Time's a-wastin'

Ladies, in this new era of renewed hope, renewed goals (*looks at list of New Year's Resolutions*) and a renewed outlook on being black in America, its time we put aside unproductive mindsets. One such problematic mindset is that black people don't do 'certain things'. Alot of sistahs grew up accused of acting or wanting to be white, because their family raised them with certain values, or they participated in activities that made the Black Do Not Do list. As one of those girls, it was hard to tell what made that list and what didn't. Up until high school, when honors classes brought me in contact with other black girls like me, my self-esteem took a serious hit from these accusations. 97% of my family is black, my parents taught me to do these things, yet outside the home my identity was being challenged. It was very hard for me, and other girls, to come with this. Perhaps you can relate to the list --

Black Do Not Do List (blacks do not:)
  1. speak English using correct grammar

  2. like school/like to read

  3. wear clothing in a proper manner, i.e. not too tight, too baggy or pants on the waist

  4. wash our hair alot (women)

  5. drink wine

  6. now, apparently, get married

  7. have good credit

  8. make green bean casserole (lol)

  9. become serial killers or 'go postal'

  10. participate in adventure-related activities: surfing, mountain-climbing, hiking, white water rafting, etc.

  11. listen to country, alternative, and heavy metal music

  12. eat healthy foods

Those were the ones I could remember from the top of my head. What I find interesting is that, if you told a black person that they couldn't participate in these activities, there would be calls made to the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton would hold a press conference, and the black community would raise a general outcry. "How dare they say we can't do any of these things! That's racist! Our ancestors fought and died so we could be included! The white man is trying to keep us down!" Yet we segregate ourselves from new experiences. Its funny to me that black people love supporting diversity in the workplace, just not diversity within the black community.

How many times has someone leveled the 'trying to be white' accusation on you, for an interest, mannerism or outlook on life that differed than theirs? How did you learn to deviate from the 'norm' as far as what black people are expected to do? For me, it was the realization that 1) I was not unique in my likes and dislikes and 2) trying to conform to the 'list' was not making me happy. I like being a nerd, reading fantasy fiction, I want to travel to less-traveled locations (like Russia)

As much as we like to think this is a new day, if we don't act and think in new ways, things will remain the same. If we don't start placing higher value on education, marriage, fiscal responsibility and other areas on the Black Do Not Do list, we will find ourselves even more marginalized from mainstream society. I'm not saying change who you are to fit in with white people - I'm saying that you shouldn't limit your desires and who you really are based on some arbitrary list of what we are perceived to enjoy. Simply stated, its time to stop wanting to look 'hood', 'street' or whatever this disdain is supposed to promote.. and start living lives based on what will make us stronger, smarter, healthier and happier. We no longer have time to fall back on old excuses and look to others to define what black people do. We need to find that definition within ourselves.

Programs for students

On a lighter note, here are various programs geared toward students. I hope this reaches someone who needs the information:

A great opportunity for our girls!

Let's start them young. This program also builds self-esteem...they do not need to be interested in politics to be chosen to attend!

COST: The program is entirely FREE of charge, and travel scholarships are available to sophomores, juniors and seniors!

Running Start is accepting applications for their 2009 Young Woman's Political Leadership Retreat. Please share with teachers and encourage any high school girls you know to apply!!!

WHAT: Running Start encourages high school girls from across the country to channel their leadership into politics. Participants will meet extraordinary women leaders of diverse backgrounds and learn the importance of having more women in political leadership and running for office. EVEN if the girls are not interested in politics, this is a great program way for them to build self-esteem, practice public speaking and learn to collaborate with other young women.

WHO: Open to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school

WHERE: American University, Washington D.C.

WHEN: July 15-19, 2009 (no applications will be accepted after February 16, 2009)

COST: The program is entirely FREE of charge, and travel scholarships are available.



FREE!! MIT announces its MITES Program, (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science), a challenging 6 week summer program that prepares promising rising seniors for careers in engineering and science. If you are selected, all educational, housing, meals and activity costs are covered. You must, however, pay for your own transportation to and from MIT. To apply, go to http :// www Deadline is Feb. 2.

FREE!! The National Center for Health Marketing’s Global Health Odyssey Museum is pleased to offer the 2009 CDC Disease Detective Camp (DDC). DDC is an academic day camp for students who will be high school juniors and seniors during the 2009-2010 school year. Campers will take on the roles of disease detectives and learn how CDC sa feguards the nation’s health. The camp will be offered twice from June 22-26 and July 13-17. For more info and to apply to go gcc/exhibit/ camp.htm. Deadline is April 20.

FREE!! The American Legion sponsors a week-long summer leadership program called Boys State. This year’s program will be held at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland from June 21-27. If you are a junior interested in a leadership opportunity see your guidance counselor right away for more information.

