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Dreamcatcher

I just had this thought while watching Dr. King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. The things he is speaking about– justice for black people; that one day we would have the rights to vote and walk freely without segregation, etc. I sit here and I’m grateful that these things have now come to pass, but it wasn’t until just now, just now, when it clicked. This march, and the actions of the hundreds of thousands of people that preceded this march, at one point, were just leaps of faith. These things were just small footsteps with faith but they set the blueprint for the freedom that we have today, and an anchor for which we can hold onto as we continue sailing through to true justice for ALL people. Dr. King had hope, and a dream and power to move people’s hearts with peaceful determination. But, he had no idea what would happen, just faith, a faith that saw that at the center of all people there is good.

 

There are people –black people- who say there will never be true justice in the legal system for the African American woman or man. I don’t doubt that there were once people who thought they would never walk onto a bus and sit down where they pleased. I don’t doubt that there was a child who sat quietly in her classroom accepting that she would never sit in the same classroom with a white child. I don’t doubt that there were people who didn’t care either way. But, if one could dream–if one could dream of true change- change in a country founded on the oppression of the very people who built it, now that’s remarkable.

That dream made provision for my dream. So, maybe it isn’t far-fetched to see a world where a young black man walking from the store with skittles won’t be judged by the color of his skin but the content of his character, or to imagine an education system that doesn’t clear a direct path to imprisonment or death for young brown men. Maybe, just maybe, I could have a dream too.

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I, like many of us have been tuned into the George Zimmerman trial since it began. I almost typed “Trayvon Martin” trial because, at times, it was hard to understand just who was being tried. Today jurors in the case heard the closing arguments for the defense and the final rebuttal from the state. The defense rode on the platform, if you would call it a platform, that Zimmerman had every right to act the way he acted, that he was a regular man with aspirations of protecting and serving his community but was attacked by a young man who refused to “run away” upon being followed. The defense went as far as to say that Martin had plenty of time to run— four minutes. Defense attorney O’Mara went on to list all of the things one could do in four minutes, but that Martin chose to stay put. My question is, why would a person run if they’re guilty of nothing? If I am minding my business walking to the store and I notice a man following me, am I to assume he is going to kill me?

I understand that the defense attorney had to do his job and try to convey to the jury that, all things considered, Zimmerman acted logically considering these circumstances, but there were times during his argument where I wondered if even he, believed himself.

“When I first got this case, I thought it was going to come and go in 20 minutes,” Defense Attorney O’Mara said.

These were not his best moments. Many times during his argument, O’Mara sounded insensitive, condescending and even patronizing in his attempt to get his point across; certainly not a good technique when speaking to a jury of women.

This trial has ignited quite a movement via social networking, as many know. I have seen countless tweets refuting the support behind the #ZimmermanTrial and the apathy about the young black men dying in our own communities. My problem with this is that no one black man’s death is more important than the other. This case was yet another reminder of the racist society that we live in, not an attempt to diminish the violence that runs so rampantly in the African American community. We have to fight one battle at a time, or get enough warriors together to fight them all.

Trayvon’s parents decided to reach out to media to bring about some justice for their son. If every parent of every slain teenager in Chicago, Philadelphia, or Atlanta made it a point to speak out on their child’s behalf, would we still be marching to our city courtrooms or wearing hoodies to show support? Don’t answer that. That answer is too complex. If Troy Davis, Caylee Anthony, and Trayvon Martin have taught this country anything, it’s that some of the laws and the policies that are effective in this country are not JUST at all. Getting upset has to do more than a hoodie and a march. Getting upset has to send you to your local politician- has to send you to your post office with your petition- has to encourage you to get up and DO SOMETHING about it, or else, we’ll be back here, not long from now, protesting about another person killed in cold blood because of a culture that ignores hatred if it doesn’t directly affect them.

 

Disclaimer: (I wrote this post on my lunchbreak so please excuse typos and punctuation!)

