce of bass in his voice; the guy who is always there for you in a pinch, who's really sweet and ultimately would make a great boyfriend or husband if you were attracted to him. Which you probably aren't.

There's nothing wrong with this type of guy. Really, there isn't. Mr. Nice Guy gets a bad rap - but Mr. Nice Guy is not really real. I think the Mr. Nice Guy persona stems from personal insecurity. So the guy who would wear this mantle is not the guy he portrays himself as. Instead of being assertive, aggresive and/or selfish, this type of guy goes the other extreme and becomes somewhat passive. He probably thinks that if people perceive him as being this great guy, then he'll get what he wants. In essence, the Mr. Nice Guy persona is an elaborate manipulation that ultimatey doesn't work.

Underneath the facade of MNG is the heart of a vain and selfish man. I'm not saying that's a bad thing.. we are all selfish to a certain extent, and part of our personalities seeks outside approval from others. With MNG, that part is bigger than in other people. And the falsity in MNG stems from his attempt at manipulation, not his genuine nature. If a guy is really a nice guy, he is kind, giving and sweet to others out of the generosity of his own heart. There is no ulterior motive behind his actions. And because his actions are sincere, he doesn't become upset when others take him for granted. Because he actually likes to give. MNG, on the other hand, uses his actions as bait for attention from others. "How nice he is, how considerate of others, how sweet!" we exclaim.

But after a while, this is all we see. Because the real man is hiding behind the smoke screen of being nice. And the real guy is afraid to come out, to shatter that perfect image, to have us see who he really is. So we see nothing. We see the guy who'll always help us when our car breaks down, we see our boss who won't say anything if we take extra time at lunch or miss deadlines, and we see the guy who's been trying to get with us for years, but is stuck in the friend zone. In his frustration, MNG blames everyone else - the Thugs and Bad Boys who act on their feelings, and don't hide behind a mask; the Hot Black Women who they wear this mask for, who are attracted to bold, assertive men, the opposite of what MNG has allowed himself to become; and even the everyday women who would give them a chance, if MNG weren't so busy being nice to Hot Black Women. Everyone else gets the blame, because MNG was nice and no one appreciated him for it. If MNG hadn't smothered his personal power behind the mask of being nice, he wouldn't end up blaming others for his own mistakes. He'd be secure enough in himself to say what it is he actually feels.

What's interesting though, is what happens when MNG does get the girl. I'm not saying I'm a Hot Black Woman (in my mind, I am..) but I have dated Mr. Nice Guy. All of those nice, sweet, good actions go away after you are wooed and won. A mean sort of selfishness sets in, as if MNG is saying "I'm taking what I want, and holding onto it firmly, since I don't know when I'll get what I want again." Which is another extreme behavior/attitude. A guy who is truly 'nice' wouldn't lie to get what he wants (like my friend's ex did), wouldn't have you believe that he's someone he's not, and would know how to assert his own wants while being respectful of yours. These types of guys never say "the nice guys finish last" because they are never placed last; you see them for the real guy they are and not an invisible front that they show the world. And they don't have to tell you they're nice, because you already know it.

I wish all MNGs knew that they'd be accepted, embraced, noticed, if they were just themselves. Its great that a man would feel compelled to do nice things for others and be a respectful person. What's not nice is to have these actions lorded over you by a man who wasn't genuine about them. The myth of Mr. Nice Guy would die if men who felt safe hiding behind the mask of niceness would learn to act in a manner that respected his desires while treating others well simulaneously.


Black women have so much to be thankful for this holiday season - not the least of which is an incoming black president and his phenomenal wife. I hope everyone enjoys their family, friends, and the spirit of gratitude that emerges on Thanksgiving. Let's dwell on the positive things today (and enjoy the wonderful dinners that we're blessed to partake in)!

Greatest Rapper of All Time

I must've been asleep to miss this - a biopic about the Notorious B.I.G. will be released in January 2009.

Best believe that I will be there! Biggie was my dude in high school. The Southern girl in me couldn't get with NYC hip hop back then. Maybe some Wu Tang every now and then, but No Limit, Trick Daddy, and sometimes Cash Money stayed in my rotation. Biggie was the one exception to that rule. I'm interested to see how his life unfolds on screen, and even more interested in how Derek Luke will pull off playing Puffy.

Michelle and France: Two of my faves

My friends know that I'm enraptured by two things: Michelle Obama and France. What black woman isn't in awe of Michelle? And what black woman that's been to Paris didn't fall in love with the city? I was very pleased to read about Michelle's feature in Paris Match magazine, courtesy of Black Voices:

Future First Lady Michelle Obama has been featured recently in Paris Match,
the Vanity Fair of France. Looking as elegant and radiant as ever, our new "Mrs.
O" already has international appeal as a fashionable public figure.

I'm swooning over here... I love it love it love it!

No more Mr. Nice Guy

I'm back for the second time... life happens sometime and prevents me from posting as much as I should. I'm adjusting to my new job, and my schedule is constantly changing. But as much as I can be here, I'll be here.