The Leadership Center at Morehouse College presents the 2009 Coca-Cola Pre-College Leadership Program. There are 2 programs, one for male students completing their sophomore or junior year, and the other for male students completing their senior year. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). The curriculum focuses on personal and interpersonal leadership skills. The program runs from June 20 to June 26. The cost is $400.00 and the application deadline is February 20. To apply, go to www.morehouse. edu. Application access is listed under "Events at the Leadership Center ."

NASA sponsors the National Space Club Scholars Program, a 6 week summer internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center . It is open to students who will be 16 years old and have completed the 10th grade by June 2009, have demonstrated high academic success, and have an interest in space science or engineering as a career. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Applications are available in the Career Center or online at gsfc.nasa. gov/pages/ placement. html Apply now! The application must be postmarked by February 17, 2009.

University of Maryland , College Park: Women in Engineering, E2@UMD, July 12-18 or July 19-25; rising juniors and seniors. Go to www.wie.umd. edu/precollege or call 301-405-3283
University of Maryland Young Scholars Program targets rising juniors and seniors who have a strong academic record and a desire to excel to experience college life while earning three academic credits. 14 courses are offered for three weeks from July 12 – 31, 2009. Visit www.ysp.umd. edu/pr

CITY YEAR, WASHINGTON DC (Americorps) - Graduating seniors who are not sure what they want to do after high school should consider applying for a paid community service position with City Year, Washington, DC., a group of 17-24 year olds committed to full-time service for ten months in the Washington, DC community. Benefits include: living stipend ($200 per week), health care coverage, free metro pass, and $4,725 educational scholarship. For more info: www.cityyear. org or email: cmurphy@cityyear. org/dc or call: 202-776-7780, Amanda Seligman. Recruitment open houses will be held once a month at their headquarters: 918 U Street, NW , 2nd floor, Washington, DC 20001 .

The Role of The President and First Lady

I was trying to think of a positive, empowering, uplifting topic to write about for a new blog post. But then I started noticing a phenomenon on the internet - people seem to think that President Obama and possibly First Lady Michelle Obama have brought magical powers with them to the White House. Now, the black community will be so much better and that much more enlightened by their tenure as leaders of this country.

Before I leave my footprints on the soapbox of this issue, lets look at the roles of the President and his First Lady:

The President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America and is the highest political official in the United States by influence and recognition. The President leads the executive branch of the federal government; his role is to execute the law as created by the Congress, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. Article II of the Constitution establishes the President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and enumerates powers specifically granted to the President, including the power to sign into law or veto bills passed by both houses of the Congress. The President also has the power to create a cabinet of advisers and to grant pardons or reprieves. Finally, with the "advice and consent" of the Senate, the President is empowered to make treaties and appoint federal officers, ambassadors, and federal judges, including Justices of the Supreme Court. As with officials in the other branches of the United States government, the Constitution restrains the President with a set of checks and balances designed to prevent any individual or group from taking absolute power.

First Lady of the United States is the unofficial title of the hostess of the White House...."First Lady" is not an elected position, carries no official duties, and receives no salary. Nonetheless, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with, or in place of, the President. There is a strong tradition against the First Lady holding outside employment while occupying the office.[3] The first lady frequently participates in humanitarian and charitable work; over the course of the 20th century it became increasingly common for first ladies to select specific causes to promote, usually ones that are not politically divisive. It is common for the first lady to hire a staff to support these activities. Additionally, many have taken an active role in campaigning for the President with whom they are associated.

In summation, the role of the President of the United States is to: execute US law in accordance with what Congress has already set into place; make decisions on the military, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; form a cabinet of advisors to assist him in the governance of the country; lead the country in its interactions with other nations, by creating treaties and appointing ambassadors; and finally, the president appoints federal court judges and grants pardons at his discretion. His wife, in her role as First Lady, is the hostess of the White House - she welcomes dignitaries, interacts with other heads of state, supports charities that she chooses in her official capacity, and attends functions on her husband's behalf when he is unavailable to do so.

Black people, please realize: President and First Lady Obama have their hands full running the country. They cannot make your baby daddy marry you. They cannot make your supervisor be less passive aggressive. They cannot improve your dating life. They cannot make you step up or improve your 'game'. They cannot make right on all the racial injustices you've faced. They cannot make racist people be less racist. They might improve the way white people look at black people as a whole, simply by the fact that they are exceptional (and yes, they are not average black people) but their job is to run the country, not be Black Superheroes. They do not have Ss on their chests that magically make life better for you.

