Saturday, April 16, 2011

Today, I'm talkin about....

The Crush

The Jackson 5 were the bomb back in my day, but I hadn't heard of them until my cousin gave me the rundown on who they were, one weekend when we were staying at Granddaddy's. She said we just HAD to see this group that was coming on The Ed Sullivan Show that night. I'm so glad I watched it, I had never seen anything like them before. They sang songs that I really liked, they danced like I had only seen grown-ups dance, they were around my age and black. WOW! I fell in love.  My cousin and I had to go to bed right after the show went off, (church the next morning) but before we went to sleep, we tried doing some of the Jackson 5 dance steps (when we got the steps down, we showed-off in a little talent show we put on for our family) (don't laugh, you know ya'll did it too).

There was nother teenage, R&B group, The Sylvers that came on the scene, a little while after the Jackson 5. They had big afros, they were fine (hot, cute, good looking) too, but no one could take Michael's place in my heart. Michael had the baddest shaped afro in the world. Whenever I could get my little sister to sit long enough, I practiced picking out an afro and shaping it just right. (I usually only got her hair into puff balls, but hey, I tried) Until I was probably 14, Michael Jackson was the only one for me. It was going to be me and him forever, MJ + MM= Love 4ever and ever.

Growing up, there were a couple of little crushes, Derek in the sixth grade and a crush on Alfred, in the 7th and 8th grades. They would've been dropped in a heartbeat if Michael had ever come to his senses and realized that there was no other girl in the world, for him, but me. (not Brooke Shields or Tatum O'Neill)

Well, one day when I was around 13 or 14, my three hanging buddies and I walked across the street to the 7-11. This was when you could still do something with 50 cents and we all had some change to get some Jolly Ranchers. We go in the store all happy and chattering, like teenage girls do, and we went to the candy isle to look for the long, rectangular candies (I still love them). It took us a while, for some reason even though we all knew we wanted Jolly Ranchers, we still checked out all of our candy options. We go to make our purchase, sitting the candy on the counter and then putting all of our change together to pay for them. One of us, not me, was counting the money to pay for our candy. While we were waiting, one of my two other friends, who are sisters, gave me a little jab in the side and did the 'head point thing'  and I looked over in that direction. Three boys playing on the video games, I think it was Astroids or something, but now that I think about it, I believe we still had pinball machines. That part really doesn't matter, I don't remember which game it was, but they were over there playing. Seeing the afros, my first reaction was a little gasp, and I sure was hoping they were as fine in the face as their afros were from the back. 

My friend finished paying and we all got our Jolly Ranchers. Sour apple and watermelon, mmmmm. We were headed to the door when one of my friends thought it would be funny to all of a sudden shout something like, "Maria said hi". They ran, duh...and I was standing there by myself, when all three boys turned to look at me. I know my face must've been red, but I still took a good look at the three of them. Two of them were fine as wine (I didn't cuss back then, but fine as hell) the other one not so much. One of them was about my color and he was cute, not bad. But then I looked at his tall eyes felt like they popped out of my head. Tall, light skinned, and an afro like Michael's. I looked at the not-so-cute guy and he busts out laughing and says "looks like the last thing you need is some candy." They all started laughing at me and turned around to go back to their game. 

I caught up with my friends and of course they wanted to know what happened and I was too ashamed to tell them what happened, so I lied. I told my girlfriends that they all said hello to me but that was all. We walked on back across Gull Road. to our apartments, we were all kind of quiet, which had me thinking that my friends knew I was lying to them. I think more than my heart being crushed, I was really upset because boys never seemed to like me. 

