The Scarlett Johanssoning of Grace Jones

Halloween is coming.
And rather than that eliciting excitement and child-like joy at promise of publicly acceptable cosplay and free sugary treats, I’m holding my breath waiting for some celebrity PR statement claiming they didn’t know Blackface (or other forms of cultural appropriation/insensitivity) was still unacceptable in this here post-Racial America.

IMG_7153.JPGLast night, innocently enough I was scrolling Tumblr. Tumblr has become my favorite (secret) form of social media because of the high anonymity, yet ever-present cultural relevance factor. I can find out everything going on in the world just by scrolling my dashboard and because of carefully crafted follows I’m not inundated with neither too much seriousness not too much foolery. I digress, so I’m scrolling tumblr and I see an advertisement for a “Vegan leather doo-rag”. My knee-jerk reaction was to exclaim “These pumpkin spice loving mother ——- have gone TOO far!” Hey, I’m not perfect.

IMG_7152.JPGBut it really did feel like the straw that broke the camels back. I refuse to believe that white people are that oblivious. That “blackface” feels innocent. That wearing a sombrero holding “roadside fruit” signs is naive. That they’ve really been so oblivious to other cultures WITHIN THIS COUNTRY that they feel things like baby hair, Timberland boots, doo-rags, full lips big hips and tan skin were standards of beauty of their own making. Is Columbusing genetic?

Now, I want to be clear that not all white people are “sleep” to these issues. However, it seems that they live in entirely different time zones than the repeat offenders. I’m looking at you Katy Perry and Juliane Hugh. Is there no one around them (of any race) to say, “hey you know…maybe that’s not such a good idea?”

The thing that bothers me most is the sense of entitlement to other people’s cultures. Pop culture imperialism. Armed with the knowledge that America is fast becoming mediocre in all measures of greatness among our global community, when I leave the country it doesn’t dawn on me that being American means much. However, because of media and pop culture we are WINNING. In organizational change, company culture is oft known as the slowest and last thing to change. Culture can outlast leadership, in the positional sense. So when Scarlett Johansson is a standard of beauty in nations that don’t naturally produce women who look like Scarlett Johansson it becomes very clear to me that the U.S. is still very much relevant.

When I was in Bali I had someone point out to me which lotions and sunscreen to buy because they had skin bleach. And while I was keenly aware of skin bleaching practices it was not until I was faced with consciously choosing products that DID NOT have bleach (which were far fewer in number) that I realized how real an issue it is.

As a woman of color, it is incredibly frustrating a) to be a woman in a society which feels entitled to my body. You feel you can manipulate control and have part ownership over my hair my skin color my garments and undergarments my size my sex and my womb. B) you take your shares of me and dip them in bleach, slathering white paint over brown skin and calling it beautiful. Colorful hair in a young black girl is ghetto yet on a young white girl is fashion forward. Gelled baby hair on a Latina girl warrants a side eye, yet vogue puts it on a wispy white model and it’s the head-turning look of the season. We have made entire industries whose sole purpose is dedicated to the Scarlett Johanssoning of Grace Jones.

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I’ve had it up to here with the dumbstruck faces of ignorance plastered all over white media especially in October. I am no longer accepting apologies. Don’t be sorry, be better. I am no longer willing to have the long conversation about why it’s wrong or inappropriate. Do your own research. I, sadly, am growing increasingly more intolerant of these instances of intolerance. How the hell am I supposed to help when I’m exhausted because YOU don’t want to help yourself?

Kerry Washington gives perspective, ” I don’t want to live in a post-race world because being black is really exciting. I mean, it’s who I am. I’m a woman, black, from New York, an Aquarius – these are things that create who I am. I’m interested in living in a post-racist world, where being African American doesn’t dictate limitations on what I can do – but I don’t want to live post-race. Our differences are so fascinating and wonderful. We don’t want to all be the same. Who wants that? Hitler did, but who else?”

I may be labeled as the angry black woman after writing this, but that’s untrue. Anger is a symptom, a surface emotion for a deeper feeling. I am, in reality, the disappointed black woman. Disappointed that people still shield themselves behind the colorblind cloak as if that’s acceptable or makes them immune to prejudice; automatically equitable. Guess what? Raven Symone, it doesn’t. Disappointed that there are people who still live in places where it is perfectly true that everyone is the same and that there’s no one to question why. Disappointed that we don’t employ empathy more in our daily actions, considering the lasting effects on what we do or say. Disappointed that someone will inevitably read this, claim I have attacked all white people and will have missed my point entirely.