Anyway... I've been composing a response to the tragic events that happened to the Hudson family. I also wanted to wait until the buzz died down from the Obama campaign victory. Its not that I wasn't excited; I don't think there were many people (besides McCain supporters) who weren't. Its just that the blogosphere and all media outlets were inundated with Obamarama. So I felt that I'd ride the wave out and continue the black woman's journey to self-esteem and our own unique standard of beauty outside of that. I have to note, however, that the black woman's image has improved exponentially with Michelle Obama's ascension to First Lady. I hope that new, positive image becomes permanently etched on America's collective cornea.

The topic of this post, as I was saying, grew out of the Hudson family tragedy. I noticed that alot of the comments directed at Julie Hudson's supposed poor judgment criticized her choice in men. Don't get me wrong; I join most who wholeheartedly believe that a mother's responsibility to her children is their protection, first and foremost. And I see where the lack of vetting skills in choosing a mate can permanently affect the health, welfare, mental and financial stability of children involved. But what I don't understand is how the black community can fail to recognize its own hand in this tragedy. People were so quick to blame Julie for choosing to be with a criminal monster... but where's the blame for the monster? That's one of the hardest mantles that black women face - we seem to be the scapegoats for errant black male behavior, no matter what we do. If we had only done this or that, the outcome would have been different. I say, why not blame the person who actually did the thing, instead of the victim, the person who is perceived to 'let' it happen?

That's not to negate Julie's part in the tragedy - choosing to be with a man who has a criminal record should not be condoned - but how many black women are urged to 'give a brotha a chance' (I'm sure y'all know by now I hate that mindset)? No matter what wrongs the brotha has formerly committed? No matter what state he's currently in, no matter his goals and ambitions in life, or his willingness to actually commit to a long-term or permanent relationship? If the black woman would only help prop a tired, trifling brotha up... if only she would look at his potential and give him time to develop into the responsible, committed, enterprising man he is *supposed* to be... if only she would recognize the heavy burden of racism that has weighed down his actions in life (even though black women carry that same crushing weight, along with the equally heavy burden of sexism, that black men often inflict on us as well)... and, often, if only she wouldn't be uppity and choose a black man outside of her socioeconomic status, just because he's black... black women wouldn't be lonely/single mothers/unmarried/fill-in-the-negative-blank...

Oh, that's right, we're not supposed to blame anyone but the black woman.

Another surprising contender in this blame-the-black-woman game has emerged (surprising to me, at least): Mr. Nice Guy. If only the Julie Hudsons of the world would stop choosing Thugs and Bad Boys over the Nice Guys, they say, atrocities such as their family experienced wouldn't happen. If only black women would stop overlooking these Good Black Men, the state of our community would be so much better, they say. Maybe its just me, but I feel that Mr. Nice Guy Black Man is a myth, a figment of the black community's imagination. If I'm wrong, then where is he?

Because for every Good Black Man, there is a Good Black Woman who does not date Thugs or Bad Boys. For every Good Black Man who is crying into his Xbox or Playstation controller at night, there is a Good Black Woman (or 2...or 3) who's tired of being alone. There are two things I see with men who claim to be Mr. Nice Guy: they extend absolutely no effort in pursuing women and they are not really that nice. I'll address the first point here, and the second in Part Two of this post.

There was an article in a recent issue of Essence magazine (the issue with Beyonce on the cover) that caught my eye. I can't remember the title of the article, but it was written by a black man who claimed to be a Southern gentleman. In the article (I didn't read it... Essence is on some bull and hasn't received my money in years), the author shared his woes as a Good Black Man who gets overlooked. Maybe I'm being insensitive.. maybe I'm making generalizations.. but if that isn't a load of crap, I don't know what is. GTFOOHWTBS..

I'm sorry sistas, but some of us have low standards. I don't care how gorgeous, accomplished, talented, or financially well-off a sista is, you will see a black woman with a man you perceive to be below her level and think "how'd he get with her?" In our fear of being alone (which is constantly nurtured by the black community's urgings to 'give a brotha a chance' and only date black men) we accept men who are not only incompatible, but who don't really have a black woman's best interest at heart. The only ones who really care about a black woman's chances at finding a healthy relationship are, for the most part, black women. But we put our desires, and ultimately, our hopes for successful relationships, on the back burner in order to Have A Man instead of having the man that's right for us.

So when I see men like the author of the Essence article bitch and moan about being overlooked, I don't feel sorry for them. I joke that all a black man has to do is go outside... he doesn't even have to iron his clothes - he'll find a black woman who'll iron them for him and make him a sandwich while she's at it. To me, the real issue is not that these men get overlooked - but that they get overlooked by women they consider to be 'dimes' or the creme of the supposed crop. The women who are the female equivalent to the Thugs and Bad Boys they blame for their loneliness. To these men, they overlook the Good Black Woman and only have eyes for the Hot Black Woman.. and then blame the GBW and average sistas when they didn't have time for us in the first place. For example, a few years back, Essence ran that same type of article written by a financially successful black man. In the article he noted his accomplishments in his career, some of his material possessions and the fact that he's a 'mover and shaker'. Then, on the same page, he wrote about his frustration with meeting women who were only after his money. But those were the types of women he repeatedly chose, and then had the gall to blame us for his singlehood. That doesn't make sense to me - if you constantly pursue women who are into material things, you can't get mad at those women because they want your material things. That just doesn't add up.