As time went on, I saw those three guys a few more times, but kept my distance. But my heart would get all jumpy when I saw them, my hands would get sweaty and I found it very hard to swallow. It was kind of the same feeling I had when my great-aunt Elizabeth took me to meet Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, when we were visiting her and my great uncle, a professor at Hampton Institute ( it was 1971 or 72, that's another post). One day, much later, I had to go over to the 7-11 by myself to get something for my mom. I always hated going there by myself because that one not-so-cute guy hung out there a lot and always made fun of me and his friends would laugh. But sure enough I walked in and there they were with a few more people around playing the game. I tried to go get my bread or whatever it was I was there to buy, really quickly so I wouldn't draw attention to myself. But no such luck, I paid and grabbed my bag and Mr. light-skinned, Michael Jackson afro dude (I didn't know his name for years) looked at me and said, "quit following us, damn." I wasn't the Maria most of you know now and instead of standing my ground and telling his yellow butt off, I ran. As I was running I knew they were laughing at me and I just wanted to get home. Right there in the middle of Gull Road, the grocery bag broke, my hands had been so sweaty, it made the bag weak. I didn't want to bend over to pick it up, cause I knew they were still looking and laughing at me, and there were cars coming, so I went on across the street and left the bag. The car ran over it, and smooshed the bag. I walked on home, I could cry because I was by myself and of course when I got home, I got yelled at for dropping the food and letting it get run over. 

That was the last time I went over to that 7-11 by myself, for a very long time. I just would go down the road a bit more to the Minute Market and even though there was always someone, somewhere who felt it was their business to tell me how fat and ugly I was, it didn't hurt as bad as it did coming from Mr. Light-skinned, Michael Jackson afro dude.

I didn't see him again for a couple of years because I went to Comstock and he went to Kalamazoo Schools. One night, when I was 16 or 17, my friend from church, asked me to ask my mom if I could go to Roller World. I couldn't skate and didn't really want to go to just watch, but then she told me about all of these cute boys who didn't go to our church who would be there. So, I got the car as long as it was just the two of us and I came straight home as soon as it was over. By this point in my teenage years I had become quite good at boy watching, but boys who didn't know me, didn't talk to me and I wasn't about to try to talk to them.

We got to Roller World and she was right, the music was jammin and being that I went to a predominantly white school, the only black boys I ever really saw were the ones I went to church with. And when I walked in they were everywhere, standing along the long hallway you had to walk down to pay, to get in. I paid less because I didn't skate and I wasn't quite sure it was worth giving up my $1.50 if I'm going to go somewhere to just look. I was very nervous about being around so many boys I didn't know, I felt anxious about what they would say to me. Would they say hi or would they call me fat and all of their friends would laugh at me? I got a little of both. My friend got her skates on and walked me to the wall and told me to just stay there and she would wave to me when she went by. She skated around the rink, and waved to me a couple of times before she hooked up with some of her other friends and skated with them. 

I was left with nothing to do but watch. I saw a few people I knew from church but for the most part I just stood at the wall and checked out all of the cute guys there. Believe it or not, my friend talked me into doing that quite a few times. One night, standing on the wall, I turned to check out who was coming in, who was going to the concession stand and who was putting on skates. And right there, on one of the giant spools where people sat to put on their skates, was Mr. Light-skinned, Michael Jackson afro dude. I hadn't seen him in a long time, I didn't expect my hands to start sweating or my heart to be all jumpy, cause I was supposed to hate him. But doggone it, he was even finer than he was the last time I had seen him. He had a little bit of a mustache and looked a little more like a man. If he looked up, I looked away pretending I had been staring over his head or something. Then this chick comes and sits down next to him, she was gorgeous and there was absolutely no way that he'd pay me any attention when he had a girlfriend like her. I tried to brush it off like I didn't care, but dang, he was sooooo cute. 

When my friend came off the rink to come and talk to me, I asked her if she knew who he was and she told me his name. I mentioned that his girlfriend was really pretty and she laughed and told me that was his sister. Hot dang! Okay, reality check! I still had no chance of getting his attention. But that next week, I Farrah Fawcett flipped my hair, put on a little make up and headed to the rink with my girlfriend. I would get posted at my spot on the wall, and watch the skaters, and watch the door for him to come in. 

He came in and I swear it was like one of those soap opera dream scenes, he looked my way, and he walked in my direction. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! He noticed me....YEAAAAA! I'm on the wall with my back to the rink, leaning back on my elbows pretending like I was checking out the other dudes. He came to the space right next to me, I could smell him. I didn't know boys could smell so good, all the boys I knew always smelled like dirt, the outside and funk. So I turn back around to face the rink, and with every nerve that I had in my body, I made myself say hello (even though I felt like I was going to throw up). He looked down at me, no recognition in his eyes at all, gave me a quick hi and then yelled for a girl out on the rink. I thought it was weird because I hadn't seen his sister there before, but maybe she went out on the rink when my back was turned. But this girl, a pretty brown girl with really pretty eyes and nice brown hair, skates over to where we were standing and this hef....sorry, this girl kissed him right on the lips, right in front of me. I gathered my heart and what little pride I had left and went to the concession stand and got me a pretzel. 