Thoughts on Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Typically I would wait until I’d collected myself. Typically I would try and find the perfect words and the most eloquent metaphor to speak to it but to be honest…it just had to come now.
I held my breath through the fire hoses. As they sat at the lunch counter being called Coons, Niggers, kicked, spit on, beaten, tortured…I held my breath and I hurt so badly I could barely take it. I tried to go to the place they went to. I looked at them and imagined they, in those moments, were out of body. I tried to go there with them because it hurt too badly to stay.

Watching history through the eyes of The Butler was immaculate, and emotional. Beginning at cotton fields, daddy shot dead with no regard for his humanness, his manhood or his being. Mother driven mad…perhaps from going to her own other place one time too many after the habitual rapes, its hard to live all full of poison. From this beginning to Yes We Can. It was a journey that I watched in two hours but my grandmother lived, this piece of history was hers and…I couldn’t help but think of her as President Obama’s voice filled the theater.

I had to walk quickly to the car, and the entire walk I was aware of how safe I felt. There was no threat of lynch mobs or KKK. I did not have to hold my breath as white people passed me, praying to just disappear and be left alone. In fact, I realized, the fight I find myself in most often is one to be seen. My mind raced with these thoughts as I neared panting trying just to get to the car before the dam broke.

As I locked myself in, I lost it. I cried for so many reasons saying nothing more than Thank You to God. I felt…I feel gratitude that I am in the position I am in. I recognize where I come from and the shoulda of whom I stand. I felt all of it. If I had to describe it, it was as if my being gained another dimension. I was plugged into my ancestry on a level previously much more flat in affect.

I have always been proud to be Black, and actually to be Southern as well. I know the past of both and I know what I represent and how contextually a “me” is the answered prayer sewn in the soil of Georgia red clay by slaves. And I know how it feels to stand in a plantation house as a guest and have a woman who looks like me serve me a meal. I know how it literally makes you want to wish for any other moment. To be in any other place and time. That feeling at the State Dinner? I’ve felt that. Do I feel like an imposter? Being who I am, where I am? No. Even the fact that I feel at home in a system that’s been historically oppressive, and arguable is still so, speaks volumes.

But this….new recognition it is one of deep deep awareness, and humility, and responsibility. When I look over the course of my own life, I want to feel I stood for something. That I served a purpose and yes, advanced the lives of Black people. I owe them that much.

Yes owe. I absolutely feel indebted to those that came before me and as I sobbed in my car I thought of the position I have been put in and the opportunities I’ve been afforded. I guess there are some Black people who do not feel this pull. Who feel as though we are all just human and want race to be more neutral. But the truth of the matter is, ever since the inception of this nation race has mattered. Race and, yes, racism is a thread woven in the tapestry of america and why should we ignore it? Why pretend that it does not exist or that it has no meaning? The last sixty years, the last two hundred and fifty years happened. They happened, and we as a nation are still healing from it.

So while I do not necessarily share the feelings of those raceless humans among us, I understand. It’s hard and it hurts and taking it all in, becoming one with the scars and the open flesh wounds its a heavy burden to bear. But I will hold your piece until you’re ready. And when you are, I will embrace you and welcome you warmly. I am holding it. I will hold it, and even if it brings me to my knees like it did tonight, I will surrender to it and say thank you. Thank you. Still I rise.

The Morning After

Though admittedly I was not as emotional watching this election, nor was I as nervous about the outcome should my preferred candidate lose, it was still wonderful to see President Barack Obama be re-elected. As I watched the election results, however, I had the words of two other Black men on my mind. One of a professor, Dr. N who pointed out the partisanship is really urban versus rural. And the other of my advisors husband who said many things and among them, “relax into it, you don’t do the work.”