I cannot begin to tell you how annoyed I am at all the 'life is getting better because of Barack Obama' rhetoric that is running rampant on the internet. People are setting this man up to fail. If black men don't marry black women at higher rates, if the crime rate in black communities don't go down, if black people don't graduate college at higher rates, and if black people don't get more jobs, please tell me how this relates to President Obama. Yes, he has done what do black man has done before, but again - he does not leap tall buildings in a single bound. He runs the country. That's it. GTFOOHWTBS about your life getting better because he and First Lady Obama are in the White House. If your life is improving, its because you are sweating and hustling to make it happen. Its not because your president is black. As a matter of fact, black people's lives didn't magically improve under Clinton... hell, white people's lives didn't either... so the origin of this rash of irrational thinking is beyond me.

This reallllly makes me want to quit doing what I'm trying to do. What's the point of wanting the best for black women, for wanting us to see the beauty and value inherent in each of us, when we flat out refuse to see it for ourselves? If you think that just because this man was elected president, that that absolves you of responsibility for your own life and well-being, then I might as well close down Black Girl Tees (yes yes, I know the site is down, I'm working to relaunch it...) and this blog. This is not a plea for attention, for anyone to comment that I shouldn't close... this is a plea for black women to get real, get moving, get to improving for ourselves. No one else is going to do that, up to and including the 44th President of the United States and his First Lady.

Negative thoughts should fall by the wayside

Last night I had a long conversation with a coworker from my last job. It was one of those conversations where you don't speak to that friend very often so you have to give highlights of everything that's happened since the last time you spoke to her. I kinda hate that, but it is what it is. My old theory of friendships was that I had a very small number of friends in my 'inner circle', and everyone else existed outside of that. So lately I've been adapting to the concept of varying degrees of friendship.

But I digress. Of course the conversation turned to relationships and my recent dating efforts. I told her about the last date I went on, and how it turned out. We both shared our theories as to why it didn't go anywhere. Then, my friend brought up "there is a shortage of good men" idea.

For the last year or so, I've been careful to censor the information that comes into my brain. I purposefully don't watch the news, read the paper, or listen to talk radio. I've found that my outlook on life is much more positive, I sleep better at night and I worry much less and carry around a lighter load of stress from this news-free diet. On the other hand, my mother has faithfully watched the news every day, and when speaking with her she is a fountain of knowledge on recent news developments. Bless her heart, but its kind of annoying; whenever the terrorist threat level rises, some wacko protests in DC or she hears about a threat to the President, the Pentagon, or any DC landmark, she calls me in a panic. In my opinion, the high amount of stress, negative expectations of life and general pessimistic outlook have resulted from this. You may think its silly, but think about it: what good is knowing all that gloom-and-doom? How does being up on 'current events' (i.e., what the media deems newsworthy) really improve your life? Anything that is critical for me to know is often shared with me during elevator rides anyway. I always know when its going to snow or other events that are important to my life. Anything else is just left by the wayside.

And my friends know this. After the first six months of people trying to have the "did you see on the news" conversation with me, people often approach me and say "I know you don't watch the news, but did you hear about...?" What's funny, is that the person will pause to find out if I want to know before sharing the story. Most of the time I say no, and if its very important to them, they'll go on with the story without the pause, but won't get offended if I say I don't want to hear it. Or, sometimes being polite, I'll hear a small part of it, smile and say "that's nice" and go about my business. That's how I found out about that recent plane crash that resulted in no fatalities. Again, it was a heartwarming story, but didn't add any valuable information to my life, so was therefore not important for me to know.

Even though I've gotten good with filtering out the news-talk in my life, I'm slowly learning how to censor conversations that are not about the news, but about commonly-held negative beliefs. My conversation last night was one such time to put my censorship muscles to use. So when my friend began with the "I was telling my boyfriend about the ratio of women to men," I literally tuned her out. I started checking my email, putting my clothes away, and anything I had in front of me so that I did not pay attention to what she was saying. At a certain point, I said, "Ok lets talk about something else. I don't want to hear about this." When she asked why, I told her that I didn't want to focus on any lack of men going forward into the dating scene. I explained to her that what we think about has a funny way of popping up into our lives, so I want no thoughts of men who won't commit or of women who share unavailable men. I could tell she wasn't expecting that, and it took her a while to jump back into the conversation. But we moved on.

I want to think about the wonderful men who think I'm wonderful too; about the men who, right now, are envisioning the life they'll have with their wives and children; and the 'good guys' (not the nice guys!) who are ready to settle down and treat the women in their lives with adoration, respect and love. After all, any other thoughts should just go by the wayside. Any man contrary to that don't belong in my life, let alone my thoughts. Don't you feel the same?

Get him to see you as more

I don't agree with 100% of what Temple Christian says in this video - but you know what, I'm not a guy. I don't know how men think. I was a bit put off by the "bash his head in it" idea. But if that's how it really is, then that's how it really is. All I know is, I want men to see me as more than just 'some girl', as the valuable woman that I am.