Four or five years later, the pretty brown girl with the pretty eyes and brown hair became one of my best friends. We were inseparable until she moved out of state, more than a decade ago. 

Then a couple of months ago, way over my crush, Mr. Light-skinned, Michael Jackson afro dude and I connected on Facebook. I reminded him who I was back then in the 70's and he says he remembers me, but he never knew I had a crush on him. Any girl who felt they were the ugly duckling, and then grow up to have a change in attitude about who she is, should have an experience where they run into some of those very same guys who used to tease her. I have, and most of them I've forgiven, but some of the real mean and nasty ones can just get ta steppin (in my Martin voice). 

Yesterday, he Mr. Light-skinned, Michael Jackson afro (which he no longer has) dude told me that I was beautiful! (he might have said cute, but in my mind he told me I was the most beautiful woman on earth, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it)

My inner, eighth-grade Maria drove around, running errands today with the biggest, cheesiest, happiest grin! 

The lesson to be learned here is to always love yourself, no matter what and don't let anyone else tell you, who you are. I wish I had learned this lesson much earlier than my 30's, but better late than never!

He thinks I'm pretty! (cheeeeeeese)
Peace and love 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today, I'm talkin about....

King of the Castle

Yesterday someone posted a video showing a black couple talking about how the Black woman has a hard time submitting to her husband. HA! Black women don't want to always be in charge of everything, it's just what we HAVE to do!

I've heard Black men complain about Black women and how we don't know how to be with a good man, or be soft and affectionate, that we don't do for our men what white women do for them. HA!

There are many reasons why SOME Black women have these issues. In my opinion, most of the blame belongs to Daddy! SOME Black fathers have left homes, leaving their children to be raised by one parent. SOME Black fathers have a hard time staying with just one woman. SOME Black fathers aren't getting the education that black women are getting. SOME Black fathers are demanding without offering. SOME Black fathers are looking to be taken care of and because there is one black man for every five black women, black women have bent over backwards (sometimes literally) to keep her man and will take care of him to (try) hold on to him.

When little girls are born to these deadbeat men, who've used the girl's mother for sex, or a place to sleep, or a place to get a meal, the little girl isn't shown what to look for in a good man. I believe she tries her best to find a man who will love her. But what if Daddy is slapping Momma around because she wanted to know where he was til 4 a.m.?  Women are usually drawn to men who remind them of Daddy, so......
Picture these little girls whose fathers have never shown interest in her, and he comes and goes when it's convenient for him, he never keeps his word and has never taken care of her! Compare that little girl to a little girl whose father is outside playing catch with his daughter, who picks her up and shows love to her like she's the most precious princess he's ever seen, (along with her mother and his own mother) a father who goes to parent-teacher conferences to see, for themselves, just how smart his daughter is. Momma doesn't have to worry because Daddy will do whatever it takes to make sure his family is secure, working with Momma and showing their children what two parents can accomplish together.

But that's not what a lot of young black girls, these days, have as fathers. Daddy isn't there to tell her she's a princess and is deserving of a prince. Daddy isn't there to tell his daughter how beautiful she is to him and that she should only want a man who sees this same beauty in her. Daddy doesn't beam with pride when she brings home a good report card. Daddy could care less what clothes his daughter is wearing to school. Daddy doesn't tell her to ignore a boy who puts her down and is mean to her because little dude thinks little lady is ugly. 

Now, I'm not saying all black men! I'm not saying all black women! I'm not saying this doesn't apply to white families! I'm only addressing our black community right now, because single-parent homes, in the black community, outnumber two-parent homes. We have black men who have 3  and 4 children by 2,  3, and 4 women and vice versa. We have black male public figures, who put black women down because the black woman didn't "keep her legs closed". I've heard the most intelligent black man putting down black women because she isn't soft and quiet. Black men who were raised by black women and grow up to hate black women and only wants a white woman because THEY know how to submit (very sarcastic tone, right there). How is the black girl/woman suppose to deal with all of this, all by herself? 