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I’m having a moral dilemma. I like to think of myself as a modern-day-feminist. I like to think of myself as a person who will always fight for the rights of women, especially black women, and the oppressed, which generally  fall into the same category. I am embarrassed to say that I have been struggling with how to feel about a certain situation in the popular media headlines.

I have begun re-reading one of my favorite books, Deals with the Devil, and Other Reasons to Riot, by Pearl Cleage and I have just gotten to the chapter where she discusses Miles Davis. Miles Davis admitted, willingly in Miles: The Autobiography that he hit actress Cicely Tyson when they had been together. What is so brilliant about Pearl Cleage is that she always presents readers with a question to present to themselves. We learn about how she felt when she learned that one of her favorite musicians had hit a woman. She felt a moral responsibility as a feminist to defend her sisters but in the same breath she questioned whether or not defending her sisters meant abandoning the music that was once so sweet to her.

I am faced with a similar issue when asked about the Chris Brown/ Rihanna “relationship”. I cringe just thinking about it because the image of Rihanna’s battered face left an imprint on my brain, but, it seems to have faded from her own.

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I was so upset at what he had done to her and the comments that quickly ensued about what she could have possibly done to bring him to do this. These are the same unnerving, unacceptable conversations that follow the rape of a woman because she had to have done something to get raped. We all know men don’t commit violent crimes against women without being first encouraged too, right? Wrong.

We all watched as the couple sashayed together to the Grammy’s and have been spotted cuddling around town. Now, before my brothers accuse me of giving racists another opportunity to confirm the hate against the angry black man, please understand that I am black and woman before I am anything else. I have to defend the black woman at all costs, before anything else. I also need my kings to know that my defense of my sisters should not cause an offense to any secure, honorable black man.

After all, I am conflicted about this. I started writing this post months ago and I am just now finishing it. I was so conflicted that I couldn’t even work up enough courage to publish the post. But now, I’ve had it. I’ve decided that if I stand for anything, I have to speak out against this relationship. Not solely because of the physical abuse but because of that womanly intuition that allows each of us to see one another for who we really are, when we’re in tune with it. I am not judging Rihanna. I feel so sorry for her. I feel sorry for Chris Brown too. They are perfect examples of a generation of entitled kids given everything too soon and losing everything too quickly. I know, “ain’t nobody’s business but you and your baby,” –got that.

I’ve seen that “ain’t nobody’s business” mantra do more harm than good in this short life I’ve lived.  It was everyone’s business when you cried to Diane Sawyer, when you were pissed off, heartbroken, and in love with the man that beat you. When you didn’t know how to respond because unlike most battered women, your beating took place on the main stage and now the stage hands, back up dancers and audience were waiting on your next move, literally. There was no turning back then. Rihanna couldn’t hold that in, and anyone who follows the pop princess, knows that she isn’t one to hold back on her feelings.

 

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So now, I have to decide how I’m going to handle myself now that I’ve confronted my disdain for this relationship. Does this mean, I have to turn off my radio, and delete all of my Rihanna and Chris Brown songs from my I-pod? Does supporting the music of these two individuals conflict everything I stand for? My hopeless romantic spirit is rolling its eyes at me right now. As much as I’d like to twist this into some love-story between two broken souls who defied all odds to be together, I can’t. While I can’t predict the future, there’s one thing I know about gravity: when something fragile hits the floor, it breaks, and no matter how you glue it back together you will always see the cracks, and cracks lead to, more cracks. Eventually, we’re back to where we started with a whole bunch of jagged pieces cutting you every time you try to mold them. I don’t wish ill-will to either of these lovers, actually, somewhere deep inside I’m hoping that the universe shakes things up and things work out between them, at least, for my i-pod’s sake. So it goes.

 

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I have realized that I rarely ever talk about my non-profit organization Mic Check 1-Two! on here. Well, that’s about to change! I wanted to let my loyal readers know about a talk show that I am producing, directing, and co-hosting for Mic Check 1-Two! The show is called Misled. 