This vid contains profanity, in case you're sensitive to that.

Looking for a guy like dad

We are still in the New Year's resolutions phase of 2009 (*guiltily looking over at my gym bag*). With the continued hope of reaching new goals, we are more and more creative with the ways in which we are keeping ourselves motivated. On the relationship front, I've seen themes online such as "Make him mine in 2009" and "The Year of the Ring". My own motivational thoughts have turned along the "don't talk about it, be about it" track. Since I don't like going outside in the cold I'm putting energy into online dating sites.

I met a guy last night for coffee from one of the aforementioned sites. Now, there are a few things you should know about me, which frustrate my friends to no end: I'm picky; I can be fickle to new people; and I'm impatient. In my dating life, this plays out as men not getting beyond the first email, first phone call or first date with me. Sometimes its frustrating, and sometimes I doubt my own methods, but in the end I feel that my selection standards prevent me from spending time with men who don't measure up to the type of guy who I'd like to share my life with.

Case in point: The guy I met last night (we'll call him Congo since that's where his family is from) has been texting/chatting with me for about a week and a half. I wasn't pressed to go out with him, because he kept saying how busy he was. He constantly had friends come in town that he had to show around. Which is fine - but I'm not going to inconvenience myself to meet someone else's schedule, especially when the effort is not returned. I also realized, though, that the longer we went without meeting that the likelihood of meeting would decrease. So last night would have to be the night, as we were both busy with inauguration events in the upcoming days.

He wanted me to come out after an after-work event he was invited to; I wasn't pleased about that. He also wanted me to choose a place to have coffee, which is fine, but I was having trouble selecting a place that I felt comfortable driving to, that wasn't too far out of the way for either of us. So by the time I got there, I was a bit frustrated, although I did luck up and find an excellent parking spot. While we were chatting online, he said "I think your smile's pretty and you are very sexy". Which would've been flattering if it didn't indicate where his mind really was. When I said I would be avoiding inauguration/tourist traffic this weekend, he asked "does that mean we'll spend the weekend together bundled up under the covers trying to avoid the inaugural traffic?" (I made it very clear that I did not find that appropriate.. and of course he was 'joking'.) Bear in mind, when I tried to meet up on Sunday, he said he'd be busy. Right.

The mean, selective, fickle part of me said to not go, close the Firefox window, do not pass go, do not collect $200. After all, we'd only had a few conversations and he came at me like that; he wasn't trying to work with me on the meetup (ok, he was a bit, but not like I wanted him to..). Fact is, I should've listened. The other, nicer, give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt part of me went anyway. The only consolation I take is that I knew what time it was before I went and I didn't expect to be impressed by him. This wasn't a defense mechanism, but more of the way I saw him after that conversation. I had already made up my mind, and once my mind is decided how to feel about a person, they must really impress me (or royally screw up) to change my mind.

So we met. And he was short, probably 5'7", as I thought from the angle of the pics he took. He said I looked different than my pics, which I tend to do for some reason. I think he said that because I wasn't excited about his appearance. He dressed very nicely and was handsome, but I wasn't beside myself with excitement... nor did I think he was hot. I probably wouldn't have, even if I hadn't already decided that he got the thumbs down. He proceeded to talk about himself ad nauseum and I was kinda bored. As we went to our cars, and he got in his Mercedes, I just felt... blank. It was a chance meeting of a stranger, and more likely than not, I won't get to know him.

As I drove home, I replayed the chat conversation and meetup in my mind. Why was it that this man, who looks great on paper, who any sista would be flattered to receive his attention, not arouse any type of reaction within me? Then the lightbulb of my mind flicked on. When people say that women look for men like their fathers, its very true.

I found this to be true about myself while watching the first Presidential debate with my bff. I was glued to the screen and wondered aloud "where are all the men like that?" It wasn't just the way President-Elect Obama spoke, the way he gestured, the way he dressed. It was the way in which he commanded attention, his cool assurance of self, his thorough knowledge of his subject and the way in which he respectfully and calmly stood his ground. It made me think of my dad. My dad was the kind of guy who didn't say much, but you knew not to try him. He kept is word, he did what he said, and we never worried about difficult situations. Dad was on it. He was a very hard worker and provided not just economic stability to our family but an emotional and moral foundation that has stayed with me into adulthood. My father passed away when I was 11; sometimes, I tremble to think of how my life would have been different if he were still alive. But I digress. As I watched our future president, and drew parallels between him and my father, I realized why I rarely meet men who arouse those same feelings of respect and admiration within me.

Simply put, alot of men aren't about anything. They try to impress you with what they say, instead of what they do and who they are. Its much easier to wear nice clothes, manage your finances to purchase a luxury car, and travel to classic destinations. Its much harder to actually be a man of substance, to strive for a place in life that's off the beaten path, and to respect and cherish the women you meet.