I had a friend’s mom ask me if I was voting for President Obama because he was black. I told her yes, confidently. Among other reasons, but I would be lying if I discounted this truth. And why should I? I even love the unease that comes to some at having a Black man, in specific, as the leader of our nation. As I looked at the city of Chicago and the diversity in the crowd of POTUS supporters I thought, this is why I have to move back to a city. I love the culture that dwells within metropolitan areas. I love my own city and how distinct each neighborhood is but they blend together so effortlessly to make one delicious Atlanta. I have never considered myself a Democrat, but I have to say the ugliness of intolerance curdling to the top of the GOP within the last 5 years has been disgusting.  I figure in cities its a constant mix, a stirring of the pot as transplants move in, out, and throughout. And to some extent, for me, its about education and professional opportunity.  On the other hand its about urban youth and the chance to make a difference. To say, look at me–in to me, see–I look like you we are each fighting our own battles but do not fight them alone anymore. I am here for you, there are no excuses, let’s move.

When I think about my own purpose and my own aspirations I get overwhelmed. For a class assignment  I am having to consider where I’ll be in 2, 5, and 10 years and I have been supremely uncomfortable with verbalizing it. When Henry offered that I don’t do the work, I felt about a million lbs lift off my chest. Of course I don’t. I get out of the way and the divine does the work. That’s it. The anxiety of paralyzing fear over choosing the right path…I just have to walk confidently in the direction that my heart choses. Right now, more than ever, that is teaching.

I had what I would call “a moment” with my class on Monday and we took a time out from lecture and addressed some frustrations and other elephants in the room.  After class I received messages from them claiming how pleased they were and how close they felt to their classmates. I was honest with them, and in turn they were honest with me. And we can only grow from that. Mondays class is why I have to do this work.

Lastly, I thought about my Pakistani classmate who pointed out the humanity in out political system yesterday. At the end of last night Mitt Romney may not be the president but he got to go home to his wife and family. He is not in exile, President Obama wished him well, and he is still in every sense of the words, one of us. We see ugly campaigning but we do not see a dictator nor military coups, nor violence. What we see is bad, but the perspective she offered reminded me of how wonderful it truly is to be in a country that supports civic disagreement and the freedom of speech.

I suppose having held all this, the morning after has been one where I smiled, said thank you to my source and set an intention to get out of the way. Its not President Obama, its something he represents to each of his voters. Its a promise we need upkept. Its work we ultimately have to do ourselves before we can see it.  And that’s the great irony of it all.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Grace

As I watched our First Lady, Michelle Obama, deliver what is arguably one of the most heartfelt, endearing, and riveting speeches in recent history I started to cry for three reasons.

1…as I attended our SOLES welcome back reception for new and returning students and I mixed and mingled, Dr. Green approached me gently reminding me that we need to meet. I felt that tug in my stomach, the one you got when you were younger and an elder started telling you about life. As true as it all may be, you’re not sure you want their wisdom just yet. I have such anxiety about opening up more.

My head spun as I held conversations with faculty, new and returning students about classes, summer break, and other such small talk. I heard our librarian Dr. Byrd’s voice…she tells me I know everybody and am involved with everything, and I need to be in politics. Again that stomach churn. I have no desire to be in politics, but the though of somehow being able to effect change at such a large (and very public) level makes me panic. I keep hearing Zachary ask “where are you?” I hate attention but I just feel like I am being prepared to handle it. I think know I will be faced with this sooner rather than later.

When I saw Michelle not only command, but engage her attention I was so inspired. This was about her, in all her many roles, being able to connect to us on the most basic human level. More than that, she did so with grace. It was not boastful, nor (and perhaps for me, most importantly) was she in any way apologetic in her strength.

2…Michelle Obama looks like me. Read: I imagine she uses some mixture of oils and lotion to fight dry, ashy skin. She likely wraps her hair at night and ties it in a satin scarf. But its not just the aesthetics…she grew up with parents who worked extremely hard to see that she succeeded. She is an ivy league graduate with a terminal degree who had/has an incredible job. What does it mean to me to be able to see a black woman be accomplished at something other than having an attitude? What does it mean to see a black woman command a room without cursing, yelling, or exposing her body? What does it mean to see a black woman openly love her black husband, and praise her black father for defining himself by the success of his children? What does it mean to see this highly accomplished black woman prioritize her family above all other professional or personal accomplishments?