Misled is a show dedicated to informing the uninformed and the misinformed. We are living in a time where negativity sells and positive images are not always easily accessible or attractive. Our aim is to bring positive images into the media. Misled will focus on common misconceptions and stereotypes about African-Americans by exposing the truth behind them and offering solutions and alternatives to broaden perspectives and perceptions.

Basically, all of the things I talk about on here, and am disgusted with, and conflicted with and otherwise, have finally found a place to be hashed out.

Episode 1 of Misled will focus on colorism within the African-American Community, specifically, the dreaded: Dark-skinned vs. light-skinned controversy. We’ll talk to a historian to get to the root of the issue, we’ll talk to some young women and men to find out just how much this issue has affected us throughout our lives, and what we can do to change perspectives for the future.

Check out the promo video for Misled, Episode 1 below.

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Take a look at the all new web series, “He Say, She Say,” hosted by relationship expert Kevin Carr. Remember him from my MANcation Retreat video?  Kevin is hosting a new show about current relationship topics. This first episode features a diverse panel of women and men as they discuss their opinions on the “do’s” and “dont’s” of dating and relationships.

Check it out!

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In my recent MANcation revelation, I discovered that I don’t have enough faith in myself and I lack belief in myself at times. This was ever so evident a few weeks ago when I actually heard myself downplaying my abilities to someone else. I was explaining my blog and a future project to someone and I said “Yes, I have a website, but it’s just a wordpress site.” It took me a second to realize that I had just made it okay for the person I was talking to not to take me seriously. I had minimized myself and my abilities out of fear that someone may make me, prove it.

Interestingly enough, the one thing I am most confident in is my ability to connect with people through my writing. Somehow, at that moment, and many moments preceding that moment, I decided that I didn’t believe in myself.

Confidence is so important. We’ve all seen someone so confident that we just expect everything they do to be magnificent only to learn that their bark is more powerful than their bite. We’ve seen people that don’t have that much talent but they excel in their fields simply because they have enough people that believe them. That’s confidence. No one will believe you if you don’t. I really thank God for these moments when I’m able to see myself as an outsider would, and take a deep look at the situations I place myself in.

I am making a conscious decision to have more confidence in myself. I think my issue is that I’m so afraid of being great at something that I’d just rather give you a mediocre answer so if I don’t deliver, you won’t be surprised. Being great, is hard work! I know that sounds pitiful and lazy,but this is a judgement-free site! I know there are tons of people out there who share my reasoning. However, that is a very weak and insecure way of thinking. If you continue to think on a small scale, you will only produce small things.

God placed you here to be great. It is an absolute insult to Him to diminish the work He has done in you by minimizing them. I’m always afraid to say good things about my capabilities for fear of appearing arrogant.

I can’t tell you how many times I read my blog and think “Seriously, Lana, who cares?,” but honestly, people do care; they enjoy my writing and testimonials and there’s nothing arrogant about accepting that. It inspires people, it encourages people and that’s a good thing. There,
I said it!

The difference between arrogance and confidence is realizing where these gifts come from and giving the praise to the Creator. It is okay to say, “I’m a great singer,” or “I’m a great writer,” etc., as long as you make sure you give the glory to the Lord for blessing you with such talent.

He has only created you for greatness. Making light of the gifts God gave you is not honorable and it just gives others permission to define you and place limits on your success.

This was definitely an eye opening experience and I thank God for it. I will no longer minimize my talents and I will only speak greatness. Care to join me?

Doubt and Uncertainty are the first cousins of Fear, and I intend to disrupt this family reunion indefinitely.

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This post has been a long, long, time coming. Many of you will be upset with me for this post. And by many, I mean maybe, 4 or 5 of the 10 people that read my blog.