So in my own way, my rigid selection process assures me that I surround myself with men who treat me in a manner that I am accustomed to and should be treated. Now, my dad wasn't perfect; he had issues like anyone else, and as an adult I can look back on my parents' marriage and see where the cracks lay. But at the end of the day, he's the type of guy I want in my future. I'm immensely grateful to have had that example in my life, and confirmation that what I want is not unreasonable.

Where did these images come from?

We all know the power of the media to influence, enhance and promote certain faucets of popular society. The women of my generation have grown up with images - toy manufacturers, fast food conglomerates, big food distribution companies, and now electronics brands, to name a few - that have defined and shaped our tastes. More importantly, the images that fill those 30-second tv commercials not only sell products to us, they sell images of us to the American psyche.

A few years ago, I started noticing a trend in print ads targeted to black people. If the ad featured a black family, the father was dark-skinned and bald; the wife was much lighter, with long hair; and their daughter (never a son) was cute and had her mother's complexion and features. I was a bit surprised to see more and more of these images, mainly because I don't know that many families that fit that description. Suddenly that became the 'black family' middle class image in the media.

Even more puzzling to me was the emergence of the curly-haired black woman.

At first I chalked it up to recognizing the mixed heritage that alot of black people share. After all, how many of us have people of other races, ethnicities and histories on our family trees? But again, this image became more and more popular, and left me wondering why. Especially since, in real life, there aren't that many sistas walking around who look like this.

Don't get me wrong. Sistas are beautiful to me, whether dark-skinned, light, bright, jet black, whatever. Black women are even more beautiful to me when they embrace their own unique beauty and appreciate their features, hair texture, and curves as their birthrite to beauty. But why do advertising agencies use these pictures to represent their target market? There is nothing wrong with these images except for the fact that, over time, they become the standard to which the real-life buyers of the advertised laundry detergent and cars are measured against.

None of my light-skinned friends, including my mixed sistahs, look like this, or have natural hair like this texture. None of my brown-skinned or dark-skinned sistahs resemble these images. Who are they supposed to appeal to? Is this what we are supposed to want to look like? Is this image circulated to appeal to black men, who don't buy the products that these images advertise?

I applaud Dove for including real images of real women (not saying women who actually look like this are not real women... but if you've ever met one let me know!) in their ads.

When I see those Campaign for Real Beauty ads, I feel like they accurately represent me and my friends, regardless of race, and that they understand who I am and what I really want. Thanks, Dove! Their marketers hit on something that is slowly being circulated in the media: truth in advertising, not of the products but of the consumers of the products.

Not trying to inundate y'all with this subject, but...

I had a blog on Wordpress about a year ago, where I discussed interracial dating. I posted a reply over on Brownsugar's blog, and saw that my pic came up. Then I remembered the old blog.

Here was my last blog post, "Are HBCUs a disservice to BW dating out?":

I, along with hundreds of thousands of BW across the country, attended an HBCU for college (Florida A&M). My college years were some of the most fun and carefree of my life. Along with the parties, observing Greek life, and collegial atmosphere, it was expected that most of us would go on and accomplish Great Things (i.e., jobs in middle management.. the BC aims so high *sarcasm*). One of the things I was reflecting on the other day is that we pretty much accepted the 8:1 female-to-male ratio at the time of my matriculation. I mean, there's really no way to protest against that or make the situation better.

Some of the 'normal' treatment we received was that the 'desirable' men, in high-income majors such as the 5-yr MBA program, 5-yr Pharm-D program, engineering or architecture, only went for the light-bright sistahs who were in sororities. I'm not knocking any woman based on her skin tone or her accomplishments. It just stings to know that you were viewed as less desirable if you didn't possess those attributes. Some of the other women who were viewed as 'all that' were the affluent girls... those who wore designer clothes, drove luxury cars and lived in expensive apartments that their parents payed for. I, on the other hand, was the child of a trade-school educated mother and an immigrant father... my family is very proud that I was the first to attend college. It was a feat that I even stepped on campus. Needless to say, I couldn't compete with that crowd. So in a lot of ways, my college years were spent marginalized as not rich enough, not fly enough, and not visible enough.

So after experiencing that (and sitting alongside some of those same folks in alumni association meetings.. oh the irony!), its bitterly hilarious to me when those same types of men and women argue that there are indeed 'good' black men around. They were around then, and they aren't around now - those that are marriage-minded, married the sorority girls or girls whose fathers were dentists. And again, there's a significant population of black women who feel that we are marginalized.