Which segues into 3…Michelle and Barack are equally yolked. To use a biblical allusion…but can you think of one better? I love than she is an articulate, intelligent, compassionate, and beautiful woman who standing alone is amazing, but her ability to be all that and part of a greater unit is amazing to me. It suggests to me that its possible to be both passionate career woman and nurturing wife and mother. Hard nosed intellectual and compassionate humanitarian, and all the other dichotomies. It tells me that we are not the either ors people suggest we are (stay at home mom type or working mom type) and that some women do it beautifully. It shows me the kind of woman I hope to be.
It also shows me that the kind of man I deserve exists and is seeking a-Me. It is that assurance that I can be my whole self. My true self and still be loved, accepted, sought after and cherished. And I suppose some people will say its an act. Or its media fabrication or that its easy because of the many luxuries afforded to them. I choose to believe the opposite.

So when I cried, it was because here in front of me was a woman who I so admire, telling me through her life that my dream is not only legitimate but attainable. Because here she stood telling a story I connect with of sacrifice, fortitude, and love. I cried because of the embodiment of true grace. Eloquent in delivery, empathic in ethos, it was just everything. That, to me, is worth getting to know myself more. If somewhere in me lies the ability to awaken potential then I want to get to know that part of me.

The fourth reason, then, is because as I watched Michelle I saw my self, and it was a part of me I found so hard to believe in. A part of me that was invalidated and undervalued. A part of me desperately needing voice and affirmation, who is sure of herself and her abilities and who is not ashamed of her vulnerabilities. I was able to see that, me…and I cried at never having seen her beauty and strength before.

Racism in California

Last night in a bar over bourbons, I got what Terri would call “hooked.” I was talking with two friends of mine about the difference in racism as it is in the south versus here in southern California. I explained that in my experience, racism in the south was a lot more open and overt whereas here in California it is quiet and secretive.
One of my friends argued that because it is not said, that perhaps I am jumping to conclusions about the stares/looks/whispers being because of my race. I retorted back with, “as we haven’t had a conversation, what else would it be?”

Since I have lived in California I have been stared at, belittled (though this, I feel comes from being black and Southern more than anything), and subject to more “colored” and “gal” speech than I ever was at home. I explained to them that even walking into places you can feel eyes on you. And because there are so few Black people in San Diego, it can feel lonely and cold. My friend asked if I had been to Southeast SD and I said yes, but it pissed me clean off.

As I could feel myself getting angrier I knew I had to back off and walk away from this argument. Even our bartender commented that we got too serious. For me, it felt like my points were not being validated and intead were subject to reinterpretation; as if somehow I was unable to discern racism from any other type of discrimination.

What hooked me was not feeling heard, and having to defend a point I know exists. On the way home CR asked me why conversations about race are so hard, and I responded that its because they go nowhere. I say this even as an educator who teaches the importance of having “the race conversation.” It feels as though often when you try to explain the lived experience of a minority there is so much defense in the rebuttal that it turns ugly quickly.

And I get it, no one wants to be called a racist. Especially white people. Especially especially white people who think they are liberal. But the truth is, we’re all a little bit racist. Sadly. But we don’t have to let that stop us from learning about and from one another, we can work towards unconditional acceptance and love of others. When I say, I was treated this way because I am black and someone says, are you sure? I take it personally, and I shouldn’t. That’s my bad. I feel as though I am a person who does not play “the race card” often if ever and so I really feel some kind of way about being interrogated over my decision to use it.

There’s two things at play there, someone who needs validation of yes! Racism exists and yes! You experienced it. But there is also a person who casts doubt first, empathy later if at all. Work to be done on both sides.

I came home and called My Person because I was angry and needed to vent. Even in her whitness I feel she got it, and maybe that’s all I needed, to be heard and feel understood.

I am sure that people in California and people in the south will never agree on the issue of racism being bad in both places…but that’s okay. Just know this from me, give me the deep South any day of the week over being followed in the grocery store or called a pretty colored girl. At least at home I know exactly where not to go to avoid being called anything crazy.

BL(ind)ACK in America

Guest post I did a while back…forgot to post it here:

“What does it mean to be Black in 2010?”

Strabismus.  When eyes are not aligned with each other. Greek in origin meaning “to squint”. As the eye muscles lack strength and coordination to focus on the same points simultaneously a person suffering from strabismus often lacks depth perception, adequate peripheral vision, inability to establish or sustain power of motion or direction, and a blurred frontal focus. Directions of the deviation include exotropic meaning outward and esotropic meaning inward, there are also rarer, vertical deviations hypertropia (upward) and hypotropia (downward). To be Black in America is to be afflicted with Strabismus.