On the flip side, I know several men who claim to be Good Black Men, who put absolutely no effort into meeting women, then express bitterness toward black women for not choosing them. Call me old-fashioned, but when did this expectation of pursuit fall to black women?? What kills me about it is, black women who pursue men are accused of being emasculating.. again, we can't win for losing and this is another situation that turns out to be our fault. I know at least 3 men who never go out, who put no effort into how they dress or into grooming themselves to be noticed by women. When I point out that they are black, live in DC, have advanced degrees, above-average salaries and are attractive, highlighting their chances of dating success if they would just go outside (see joke, they pout that that's too much work. They refuse to enter the dating game and play by its rules. They also have stringent criteria and only want to meet certain kinds of women, no matter how much effort they extend to do so. When this happens, then another Good Black Man has been overlooked. When it happens to a black woman, then sistas need to stop being so picky and get out there and meet men.

Sorry, but I don't buy it.

What women admire in Thugs and Bad Boys is their ability to be bold, to make the first (and subsequent) moves, to literally charm the pants off them and provide a feeling of security. Sorry fellas, but women don't admire timid men. If you don't pursue women, if you wait for women to notice you, of course you'll get overlooked because there are other men (regardless of good intentions and criminal backgrounds) who have the balls to go after what they want. If a man packages himself for meeting women and proceeds to show women attention, he will get that attention returned. If not by a certain type of woman, then by other types. Blaming women who don't return that attention is a waste of time and contributes to the situation I describe: men who are bitter toward women who are out of their league, who have removed themselves from the dating game altogether. That is not to say that women don't play a significant role in the dating game, but most of us accept that role and know how to play it.

Every black man who I'd label as a Good Black Man is off somewhere, actually being good to a woman. They're married or in committed, long-term relationships, being honest and loving to their women and present in the lives of their children. That is how I measure the level of goodness in a black man, not by his level of fiscal responsibility or his lack of a criminal record.

(Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll discuss how Mr. Nice Guy is really not that nice.)

Size is relative

Last night, I went to a friend's get together. There were 5 of us (I hate being the only single gal amidst couples!) so the conversation flowed freely. At one point, one of the other women ended her comment to me by saying "well you're tiny anyway". Huh? Me, tiny?

In order to understand why I was surprised, you'd have to know my life-long struggle with weight and body-image issues. I was a chubby yet active child, with a body that family members referred to as 'solid'. In middle and high school, I wore the largest uniform on our cheerleading squad (except for the girl who had to get her uniform custom-made, b/c the company didn't make them in a size big enough for her). Somewhere between 11th grade and freshman year in college I seemed to have either grown into my body, slimmed down, or both. I look back on my pics from that year and don't remember being as small as I appear to be.

But my struggle didn't just revolve around size. Shape has always been a determining factor. Along with taunts of having thunder thighs, being rolly-polly, and the like, I was teased with the saying of "BMW" (body made wrong). I had strong, muscular thighs from being athletic, but I have never possessed the typical black girl's butt or hips. The most hurtful thing someone has said to me was that I was shaped like a white girl. Not because there's anything wrong with the way white girls are shaped, but negative comparisons to another ethnicity seem to hurt the most (if you've ever been accused of 'talking white', you know just what I mean).

Fast forward to 2004. I had come to a place where I was comfortable with and truly admiring of my body. Sure, I have rolls just like anyone else, but I like what I see when I look in the mirror. I know what my flattering aspects are, and I have learned to camoflague the ones that aren't so flattering. So imagine my dismay when I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). My doctor prescribed a low-carb diet and a regimen of Glucophage (an insulin sensitizer that allows the body to respond more normally to insulin secretion, thus lowering blood sugar levels). He also strongly suggested that I lose 20 pounds.

Its been very difficult, to say the least, to motivate myself to lose weight when I am finally in love with my body, flaws and all. Of course there are days where I wished I wore a size 6 instead of a size 12... but those days get fewer and fewer the more I come to appreciate myself.

So after hearing that I was chubby all my life, it is still surprising to hear that I'm 'small'. This just goes to show that size is relative. Some women look at me and think I'm small, whereas others see me as bordering on being a big girl. I've come to realize that we do this to ourselves because it is the nature of our society. In order for it not to hurt, a woman has to be secure in all her flaws and strengths and be okay with the judgment of others. If a woman's self-esteem and sense of self were founded on the approval of others, it would be an ever-changing thing indeed.

I say whatever size you're at, love you for you. Self-love is one thing that will never be relative.

Do Sistas Give Too Much?

article in its entirety:
“Black women's sense of obligation to community and family is both
extraordinary and commendable,” Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation,
told the website

“When you are pulled in so many directions financially, something or
someone has to pay the price. For black women, it appears their financial
well-being suffers.”
Tell us something we don't know. The Baby Boomers generation probably feel this economic crunch the most. With parents still living, grown children who need help and sometimes grandchildren to support, its hard for those in middle age to save for retirement. Where does money to save come from? Especially when you're helping Pookie-n-nem with a little change.