While the realization that wm/non-bm are attracted to bw, I'm not seeing that result in my everyday interactions (yet) [at that time I had only been on one date with a non-bm]. And as I peruse the pages of, I can see that the majority of my fellow alumni women are still single. I wonder how many are waiting for their IBM? How many are wondering if he'll ever come? I have yet to see any women with pics of their non-bm husbands on that site... and there are at least 4,500 members as of this morning. Granted, I haven't seen all of the pics... but I check it frequently (I love social networking sites). And you'd think with all of the women who are pharmacists, attorneys, entrepreneurs, doctors and dentists, that there'd be SOME sistahs who decided to exercise their options... but none so far as I can tell.

The only justification I've found for this is that the HBCU environment is one that fosters loyalty to the black community [and it should, because of its purpose and role in black American history, this post wasn't a negation of that]. Its where you first learn, if you haven't already learned, the rich cultural history of Black people in America. Its where some women learn the beauty of their own brown skin, their own kinky-coily hair. Its where you learn the virtues of sisterhood, service to the community and scholarship. But unfortunately its also where you learn false doctrines like 'nothing but a bm', and other notions like wm don't find you attractive and such high-striving women should settle for the guys who cut class, smoke weed and play video games all day, for the sake of having a piece of bm.

One other side effect of attending an HBCU is that you are culturally ignorant of other racial groups. The only Muslims you see are black and probably from your old neighborhood. Even though FSU was a hop, skip and jump away, it might as well have been in another world altogether. It was pretty much understood that we stayed on our campus and they stayed on theirs. None of my friends from HS who attended FSU dated out. And the only FSU students we ever saw were black students who came to hang out on our 'Set' on Fridays for the block party atmosphere. To this day, I'm struggling to learn what white middle class culture is like, since I have no white friends and only one young white coworker. But I'm getting there. Even if I weren't trying to date inter-racially, this is something I'd do anyway. After 27 years of living in a shell, I feel like I'm bustin' loose.

If I sound kinda bitter, its b/c I kinda am... I didn't reckon such lessons would come with my tuition. Its taken a while to overcome this kind of thinking. I'm just glad I'm now on the outside looking in.

So I log in to delete the blog, and I see this comment that I hadn't seen until now:

Name: pipe u dummies on
response: you are plagued by self hatred. Whites and people who traditionally have 'old money' passed down through generations don't practice such nonsense as we ourselves, black people, do in this country. You didn't have enough sex in school with strange people you just met and got drunk with. You are uptight an mad at those light skinned women who maybe wore tighter clothes and were just as equally beautiful as yourself. No one told you about your curves enough sweety. It sounds like if they did though, you prudishly took it as an insult rather than a pass to get humped. See me and my guys used to prey on chics like you in my school days. You were one we would strive to 'turn out'. Everyone knows the black MALE is the most sought after because of our love making performances. Your lack of free love has left you very bitter indeed. I myself have made love to women of all races and creeds. I'm disgusted by your stereotypes and misconceptions. "Love is Love" kid. (oh yeah I learned that cliché at my Hbcu)

I was a bit surprised, one because I hadn't expected any comments, and two because it was just ignorant. I guess I shouldn't continue to spread the ignorance, but...*shrugs*

This is my response:

you are plagued by self hatred.

Wrong. I've worked very hard to love myself as much as I do, in a society that constantly tells women who look like me that our only value is as an extra in a BET Uncut video. I know exactly who I am and why I'm valuable.

Whites and people who traditionally have 'old money' passed down through generations don't practice such nonsense as we ourselves, black people, do in this country.

I don't really see how this is relevant to anything I've said. Heck, most white/nonblack people don't belong to old-money families. Further, he goes on to list the 'nonsense' that he himself practiced in college and continues to practice. What further annoys me is that on blogs that discuss IR relationships, there's always a response that starts with a history lesson. I just listed how HBCUs cultivate a strong sense of history... so why do I need the history lesson again?

You didn't have enough sex in school with strange people you just met and got drunk with. You are uptight an mad at those light skinned women who maybe wore tighter clothes and were just as equally beautiful as yourself. No one told you about your curves enough sweety. It sounds like if they did though, you prudishly took it as an insult rather than a pass to get humped.

Ok, so, if I didn't get banged by random dudes, just because they called me cute or made comments about my ass, I missed out. Why is 'sex in school with strange people you just met and got drunk with' appealing? Even as a young, dumb 20-yr old I didn't find this appealing. Not because I'm remotely prudish, but there are things called STDs, when last I checked, black women in my age group are disproportionatley suffering from HIV. Way to promote that self-love, spread the brown around... and if I don't, and don't wear tight clothes while doing so, I'm uptight. Yeah, ok buddy. I didn't mention anything about curves, so I don't see how he read I was insulted by reference to them. And I don't know what school he attended, but everyone who wanted to got laid in college. The big girls, the nerds, the brown-and-studious girls, we all got it in if we felt so inclined. I guess he equated my desire for companionship to a yearning for an orgasm.