It often seems that we as a people lack the ability to see what’s in front of us, and that which we do see is distorted. Who’s holding knowledge captive? I wish I could see the key in my hand, unfortunately, my vision’s fucked.  Three hundred years mentally bound; soul still humming hymns yearning for freedom, back still stinging with scars of woeful submission.

Why won’t you let me be great?

Who are we talking to?  Exotropic…everyone who burdens me. Esotropic…I who have bent my back for the ease. Hypertropic…God. Hypotropic…Satan.  Despite the audience we are crying out. Lost as a people. We. Can’t. See.
We can’t see ourselves. We can’t see each other.  There’s a Swedish proverb that says “eyes that do not cry, cannot see,” and as I stand, Black in 2010 I just wish my people would weep.

Weep and wake up to realize these eyes we have don’t work. Take a cue from Jacosta and become blind, maybe then we could see by faith, and learn to trust. As it stands we fall prey to wanting. Something. Everything. Make it better. Somebody? Self? God?
We don’t trust. To be black in 2010 is to give in to the safe mediocrity, or to strive for better battered and wounded at having to claw out of the pack. Why are you leaving? Are you better than I am? Do you see clearer than me? What do you see that I don’t?
Envious of the vision the forerunners. Realizing not, we long ago closed our eyes.

Lessons from geese

Every year I watch the MLK Commemorative Service, and get so inspired and filled with hope from the messages.  This time it came right after I saw an episode of the X-Files where the government was covering up some experiments and claiming it was for the collective good of our citizens that the failed subjects be killed and all records be erased.  It made me angry that politics are often justified as such…working for some greater good, being pillars of the citizens that we elect to protect and project our interests.  Wish  it were true…so from the Dr. King service a Baptist preacher said to the congregation of geese:

“My individual location is not as important as our collective destination…we have to fly together.”

I feel like I’ve been screaming this.  Through my “Being American is Killing Americans” series I often speak of this perpetuated individualization that has just CONSUMED Americans is destroying us and nobody wants to speak up and say THIS ISN’T WORKING…Nothing gets me fired up more and also defeats me quicker than thinking about the possibility of my nation. My people. My peers, and those coming up under me, my sisters and their friends.  My children.  Why do we find the need to separate ourselves from others? We judge others and say that I have more _______ than them or they have less __________ than me so that somehow makes us separate. NO! Bishop Eddie Long (prior to that whole scandal) once said, why are so many black women single and so many black men in the gutter?  HELP THAT MAN UP OUT THE GUTTER?  Why are we so unwilling to serve? Why are we not flying together?

For what was probably one of the more moving speeches of yesterday given by the Hispanic Rev. Samuel Rodriguez click HERE.  He really could have dropped the mic after this speech.  I have a dream too Dr. King, its that one day we will really sacrifice the I for the We?  Citizenship is like a marriage after all, is it not?  I suppose in America our patriotism is not so much a requirement, however as a participant in this nation I take some pride and also some responsibility in it.  I cannot, therefore, ever give up on my nation; the greatest nation in the world.  I can “be the change” by dedicating my life to service.  Mentorship…Modeling…showing others how to make a difference by being the difference.  I wish with all my heart I had President Obama’s 2004 DNC Keynote on video…I really feel that hearing him made all the difference in my life.  I wish it shook more people in our nation…but that’s ok, they’ll wake when they’re supposed to according to His will.  I do believe it.

Being American is Killing Americans pt.5 (Industry of Slavery)