We HAVE to be tough, we have to know how to take care of business, we have to make sure we have enough education to assimilate into a white work environment. We have to be tough so that when our hearts are broken, (by some idiot who isn't satisfied with just one woman) we can still keep going. We have to deal with men who take advantage of us in public, all by ourselves, without the protection of a man who will be there to make us KNOW we are safe. We CANNOT show any weakness. 

When black women are looking for love, and all we get is hurt, girlfriend has to toughen up so that it doesn't happen again (even though no matter what we do or how tough we are, it happens again). We have offered ourselves to these men because love is in short supply. So if we can feel good and/or loved, for 3 1/2 minutes, we'll take that instead of having nothing at all. 

It is up to the single black mother to raise her sons by herself and we better do a damn good job at it so our sons grow up to be men who will NOT abandon his family. It is up to the single black mother to realize that when you have a young black son, you CAN NOT have your son around just any man. If a man(you're interested in) isn't going to marry you, DO NOT introduce him to your son. IF A MAN (you're interested in) ISN'T GOING TO MARRY YOU, (or commit to you) DO NOT INTRODUCE HIM TO YOUR SON. Don't put your son in the position where he has to protect you from some man who is going to abuse you. Be your son's cheerleader. Be your son's example of what a good black woman is. Remind your son that he should provide for his self and not look for a woman to provide for him. 

Black single mothers NEED to stop hangin out when their child has to go to school the next day. Ain't nothing wrong with chillin or enjoyin your life, but THINK and ask yourself, is it an appropriate time to be chillin or are you putting your party time before your children? Black women have been raising sons, by ourselves, since slavery. The only time black families really flourished and grew was from right after slavery to the 1950's. The 1920's was the last time blacks were equal to whites, in graduating from school. 

What happened to the black man who would do anything for his black woman? The black man who worked 3 jobs to make sure their children were fed and had a roof over their heads, where are they? Where are the black men who took the families to church on Sunday and read the Bible with their children? Did we leave them all in the 50's? 

My daughter doesn't know either of my fathers by name (long story, but I do have two fathers, one is biological and the other adopted me and gave me his name, but neither of them know anything about me). My daughter has seen her own father 6 or 7 (she says 4 or 5) times in her life. She asked me the other day "how could he (her dad) love her if he doesn't even know her?"My daughter's role models for a man has been her big brother, who is 9 years older than she is, and my little brother, who was 16 when she was born. Both are more dependable than either of our fathers. Her big brother has gone to her concerts, or gone to school to talk to her teachers, her big brother has gotten on her for talking back to me. Her uncle has told her to go change her clothes because her jeans were too tight. 
Even though it may sound like it, I have not lost hope in black men. I am confident that my son will know what his daughter's favorite color is; I know my son will be at all of his son's baseball games and parent-teacher conferences. I hope that because my son has been the man who has loved my daughter the most, she will not only look for a man like him, but she will love herself enough to look for a man who is her prince and treats her like a princess. 

So black men, you want us to submit to you? You want us to treat you like the king of the castle? Then you better know how to take care of a palace and the people in your kingdom.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today, I'm talkin about....

It's my way or the highway

I have friends who've been waiting for me to write about the issue from last week when Michelle Malkin said that it was liberal PC to have crayons that include colors more true to skin tone, especially for those who weren't white. I was angry but I needed a little more inspiration to express what I truly think about this issue. Tonight, I got it. 

It's been on all of the news sites today, that France has made it a law that Muslim women can't wear their burqa in public. In a statement I made earlier on this subject, I admitted to having a prejudice against Muslim men and how they treat their women. I can't stand seeing a man trying to tell a woman what she can or can't do. How she should or should not dress. Whom she can speak to with his permission. But I then met Muslims who weren't like that. WTF? I thought they lived the way I had been taught. I didn't know that the way these people lived was mostly by choice. Especially when they come here to America. 

I know some Christian women who are living this exact same way. Other than covering themselves, a lot of conservative Christian women are submissive to their husbands. And will brag about it too. Because they say it's biblical. Why is it okay for them but not for Muslim women? 