Black women are among the most loyal and caring women. So I really don't see us saying no to family in need, especially when we feel like we can afford to help others. The question is, though, can we really afford it? With the healthcare debate at issue in this country, can we really afford to take care of everyone else, at the cost of our own self-care? Especially in light of the fact that Social Security might not be around when the Baby Boomers (and Generation X, let's not forget about us) really need it.
Helen Adeyanju, a 59-year-old nurse, said she didn’t mind the cost.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. Money has no value. It is what you do with the money that is valuable.

“One of the valuable things is to look after your friends and family and the church,” she said.
Sorry Helen, I'll have to disagree with you. Money definitely has value. Ask anyone who doesn't have any... or better yet, ask the family members and friends that call needing some help. When your car is broken down, you don't have food on the table or you've just lost your job, money definitely has value. But if you care for your family, friends, and the church first, you are saying that you value yourself last. Because at the end of the day, we financially support those things that we care about. Where our hearts lie, our wallets follow.

Take, for example, men. When you're dating or married to a man, if he has the money, he'll spend it on you (if he's not cheap, that is..). Sure, there's a culture of 'get what you can out of a man', but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a man taking care of his lady. Maybe black women giving so much to others financially is the result of men not doing so (either not having the ability, or refusing to.. which is another topic altogether). If there were more men in the church, in single-parent homes, black women wouldn't have to carry others so much. That's just my humble opinion, as a child of a single parent.

UK-based financial expert Albert Forbes told The Voice that giving the church and loved ones money is not the main reason why black women have financial problems.

“They are not giving out what they don’t have. They are giving what they have so that’s a good sign,” said Forbes, who runs financial firm Edward Forbes and Company.

“I think a large part of the problem is that they aren’t really taught about the value of money. Maybe if they were taught about managing money, they’d think more about how they spend it. That would make a big difference.”

That's pretty much what I thought. A black woman might not feel broke, because her bills are paid, but how many of us are spending our money wisely? Especially in these stressful financial times, I'd think that sistas would be cutting back, especially on luxury goods. But apparently that's not the case. Since we're earning more money, have better education and more spending potential, black women should be in positions to live comfortably for retirement. But with supporting family and the church, and purchasing luxuries, how much are we investing in ourselves, in our futures?

We are not supported by a culture that puts the black woman first. Its time we created that culture for ourselves.

Black Women Love: Oprah

For black women who grew up in the 80s and 90s, there are several cultural staples that we all have in common. Namely, the Cosby Show, A Different World, falling in love with (and growing with) Hip Hop, and, among others, the phenomenon known as The Color Purple.

How many times have you quoted the line, "You told Harpo to beat me..."?

I love Oprah, and I know I'm not alone. Before her book club, before her billionaire status and before Tom Cruise lost it on her couch, I've loved that woman. She embodies every good and perfect thing that black women represent: beauty, intelligence, talent, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and a strong desire to uplift others. When I think of Oprah, that's what I think about. However warm and fuzzy I feel about the O, she gets some serious hate from black people. And the only reason I can see why, is because her show isn't geared toward black people and she started her Leadership Academy in Africa and not here. I say, why would she focus on only black people, when she can focus on everyone (and be the syndicated genius that she is)? And also, there are others in the world in more need than Americans.. if she wants to contribute to the motherland, what's wrong with that? I don't see Bob Johnson (the only other African-American billionaire) starting schools in third-world countries, discussing books (Confessions of A Video Vixen, maybe?) or positively influencing any aspect of society on such a large scale. Don't nobody talk bad about Ms. Oprah!!

I love Oprah because of her accomplishments. She hails from humble beginnings, and has turned her passion into worldwide wealth and recognition. Her talk show is featured on 208 stations, and in more than 100 countries outside of the US; she started Oprah Magazine, is affiliated with Dr. Phil, Suze Orman and Rachel Ray (and IMO she's the one of the reasons that they're household names). On top of all those things, she runs Oprah and Friends, her XM Satellite Radio show; and she produced Oprah's Big Gift reality show.

Let's not forget about her philanthropic endeavors. She pledged hundreds of thousands to Hurricane Katrina victims, and her viewers contributed $15 million to relief efforts. Oprah's Leadership Academy may be associated with scandal, but there's no doubt that she initiated a project that touches the lives of others in a unique way. Oprah earns $260 million annually, and has a net worth of $2.5 billion. She's won 18 Emmys, and her own network, OWN, will be launched in Fall 2009.

How can people not love her? Seriously!

Start at the center

I took some time away from the internet, and now I'm back. I realized that I was spending too much idle time on the web. There are always productive things that I could/should be doing, so I decided to spend some time on me.

I wanted this blog to be a place where black women and girls can discuss our experiences in a manner that positively affects our self-esteem and standard of beauty, in light of the marginization that we face as a double-minority. But I realized that I was afraid to blog about that. I realized that I felt I wasn't an authority on self-esteem, so how could I have something positive to say? Then I realized that not only do I have alot to say, but I also have experiences that make me an expert on my self-esteem.