Maybe I'm biased, but I didn't intend my words to be an indictment of light-skinned women. They have their problems too, and my issue was about HBCUS fostering a cultural vaccuum that its hard, in my post-collegiate years, to move beyond intentionally.

See me and my guys used to prey on chics like you in my school days. You were one we would strive to 'turn out'.

Because I'm an attractive woman, I ran into dudes like this in high school. So by the time I was 18 I knew how to avoid getting 'turned out'. And again, sexual attention does not equal a relationship.

Everyone knows the black MALE is the most sought after because of our love making performances.

This statement proves my point. Its sad that he reduced the worth of black men to how they get down in the sack. Black men are so much more, but my desire for them has waned because of this same mentality about sex. Any man of any race deserves my time if he treats me with the respect that I deserve, is a man of worth and is serious about looking for a mate. I don't have time for sack-hopping dudes and dudes who 'aren't ready for a relationship'.

And I really hate to say, the black male is not the end-all and be-all of lovemaking performances. Yes SOME of them, ALOT of them are good at the do, but SOME are not.. and black men seem to be overly preoccupied with the sexual prowess of other groups of men. I guess that's because they feel that's their only valuable trait.

Your lack of free love has left you very bitter indeed.

No, my lack of free love has left me free of STDs, unwanted pregnancies and questions about why men haven't called after I let them get the panties.

I myself have made love to women of all races and creeds.

So why is it a problem if I do? Hmmm...

I'm disgusted by your stereotypes and misconceptions.

Trust, the feeling is mutual.

I never understand that. If you don't agree with someone's blog, don't respond unless you regularly read it. Which begs the question of why you regularly read a blog you are disgusted by. Its not like I write what I write for black men. I've noticed this at other blogs. If I don't invite you in, don't take it upon yourself to come into my space and try to impose your will.

"Love is Love" kid. (oh yeah I learned that cliché at my Hbcu)

So again, why disagree with me trying to find love outside my race? If all men are equal, why should I be preoccupied with the black man's lovemaking performances? I notice that he didn't mention anything about black women still being single, about the high female-to-male ration, or how HBCUs encourage cultural vaccuums.

Ladies, love who you want, no matter what race you prefer. I just want us to be loved, cherished, respected, adored and valued for the gems that we are. There's no confusion in that.

Why I Advocate Interracial Dating

Since romantic relationships are a major focus for my 2009 goals, I tend to focus on that here. From my real-life and online discussions, I know that all sistahs are not open to, or even entertain, thoughts of dating outside our race.

Halima over at BW IR Circle has written a great post on the viewpoint of and key assumptions made by black female bloggers who advocate for interracial relationships. Please check out her post if you're new to these discussions or simply want to understand why we hold the views that we do.

New Year, New Direction!

When I started this blog, the purpose was to discuss the self-esteem and standard of beauty of black women and girls. Granted, I don't have any daughters, and I don't regularly interact with teenage girls. But I have a deep concern for their welfare, particularly in the face of the rapidly changing and complex world in which they are growing up. Over time, these discussions have evolved into some personal talk and (I hope) helpful reflections on 21st-century black womanhood.

Now, I want to take Black Femininity further. My recent reflection on my efforts stemmed from the start of a new year and the proliferation of themes for the year (52 Weeks 2 Find Him comes to mind...) I am passionate about self-esteem, personal development and general advancement of black women, and I want this blog to be a resource for these issues. In 2009 I anticipate moving the blog to its own domain; better articles about the aforementioned topics; 2 interview series on topics important to black women; and a host of other improvements on the theme of Black Femininity. I hope you will join me for these changes, and I hope that together we impact the lives of black women and girls in a positive manner.

Set your own value

BFF on the left, me on the right

As I was about to write the standard of beauty post for today, I realized that I didn't actually wish you guys a happy New Year. Charge it to my head and not my heart! I really feel like 2009 will be a great year for many of us. I'm looking forward to great things!

My best friend and I went to a New Year's Eve gala to ring in the new year. We had SO much fun.. the champagne was great and we jammed to 9 different live bands. Last year, I went with a group of friends from law school and had a blast, so I invited her to attend with me this year. I got there about 20 minutes before she did so I found a table, got a drink and watched people walk by. I was very pleased to see sistahs turn out in larger numbers than last year, and turn out so elegantly dressed. We were definitely radiating beauty and poise, the way that black women instinctively can. I also noticed that there were numerous bw/wm couples there, which made me even more pleased. In fact, there were more black women there with white men than black men. I also observed that there were more black men there with white women, than with black women. Of course, there were sistahs who were inappropriately dressed.. (come on now, who wears jeans to a gala?!?!) and I noticed that they didn't have dates.. but I digress. I was just glad to see black women at the event.