In reading a response to the story in France, this one guy said that sure the Muslims should be able to wear what they want to, but "they" come to other countries and want to live like they were in Morocco, or something. That "these" people who move away from a Muslim nation, should live like the people of that new nation do, he said, "when in Rome....". First thing I thought was, "damn I sure wish some of my Native American ancestors had lived like that when those settlers came over here." But no, they were kind and willing to show these new people how to survive in the "new land." How were the Natives shown gratitude? Those same settlers and their descendants killed off, and pushed the Native's off of their own land. But hey, it's okay for them to do it because "God" ordained it. 

I also recently read that slavery had God's blessing too, because how else would the negro learn about Jesus? How else would they have lived, look at how the native Africans live in Africa now? According to some of these white Christians, the Africans aren't doing so well. They say its because those Africans weren't "saved" by Jesus. It has nothing to do with the fact that some of the best and the brightest of their nations were stolen from their homes and forced into slavery and submission. I read that these white Christians said Black Americans have it better than any other blacks in the world, thanks to white Christian generosity and their teachings.

Hmmm...submission! With submission there has to be a dominate and the whites believe themselves to be that dominate race. Now, to all of my white friends, I am not saying that there aren't a lot of you who have learned to love people from all nations, I know quite a few of you who do. Even some conservative Christians. But be honest, the MAJORITY of whites, IN THE WORLD, believe they are superior to anyone who has brown, yellow or black skin. Those of us who have the audacity to think of themselves as equal to or even better than some who are white, are usually disliked by a lot of whites. Those whites pretend to be okay with this whole new "equality" thing. But those are the ones who call us niggers behind the cloak of the internet, or don't hire the intelligent black man, or heavy accented, but brilliant Hispanic woman and make fun of the Asian's names to their co-workers. They are the ones that give you crappy service when you go into a department store. I could go on, but those of you who know better, already know what I'm talking about. 

I have never been more proud of my country than I was when the majority of Americans stood behind a black man and elected him for president. Sound familiar? We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us! America has done so much dirt to many brown, red, yellow and black people over the centuries and they believe that God won't punish them because they are Christian. Sound familiar?

That first statement wasn't only said by Michelle Obama, a whole lot of us descendants of slaves, said the exact thing. We were beyond shocked. The fact that whites were able to elect a black man into the office of the president, meant that maybe there was hope for whites and blacks to get along better in this country. And then he became President! I have seen so much more racism now, that it's scary to drive through all white towns again. Most of these racists (but claim they're not racist) say that it's not racism that they feel, it's just that our President just isn't a Christian. What the hell kind of church does he have to go to show his Christianity? Your superiority complex doesn't allow you to see your racism. You were raised believing that you are better than anyone with brown skin, no matter how many brown friends you have. An EFFORT and an admission would have to be made for you to get over this belief. But if you won't even admit it to yourself, you won't make it in a world of assimilation. Well, you'll make it, you will just always be condescending and you'll have black, brown or yellow friends like me who challenge you at all times.  I am so grateful for my white friends that I have who really and truly don't feel this complex and see me as their equal. Even if they are more educated, more financially stable, more Christian, these people view me and others as their equal. 

So according to the Fox folks black dolls, black enterprise, Ebony, Essence, BET, Telemundo, displaying a Hispanic flag, and other cultural things are just an example of too much political correctness. I'll be the first to say that there are some instances where PC is taken too far. But when it comes to acknowledging me and people who look like me, as equal to you, too bad, suck it up. These are some of the payments for the mistakes of your ancestors. How come there weren't crayons my color? Why are or were we excluded from beauty magazines? Why did we have to have our own stations to listen to the kind of music we like, or watch the shows that are entertaining to us? Why aren't black hair-care product's commercials on regular TV, not just on BET or during Soul Train?