Self-esteem is such a many-layered thing. Like an onion, peeling back those layers can be bitter, can make you cry, can bring out unaddressed pain. But in the end, if we want to be happy, healthy, successful women, we have to peel back those layers that protect our self-esteem and see it for what it truly is.

So what is self-esteem, really? At its most basic, self-esteem is the regard we hold for ourselves. Its how we view ourselves based on feedback we've received from our experiences. Its easy to say "I have high self-esteem" without actually knowing what your self-esteem really is. Or, more frequently, we may have a high self-esteem in one area, such as intelligence, appearance, or sexual prowess (hey, I'm being honest...) but not in others. So how do you peel back those layers, and examine what your real self-esteem is?

For me, I had to start at the center. I had to define what it meant to be me. Not what my mama thinks, my friends or colleagues think, and not what my performance review at work reflects. What really makes me who I am, a unique being from the next sista walking down the street? When I could quiet the voice of the irrational critic (we all have that voice.. it may sound like your parents, a teacher, a significant other or someone you've never met.. but its there) and really look at myself objectively, then I could begin to understand how I regarded myself. And at first it wasn't easy. During the process of getting to know me, I realized that I was a different person than the one I assumed I was. My likes and dislikes had changed.. my goals, talents, strengths and weaknesses were different than they were just a few years ago. And, most importantly, I realized that some of the things that I held as important, simply weren't that important anymore. But at the same time, it was exciting to learn all of these things. Like getting to know a new friend, knowing that this friend will be the closest one you'll ever have.

Defining who you are definitely takes work. But I believe its the first step in building a strong and unshakable self-esteem. Once you know who you are, then you can work on being the person you really want to be, if you're not already there. And, hopefully, you'll see that you're closer to that ideal image than you've previously given yourself credit for. Overall, in order to withstand attacks from without - attacks on our race, our gender, our bodies, our religious views, heck, even our hair - you have to acknowledge your core and strengthen who you are within. It all starts at the center.

I'm so proud

So far, I have refrained from posting anything here about Barack Obama. After all, this blog is for discussion of black women's standard of beauty and self-esteem issues, as they pertain to the media and every day life.

But I had to give it up for my alma mater! How many Obama supporters/Rattlers were proud of this pic?!

The Rattler Nation blog discussed how our school was involved in the election. In fact, we were the highest-profiled school in Florida in this campaign. Yes my heart bleeds orange and green! Go FAMU!


Ladies, let's exercise our rights! Let's vote, and, um, other stuff lol

tell me why this video made me wanna sweat??

Black women, still spending

Where Do Most Black Women Spend Their Money?
By Daryl C. Hannah

Mounting pressure from a tight economy has most Americans changing their spending habits on everything from education to healthcare needs. But there is one group that remains steadfast in its spending habits despite the crumbling economy: Black women.

According to a new study by ING, as much as 68 percent of Black women say they buy what they want in a good or bad economy.. A staggering 41 percent say they feel guilty about how much they spend on expensive brands.

"What we have here is a financial perfect storm," says Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING's Office of Corporate Citizenship & Responsibility. "An inclination to spend combined with an extraordinary desire to help others financially has left many Black women behind the curve in terms of savings."

The study, which asked 1,000 professional Black women and 454 non-Black professional women about their spending habits, found that 40 percent of Black women shop to cheer themselves up. Black women are also more likely to shop impulsively.

"For some Black women, excessive spending makes the road to long-term financial security even longer," Mims says. "To an extraordinary degree, Black women consider themselves trendsetters and centers of influence. Opinion-leading has its price."

Some accounts view the issue slightly differently. "A lot of these purchases are made on credit," says She-Lia Henry, controller for DiversityInc and president of the southern New England Westchester Chapter of National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). "And when things are bought on credit, you don't take the economy into consideration."

Henry hasn't bought anything for herself in more than two months. But her selfless spending is not unusual. Black women are also contributing healthily to their families and religious institutions.

More than half of the Black women surveyed say they've lent $500 or more to friend or to family in the last year; one-third say they've loaned upwards of $1,000.

"Black women's sense of obligation to community and family is both extraordinary and commendable," Mims says. "But when you are pulled in so many directions financially, something or someone has to pay the price. For Black women, it appears their financial well-being suffers."

Unfortunately, that sense of obligation has adversely affected Black women's ability to save.

Among the Black women surveyed, 66 percent say they own a retirement account, compared to 79 percent of all other women; 28 percent say they own individual stocks and bonds, compared with 52 percent of all other women; and 23 percent say they own mutual funds, compared with 39 percent of all other women.

"Many were not taught good financial habits," says Henry. "The African-American community spends more than any other ethnic group." For many Blacks, budgeting is either not a high priority or is not done correctly.

Among those surveyed, 72 percent of Black women said they strongly agreed with the statement "I wish I had learned more about money and investing growing up."

It's unclear whether recent Wall Street events will curb spending habits for Black women, especially as some 85,000+ face unemployment. But if there is a change, according to some analysts, it won't be from an expensive brand to a generic brand--it will be from an expensive brand to nothing at all.