While I waited for my friend, a black woman and her white boyfriend asked if they could sit at my table. "Sure," I said. They looked very much in love and it was really nice to see their public displays of affection. I love when others are in love, that happy feeling somehow rubs off on me and makes me smile. Its why I enjoy chick flicks and those 'love conquers all' endings. Anyway, I noticed that they both had accents - I figured out he was French and she might have been from an African country. Which got me to thinking about how many of my married friends were raised in other cultures? I'll definitely post on that later, as I think there's a good lesson to be learned in that.

At one point in the evening, I pointed out to my best friend my observation about the interracial couples at the event. Y'all, why did I do that?? Instead of commenting on black women and their dates, she became preoccupied by the black men there with white women. Now, sometimes we like to comfort ourselves with the idea that black men who date out choose white female partners that are not attractive. That definitely wasn't the case there. The more attractive a brother was, the more attractive his white woman was. Which I actually appreciated.. because it wasn't about any white woman, but one who would give any woman from any race a run for their money. I don't believe any woman of any race is more beautiful than any other based solely on race - just because you're white, does not mean you're more attractive than me. I'm gorgeous but I don't think I'm gorgeous just because I'm black.. I'm gorgeous and I happen to be black. But again, I digress.

As an example, there was a tall, fine black man standing by our table with his date. You could tell that they had just arrived and were scanning the room to figure out where they'd situate themselves. I commented on the design of the (white) woman's dress, and that the cut of the dress was very flattering to her shape. But BFF didn't see any of that.. she saw a black man who dated white women. "That kills me," she said. "He looks like that type, too." I looked at the couple, and at first didn't understand what she meant. "What kills you, what type?" I asked. "He's with her," she said, gesturing at the woman. "So what?" I asked. "Who cares? If he dates white women, then he dates white women. No point in sweating it. I'm obviously not on his list so why even pay him any attention?" She just shook her head, and sipped her drink, her eyes glued to them all the while.

I'm a believer in the law of attraction - you attract what you focus on. And wouldn't you know, at least 3 other bm/ww couples came and stood near our table? With the arrival of each new couple, she became more and more upset, mumbling about the lack of black men, "them" taking our men, and how it sucked. At first I thought it was a bit amusing - no one cared except her, but she was too wrapped up in her complaint party to notice. But after the second couple, it became annoying and I tuned her out. I was too busy people watching, enjoying the colors of the dresses, planning my dress for next year, enjoying my drink, swaying to the music. Why did she take it so personally? Why didn't she notice the black women who dated out, instead of the black men? And why did their choice have anything to do with the men who chose her?

The most that I can gather is that she attributes her own beauty and worth to the choices that others make. Isn't that why black men who chose white women bothered her? Because, consciously or subconsciously, she felt that every black man who found a white woman beautiful basically denied her beauty by doing so. I think she would feel the same if black men chose women who were slimmer than her, lighter than her, etc. I didn't want to ask her about it, because I didn't want to 'go there' with her, meaning pushing my ideas of beauty and value on her.

But then I started to wonder why I wasn't bothered by the bm/ww couples. Why did I smile when I saw a bw/wm couple? Why did I find the couple at our table to be so sweet? Why is it that I couldn't care less about how I measure up to other women, especially white women? I think a large part of it is my strong ego. I mean, on paper I look like alot of black women today - in my late 20s, educated, progressive, ambitious, blah blah blah. There are things about my physical beauty that I celebrate and feel are exceptional - my beautiful eyes and my radiant smile top the list. I'm attractive, intelligent, opinionated, ambitious, qualities that add up to a great catch. Because of the high value I assign to myself, I don't take it personally when a man directly or indirectly doesn't choose me. When choosing between a Lexus and an Acura, some people prefer the Lexus while others prefer the Acura. Still, others would pick a Camry or Accord instead because the payments and insurance premiums are cheaper. That doesn't take anything away from the Lexus, its just as valuable.

I set my own value, and am happy to observe when men, regardless of race, recognize the high value of other black women. If a man chooses a woman of another race, no sweat off our backs, and I choose not to dwell on it or emotionally respond to it because it diverts my energy from the things I do want to see. For me, its as simple as that. I recognize, however, that its not that simple for other women. Until we set our own value, and learn to divorce our emotions from situations that have nothing to do with us, we'll continue to attract into our situations men who don't see the value we have.

The only part of all this that I struggle with, is how other women don't see their own value? How other women continue to settle for less, to see themselves as less, to accept the first man who comes to talk their value down (i.e. haggle so they won't pay what the woman is worth)? That's the part that frustrates me, but no more. I decided today to be an example of my theory and not continue to talk about it. When I'm happy in wedded bliss, then maybe others will begin to understand where I'm coming from.