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I would like to explain my theory of “Educated Negro Syndrome”, or ENS. Now, before you write me off about being misled and ignorant by using the word “Negro,” let me explain myself. From my own understanding and from what I’ve learned throughout the years in school and listening to stories of my ancestors, the word Negro began as a way to describe African Americans. Negro is yet another word that my people changed into a term of endearment when it had been meant to separate us from whites. It was another string on America’s guitar that forever plays the sweet song of racism, but, we digress.

I choose to use the word Negro to explain my theory because it describes an ideology carried by my brown brothers when they feel they have arrived in this world. There is a certain air that is created when these aforementioned brothers feel they have been enlightened enough to be separated from the rest of their brown sisters and brothers. This is not a generalization. This theory describes a select few young men that I’ve been encountering more and more frequently.

There have been many times when I log on to Twitter to see some young, educated black man talking about why he hates when black women wear weaves. This is not the only instance to explain my theory, but it is the most common, so I will use this as the primary example.

I’d say the way black men now feel about weaves on black women had something to do with the natural hair movement sweeping the nation among black women. We as women, especially, single, black women, are always dying to find ways to make ourselves more attractive to men, so that we can get married, and live happily ever after. Anyway, I have seen these same men that are so down on hair extensions and make-up, chase these same women in the clubs, bars, nightlife scene, etc. I have had debates with these men about how I must hate myself for putting some European or East Indian’s hair in my head instead of my own and have watched them flirt with women who replicate the very image they have done such a good job at critiquing. I don’t blame you guys, this is just a symptom of ENS.

These men have studied Freud, and Plato and historical philosophers, in addition to being able to quote W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington but when they see a Kim Kardashian look-a-like, they can barely contain themselves. Which is it, young sir? Do you even know or have you been so brainwashed by those history books and reality shows that you don’t even know yourself? I’d like to suggest the latter.

Another symptom of ENS is the “Me-Man”. We’ve all met the “Me-Man”. This is the guy you meet at an art exhibit or another culturally diverse event and you find out about his childhood, his education, his beliefs on gay marriage, abortion, the role of the black man in families and anything else he decides to tell you about before you can get a word in edgewise. You may need to keep mentioning your own name frequently during the conversation so that he’ll remember it. He won’t need to though, because the next time he sees you, he’ll continue talking about himself so much he won’t even need to say your name. He will, more than likely, proceed to post some status about the simplicity of the women he’s dated, and how he is just dying to meet an intellectual, “Queen.”

The “Me-Man” feels that the pleasure is all YOURS when conversing with him. After all, you may never meet a man of his calibur again; a man with a PhD, who is involved with the youth, and God forbid, SINGLE. You ought to be dropping rose petals at his feet. Careful, the “Me-Man” is known to become extremely sensitive and defensive should you have your own opinion in opposition to one of his.

I once had a man tell me that rappers Wale and J-Cole were distasteful because they frequently rapped about the struggles of black women which sold false hope to these women because these men would never actually experience this pain. He said they had never been a black woman, so how could they relate to them? Was he proposing that promoting such hope to women would cause women to feel that all men might show the same compassion to their issues? How dare women find comfort in hearing positivity and understanding about themselves in between the misogynistic tracks on an album. The nerve.

I don’t say any of this to male-bash. Although, many of the men who read this will see this as another opportunity to tear down the black man. See: “For Colored Girls” critiques. Assuming that every time a black woman speaks up about the ills of black men is an attempt to bash them just reinforces my theory of the self-involved, vain character suffering from ENS. This assumption that we are all out to get you, though heavily enforced by news media and pop culture, is just not true —at least it’s not true for me. I LOVE black men, educated black men too! I just want them to begin to question the things that they learn and to stop constantly doing things to separate themselves from their people. Your degree doesn’t make you any better than anyone, nor do your trips to Africa. These things will make you more cultured of course, but the minute you begin to believe that you are of a higher distinction because the effects of hundreds of years of slavery and racism in America aren’t as visible on you, as they are on me, you lose. This is the moment I must diagnose you with ENS and pray for your speedy recovery.

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