That independence question

An interesting post from one of the Baltimore Sun's blogs:

Like someone else I know (whistles, looks around), Jeniece over at Single is the New Relationship remarks she's been slacking on her blog lately. But she returns with an interesting question. She initially as if being alone is really that bad, but it morphs into a question about independence:
When did all of this relationship stuff get so damn complicated? When did we become enemies of ourselves and of each other’s sex? What happens to a world filled with people who pretty much say, “I can do bad all by myself” or “I’m much better off alone”? ... [is being alone] just a reflection of our bitterness toward each other as human beings? OK: Woman got too independent. Men stop needing us for anything more than sex. These are statements I’ve ACTUALLY heard. What do you think?
As black woman, a bell went off in my head. The question of single women being too independent seems to be a constant complaint. A cursory search reveals pieces on the subject in advice columns and church blogs. And I remember having a conversation with my uncle once, in which he declared that while he was an equal opportunity dater, in general, he said he felt he had to prove himself to more black women than others.

But it seems the question isn't just limited to black women; other advice columns and dating message boards also take up the question of single women's independence.

The shift in gender dynamics does make dating more complicated. And I do think that some women do become too independent, too skeptical of others to have a successful relationship. But I would say the same thing for some men, too -- they are too comfortable in their bachelorhood to make room for someone else.

But that's my two cents. What do you think?

Hmmm... what I think is that, in some ways, the independent stance is taken as a band-aid for emotional pain. The times when I've said "I don't need a man", "I can do bad by myself", etc etc, have stemmed from disappointments in my love life. More specifically, not interacting with the type of men I feel I'm worthy of; not being seen as the phenomenal beauty that I know I am; and not wanting to put my feelings on the line, in fear that they'll get trampled.

But we've all been there. I think the growing independence of men comes out of the same place: of not finding exactly what one is searching for. Instead of searching and searching for his ideal woman, a man will learn how to cook, learn how to keep house, and in the end, instead of continuing to put himself out there, will fall back on sexual relationships until he's ready to continue the search.

So how do you break the vicious cycle? I name it vicious for those of us who don't really desire remain single, but use the independence stance as a safety blanket. From my personal experience, being honest with yourself about what it is you really want is the key to finding that relationship. Because let's face it... our internal biology wires us to want other people. And I honestly don't believe we're meant to be alone, but that today's society supports that situation.. especially for black women.

How many of us get scoffed at when we admit that we want marriage and a family? Part of it comes from being honest with yourself, but other aspects include the courage to not care what others think (i.e. pulling away from the 'bad by myself' pack), the perserverance to keep playing the dating game when faced with less-than-stellar prospects, and the tenacity to not settle for what it is you really want. In the end, we'd all be much happier if we were true to our own hearts.

*Standing Ovation*

Its about time someone said something about dude, besides "you're a musical genius".

I couldn't bring myself to watch the R. Kelly interview.. still can't listen to his music and was faithfully following the farce of a trial (I posted it on here). Every time someone dismisses R. Kelly's actions, it gets under my skin.. its like they're condemning another black girl to live in the dark, in shame, b/c of a nasty man and the black community's refusal to stand up for the black female.

More on black models in fashion

FEW BLACK MODELS USED IN FASHION WEEK: The saga continues at recently-wrapped shows in NY.

*Among the more than 30 fashion shows attended by the wire service Reuters during New York's semi-annual Fashion Week, many designers used two or three black models, several only used one, and some had zero.

Most of the shows featured between 12 and 25 models overall, Reuters reported in a story over the weekend about the continued lack of black faces on runways.

Reuters reported:

Labels Tracy Reese, DKNY and Diane von Furstenberg displayed a high number of black models this season while others, such as Vivienne Tam, did not use any.

Too few industry types are following the lead of former Vogue editor Grace Mirabella, the first to use a black model on the magazine's cover, said Tim Gunn, creative director at Liz Claiborne and co-host of Bravo television's "Project Runway." Some designers consider cultural and ethnic diversity on the runway, "but there are not enough," he said.

While the issue was once left to pioneering black models Iman and Naomi Campbell to note, attention has grown recently. This year, Vogue Italia's first "Black Issue," with more than 20 black models, created worldwide buzz and sold out.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, the U.S. industry trade group, has said it is up to the designers to establish ethnic diversity. This season, the group's president, Diane von Furstenberg, urged them to seek a diversity of models.

"Visually on the runways, it has improved," said Bethann Hardison, a 1970s African-American runway model. "But the results are still racist. You choose the same white and you never go towards the brown or the dark."

Let's Hear It For The Girls!

ESSENCE and The Sallie Mae Fund Award $25,000 to 'Generation Next' Scholarship Winners

Five outstanding young African-American women will each receive a $5,000 scholarship

Last update: 1:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 16, 2008
NEW YORK, Sep 16, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ESSENCE Magazine and The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, today announced the five winners of the "Generation Next" $25,000 scholarship competition. Each of these young African-American women will receive a $5,000 college scholarship from The Sallie Mae Fund, will attend the first-annual ESSENCE Young Women Leadership Conference and will be featured in the October issue of ESSENCE magazine.