Industry always seeks to be a master; if industry is the master then guess who the slaves are? Ok so consider this of our food industry, with corn being the top grain we have begun to mass produce it as integral to many other different foods. Why? Biochemically speaking, if people eat foods that cause pathway inflammation or blockage then they accelerate their death…moving out of the therapeutic window (the space between living illness and death).  Keeping in mind that “we” work to maintain a stasis within that window, having corn-based products and undertreating the American citizen health wise is FAR more beneficial economically than producing healthy foods and supporting homeopathic or even preventative health care methods.
So then, consider the natural/organic food industry. The foods are more rare, and costly AND the guidelines for producing “organic” food are far more questionable than that of corn-based junk foods. The tedium makes it nearly impossible to escape the industry plantation.  You may seek to eat organic or vegan foods, but the FDA being the regulating body over our food taxonomy brings pause.  It should be cut and dry, if a food is produced with preservatives, or by unnatural means of production then it should not be classified as organic, however we all know this is not the case.  As a result, the food industry can benefit from both corn-based junk foods AND seemingly organic healthy foods while you, the consumer are none the healthier.
At what point, if ever, will society decide that the subpar living standards outlined in the therapeutic window are not good enough? Will it ever be profitable to be well? And how does a capitalistic society sell wellness to its people?  Wellness is of course immeasurable and intangible.  It is holistic in nature meaning it encompasses mind body and spirit, there is virtually no way to mass produce general well-being for the mind and for the spirit.  And if there is then I’m sure some pharmaceutical company is working on the marketing campaign as we speak.
The truth is, obesity is more profitable than being thin…ironic since junk food cost less. But if fat people exist and the dream of thinness is sold then there will ALWAYS be a demand for ways to get thin. This alone stimulates health care, nutritionists, exercise facilities and professionals, food industry, clothing, etc. If America’s chief export is expertise then we’re masters of reverse psychology. We haven’t moved one day past slavery.  Always sell the lack, if you make people want what only a few can obtain then you will create infinite demand and drive industry…and such is life with a master.

Being American is Killing Americans Pt. 4 (Mastery of Man)

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.

-George Orwell in Animal Farm-

And isnt’ it true? What do we give to the earth? What do we give to animals? Currently our food and agriculture system is so controlled by private interest, corporations, and lobbyists that those trying to make a positive difference are being driven out of business.  (Aside: I would encourage everyone to watch the documentary Food, Inc. ) Cows are fed corn, chickens growing so quickly their bones don’t develop and they can’t even walk, farmers forced to keep quiet about their agricultural process for fear of legal action and financial disembowelment.  Its disgusting. Since cavemen man has sought to become master over nature. If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.  ~J.K. Rowling And if it is so, that we are in fact masters of nature, then we’re piss poor excuses for men.  What do we give to the earth, again I ask?

Not to slip into religious dogma, but lets just for a second, superficially…Nature, or God if that’s what you believe, is fighting back, fiercely.  Science can’t keep up with ever-evolving strands and mutations of disease, infections, viruses, and bacteria.  We cannot prepare a city enough to survive destruction of national disaster. One after another, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, flood, and the cycle continues. Bend or break. And that’s to us, from mother Earth.

Look out the window golly the sky is electric blue
Mamma Earth is dyin and cryin because of you
Rainin cats and jackles all shackles disintegrate, to residue
Silly mortals haven’t a clue
as to what the fuck is goin on
I’m on the telephone, dialin the Dungeon
“Hello?” This Dre, bring the MP and the SP
Meet me at the center of the earth and travel carefully
Baby grab the baby cause baby it ain’t much time
Mamma Earth is tossin and turnin and that’s our sign
Omega Nigga IFO’s are landin in Decatur
Hope I’m not over your head but if so you will catch on later
Play the track, guess she could not take it anymo’
Rapin her heavenly body like a hoe, coochie so’
from niggaz constantly fuckin her never lovin her never showin
appreciation bustin nuts in her face when they done

-Outkast (Andre Benjamin) “Da Art of Storytelling Part II)

What do we give to the Earth? Carpooling?  Recycling? Oh well after we’ve already produced the plastic, the aluminum, the cardboard, killed the trees, polluted the air, we’ll try not to do it again. We, Americans, act like rebellions teenagers, however I’d argue that developmentally we are infants. Never attached to our mother. Never bonded, never connected. The first Americans were. However, modern man sought to prove himself, superiority at all cost…and briefly, can we explore that? Alfred Adler believed that feelings of inferiority is derived from physical disability or from faulty relationships, and that inferiority lead to a need to prove one’s self to one’s self.  Faulty relationships…the truth is, in the relationship between man and nature, we could never even minutely give to Earth what she gives to us. Our inability to recognize this, to bow to her in reverence is killing us. Killing her too, but trust, we’ll go long before she does.  Continuing in my psychobabble, Adler also explores social confirmation…an excerpt from text: confirmation is that the person seeks that which was missing in their childhood. The infant needs love from the parents. If this is not forthcoming, or if it is not sufficient in quantity, then the infant is not confirmed in its social persona and its ego will become fragile and unstable. The ego, is our reality drive. Our entire reality is askew because we did not bond with our Mother.

What to do…is it too late? For a reconciliation? Namaste, I bow to you, sit at Mother’s feet and weep. Tell her we’re sorry and ask her to forgive us? Show her that we’ve learned to do better, and that we’re committed to working on our relationship. Show her, don’t tell her. She’s heard those words before. Furthermore, it must be on her terms…not ours. We cannot compromise with our provider. We can demand our way, but ultimately we will suffer for it. We are suffering for it. We are in the days of samsara.  If its true that a mother’s love is everlasting and undying, then we have a chance…are we willing to take it? Bend or break.

Being American is Killing Americans Pt. 3 (Roots)

We like to say that our families are the most important things to us. I’ll tell you why this is a lie. Its a lie because we’re too busy debating to fix the problems that effect families. Instead of pouring money into education, we’re on waiting lists for iPhones, iPads, watching HDTV, and eating McDonald’s. Does it have to be one or the other? Yes. YES! And why isn’t it family? Why is there even a debate about universal health care? Why is it legal to sell food that’s barely even food anymore? Why isn’t it mandatory that the public be made explicitly aware of the content of our food? Not only that but the care of the animals, the food that they consumed. Why? Because we don’t really want to know. So long as everything looks ok, it is ok. We, my fellow Americans are Don’t tell me that my child’s kindergarten teacher is on meth, because Sara passed her CRCT with flying colors. (Aside: I find it absolutely appalling that teachers don’t have to undergo drug testing, and psychological assessments. I had to do so to be a bill collector at Verizon, you telling me your child isn’t more valuable than your cell phone?) Don’t tell me that my Big Mac is nearly 1,000 (HALF the daily caloric intake for the average American) calories, it tastes good, plus its all beef right? We just don’t want to know. Because if we knew what we don’t want to know then we’d be responsible for it. If we knew better and didn’t do better, that speaks to our character, so best we don’t know.

Currently, the government is urging states to adopt a new National Education Standard that will retrain math and science teachers, putting writing emphasis on all courses, and trying to relieve some of the pressure put on by end of the year testing. While that sounds novel, will it really help? Perhaps in twenty years when, no doubt some other regime is in charge and come up with another way to “improve” the education system. The fact of the matter is, primarily, formal education should be supplementary. More aptly put, primary school should be reinforced learning, not introductory. Parents, where is your involvement? We have given a tremendous amount of responsibility to teachers, and stripped them of resources and authority needed to produce. There has to be cooperation. More often than not, it seems like parents don’t even care if their child is learning, just as long as it looks like they are. Just as long as they get to graduation. (Another aside: I find it tongue in cheek to host these kindergarten and 8th grade graduations, those things are milestones, yes, but really how much should we celebrate the expected? Its like praising a cat for meowing)

Quality time. What’s that like? Do families eat around the dinner table anymore? Discuss their days? Call me outlandish but I really think a turn for the worse for the American family came as a result of the working wife/mother. No longer was there the mother, the constant at home support and nurturing parent there to car pool, be active in classroom support and function, assist with children’s homework needs or extracurricular involvement, feed them.   This figure has been alleviated leaving a crack in the foundation, and here we’ve been building on this foundation and our whole society is askew.  I hesitate to blame all of the problems of American on the working woman, I will say that I believe it is a strong contributing factor, however it is the responsibility of all family members to uphold the priority of the family unit.  To conclude, I believe that we, as Americans, have largely suffered because we know not the role we should play. Women, we cannot do what men do. Men, you cannot be children. Children, you cannot be grown.  I do think that the over independence of women, the passivity of men, and the expedited maturation of children has completely thrown off our society. A woman believes that now since we work, and can provide for ourselves, that a man is accessory, optional, or even unnecessary. We are grasping to find the utility of modern man. Meanwhile men have lost a major component of manhood-provision for family is rudimentary.  If a man is not allowed to be a man, he will not survive. Ladies, we know you can do it…but you don’t have to do it all.  Give a man a purpose, and he will perform. Men, stop feeling sorry for yourselves and step up. Show a woman why you’re needed. If she makes her own money, show her how that money doesn’t comfort her, hold her, support her, nurture her, make love to her…being a man isn’t about a money clip. Children…well this is loaded. Many are having to grow up before their time, but many others choose to. Enjoy your childhood. You have far less of that than adulthood, and trust me-its better. Can we please take it back to basics?