What's really funny to me is that after ONLY a couple of decades of things like BET, black American Girl dolls and finally have a black president, there is a majority of white people who think this is just way too much "black stuff" or Liberal PC. Those of you who don't think you're that kind of white person, ask yourself these questions; how did you feel when Michelle O. made that infamous comment? Were you one of those people who thought Rev. Jeremiah Wright was being a racist because he said, "it's arrogant of America to not think they'd have to pay for what America has done in the past. God bless America? God damned America."  If you hate him, then more than likely you're going to hate me too after writing this. If Christians believe that God takes care of justice in His own time, that He's going to make us pay for "the sin of homosexuality" or for having abortions, what makes these Christians believe they won't answer for the atrocities done to the Native American, the black African, the Asian who could only get a job in a laundry, and the Japanese for internment camps, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? 

Until the white world stops saying "it's our way or the highway" we will NEVER  have successful integration and assimilation.       

Peace and love 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today, I'm talkin about....

Time waits for no one!

Today is April 6 and everyone who knows me well, knows that not only is tomorrow my birthday, but my little brother was buried today, 41 years ago. I have talked about my brother's death a lot because I was holding on to pain and sadness, of his loss. Holding on so much that I didn't realize how much the grief was holding me back from really living my life. 

I didn't let go of him and I mourned his loss by myself. Not that everyone in my family didn't grieve, it's just that we all did it separately. My parents didn't realize how much his death affected me. I think it's because I was only seven (who thinks a seven year-old would grieve), and they were trying to deal with their own pain and a way to keep living, without my little brother. Now that I'm older, with children of my own, I can't even imagine how hard it would be, to try to go on with life, after losing a child. But as a seven year-old, all I knew was that no one talked to me about how I felt, or even if I understood what had happened and why. 

 One day my grief hit a new level of hurt, a hurt that became a permanent fixture in my life. I came home from school and all of his toys, clothes and bedding, were gone from the room we shared. I didn't get to keep anything of his that reminded me of him. I couldn't look over at his bed and pretend he was there so we could talk when we were supposed to be sleeping. I felt like he was taken from me all over again and I blamed my mother. I couldn't blame my father because by that time he had left us. So my  mom was to blame for all my pain and that blame stayed with us for more than 30 years. 

It was easy to blame her, and I blamed my little sister too, who was seven months old. People were always saying that God blessed us with her because He knew He was going to take my brother back. My seven year-old mind resented her for being there and for taking his place. No matter how hard I prayed and asked God to take her back, it never happened. But blame and pain  came between us, and became a part of our family.

I'm not going to go into all of the drama that unfolded for over 30 years, just know that it was a lot. A lot of pain and anger and grief, and it tore my family apart. My point in writing this today is that holding on to all of that pain, anger and grief was unnecessary. Unnecessary because we should have been able to go through this hard time together, and then picked ourselves up and gone on with life. 

Holding on to all of that crap has only kept me away from the goals and the life I should have had. Yes, my story is sad, but a lot of people come from sad situations in life and yet they go on and are successful in life. My life was literally put on hold until I was able to accept that what had happened was awful, but that there was a lot more life to live and I wasted so much of my life with blame and anger. Blame and anger were my best friends, they were my family. I was holding myself back and it ruined any relationship that my mother and I could have had as mother and daughter. And the friends we were when we used to bake peanut butter cookies, while singing songs and pretending we were Diana Ross or Cher. These are memories my mother doesn't have anymore but I held on to them hoping that that relationship would come back. When we couldn't have that relationship back, we went on hurting each other because that was all that we knew.

Life goes on and you have to let go of pain, mistakes, grief, unhappiness. Time is not going to wait around for you to let go of whatever it is that's holding you back. Time goes on when you're sitting at home crying because you have no family to be with on a holiday. Time goes on when you're trying to medicate your pain and trick yourself in to believing that you're living. Time goes on even though your hurt is real. 

Forgiveness is the key. Forgiving yourself once you realize that you've held yourself back from so much. Forgiving your family who weren't there for you when you felt you needed them the most. Forgiving your friends who weren't there to hold you when they could see you were sad. 

We all have free-will! Free-will to wallow in pain, to sherk away from guilt, regognizing or not recognizing the mistakes that have been made. No matter what you choose to do, time is going to go on. You're going to live and you're going to get older until the day you die! Wouldn't it be better to live that life free of all those things that hold you back from the real life you're supposed to live? 

We all make mistakes, just learn from them and keep on going!!!

Peace and Love.