The winners are: Ariel Lopez of Greenville, N.C., attending East Carolina University; Janae Nicole Davis of Rochester, N.Y., attending Whittier College; Kamaya Thompson of Chicago, attending Illinois Wesleyan University; Kendra Branch of Smithfield, Va., attending Norfolk State University; and Nadia Dalanne Wallace of Burlington, N.J., attending Georgetown University. From nearly 1,000 entries, these five outstanding women were selected based on their academic record, financial need, and essays, which asked what they would do to prepare themselves for a successful career while in college.

"ESSENCE is proud to salute these gifted young women," says Angela Burt-Murray, editor in chief, ESSENCE. "We're happy to reward their hard work and dedication, along with The Sallie Mae Fund, with a scholarship and opportunities that will put them one step closer to achieving their destiny."

Scholarship winner Ariel Lopez, from Greenville, N.C., is a first-generation college student active in community service projects who is pursuing a career in government at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. "College embodies a way for me to become successful and give back to the community," she says.

Janae Nicole Davis, of Rochester, N.Y., claims her disability helped make her all the more motivated to achieve her educational goals. "My parents taught me never to lose sight of my dreams," she says. A pre-med student at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif., she plans to specialize in women's health.

From Chicago, Kamaya Thompson knows that "nothing valuable can come without first obtaining an education." An aspiring writer looking to deliver positive images of the African-American community, her long-term goal is to create programs to enhance the writing skills of youth nationwide. She is attending Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

Kendra Branch, of Smithfield, Va., admits that her high school grades could have been better, but she earned good grades in community college and is now on track to become a nurse. "Even when I was discouraged, I did not give up," she says. A student at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., she plans to get a master's degree so that she can make a better life for herself and her daughter.

A student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Nadia Dalanne Wallace of Burlington, N.J., is majoring in political science with the goal of working for the United Nations. "It is important to have a source of encouragement for the long road ahead," she says, "even if it is within yourself."

The ESSENCE Young Women's Leadership Conference is a new program designed to empower young Black women ages 18 to 24. Events will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 1, and Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8. The Sallie Mae Fund will share information about planning and paying for college at each event. More information about the events is available at

"For many families, financial need is an unfortunate barrier to college access," said Erin Korsvall director of community outreach, Sallie Mae, and vice president, The Sallie Mae Fund. "The Sallie Mae Fund is pleased to acknowledge these five inspiring young women and to share the college-is-possible message with other deserving African-American women."

The Sallie Mae Fund offers free resources to help students prepare for college, including resources geared toward African-American families such as Black College Dollars, a free scholarship database, available at In total, The Sallie Mae Fund will award nearly $2 million in scholarships to students attending college this fall.
About Essence Communications Inc.:

Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the leading media and communications company dedicated to African-American women. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is "Where Black Women Come First". The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I, II & III) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD) via Essence Studios. For 38 years, ESSENCE magazine, which has a readership of 8.5 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information relating to every area of African-American women's lives.

Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at

About The Sallie Mae Fund:
The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, achieves its mission--to increase access to a postsecondary education for America's students--by supporting programs and initiatives that help open doors to higher education, prepare families for their investment, and bridge the gap when no one else can. For more information, visit

SOURCE: The Sallie Mae Fund

What's new with me

I got fired last Monday. I've never been fired before. What's bad about it is, I got fired b/c I had been late/called out too many times. What's worse is, I totally didn't want to be there and wasn't that upset that it happened. I'm just bummed that I have to look for something else. I was on a long-term temp assignment, and my agency let me go too.

So last week was a vacation of sorts. On Saturday, I went to a dinner for one of my best friends. She turned 31 last week. I had to roll out before dessert. I'm on the Atkins diet (Induction phase) and I knew it'd be slow torture for me to sit there and watch everyone inhale their sweets. I'm such a carb addict so this type of diet/lifestyle change is hard for me. But I have PCOS and its accompanying symptom of insulin resistance, so I need to cut out simple sugars anyway. What's been getting me through is Linda's Low-Carb Recipes.

Since I didn't have to be up early this morning, I picked up the BFF from the bus station last night. She's originally from NYC and went home for the weekend. We watched some of the Chappelle Show and she gushed about her new guy. New love is always so sweet to behold. I can't wait to get back to that place myself. But with everything going on with me economically, socially, etc etc I don't feel I can add another thing to my plate right now. Or maybe I'm taking it too seriously? Hmmm...

Today I've been twittering (or tweeting?) away today... designed 2 new shirts (check out the Custom Tees section), did some research for my Junior League committee, and general stuff to get better at this e-commerce thing. I really love working for myself.. I can't wait to get to a place where I'm totally my own boss. I can just feel it.. on top of the fact that I love black women... I'm trying not to wax poetic here but we are the most amazing beings. If I had the money I want, right now I would be so content with life.

Usher and Tameka expecting baby #2

*A source close to R&B star Usher has confirmed that he and his wife, Tameka Foster, are expecting another baby.

Their second child together will be a little sister or brother to 10-month-old son Usher Raymond V, who was born to the couple three months after their wedding in August 2007. There's no word yet on when the new baby is due.

The news follows reports of Foster dressed in a belly-disguising outfit during Usher's Sept. 4 NFL kick-off concert in New York.

The dress was "very deceiving," a source tells "You couldn't tell she was pregnant when she was sitting down."

I'm happy for them! Women in the black community really roast this woman.. and I have no idea why. Sure, she's not a supermodel, but the vast majority of black women aren't. Tameka looks like a sistah you'd see at work, at church or in your sorority. So I've never understood the hate. We're so quick to praise 'exotic' looking bw, but will blast an average-looking one. Then blast a sistah for wearing a weave, claiming that she's self-hating. That doesn't add up to me.

I hope this baby is a girl! I love baby girls :-)

Let's Get Married!

Get married! Matrimony the key to ending cycle of Black poverty

by Don Samuels
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 8/27/2008

You rarely see a wedding on a Saturday morning on the North Side. This was not always the case. In the mid 1960s, only 25 percent of all U.S. Black children were born to single moms. Today, in Minneapolis, that number is 86.6 percent. On the other hand, only 30 percent of White children are born to single parents. This disparity is directly related to the entrenchment of poverty in our community.

The children of single parents are at a decided disadvantage, more so if that family is Black. Fifty percent of Black children born in poverty will remain poor, compared to only 39 percent of whites. On the other hand, children of married parents are more likely to graduate and less likely to go to jail, do drugs, or otherwise fail at life.

Children are happiest when raised by two committed parents. As the sole parent of a now 32-year-old son and a co parent of girls ages nine and seven, I have experienced both alternatives firsthand. Today my son is a fully functional adult, but there is no doubt that my job as parent and his as son were made more challenging because I was single.

Both parents should maintain contact and care for their child even when they are separated. This is the right thing to do for a healthy and happy community. Young people should begin to think about meeting someone, falling in love, getting married, and having children — in that order.

Young women should insist that young men make the ultimate commitment to a relationship, marriage, before they produce the ultimate outcome of a relationship, a child.

In addition, young men must be courageous. They must battle their fears of permanency for the sake of the children produced by the millions of tiny, indiscriminate sperm cells they produce and share.

Marriage means you can’t just leave easily. As men we commit to a car, a career, a football team, and even a blood family; yet they all give us headaches and are often out of our control. We must learn to do the same for our women and children.

Too often, absentee fathers drift out of relationships with their children and become simply sperm donors. Children blame themselves for the abandonment of their parents. They think there is something fundamentally wrong with them that makes them unlovable and disposable. Many spend their adulthood battling the emotional repercussions.

Ultimately, children of single parents have less confidence as partners, as spouses and as co-parents. They lack examples of domestic partnership, negotiation, compromise and cooperation. They have to learn everything secondhand and experience frequent confusion in relationships.

Life as a single mother is most often lonely. There is no abiding presence with whom to share the ongoing defeats and triumphs of parenting. There is often nobody to give the parent a psychic break from decision-making and stress.

A marriage proposal is the most affirming and progressive gift a positive man can give to the woman he loves. When a man is permanently in a home, everyone feels secure.

Black women want to get married and have children. Well over 40 percent of Black women have never been married; that’s twice as many as White women. There are a million eligible Black women who are not married.

The loss of this normal expectation adds yet another misery factor to the lives of the women who have already shouldered the greatest sexual inequities in our country’s history.

Black men should begin to work hard in school and in the workplace. Those with setbacks must strive to rehabilitate ourselves, preparing to be worthy husbands and fathers.

Chris Rock says Black men have been exercising their options to date and marry across races for years. He suggests it’s time Black women do the same. Openness to interracial marriage might be one key solution to the drought of eligible Black men. It is time to end the routine deficiency of single parenting.

Don Samuels is the Minneapolis Fifth Ward city council member. He welcomes reader responses to

Black Business Women Online

More African American Women Connecting Online For Business Building

The growth of one online community for Black women professionals supports research that women are the fastest growing entrepreneurs.

Columbus, OH (PRWEB) August 26, 2008 -- Research studies continue to indicate that Black women are one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only that, they are also more likely to survive their first 5 years in business than many other groups.

Such tenacity is reflected in the continuous growth of the recently launched -- the largest social network for professional African American women. Free to join, this unique online community has thousands of active members that use the site as a central point for business networking, career building, and professional unity.
The functionality of is similar to that of LinkedIn, FaceBook, Plaxo, and others. Users can meet and interact with each other, post news and blogs, upload videos, promote their upcoming events, and even participate in forums.

"This is the only site that allows women entrepreneurs to interact with each other as if they were in the same room. Women are on there as we speak, closing deals and making transactions," says Dante Lee, co-founder of the site. "There is no other space online like this for this group."

The site, along with many others, is produced by Lee Moss Media, a joint venture between Dante Lee of Diversity City Media and William Moss of HBCU Connect. The two are on a mission to build the largest network of premium African American web sites.

For more details and/or to join the site for free, visit: